If you’re a writer or blogger, you’ve no doubt come to realize how important images and graphics are for your site and marketing. Chances are you don’t have the skills to produce the needed graphics. So what are your options?

Flickr image by University of the Fraser Valley

Flickr image by University of the Fraser Valley

If you’re like me, and most of us probably are in the same boat, your site hasn’t yet started generating the kind of revenue where you feel like you can hire a designer to create graphics for you.

Hire a Professional Designer

A quality graphic designer can be pretty expensive. While this may be okay for a logo design, or website header, you don’t want to spend this kind of money often. With the increasing growth of visual media, designers are also busy people. This means it is going to take some time to get artwork delivered.

Hire a Semi-Pro Designer

Several sites have popped up where you can now find someone to create decent graphics for a nominal charge. You can spend several hundred dollars or several dollars. Here are a few:

Elance

Elance is a base for freelancers of all types. You can find designers, programmers, writers, developers, and marketers. If you need work done, you post your job, get recommendations, review portfolios, and hire the designer. There are major companies that pull talent from this site for projects.

Design Crowd

Design Crowd works more like a design competition. You describe your projects, requirements, and budget. Then designers start work and submit designs. You can share them with others and get feedback. Then select the one that you want. I’m not sure how this works from a designer perspective. I can’t imagine spending time creating a design when I expect someone to review a hundred other designs and possibly choosing mine.

Crowdspring

Similar to Design Crowd, Crowdspring designers submit ideas and you select the one you like. They claim the average project gets 110+ submissions. Pricing starts at $299.

Fiverr

This was my plan when I needed a header for a new site I put together this weekend. Fiverr offers all kinds of services starting at $5. Yes, $5. Some of the designs are as bad as you’d imagine, but some of the designers are really good. Plan to spend more than $5, but not much.

You can find good designers that will charge $5 for the design, $10 for 24hr delivery, and maybe another $10 for an editable PSD and PDF file. That takes you up to $25 for a nice graphic. Not a bad price.

Canva

But what if you want a lot of graphics, or you know what you want but don’t know how to use the big professional design programs. Maybe you’re just cheap like me and don’t want to drop $5 over at Fiverr. Enter Canva.

It takes some work, but there are TONS of templates you can use to get started. You can add text, images, backgrounds, or upload your own stuff. Some things like stock photos cost a little, but it’s very reasonable and the transaction is easy and smooth. You can even add the watermark graphic to your design to try it before you purchase. I created a header for my other site this weekend. Total cost:$1.00.

Friends

Maybe you have a friend that knows how to create graphics. DO NOT use this person unless you plan to pay them fairly. Don’t ask for a “favor” for a friend. Their time is valuable and they don’t want to to things for free just because you don’t want to pay someone on Fiverr $5. They may agree to do it for you, but they won’t be happy about it. No matter what they say, they resent working for free.

What services or resources have you used for your graphic needs?

When it comes to gathering random data, Post-It notes have no equal. Think about how much gets written on post-its every day around the world. Thankfully, these little sheets aren’t connected to the web, so the NSA isn’t reading our notes. Evernote is helping to change that (not, really..stay with me here).

If you’re one of those that thinks the government, or worse, big corporations are gathering every detail of our lives. you can go ahead and click here. Everyone else take a quick view of Steve Dotto’s video about how Post-It and Evernote have joined forced to link the two products.

If you don’t have an Evernote account yet, you can get one here. To learn more about what Evernote does and why you should use it, check out this list of articles by Michael Hyatt.

Source LifeHack

How do you keep up with your Post-It Notes?

What would you do if someone stole your iOS or OSx device. Not only is it a major inconvenience, but a huge expense as well. Then there is all of the personal information you have stored on your device. What if there was a way to get your device back? Something better than Apple’s location service?

Hidden tracks your Mac, iPhone, and iPad once you login and activate it. not only can it track the device, but it can turn on the cameras to take pictures of who is using the device without them knowing it. You can also use it to remotely grab screenshots of what they are doing and even capture keystrokes!

Get Your Device Back

Hidden provides data to law enforcement to help recover the device. It updates automatically and provides you an unlimited number of reports.

Hidden works in 3 easy steps

  • Install Hidden on your devices
  • Register the device with your online account
  • Once stolen, activate tracking

Apple devices are premium targets for thieves and it’s extremely easy to leave a device sitting out when you have them with you ALL the time. Just a few seconds away from your table, or you turn around and take your eyes off your phone and it could be gone.

For about $1 per month you can have premium level security in case the worst happens.

What would you do if your device was stolen?

What make a successful leader? For many, it’s gaining power and the prestige of a position. If that were the measuring stick, people such as Henrique de Castro wouldn’t have been fired as Yahoos COO after only 15 months. Rather, we can actually learn something from his termination that proves how NOT to be a successful leader.

