Productivity for Designers: 11 Tips to Revamp Your Workflow with DKNG | DKNG Studios | Skillshare

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Productivity for Designers: 11 Tips to Revamp Your Workflow with DKNG

teacher avatar DKNG Studios, Design + Illustration

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Tip 1: Presenting to Clients


    • 3.

      Tip 2: Work With Vendors


    • 4.

      Tip 3: Price Your Work


    • 5.

      Tip 4: Understand Your Contract


    • 6.

      Tip 5: Organize Your Files


    • 7.

      Tip 6: Schedule Your Time


    • 8.

      Tip 7: Optimize Your Space


    • 9.

      Tip 8: Procrastinate...Productively


    • 10.

      Tip 9: Automate Your Replies


    • 11.

      Tip 10: Share Your Process


    • 12.

      Tip 11: Promote Your Work


    • 13.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Go behind-the-scenes with powerhouse design duo DKNG to discover their favorite tips and tricks for speeding up your design workflow! 

Building a creative career is about more than your design skills—it’s about managing your time, interacting with clients, and more. Through 11 straightforward lessons, you’ll learn Dan and Nathan’s favorite techniques to keep your projects running smoothly, from organizing your project files and optimizing your desk set-up to working with clients and vendors. 

In just over an hour, you’ll gain the tools you need to completely overhaul the way you work—unlocking your ability to spend more time on the creative work you love. Key lessons include:

  • Tips to stay organized: You’ll refresh your file structure, optimize your workspace, and change up your todo list and calendar process.

  • Tips for collaboration: You’ll go behind-the-scenes to check out DKNG’s client presentations and learn how to get exactly what you need from vendors the first time around.

  • Tips to grow your business: You’ll discover how Dan and Nathan approach contracts and pricing as well as how they promote their work to stay fresh and present for potential clients.

This class is a must-watch for all creatives. Whether you’ve been a creative professional for years or are just getting started, you’ll gain tips and tricks that will enable you to spend less time on the rote work that keeps your business running and more time on the creative work that powers your entire career. 

Meet Your Teacher

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DKNG Studios

Design + Illustration

Top Teacher

DKNG is a full service graphic design studio with a focus on the entertainment industry. We work directly with bands, venues, promoters and a range of independent and corporate clients.

Dan Kuhlken and Nathan Goldman were both drawn to music and design at an early age, but didnt combine their talents until 2005 when the duo founded a design studio with the goal of fusing these two creative avenues. The pair has found a niche in linking a personal and unique aesthetic to the worlds most talented musical artists.

With dynamically different skill sets ranging from fine art to film production, Dan and Nathan bring diverse talents and artistic perspectives to every project. DKNG strives to provide their clients with the image and recognition that they deserve. Their past client... See full profile

