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Cafe thumbs up | Twin design

Cafe thumbs up | Twin design

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You certainly don't want to be the last one to know about National Donut Day, do you? Didn't think so. Join our Facebook page here.

 
Blue bird | PiXXart

Blue bird | PiXXart

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Orange plus pattern | Ylivdesign

Orange plus pattern | Ylivdesign

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Follow us on Google Plus for the latest original content we've published over on our Bigstock blog. We post great stuff all week long, so if you're anxiously awaiting our next big blog moment, this is the social media network to check us out on.

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Camera illustration | Utemov Alexey

Camera illustration | Utemov Alexey

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Follow us on Instagram for perfect pics. From wildlife shots to fabulous photos for foodies, our Instagram account is one to watch.

We're a bit new to this social platform but we're loving our time on it. Hope to see your images in Bigstock's Instagram feed sometime soon.

 

 

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Header Image by Bigstock contributor VLADGRIN.

Posted
AuthorBrian Masefield

When it comes to identifying and establishing your brand online, the list is never ending. You have to consider social media, email, community, and then, of course, the actual product or service you're selling. Gone are the days of "give us a call for more information." In the age of Facebook, it's all about engagement, interactions, and immediacy.

There are a few steadfast things you have to keep in mind with everyone's favorite platform, but you're probably already doing them anyway ... right? Right? Just to be sure, here are some really easy Facebook tips to keep in mind while boosting your social media presence for your brand. Good luck.

1. USE IMAGES IN EVERY POST

Okay this isn't actually that hard because ... guess what ... almost everything you see online is a combination of imagery and text. So whether you're visually inclined or not, that's just the landscape on which you're working. And chances are that most times, it significantly improves your experience and actual enjoyment of whatever it is you're taking in.

Facebook is no different. Make sure you choose images that not only speak to what you're trying to promote, but that they do so in a way that isn't necessarily obvious, but maybe more abstract. So if you've got a post that's promoting great deals for your new food delivery service, instead of including an image of someone counting money or dollar signs, think of the actual product and the experience that you're selling, and try to showcase it in a way that's visually appealing. Like, a rustic backdrop for an avocado that's sliced open, or a bowl of strawberries on a colorful wooden table. Make sure your images are optimized for both desktop and mobile – and use this cheat sheet for image specs related specifically to Facebook.

2. IF YOU HAVE A SPECIAL OR OFFER, PROMOTE IT

Always use your social media channels to let your customers know that something different is going on. Facebook has a great function, known as Offers. It allows small businesses the opportunity to create tiny bits of content that pop up in news feeds, with an image and text that signifies the special offer that you're trying to promote. Users who interact with them have the opportunity to like, comment, and share, so it functions very much like anything else that you would see on the platform. 

Alternatively, you can use Facebook Ads which allows you the freedom of choosing the audience that you'd like to reach. Your reach with an ad on Facebook is significant, and you'll be able to direct users to all the means necessary to engage with your business – whether it's your online store, the app, or a place where more content is stored, ads can help your business target the right customers.

3. SHARE YOUR OWN STUFF

There are great sites for sharing things that inspire you. Tumblr, Twitter, and even Instagram, are all terrific examples. They work brilliantly for sharing the good stuff you're sending out on the interwebs, as well as for content that other people are putting out.

Facebook isn't quite like that, at least for a smaller business. You might not want to consider sharing other people's content so much as focusing on your own, at least on this platform.

 

Facebook should be used primarily for promoting your branded content and showcasing what you want people to see and understand about your brand.

 

4. JUMP ON TRENDS

If you're looking for inspiration as to what to publish on Facebook, think about trends and holidays. If you're a greeting card company, consider upcoming seasons and what that might mean for customers. Cater your content to that. Quirky nationwide holidays are also a fun and easy way to create posts that will appeal to the masses, while possibly giving people some factoids to walk away with. But if a holiday is coming up in September, be sure to plan ahead, especially since your users will need to buy now, so to speak (depending on what it is that you're selling.)

Also, never underestimate the power of the hashtag. Use hashtags to jump on trends, news events (if appropriate), holidays, and strange holidays ... like National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. One hashtag on the right day can really get you noticed.

5. THERE'S A TIME AND PLACE FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE

Although there's been some recent changes to its platform (like 'Response Time' rates), Facebook doesn't really lend itself to handling customer service challenges all that well. It's difficult to engage with people who actually have questions and concerns, and no one should be "getting into it" with a disgruntled customer on your page, for all of your fans to see.

