The Best of August 2021: Marketing & Technology Highlights, Tools, and More!

The Best of August 2021: Marketing & Technology Highlights, Tools, and More!

September 3, 2021

Career Advice for Creatives

From: | ARTICLE - 4 min read: Person before portfolio by Benek Lisefski

Does your portfolio blend into the rest? Or does it emphasize how your unique skills and experiences bring value to organizations? After you read this article, you might rethink how to present yourself as a designer.

From Grant: “I appreciate the approach this article takes. I strongly believe that clients won't pay you what you're worth if you just make pretty pictures. Bring your critical thinking skills to the table. I've seen this work in my career and for many of the people that I have coached. Make sure to include case studies in your portfolio so you can show how you approach and solve problems.”

Woman in the Twin Cities Minnesota Working on Her Design Portfolio
From: | ARTICLE - 7 min read: 14 Easy Ways to Carve Out Creative Time for Your Business by Pamela Wilson

These 14 time-optimizations can help you carve out creative time for your business. One big way to save time is through automation.

This article tells you how and why you should Automate Your:

  1. Schedule
  2. Daily decisions
  3. Writing time
  4. Eating
  5. Breaks

From Grant: "This is great work. I love the "WHOAA" acronym. Very similar to what a lot of the "thought leaders" in the industry say. Tim Ferris speaks about this concept in his book, The 4-Hour Workweek. While I don't agree with everything in his book, the philosophy he has towards shutting out anything unimportant is very effective."

From: | ARTICLE - 9 min read: 10 Impressive Questions to Ask in a Job Interview by Alison Green

A job interview is just as much about figuring out if an employer is right for you as it is about showing you're the best candidate. During your next interview, ask some of these questions to learn about the job, the manager, and the culture.  

A few of the questions you should ask during an interview include:

  1. How will you measure the success of the person in this position?
  2. What are some of the challenges you expect the person in this position to face?
  3. Can you describe a typical day or week on the job?
  4. How long did the previous person in the role hold the position? What has turnover in the role generally been like?
  5. What are you hoping this person will accomplish in their first six months and in their first year?

From Grant: 

For Business Owners: "these are some excellent questions that you should be prepared to answer… if they make you feel defensive or if you wouldn't appreciate an interviewee asking these, it might be an opportunity to reflect on why the role is having trouble. Even if these aren't questions you want to answer during an interview, the candidate will find out what the role is really like in their first few weeks. You may as well be open to sharing with them upfront."

For Practitioners: "If a company is struggling with a position, it doesn't necessarily mean it'll be a bad job. But it might be a little rocky at first as you get in there and sort stuff out. Now, if you can tell that there is a problem, but the interviewer is actively trying to hide that fact, run the other direction…especially if they have a foosball table."

Minnesota designer keeping up with marketing trends with podcasts

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Highlights

From: | PODCAST - 40 min episode: Master technical SEO (even if you aren't technical) with Areej AbuAli by SEO for the Rest of Us

SEO for the Rest of Us is a podcast for anyone who wants to grow their business but doesn't know much about SEO. In this episode, Areej explains why technical SEO is the backbone for all digital marketing efforts. You can have the most fantastic marketing campaigns, the best content in the world, and massive authority. Still, none of it will matter if you don't have the technical SEO foundation.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or listen for free on

From Grant: "I'm excited to go through these archives - if you don't absorb content via text very well (I've racked up over three months of listening on my audible account), this kind of podcast will be a great way to learn SEO while gardening, cooking, commuting, working out, etc.) Plus, it probably won't give you nightmares like a murder-mystery podcast."

From: | ARTICLE - 10 min read: YouTube SEO: How to use analytics for your video strategy by Phil Nottingham

Analytics can tell you a lot about the effectiveness of your SEO strategy. In general, you need to do these three things if you're trying to rank well on YouTube (and Google):

  1. Understand what's working.
  2. Discover where there are opportunities to do better.
  3. Assess how your search performance is progressing over time.

