• pills around text that says "A taste of your own medicine: why you should start taking your own advice."If you’re anything like me, you’re REALLY great at giving advice. Providing guidance on someone else’s dating life, or how they should just “take the plunge” with a freelance career, or get started on writing that book is so easy — everything is just so damn obvious and clear. The truth is, we’re all pretty good at seeing things clearly from the sidelines and have the best intentions for our friends, colleagues and acquaintances, and yet most of us seem to fail at taking our own advice.


    What I do for a living is provide advice, guidance and strategy for other people’s businesses. I help them find their audiences, define their niche and strategize the best way to connect their company’s vision with their customers’ needs. I put my blood, sweat and tears into helping others get their shit together, and yet I’ve rarely stopped to use my methods on my OWN business… until I had a bit of an awakening a week ago.


    I finally sat down and looked at my consulting business, which is really hard to do when your brand is primarily just YOU. It’s hard to be IN something and not just a consultant on the outside looking in. I do great work for others. I am incredibly thoughtful, user-centric and attention to detail… yet I struggled to define what my brand IS, what value I actually bring to the table, and align that with what it is I LOVE doing. I’ve inadvertently spent my week in my clients’ shoes, becoming incredibly empathetic to their struggles.


    After fielding countless emails for new client work, I found out a lot about what I DON’T like doing — which I believe is the key to finding yourself AND your brand. I’ve found over the years that I get frustrated when people hire me for just “design work”, when I do so much more than that. “WHY would they think I’m just a designer?” I think, HOW IS IT NOT CLEAR? Then I took a step back. I’ve never defined my own damn niche. My web presence doesn’t reflect the strategy, my focus on brand personalities or ideals that I instill in the design work I showcase. I’ve never really sorted out what I DO do and what I DON’T do because, let’s face it, sometimes you do things you don’t love in order to pay the bills and keep Sallie Mae from hunting you down and cutting off a limb. Well, I’ve decided that I don’t want to do that anymore, just like I don’t want to “dress like a professional”or look forward to “casual Fridays” for any of my future jobs. As the great Matthew McConaughey said — YES, I’m referencing a quote from Matthew McConaughey, is that a problem? Haha :)


    The first step that leads to our identity in life is usually not ‘I know who I am,’ but rather ‘I know who I am not.’ — Matthew McConaughey


    Pretty damn good, right? So here’s what I’m not, I’m not a person who is: manipulative, self-helpy, egotistical, a health nut, lazy, money hungry (maybe a little, but again, Sallie Mae is a ruthless bitch), phony or insincere and I’m not one who posts countless selfies for validation (but hey, I understand if that’s YOUR JAM — you do you). On the services side of what I don’t care to do: heavy web development, tons of illustrations or icons, banner ads, heavy analytic analysis, designing incredibly complex dashboards, and I don’t just make things “look pretty” — I make them functional and for their intended audiences, and yes, in turn they come out pretty damn gorgeous (I’m not egotistical, I’m just tired of being self-deprecating about my work).


    Based on that, I’ve come to realize that I am a person who is: caring, helpful, motivated, passionate, an essentialist, thoughtful, empathetic, creative, straight-forward, hands-on, hardworking and someone who really just wants to spend her days living in a cabin in the woods with her rescue dog, Margot, drinking whiskey, building furniture while listening to Die Antwoord and pretending she’s Yolandi Visser (hey, I didn’t say I wasn’t a little weird). On the services side of what I LOVE and am good at doing is helping businesses: conduct user & market research, identify and understand their audience, find their unique value adds, create engagement methods, create marketing strategies, roadmap their brand strategy, define their brand’s personality and voice, create guides & toolkits, define priorities, and then take all that information to help guide the design of products, print collateral and environmental design. In summation: I genuinely love helping businesses find their audiences, define their niche and strategize the best way to connect their company’s vision with their customers’ needs. It’s all about aligning the company’s passion with THEIR “right” people and then helping them visualize it.


    So now I’m finally taking my own advice in my quest to define my personal brand and business. It has not only helped me with how I approach opportunities, but also the types of clients and projects that I want to attract. We’re naturally drawn to people who are like us, it’s just a fact that we’re all just a bunch of narcissists. But in all seriousness: clients who can identify or respect those qualities in me are going to enjoy our process together. We’ll have some common ground and, hey, that’s not a bad place to start.

  • Sep


    Keep it Up

    Energy and persistence conquer all things.

    —Benjamin Franklin

  • How to start your side gig as a a Freelance Copywriter. Get the guts to get started.Recently, I’ve had a lot of people asking me questions about being a freelancer and what a freelance job would entail. Since I’ve been a consultant on and off for almost a decade now, I absolutely LOVE helping people who are ballsy enough to dip their toe into the freelancing pool. I’ve worked mostly as a designer and brand strategist, but in that time I have learned a TON about what to do, what not to do and what companies look for in almost every field.




    That’s it. Seriously. What can YOU do to help THEM be successful? When you start thinking that way, it helps to really hone in on what you have to offer.


    Let’s get to the specifics: Freelance Copywriting.


