4 Essential Tools for Every Creative

December 6, 2016 / no comments

If you work in the creative industry, chances are you know that Adobe Creative Suite is the industry standard when it comes to design. However, whether you are a graphic designer or a marketer, every creative needs an arsenal of tools to streamline your workflow.

These four essential tools are simple, yet effective and have proven to be useful in graphic design – but there are many uses beyond just that. From my own experience – these tools have saved me time, money and have increased my productivity. BUT! The best part about these tools? The convenience factor.  It doesn’t matter if you are a design beginner or a seasoned art director – these tools will help maximize efficiency and more importantly, make your life easier. Continue Reading…

The Art of Presenting

October 1, 2016 / no comments

Whether we like it or not, at some point in our lives we will have to conduct a presentation. You most likely had to do presentations throughout school, and they teach you the basic skills on creating and delivering a presentation. However, there are many steps one must take in order to master the art of presenting. Whether it is pitching an idea to your boss, delivering data, or a persuasion presentation to a client, having the necessary skill of comfortably presenting in front of an audience is exceptionally important.

Generating, as well as delivering a presentation is an art form. It is not easy to be comfortable giving a presentation, so it is important that you take the necessary steps to make yourself feel as confident as possible before stepping into the boardroom. Continue Reading…

Your Guide to Creating Your Own Content Calendar

August 8, 2016 / no comments

As social media continues to rise in popularity, the need to organize your posts becomes more necessary. A content calendar is an easy way to organize what you would like to post on each day. It organizes your weekly thoughts, posts, and graphics, and saves you time each week. If you designate time to put together your weekly or monthly content calendar, you no longer have to worry about scrambling for content to post. This is essential for businesses; however, you can do it throughout your every day life if you wish to be consistent with your social media content.

There is no specific way to successfully create a content calendar. As long as it is legible to you or a company that you are sending it to, then you can do no wrong. This blog post will walk you through one of the several ways to create a standard content calendar.

Picture1

Step #1: Open Microsoft Word

Using Word is perfect for creating a simple content calendar. If you wish to use Excel, that is also another great alternative.

Step #2: Create a Table

Make a table, and put the weekdays in the top horizontal cells, and put the types of social media platforms that you wish to post on in the vertical cells. At this point you can colour code, or add any other touches of creativity to organize your calendar even more!

Step #3: Create Daily Themes

It is important to create themes in order to be consistent with your content.  For example, if you are a fashion blogger, Monday could be your “Outfit of the Day,” while Tuesday could be “New Product Tuesday.” This will give viewers something to look forward to each week and helps to organize your posts.

Step #4: Fill you Calendar

Once you have set up your content calendar, it is time to fill it. Take pictures and place them with their designated post. This way everything is ready to go when it comes time for you to post your content.

Step 5: Add Comments

If you are creating a content calendar for another company, it is important to create a comments section somewhere in the calendar. This will increase communication so there is no confusion. Nevertheless, if you are creating this content calendar for yourself, adding comments can still be beneficial to mark down your ideas, what time you should post your content, or anything you need to add to your content.

These are five easy steps for any content calendar beginner. This is a great way to organize your thoughts, and it is an amazing time saver during the week! Keep your social media life organized by producing your very own content calendar!

Avoiding Screen Fatigue with F.lux

January 7, 2016 / no comments

It’s a tale as old as time, one where you’ve been plugging away at your computer for hours without looking away. All of a sudden you turn to look out the window, and it’s as though your whole life is flashing before your eyes. You’ve successfully entered the mid-afternoon computer screen fatigue panic! Your eyes may feel like the surface of the sun, but you must persevere.

Luckily, screen fatigue doesn’t have to be the rest of your life; F.lux is here to change this daily struggle.

F.lux is a completely (yes, completely) free application which you can access online that will alter thephoto cred: www.justgetflux.com“temperature” of your screen depending on the time of day. Particularly when you work in an office environment with lots of natural light, F.lux alters your computer screen’s warmth to accommodate outside changes as the day progresses. This is especially important after the sun goes down, where your screen will adopt a yellow-orange hue that might throw you off at first. Don’t worry though, as this is supposed to help facilitate pre-sleep. This is especially helpful if you’re a fan of watching Netflix, working, or canvassing eBay for collectible action figures right before bed.

Screen fatigue (and eye strain) from staring at your screen is only going to become more and more of a

photo cred: www.improveeyesighthq.com

photo cred: www.improveeyesighthq.com

problem as the work we do becomes more and more computer-centric. While we have discussed taking breaks away from your screen in previous blogs, it doesn’t change the fact that the majority of your day will be spent in front of your screen’s warm glow. Simple changes, like the one F.lux is providing, are monumental in their day-to-day effect on user’s lives. While it is important to ensure that you aren’t (literally and proverbially) glued to your screen, F.lux is a useful way to successfully complete your work and avoid the piercing pain of the 2 o’ clock screen assault.