Customer Service issues are better solved in a more private manner. In a hypothetical situation, in which someone writes something unflattering on your wall, your best bet would be to Hide it (as the button itself suggests).

When it comes to site or product issues, however, you should respond with, "We're looking into it, please feel free to email me directly..." or put them in touch with your support team if you have one. Be sure to apologize, but don't instantly take full responsibility, as you'll have to research the issue more before saying more.

And, if your website is having technical difficulties, be sure to post the issue on Facebook asap (before you start receiving commentary from your customers on your wall). People will appreciate the heads up, and there's comfort in knowing someone is on top of the issue. And, then, of course, alert them when the site is back up and running.

6. PROOFREAD!

Just because you're not a copywriter doesn't mean you're exempt from reading over whatever you post. It's really easy to get things mixed up on social media, especially since the platform on which you're creating and posting content can be pretty distracting.

Read things over twice before posting, read it out loud, and, if you missed anything, Facebook's got an edit feature which will allow you to go back and make changes to your post.

 

7. PROPERLY ENGAGE

Facebook provides a great landscape for engagement. And contests a great way to fill up that landscape. They not only get people to share and participate, but they also attract followers who might wish to partake in future contests.

Caption contests, photo challenges, even just posing fun questions can be a fun option for your brand and fans. These opportunities will bring people back, making your content more likely to be seen when it's not something that's directly correlated with bringing in specific engagement - or selling your product or services.

These are just a few starter tips & tricks to help you get your footing while navigating Facebook. There's a lot more you can do to improve on what you already have, and we'll be sharing more Facebook focused tips like these in the future, so stay tuned!

Check out a lightbox we made of images that would work well for social media. And, if you're looking for royalty-free photos or vectors for your projects, sign up for Bigstock's 7-day Free Trial. You'll be able to download up to 35 free images. Get started today!

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Posted
AuthorAshley Hefnawy

You've perfected your online portfolio, booked a client, negotiated a great rate, completed the assignment, and responded to five rounds of revisions. Congratulations! Now, it's time to get paid. And to get that money fast, you need a professional invoice.

Don't ignore this final (and vital) step in the client relationship by dashing off an email asking to get paid. It's a rookie move. Instead, finish strong and invoice your client. Leave a professional impression that gets you in their financial system so you become their go-to freelancer in the future.

This outline covers 6 must-have elements of a professional invoice, a simple template you can download and customize, and some simple do's and don'ts of a successful invoice. Let's get you paid!

Six Must-Have Invoice Elements

Here's the basic invoice template I designed years ago that still works great today. Feel free to download it here and customize it to your brand in Google Drive. Simply change the background color on the header, adapt the info below and you're ready to go.

The design is basic—on purpose—because it only needs to do one thing: Get me paid. And I've never had to renegotiate or chase down a client after using this invoice.

So let's look at each element, from top to bottom, and see why it works so well:

Detailed invoice from Shawn Forno.

Detailed invoice from Shawn Forno.

1) Header: Your Business Name

The business name (me) appears clearly at the top. No description, no tagline, no clutter. At a glance, the accounting department knows who to pay. Simple branding that doesn't obscure important information is key.

2) Company Being Invoiced / Date / Invoice Tracking Number

The next line states the company I'm invoicing, which project I'm invoicing them for, and the date of invoice with my own internal invoice tracking number. This section keeps everything clear—on their end, and mine. If there's ever a dispute about when I sent an invoice or which project it's for, I'm ready with all the information I need. And so are they.

The background is branded with the shade of green I use on my personal website, and it serves as a nice visual break between the header and itemized content of the invoice below. Feel free to add a small logo here, but again, don't add graphics without reason.

I also keep the invoice tracking number (#01) for my own records. I save the tracking number in the file name to keep invoices organized and in chronological order.

3) Description/ Breakdown of Work

This is an essential part of the invoice. It's also where a lot of freelancers go wrong. Simple itemized lists are great, but it's helpful to include a brief summary of the work.

If you created logos for multiple social media sites, list each site. If you created several formats, sizes, or renders of a project, list each. It never hurts to remind a client why they're paying you. However, keep the descriptions to one or two lines.

4) Rates and Total Due

It's time for the bottom line. Since you've itemized and described your work, simply include the rate per deliverable (or hour) and tally it up line by line. You don't have to itemize every little thing here either; but the list should be comprehensive and clear. You never want to overwhelm a client with a 4-page invoice.