    What sort of copywriting positions do companies hire for? As for freelance copywriting positions in GENERAL, there are a lot of different options out there. A few positions most companies are always looking for are:


    Content Development + Strategy

    This position involves being part marketer and part copywriter — understanding how to write messages that help sell. Responsibilities include establishing a voice and tone for the brand to help with creating a cohesive brand message. This would include writing stories for landing pages, explaining the product and helping comprise emails. This requires understanding the company’s customers and what messages resonate with those customers. Some prompts would be: Why would potential customers use your product? How are you different from competitors? How will this help better your customer’s lives? If you can help a company address these questions, you’ll help them engage with their audience, which in turn: HELPS THEM MAKE MORE MONEY.


    Blog Copywriting

    A ton of companies actually pay people to write for their blogs, since it takes time to craft interesting pieces and companies are spread thin on great content. If there’s anything you’re specifically knowledgable or passionate about, I’d recommend finding companies with that audience and pitching yourself as a freelance writer. The key here is to choose a company who’s content you identify with, and then choose a topic that resonates with THEIR readers. Does the company write about politics? Business? Design? Cats? Great — you love cats and have tons of insights and tips on things you’ve learned while living with ten of them. Now you should contact whoever is in charge of their content and pitch them some really strong article ideas around cats — just list a few potential titles and the content you plan to focus on. Keep it quick and simple, you just want to see if they’re interested.


    Copy Editing

    Some companies will hire copywriters just to EDIT. This mostly requires combing through blog posts and site content to ensure that things are consistent and error free.


    Those are just a few of many various copywriting descriptions you may run into. Some companies might expect that you do ALL those things and more, in which case it’s really important to clarify what your specific role and responsibilities are. A lot of companies might not even know what they need, so it’s on you to tell them what they need. Look at their site, product and customers before taking on any job. What are they doing well? Where could they improve? If you come into the initial consultation with the company armed with that info, congratulations, you’re 90% guaranteed* to get the job.
    * This is not a real number, I’m just sayin’ that most of your competition won’t be this prepared, so you’ve got a huge advantage.


    A good way to help get your foot in the door with any company is to establish yourself as a copywriter. I recommend putting up a website, even if it’s just a simple page that says what you do and slowly start to build a portfolio/client list. Maybe write for a friend’s site or do small jobs here and there to get a small portfolio under your belt. Medium is a great place to just write articles and stories about things you’re passionate about, which shows potential clients your voice, writing style and the types of things you enjoy writing about.


    Here are some references & resources to help you see how to position yourself as a copywriter:


    Copywriter References:

    Maybe you want to stalk a couple of great copywriters who are getting tons of work to see what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.


    Alexandra Franzen: Alexandra helps companies establish their brand message — and she’s so good that she’s booked until next year.


    Sarah Peck: I have the pleasure of working with this talented lady at One Month. Sarah is a content strategist and excels at helping people and companies tell their story. She even teaches courses on her site, as well as launched a Content Strategy course at One Month.


    Ash Ambirge: A wonderfully snarky lady who writes copy for big brands and has built a copywriting business that allows her to live wherever the hell in the world she wants. She offers clients a variety of services, as well as runs her business blog, The Middle Finger Project. She also offers yearly retreats and courses for writers and business peeps.


    Copywriter Courses:

    Maybe you want to peek inside what companies are looking for, or get a better grasp on what to offer and how to price your services. These online classes can help.


     • The Copy Cure: Great course geared towards writing copy for brands. Basically, a bootcamp for learning how to write marketing copy and how to speak to target customers. This all may seem like common sense if you’ve been writing for a while, but the course does a great job of breaking things down and helping you to develop a writing process.


    Sentences & Money: This course will teach you how to make money doing what you love: writing. It teaches you how to position yourself as a writer, what you should offer and how to tackle pricing for your services. Plus, it’s created by the witty and wonderful Ash Ambirge behind The Middle Finger Project, who’s helped bazillions* of brands find their voice and build their audience.


    Hope that helps to spark ideas for you and gives you a place to start. Just keep doing what you love and keep telling people that you do it — that’s the key to getting work!


    Have any other amazing copywriters who’ve inspired you? Have any tips or questions — let me know!
  • Oct



    Be very, very careful what you put into that head, because you will never, ever get it out. — Thomas Wolsey 


  • Elsie Shutt: founder of one of the first software businesses in the U.S. in 1958..

    Picture: Elsie Shutt, who founded one of the first software businesses, that employed ALL women programmers, in 1958.


    Graph of Women in Computer Science



    NPR’s Planet Money did a short piece on When Women Stopped Coding. Reconfirms the fact that everyone needs validation to learn, grow and to fully reach their potential. Definitely worth a few minutes of your morning. Listen to it here.


  • My creative boner for those Daniels is stronger than ever. If you don’t remember, I posted about these boys a few years back after I had the pleasure of meeting them at the Vimeo awards. Their vision is so distinct and, I’ll admit, a bit strange but it’s SO good. You’ll never see anything like what they do. True creative geniuses.

