Week 127 of Type Tuesday. Each week I try and share five free fonts that I’ve come across for you to use and enjoy. I hope you like what I have picked out this time. Be sure to comeback next week for another great set.
I’ve talked about or rather joked about getting swag or schwag for LooseKeys before. Maybe some t-shirts, pint glasses or iPhone cases. But I’ve never bought any of these because I know they are really just a waste of money. None of my clients want a LooseKeys shirt, the only people that would wear one are myself, maybe some friends and the shirts probably wouldn’t be worn often. So in that case the whole point of swag as a marketing tool to remind clients about me is missed. A useful piece of swag would be something that serves as a constant reminder of a company; perhaps a coffee cup that could sit on someone’s desk everyday. If your logo is on that cup, the customer is continuously exposed to that logo in a neutral setting. Over time, hopefully they will grow favorable towards it and be more likely to call you rather than a competitor. But really I don’t see that happening. This isn’t the 1950’s; a list of competitors, their prices, ratings and recommendations are just a few clicks away online.
I think Mark Cuban said is perfectly “if you really think people are going to wear your branded polo when they’re out and about, you are mistaken and have no idea how to spend your money.”
How about using that money to train yourself on new technology or buying updated equipment. I bet a new computer or some extra RAM in that computer would help you a lot more then a box of umbrellas with your logo on them.
If you really want to have a giveaway for an event or conference, be creative and unique. Don’t go through the catalog and just find stuff to stick your logo on. If it’s not something unique that has that same creative spirit as your company and people who work there, then don’t do it just for the sake of doing it. It’s a waste of resources and time. Daily Planet ltd. has the right idea, they do swag and giveaways well. They often do hand screened t-shirts usually without the Daily Planet ltd. logo on them. The designs are always fantastic, showing off the talented creative team and giving clients something they are happy to wear.
The only thing I’ve given out for LooseKeys as of right now is stickers. I enjoy stickers and always had them growing up; my skateboard deck was covered in them at one point. So the stickers are a part of me and the culture at LooseKeys. They are inexpensive and easy to carry around. Hopefully the people I give them to have a place to stick ‘em near where they work. But if not I have a neat sticker that I’d be happy putting up someplace.
If you really feel like you want swag for your company then get creative and personal with your swag but if you can’t do that then maybe you should just spend your money on something better.
Week 126 of Type Tuesday. Each week I try and share five free fonts that I’ve come across for you to use and enjoy. I hope you like what I have picked out this time. Be sure to comeback next week for another great set.
It seems like everyone avoids dealing with taxes until the last minute. Having to go through all that paperwork just dosen’t seem like fun. By law you have to send out 1099s to your contract/non W2 employees by the end of January. But it seems like very few people follow that rule. Over the years I’ve received 1099s as late as March, just days before I was meeting with the accountant to file my taxes. I have no interest in breaking any laws. Getting audited just seems like a nightmare.
As a freelancer I’ve received many 1099s from companies over the years but this is the first time I had to send out 1099s for LooseKeys. So I wanted to share my first time experience with the hopes of helping out others. I picked up the 1099 documents at Staples, there is a large display with pretty much all the documents you need. You can also order them from the IRS website, I’m not sure if they are free or not. Save the ink and pick up a pack from an office supply store and don’t just print them online. The official printed version of the IRS form is scannable, but if you find one online and print it from a website yourself it is not. A penalty may be imposed for filing forms that can’t be scanned. Just cough up the $20 for a package at Staples or Office Max. Avoid any chance you have for incurrent filling. When I first went to Staples I didn’t know there were different 1099s and just grabbed the first one I saw. Which was the 1099-R. Those are used for distributions from Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, and Insurance Contracts. After realizing those weren’t correct, I headed back to Staples and grabbed the 1099-MISC. All set, I began adding up all the checks I had wrote to all the talented people who worked with LooseKeys over the last year. I started using Quickbooks late into the year and all my numbers weren’t there. You can count on me keeping better track with tools like Quickbooks, Mint and Lemon this year. It would be much easier then flipping through checkbooks and adding up invoices. I think that’s the main reason people avoid doing taxes and sending out the correct documents on time. Once I had the right paperwork and the totals, it was very easy. Just fill in the correct boxes and make sure there are no typos. There was one box in the 1099 that threw me for a loop, it was the State Identification Number. I noticed on previous 1099s that I had received from other companies in the past, that this box was filled out. But after talking with the accountant, I discovered that no state number is required for 1099s. I’m not totally clear why but I’m going to go with what the accountant told me, she knows what she’s doing. Well now 1099s have been stamped and mailed out. I have a few documents that I need to send to the IRS by the end of February. And that was it, pretty painless.