Related Skills

Productivity Time Management
Level: All Levels

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1. Introduction: Hello. We are DKNG studios. We're a design agency based in California. My name is Dan Kuhlken. I'm Nathan Goldman and today we're going to talk about tips and tricks of how we work. Most of our work is known in the music industry. We make a lot of gig posters for bands that led into a lot of different design opportunities. Throughout our career we found that because we're just a two-person team, we really need to focus on maximizing the time we had to spend on work and being as efficient as possible with how we run our business. In this class, we're actually not going to be creating any projects. We're actually going to be looking more into the inside of our company and how we work as a business. We'll be covering a range of how we work, including how we work together internally as far as dealing with our files, how we work externally with clients and vendors, and then finally, how we present and market our work to the world. This is a topic that's exciting for us because we always love talking to our peers about learning how to be more efficient. So we're hoping this is the beginning of a conversation where you can get some insight into how we work together, how we run our business. Also we'd love to learn from you as far as any tips that you might have to share. We feel it's important to thrive as an artist. In order to do so, you really need to focus beyond just being creative. I mean, look internally and see how you can succeed as a business person. We felt like this class really going to open the doors up to how you can thrive fully and have a very lengthy career. I'm so fond of this. I love working. 2. Tip 1: Presenting to Clients: A big part of preparing for a project is setting client expectations in terms of mock-ups and sketches. So, with visually minded clients, we like to show something as realistic to the final product as possible without getting too far into the process. So we use a combination of digital mock-ups or pencil sketches to show them what we're planning on doing for the projects. In the case of one of our beer clients, it's something that's difficult to design for, because the can itself is three-dimensional, but the artwork we design on screen is going to be flat. So, we try not to get too bogged down in making sure the flat artwork looks perfect. Because we know at the end of the day, we're the only people that are going two ever see the flat artwork. Everyone else is just going to see the artwork wrapped onto the can. So, one thing we always like to do before we send one of these projects off to print is to mock it up, and that's both a way for us to double-check the sizing, and spacing, and what's going to be visually represented on the front of the can. But it's also a way to show it to our client, and give them the confidence, and reinforcement that this is how their product is going to turn out, and it helps them visualize the final product. So this is an example of a mock-up that we use in Photoshop, and the cool thing is that it includes smart objects. So for example, in this particular file, I can click on this smart object, and it opens up this new image. I've already loaded in my artwork for this particular beer label. This is something we do toward the end of a project. We have the art pretty much finalized, ready to go to a vendor. Once I save this smart object, it will automatically wrap this artwork onto the can. One of the reason this is important to us is that we want to double checked that certain copy and certain words are going to be visible on the front of the can when you're viewing it on the shelf. So, for example, the word sunshine on this can, we want to make sure it's fully visible on the front of the can. So this is a nice way to both test it out for ourselves to make sure everything looks how we want it to, and then this is also a nice thing to be able to send over to our client so they don't have to just imagine what the flat artwork would look like wrapped onto the can. They can actually see it for themselves. So based on this digital rendering of the can, we can compare that to how the actual can turned out. So here's the printed can, and as you can see, the layout is very similar. Our digital mock-ups are never going to be perfect, but at least it can give us a really good sense of what we're going to be able to see on each side of the can. Therefore, give our client the reassurance that they're getting what we are mocking up as in advanced of printing. There's a lot of sources online to download Photoshop mock-ups like this. One that we use quite a bit is this website, it's called Yellow Images. For example on here, you could search for can mock-up, and you can see all kinds of different shapes and sizes of cans. If you work in a different country that deals with different sizes, you can most likely find it on here, or just googling Photoshop mock-ups, Photoshop renderings online. You can find all different options. So, this is something we don't normally do for beer cans. We do it for all different types of projects. Just to show how this digital mock-up can be worked in the sketch mock-up phase, where we're not quite ready to start jumping into the vector artwork, but we want to propose to the client a couple ideas, we can actually wrap an actual sketch around this digital mock-up. So you can see what it would look like wrapped around a can without jumping into anything too final. So these are all examples of graphite and paper sketches actually wrapped around this PSD mock-up. This is an example of a PDF that we would actually share with the client at this step. This particular project, it was for a new line for this brewery. They didn't quite know what direction they wanted it to go in. So like Dan mentioned, we wrap the sketches around the can, so they can get a better sense just compared to flat artwork, what the 3D product would look like. But it's this intermediary step, where we show the client the sketch rendering, and then get their feedback from there. Oftentimes, we're sending clients a presentation that they may need to digest on their own. In that case, we try to provide as much information as we can of what the final product might look like. So since then, we've developed this format where when we send an initial sketch to a client, we will include some style reference. In a lot of cases, it's not our work. If we've worked in the style before, we will include examples from our portfolio. But in this case, we were being inspired by vintage fruit crates. So we found some images of those. Then we also included a written description just verbally explaining here's what the concept is, what it might look like, the options that we'd like to get your input on. So we find this is a good way to bridge the gap between a client who might not be visually minded, and they can't really envision what the final product would be. They can look at something like this, get a sense of the color, get a sense of the style, and then we can continue with the project from there. Here's a more typical mock-up that we create for Gig Poster Projects. Instead of working with something that's three-dimension like a can, this is quite literally just a flat image on paper. What we've found with working with clients is that when they look at the style reference, they take it quite literally. They actually will assume that the project is going to look exactly like that. So we're very specific with the images that we find, and we typically choose things that we know that we can accomplish. In these examples, these are client presentations with clients that we've worked with several times. So they can be pretty cut and dry. But if we're working with a client for the first time or on a more complicated project like a rebranding, for example, one thing we'll add to this presentation is a cover page, and a page that includes the objectives for the project. We find it's helpful to always summarize those objectives at the beginning of every presentation so that the client is always viewing the work through that lens. One thing that can be tough is if a client comes to you with their personal preferences and says, "I like blue more than green.", or things like that. We tried to advise and coach our clients against speaking in terms of likes and dislikes, and speak more in terms of why would this bee successful through the lens of the project goals or not. Having those objectives constantly being reinforced is really helpful to keep everyone on the same track for the project, and basically make life easier because we're all working toward one collective goal. You'll notice that a lot of our sketches are pretty rudimentary. They're just simple graphite and paper sketches. A lot of artists work in color on a tablet, but we've decided to keep things as basic as possible so that we don't get too far into the process. Meaning, when we present these to a client, we want them to feel involved. We don't want them to feel like we've taken too many steps forward, and that didn't have an opportunity to give us feedback, or feel like they had something to say about the process early on. So with these, it's more just an idea, and they can get on board with an idea if it's in a sketch form, easier if it's as basic as possible versus when that's almost halfway through the process. In most cases when we're presenting the clients, we provide up to three options. The reason we always show options is because it tells the client there's a choice to be made, either A, B, or C. But the danger of showing a client a concept, and only one concept is that it leaves them the opportunity to basically just say no, or pick apart that project. So the more options you give, an unlimited amount of options, they are more willing to make a choice. So one thing we try to do is when we present these options, we will insert our opinion. I guess there's theories about primacy and recency, and should you put your favorite first or last. We've found that with these few options, it doesn't matter too much, but we will tell the client, based on your objectives, we think number one is the most successful, and maybe provide some examples why. We find that can be very helpful with clients, and also providing them with value. Because at the end of the day, the client is not simply hiring us to be a production artist, they're hiring us to be there creative advisers. So we feel like it's part of our responsibility to them to give our input on what we think could make the best project, and hopefully that is valuable to them, and we can all be on the same page to produce a successful project. 