Makin’ podcasts

If anyone needs any help in creating or distributing podcasts, give me a ring! I’ve been working on a couple lately, and learning a ton. Prayers for Da Bears is my brother’s NFL football related podcast and Doc Talks Stats is my friend David’s basketball stats podcast and video series. Figured out how to get added to iTunes, use some collaborative sound editing software, setup AWS for podcasts, and more. It’s more challenging than it seems!

Jobbin around

Had a few jobs finish up and out and about looking for more! One fun gig is some gigantic enlargements of artwork for wall installation in a private residence…and I’m talking big, from a few inches across to in one case almost eight feet across, printed on a laminate weather resistant material and mounted outdoors. My brother and I also built the mirror piece on the right, which was conceived by our client (who is pretty creative and cool). 

Outdoor stuff is pretty intimidating, especially in California, because the sun here will mutilate anything very quickly. Hopefully this material holds up to the desert radiation and mutant scorpions and whatnot. 

Also, as usual, totally random things, wordpress sites, high school sports booster hoodie graphics, book editing, etc.

Hit me up if you’re looking for any kind of creative work, or if you’re not sure what you need. Even if I can’t do it for whatever reason I’ll either find someone who can or pretty likely show you how to do it. 

Here’s my baby being all photogenic, to really tug at the heartstrings. Happy Christmas and Hannukah and any other holidays you celebrate. 

Get used to inconsistency!

Work comes slowly or in a manic rush for freelance graphic artists much of the time. If you’ve managed to organize your business to have a steady manageable flow of work, please send me your secrets. I will bake you delicious banana bread. Included: photo evidence. 

Watching commercials in the new media environment

I recently went on a cord-cutting adventure, canceling my Cox cable TV, but keeping the internet. I couldn’t justify the $250+ per month anymore, I never used my HD DVR, much less TWO HD DVRs. So I canceled all that and signed up for Hulu Plus (I had an existing streaming only Netflix account).

The weirdest thing thus far has been the commercials. Hulu is a subscription service that has commercials. Odd, right? They’re shorter-form spots in general, often under thirty seconds. Capital One has a spot featuring Alec Baldwin where he, in a way, acknowledges you’re watching a streaming show.

The biggest issue as a television watcher surprised me, though: they don’t have a large variety of commercials. I don’t know if they’re targeted and I’m not a popular target (although white guy, 35-55, etc, seems pretty solid as a demo target), or if their ad space is not much in demand, I didn’t bother to look into that. But they have pretty much the same 10 or 15 spots over and over.

One thing that occurs to me is that there’s no “local” ads on streaming services, at least the ones I’ve watched. With Cox or Time Warner you have a mix of national, regional, and local spots filling ad time. With streaming so far I only see a broad national lineup. I’m sure that will change in time…isn’t that the whole point of online services, from a marketing/advertising point of view: the ability to effectively target your efforts?

The whole streaming media environment is massively fractured and spread out right now, and honestly I don’t see that changing. You don’t need a huge percentage of users to make a profitable venture, given the falling production costs. Content is going to be king, like usual. The delivery mode is going to switch dramatically, and constantly. Personally I like it. This fevered, inventive, breakneck landscape is more exciting and energizing than the torpid cable/antenna monopoly I grew up with. The more the merrier!

Keeping website design and deployment slim, fast, and cost-efficient

I’ve been involved in designing and launching quite an array of websites over the years, from the early, crude days on Macromedia Dreamweaver and TextEdit to the current platforms, based on pHp, MySQL and the like. Flash sites that basically SEO-incoherent and lean HTML designs. Over the years I’ve seen things coming up again and again that cause the design and execution process to bog down, costing time and resources that a little planning would have kept safe for other efforts. The worst offenders are custom coding on themed sites, primarily WordPress, and a lack of a clear chain of decision-makers. One leads to constant rounds of minute revisions (I like to call it “couch-moving”…ie, “well, maybe if you move the couch a couple inches this way. No, move it back. No, back this way” and so forth) and a straying from the approved mockups/comps. The other leads to nightmarish wholesale changes when the actual boss, who til this point had been assured they’d simply “love it”, is brought in at the last moment and disagrees with everything their marketing director has done. Either one can be addressed with a little forethought.

One thing I’ve always preferred while generating a site for the small- to mid-sized clients I work with is to remove options to increase cost-effectiveness. I firmly believe clients get more bang for their buck, in the form of increased ROI, by not doing custom coding to WordPress. There are enough wonderful themes and plugins available for the platform to make custom coding, specifically adding new functionality, in general an exercise more in vanity than anything else. Unless there’s some absolutely critical function they require, I avoid this like the plague. It’s expensive, time-consuming, and requires adding a new element outside of the crowd-tested and at least somewhat-moderated world of WordPress. Being upfront with clients and letting them know you’re saving them time and money by not engaging in that aspect, even if you have the skillset to create the code yourself, will, in the long run, save you money, time, and frustration.

When you’re engaging a new client you have to identify your sign-off person. Every company will hopefully have one (one!) person who approves vendor work to be billed. Occasionally it changes from job-to-job, so it’s important you find out who you’re working for on a given project. Marketing directors sometimes get overly excited, and you’ll need to know who actually signs the checks before adding new work to a project, or expanding its scope. Signed estimates are a must! I use Freshbooks for my estimates and invoices, it’s a good bargain for a small operator like myself. A signed estimate will often flush out the real sign-off person at a firm. Careful laying out of your requirements is also an important step, for lots of reasons other than this one.

Keeping your site functioning on off-the-shelf themes and plugins, as well as having a clear chain of command, will help you design and deploy faster, in less time, and with less expense, allowing you to pass those advantages along to your client.

Two weeks, two sites!

I finished HSTSolar last week, so this week I polished off, for my good pal and colleague Glenna, who is currently my favorite person in the world for the steady stream of work she’s provided during this, the winter/spring of my freelancer-hood. Her site has a nice polished feel, and is integrated with Salesforce and Constant Contact. We worked together on content and SEO, and I also helped with the design of her logo and style.

Also, if you need any green energy or solar marketing done, she’s the person to get connected with. She’s about the most tireless and determined person I’ve ever worked with. Screenshot