Category Archives: Articles

Why designers need SEO

You may be a great graphic designer and you may be able to come up with breathtaking designs in a few hours and draw illustrations from scratch, but do you have the means to sell your skills online? Can you market your designs and acquire new customers every single day? Do you have the means to expand your business so that you can reach potential international clients? Do you know how to use SEO to help people find your business on search engines?

You may be the only person holding yourself back. For all you know, you might already have been able to make it big in the design industry, if only you had known how to use SEO when you started out. Yes, even graphic designers need to learn SEO. The sooner you accept this, the faster your business will grow.

What is SEO?

If you’re still reading this, you have probably decided that you wanted to learn SEO. I know that this term may be unfamiliar to many of you, which is why I included the following explanation.

SEO stands for “search engine optimisation.” Simply speaking, it is a process that helps you optimize your website and links, so that search engine robots believe your site is about a particular keyword.

This process came about due to the fact that most people use Google and other search engines to discover new websites. When searching for something, you key in a particular keyword in the search bar. The process of getting your website to appear on the front page of search engine listings became known as search engine optimization.

I know that some of you may be thinking SEO sounds a little complicated. That’s okay. After all, I’m still trying to explain why you even need it.

So, why do you need SEO (even as a designer)?

You can get repeat clients from the quality of your designs alone, but you can get new clients using SEO.

First of all, I’ll state the most obvious, you can create amazing designs, which may win you some referrals and some repeat clients, but you have to realize that a lot of new clients come from SEO. Why? You need to be ranked highly on search engines if you want to have an online presence. It isn’t good enough to have wonderful designs if nobody can find you.

If you think that SEO is way too technical or not your cup of tea, you can always outsource the process. It is a worthwhile investment, as it can get you more clients. But if you have the time, try your best to learn SEO yourself, as it will pay off more in the long run.

You cannot do SEO friendly designs if you don’t know anything about SEO

Let’s face it. Webmasters no longer require mere designs. Usually, they need a designer who also understands how SEO works. Why is this the case? Well, they are hiring designers to help boost their business, so they want a designer who won’t hurt their rankings. Sure, they need your design, but you need to convince them that it can easily bring in sales. Forgetting to use SEO in the design process is a detriment to your business.

Now, if you’re more of a designer and you don’t have the time or patience to learn SEO, you can always work with a SEO company or team to help make your designs search engine friendly before submitting them to your clients. This extra feature will require extra money, but it’s definitely a feature worth paying for.

It is best not to put all your eggs in one basket

You may be a master of design, but, as every business owner knows, you should never let your business revolve around only one type of service. If you can learn SEO, link building, and even computer programming, then you should absolutely do so. Always diversify your services so that you can make more sales.

Now if your design team has too much on their plate, you can always work with an independent SEO team. The good thing about this is that you’ll be working with people who already know SEO. You no longer need to train them. You just need to create a deal and you’ll be ready to attract some clients.

It’s time to end your solitary love affair with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, and spend some time with Google, Yahoo, and Bing. It is just a matter of learning basic SEO.

If you chose to outsource your SEO needs, make sure to use a trusted SEO provider that has been in the business for a long time and knows what they are doing. This way, you’ll know that your design firm is in good hands.

Thoughts on Personal vs Business banking for freelancers?

I have recently decided that I am going to close my business bank account, for more than one reason:

  • My business bank account has a minimum of charge of £10 a month, and even more if I make lots of transfers, so it has a minimum cost of £120 per year. On top of that, I have a business credit card, that comes with my account as standard, which costs £30 per year. So the account in whole comes to £150+ per year just to keep it open.
  • The only reason I really have this account open is to save my for my tax – I get paid into my personal account (as most of my clients know me as “Callum Chapman” and not “Circlebox Creative”. I then pay a percentage of that into my business account, which is saved until the end of the tax year – I don’t earn any interest on this – instead it is costing me every year.
  • I took out a business loan, paid it all off every month, and use my credit card for big purchases and pay them off within 1-2 months. My business has a perfect credit rating; but when I apply for credit on a personal level, it is hard to get it. As a freelancer I feel I should be making these purchases from my personal account, credit card etc so it improves my own credit rating, especially as I’m planning on buying a house next year.
  • It’s a massive pain in the ass having a completely different login (which is hard to remember as it’s just a bunch of random numbers) to check my business account – I want to be able to check it all in one login and make instant transfers between my personal and business accounts.
I have ultimately decided I am going to opt for an e-Savings account which is only accessible online (no debit cards etc) which is attached to my standard savings account. Pros to this are:
  • You get interest on the money in the account, and it is fee-free, no matter how much you save or how many transfers you make.
  • My bank can see that I have more money in the bank, and therefore are more likely to lend me money in the future (again, thinking of my future house purchase here).
  • All accessible from one login, rather than 2 (actually, 3, if you include the business card login which for some reason is separate to my actual business account).
Obviously there are pros and cons depending on the individual, such as being able to accept cheques written out for your company name rather than your own name, but in my situation, I’m finding it’s just a waste of £150 a year – might not seem like much but it is in fact 50% of my annual phone bill – every penny counts, right? Some claim that it is also easier to distinguish the difference between personal and business expenditure, but I’m always so on top of this it really makes no difference to me.
What are you opinions on this, and as a freelancer, how do you manage your accounts? Do you separate your personal and business spendings? Do you get paid into your personal account and then pay a percentage into your tax savings, or do you get paid into your business account and pay yourself a set wage per month? I’m very interested to hear what others do!

5 reasons cloud computing is here to stay

Cloud computing has been growing in popularity for the last few years as companies realize it’s more efficient than a traditional IT infrastructure. The cloud facilitates data security, mobile accessibility and business continuity. But what’s next for cloud computing and what should you look for in a cloud company in 2012?

Cloud Computing

Faster Disaster Recovery

In the past companies have had to use off-site data back-up to recover from disasters. With a cloud system, companies will be back up and running in a matter of hours after a disaster strikes, as all their data is already stored and accessed off-site.

More Cloud Based Applications

As bandwidth becomes less expensive and cloud computing more widespread, a greater range of cloud applications will become available. As the market grows, more and more specialised software will become accessible via the cloud, helping reduce software costs for cloud-based companies.

Better Storage Optimization

Since cloud services are often billed by the amount of data storage required, better data compression techniques mean cheaper cloud services. More efficient data size reduction techniques promise to help squeeze your company’s data into the smallest space possible.

Cloud-based analytics

Many companies rely on analytics to build occasional reports, but only use it part of the year. Cloud companies could start offering analytics data on a report-by-report basis, instead of charging a month by month fee. Companies who leave their analytics idle for long stretches could realize huge savings by paying on a use by use basis.

Shrinking On-Site IT departments

On-site IT departments will shrink as IT support becomes more centralized inside the cloud. Fewer locally run applications means fewer IT personnel are needed to support their use. On-site IT support staff will be limited to hardware and network infrastructure support.

Whatever your companies IT requirements, there is a cloud-based solution to make your IT infrastructure cheaper and more efficient to run. 2012 looks like it will be the strongest year for cloud computing yet.

2011: Exciting Plans

With just one year left before the world explodes and we all die (according to Twitter at least), I thought I would make the most of my life by planning some super extraordinary plans. With a move to somewhere hot in the pipelines, I have decided to launch a sub-company of Circlebox Creative called Circlebox Apps. As of yet, I have nothing to show you but these shots on Dribbble, which will of course eventually be a super-duper and beautiful base for the project at the yet to be announced URL. Ok, I joke. It will be CircleboxApps.com, but as of yet there is nothing there!

My company now exists of:

  • Circlebox Creative – my portfolio.
  • Circlebox Apps – beautiful applications for iOS devices.
  • Circlebox Blog – company blog.
  • Picmix Store – print store.

I will be working closely with brilliant iOS developer Matt Davenport to produce some superb applications, and we could really do with your early support!

Head on over and follow Circlebox Creative on Twitter and Circlebox Apps on Twitter to help support us. We will be keeping you all up to date here. And the first 100 users for both sites will be entered into a draw to win some great Picmix Store prints!

Other things I’m working on…

I thought I’d take this opportunity to share what else I have been working on. I have recently finished a couple of projects, including the CRMFrota web UI, the Scalar Calculator iPad UI, and am just finishing up on my biggest project to date.