10 Tips for Young Creatives

Lists are my favourite! (I'm a virgo and partially insane.) 

Today's post comes from one of the reasons I stayed in advertising. There was a point I wanted to throw up the deuces and move to Costa Rica and teach orphans. (This thought runs through my mind at least twice a year to be honest) and then I met this ray of sunshine covered in skin.  Emily Elyshevitz is everything. I started to list all her titles and roles and my head started to hurt. Her business cards say "Career Development Manager at Ogilvy" but they're kidding. She is everything.

Here is Emily's list of  10 Things all young creatives should know and do:

1. Branch out of advertising. It is okay to have other interests: music, acting, filmmaking, non profits, etc.

2. Be involved at work. Hard work that produces great creative is important but so is becoming part of agency culture.

3. Play nice. Look to your left, look to your right, this is your network. The future advertising superstars.

4. Keep pushing. Never get too comfortable with your first idea unless you've heard it channeled from God.

5. Stand out. First impressions are crucial. It's hard to shake a bad one.

6. Act right. When dealing with a cranky creative director remember the rules of the playground: no hitting, no spitting, no kicking.

7. Stay connected. Your network is not just within the ad industry. You should seek out artists and all types.

8. Code Blue is an excellent hangover drink.

9. Take care of yourself. Make sure you eat a good breakfast gets your brain working.

10. Enjoy yourself. Always, always, always have inspiring, mind blowing safe sex.




xoxo
Emily










(This post was particularly fun because she just sent the list, and I had to write the little numbered intros and figuring out how to summarise #8 and #10 really made me think for a bit. I heart Emily.)

10 tips for young copywriters

Following yesterday's post on tips for art directors, here's one for my fellow writers.

I asked copywriter/creative director Dennis Greeley to pen 10 Things Every Young Copywriter Should Know. 
(This is probably one of my fav posts. Not only because it's so in depth and ridiculously useful, and not only because I love Dennis, but mostly because cws just do it better. Yay words!!)


10 things every brand, spanking new Copywriter should know.

1. Go beyond the first idea.
Your first thought often pretends to be the answer. But don’t be fooled.
I’ve seen lots of people come up with one idea, and just kind of take it easy after that. Sure, sometimes that one idea a good idea. Rarely is it great. And mostly, there are one or two other better thoughts that are going to come your way afterwards.

Sure, I still get excited when I work on a project and come up with that first idea that doesn’t totally suck. That sigh of relief that I’ve actually got something. But moving past that idea is the pro thing to do.

Here’s a tip: if you are falling in love with your first thought, write it out. Hang it up on the wall, and just forget about it for a day. Come up with other ideas. If nothing beats the original, then okay. But getting it on the wall sometimes just lets it out of your system. 


2. Can you solve it with a visual?
Okay, I know you’re a writer. But advertising is an interruption. So let’s make it simple and easy to get, right? When you can tell the story without words, and twist a visual or present it in an arresting way, it’s the express lane to getting your message seen. While I dig good headlines, I LOVE a great visual solution.

Here’s a tip: when you have a cool visual solution (photoshopped picture etc.) the line just needs to answer the question “why are you showing this to me.” It should close the loop for the viewer.

3. Headlines—Quantity over quality.
When I first got hired, I was not a great headline writer. I had to learn on the job. Fast.
What did I learn? To write lots of them. Single spaced. One page’s worth. Two pages if I could. Sure, a lot of those headlines totally suck, but the point is to start emptying your brain of all sorts of associations. The discipline of having to fill the page drives you to start looking for new idea connections. And try not to cheat with simple variations on the same line. When you look at the bunch afterwards, certain ones will just automatically rise to the top. Or you’ll see a little more clearly what you’re missing. 

3b. One Liners aren’t funny
As a CD, when writers bring me just one line for a project, it has to be good or it’s crickets. It’s important to show more lines because they show that you’re making an effort, they let me in on your thinking, and potentially, gives both of us more options to spin off a few more lines.

4. Headlines—Change the construction
Feel like your line is close to being good but just isn’t yet? A great line sometimes comes from the right construction. Flip it around. Put a period before the end. Comes. Put it in the past tense. Whatever makes it have a little more oomph, a little more drama. Rhythm and pacing of lines can make all the difference. Sometimes the content of the line is there, it just needs a new construction.

5. Headlines—Stuck? Write the body copy first.

One CD I know had great advice on when you can’t seem to get any good lines going.  “Write the body copy first. Write the stuff that you know you have to say.” This gets you in the flow of the ad. Gets your confidence going about solving it. And, takes care of the body copy for later. #Winning.