Flickr image by Walmart Corporate

Flickr image by Walmart Corporate

Mashable had the following to say about de Castro’s fifteen month stint as COO at Yahoo:

De Castro wasn’t just lavishly compensated, though; he was also tone deaf to the demands of the advertising industry that he was supposed to be charming on Yahoo’s behalf. Instead of wooing the industry, he was repelling them with an arrogant attitude and slow response to industry trends, notably programmatic buying. His lack of enthusiasm for the industry was epitomized in this this February 2013 IAB speech, which was widely panned in the industry.

Listen

Successful leaders don’t always acquiesce to everyone’s demands, but they listen. Sometimes your customers, employees, or shareholders will tell you what they expect. Only a fool would ignore this. If consumers are telling auto manufacturers that safety is what is most important in their buying decision, and the company decides to focus on improving the quietness of the cabin while neglecting to improve or add safety features, they are going to loose customers to another manufacturer who adds more airbags and improves the braking systems.

With social media, a company can get valuable and detailed information about what customers want. If you know how to listen, the information is there. Your customers will tell you what is important to them. Listen.

Hire People Smarter Than You

A successful leader doesn’t expect to have all the answers. That is why they build the best team they can. You need people that are dedicated to your business and are better at some things than you are. As a leader, you may be great strategist but know little about accounting or law. A leader with those from whom he seeks counsel on a regular basis.

Give Praise and Purpose

There is an amazing video about a study that was done on what motivates people. The assumption has long been that money motivates. While the study found that is often true for routine tasks, money does nothing to improve motivation for more cognitive tasks.

Two of the greatest motivating factors are purpose and praise. People want to feel like they are contributing. If you put someone into a job that involves basic rote work when they really want to be helping to solve problems or grow the business, they aren’t going to be motivated or satisfied. They want to feel needed.

In addition to wanting to feel as thought they are contributing, they want to be recognized. Money has been the way this is done in the past, but what the study shows is that a thank you or job well done comment goes much further. (The video can be found at the bottom of this post if you are interested. It’s fascinating, really.)

Empower

According to a recent study, nearly one third of employees that quit do so because they feel a lack of empowerment. Nobody likes to be micromanaged or bound by guidelines that are too strict. Employees need to have the ability to make decisions and use creativity to solve problems.

You can require updates on a project, but you don’t want your staff coming to you to approve every little decision. Be sure to make it known how what they are working on fits into the goals of the organization. This helps employees to “buy-in” and take an ownership role. An employee that takes responsibility for improving the company is indispensable.

Create Challenges and Opportunities

It’s easy to settle into a routine and accept the status quo. I know of a company who sets no goals for their sales force and their growth is almost non-existent. One day they hired a new sales rep who knew how to set his own goals, and he started opening more new accounts in a matter of weeks than his managers though possible in a year. Many of these accounts were opened simply by going in and asking for the business.

Many people won’t challenge themselves in the workplace. It is much easier to be comfortable and do only what is expected, but that doesn’t lead to their growth. By looking at their talents and providing opportunities to use those talents, the business and the employee will be better. Imagine you had a sales person that was successful because they were able to educate the customer about a product. Maybe that sales person should be asked to lead a sales class at a staff meeting.

Leadership is More Than Managing

Management is only a part of leadership. A good leader is one who also knows how to inspire, train, equip, listen, and care about those under his guidance. An executive’s office should never be in an ivory tower, but in the trenches where those being led can see the example of how they should work and live.

What other characteristics or tips can you think of for leaders?

Last week was a little rough. There were good points, but overall, it was a difficult week. You’ve had those days when life happens, people get under your skin, or you’re just in a funk for some unidentifiable reason. So how do we get past it?

Flickr image by Michael Keith Manges

Flickr image by Michael Keith Manges

Acknowledge the Inevitable

Life is a series of highs and lows. Yin and yang. You can decide to be happy, and that goes a long way. But nobody is bulletproof when it comes to having a bad day or week. The car dies, you over schedule yourself, or you find bits of depression creeping in for no specific reason. We all get to take a ride on the roller coaster at some point. Continue Reading…

You’ve probably been right in the middle of a nice long, warm shower when you had a great idea. Of course, in the shower, there is nowhere to write it down. And nothing to write with. By the time you get out of the shower, it’s gone. Drives me crazy!

Flickr image by PhotoAtelier

Flickr image by PhotoAtelier

I used to have the same problem at random times of the day. Great idea, nothing to write with or on. That is why I know carry a pocket notebook, or at least my phone. Even if I can’t write, my phone can take a voice memo. It’s a great way not to lose an idea.

But what about in the shower?

This began happening to me so much that I actually ordered Crayola bathtub markers so I could write on the walls! Now we’ve moved and my shower doesn’t have a surface I can write on…but my phone IS waterproof…

Brainy Science Stuff

It turns our there is a lot of research that explains exactly why we have creative ideas in the shower (among other places). Leo Widrich wrote a fascinating article that explain why this happens. You’ll also learn how to capture those creative ideas, and how to create an environment where the ideas and creativity can flow more freely.

When do most of your creative thoughts appear and how do you catch them?