F.lux is another example of applications making minor adjustments to our everyday lives, with life-changing results. 

Why Are Snapchat Geofilters so Addictive?

December 31, 2015 / one comment

Chances are if you’ve been on Snapchat in the past year, that you might have noticed the opportunity to scroll (left or right) on your ‘snap’ and add filters — images which lay atop of the image you’ve just taken, often designating where you are, events in your area, or general advertisements.

What are geofilters?

Snapchat geofilters were originally released in July 2014, and since then they have gained a significant amount of popularity. Snapchat actually crowdsources the submissions for prospective geofilters, allowing users the opportunity to ‘rep’ their neck of the woods. This approach emphasizes the ability to design, contribute, and witness your work in action (should it receive approval). 

Why use geofilters?

First and foremost, geofilters are a great marketing strategy for companies. Millennials are flocking to

photo cred: therelacape.com

photo cred: therelacape.com

Snapchat in droves, and they represent an attractive demographic for marketers and companies alike. Simply put, it pays to be where the young people are most active. In addition to this, there are multiple locations which provide geofilters — with more being added every day. Miami, Oakville, and even Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood have their own unique geofilters. Geofilters are popular because they are unique to specific locations, that they are “exclusive” to certain areas makes them attractive to users. 

Why are geofilters so popular?

snapchat-mcdonalds-geo-filters-top

From a big-picture perspective, geofilters allows users to identify with their current location. Users have the opportunity to share with their family and friends where they are, what they are doing, and what is going on in the world. Consider it one large social experiment in the ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO), where people share what they are doing so that everyone they know can acknowledge it and share back what they are doing. Companies are even able to create time-sensitive geofilters to market events, holidays, or social events. 

The next time you’re on Snapchat, no matter where you are in the world, swipe right or left to find out if your location has a geofilter. Soon enough you might be embarking on your own personal scavenger hunt to discover as many unique filters as possible. Happy hunting! 

Writing, Uninterrupted: the Rise of Distraction-Free Writing

December 10, 2015 / no comments

Here’s an idea; hop onto your preferred search engine right now, and run a search for “distraction free writing applications.” Almost immediately, you will be greeted by a vast selection of applications which can help “mute” your desktop. The idea of cancelling out all of the potential distractions on your screen is a growing trend in the world of online writing — based on the idea that writing in its purest form is based on a complete lack of distractions.

photo cred: lifehacker.com

photo cred: lifehacker.com

What has taken so long for these applications to really take hold, though? The answer could be that distraction-free writing tools give you the opportunity to cancel out the influx of other applications available on your computer. It’s not just writing applications available to the average internet user, but countless other apps to help your organize your life, schedule your time, and do anything and everything in between. Given the sheer number of options, applications that “tune out” these potential distractions are in-demand — instead of adding to the mess of business, distraction-free writing tools are replacing the variety of options with only one option: to write, and then to write some more.

While there is no lack of options to do some distraction-free writing, there are certainly some that stand out from the crowd. Consider some of these apps before you undertake your next manuscript, screenplay, or blog:

Draft 

photo cred: ghost.org

photo cred: ghost.org

Draft offers an aesthetically pleasing interface where you can cut out distractions. The added twist is the Hemingway mode, which doesn’t allow for editing on the fly. It forces you to type without using the backspace button, only allowing for editing after the mode has been disabled. Hemingway mode is meant to facilitate the flow of writing, without the at-times debilitating process of going back and tweaking everything you’ve already said.

Hemingway Editor 

hemingway editor

photo cred: brit.co

Hemingway Editor began as an easy way to evaluate whether or not your writing was “plain language” enough — allowing for an instantaneous knowledge translation exercise. The application itself also offers a useful interface for writing, which combined with the evaluative aspect of seeing how relatable your writing is, provides for a unique and productive experience for writers of all kinds. We all want to be understood, after all.

Calmly Writer 

Calmly Writer is another attractive application that allows for distraction-free writing. The twist for this app is the fact that it provides a laser-focused approach to the writing process, highlighting the specific paragraph you are currently writing. It focuses on exactly what you are writing in that moment, and allows for better concentration.

This is just a taste of what’s going on in the world of distraction-free writing, so don’t be afraid of experimenting and trying out new applications as they are released. Every writer’s process is different, so it is important to use exactly the right medium to express yourself.

