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

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

August 5, 2021

Career Advice for Creatives

From: | ARTICLE - 5 min read: Smart ideas for multiple income streams for graphic designers by Tom May

We like this article because it has a great range of ways to diversify your income streams. Some of those include Run a workshop, Start a newsletter, or Sell templates!

From Grant: I have found that, as a person, not just a designer, one of the most important things you can do to create stability in your life is to have a diverse income. I recommend The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau to anyone I do career coaching with because it helps open your horizons about how you make money. Check out Chris' site and podcast for a nearly endless amount of inspiration.

woman freelancer in minneapolis with multiple income streams and a healthy work-life balance
From | ARTICLE - 15 min read: How to survive a design career and avoid burnout by Carien Moolman

Burnout is a symptom of chronic workplace stress that everyone faces, but it can be particularly prevalent among creatives. Some of the common causes of burnout include role conflict, ambiguity, and overload. If you're feeling exhausted, cynical, and ineffective at work, this article is well worth your time.

From Grant: This is a very important read! These soft skills can make a huge difference in how happy a person can be with their workload.

From: | ARTICLE - 23 min read: The ultimate guide to staying mentally and physically healthy as a freelancer by Lindsay Kramer

While the freelance lifestyle comes with flexible hours and creative freedom, it can also be a challenge to stay healthy. This report lists some of the best habits to form (compiled from the expertise of over 11,000 freelancers).

From | ARTICLE - 5 min read: The vanishing designer by Chuánqí Sun

Are today’s designers trapped in an ideology bubble? This article takes a critical look at the culture of standardization of contemporary design. Visual diversity and innovation cannot thrive in a system that only values a singular narrative. 

From Grant: Okay, I was on the fence about including this article. Here’s what to take away from this: 

Freelancers and Creators: Make sure you don’t compromise your ethical standards or sacrifice your mental health for your clients. There are a lot of “conventions'' that are just trends. Use as much data as you can to back up your “radical” ideas and use this as your tool to make it happen. The Nielsen Norman Group and Susan Weinschenk are great resources for this. 

For Business Owners: This is how many designers you are looking to hire will think. If they have a good track record, references, and successful projects, don’t challenge them at every step. Remember, you’re paying them for their talent and critical thinking skills, not just to make pretty things. Involve them earlier in the process to help with outlining the requirements to get the best results.

freelance designer uses google search tricks to do research quickly

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Highlights

From: | ARTICLE - 4 min read: 15 Advanced Google Search Tips for Smarter Searching by Shay Bankhlter

Conduct better keyword research with these Google search tricks! We think these are a few of the most helpful search tactics from this article:

  • Searching for keywords in specific locations
  • Get results with only certain domain extensions (i.e., .gov)
  • Searching for similar or related words and/or websites

From Grant: I use these search parameters quite often. Research is a core skill for any job and can make you seem like a magician. My favorite (which is not listed) is to do a site-specific search by typing and then typing in what you’re looking for. I use this trick to fix instances of a specific word you’re not allowed to use anymore on a site or to catalog “where do we have this person listed?” I also use it with no search query (just the site) to find every page google has cataloged for a site when creating redirects from old pages to new ones on a site rebuild.

Social Media Marketing Strategies

From: | ARTICLE - 5 min read: 10 Types of Post Designs to Boost Your Social Media Engagement By Laura Busche 

Engagement is everything in the digital marketing world. It is what will get the algorithm of any social channel to promote your content. The best way to build engagement is to understand what content resonates with your customers the most. If your engagement is low, it might be time to switch things up. This article includes examples of a variety of post ideas, including:

  1. Question posts and stories
  2. Carousels with step-by-step instructions
  3. Notifications and reminders
  4. Countdowns
  5. Quotes worth bookmarking and sharing
  6. Polls and this/thats
  7. Infographics and diagrams
  8. Giveaways and freebies
  9. Story templates followers can fill out
  10. GIF and meme posts
  11. Quick videos like Reels and IGTV
Woman in Minneapolis boosts her small businesses social media engagement

From Grant: These are great to experiment with! Not all of these will work with your audience, but it may be smart to try a wide range and carefully look at the data after to see what resonated the best.

From: | ARTICLE - 22 min read: 51 Experts Share Content Marketing Myths and Missteps That Hurt Your Work by Ann Gynn

According to these experts, the top 3 things that hurt your content marketing (and business) are:

  1. Focusing on what’s easy
  2. Starting without a content strategy
  3. Creating disposable content

From Grant: Pay attention here to ones involving interpersonal communications or expectations from management. If you’re a manager, see if you can find yourself in this! It’s hard to get feedback that you’re doing something that is causing difficulty with your team. If you’re someone executing these tasks, think about how you would respond when confronted with some of these requests. They may happen sooner than you expect!