6. Handle that Body Copy
Keep it short. Otherwise your ad will visually repel people. Which is kind of the opposite reaction you’re looking for. Body copy gives people just a little more info. A little more clarity. A little more sell. Leave the rest to the website.

One of the biggest pitfalls of junior books is too much body copy. Just give a sense of the product or service (“The Red Cross is more than just our blood supply.”) why it matters (“it’s a lifeline.”)  and then, get out of there. (“Find out where you can donate at www.redcross.com”)

7. Don’t be afraid. Of fragments.
You want body copy to have attitude. You want it to be clear and concise. And you/they want it to be over quickly.  Fragments are your friend. I’m not sure if they’re grammatically wrong. But emotionally, they just feel so right. Fragments are how people talk. Why not make them a part of your body copy, too?

8. Concept alone before you concept together
Everyone’s different, but I think concepting works better when you can bring something to the table. Get a handle on knowing what’s in your brain at the moment. Sit down with a coffee, a beer, whatever. Get a pad and pen, and work for 30 minutes on it. Come up with total crap if you want. But getting the wheels in motion is critical. Because we’ve all been in the concepting sessions where you mostly talk about Mike Tyson and then YouTube his greatest knockouts. And sure, that’s fun. But honestly, better work will come from being better prepared.

9. Accept lines without ego

Sometimes, the Account Person will riff a line, “You know, it’s the ‘Best thing from Best Buy.’” And you know this is a way better line than you’ve thought of. You get a little uppity. You get a little ‘tude. We’ve all been there. But here’s what I’ve learned—

There will be many lines you will write in life. Take this one, compliment them on it, and move on. It shows that you’re willing to work with people, they feel a little more involved, and let’s be honest, a good line is a good line. So be a slave to the work and take it why don’t ya?


10. CA. ASAP.
Get the Communication Arts (CA) December ad annual. No you don’t need to memorize the names. But memorize the work. Memorize the solutions. See how other people solved the problem. What they showed in the visual, and how they handled the line. Did they explain it fully, or just give you an emotional take away? That to me is what is great about it, to see a collection of some the best choices by CWs and ADs in that year. To me, it’s a great, great annual. The quality level is high. It’s invaluable if you are new-ish in the business. Or old-ish. Oh, and write your name on the spine. Otherwise I will borrow it and never give it back.





Yours truly,
Dennis Greeley

10 tips for young art directors

There are certain things you're just not going to learn in school. There are certain things you should learn in school but either you're not paying attention it or not being taught it. Either way, you are the only one responsible for you and how far you get in this business is totally up to you. So take the reigns and make sure you're doing everything it takes to be great.
In my efforts to help you, I asked art director and teacher, Mitch Ratchik to share some tips.


10 Things a Young Art Director Should Know. 
1. Know your reference. Be a consumer of culture. ALL OF IT! Movies, books, TV, music, art, design, fashion, etc. Having a good understanding of these things will make you a better creative. 

2. Be a designer – Have a good understanding of typography and design. Learn about grids and how to break them. LOVE GOOD DESIGN, SEEK IT OUT.

3. Always look for a unique perspective. At the end of the day that’s what you get paid for.      
      
4. Don’t stop concepting. Think of long hallway with lots of doors, every room = an idea. If you stop in the first room, you’ll never see what’s down the hall. Always try to push as far as you can! Run down the hall, look into each room, take a note and then go back to explore the ones that had potential.

5. Find a good mentor. Easier said than done. In the beginning of your career try to work for the best agency possible. First, because you won’t make shit for money (but that’s ok, because you’ll produce), second because you’ll work under talented people. You can learn bad habits just as easily as you can learn good ones, so make sure you’re learning good ones. 

6. Save scans. Build a library of them. Pick up a small hard drive and devote it to images. Keep them organized!

7. Be organized. Keep your files neat. Name them what they are. I can’t tell you how many times there were issues with someone naming a file, happymonkeybunny.jpg when it was an image of something completely different. 

8. Create your identity. This goes without saying. Design a logo, a look, etc. Think about how you want to be perceived. As a stupid kid or someone who can be trusted with a multimillion dollar account. 

9.  Dress nicely. Yes you’re a creative not a banker and you can wear whatever the fuck you want, however this should be part of your brand identity. If you want people to take you seriously, then dress for success, no one is going to put you in front of a client if you look like a slob. That being said, enjoy wearing t-shirts and jeans when you’ve established yourself as a lead creative.