I was a bit worried about dealing with 1099s this year since I hadn’t had to before but as of right now, everything seems to be pretty straight forward. Hopefully I didn’t forget anything and I don’t have the IRS knocking on my door later this year. Yikes!
“Don’t lose the fire you started with. If you’re going to devote the best years of your life to your work, have enough love for yourself and the world around you to work on something that matters to you deeply.”—
Etta James passed away today at the age of 73. She left behind a legacy of beautiful music. Her version of At Last is probably the most famous. But I wanted to take a moment and share a couple of my favorite Etta James songs.
InsightIntell Episode 03 - Location Based Checkin Services
In the third episode of InsightIntellCase Morton and Brad Chmielewski talk about location based checkin services such as Foursquare, Facebook & SCVNGR and how you can can use it for your business. Case and Brad also talk about some of the good and bad that comes into play when you’re using one of these services.
Thanks for joining us for the third episode. If you’ve had any success marketing with location based services please let us know, we’d love to hear about it. Be sure to let us know if there is anything you’d like us to talk about or any questions you might have.
Making and finding time to brainstorm and problem solve is hard because they are hours that you really can’t plan for. Sometimes an idea or solution will strike you right away and other times it comes to you after days of hard focus and experimenting. I tend to work on a pretty tight schedule and plan projects with the hope that nothing is going to go wrong. I basically cross my fingers and hope that new and original ideas are just going to rain down on me. When I worked at Daily Planet ltd. we usually had time to explore or look at the problem. That’s one of the luxuries of having a team of people working with you. Projects can be passed around if someone needs extra time to solve something. But as a solo entrepreneur you are often under the gun, stressed and have a very short timeline for delivery. When something doesn’t happen right or isn’t working out it feels like the whole project can fall into a tailspin. And that mess up can cause a chain reaction of throwing off timing for many of the other projects that are in the pipeline as well. From a few hard lessons and sleepless nights I know now that its important to build a couple extra days into projects just for this reason. And if something doesn’t go wrong I have extra time to make the project even better or just take the time to breathe. I also found that I do my best brainstorming when I’m off on a bike ride. It works out best when there is no music playing and it’s just you, the street and the problem. Some people turn to meditation; something I wish I had the the patience for. But whatever your technique is for solving problems you need to make sure you give yourself time to let it happen. You can’t go from work, to dealing with the family, then sleep and right back to work and expect yourself to figure out a solution for every problem.
Week 125 of Type Tuesday. Each week I try and share five free fonts that I’ve come across for you to use and enjoy. I hope you like what I have picked out this time. Be sure to comeback next week for another great set.
The freedom of working for yourself can be great because you can focus all of your time and effort on just creating. It’s a great feeling when you first go at it, you have all these ideas and concepts you want to explore that had been bouncing around for months or even years with other creative people. But every once in awhile you can find yourself stuck in a creative funk and you have no one to help get you out of that. When you’re at an office or even a co-working space you can easily turn to the person next to you and ask for their quick thoughts on the problem. Just this quick outside prospective can add new creative energy to the project that can help you to bring your work to the next level. When you’re a solo entrepreneur finding the opportunities to share and show ideas is sometimes a tough task.
Peter Maxwell Davies said “If you don’t get feedback from your performers and your audience, you’re going to be working in a vacuum.”
You can think of that website your designing or your logo animation the same way, as a performance. Somedays it feels like you’re in this vacuum or bubble and have no idea if what you’re working on is relavent or even good any more. You can lose touch with what other people are working on and what boundaries they might be pushing with their own projects. Great work doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You need to get real feedback from your colleagues and customers. I’m lucky enough to have a very talented fiancée who has no problem telling me when something sucks. It might hurt my feelings or ego for a moment, but it helps me make something better. I also make sure to post samples of what work I’m doing online. Social media is a powerful tool for criticism; good and bad. You’ll find me sharing a sample on Dribble, putting up a photo on Twitter or Instagram and every now and then I’ll toss a video of a work in progress on my Tumblr. I know that you can only get better at your craft by working hard and getting constructive criticism; bringing in an outside perspective on things is always valuable.
So the next time you’re working on something, grab lunch with a friend and get their thoughts. Or toss it up on-line and get some outside opinions on it before you release the final product. You may just find that what you’re working on gets better once you reach for ideas outside your bubble.