  • Beyoncé is obviously not a new topic, but Mrs. Carter is one bad-ass lady who’s new album is really challenging the landscape of the music industry. In a land where record execs just want you to push the hottest single, Bey decided to make a whole VISUAL album. This amazing woman decided to create 17 music videos to accompany her new album and released them ALL. AT. ONCE. The amount of work that went into the planning of all of this blows my mind, and each song and video has such a 90s Madonna-meets-Missy Elliot vibe to it’s look that I can’t help but be giddy watching them all over and over and over…

    Well done, Bey, well done. My feminist anthem of 2014: FLAWLESS… so. fucking. good.

  • Nov


    Make Your Own Path

    I have two big things I’m passionate about: creating things yourself and making your own path. This lovely man not only runs his own woodworking company, passed on from his father, but helps displaced Juvie kids find a passion and a place of belonging.


    Not everyone fits into a perfect mold in our society and we tend to disregard people’s strengths, especially in our education system, shoving square pegs into round holes. I one day hope that we will have an education system that tailors itself to individuals and their passions. Whether that be a kid who wants to be a woodworker – giving him applicable math and chemistry skills that pertain to that trade, or if a kid wants to be a chef, veterinarian or artist – focusing and honing in on a person’s passions makes the learning easier because it gives it context. Not everyone wants to be doctors, lawyers or engineers and how amazing would it be to live in a world where people were nurtured to follow their passions and strengths, rather than given a one-size-fits-all education? I think that would be pretty incredible.

  • Nov


    Stay Hungry.

    “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

    – William Butler Yeats

  • “Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.” – Earl Nightingale

  • ezra_zmaic

    This is the most recent Made By Hand film and it almost brought me to tears. This film follows Ezra Caldwell, a bike builder in Harlem. Although it explores his passions, this film takes a look into a life of a man battling cancer with ferocious optimism. Ezra began taking daily pictures of himself and his life once he was diagnosed and now sells them in weekly, hand-printed batches. Seriously puts things into perspective.

  • It takes craftsmanship and skill to execute beautiful paper products. This is a video on how Crane & Co. bevels and guilds their stationary… it’s all done by hand. Pretty incredible. So the next time you get upset about cost, think about the time and love that’s going into your product.

  • fastco_infographic_zmaicFast Company has a really interesting infographic on how money affects laws and elections. This idea isn’t new, we all know money is power, but seeing some cold hard numbers represented by various sized dots really had an impact on me. Pretty disturbing how even school lunch programs are affected by the money being thrown at congress. (5 images total)

  • Jul


    Mosquito Patch


    Did you know that mosquitos actually track you by detecting CO2 from your breath.. crazy, huh? Kite is an innovative product that is currently being tested and seeking funding to release mosquito repellant patches that you wear and can last up to 48 hours. Think about all the people around the globe who die from diseases carried by mosquitos who could really use this… not to mention my sweet-blooded self who gets eaten alive every summer. Another example of technology for good.

  • zmaic_beauty_is_embarrassing

    I feel like I saw the trailer for this two years ago and have been waiting forever to get to see this, and FINALLY Netflix has it available! I’ve already watched it 5 times in the past two months, and thought I’d share it with you in case you haven’t checked it out yet. Wayne White is an artist and creator who does a bit of everything and is responsible for my obsession with Pee Wee’s Playhouse and the famed “Tonight, Tonight” Smashing Pumpkins video. Most of the things that I grew up with, that I really found visually inspiring, were created by this handsome man. This documentary make me feel sane for getting my hands into everything creative and that there’s nothing wrong with being a Jack-of-all-trades.



    Wayne now paints these incredibly lettered scenic paintings that make me giggle every time I see them. Check out his site and his books.


  • Scratch commissions designers to created limited edition nail decals that are high-art, low cost. Flat Vernacular is the guest this month!

  • Jul


    Sailing Ship Kite

    Check out this amazing kite from Haptic Lab! Not only is it cool, it’s also Fair Trade. Check out their other amazing goods, including my favorite quilt.


  • Google launched Project Loon in June 2013 in New Zealand to test the ability to use balloons to transmit internet to the large chunk of the world that doesn’t have access. As they say on their site “Many of us think of the Internet as a global community. But two-thirds of the world’s population does not yet have Internet access. Project Loon is a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to connect people in rural and remote areas, help fill coverage gaps, and bring people back online after disasters.”

    Technology is doing so many incredible things; having the ability to help women entrepreneurs in third-world countries, giving education and medical access to the developing world and ensuring that people affected by major disasters can access the internet. Blows my mind.



  • I found this incredible anti-drug video today on Fast Company’s site. Pretty amazing to watch how the design firm, The Colony, executed it in the behind-the-scenes video. Talented people creating great work.

  • My life has taken me on a lot of adventures and somehow brought me into the world of web design and start-ups. I have slowly begun the process of learning to develop, or “code”, sites in the past year because there aren’t very many people who do it well. I thought that this video is an inspiring look into some great minds who have pioneered the infancy of the internet. Check out code.org and also check out a great online coding site that I’m currently working with called, Skillcrush and start developing your first project today!