10.  Live an interesting life. Travel, go out, fuck, experiment, and do shit outside of advertising. I can’t tell you how many times I meet advertising people who eat, breath and shit advertising. They know all the names in all the annuals and archive magazines. BORING! See No. 1 again. It’s good to know about that stuff to a point, however don’t live it. At the end of the day they make boring creatives because they reference other advertising. Pulling from life experience is way better.


I could go on and on, hope this helps.


Sincerely,

Advertising Week 2011: Oct 8-7

Advertising Week is almost here!

This is a great opportunity to meet new people and see what's going on in the industry. There are several events going on and many geared to students, so check it out and hopefully it's not too late to register. See the calendar

Few Tips to Make The Most Out of Advertising Week:

* Collect business cards and write personalised thank you notes a few days later.  Read up on the Art of Emailing and Emailing Dos & Don'ts

* Meet as many people as you can. Regardless of their position or agency. Every connection helps.

* Connect with people on LinkedIn (not Facebook or twitter - they are not your friends.) And when you send a LinkedIn invitation for Zeus's sake, include a personal note about how you met them.

* Have your business cards and portfolio ready to share.

* Write down every bit of feedback you get on your portfolio. No matter who gives it. No matter if you like it or plan to use it or not. (Read up on Accepting Feedback)


* Listen. Learn. Every meeting is an informal interview and this is your one chance to make a great impression. (Read Interview Dos & Don'ts)

*Stand out. (Read What's So Special About You)

* Smile with everybody. All the time. It's better they think you're batshitbonkers than think you're stuck up. (P.S. Don't be an asshole.)

Shameless self promotion:
I'll be at Operation Inspire, Part 2 Monday October 3rd 1 - 3pm.  Register Now
Following lunch, the Art Directors Club will lead a session aimed at preparing students for applying to college. Presentations from college counselors and industry professionals will be included.

Presented by Passion4Advertising, in partnership with the Art Directors Club, The TORCH Program and VCU Brandcenter

Where Are All the Black People? Tuesday October 4th 8am - 7pm  Register Now
"Where Are All the Black People?" is a follow up to a successful panel held during the 2011 Creative Week in New York and moderated by Jeff Goodby and Jimmy Smith. Our aim is to provide concrete, real world solutions to the lack of diversity in advertising creative departments.

Featuring:
Rick Boyko, Director, VCU Brandcenter
Jeff Goodby, Co-Chairman and Creative Director, GS&P
Jimmy Smith, Group Creative Director, TBWA/CHIAT/DAY
Jim Riswold, Instructor, W+K 12

Presented by The One Club


Find out more at Advertising Week
Follow on Twitter @advertisingweek #aw8
Like on Facebook Facebook.com/advertisingweek

Back2Work: Always Ask Questions

Every time you get a new project, no matter how big or small, there are certain things you need to be clear on above and beyond the creative brief.

Sometimes, you won't get an official briefing (someone may just stop by your desk and say "Hey, we need you to do some print ads for Thursday!") so grab your notebook and try to find answers to the following:

Questions to ask (some out loud and some to yourself)

WHO: Who is the brand? Who is the target? Who are the other people on the project? Who do I need to show my work to? Who is the person on the client side we are presenting to? Who is presenting? (Sometimes you do the work and someone above you takes it to the client.)

WHAT: What is this project trying to accomplish? What is the brand selling? What are the deliverables (What are we actually creating? Banners? Print ads? TV scripts?) What are the mandatories (things my executions have to include)? What are the things the client hates?

WHEN: When is the internal presentation? When is the client presentation? When is this ad/campaign launching?

WHERE: Where will this campaign be running? Where are the internal and client presentations? Where can I find additional information on the brand, the target, the medium this campaign is running in, the competition, other campaigns like this, etc?

WHY:
Why are this medium? Why this message? Why this time frame?

HOW:  How should do you want me to share my ideas? (Marker comps? Full layouts?)  How can I add something extra to this project? How can I go above and beyond? How can I best show my skills? How many ideas/executions should I bring to the table?




Ask as many questions as you need to make sure you're clear on what is expected.

If you're embarrassed or shy, ask someone you're comfortable with after the meeting in private, or send a follow up email with your questions.  

The more information you have, the better you and your work will be. 

The only stupid question is the one you didn't ask. It's better to ask now and know, than to do the wrong thing later or worst yet, do nothing because you're not sure.


Get to work!

How Much Are You Worth?


A few Fridays ago I posted some tips on being a Starving Creative. I mentioned asking someone else for more advice on the topic since I still have a hard time telling the difference between a nickel and a quarter. (I'm an immigrant and where I'm from our money makes sense. And has colours.)  Well, I've kept my promise. 