5) Payment Information: Preferred Payment Method and Date

Never be afraid to set the terms you want. Clearly ask for your preferred method of payment—check, PayPal, Venmo, or direct deposit—then set a realistic timeline for payment. I invoice every two weeks and require that clients pay within five business days. That consistency is great for recurring gigs, and removes a lot of guess work for which clients are still outstanding.

Freelancer Tip: Always set up direct deposit with a new client. This usually requires a few HR and accounting forms on their end, but getting in their system will increase your chances of landing more work down the road.

6) Sign Off and Contact Information

Always end the invoice with a cordial sign off that includes all of your pertinent contact info. Remember, this invoice might get forwarded five times before it ends up on an accountant's desk. Provide your phone number and email so they can reach you if any problems arise.

That's it. Quick, clear, and to the point—just like your invoice should be. If you include these 6 invoice must-haves you'll be on your way to a long, lucrative freelance career.

And, if you're looking for great stock images and vectors for your projects, why not try a 7-day Free Trial of a Bigstock subscription? You'll be able to download up to 35 free images over the course of your trial. Get started today.

About the Author: Shawn Forno is a copywriter, content manager, travel writer, and blogger. You can view his work at leftyscissor.com. Follow him on Twitter at @leftyscissor.

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Posted
AuthorShawn Forno

LinkedIn hasn't exactly been celebrated for having ground-breaking design aesthetics or a slick UI worthy of Silicon Valley fame. But, for freelance designers, there's a good chance it'll be the network that will land you your next gig. LinkedIn has long been recruiters' go-to source for tracking down qualified designers for freelance and full-time projects. With a little extra effort, designers can make sure their LinkedIn profile is eye-catching and job-landing.

Professional Portfolios were introduced to LinkedIn in 2013, but an early focus on posting PowerPoints didn't exactly appeal to the design world. Yet, from the start, LinkedIn suggested that this feature could work for designers and other creatives. The capabilities of this feature are perfect for a visually-oriented job history where portfolios and work examples can say more than a static job description ever could.

Let's look at the basics of how freelance designers can take advantage of Professional Portfolios on LinkedIn.

What can I share?

The possibilities are nearly limitless in what you can showcase on your LinkedIn profile:

  • photos
  • infographics
  • slideshare presentations
  • ebooks
  • blog posts
  • portfolios
  • videos ... and more!

Anything that you can link to online, or upload as a file can be hosted and shared on LinkedIn.

How do these files look on my profile?

Portfolio items can be shared in the Summary, Experience, and Education sections of your profile. Typically your profile Summary is near the top of the page, so curating your best work examples there makes them the most discoverable, while additional portfolio items added within previous jobs and education sections serves as an archive of what you have achieved.

Portfolio items follow a standard layout with two large featured cards of work and multiple smaller cards below that. Regardless of the content type, all portfolio cards include a visual component.

Screenshot of LinkedIn platform

When you upload a new portfolio item, it will also be shared with your network, allowing your connections to see the addition and "like" it or comment on it.

How much should I share?

LinkedIn allows you to add an unlimited number of files or link to your profile, enabling a portfolio that continually grows throughout your career. When you are adding projects associated with a specific job, 2-5 items fills out the space and adds a nice visual block to your work history. Make sure you're sharing a nicely curated selection of work—think about what you would feature on your own portfolio website or in a physical design portfolio and stick to the same level of quality.

Also, focus on showcasing a breadth of project work (for example, consumer vs. B2B, print vs. digital) and use multiple content types from the list above to capture the interest of recruiters.

How can I add content?

If you're planning to add lots of projects at once and don't want to flood your contacts' feeds, find the "Notify your network?" option in the right-hand column of your profile and toggle it to "No." When you have uploaded all of your projects, be sure to switch this back to "Yes" so your contacts will continue to see your regular updates and work that you'll add in the future.

Step 1. Log into LinkedIn, and navigate to your own profile. When you hover over a previous job title, you should see a file upload button (shown in blue, below). Click that button to launch the file uploader.

Step 2. In the field that appears, confirm that the correct position is selected so your work isn't added to the wrong job. From here, you can either enter a link to where the work exists online, or upload a file directly to LinkedIn.

When you upload a new portfolio item, it will also be shared with your network, allowing your connections to see the addition and "like" it or comment on it.

Step 3. LinkedIn will automatically choose a thumbnail image based on the link or file you add. When that loads, you have the opportunity to enter a unique title and description for this item. If the project was for a notable client, the Title is a great place to name drop a recognizable brand name. The description can go into additional project details, or provide other context that might be interesting to recruiters viewing it. When you're happy with your content, click Save (you can always edit this later).