3. Tip 2: Work With Vendors: With a lot of the work that we produce, it all comes in different forms. We make enamel pens, patches. We're known for a screen prints and lately a lot of beer can labels. All those require different vendors and each of those vendors have different sets of rules in terms of how they prefer to receive your final files. So the beginning of that process is really understanding who your vendors going to be, who's going to be printing this for you in the end, and you could have an upfront conversation with them about what file types they want, how many colors you might be working with, any considerations for the project. So hopefully there's no surprises when you actually go to send them the file. But this might be an example of a file that we are ready to send off to a client. So it's really just as simple as an Illustrator going to file package. What that's going to do is if there's any links in the file. We've talked about in file hygiene the idea of collecting all your links manually, but let's say you forgot some. This is going to automatically collect all the links in your file even those you forgot about. It's also going to copy any fonts that are in the file and so once you package it, it's going to collect all that and it's going to be ready to go. There's also precautions you can take in advance, such as outlining all the files using type create outlines. It's great here because we've already done that in this particular file. But these are all ways to make sure that the file that you're sending off is as clean and ready as possible so your vendor doesn't come back to you and say, "Hey, could you send me this font or this link to image?" It's all there ready to go. So when it comes to different types of vendors, like I said before, each of them have different sets of rules and parameters that we have to follow. With something like a enamel pens, we're dealing with both ink colors and actually the color of actual metal. So with these actual pens, we showed the exact sizing that we're looking for, the metal color that we'd like to use, which is raised copper metal and then the two Pantone colors that we're planning on using. So we call stuff like that out and also we get a specific as showing what's going to be on the back of the pen too. We can show where we'd like to have the pen placement and also what kind of color the rubber backing we'd like to create, and also our copyright information, our logo, all really in this one file. So it's one file that we can send to the vendor that is completely usable and hopefully, this gives them enough information that the next step is to show us a sample, which is always helpful to see the quality that they can provide and also the amount of colors that are available within the process. Something like patches, however, is a little bit different. They don't necessarily use Pantones. What we usually send them is a vector file and then they pick the colors based of what they have available. So much more limited palette. So this is what that final product ended up looking like. But in order to get to this point, we actually have to go back and forth with them with samples. So once we sent the vector file to them, this is the first round that we got, which is simply a photograph of the work. We went through a couple of processes of telling them how we'd like to make some changes, for example, the areas that we're using blue thread, we actually wanted it to be considered twill. So we actually sent back a note saying, "Please change those things to a twill color." They even sent us a photograph of the threads that they have available, all the colors and we picked out the specific ones. Then they sent us another round and it looked much better. We just asked for one more change, which was changing that blue twill color and this is what ended up happening. So once we find that we're in a position that this looks good in photograph form and seeing a sample of each patch, actually we'll pull the trigger and ask them to make the whole run and it's good way of having quality control for your products. So it's something like our patch vendor. We have the luxury of seeing a photo of the actual patch before they complete the full run. In other cases, we might be working with the vendor where we just have to look at a digital proof or something more preliminary before we can actually sign off on the full run. So for something like our beer labels, we might get a printed digital proof like this. Something like this is not necessarily meant to be a perfect color matching proof, but more just as a way to review, make sure all the content is on there that were looking for and also just review all the job information knowing this is going to print CMYK offset. It's going to have an opaque white base layer. There's a lot of specifics on here, about how this gets printed for actual beer labeling, so is very specific, but it's kind of a universal thought as far as when you are working with a print vendor, just making sure you're reviewing every little last detail. This is also a good time to make sure that all your spelling is correct, all the information is in there because this is going to be your last chance to make a change like that. So for something like these cans, one other thing I like to do is actually print out a proof for myself. This is just a laser printer, but what we like about that is that a laser printer is pretty clean in that you don't get a lot of ink bleed. So we can look at things like the sizing of type, tiny little things like in this case the government warning and make sure that it's all legible. So these are all ways to set yourself up for success. Before the actual print run starts, you can use these tools to make sure that you're on the right track and we can actually compare these to the final prints. So in this case, all of our sizing and everything, we knew in advance how that was going to look and when we compare it to our printed proof, we can see that we basically got what we were looking for. So those are all ways that you can work in advance with a vendor to make sure that you're going to get the results that you're looking for. So assuming all has gone to plan up to this point, you will now arrive at the day when your project is actually going to be printed by a printer. Depending on where your vendor is and how they work, you may not have the luxury of actually attending a press check, but in some cases when the printers nearby and they invite us, we're able to attend press check and actually be there while the project is being printed. This can be super helpful because even with things like Pantone books, sometimes things can vary a little bit on press, and if you can be there to catch those issues, it's all the better. So an example of that are these beer labels. These were printed on an offset press and this is the role of how they come off the printer. So during a press check for something like this, they'll get the job printing and basically show you this example. So the things we typically look for are first and foremost, making sure again that all the content is there and correct, hopefully it matches everything from every previous proof that you've reviewed, but it's just one last chance to double check that. Then the other main thing is color. At this point, you don't have a ton of will room as far as changing colors, unless you really want them to pull the project off the press and start again. But for something like this in CMYK printing, so for each of those four colors, we can push and pull them a little bit and by that I mean you can add a little bit more, a little less color. So I think with this particular project, when it first came off the press, it look very dark because the magenta and yellow colors were printing quite heavily. So we were able to pull that back a little bit and get this peach color that we were going for, and had I not attended the press check, that's not a change we would have had the luxury of making. Again, talk to your vendors, learn what the options are. But this is one last step that you can include in the process to ensure a quality product. Don't forget, if you're going to spend the time to do something like this, factor that into the budget for a project you want to be paid for your time of doing something like this if you're doing it for a client. So yeah, press check's one last way to ensure a good quality product from a vendor. 4. Tip 3: Price Your Work: In this tip, we're going to approach the very daunting subject of pricing. Pricing is pretty complicated for most people in terms of how much is their work worth. Do you charge hourly? Do you charge on a per-project basis? What are your expenses in how you want to appropriately estimate based off that? We're going to go through all those details now. So determining how to price our work is something that's come over years and years and years of trial and error, seeing what we can charge for our work, trying to raise our rates at times. So it's this whole big complex world. But we wanted to touch on a few different ways that you can price your work and how we typically approach things. At the most basic level, it's important to understand what your hourly rate should be, whether you're charging hourly not. A really simple way to figure that out is to basically look at a period of time, let's say a week or a month. Figure out what your living expenses are for that week. Whether that's rent, food, whatever expenses you have in your life. Don't forget to factor in things like savings, taxes, and basically then divide that big lump sum of expenses buy the number of hours you plan to work each week, and you end up with an hourly rate that's basically required to break even or if you mess with those numbers of wanting to put more in savings, or retirements, or all those things that we'd all like to save for, what's that hourly rate going to be? It's quite possible that you're never going to share this hourly rate with the client or anyone you work with, but it's good to have that at the back of your mind whenever you start pricing. When we price a project, we're typically doing it on a project basis, meaning, we're going to charge a flat fee for that project. There may be different components to it that will break down in an estimate like this one, but we're not going to really reveal that hourly rate to a client. The reason for that is something called value-based pricing. If you make a logo for your friend's band versus getting hired to make a logo for Coca-Cola, obviously, those two different entities are going to value those logos very differently. It's a much hire stakes project for a company like Coca-Cola, where it's going to be used in such a widespread way. So we definitely know that our minimum is going to be based on an hourly rate. So let's say your hourly rate is $100 an hour. You think a project is going to take you 10 hours. Therefore, the project should be $1,000. That's just to use made up numbers. But then you need to look beyond that, who the client is and how the work is going to be used, and come up with pricing based on that. So with this example estimate I have here, we have a few different scenarios that we're presenting to this imaginary client. We're saying this is an ad campaign that's going to include illustrations. We're also starting to describe some of the things that are going to be in the contract, such as including some initial sketched options. The client is going to select one and then have up to two rounds of revision before we deliver the final art. We're also going to give them some pricing options depending on usage. So when we talk about usage, this is something I wish we new early in our career, that there's not just one price for a project and you're giving that logo or poster, whatever it is to your client to own. In this case, we charge a presentation-only fee, meaning the client can pay us to do the work, but they're not allowed to use that work in their ad campaign, or as their logo, or on there website, or whatever the usage might be until they pay a separate usage fee for that, and that can be really handy way to negotiate with clients. If they don't want to pay a higher rate, you could say, how about you just use this artwork for a year and if you decide you want to keep using it after that, you can re-up the usage? That can have pros and cons because if you do something like that, now you need two put on your calendar a year from now, let me track down that client, make sure they're not using it after the end of the term if they want to renegotiate. So it can be great to have a client sign up for a full buyout, where they own the work outright, and you can charge more for that. This whole idea of usage can get very complicated because there's all types of usage scenarios. It can be anything from what regions or what countries is the work going to be used in. Is it being used for all different types of media, or just print, or digital? So there's a couple of good sources to look to for this. One person we've learned a ton from is our fellow Skillshare teacher, Jessica Hische. She has a great article on her website called The Dark Art of Pricing. So we highly recommend checking that out, talks a lot about usage. Then the Graphic Artists Guild also has a book called Pricing and Ethical Guidelines, and that really gets