I interviewed Anne Hubben, former creative recruiter and current career & life coach and blogger. She's always given me amazing advice and her blog, The Satisfaction Quotient is teeming with information, insights and goodness.

She did me (and you) a huge favour by answering some questions on salary, job offers, packages, raises and those little bits that make up the big decision of where you're going to work and for how much.

(Please note that everything depends on the city you're in, the type and the size of the agency. These are all averages and ranges.)

Q: What is the average start range for a junior? 

An average starting salary for an art director or copywriter could be anywhere from 35k to 55k.  That range covers right out of school to juniors with 1 to 2 years experience.

Q: What factors make up how much an agency is willing to pay you?

It depends on the size of the agency, where you live and sometimes the type of work. The larger agencies tend to pay more, and the smaller agencies usually pay less. 

In cities like NYC, SF, Boston or Chicago, 40-45k would be a good starting point when you're a recent graduate. For 45k it would be expected that you've had an internship or two.  But I hear that some places do still offer 35k so don't be insulted if that's your offer.

If you've had two years of experience at an agency, then you're probably looking at 50-55k.  Agencies have salary grades that they work with so it's not just an arbitrary number.  I recently found an excellent explanation on how salaries are figured out here.  

In addition to your experience, as a creative your portfolio is as important as you are.  Hiring managers pay attention to what's in your book and how you present it. They want to know what was produced and what wasn't.   Are you talking about your team and giving credit where it's due?  Are you excited about the work?  Also, people don't want to see a "safe" book from someone who has just graduated.   If you're playing it safe in school, then what's going to happen with a real client? 

Q:  What should a junior be looking at in their offer package?

They need to consider the whole package and not just the base salary. What are the benefits?  Is there a 401k and when can you start contributing to it? Does the company offer any sort of a contribution to it?  Are there any additional perks, like do they offer education of any sort? Some agencies will reimburse you for classes that are relevant to your field of expertise.   Also, will you have a mentor of some sort?  That could be your new boss or some agencies will connect you with someone else.

At this point in your career, you might be willing to take a lower salary if you're going to learn a lot.

Q: How do you know if it's a good offer or not?

If you're happy with it. Or you might want to ask someone that you trust like a recruiter or a coach :-) or someone who has been in the industry longer than you.  You could also check out Glass Door.  

Q: What if you have more than one offer and one is a bit better but you'd rather work at the other place?

Only you know what matters to you most. For the majority of creative people that I've met, it's more about the work that they'll be doing than the salary.   

Every creative I've met wants to be working on interesting, engaging and creative projects.  You also have to keep your portfolio in mind. If you get paid a lot, but have nothing good to put in your book when you leave, then it can affect where you go next.  Some hot agencies take advantage of this too.  They know that they're hot and you're dying to work there, so they don't have to pay juniors as much.  But in the end, it's probably worth it because you'll have great work for your portfolio and a name on your resume that gets people's attention.

Q:  As a junior, is it ok to counter offer?

If you're right out of school, I don't think a counter offer would be a good idea.  It just comes across as presumptuous.  

When I was a recruiter, I would work very closely with a candidate throughout the process to make sure I knew what they were looking for monetarily.  I would then get the offer approved, sometimes fighting for that particular number and if I then made the offer and was counter offered, I'd be annoyed.

Q:  If you accept a lower pay now, how can you make sure you are eligible for a raise later? 

You should make sure you know what the review process is at the agency.   i.e. how many times a year is it? Who gives you your review?  How are you evaluated? Will it be clear what your goals are?

But don't assume that if there's a review in 3 months, you'll be eligible for a raise. Ask how soon you would be eligible for a raise.   Also some companies use spot bonuses to keep you happy until you're eligible for a raise. It would be okay to ask if that's an option.  But don't assume anything.  Always make sure everyone's clear on expectations.

Q: On average, how much is a raise?

It's usually 3 to 5%.  But it could be less in a recession, so keep that in mind also, pay attention to how the company is doing.  Typically, you can potentially get more of a "raise" by switching companies. But that's not a reason to switch every year. That would be bad form.

Q: How can you increase your worth to an agency?

Do great work that gets produced by the client, become invaluable to your team, in fact, be the one that other teams ask for when they need help, communicate well, speak up, but know when to keep quiet too, be willing to do grunt work, and take chances when you have the opportunity to.  Watch the superstars and learn from them, be humble, but figure out how to advocate for yourself. (That's where a mentor can be invaluable).

Before you get a job, if you know you don't interview well (it can be tough for shy people) then work with someone to get better.  

