Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cover Photos- A Quick Spec Guide!

If you've got Google+ and Facebook then you know you can change the images that pop up on your many pages. From what I gather Google+ does not give out a disclaimer of what kind of information that can be included on your photos but Facebook does. However, if by chance you do post images that Google+ finds offensive they could flag you. 

From the Facebook Help Centre- Cover images must be 399 pixels wide and may not contain:
  • Price or purchase information, such as "40% off" or "Download it at our website".
  • Contact information, such as web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page's about section. 
  • References to user interface elements, such as 'Like' or 'Share', or any other Facebook site features.
  • Calls to action, such as "Get it Now" or "Tell your Friends".

Google+ cover photo specs:

  • Width: 940 pixels
  • Height: 180 pixels
Facebook cover photo specs: 

  • Width: 851 pixels  
  • Height: 315 pixels

If you want a detailed idea of how the Facebook cover is broken down have a look here:

Despite Facebook's rules you can still be creative with your cover photo. You can create your own mini cover promos without breaking the rules with your work. This is my
current Facebook like page cover:  

© Holly DeWolf-

If you need more ideas then start having a look on Google+ and on Facebook to see how many illustrators and other businesses are utilizing this new format on both sites. 

UCP- Your Very Own Unique Creative Position!

You've heard of having a unique selling position or a UCP but did you ever wonder what your unique creative position is...or a UCP? 

I know! It's a dizzying collection of words so lets grab a cup of coffee and mull this over shall we.  

Your very own unique creative position is what makes you unique in this very large world of illustration. Questions to ask are:

  • What do you do that is different from any other image maker? 
  • What makes your style stand out from the rest?
  • What can you offer clients that no one else can?
  • What ways do you creatively problem solve that makes you very appealing to a client? 
  • How do you describe what you do in your own distinctive way?
  • What do you do that is exclusive to you? 
You may not have an answer to all of those questions however it opens the hand of the thought. Break it down:
  • How do you create your work? Hand-on or digital? 
  • Who is your target market?
  • What inspires you?
  • What do you focus on?
  • What do you want to get paid for?
  • What steps do you take to create your work?
  • What are your fans/supporters/clients saying about your work?
  • What kind of testimonials do you receive?
  • What does the market ask of you and your work? 
What is the purpose of all of this you ask? Essentially, your business and your work do not always speak for themselves. The way you describe your work online, in person or on your promotional materials will set you apart if done with the right creative flair. This will give you the attention you want while providing the right information your audience needs to know. 

Good examples that are straight to the point:
  • Alanna MacGowan- MacGowan is one half of the Seatle/New York studio The Dye Lab. Her work deftly merges strong type work with iconic styling.
  • Anna Goodson Management (AGM) is a contemporary creative boutique representing some of the most prominent artists from around the world.
  • Andi Butler Studio & Workshop: Andi is an illustrator and surface pattern designer based just outside of Chicago.
  • Peleg Top is an entrepreneur, a branding and design expert and a business and marketing coach.
  • Kula Partners- At Kula Partners we create stunning websites and execute marketing programs designed for the way the world works now.
The idea here is to describe yourself and your business. Try to write it in a way to visually sell yourself without boasting. Not an easy thing to do I know. Often we write what we feel our audience should know instead of what your audience wants to know. In other words, step outside of yourself and write in a manner that invites the audience in without ego getting in the way-put yourself in your audiences shoes! Keep it simple, keep it descriptive, get straight to the point in a friendly inviting way and you are off to good start! 

So I Heard You Got A Bad Review...

Bad reviews, negative comments and flat out rejection happens to many of us-it's a sad fact. Too many contact me that they want to give it all up because they can't take another rejection or negative comment. 

Negative feedback is hard. I agree. 

Here is another way to look at it:
You're going to create anyway no matter what... so who cares about what others think, right? Right! 

As illustrators, writers, artists and designers we have always made work even when there was no money in sight. Many in our creative fields have trudged on without support, a large budget, no audience or little to no guarantee that what we are doing will work. 

Quite simply:
We took a chance! We take chances daily. We get up. We have many ideas. Some work. Some don't. Some will love our ideas. Some will not. 

But here is the big question to ask yourself: Do you like what you create? If the answer is yes, then you have reached an equilibrium of acceptance that rejection happens. You accept the ups and downs of this industry. It's all part of the process. If the answer is no, than you may feel compelled to stop or even lash out at your critics which never does any good. You are essentially taking on their negative comments as a complete fact. 

I once heard an old online expression that went something like this: 'Do not feed the trolls!'
If you comment back, they will sling another comment back and keep commenting until you stop. If you ignore them they will starve or essentially go away. Trolls are generally in the anonymous category online. They hide, they lash out and hide again until someone calls them on their negative statements then they take it up a notch. Ignore them. They will go away. They are not worth the time and attention. There is no winning because their sole purpose is to disagree with you at all cost. 

Many times the comment has nothing to do with you or your work. Perhaps they are not your target audience. Another way to look it-you did not meet their needs with your particular work. That's fine. They will find someone who will. Or better yet, they might take on the challenge and do it themselves. 

Bad reviews happen. However, the words expressed are not fact. It's an opinion. So, if that's the case then...Create! Create daily. Keep moving forward. With any luck combined with a lot of dedicated work, many will love what you do!

Is it really a huge concern in the grand scheme of your creative world? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. I think it depends on our mood and our expectations. One thing is for sure, naysayers exist and they always will. If 20 people love your work and 2 do not then the percentage alone tells you that the negative 2 get cancelled out. Focus on the energy from what those 20 give you and move forward.

Remember this: Success, working hard, doing what you believe in pisses off all the right people. Who are those people you ask? They are the ones you can never satisfy. They are the trolls. They are the ones who look for things to complain about. They are the ones who do not believe in what you do. But that's ok because many believe in your work and so should you!