deep into the widths about how much you might charge for different things and all the different usage scenarios to think of. So with that idea in mind, you can start to think about different scenarios to help give your client options of different levels of pricing. Especially when you're starting out, designing for the first time, it can be scary to throw out a price because you don't want a client to simply turn you down and walk away if that's a project that you really need. So this can be a way to provide a range and give yourself a safety net of knowing that it's just the beginning of the conversation with the client and you're not necessarily giving them an ultimatum. We always recommend always pursuing a higher rate as time goes on because your skill sets are going to change. You're going to be more evolve as an artist and a business person. You might as well with inflation add to your price range. So if you explain to your client that over the course of these years, we've raised our prices, they should respect the fact that you're a business person too and either say yes or they can politely say no. We've dealt with that plenty of times. It can be tricky because sometimes the client may ask you to work at a lower rate because it's going to be great exposure for you or they're offering these other incentives to work with them. Then it may be tricky the next time a project comes around to say, "Okay. We have to charge you full freight this time." They say, "Actually, could you give us the prorate that you gave us the first time?" So it can be really tough to decide, and especially if you're at a place where you're not willing to walk away from certain jobs weighing the pros and cons of if you're able to raise your rates or stick to those rates. So we're always trying to look at raising our rates when we can, but also be mindful that there are projects where we do want the exposure or it's a pro bono project for a good cause that we support. Hopefully, in those situations, you have the higher-paying projects that are supplementing the passion projects that you want to do. So we try to always have that balance, but being mindful of the pricing structure for the bigger projects allows you to have that flexibility of adapting on the fly a little bit. You may be wondering why we haven't brought up any specific numbers in this pricing conversation, and there's a reason for that. Everyone is in a different state of their career and lives in different locations. For example, I live in Los Angeles, Nathan lives in San Francisco, and our cost of living is higher. So in order for us to conquer our expenses, we actually have to charge more for our design services, and that's a good way to start the conversation in terms of pricing. But it doesn't really stop there. We wish we could just tell you, "This is what you should charge. " But over the course of our career, our locations really haven't changed either, but our pricing has gone up based off of the value we perceive our work to be. So think of yourself as an artist and what you want to make in terms of making enough money to actually survive, but also what your worth in terms of your talent. If you're still confused on what you should be charging, open up the conversation to your colleagues. We learned how to price our work based off of talking to other people that are in the same position as we are. Should we charge this amount? They say, "Actually, maybe charge a little bit more. I've worked with this client before" That's a great way to figure out where to start. 5. Tip 4: Understand Your Contract: So now that you've had a conversation about pricing, you've built an estimate for your client, and the project is greenlit, it may be instinctful just to start working on a project right now. We've been guilty of that several times early in our career where we just get excited when we want to start the project. But there's a couple more steps that are necessary to make sure that you're protected, and those two subjects are getting your deposit and making sure you have an appropriate contract with your client. A contract is going to help both you and the client because it's really going to put everything in writing you've discussed, and make sure it's really clear what you're bringing to the table as well as what your clients responsibilities are. So this is an example of the contract that we use for most projects. Like a lot of things we have discussed, we like to keep things as simple as possible. Sometimes we get contracts from our clients that are dozens of pages. Ideally, if we can initiate the process and use our own contract, we like building on that rather than working with theirs because it can get very complicated. But we highly recommend that in any scenario, you have a lawyer take a look at your contract or the contracts you get from clients, that can be super helpful in just starting to understand some of this legal ease that can be difficult to understand. Our lawyer gave us the advice of when we read a contract and we asked her or his advice, he says, "Whatever vibe you're generally getting from a contract, whether you understand every single word or not, is generally what's happening in that contract." So you don't have to be a lawyer to understand generally what's going on, but always good to have an actual attorney take a look. So everything in bold in this contract and underlined are the areas where we plug and play the different pieces of information depending on a project. So obviously, the client name, the date, the project description. This part where we define the work is very important because this is where we're going to plug in whatever we determined from the estimate. So in this case, 3-5 initial design comps, up to two rounds of revision followed by final artwork. We also point out how we're going to deliver the final files. Because if we're going to need to separate color separations with the client, something like that, we want to make sure that's factored in and they know what they're getting. Another thing we highly recommend that you include in a contract are the rights to the final art, and we talked about usage earlier. This is where you would define what the usage terms are. In this sample, the client is getting unlimited, perpetual, and worldwide right and license to use the final art. But you may have a situation that defines a full buyout, you may have a situation that's only a year or less usage terms, but here's where you define that. As far as the deposit goes, we have this compensation clause that basically defines that we would get paid 50 percent upfront, and then 50 percent within 10 days of finishing the project. When it comes to deposits for a project, there's a number of ways to go about it. Our default setting is to get 50 percent upfront, but it really depends on a number of factors. Sometimes it can be deliverable-based if we're doing several parts of a project over time, we could build for it in different chunks. It could also depend on when you or the client are looking to exchange that money. So in some cases, if we're getting to the end of the fiscal year, a client may say they want to frontload the payment more. So there's a lot of ways you can go about doing it. But ultimately, you want to protect yourself. So I would say have a conversation with your client, decide what you're comfortable with, decide what makes the best sense for them. For larger projects, definitely feel free to break it up into several payments. You can get paid more quickly if it's a smaller project and maybe just to deposit, and a final payment makes sense. When we're dealing with larger clients like big corporations, oftentimes those could be up to net 90 terms where we're waiting three months to get a payment. So in cases like that, it's especially important to have that schedule in place so we make sure that there's a certain amount of cash flow coming into the business. Also, it's a way for clients to reserve our time. If we know we have a contract into deposit in place, we feel much more confident in reserving our schedule for that client as opposed to just hoping and waiting that the project is going to materialize. So lots of moving parts. But as long as you're open with that discussion with your client and establish a certain payment schedule and deposit, you should be in good shape to proceed with the project. Going on from there, talking about things like completion dates and client responsibilities, we want to make sure that the client understands that if they're providing copy, or content, or need to sign-off on revisions, it's their responsibility as well to make sure we're meeting the completion dates. One time in our work where we do work with hourly rates is with changes that go above and beyond the scope of a project. So let's say we complete this project. we do our two rounds of revisions, but the client still wants more work done. At that point, we would typically charge an hourly rate for whatever's left to be done, and here's where we would define that. This is another one. We've learned the hard way of having completed work, getting excited to share it in our portfolio, and then we find out from the client that the work is confidential, that it can never be shared. With our work, a lot of the way that we advertise ourselves as being able to share the work that we do for clients. So in this case, we always include this promotion clause in our contract where we can make sure that we're allowed to show the work in our portfolio. If there's any exceptions to that, we make sure to discuss that with the client first. So this whole contract is a little over a page, it's really basic. But there's a couple of resources out there. If you need to develop a more complex contract or have any specific clauses that you want to add. AIGA, the professional design organization, they have a PDF available online, that's their standard form of agreement. It's several 100 pages. But you can scroll through and pick out the pieces that make sense for your contract. So a lot of what's in this contract like that promotion clause have come from that AIGA document. Similarly, we mentioned the graphic artists skilled pricing and ethical guidelines, and that also has things you can pull for adding to your contract. So it doesn't have to be too scary, you can write contracts with just perfectly normal standard English. It doesn't need to be complex legal terminology or anything, and those are some good resources to take a look at to help build your own contract. 