Also, always, always be working on improving your portfolio. Ask people what they think and learn to take criticism well. You don't have to take the advice, but be able to hear it graciously.

Q: Off-topic - what does a career coach do and how could you help a junior?

We're probably all a little different, so I'll tell you what I do. I help people at all levels, from recent grad to ECD, navigate their careers. That might be helping you with stuff like we're talking about today, or adjusting to your new boss, or if you're more senior, managing a new team. I also help people strategize on a job search, which often includes improving or fine-tuning your portfolio, resume, cover letters.

As you know, for juniors, it can be really overwhelming figuring out all this stuff, so I work with them on basics like how to network effectively, what do headhunters actually do, when is it time to leave a job, how do you ask for a raise, etc. That's why your site is so fantastic.  People just need a place to go where they can figure this stuff out. 
                                                                  --- 

 Check out Ann's blog and call her up if you need any coaching.

Here's an idea: Keep it simple.

Simplicity is king! Bow down to him and give him sacrifices of lambs and virgin's blood. Worship him! Ruler of all things easy to understand and quick to get! Oh, ye great majesty of awesome and exactitude. (Ok I got a little carried away there. Let me get it together. Ahem.) 


When coming up with ideas, the simpler the better.

The minute you start having to tell a backstory, explain some sort of complex technology or do a set up presentation, you've already lost. You should be able to explain your idea in three sentences or less.

In school I had a teacher that said your idea should be simple enough to write on a napkin (normal size font and kerning of course)

Initially I thought this was ridiculous. I'm a writer dude, let me write. But more words don't make an idea better. They just make it wordier.


You should be aiming for clear, complete and concise ideas.

And BIG of course. If your idea is not big, don't bring it. (The bigger, clearer, completer and conciser your idea is, the better, more creative, more impactful, more awesome your ads/campaign is going to be.) (Yes I made up a bunch of words just now. I'm a writer dude, let me write.)

Earlier this year, I told my students they should be able to pitch their ideas in 140 characters or less. I call this the Tweet Test. (Don't go stealing my idea name. I'll hunt you down like a wild animal.)

If you can't express a complete thought in 140 characters you need to rethink it. If no one gets the idea now, no one will get your ad later.

(I made this up. And probably could've cut it down by 50-90  characters.)

 

Must Read: The Copy Book

This post is a merge between a Lesson from Other Blogs and a book review.  This post is also me being lazy and just copy and pasting. This post will also change your life. (Maybe.)

George at Ad Aged did a great review of this great book I definitely want to check out. It's called The Copy Book and I'm a copywriter, so I'm already salivating.

Maybe we could do a competition for this one like I did for the Breaking in Book, instead this time if you comment, I'll buy myself a copy. No? Not as fun? Fine. Whatever. (Grumble grumble)

As usual, I bolded things because I like blackness.


A book. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

 


I don't know where I got the recommendation, but recently I heard about "The Copy Book--How some of the best advertising writers in the world write their advertising." It's a D and AD book published by Taschen and you, like me, can get it through Amazon for about $40. http://www.taschen.com/pages/en/catalogue/design/all/06766/facts.dad_the_copy_book.htm

The book is a compendium of some of the best work by some of the industry's best writers: My old boss, Steve Hayden; my blogging friend, Dave Trott; and people I've always admired: David Abbott, Ed McCabe, Bob Levenson, Tom Thomas and a couple dozen more.

The book, which is unusual for awards books today, is full of ads of substance. With beautifully written copy that presents a compelling argument or tells a story. It's a book that recognizes the power of words. Full of ads that cater not to the lowest common denominator but that recognize that there are thoughtful, intelligent people in the world who can actually read--and will--if you offer them something worthwhile.

There are, sadly, people in our business who stop investing in their careers once they're in their jobs. They form a tight solipsistic circle and learn only from people around them--never allowing an outside or extraneous thought inside their closed system. You should never stop learning. And with this book, for just $40 or so, you can learn from some of the best.
                                                                               ----

Get the The Copy Book on Amazon now
See screenshots of the book's innards at Taschen

Back2Work: Falling in and out of love with your job

Great creative are students of advertising, art and culture. They are always soaking up new information and insights, hunting inspiration and coming up with different ways to merge the two to create something that will move people.

If you don’t feel that way about advertising, feel free to exit this blog, drop out of whatever ad program you’re in, delete your portfolio, and find something you genuinely love and enjoy doing to pursue. You will be miserable in this industry if you are not truly passionate about it. (Like this adgeek.)

Granted you won’t be in love with advertising every day. There will be those days when you’re not in the mood for advertising. Or advertising is being annoying and needy. Or it messes up your plans for the long weekend. Or it’s being difficult to deal with.

