Chicago Architecture | Bertrand Goldberg

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I once watched this show on National Geographic about a woman who had inappropriately fallen in love with the Berlin wall. As in, she wanted to marry it. Literally. She even took a scaled down model of the Berlin wall to bed with her at night.

I wrote that woman off as crazy until I saw these Bertrand Goldberg buildings in Chicago. It was love at first site that made my heart go all pitter-patter. Then I got really sad because the feelings were surely not mutual – for that love to be reciprocated I would need something like $1 million dollars.

If you’re ever in Chicago definitely go on the architectural boat tour. It may seem cheesy but it was informative and inspiring, for sure.

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Navy Pier

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The best part about being a tourist in someone else’s city is that you get the real deal on what the locals do. For us the real deal meant exploring the Randolph Vintage Market and drinking whiskey smashes and grilling out on Merl’s fire escape with some new friends (hi Karyn and Andrea!). Those are the moments that I wish I was better at documenting.

But on the flip side – the best part about having a tourist in your city is that you get to play tourist too. Merl took us down to Navy Pier. We hopped on the ferris wheel and tried not to die from heat strokes. We cooled off in the shade while we watched rich people sail in the bay. And then we did the most responsible thing any tourist could do while in Chicago and bought tickets for an architectural tour by boat.  I can’t wait to share those photos tomorrow – stay tuned!

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Meeting Interesting People

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I think it started on Twitter. One of those conversations limited to 140-character quips between gals you’ve known online for years. A little “Hey! You should come visit me!” which transitioned into an email that read something like “Are you for serious? Can I crash on your couch?” which then turned into a purchased plane ticket.

So there I was, in the Chicago airport, entertaining the idea that these internet friends could be a figment of my imagination while I waited for them to find me. I considered what I would do – turn around and go home? Find a hotel and explore Chicago on my own? What a story that would have made. But they found me and they were very much real. And even more fantastic offline, than on.

Earlier in the year I had read something about it being essential that creative entrepreneurs invest money and time into meeting interesting people. It’s not even really about networking but more about having the kind of connections and experiences that recharge you. I decided I wanted to do just that. So I put my money where my mouth is and bought a ticket to Chicago to hang out with Emily and Merl. Emily is a graphic designer from Montreal and Merl is an eco-stylist and jewelry designer residing in Chicago. They were both very interesting people – I’m thankful to have been able to spend a little time with them over a long weekend. I’ll be sure to share more about my time in Chicago on the blog this week.

Anatomy of an Outfit: Those Jeans

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I always seem to forget about these jeans and every time I wear them I vow to wear them more. In fact, I think they might be the one pair of pants I pack for my Eastern European backpacking / trekking trip coming up.

T-Shirt – Bombs Away (from Birdie – but I think you can find them at DNA Galleries in OKC)
Also, I should note that I cut the neck out to make it a little more girly.

Belt – Target
Jeans – Kill City Bamboo (from Urban Outfitters years ago)
Shoes – Thrifted – I think they’re Aerosoles
Watch – Casio

Freelance Matters | How to Write An Email

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The ability to compose a good email is imperative if you’re a freelancer. I’ve read a few tips from people I admire about how to write an efficient email. One tip was your email should be no longer than 5 words, but I think that can come off cold and inaccessible. So here are a few tips on how I write my emails. Here I’m going to focus on correspondence to new prospects, in particular.

NEW PROSPECTS:
• If a potential client is emailing you to ask for rates consider having a standard response and maybe even a PDF that walks your client through your typical process, deliverables and rates. This will save you so much time in the long run, especially if you’re getting lots of requests.
• On that note – make your attachments under 1MB – it’s polite.
• Don’t worry if your proposal doesn’t match exactly what they’re asking for. Yes, acknowledge the request but maintain control of how you work and what you can bring to the table. If your client-to-be feels like you’re a good fit THEY will be flexible to you (versus the other way around).
• If your rates are firm say something like: “my minimum engagement fee is $X” or “My houly rate is $X/hr. with a minimum of X hours.”
• If you are open to negotiation or lowering your rates wait until the second conversation to discuss options. You don’t want to come off as desperate and you don’t want to work with whoever is simply looking for the best deal.
• Always let the new prospect know the best way to get a hold of you with additional questions or discussion. For me I always like to follow-up with a Skype session or in-person meeting – but I thrive on face-to-face interaction.
• Avoid emoticons and using language like “LOL”. Especially when something isn’t funny. An example of what not to do: “I typically charge $X. LOL! :-D”