How to use YouTube Analytics to Improve your Video Ranking:

  1. How much traffic is coming to the video?
  2. Where is the traffic coming from?
  3. What are users searching for?
  4. Are users clicking on the video when they see it?
  5. Are users watching the video, or clicking away?
  6. What is the impact on users who watch the video?
Small business youtube channel working on their SEO and rankings
From: | VIDEO - 9 min watch: YOUTUBE SEO 2021 | How to Rank on YouTube Fast + Understand the Algorithm by THAT ICELANDIC GUY.

If you're more of a visual learner, watch this YouTube SEO tutorial that shows beginners how to rank well. THAT ICELANDIC GUY covers the recent algorithm updates and how to find the perfect keywords to use.

From: | ARTICLE - 3 min read: An update to how we generate web page titles by Google Search Central

Google just introduced a new system of generating titles for web pages! This new system efficiently produces titles that describe a document, regardless of the search query. This new system also pays more attention to the text that humans can visually see when they arrive at a web page.

From Grant: "We've seen Google do this kind of thing before. In the past, your meta-tags and descriptions played a major role in your ranking. Now, Google's algorithm ignores them because people started to 'over-stuff' their titles with keywords. The takeaway is: don't get caught up in 'SEO hacks,' focus on creating good content and a quality site instead."

From: | ARTICLE - 27 min read: How to Write Headlines: a Step-by-Step Guide by Neil Patel

If you want your blog posts to perform well, you'll need good headlines! You can even play around with your title after publishing to increase its conversion rate significantly. In this article, Neil details five headline writing tips to get more engagement.

A few of those tips include: 

  1. Use Specific Numbers and Data in Your Headline
  2. Utilize a Unique Rationale
  3. Call for Attention
  4. Use Headline Formulas
  5. Measure Your Headline’s Success
learning about marketing laws and how to not break the law

Digital Marketing Strategy

From: | ARTICLE - 8 min read: How to NOT Break the Law in Marketing: Copyrights, CAN-SPAM, Fair Use by Neil Patel

If you're creating a marketing campaign, you'll need to consider the law before you take advantage of the many online marketing options out there. Marketing laws depend on your industry and location. Still, Neil Patel provides a rundown of the most common rules that may apply to you.

From Grant: Business Owners: "Pay attention to stuff like this. First of all, it's important not to break laws. Second, if you have a practitioner recommending you do something illegal, it might be time to find a new practitioner.

Practitioner: Sometimes, business owners push back on these things. I've found that they often want you to do illegal stuff with email lists, especially with CANN-SPAM. Or they'll ask you to develop ways to very narrowly skirt the law. In these scenarios, remind them that just because it's legal doesn't mean it won't upset their customers or damage brand and email reputation. Once you start showing up in the spam folder, it's game over for that domain. If they still insist, maybe step away from doing that particular task with that client."

From: | ARTICLE - 3 min read: My Favorite Content Marketing Podcasts for 2022 by Amanda Pressner Kreuser

These podcasts can keep you up-to-date on marketing trends without adding to your screen time! This article provides a great list of marketing podcasts to bring you industry news, trend insights, and expert perspectives from top marketers.

A few recommendations include:

  • This Old Marketing 
  • Explicit Content Podcast
  • Copyblogger FM


From: | ARTICLE - 5 min read: Design Thinking: Study Guide by Kate Moran 

Are you new to design thinking? Not sure where to start? Check out this list of the Nielsen Norman Group's most useful introductory articles and videos about design thinking! Each section comes with resources in recommended reading order.

This resource covers these 6 distinct design-thinking phases:

  1. Empathize
  2. Define
  3. Ideate
  4. Prototype
  5. Test
  6. Implement
team in Minneapolis using design thinking

From Grant: NNG has a fantastic track record. This guide is extremely valuable if you have some time (and dedication) to devote to it. I'm adding it to my list of "things I ask people who work for me to study."

From: | ARTICLE - 3 min read: Fonts in the Twilight Zone by John Boardley

You don't often see typefaces that break the rules by mixing design aspects from several different typography categories. The author of this article, John Boardley, refers to these subversive fonts as "twilight zone hybrids," and they're a lot more challenging to create than you'd think!

From Grant: This article is excellent for nerdy designers. Very fun! 

From: | ARTICLE - 13 min read: What’s That Symbol Called? An Essential Guide to Special Font Characters by Marc Schenker

You've probably seen most of these special characters before, but you may not know what they mean. Understanding where these characters come from can strengthen your knowledge of typography.