It’s not always a bed of roses. (If you haven’t read Don’t Get a Job in Advertising yet, read it and run little pony.) It’s easy to get burnt out, frustrated, drained and derailed.

Every working creative will tell you, sometimes you just fall out of love with advertising. 
The problem is, advertising isn’t going to try to win you back. There will be no love letters or song dedications on the radio to you. You either have to actively work to reignite the fire or go look for a teaching job.

Ways to keep the passion alive:
·      Look at award show entries. Seeing the great ideas and campaigns out there always reminds refuels me. If someone else could create this, then what awesomeness can I create? Check out Cannes Lion Winners  or One Show Awards 

·      Look at what new campaigns are coming out. Sometimes this makes me feel the way looking at award-winning stuff does. Sometimes it makes me feel like “Shoot, I can do waaay better than that.” But either way, it pushes me to start thinking and creating. Which is all that matters. Try Ads of the World  or Creativity Online
 
·      Take a break. Go on vacation. Go out of town for the weekend. Change your pace and switch up your environment so you can properly relax, relate and release. Well since I started this precedent of giving sample sites, hmm, how about Kayak or Last Minute?
·      Talk to your friends who are brokers, lawyers, nurses and unemployed. Advertising doesn’t see so bad after all, does it? Crabs, I don't know what to link this to. Um. Here. Article: 1/3 of companies block social media
·      Enter a competition. There are ad competitions going on all the time. Find one and put your all into it. It’s not necessary about winning (though who doesn't love winning?) but it’s more about getting that unfettered, unfiltered creative process going again. No clients, no budget, no account people, no limitations. Fly little bird, fly free! (I don’t know why I’m fixated on little animals today.) Check out the YoungGuns and Student ADDYs.




Every relationship takes work and your relationship with your career is no different. How successful and happy you are depends on you.

Get to work.

Reality check: Your book will never be finished


Sorry to break it to you. (It's Friday and I'm here to check your reality. You're welcome.) There will always be something you can change, something you can make better. Always.

Every time you ask someone for feedback, they're going to point out a different thing that you could do differently. Fix that and show them again, and they'll find something else. And someone else will tell you if only this one this was different (which is pretty much the way you had it before you listened to that other guy's feedback) then it'd be better.

Sound confusing? Because it is.

Most of my classes for my English degree in undergrad were poetry writing workshops and at the end we had to present a final portfolio with fully revised, near-perfect poems (little did I know how much it'd prepare me for portfolio school.)

I always put this quote on my cover page  
"A poem is never finished, only abandoned." - Paul Valery

Left to my own devices, I'd still be working on some of those poems. Changing a the to an a. Adding commas. Deleting commas. Putting my right foot in. Taking my right foot out. Shaking it all about.

It's a vicious cycle. (That repeated itself all through portfolio school. And now sometimes at work.)

So while you're working on your portfolio now, keep working. Keep pushing. Keep making changes and seeing how they look, how they feel, how people respond to them.

* Always save each version with a new version name. You never know when you might need to go back.

* Write down all feedback you get whether or not you are going to use it. Look and see what trends arise. If two or more people say the same thing then you should probably make that change.

* Try different things. If you're not sure the layout is working, start all over and do a whole new layout and see how that one feels. If you're stuck on the headlines, start over and write all new copy. What if it weren't headline driven? What if it were long copy instead? There are several answers to the same problem so keep exploring different solutions.

* Play creative Jenga. Take away one thing and see if your ad still stands. Then take away another thing. And another until it is at its simplest, purest and more straightforward without toppling over. (This is what you should aim for in most of your work. I see too many ads that are overdesigned and overwritten and overthought. The simpler the better.)

And know that there will come a time when you're just going to have to say "Okay, pencils down" and abandon your portfolio. (Only for a while though, because it may get hungry, or sick,  or lonely. Or think that you don't love it and get depressed and take drugs and become a stripper. Nobody wants their portfolio to turn into a stripper.)

Use Your Past Life

Everything happens for a reason. My motto is "Everything is a lesson and every lesson is a blessing." (I have a lot of mottos.)

Every part of my past is beneficial to my present and my future.
Including my pre-copywriting jobs working as a hostess, bartender, sales associate and my internships in the account management department.

All of these things make me a better creative and employee.

How does your previous work experience help you as a creative?

Look at your background and see what transferrable skills you have that will make you a more attractive candidate to an agency.

Agencies are looking for people who have had different experiences and different stories to tell. Your colourful background can be used as a selling point to not only help people to remember you, but to show some of what you have to offer.