Here is an example of an actual email transaction between me and a client-to-be: 

Hi Kathleen,

I’m starting a photography business.  I am trying to find someone to design a logo, business cards and a website.  Can you let me know what your rates are?

Thanks so much,
Brian

Here is my response: 
Hi Brian,
Congrats on taking the leap and starting your own photography business! My business partner, Tara, and I, through Braid, are best suited to work with small independent businesses, especially creative entrepreneurs.

We are typically hired by artistpreneurs, because we help them clarify their business vision along with a clarified brand identity. It is woven together with their brand positioning, story and look & feel.

How we do this is through our Braid Method. It is a $X engagement. The Braid Method is how Tara and I take small business owners through their barriers, opportunities and truths and finds patterns and common threads that rise to the top to create their authentic brand. A bit like brand therapy, actually. 

What you get with the Braid Method:
– business vision findings visually laid out in a multiple page PDF (get some perspective)
– business positioning + purpose more clearly defined (actually explain what you do!)
– brand story and messaging platform (bring it to life in a consistent & often emotional way)
– a new logo & identity (no more logo “shame!”)
– and one bonus design (typically stationery or a web header)

At the end of this process you will have this physical, visual guide to help you implement your cohesive brand. Not to mention loads of confidence moving forward in your creative business venture.

See the attached outline that shows how this step-by-step collaborative method works, and what you get. Let me know if you think we might be a fit, or if you have any questions about how we work and we can set up a call or a Skype! I would love to hear more about your vision.

Talk soon!
Kathleen

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OTHER TIPS FOR EMAILING:
• Your emails should always be guiding your client, client-to-be or vendor along your process. Never leave them guessing what’s next.
• Forget witty and make your subject line relevant & specific to the content of the email – especially if it’s a client you have lots of projects with. It will make emails easier to find down the road.
• I always assign next steps or actionable items and timelines to every email. I also clearly establish who needs to take action – whether it’s me or the client.
• Write everything in bullets and/or numbered lists. This makes it easy for both parties to respond.
• I also like to bold or highlight action steps needing to be taken. 
• If you’re including an attachment say so in your email. Sometimes it’s easy to look over.
• If you’re sharing work describe what you’re showing with a brief creative rationale – even if it’s something simple and seems obvious to you sometimes it’s nice for the client to know why you made certain choices.
• Re-read your email before you hit send. This one is tough, I know. Sometimes you’re in a rush but you can avoid lots of confusion and really say what you mean if you quickly proof your email.
• Sometimes you should just pick up the phone. Nothing beats a candid back-and-forth conversation when you’re trying to work something out. But follow up with an email to confirm what you talked about and what action steps came out of it – this is great for future reference and a great way to avoid confusion.

In conclusion, I’m not saying that there is just one way to compose an email or that you should feel ashamed if you throw winky-faced emoticons in your email. I just think we should all be a little more aware of what we’re saying before we hit “send” (myself included) in order to get the most out of some pretty amazing technology.

BONUS: HOW TO HAVE A ZERO INBOX
I’m always reading on Twitter about people having hundreds of unread emails in their inbox. Now, I’m not going to pretend to be an organizational genius with color coded folders and labels in my inbox – but I never have more than a dozen unread emails at a time. Here’s what I do:
• If I can respond to an email in less than 5 minutes I respond RIGHT THEN.
• If I can’t respond quite yet I will read the email and then MARK AS UNREAD. This keeps the email from falling through the cracks. And if you use Gmail set your inbox type to “unread first”.
• Unsubscribe from unnecessary newsletters and other email subscriptions.
• At the end of every Friday I archive all my emails. (What a great way to end the week).

Do you have any emailing tips you would like to add? 

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