New Year, New You: 6 New Year Applications For 2016

November 26, 2015 / no comments

The beginning of the year is often a mixed bag of emotions: first there is the inevitable holiday comedown, followed by the injection of promise and hope that comes from sketching out resolutions for the New Year. Often people lay out their goals with an eye towards remaining organized, bettering themselves, or maintaining that aliphone holdingl-important balance between work, family, and self-improvement.

What typically gets in the way? Our ability to follow through!


Thankfully, we have the technology to organize and maintain our goals! The following is a list of six new year applications which can help you maintain these goals, whether they are saving up for a trip to a faraway land, or simply remembering the day of the week:

Mint (https://www.mint.com/)

Many resolutions revolve around money;  There are many apps out there to help you keep in control of your finances, whether it is saving, budgeting, or simply tracking how much you’re spending. Mint provides the opportunity to intuitively keep track of your finances, coupled with tips and tricks about keeping your finances in order.

wunderlistWunderlist (https://www.wunderlist.com/)


The New Year application for to-do list for pros, Wunderlist offers the opportunity to sketch out all of your to-do’s in an intuitive and attractive space. Whether they are putting together a grocery list, compiling a list of action items for work, or simply remembering to walk the dog, it is easier to regiment and maintain everything you have to do for the day/week/month.

Wonderful Day (http://www.wonderfuldayapp.com/)

If repetition is the key to success, the app Wonderful Day will help make sure that you are tracking your consistency no matter how small the task. Wonderful Day is based simply on the idea of practice, where you make a list of activities and mark its accomplishment (ideally) every day. The streak alone will keep you motivated!


Headspace (
https://www.headspace.com/)

Maybe you’re looking to jump into 2016 with a more holistic approach to your health. Headspace is a meditation app designed to help make meditation simple. In only ten minutes a day, your “gym membership for the mind” can start off strong.

Sunrise (https://calendar.sunrise.am/)

photo cred: imore.com

photo cred: imore.com

In keeping with the theme of organization, Sunrise is a calendar app designed to streamline your day-to-day actives in a way that is effective and aesthetically pleasing. It can be combined with your other calendars, via Facebook or Google, to keep all of your appointments in one handy location. It’s a new years application made to keep you as organized as possible! 

Pillow (https://neybox.com/pillow/)

photo cred: geekwire.com

photo cred: geekwire.com

Trying to get better sleep, or to track your sleep patterns? Pillow is an effective app to keep track of your sleep, with detailed reports and an alarm component built to wake you up at the exact right time for your body.

With the help of these productive apps, your 2016 resolutions might become more than ideas floating around if your brain. These apps will help keep your organized, motivated, and hungry for more this year.

Influencer Marketing and Your Brand On Vine

November 10, 2015 / no comments

The concept of influencer marketing isn’t necessarily new; brands have been using celebrity endorsements for years to convince people to buy their products (think Stephen Curry on a box of Wheaties, or Matthew McConaughey driving a Lincoln). The recent twist in this landscape is the rise of various social media channels, and the influence they have on a company’s brand strategy. Sites like Facebook, Instagram, and recently Vine are being used to target consumers and promote products and services through more nuanced influencers.

photo cred: mashable.com

photo cred: mashable.com

A site like Vine is the perfect example for a more complex influencer landscape. The nature of the medium (looped six-second video clips) and its rising popularity — specifically with millennials, is attractive for brands and consumers alike. Taking advantage of Vine is understanding the unique relationship between influencers and consumers, based on the following:

Seamless Integration

photo cred: scribblelive.com

photo cred: scribblelive.com

Consumers are often frustrated when being “forced” to sit through advertisements to get to the content they desire (it’s often painful that a 30 second YouTube commercial can feel like an eternity). Vine’s strategy is developing content involving the product itself, and recruiting influencers to develop and brand that content as their own. The influencer and the product are often one and the same.

The “Average Joe” Advantage

Vine is often seen as an equal opportunity app, where anyone can become popular and influential online. Seeing everyday people using products, and promoting their advantages, is extremely attractive to the average user. Not only do they relate to the “regular” people on the screen, but they trust them more than a “paid” advertisement.

Co-Creation

Creativity is at a premium on Vine, where there is only a short amount of time to communicate an idea. When companies are able to partner with influential users, they are also gaining advantage of those users’ unique perspective and ideas. It’s a win-win for interesting concepts, and for product placement.

Based on these ideas, Vine is being used more and more as a tool for company’s in their marketing strategies. Vine is implementing a strategy based on trust and relation — seeing yourself with and relating to the people you see on your screen. This form of trust is priceless for many companies.