6. Tip 5: Organize Your Files: For this tip, we're going to talk about file hygiene. When I say file hygiene, I mean finding an appropriate folder structure within your computer so that you can easily find your files. As designers, our files are our biggest asset and we need to be able to find them quickly and efficiently, and also be able to save storage on our computers that we're using to design on. So for the first part of this tip, we want to talk more about Cloud-based storage, why it's important to us, and how we use it. We use Dropbox, and one great thing about it is that within the files that we use, it saves version history. So for example, this is our ventana art print series and I can click into these and look at the version history, and that's a great way, especially if Dan and I are going back and forth on a project and I say, "You know what, I actually like the version that you made yesterday and not the changes from today," we can go back and grab that. Or if you accidentally delete something from your Illustrator artboard, you can also go back. So this is a nice way of having this whole redundant backup system without needing to do it yourself. Another thing that's nice about Cloud-based storage systems is that you have the opportunity of putting the majority of your files in the Cloud while keeping a select amount on your computer that you're using currently to design a project, for example. So what we have on our personal computers is a limited amount of files based off of projects that are ongoing and happening currently, whereas anything that happened in the past, we actually have in the Cloud in a specific folder within Dropbox. So we use a two-part folder structure with our Cloud storage. We have our active project folder, which is where we keep any project that we're currently working on, things were about to jump into, projects that are currently wrapping up and maybe we haven't shared yet, anything that's pretty recent. Then beyond that, we have this archive folder in Dropbox, and that's where all the other projects that we've completed go to remain in our deep storage. We can still go in there and access those projects whenever needed, but they're not taking up space on our machines. Currently, they're just in the Cloud. Once we're getting ready to work on a new project, we try to use a very consistent folder structure within that project every time so we know exactly where we're going to find files. So right here is an example of our ventana art print series and these are the main folders that we pretty much always include with every project. The drafts folder is typically where we store different versions of the file, and this is a nice quick way to see how the project's developing and make sure we're on the right track. A links folder. For any of you that work in Illustrator, you know that if you're bringing files into Illustrator that are bitmaps, or photos, or anything like that, having it as a link rather than an embedded file is a good way to save space. The trouble is that sometimes it'll ask you for a linked file and you have no idea where it is. So when we're working with this links folder, we make sure to always save a copy of that image even if it's something we've used somewhere else before. We know now it's linking to this particular folder within this particular project and not somewhere else so we have everything collected in one place. The reference folder is usually one of the first folders we create for a project and this is just all our initial research, anything we're going to take a look at. For this particular project, we were looking a lot at Mexican windows, so we just started compiling photos and found imagery and that all kicks off the project in this folder. Next up in the structure is our seps folder, that's short for separations. This is where we're going to compile the final files that are going to be going to the vendor, to the client. We know that if we need the actual completed finals, it's going to live here. So it's helpful for us that we can always know this is where the actual final lives and we have other places where we can put any of those working versions of the finals. The next folder is sketches. Sometimes this could also be called sketches and mock-ups. Again, it depends on the project but in this case, we jumped right into sketches of these windows. These were more of thumbnails, and then as we went, we revised the design more and more to something like this. Again, every project typically has some type of sketch or some type of basic mock-up that we would have in this folder. One thing that we do a lot are process videos, and this was a project where we made a process video. So in this case, we have this folder and as we're doing screen recordings, we can save each one into this folder, and then once we're ready to make a process video, we know to just look in the video folder for the project. So the working files folder is really the heart of the project and this is where we're actually building the files that go into the project. So this folder is really a catch-all of anything that's going into the actual workings of the project. If it doesn't really have another home, it can go here. But for the most part, this is where our Illustrator files live, our Photoshop files, the actual working files before we send this off and package the project. We talked about the importance of searchability within project folders, within Dropbox, finding specific projects. But you also need to be able to search for the specific files easily. So we try to always use the same naming conventions for naming our files. So typically, I would start by naming the project name literally with whatever the project name is. Again, lowercase, underscores. I would include the dimensions of the project. So in this case, let's say I'm doing an 18 by 24 poster. I might put the year if this is part of an ongoing series just to know the most recent version, and then I'll also put my initials at the end. The reason for that is particular to the way that Dan and I work because we collaborate on almost all of our work. If we're both working on a project at the same time, it's helpful to each save our own versions under our initials and then we always know whose is whose. Lastly, I'll put a number just to know this is Version 1. As you can see in a file structure like that ventana example, within the working files, you can see there was dk, then two, three, four, so we can always take a look at what the most recent file was and search for these files by name if we ever need to reference them in the future. So lastly on the topic of file hygiene is how we actually use the finder within our Apple interface. The view that I've been using for most of this is the column view just because it's easy to unpack these folders and see the folder structure of where you've come from, and also be able to see a thumbnail preview of what the file is. However, sometimes I may have a working files folder or drafts folder that has hundreds of images in it and it might not be easy for me to just scroll through and find the most recent version. So for that, I click on this here, the list view. The way I use this most often is with the date modified set to sort it by the most recent, and then I can easily just click and see that this was the most recent draft that was saved and that's often the one that I'm either going to comment on to get feedback or sent to a client. So that's an easy way to track things down. Another nice thing you can do with the finder is customize this favorites bar on the left side. So what I'll often do is drag folders over here that are commonly accessed projects. So if I was actively working on this ventana art prints project, I would drag it into the side and now rather than having to dig through the entire folder structure each time, I can just click there and have easy access to the project. Once you've completed a project and you no longer need that easy access in your favorites bar, you can either drag it out of the sidebar to delete it or just right-click and say removed from sidebar, and you can constantly be updating that to give you easy access to your most recent projects. So this tip on file hygiene might seem elementary, or basic, or pretty common knowledge, but the reason we brought it up is because it's a practice that needs to turn into a habit. It's actually very hard to retroactively change the way we organize our files but if you get started early in the process and have a system, you're always able to easily search your files and have less headaches and more time efficiency over the long run. 7. Tip 6: Schedule Your Time: So when it comes to managing our time, we've always found that the simplest approach is the best. To be honest, we've tried more complex project management tools like base camp, but we've always found that the approach is more simple, we're going to be more likely to update it and stay on top of it. So the solution we found for managing our time and our to-do list is really just a simple combination of our shared calendar and a document that has our weekly to-do's. Every week, we get together, discuss everything that's on our plate and we start to add those into our calendar. So for this tip, we're going to walk through how we go through that to-do list, how we create those to-do items, and then how we determine how much time we need to schedule for each project and jigsaw that into our calendar. Like Nathan was saying, once a week, we go over it, a to-do list that's weekly. Since we worked remotely, we actually e-mail each other to-do lists with the subject line DKNG this week. More recently, we have started organizing it by year to be even more specific. So DKNG this week 2019, for example. It's just a simple to-do list of all the ongoing projects we have. It's saved as a document here, but usually, it's within an e-mail thread that's constantly being updated once a week. So you can see that it just list out projects and specific to-do's based off of that project. So you can see all the different ongoing projects for this week that we've been working on. We highlight certain things based off of like their progress. So let's say that we're done with something, but we're waiting to hear back from the client. We'll actually put a little tag next to it that says, "Pending." Then we'll actually start organizing things based on priority as well. So if something needs to be done quicker, we actually put it at the top of the list. Whereas, something with less priority, ends up getting pushed down in the bottom of the list. So when looking at a to-do list that as broad as this one, you can see that we have items that basically say poster due, and that can be a bit daunting in terms of seeing it as a whole process. What we'd like to do is brake down the way something is done into smaller bites that are basically more palatable. So let's say a poster that is due means that there's a show date, there's a time when we need to actually have file sent to a printer, there's the time we need to design it, there's the time that we need the schedules for sketching, and all those little things can be broken down, and that makes it a lot easier for you to accomplish a much larger task when you break it up into smaller pieces. This is a good way for us to get a clearer idea of exactly what's on our plate, but doesn't really stop there. We actually use this as a jumping off point to have a visual component as well. So here's an example of a fairly open schedule, and you can see that we have general life stuff, DKNG ongoing projects and just general scheduling that's in place for us to work around, but more or less, this month is fairly open. So when we get a new project, let's say for new bands, we know based off of their concert date, how we should organize our schedules. So let's say, for example, that they're concert dates on the end of the month, let's say the 30th. So for this, we're going to have say The Decemberists, and I'm going to go ahead and call it Show, and I have it set to our Cloud-based calendar under DKNG, so Nathan and I can both see it. Based off using vendors, this particular project has a screen printer. Typically, they want to have at least a week to print the poster, and we also have to account for shipping time. So typically, we would want to have files delivered to actual printer, lets say two weeks prior. So I'm going to go ahead and just on the 17th or the 16th, say show poster files due. Then based off that, we're working backwards. So in order for us to have files to the printer, we also need to have the project essentially done, but we need to actually have the process of sending sketches to the client, giving ourselves enough time to actually create the project. So two weeks prior to that, we're going to actually attempt to send sketches to the band. So on this actual date, I'm going to say Decemberists Sketches. You can see pretty quickly that just from one project, multiple days are really filling in the calendar. We'll want to give ourselves maybe like two to three days for the band to get back to us, which gives us this week as our sweet spot of like working on the project. So typically, there'll be multiple days, let's say two to three days. So I'm going to go ahead and just sit in the middle of the week, just to be safe, save. Decemberists Poster, and we'll make it the 7th to the 9th. So just from one project, you can see that basically, there's six days accounted for just for this one project. When another project comes