Step 4. After you have added multiple items to a single job, you can drag and drop the thumbnail images to reorder the projects and prioritize your best work.

There you have it. Best of luck with all of your creative endeavors.

And, if you're looking for royalty-free photos or vectors for your projects, sign up for Bigstock's 7-day Free Trial. You'll be able to download up to 35 free images during the course of your trial. Get started today!

About the Author: Ashley Kemper is a marketing strategist who spends her free time traveling and pursuing hobbies in photography, web design, and blogging. Follow her on Twitter @theashleykemper.

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Posted
AuthorAshley Kemper

You know how important social media is for promoting your business and developing your professional image. You’re probably already using Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and you’re wondering if there’s anything else you should be doing. And, maybe, just maybe, you're on the fence about Pinterest.

If you’ve been thinking Pinterest is just a place to post pictures of cupcakes and DIY crafts, think again. Pinterest is a place to curate and present just about anything visual. Users find images they like and "pin" them to categorized boards to save and share them. In many ways it’s an aspirational medium – people pin images of things they want to get, see, or do in the future. When done right, your boards can speak volumes about your business. Here are some ideas to help you make the most of one of social media’s fastest-growing and most versatile platforms.

Tell Your Story

Try creating a board to serve as an “about us” guide. Include pictures of employees, past projects, your office, your logos, or any images that represent your company. Or create boards to show off your products, like an online catalog (with zero printing costs). Link images to corresponding parts of your web site. Make sure your images have good detailed captions that are rich in keywords and offer a compelling reason to click through. Include hashtags if the content is trending on twitter. 

Pop in a "Pin It" Button

By including the Pin It button on your own site, you can allow people to do some of your work for you, by pinning your content to their boards. Just be sure all the images on your website have alt tags so they can be pinned more easily. When your images are pinned by others, the alt tag text will auto-populate the description field for the pin.

Pin It image | enterlinedesign

Pin It image | enterlinedesign

Spread the Knowledge

Pin links to content your customers might like or find useful. For example, a small design firm may pin an article about the most popular colors for the coming year. A caterer may pin recipes or links to event planning information. A dance studio may pin videos of famous ballerinas. Even an accounting firm can pin an interesting tax-related infographic.

Brainstorm with Boards

Pinterest can be wonderful as an inexpensive platform for private collaboration, among team members or with clients. If a client is having trouble expressing exactly what they want for a project, create a private board and ask them to pin examples of things they like (or things they hate) to give you a better idea of what they are looking for. Or pin things for them to show a direction you are considering for their project.

Give + Engage

Pinterest is also a great place to present coupons and promotions. Or create a contest that encourages fans to pin their own images. For example, a fashion designer may encourage customers to pin pictures of themselves in the clothes to be entered into a contest.

Red tags image | viperagp

Red tags image | viperagp

Share the Pin-spiration

Check out who pins (or re-pins) your stuff and you may find some things on their boards that are inspiring enough to re-pin as well. It’s all about sharing. And be sure to promote your Pinterest presence on all of your marketing materials.

You can even pin text, just make sure it’s pretty. Your pithy quotes will move people more when presented in typographic form, or with an appropriate image. And don’t forget data – a well-done infographic that conveys information in a cool way will be read and shared far more than a dry article or white paper.

It may seem like a lot of work to add another channel to your social media To Do list, but with Pinterest, what you create will last. Instead of being ephemeral like Twitter, or chronological like Facebook, your Pinterest boards stay up and can be added to, viewed, and re-pinned long after they've created.

If you start with a plan and some clear goals, you will find the hard work you put in will last. Pinterest even offers business accounts, giving you access to analytic tools to help you measure your success. Used right, it can be an excellent form of market research, as well as a tool for communicating with your clients and potential clients. Good luck and happy pinning.

If you're a freelancer or small biz looking for great stock photos for your projects or Pinterest boards, why not try a 7-day Free Trial of a Bigstock subscription? You'll be able to download up to 35 free images over the course of your trial. Get started today.

RELATED IMAGES

Posted
AuthorAnne K. Williams

Chances are you know someone who's left his/her job and gone freelance. It makes sense. Freelancing can offer independence, creativity, wealth, and empowerment.

Have you thought about taking the leap? If so, you've probably wondered if you're cut out for such a radical departure from traditional work. Regardless of what you do, there are five traits you'll need (or need to work on) to really succeed.