Social Recruitment- How You Can Use It to Your Advantage

August 13, 2015 / no comments

The Social Job Search

The market is saturated and the competition is tough. If you are a job-seeker in this day and age, social media has most likely become a central part of your search. Whether it’s tapping into LinkedIn, following job prospect accounts on Twitter or watching for great company shout outs on your Instagram feed, the best way to stay connected with who is hiring is through social. According to a recent Glassdoor survey, 79% of candidates are likely to use social media to find jobs. Among younger workers the number is even higher: 86% of people in the first 10 years of their career said they are likely to use social media in their job search (via Hootsuite).

Recruiters Are On Social

Coming from personal experience in my early job hunting days especially looking to find a career in social media, LinkedIn and Twitter I found to be the most useful platforms to find new opportunities. Increasingly recruiters are looking to LinkedIn to search specific keywords and use geo targeting filters to find potential candidate for jobs. Even if you aren’t necessarily looking, LinkedIn is a great tool to showcase your career accomplishments and increase the strength of your profile so that you may be found and offered opportunities you didn’t even know existed.

Social media not only allows you to showcase your experience and skills, but allows employers to gain a better glimpse into your lifestyle and values. Fitting into company culture is a crucial component for many companies and often trumps experience in some cases.

So how can you use social media to find your dream job?

  1. Clean up your online persona– think like a recruiter, the first thing they are going to do is Google you, what are they likely to find? If it’s something you wouldn’t want your mom to see, chances are a recruiter wouldn’t either. That being said be sure to update all of your social profiles regularly, especially if you claim to be the next social media guru. Keep your resume up to date on LinkedIn and use an appropriate headshot across all platforms, at least while you’re in the job hunting phase.
  2. What are the current employees saying about the company– there are great websites like Glassdoor where former employees give feedback on their experiences with the company. Instagram is also a great view into a company’s corporate culture and the people you might be working with. If employees are happy about where they are you will often find them posting photos of office potlucks, outings and company happenings.
  3. Soak it all in- if you’ve found the place you know you defiantly want to be, follow that company on all their social feeds to stay updated with what’s going on. Following companies you love and would want to work for on social media will keep you motivated and in the loop of the kind of people they are looking for.

The social sphere is a big, wide open space that offers endless possibilities and connections. So flex your social muscles, create meaningful conversations and connect with companies that will challenge and inspire you.

Tear Down that Wall: the Open-Concept Office

June 12, 2015 / no comments

Midnight, August 13, 1961. East Berlin, Germany. Bathed in improvised floodlights, East German workers scurry to erect a shoddy barrier encircling West Berlin. As West Berliners rose on that fated Sunday morning, so stood one of history’s most infamous barricades, a marker of the iciest era in cold-war relations: The Berlin Wall.

10:24 A.M., June 9, 2015. Toronto, Canada. Bathed in flickering fluorescents, office workers languish at their cubicle-surrounded desks as their eyes glaze over. Desperate for open avenues of communication, these workers can only dream of shouting: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” They sit in a marker of the boring-est era of office organization: the cubicle.

It may be in the name of democracy, or it may be in the name of a more efficient and pleasant work environment, but here are some reasons for your office to ditch the cubicles and go for an open-concept space.

 Spy Communiqués vs. Free Communication

Businesses are collaborative. In virtually any field, at virtually any step in the work process, intra-office communication is vital. The cubicle design may not expressly forbid communication in and of itself, but there’s no doubt that, by its very physical layout, it reduces your ability to exchange ideas with your colleagues. On the other hand, the open-concept, with its shared desk space and open sightlines, encourages communication among employees.

 Closed Borders vs. Open Environment

We spend more time in our office than anywhere else. It’s only fair, then, that we should aim for a pleasing office environment—and your typical cubicle farm is anything but. Cubicles are the bane of natural light, they offer a brilliant vista of the 4 square feet immediately surrounding you, and their noise dampening walls leave acoustics akin to a solitary confinement room. Open-concept offices eliminate all these problems—leaving employees with a space they don’t dread arriving at every morning.

Comrades vs. Camaraderie

Perhaps the most overlooked benefit of open-concept offices is the camaraderie they create. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a space where people can see one another and freely talk is conducive to building strong intra-office relationships. Now, just follow the bouncing ball: employees that work with people they like are happy employees, happy employees are productive employees, and productive employees make for good business.

Open-Concept: Defeating Communism One Office at a Time

Nearly 70 percent of offices in the United States are designed with open-concept in mind. This is no accident. If you’re moving office spaces, or just thinking about a redesign, don’t be an Eastern Bloc-head: go with the open-concept office.