in, obviously, the schedule starts filling up, and we don't have much room to work around, but we can see our open days still. Depending on the due day of certain things, we can move things around. Let's say, we need two days to work on another project back-to-back, we can just shift this over and make it the 8th to the 10th, and let's say the printer needs files sooner, we can move this as well, but it's like a visual weight to move puzzle pieces. Typically, when we're working with previous dates, this is how packed our schedule can look, you can see that basically we have a combination of our personal lives when we're out of town or actual projects that are ongoing, and you can see very much that everything has its own slot, but there's not too much overlap in terms of working on three different projects on one day. It's more like designate times based off of the length of a project, and other times, for other projects. But the overlap is as minimal as possible. Knowing how long each piece takes is something we've figured out over time, but one thing that hasn't changed is that projects pretty much always take longer than you think they will. So that takes us to another bigger idea which is to under promise and over-deliver. So often, we'll schedule things far in advance to make sure they get done, and clients never going to be upset if you've got something done early. The double-edged sword of that is if you get something done too early, they might question, "Did you spend enough time on this? Now, we have a lot of extra time for revisions." So we tried to time things as accurately as we can. So we're fitting that sweet spot of getting done with enough time on our hands, but not too much time. We've gotten pretty good at that over the years, just trial and error, figuring out how long things take. Obviously, it's very rudimentary system for scheduling, but it's what works for us. You may be part of a larger team that needs more robust project management. But for us, we found that the shared calendar has been our best asset for working together. 8. Tip 7: Optimize Your Space: For this tip, we wanted to talk a bit about desk ergonomics and how you position your body as you work throughout the day. Whether you're an artist or not, ergonomics is a big part of most people's jobs because most of us are sitting at a desk all day working on a computer. So we wanted to talk a bit about how we think about it in our work. A lot of this is common sense stuff that would make sense even if you're not drawing all day. But because we rely on our bodies for what we do for work, we want to make sure that it's part of our daily habits to think about how we're positioning ourselves and what we find that we're guilty of sometimes is that we get so absorbed into our work that we can sometimes find ourselves sitting or standing in unhealthy positions. So we wanted to talk a bit through how we both sit and stand at our desks throughout the day, and some of the things we try to remind ourselves of to make sure that we're staying in a healthy position. Some of the features that you can focus on in terms of your position are always focusing on your posture. Making sure you have a straight back. It's pretty easy to over the course of the day ending up slouching. But always just remind yourself as much as you can to make your chest go up in the air as much as possible, arch your back a little bit, and try not to slouch. Your chair will certainly help with this. So if you have an ergonomic chair, it'll provide support in the back region. Another thing to remember is keeping your keyboard and if you use a mouse or trackpad both as close as you can to you, and also to give yourself an appropriate amount of space so that your arms are at a 90 degree angle. For me, I use a mouse most of the time. One thing I've found is that if I'm getting really absorbed in a project, I will start to creep closer to the display, and at the same time, my hand might drift toward the screen too. So I might get to the end of the day and get into a position where I'm really stretched out. I try to think about it the way that a chef or bartender might work with their [inaudible] and having everything in easy arm's reach. So I try to just always have this reminder to myself too whenever I take a break, which is super important to take breaks. I try to make sure that all my tools are still close by so I can maintain that good posture. Distance really is about efficiency. So the further away you have things that you use the most frequently, the more time you're going to spend reaching for those things. So as long as you keep the most used devices near you, you're not doing as much reaching throughout the day and it really does add up. So like Nathan is saying, if over the course of his day his arm reaches out and he's doing this, he's going to build a lot of tension in his arm and he's constantly going to have to reach for his mouse every time he's trying to make a change. Whereas if he's keeping things close, then there's really no change to be made. You're just constantly in the position that you need to be in. One thing we've learned is that it's not great to stand all day or sit all day. We're always trying to remind ourselves to make sure to get up, take breaks, move around. One trick that we used to do at my office to help with that is once an hour, an alarm would go off. At that point, we would pull a card from a deck of cards and whatever number card that was, we would do that many push-ups. It was just a fun little game we played to get ourselves up and moving once an hour. So there's all kinds of ways that you can trick yourself into making sure you're taking breaks and moving and resetting throughout the day. For me, my little trick is I usually have my water canister on my desk at all times. Once I have it almost empty, I decide to stand up and refill it. This is not really ergonomic talk, but to stay hydrated in terms of your workday is like a good rhythm for me. So I'll basically drink through the whole thing, get up, and reset my position on my body when I come back to the desk based off of my routine of getting water. One other general health thing in what we do day-to-day is because we spend so much time looking at our screens, it can really cause a lot of eye fatigue and eyes strain, and it can also cause problems with things like sleep if you're looking at blue light all the way up until bedtime. So one thing I started doing was wearing these blue light filtering glasses. They're also my prescription which also cuts down on eye fatigue, and I've noticed that they have helped with sleeping better and I don't feel as tired throughout the day or feel like I'm straining to look at things. So if you do wear glasses or contacts, it's another thing to consider about limiting blue light throughout the day. There's also things like night shift on Apple displays that you can use to look at less blue light. It's tricky for us because we work in a visual medium, we want color to be super accurate. So you may not want night shift turned on if you're dealing with color proofing or something like that. But it's a nice reminder that if I am just reading a document or doing something that doesn't require perfect colors, I can avoid that blue light as much as possible. Sometimes when it comes to ergonomic design on your desk, it comes in the form of just listening to your body. For me, it really just came out of necessity. I was starting to feel back pain and then eventually wrist pain, and I didn't quite understand what was going on, and once I went to a doctor and asked what was happening, he suggested that I start really thinking about ergonomics and switching to a stand/sit desk. The main point he was giving is that if you're going to sit at your desk the same position all day, you're probably unknowingly leaning into something that's causing extra strain on one part of your body. So for me, having my wrist out like this all day, I was actually leaning in like this. But getting a stand/sit desk was allowing me to reposition myself throughout the day. When I stand, I'm not in a completely different position. Probably within I would say two weeks, all the pain went away and it was all about just making a minor change. It doesn't necessarily have to just be changing your desk so that you can stand. Think about your posture and your day-to-day routine, and that pain may just go away just based off of simple changes such as your posture. Next up, we're going to show you what a sit/stand desk looks like and we're going to move a couple of things around to show you that. So now that we have our sit/stand setup ready, there's a couple of things to note. With setups like these where it goes directly on the desk, it's fully adjustable. So depending on how high you are, you can get it to a certain level that's comfortable for you. The reason they call it sit/stand is that you can actually adjust it so that you can be sitting sometimes and standing others. So right here, I'm going to leave it so that my arms are at a 90 degree. It doesn't have to be perfectly 90 degree, but this feels comfortable to me. Another thing to keep in mind is your keyboard, your trackpad, and your mouse are about this length away, and that will be dictated by that angle as well. So you can see, if I had it out here, I'm changing that 90 degree angle. But right here feels pretty good. The screen itself is really based off of your eyesight. So right here is where I'm going to draw a line to the top of the screen. That feels pretty good to me. If your screen is not very adjustable in terms of its height, you can adjust it with a book, for example. So if I wanted to adjust a screen that's just being stubborn and not going high enough, obviously I can bring it up and do something like this. Another thing to keep in mind is the distance the screen is from your eyes. So right now, the rule of thumb we're using is the length between your elbow and your fingertips is the distance between the screen and your eyes. So more or less like two feet. So that's where I'm at. Then lastly, you'll notice based off of where your office situation is, your floor might feel fatiguing. Let's say you have a hardwood floor. Over time, your feet get sore. They do provide anti-fatigue mats which basically are padded. So that's another recommendation we'd give you in terms of making sure that you can work for a longer period of time. When I first started using sit/stand desks, I was so used to designing with my posture being in a seat and it was really hard to adjust at that time. But it was really important to transfer that mindset to a standing position because that's the majority of the work that I'm used to doing. The reason you want to change your position is that you're changing your posture and being more mindful of how your body reacts to your work. So I'd say whatever you're used to doing, push through and try to see if you can work in this different format and your body will thank you for it. 9. Tip 8: Procrastinate...Productively: One of the pitfalls of running a creative business is that when a new project is dropped in our lap, part of the process is being creative and creating that project, designing, illustrating. Even though we have a calendar set where certain days this is when we have it slotted to work on that project, you might not physically or mentally feel ready to be creative and it's not as simple as ready, set, go, be an artist, design something. But one of the advantages of running a creative business is the business side, meaning that we have lots of different hats that we wear, a lot of different tasks that are outside of the creative world. In order to actually be productive, we can do something we call productive procrastination, which is basically procrastinating on maybe the creative side of something, but getting other work done that's business-related. Maybe a bit more mundane. But if you get that out of the way, you open up time in the future for something more creative. I don't designate all the different tasks