Small business owner uses good storytelling to promote her business on social media

Storytelling in Marketing

From: | ARTICLE - 3 min read: Anecdotes are not science by Seth Godin

In his blog post, Seth looks at how today's technology can blur the line between facts and anecdotes. Sometimes things can seem accurate and science-based when in reality, they're just visually appealing.

From Grant: I’ve mentioned this before, but this is why I love getting information from the Nielsen Norman Group. They have a really great scientific approach that challenges design patterns and assumptions. Additionally, you may want to read up on one of my favorite books, 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People by Susan Weinschenk.

​​From: | ARTICLE - 7 min read: Why writing is the most overlooked design skill by Jory MacKay

Designs need to both look nice and deliver your message effectively. Improving your writing can help you communicate with non-designers, think critically, and justify your design decisions. This article discusses why writing is so important for designers and includes a few simple ways non-writers can improve their writing skills.

“Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.” -List Apart founder, Jeffrey Zeldman

From: | ARTICLE - 5 min read: How To Use Storytelling In Digital Marketing To Transform Your Business by Matt Bertram

Brand storytelling can help you connect with your target audience, build trust, and feel less pushy. In this article, you can find a cursory look at storytelling in digital marketing and how to start implementing it into your marketing strategy. 

From Grant: This is a good article for business owners who want to learn how “storytelling” in marketing makes a huge difference in how successful your campaigns are. A nice overview, but nothing too groundbreaking if you’re already familiar.

From: | ARTICLE - 2 min read: Google’s Wordcraft Text Editor Advances Human-AI Collaborative Story Writing by Synced

Google is working on a new text editor with a built-in AI-powered creative writing assistant. The new writing assistant, named Wordcraft, will help with story planning, writing, and editing.

From Grant: This is cool, but this should have you concerned if you're a copywriter. Remember, computers aren’t as good at connecting the business goals to what you’re writing. Take some time to differentiate yourself and become “more than just a copywriter” if you can. This kind of thing won’t take your job tomorrow, but who knows how it will be in a few years. It’s not just copywriters that may lose their jobs to automation. Designers should also look at where they can provide additional value!


From: | ARTICLE - 15 min read: 10 iconic logos. 156 Americans. 80 hours of drawing from memory.

How well can you draw the Starbucks logo from memory? Global corporations like Apple, Target, and Burger King design their logos to create instant brand associations. See how accurately 156 Americans could remember the features and colors of these famous symbols.

From: | ARTICLE - 18 min read: The Rise Of Design Thinking As A Problem Solving Strategy by Josh Singer

As designers, we look to create solutions to problems, but those solutions are often temporary in our ever-changing environments. Working with users to strengthen our problem-solving abilities can develop solutions that continuously evolve. This article includes suggestions and examples for how to use design thinking to collaborate with users.

brand recognition for freelancers in minnesota

From Grant: This article is excellent! Creating visualizations of hard-to-understand problems is how I use my design education the most. Learning to create flowcharts or creatively illustrate a concept is a fantastic skill that I often use with clients.

From | ARTICLE - 6 min read: All you need is 5 fonts by Matej Latin

If you often struggle to choose a font for your designs, you might benefit from a list of high-quality go-to fonts. The author of this article most often uses the five fonts: Gilroy, Meta Serif Pro, Roboto, Georgia, and work sans.

From Grant: I really like this, but this might annoy some people and limit your portfolio depending on your industry. Ad and Marketing agencies may have a wildly different opinion than this article. Depending on who is interviewing you, it may not be the best gamble.

For a business, absolutely, these fonts work great.

From: | ARTICLE - 6 min read: How graphic design is helping areas recover after a “lost year” by Henry Wong

Designers like Shepard Fairey and Ben Golik create poster campaigns to energize urban life from Los Angeles to London. These posters are lovely and wild, often resembling vintage film posters or mystery novels.

From Grant: Even if you don’t read this article, the designs are fun to look at!

freelance designer chooses colors for diverse target market
From: | ARTICLE - 9 min read: Why cross-cultural design really matters by Sofia Gomes

When designing for an international audience, it's essential to embrace users' cultural differences. This article covers how to correctly research users during the design process and why putting in the extra effort can make all the difference when it comes to the success of your product. These are a few things you should keep in mind when expanding your product internationally:

  • Bear in mind users’ cultural backgrounds.
  • A close focus on the cultural background can help manufacture products that are meaningful for an international audience.
  • Investing in user research can identify needs and pain points unique to their cultural background.
From: | ARTICLE - 6 min read: Why Are Olympic Logos So Hard to Design? By James I. Bowie

The Olympic logos are on the world stage and often have a memorable visual impact. Not only do they reflect the times, but they can also carry the weight of world events. For this reason, the logos sometimes become the most memorable aspects of the games themselves, like the 1996 op-art-inspired graphics for Mexico City.