1. A Clear Vision

You know the cliche: Life is what you make it. Same goes for freelancing. As your own boss, you get to decide what to do, when, how, and for whom. But, with your possible success or failure in your own hands, you need a vision to keep you organized and motivated.

Why do you want to freelance? Pride? Independence? Money? Passive income? A business you can eventually sell ... or one you'll want to run for the rest of your life?

Get a notepad and scribble out your ideas and desires. Discuss with your loved ones. Go for a walk and reflect on what fulfills you. You can break it down into strategies and tactics later, but you need the big picture first.

2. A Taste for Adventure

When you tell someone you freelance, a common response is, "Sweet, you get to work in your pajamas!" It's true, there are some great perks. Working from home. Being your own boss. Charging whatever price you want.

But, freelancing is also loaded with risks. Preparing for wild fluctuations in cash flow. Draining your savings just to stay afloat. Chasing after slippery clients for an overdue project. Working all night because you have to, not because you want to.

Scary? Sure, but so are some elements of a traditional 9-to-5 job. There are practical steps you can take to curb these risks. Set aside emergency money. Cut living expenses. Diversify your services and clientele. Incorporate. Get your taxes done professionally. Ask loved ones to help you maintain a good work-life balance. Exercise. If you can endure the risks of freelancing, your chances of success skyrocket.

Businessman image | Creativa Images

Businessman image | Creativa Images

3. A Knack for Planning

Lori Greiner, Shark Tank judge and "Queen of QVC" has said, "Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week." Some freelancers do work 80 hours a week - and some don't. Some are night owls, some are early birds, and some work the usual 9-to-5. It doesn't matter how freelancers manage their time. What matters is that they manage it well.

Without the pressure of a team or a time clock, it's easy to get distracted by Netflix, Pinterest, your dog, or your kids. At the other extreme, it's insidiously easy (especially in lean times) to become obsessive and work all the time, shunning sleep, exercise, family, and fun.

Whether you're battling sluggish cash flow or Candy Crush, a good solution is to impose a fixed schedule, like a "real" job. A solid freelancer work day should have these notable features:

  • Start work at the same time every day.
  • Take scheduled breaks.
  • Stop on time.

Some freelancers use software like Harvest or Asana to track hours. Some work in co-working spaces to separate their work time from their non-work time. However you do it, planning and managing your time is critical.

4. The Skills of Negotiation

Haggling is one of the oldest skills on the planet. More art than science, negotiating requires a shrewd balance of strength and flexibility. It can take years to master - and many freelancers don't realize they need the skill until they've been ripped off.

Negotiation and freelancing are inseparable. It can be intimidating to put a price tag on your work. Whether it's due to shyness, cluelessness, or both, many end up asking for fees that are either insultingly high or harmfully low.

Research appropriate rates, and when the time comes to haggle, be reasonable, and don't be afraid to push back. Whether you're selling art or airplanes, negotiation is a must.

Negotiation image | Rawpixel

Negotiation image | Rawpixel

5. The Spirit of Self Promotion

Blowing your own horn at a dinner party is obnoxious and frowned upon. But as a freelancer, it's critical.

Unless you notify the market that you're open for business, you're invisible. Many freelancers, especially those lacking a background in marketing, ignore self-promotion beyond opening a Facebook page - and then wonder where all the work is. There's a reason most companies have marketing departments.

If working on your primary services is a full-time job, then marketing is an additional one. How will you promote yourself? Print ads? Digital? Social media? Passing out business cards at events? It can feel wasteful to make time for marketing, but the most successful freelancers make it a priority.

No matter what your personality type is or what you want to do, if you can come to the freelancing world with these five attributes, you're off to a great start.

If you're a freelancer or small biz looking for great stock photos for your projects, why not try a 7-day Free Trial of a Bigstock subscription? You'll be able to download up to 35 free images over the course of your trial. Happy downloading.

About the Author: Brian Goff is a graphic designer and illustrator who is passionate about branding, creative strategy, and entrepreneurship. You can view his work at www.briangoff.com. Follow him on Twitter at @briangoff.

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Posted
AuthorBrian Goff

You already know stock photography can work wonders for your small business, whether you're using images for brochures, your website, or designing large scale prints for your storefront. Stock video can add an additional layer of cool to your brand. It can also be a real 'no brainer' approach to upping engagement on your website, in your store, or at your event, especially if you're on a tight budget.

There are loads of creative ways for small businesses to use stock footage. To help get your ideas in motion, we thought we'd set you up with some inspiring ways to use video.