A Few Symbols Covered in this Article Include:

  • Dieresis
  • Umlaut
  • Em Dash
  • En Dash
  • Caret

User Experience (UX)

From: | ARTICLE - 10 min read: What do Amazon and Nike look like through the lens of a keyboard? by Tori Riemersma 

The UX Collective compares how accessible the Amazon and Nike websites are for keyboard-only users with side-by-side comparisons. If you're not already designing with keyboard-only users in mind, this article will convince you how important it is.

Web design freelancer building website that are keyboard user friendly and accessible

Considerations for building an enjoyable experience for keyboard-only users:

  1. Obvious keyboard focus  
  2. Accessible interactive elements
  3. Include a "Skip Navigation" link at the top of your website
  4. Decide what objects need to be clickable
  5. A layout with simple navigation paths 
  6. Appropriate tags and text in the HTML
  7. Consistent HTML, alt-text, and link labels, so the keyboard and screen readers know what they are targeting
From: | ARTICLE: Working with assumptions by David Dikman

While you shouldn't base your UX design decisions on assumptions, generalizations are still helpful in the design process. David Dikman explains that assumptions can help you set realistic expectations and avoid risks - as long as you and your team properly discuss and clarify them.

From Grant: For any project, it's worth having some time in your kickoff (or earlier) to go through what everyone is assuming and write it all down. You may find that a lot of these assumptions are easy to test. Furthermore, this will provide you with some insights you can share with your client or boss after you've collected some data via your analytics tools.

From: | VIDEO: The UI/UX of 404 Page Design by DesignCourse

Is your website's 404-page confusing? If so, it could negatively impact your overall bounce rate. In this video, Gary Simon shows us the difference between good and bad 404-pages. Plus, he shares a few strategies for keeping visitors on your site!

Thinking Strategically

From: | ARTICLE - 5 min read: I Don’t Want to Be Like a Family With My Co-Workers by Alison Green

An employee writes to Alison asking if it's acceptable only to want cordial relationships with her co-workers. Alison replies by saying the querent's organization's requirement that employees participate in the close-knit atmosphere is unhealthy and unreasonable, but unfortunately common.

From: | ARTICLE - 8 min read: What I Learned From Seeing My Business Fail by Charlotte Cowles

Hear from three entrepreneurs who used what they learned from their failed businesses to bounce back. It can be hard to relive past failures, but those missteps may eventually lead to a future victory.

Small business in Minnesota learning how to set workplace boundaries

From Grant: “This is a familiar story, and it can happen for a lot of reasons. A few tips: It's often safer to fly solo on your business idea. Going into business with a partner is risky. It's all too common for new companies to fail when personal relationships turn sour. I would also recommend reading Built to Sell, it walks you through how to set up your business from the start. Even if you never sell your business, a good foundation can help you plan and keep good documentation that may help the idea succeed. Lastly, I know I recommend this all the time, but The $100 Startup is a great place to start if you have a business idea.”

freelancer learning how to design a unique logo in the twin cities

Fun Finds

From: | VIDEO: 7 WORST Logo Cliches To Avoid!! 😵  by Satori Graphics

Satori goes over why you should avoid these logo design cliches. Overused logo designs will hurt your business or clients' businesses by failing to stand out from the crowd. They can also make it more difficult for customers to understand what your company does.

From: | VIDEO: Original Logo Design Examples (NO CLICHES) by Satori Graphics

This video is a follow-up to the previous video! Satori shows you how to make logos with original designs that avoid cliches.

From Grant: "These are nice! It's important to have a developed "Visual Vocabulary" when you're doing brand work. Take notice of logos when you are out and about. Keep an eye on too - which happens to be the source for the next link! I encourage my students to work this into their weekly routine to start sensing trends and figuring out what styles they like."

From: | DESIGN: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology by VLAD stankovic

​This Behance project is a book full of cryptozoology and mythical creatures. VLAD illustrated this collection of animals based on real-life reports from people around the world. The images have a mixture of science and fantasy, vintage and modern design styles.

Click here to help VLAD fund his illustrated encyclopedia

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