User Experience (UX)

From: | ARTICLE - 11 min read: Cognitive Science and User Experience — A New Dimension of Abstract by Wolf Alexanyan

This free tool shows the most common questions in Product Management from the perspective of cognitive biases (scientifically proven patterns of human thinking). You can use this too to extrapolate these patterns and apply them to fit your use. Click here to use THE TOOL: UXCG

From Grant: OMG. This is really neat. If you’re into UX or are a business owner who is having trouble with any aspect of their online experience, check this tool out. It seems like a great library of problems coupled with solutions.

From | ARTICLE - 12 min read: Designing for accessibility is not that hard: Seven easy-to-implement guidelines to design a more accessible web by Pablo Stanley

Accessibility problems are not that hard to correct, and doing so can expose your content to a much wider audience! This article covers some quick ways to check how accessible your current site is and cost-effective ways to fix common issues.

Thinking Strategically

From: | ARTICLE - 4 min read: How to work harmoniously with a dominant personality by Melody Wilding

Do you ever feel pushed around by people with strong personalities? Here are a few strategies this article suggests for working effectively with dominant people:

  • Focus on the “What” - not the how
  • Skip the small talk
  • Give them independence
  • Thoughtfully highlight areas for improvement
  • Fill their gaps
  • Don’t take their actions personally
Minnesota woman learns how to successfully work with difficult colleagues

From Grant: This one hit a little close to home for me. If you’re a dominant personality or are working with one, this is a good read either way. If you tend to dominate the conversation, this should give you some perspective on how you come off in group settings. For everyone else, this seems like solid advice.

From: | ARTICLE - 3 min read: 7 phrases leaders should use more often to show vulnerability and build trust with their team by Katie Burke

Phrases like “I appreciate you” and “I’m sorry” can go a long way towards building trust with your team. According to this article, showing vulnerability can help develop a more high-performing, engaged, and inclusive team. It covers everything from tone and attitude to honesty.

From Grant: This is for everyone—a little bit of kindness goes a very long way.

From: | ARTICLE - 4 min read: The compliment sandwich and 4 other common mistakes leaders make by Laura Gallaher

Sandwiching negative feedback between positive comments isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. It can even cause damage to your company's culture. In this article, an organizational psychologist provides examples of how leaders can inadvertently run into communication pitfalls. Some of those missteps include:

  • Failing to link culture to strategy
  • Moving too fast to achieve true alignment
  • Relying on the artifacts
minnesota woman is trying to choose between google suite and microsoft office 365

New Technology Updates

From: | ARTICLE - 2 min read: Microsoft's new collaboration tool wants to replace Google Workspace for good by Mike Moore

Microsoft is rolling out a new project management platform called Project Moca. They will include this new collaboration tool within their Outlook email service.

Article: | ARTICLE - 5 min read: WordPress 5.8 Released With Nearly 300 New Features & Fixes by Roger Montti

WordPress 5.8 has nearly 300 new improvements and features. The latest tools will make it easier for publishers to innovate and be creative.

Fun Finds

From: | VIDEO - 8 min video: Exact Instructions Challenge - THIS is why my kids hate me. by Josh Darnit

This video is fun and a perfect example of why good communication is so important. Josh Darnit asks his kids to write instructions for making a pb&j and follows their instructions EXACTLY as written.

From Grant: This is excellent. Also a very good exercise for software engineering!

From: | RESOURCE LIBRARY - XR Design - Learn UX - XR & 3D by Kim Alban

Interested in learning about XR and 3D space? Kim, a product designer from NYC, compiled this awesome library of free resources for learning more about this design area.

From Grant: This is a good thing to check if you are interested in virtual reality and how that pertains to user experience! Very neat!


Feeling blah? This interactive experience claims it can use science to boost your happiness with small moments of delight. Give it a try!

From | ARTICLE - 11 min read: Art Nouveau design: art and design for the people by Mayfield Ngondonga

Take a deep dive into Art Nouveau! The article covers Art Nouveau’s historical context, objectives, and key artists. Plus, learn the characteristics that can help you spot it (or use it) in designs today.

From: | ARTICLE - 1 min read: Conceptual Design For HotelWren Invites You in For a Cozy Stay by Chloe Gordon

HotelWren is a boutique hotel in Prague with an aesthetic of “upscale coziness” designed by Creative Director Spencer Woolcott. This interesting branding project incorporates quirky illustrations and a unique typeface combination. 

minnesota designer uses art nouveau to inspire new design ideas
From: | DESIGN: Amoret Ice Cream Branding 

Amoret is an ice cream bakery owned by two Mexican women. The brand identity centers on love with a heart-shaped logo, romantic colors, and beautiful quotes.

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