that I could be doing just a business. Sometimes it includes just basically life tasks on your to-do list or something as simple as just clearing the clutter on your desk. Usually, what I'll do is I'll put myself in a more clean environment, basically reducing clutter in my mind and I'm reducing clutter quite physically in front of me. It also includes going through all your e-mails and just making sure that the amount of new e-mails that are in your inbox are now down to zero. So the less things you have around you that are potential to-do lists, the easier it is for you to get ready to just basically start a new task, especially if that task is more daunting and carries a lot more motivation like illustration. One thing you'll start to find based on this idea is also if there are particular times of day when you do your best work. So you may start to find that this idea of procrastination is happening more in the morning or more in the evenings. In our case, I feel like a lot of our creative work takes place in the afternoon and it kind of is a nice way to set the table for the creative work. To know that in the morning, you're getting your e-mails out of the way, budgeting stuff, financials, anything like that. Do that when you want to do that kind of analytical work, and then once you're ready, dive into the creative stuff. We don't always have the luxury of being able to choose. Sometimes we have to be creative on-demand, but at least we know ourselves well enough to know how to set that up. If we do find a moment where we just can't sit down and draw at that moment, we know that we have so much stuff on our plate that's still needs to get done and at least we can rest a little easier knowing that that work is off our plate and now we have more free time to be creative. Don't confuse that with time off from your job. We find, in order to be creative, a big part of not getting burned out is needing to take appropriate time off. That can be weekends, evenings, vacations. But really anything to go out in the world and be inspired so then when you come back to your desk, you're ready to do that creative work. Because if you get burned out, it's going to hurt the quality of the work, the amount of time it takes you as much as you may feel the need and we feel this a lot to be constantly working. We also realize we're going to get better work out of ourselves if we do take that time off to deal with personal things, vacations, whatever it may be. Oftentimes we find when we come back from a trip or something, we're super excited to sit down and get back to work. So we try to keep that even balance going constantly. So we're always putting our best work out into the world. The idea of productive procrastination kind of came organically throughout our career. Since we are just two people team, what happens is that when we stop working, essentially the business stops working. So in order for us to stay effective, even if we don't feel like doing one task, almost like a guilt-ridden feeling, we feel like we need to be productive anyway. So that's when we switch our tasks to something else that we feel like we can't accomplish and eventually started using the term productive procrastination, which is essentially just pushing aside one thing in order to do another. But in all cases, there's always work being done. So even without naming it productive procrastination, this is something you may already be doing in your own workflow. You may find that you gravitate towards certain types of tasks during different times of day and you try to avoid others at other times. So start to think about that a little bit more critically and look at when you do the best type of work during your work day, and you may find that you can schedule your time a little bit better. 10. Tip 9: Automate Your Replies: So when it comes to being efficient with our time, one thing we're often looking for is how we can reduce the amount of monotonous, repetitive tasks that we're having to do. One thing that we found with our company is that we were responding to the same types of e-mail questions over and over again. Things like if certain products in our store were still available, if we're hiring, how long shipping time takes, it could be any number of questions, and you can take a look at your own job and what are the repetitive tasks that you might be able to address with solutions like this. So a few different ways that we've approached this problem is by developing an FAQ page and also by developing prescripted e-mails. So you can see on our website, we actually have our FAQ here as its own page. You can see here that basically has a prompting question and our typical answer. These questions and answers developed over time based off repetition. A lot of people in the beginning were asking like, "What is DKNG stand for?" That's when we start doing introduction of who we are as a company and like Nathan was saying, jobs or internships are one of those things that people asked about a lot too. Quite honestly, we just put on our website that we're not offering jobs or internships at the moment. But if we have it on our website, that could deter people from writing a personally e-mail to us and see this first before writing something specific to us. Then we categorize it too based off of how people contact us or specific questions about our posters. A lot of the common questions we get are about the retail side of our business. So things like, "Where's my order?" Or, "How long does it take you to fulfill an order?" These common questions actually can be found on a separate page. We actually call it shipping and returns, which is in the bottom here. This just goes over all the basics in terms of how our company works, just on the retail side. So we talk about the days of week that we ship, what happens if it's going domestically, internationally? What tracking is available for certain types of products? What happens if it's missing, damaged, and even throw in? What happens if you ordered us over certain amount, do you get free shipping? That all being said, both pages put out as much information as possible that works as a process of elimination for incoming traffic. After that, if people want to reach out to us and have additional questions, then the e-mail process starts. The idea with all these FAQs is that we want to be helpful, we want to give people the answers they're looking for. But we also would need to be mindful of our time, and I can't go to a client and say, "Sorry, we missed the deadline. I was too busy answering questions." So the idea here is to have this mix of providing as much information as we can and helping people as much as we can. But at the same time, being as defensive of our time as we can be and knowing we can only dedicate a certain amount of time each day to non-revenue generating tasks, and as cold and calculated as that may sound, we want to make sure that we stay on task and we're meeting our own goals while at the same time, answering questions as efficiently as we can. So beyond our FAQ page, we still get a lot of similar e-mails with common questions. So for that, we looked at how we could even automate our e-mails, so we're not spending too much time responding to e-mails on a daily basis. So we came up with this system of using e-mail signatures as a way to prepopulate the responses and we can customize them as needed, but it's a quick way to have these repetitive e-mails ready to go without having to compose them from scratch each and every time. So Nathan and I work exclusively with the mail apps through Apple, just so that we can have a consistent interface and we know that what we're looking at is the same thing. It's just how we've basically developed our company, but we understand other people use like Gmail and Outlook and all that stuff. But in terms of working within mail to create a custom signature, you want to go to preferences. Within preferences, you'll see this top tab up here where you can actually find custom signatures, and you can see we have a prepopulated area of signatures that we use on a daily basis. The most common one is just our flat signature. But in other areas, you can see that we have one that's like an answer to an e-mail inquiring about a sold out poster. So this one's basically explaining the poster is in fact sold out, you can find it on these websites and then having my signature after that. So it's a combination of a signature and a message forming itself as a custom signature. You can see that we have it for a wholesale increase, if people are wanting to ask about an interview or hiring, and all these things can be created by pushing the plus sign and starting from scratch basically, having your message and your signature and saving in this area. But if you have multiple accounts, you can also move these signatures into those accounts. So for something like sold out or whole sale, I'm going to move those to the sales area and anything that's more about our company in general, I'm going to have the hiring and interview areas. So as an example, you can see that this annoying customer named Nathan Goldman is asking about a sold out poster, typical. I'm going to go ahead and respond. But rather than spending too much time personalizing this e-mail, I'm actually going to use my signature. You can see and it's prepopulated area, there's a sold out tab. If you click it, the area that we just created for is sold out response prepopulates. From there, I can customize, so to just don't look so rude, I can say, "Hello Nathan," and then send it off like that. But that saves me a whole bunch of time versus coming up and composing an entirely new e-mail based off this common question. We actually have a system for doing this in Gmail, it's not as intuitive but there is a workaround. So if you go to the settings area and push this gear first, then settings. This area will load up where we have all these tabs at the top, you want to go to the advanced area, and then all these different components show up as either enable or disable. What we want to enable in order to create different signatures is the templates area. This is like basically turn on frequent messaging. So I'm going to enable it, press "Save". I'm going to respond to Nathan's e-mail through Gmail this time using this template feature. So I'm going to create a template response. In order to do that, you're going to go ahead and have something created in advance. I'm going to actually bring up what we created in the mail app and just copy and paste it for now. So here's are sold out response and I'm going to paste it in our draft e-mail. In this little three dot area, this is where you can save this response for future use, and it's called More options. You're going to click on that, go to templates, and you want to save this draft as a new template, and we're just going to call this sold out, and save. Now let's say, I want to start from scratch and actually reply back to him, I wouldn't have to type any of that out, I'll just go Reply, click on those three dots, go to Templates and click on this template we just created called sold out. So that is a great way to just have like these canned responses or far more frequent questions that people asked for you on a daily basis and this will save you time as well going through Gmail. This could just as simply be an outbound message. So if you're applying for jobs or if you are promoting yourself as a freelance artist, you could have some predrafted e-mails introducing yourself, talking about your work, your rates, whatever the case may be. But again, this will speed up your process of not having to copy and paste the same verbiage over and over again and speed up your workflow. 