Segue Footage

Even if you have the resources to create a great custom video, you can use stock footage for the "in-between" shots - the bumper shots that help you transition from one scene to the next, or one point to the next. This could be, for example, a clip of traffic to show you've changed (or added) locations, or a walking shot of a row of storefronts to show you've arrived. You can also use beach and other industry-style clips to set the tone for what kind of city you're in.

Ambient Footage

First, you can replace those old header shots on your homepage with short video clips to breathe some life into otherwise static website imagery and backgrounds. Instead of a friendly image of a customer service representative for your brand, have that face actively smile at your site visitors. Overlay some text, and you've got yourself a living, breathing header image.

Are you the owner of an edgy clothing store? Create a montage of street scenes, kids' skateboards, and stylish people doing stylish things, and loop it behind your homepage's tagline.

Press the "play" button to watch this clip at Bigstock Video.

Press the "play" button to watch this clip at Bigstock Video.

Mood Footage

Inside your physical location - and especially during an event you're hosting - you can keep a running loop of stock footage meant to communicate a specific vibe. A hip downtown bar, for example, could have some fun by running ironic clips of people conducting meetings and closing deals with handshakes - could be particularly effective as video installations during a night of punk bands.

Faux Behind-The-Scenes Footage

Putting together a web video to show off how your product gets from the warehouse to the customer? String together a series of clips and narrate it. You can show a warehouse worker picking a product off the shelf, a forklift moving it from one place to the next, an 18-wheeler on the open highway, a sorting facility, a delivery person handing a package over to a customer, etc. Showing "the process" with high-quality stock footage saves you time and money vs. having to capture these day-to-day business scenes on your own.

Press the "play" button to watch this clip at Bigstock Video.

Press the "play" button to watch this clip at Bigstock Video.

Vlog Post Intro Footage

Got a blog? Video posts are a great way to take it to the next level. You could interview one of your customers, for example, or do a video tour of your business, or of an event you hosted. Then you can use stock footage to create an intro montage for the post - like you'd see in the opening credits of a TV show or movie - and use it on every company video you create. Having a consistent video introduction adds familiarity to your brand.

Stock footage opens up all kinds of possibilities for improving the look of your brand, adding new visual interest to an event, and bookending those interview clips you've been wanting to put together.

If you're looking for great stock video clips, why not try a 7-day Free Trial of a Bigstock video subscription? You'll be able to download up 35 free video clips over the course of your trial. Happy downloading.

About the Author: Robert Hoekman Jr is the author of acclaimed books and articles on UX for the web. He's also a columnist and editor for Iron & Air magazine.

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Posted
AuthorRobert Hoekman Jr

Designers have different ways of invoicing clients for stock images used in their projects. Money doesn't always mesh well with the creative process, but for each and every download, someone has to eventually shell out the dough. Here are a few thoughts on the pros and cons of flat rates, mark ups, research and design fees, and how to invoice your clients when the time comes.

1. Your invoice includes the cost of the purchased files - with a % mark up and your research time to be billed separately.

PROS

  • Well, obviously, that mark up lands in the "pro" column.
  • By billing your research time separately, you receive an hourly fee for your time spent searching for images. This way you can take your time, and if you have to keep searching for additional images, you will not find yourself holding the short end of the stock photo stick.

CONS

  • Your client may balk at the amount of time/money spent searching for images, not appreciating the skill and patience it takes to find that perfect image. You may prefer to bill a research rate instead of a design rate to appease your client.
  • Depending on the size or type of images needed for a specific project, your client may expect the price to be the same for every project.
  • Some clients may check for images on their own and realize your mark up, which could be awkward.
Design process image | enotmaks

Design process image | enotmaks

2. Charge a flat rate which includes images and search time.

PROS

  • If your client is easily pleased with your findings from a quick search, you could come out way ahead.
  • By budgeting the number of images included in the flat rate, and keeping a careful eye on the clock, you can ensure your profit margin.

CONS

  • Your client could continually send you back to the drawing board, taking hours to find the right image, plummeting your hourly rate. (Personally, I now include a caveat for two to three rounds of searches. Anything additional is an hourly rate. A lesson I learned the hard way.)
  • If you're using a credit-based image plan, your client could choose only the most expensive images or vectors from your search.
Customer payment image | enotmaks

Customer payment image | enotmaks

3. Have the client purchase the images himself/herself. Include your research to find those images in your design fee.

PROS

  • No money comes out of your pocket to purchase the image.
  • If the client changes his/her mind, no money comes out of your pocket to purchase the other/new image, and you'll have lost nothing on the now-rejected one.
  • By incorporating your research time into the project's final fee, your client will not be able to complain about how long it took you to find that perfect image.
  • You are not liable for any misuse of the image by the client.