Here are some ways you can use your past life to propel your present:


Retail: Working as a sales associate in a store, you have experience talking to a wide range of people, finding solutions based on their needs and tastes, turning features into benefits, and getting someone to buy something. You also have experience standing for long periods of time, making things look presentable and orderly and smiling even when you don't mean it.

All of these can translate to your job as a creative. (Well, maybe except the standing one. Unless you like standing.)
You're going to have to take features and turn them into benefits to show people how having 400 more megapixels makes their life better. Being able to translate boring product features into useful and captivating benefits is a must-have skill.

Service: As a waiter, bartender or hostess, you have to smile and be personable all the time, you have to know how to make people feel comfortable and special, you have to sell dishes or drinks to them based on their needs and tastes and you have to be able to relate to a wide range of people.
Many people forget advertising is a service industry. We are constantly catering to our clients and our consumers. So knowing how to be kind, hospitable and believable in your work and in your behaviour are very important.

You're going to have to know how to talk to a wide range of people - you may be a 24 year old from Miami, but your target market for this campaign is 45 year old moms for the Midwest. Knowing how to relate to and address different people is an extremely valuable skill.
Office: Whether as a receptionist, account person, mail room guy or accountant, your background working in a professional/ corporate setting is attractive to employers because it shows that you have some business sense. In an office you have to work with deadlines and time-sensitive materials. You have to be organised, attentive, personable and professional.
As a creative, it helps to have business sense because your clients are looking at sales and budgets and want to raise one and lower the other. Your job is to find creative solutions to business problems.

Plus, you're still working in an office and though the dress code may be different,  a lot of the same rules apply.

So don't sell yourself short. Just because you don't have any agency experience yet, doesn't mean you're not a value to an agency. You just have to know what to highlight and how, when working on your resume and talking about yourself. All of your experiences add up to make you great, so use them to your advantage. Plus, nothing beats real world experience.

(Get an internship though. Seriously, this will give you a leg up.)

Inspiration - Resumes That Win

Creative resumes need to be... (wait for it)... Creative.

As a copywriter, art director or designer, your resume is the perfect canvas for you to showcase your style, personality and skills. Oh, and your experience and awards and whatever other fancy things you'd like to show off.

Unlike other (boring) jobs and industries, having your weird hobbies, the fact that you've lived in 18 different countries or your obsession with jelly beans on your resume actually helps.

Agencies are looking for diverse talent - that means people with different backgrounds and experiences and creative thinkers - people who can take something mundane (like a resume) and turn it into something fun and interesting. So every chance you have to show this, use it.

Of course your resumes need to have the content to back up the creativity.

Resume must haves: 
* All of your contact information and your site.
* Your advertising work experience.
* If you don't have much ad work experience, list your non-ad work and write a quick sentence on how it helps you in the ad game.
* Your skills: Photoshop, Flash, nunchucks.
* Your education
* Any awards or other qualifications or interests
* NO TYPOS (seriously, I will come to your house and stab you with a freshly-sharpened pencil if I see a misspelling or poor grammar on your resume.)

Here are some cool/interesting resumes I found on the Internet.


















See more at 1WD.com, inspirationfeed.com and hongkiat.com

Back2Work: Surviving The Feast & The Famine

Feast or Famine. I never understood that term until I got into advertising. (I don't think I ever heard it until then either.)

You literally go through periods of time when you have a million projects (sometimes with the same deadline) and then you have periods when you spend days on end searching the corners of the whole world wide web.

Here are some tips on how to make the most out of both periods so you don't jump off a bridge. (Being too bored or too busy elicit the same response from my brain: jump)



Feast: On average you'll have about 3 or so projects at a time, with varying deadlines and importance. (If you can't handle 3 project at a time, you should quit and go work at a Dairy Queen.) There will times when you get a hot project on top of everything or a deadline changes and things get a crazy, or if you have a CD that ignores you like I did at one of my first jobs, then you'll have 10 projects at a time. (No I'm not bitter. Much. It made me stronger.)

Anyway, where was I? Oh, what to do when in Feast mode:
1. Make a list of all your projects and deadlines. Prioritise them based on importance, date and size. Now get to work.

2. Come in early. Stay late. Eat lunch at your desk. Do whatever it takes to get your work done. Your motto should be "by any means necessary."

3. If you absolutely can't handle it, ask for more time. Tell your boss or a project manager that you'll be able to do better work if you had a bit more time and see if they can move a deadline a day or two.