11. Tip 10: Share Your Process: Documenting our process has become a fun part of what we do, something that was originally just a hobby wanting to document our work and it's become a marketing tool for us. A fun fact is that our process videos are originally what connected as with Skillshare in the first place. They approached us about basically doing a longer format version of our process videos and narrating them. So it's been this gift that keeps on giving. We really enjoy making them and so we wanted to talk a little bit about how we document our work and create these process videos. It's basically a few different apps that we use to compile the videos and then share them on social media. So Dan's going to walk through the process that we use. So little insider tip on the app that we use to record our process, that's called ScreenNinja, all one word. You can find it on any app store and it's pretty robust. These are the settings that we use. Essentially, every second it's taking a screenshot and that compiled together is making a video. If you have a Retina display, we recommend using the Motion JPEG, we've used H264 in the past. Another thing that we do to make our lives a little easier is turn off other apps essentially. We lead busy lives and there's going to be notifications popping up and other apps are using while doing the design process. But to turn those all off so that the only thing our screen is actually showing and recording is Adobe Illustrator for example. IT's a great way to like not deal with any editing in the long run. There's more settings in here in terms of what you show, let's say your mouse, your cursor, other notifications. But I highly recommend using screenNinja. There is other apps out there that do the same thing, but this one's worked for us. So we typically have screenNinja running in the background when we start working on a project. Obviously, we need to decide in advance if it's a project we're going to document or not. That can be a little tricky because knowing that big brother in the form of this app is recording every move that you make on your computer can sometimes mess with our heads a little bit. But it's also the thing that you realize we can edit this video once we're done with it and not every click of the mouse needs to be perfect. It's going to be sped up into a time lapse. So we find that once we're working in a project, even if we're recording it, we just get used to it and you just try to work through it. But once we're done with screenNinja, we typically have several videos all compiled. For example, with this ventana project, we ended up with maybe 15 different movie files, some of Dan working on his computer, some of me on mine. So what we do at that point is I take these video files into Final Cut Pro. Or you could use any video editing program and make it into a cool, usable movie. So we add credits, we add our logo, we usually add music, a lot of times our process videos are for a band poster. So we'll use the band's music and basically cut together a video that then we can share on social media. Once the video is created, just because the content is made doesn't mean that the job's over. We actually put a lot of effort into how we market these pieces. So for example, where there is process videos, we have accounts on both Vimeo and YouTube. We start most of our process videos only exclusively through Vimeo. But we've found by adding our videos to YouTube as well has opened up these process videos to even more of an audience. So a broader net that were basically casting to have more eyes on our work. Another approach to making sure that you're marketing these appropriately is the thumbnail image that you use. For example, a lot of times people that are new to like our process videos may click on our video just based off the visual that they see in terms of this thumbnail. So we usually try to pick something that's visually appealing and interesting and not using too much verbiage or anything that's over complicated. So a lot of these such as screenshots or actual photography of our posters. Depending on how you work, obviously the vast majority of our work is done in a computer. So using a screen capture software like screened and Jim makes lot of sense for us. If you are a painter or illustrator or you work with tangible materials, this can obviously be a lot trickier if you're trying to mount a camera and film your work. But we've done that too with filming the sketch process. We've also documented our screen printing process so you can really have fun with it. Basically you enjoying your work can become this whole other marketing tool. It's even come to a point where some of our clients ask if they can purchase a process video as part of the project because then they can also use that to market the end product. So it's a fun thing and we highly recommend that you play with documenting your process. You can learn a lot from it and also use it to market your work. 12. Tip 11: Promote Your Work: When it comes to sharing our work on social media and how we actually market ourselves, we try to approach it in a specific way. Because what we wanted to take advantage of social networks that are popular right now and can get a lot of engagement. We also want to be mindful of the fact that some of these social networks may go away over time. So we also always want to be driving traffic to our website, our own newsletter, building our own list of contacts. So we're keeping things in house as much as possible while also leveraging these outside networks. So we'll show you a few ways of how we interact with social media, how we create our own newsletters, and basically how we promote ourselves. Just tagging onto what Nathan is saying about using social networks and how those are always changing, It's like building a castle in someone else's kingdom. If that kingdom changes, I could say an algorithm, then you are not going to get as much engagement. So we always are prioritizing bringing it back to our own website and our own mailing lists. The platform we use is Mailchimp. There's other ones like Constant Contact. It's up to you which ones you want to use. But when we use Mailchimp, we use templates in terms of creating something that looks like our website so it's honorable for our brand. This an example of a newsletter that we use. This is a great way to get the word out that will go directly to people's inboxes and we make sure that on our website we have a sign-up form, and whenever possible, we introduce people to our mailing list and find ways for them to sign up. One thing we do in terms of organizing how we're going to market ourselves on social networks is creating templates that we can always go back to and update based on the project. So in this folder system, you can see that we have templates that are either photoshop or illustrator that actually have a file in place, that's a smart object. So this is prioritized for Instagram and it's a tall image that holds like an 18 by 24 poster. We'll always be able to change this image because it's a smart file that actually can be re-linked to a different poster when a new project comes along. So we'll use this as an ongoing thing that we can export now as an image and not have to create things from scratch each time we're trying to share our work. Another approach that we use is illustrator. I have all these square formats that are really prioritizing Instagram. But this is a perfect example of showing what it would be like to create multiple images for a sideshow, let's say advertising a select amount of the posters that we've created. Also have art boards that are made for specifically Instagram stories. So I have the formatting ready to go, all I have to do is change the content and export it as an image once I had everything ready. So this is super helpful when it comes to not having to start from scratch and having something in place to restart from and update it based of whatever the project is that you're trying to share. A problem that we used to encounter a lot with posting things to social media is we would open up Instagram, try to get our image prepared, try writing a little blurb about that project, and inevitably, we would have a spelling error in there because we're trying to just compose a message on the fly on our phone. So a workaround we found for that is we can actually prepare everything in advance on our computers and then just copy that information onto our phones when we need to post it to the app. Apple has a pretty nice way of doing that seamlessly. Of course, if you use any platform, you could always save it to something like Dropbox and then open that file. But we'll show you the apple approach. The way to do this, it's a couple steps, but you basically need to be signed in to your iCloud account on both devices. Once you have that ready, you want to go to system preferences on your computer and go into general. Makes sure you have this checked where it says, allow hand off between this Mac and your iCloud devices. We also want to make sure that you have Bluetooth on and Wi-Fi. The same goes with the device that you're using. So on my iPhone actually have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on, on the same network and I also had the same setting set on my general area. If you go to general settings and go to hand off, and make sure that's selected as well. So basically it's a three-power approach. I've always had these on, so it always works. But that's a troubleshoot way of getting around making sure that this works for both your devices. So this is the text file that we usually use to compile the actual content that we're going to be posting. So it's a description of what we're showing on Instagram and also includes our hashtags. We usually keep this ongoing and change it based of whatever we're about to post and it's a constant reminder of what we're using recently, but we can always update it on the fly. I'm going to show you how to actually grab something like this on your computer and easily transfer to your phone without having to save the file and then open it up on your phone. So it's using a technique called universal clipboard. What I'm going to do is copy this on the computer and then I'm going to open up my phone, and right now I have Instagram open. When I go to the area where I'm about to write my caption, I can actually paste and it remembers what I've just copied from the computer because both devices are communicating with each other. So it's a very quick way of getting text from one device onto another without having to save multiple files and find it elsewhere. Within our social media folder, we actually organize things by year. I have a 2019 folder, for example, that holds all the images that I plan or have used for Instagram. So I've saved this file in this folder structure and I can find it on my device by opening it up on any iCloud platform. But a quick way to get this image on your phone is using AirDrop. So I have AirDrop open on another window here and I'm just going to drag it to my phone. Now you can see it's on my phone in my iCloud photos. So that's a quick way to get your image that you'd like to share on Instagram or any other social media platform without having to go through a folder system to find it. 13. Final Thoughts: Thanks for taking our class. We'd love to hear from you in terms of how you felt about the class, what you've learned. There's two ways of sharing that, you can go to the project gallery for anything visual. So let's say you have a mockup that score sample client or let's say you cleaned up your desk and have a beautiful work space that you like to share with us. The discussion area is meant for open questions, remarks, anything that you'd like to share in terms of tips that we didn't cover. All in all, we hope to hear from you in terms of your feedback and also anything else that can add to the class. One parting tip we'd like to leave you with, is to surround yourself with people that you admire. That's something that has been incredibly important in our career as far as reaching out to mentors and peers and learning by speaking to others. So by all means, if you have other tips that help with your efficiency and productivity, please share those with the class and we'd love to learn from you. So we look forward to seeing what you have to share.