CONS

  • Your client now knows how affordable the images are.
  • Your client will know where you're getting your images from. This could create challenges in the future, with your client wanting to do some image searching himself/herself - depriving you of research funds.

Depending on the client, the project, your time, and your patience, you may end up learning some of these invoicing challenges the hard way. Hopefully, what I've learned the hard way will give you some insight towards making an informed estimate or invoice in the future. Good luck.

And, if you're needing royalty-free stock photos, why not sign up for a 7-day Free Trial of a Bigstock subscription? You'll be able to download up to 35 free images during the course of your trial. Happy downloading!

About the Author: Jessica Furst is a designer for "aging rockstars, neighborhood businesses, and corporate giants." She specializes in event materials, package design, small biz branding, and concept development. She is the founder of Furst Impressions Design in Brooklyn, NY.

Header image by Bigstock contributor RaStudio.

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AuthorJessica Furst

Whether you're a small business, a start-up, or a nonprofit, chances are you've considered a few things when it comes to your online persona. Part of that persona includes having an online presence that really speaks to the value of your company and what you represent. Effective websites are crucial to obtaining new donors and volunteers, and they help keep existing community members coming back. 

We recently spoke with two organizations regarding their own website design best practices. Charity Miles is a nonprofit whose mission is to get people moving (whether it's walking, running, or biking) for the cause of their choice. Bright Funds' website offers users the chance to discover, donate to, and volunteer for countless nonprofit organizations, all in once place. These two nonprofits function in different capacities, but their respective websites achieve similar success. Here are some of their collective tips on designing a great user experience for your nonprofit.

1. Think big with a small team.

Using the size of your company to your benefit is one of the greatest perks of working with a smaller company. According to Bright Funds' lead designer, Chris Chappelle, "We're able to act very nimbly and make quick decisions as a team because we don't need to go through layers of people for every decision that needs to be made. This lets us make changes much quicker than may be possible in a larger team." Bottom line: Smaller teams can often achieve bigger and faster results.

2. Establish brand pillars and never lose sight of them.

In order to do anything with your nonprofit, you'll need to establish brand pillars. Concrete brand pillars are the keys to your success and help relay a clear and concise message. For Bright Funds, the goal is to provide a bridge between the donor and the nonprofit. "While it is important for Bright Funds to have a strong design ethos, we also want to convey the soul of a nonprofit without getting too much in the way."

It's a similar story for Charity Miles, as founder Gene Gurkoff says, "We want to create a movement in which millions of people will walk with a cause in their heart everyday. That influences all of the things that we do in our app from a design perspective. We try to keep the website really minimal so that it'll drive people to the app." 

3. Allow your logo to do some of the work for you.

Your logo should achieve a few different things for your business. First, it should be something that people can have a positive association with in relation to your brand. Second, and just as important, it should provide your visitors with a jumping off point for your website and be consistent with the style that you establish afterwards. Gurkoff says, "What I like about our logo is that it can be any color. It can look good on any color and it can work well in almost any situation. We have so many different stakeholders. It's got to be adaptable and invisible." A good logo will help you in more ways than one, and can often provide the inspiration you need to build the rest of your visuals.

4. Don't feel pressured to redesign often.

Just because your competitor seems to be redesigning its site often, doesn't mean you should. "Nonprofits should think of their sites as living and continually adapting to meet the needs of donors, " Chappelle says. "We start by creating a site that we think will speak to our audience and their goals, but we continue to tweak language and content to get better and better. If our site isn't accomplishing some of our initial goals, in most cases, it's easier to make and test smaller updates rather than undergoing a full redesign." Have faith in the process that you went through to establish your site in the first place, and avoid frequent overhauls. 

5. Remember your audience. 

For nonprofits, your audience - donors and participants - helps drive the cause and the story that goes with it. In Chappelle's words, "For nonprofits, it's important to put yourself in the world of the donor. Who are they and what do they care about? What type of content and messaging will resonate with them and what do you want them to do? Of course, most nonprofits would love donations or volunteers, but in order to truly harness a strong support base, you need to design a homepage and experience that will tell stories that strike an emotional chord. By doing so, you'll create a larger and more engaged donor base." In other words, your audience is what makes the wheels turn for your business. Engagement and value keeps those wheels turning.