4. Don't whine, fuss or stress yourself out. For one, you look like a brat. Everybody goes through times when they're too busy to breathe. It's the nature of the game. Two, when you stress out, you disrupt your productivity. You end up spending more time complaining or feeling overwhelmed than actually doing the work or you make foolish mistakes because you're not focused. Get it together.

Plus, remember, a famine is coming. This craziness is only for a time. My personal motto is "What doesn't kill me will make me stronger, and THIS WILL NOT KILL ME." So suck it up and keep working.

Famine: And then there are those periods where you are on the opposite side of the pendulum and things are so slow you feel like you're going backward. Maybe you're waiting for client feedback, have just one small project, or are just in a place in the schedule where there's not much going on. Here's how to make the best of times of Famine:

1. Take some time to breathe. Enjoy having the time to chat with coworkers, peruse the Internet and take a proper lunch break.  Check out some of the latest ads online. Catch up on your emails. Read some articles.

2. Ask for more work. Ask if anybody needs help. This makes you look proactive, which is always good.

3. Stay productive. Find other ways you can keep busy. Work on your blog. Update your book. Write a newsletter for your team. Start thinking of new ideas for future projects - Christmas is coming - what ideas can you do there?

4. Don't be an asshole. Don't interrupt folks who are working. Don't come late and/or leave early. Don't watch TV shows at your desk. Don't put your feet up and play Words With Friends or Brickbreaker all day. This is still a place of business and though you might not be working right now, you're still employed there.

Reality Check: I don't remember you.

However, I will smile and laugh with you and pretend like I do until I remember or someone else comes by and helps me out.

Nothing against you in particular, it just happens sometimes.

Yes, we met before. We probably chatted and we may have exchanged business cards and a joke or two, however, I don't remember your name, or anything about you to be honest.

And I'm just me. I don't meet that many people. But imagine a creative director or a recruiter. Imagine how many emails they must get in a day. How many business cards they hand out. How many short conversations they have between here and there. It adds up and it's hard to keep track of every face, name and story.

This is why you have to stand out (I wrote about this here) and you cannot be afraid to remind people who you are.

In emails: Refresh their memory on when and where you met, maybe even give a reference to what you talked about to recreate the context and then state your business.

You don't have to attach photos or anything, just keep it simple: "Hey, I'm Julie, we met at the Nerdfest last Tuesday, I was wearing hot pink glasses."

In person: Don't be afraid to reintroduce yourself. Having a convo with someone who doesn't remember you is a waste of your time. Going through who you are a second time will help reenforce the information and hopefully they'll remember this time.

Don't act annoyed that they don't remember or try to hard to job their memory. Just start anew and try to do a better job of standing out. 

On LinkedIn: Always include a note with your invitation to connect. Say who you are and where you know them from.

I HATE getting messages that someone indicated that we're colleagues or friends when I have no idea who they are. (Lies! All lies!) I used to decline automatically (stranger danger) but I've started writing back and asking who they are, hoping it'd prompt people to realise we're not on Twitter, this is the grown up league.

Don't take the forgetfulness personally. And maybe it'll work to your advantage - consider it a second chance to leave a great impression. 

What Not To Put In Your Book

Anything you didn't work on.

Rule of thumb: If you didn't actually create anything original or play an integral role in the campaign then don't put it in your book.

Your portfolio is a representation of you and your skills. Putting something that you didn't come up with, write or design in your book is not only lying but it's also stealing.

Christopher Columbus got in a boat, landed (accidentally) on some islands where there were already people living there, put down and flag and said he discovered said place, and went on to name it. How do you "discover" something that people already know about?

And how are you going to do some resizes or edit some body copy and decide that this is your campaign?

Don't Columbus people's work. It's stealing and it's ugly.

As an intern/freelancer/junior you will probably be working on a lot of other people's stuff. That doesn't mean you can put the whole campaign in your book. It's not yours.

If you created a small piece of an overall campaign, only show that small piece. But don't put in the full thing as if you were at all the brainstorm sessions, working out the intricacies, pitching to the client or staying up late getting the assets ready for hand off.

Just because your mouse touched it or you were in a meeting or two, doesn't make it yours. There were already people on that land - um, I mean campaign - you cannot claim it.

Recruiters and creative directors are going to assume the work in your book is yours. Some will ask hows or whys and it's gonna be hard to answer those questions if you didn't actually play an integral role on that stuff. If you get hired, they'll expect you to do similar work and if you can't... *cue menacing music*

Feel free to list it on your resume as clients you worked on, but if you can't explicitly say "I came up with this" or "I wrote that" then don't put it in. 

Plus, don't be an asshole. Or Columbus.