6. Create a communal space.

For Charity Miles, though the participants are often separated, they're a part of a larger community. Their app and (as a result) their website - aim to reflect that. Gurkoff says that by creating both an app and a website to drive people to the app, they were able to "create an openness so that more people would be encouraged to take part." The website also features a blog, which runs stories from some of the apps users, making space for a community to come together and share happy moments.

7. Consider every color choice. 

Similar to logos, color use in web design goes hand in hand with the visual appearance and impression one has when visiting your website, and being a part of your community. For Bright Funds, this ultimately came down to a couple of main ideas. "We wanted to turn the negative connotations that arise when people think about donating and turn them on their head into the powerful belief that people should be able to (and can) support good in the world through causes that resonate deeply within themselves."

"With this backbone, the visual style and voice of Bright Funds is representative of this – we use colors, illustration, and photography to create an experience that is uplifting and focused on giving as a tool to contribute to something larger than any one person. It's worth mentioning that while design at Bright Funds does affect the visual choices made, it also roots much deeper into the overall experience of giving," says Chappelle.

8. Take creative liberties, but not too many.

At the end of the day, your mission is to help better the world in some capacity. Both of these nonprofits put a significant amount of thought into the way they present themselves online. Too much creative liberty can be really stressful, as Gurkoff mentions when talking about Charity Miles.

"We certainly have a lot of creative freedom because we can basically do whatever we want. If you have total freedom, it's actually really hard." It's all about harnessing the right ideas, and sticking to the core values of your organization.

And, if you're looking for cool, royalty-free images for your nonprofit website, be sure to try a 7-day Free Trial of a Bigstock image subscription. You'll be able to download up to 35 free images over the course of the trial. Sign up today!

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AuthorAshley Hefnawy

Without a hired photographer, it can be challenging to get authentic images for your print brochures. Smiling faces and edgy angles can work for a lot of things, but will they really connect to your brand and customers?

Finding great stock images is half the battle, but how do you make them distinct to your company? How do you take five “well, they're sort of related" shots and turn them into a moving brochure that represents you well?

Here are a few tips for choosing and using stock images in brochures.

Buildings photo | Scanrail

Buildings photo | Scanrail

Divide and Conquer

Cutting your favorite shot down to a smaller piece of the original can give you a brand new image tied to your brochure's message.

A photo that shows most of a building, for example, could be cropped so that the building's edges bleed out of frame, creating a close-up effect.

If you do this, be sure to mind the grid so you keep a strong composition.

 

The Rule of Thirds is the perfect guideline here. Imagine dividing the photo vertically and horizontally into three sections each way (like when you're uploading a photo on Instagram). Position the major points of interest in the image at the intersections of these lines. This will help you keep a strong composition and avoid turning your great stock shot into a tourist photo.

 
Night traffic image | msv

Night traffic image | msv

Match ‘em Up

If you'll be using more than one shot in your brochure, pick images with a matching style. A shot of people against a white background will look awful next to a shot of a blurred yellow Manhattan cab. Pick your theme and be strict about it.

While you're at it, stick to shots with dominant colors that work well with your brand's color palette.

If your brand is orange and white, find images heavy on one or both. This will give you a design that feels cohesive and purposeful all the way through.

 
Split boardwalk image | nito

Split boardwalk image | nito

Have a Filter

Speaking of cohesive, you can fake a sense of pro-photographer style with this little trick:

Open that photo-editing app and run every shot you use through the same set of filters.

Lower the contrast, bump up the saturation, adjust the blur — whatever you want, just give them all the same treatment. They'll look consistent and give you a slick gestalt factor.

 
Young people image | zurijeta

Young people image | zurijeta

Keep it Real

Finally, avoid shots meant to represent ideas, like Cooperation, Success, and Pride.

Shots of office workers waving as a group and people looking frustrated at their desks rubbing their temples can come off as contrived in some projects.

If the image is an obvious metaphor, skip it. It's been done. Use stock images that feel authentic and relevant, ones that couldn't be used in a million other contexts.

 

Now get to it. You've got a killer brochure to make.

And, if you need stock photos for that brochure, sign up for a 7-day Free Trial of Bigstock. You'll be able to download up to five royalty-free photos a day - up to 35 free images during your trial.

About the Author: Robert Hoekman Jr is a writer, product designer and leadership consultant. He's written acclaimed books and articles on UX. He is also a columnist and editor for Iron & Air magazine.

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AuthorRobert Hoekman Jr