Plot Twist



So, I’m moving… to Jamaica… in 3 weeks.

Did you just laugh out loud?

I recently quit my teaching job to pursue my design dreams. My freelance work is overflowing right now. I enjoy freelancing and the flexibility of it all but, I really just want to design. One networking opportunity led to the next which led me to a little job that will have me designing for… get this… Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville Caribbean.  The power of social media is crazy!

It started with a friend of my stepdad’s post on Facebook which led to an email, which lead to two phone interviews, which lead to me in full on freak out mode because I wasn’t sure I could pick up  my life and move… TO JAMAICA.

Then the offer came and they must’ve known I was freaking out because they offered a 90 day trial run. What? You’re going to pay for my trip to Jamaica, pay all my expenses while I’m down there, pay me generously AND you want me to design for you? Okay!

So, 90 days in Jamaica it is! With potential to stay longer or decide 90 days is enough and move home. Pinch me! Is this real life?

I know it’s not for everyone but for where I’m at in my life right now, this couldn’t have come at a better time. I love traveling. I love the beach. I love culture. I love to experience new things. And, I love to design.

There ya have it. I’m going to Jamaica. I plan to wrap up most of my freelance projects in the next three weeks. I’ve decided not to take on any new clients while I’m down there for the time being. We’ll see if I change my mind when I get there. I do plan to blog A LOT about my experience so stay tuned.

My Choice To Leave Teaching

April1-91Sooooo… I quit my job.

There it is. I laid it out there. I made a little announcement over on Instagram last week that looked a little something like this…

iphoneI’m nuts. I’m totally and completely crazy. I know. It’s all that consumes my mind right now. People ask me questions like…

“But how are you going to make money?”

“Where will your paychecks come from?”

“What exactly are you going to do?”

I just smile and nod at most people. I’ve given up trying to share my story with each and every person that asks how I’m going to survive. I think it’s such a silly question.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m terrified. But then I remember this…

DREAMSWhy did I do it? Why no more teaching?

Well, this is actually a complex question. I could list a lot of reasons but I’ll leave it to this for now.

First and foremost, I’m a mover and a shaker. I’m a person that thrives with growth. I want to grow! I enjoy change! My whole life I’ve constantly been striving for the next thing.

I  graduated high school.
Then I got into college.
Then my next step was to graduate college.
I finished student teaching and my next goal was to get a job.
I got a job that I was at for 3 years but my goal was to be back in KC.
Then I got my job back in KC and I’ve been here for 3 years.
I’ve mastered what I’m teaching. Truly, I got this down to a science.

So, now what?

I don’t want to be an administrator. I don’t want to be a counselor. I don’t want to pay thousands of dollars to go back to school to get another degree. As a teacher, how do I grow? What’s my next goal?

In a corporate world you work hard and your hard work pays off and you move up in a company and make more money. You get bonuses. (What’s that like?!) If the company does well, usually it rewards it’s employees.

As a business owner you work hard and your hard work pays off and you grow your business to make more money.

In the education world? You work your ass off and your hard work does what for you? Get’s you a free school lunch every now and then?

Okay. Maybe I’m in the wrong here because molding the minds of the youth of America should be priceless, right? That’s the REAL pay off, no? We could probably go round and round with this endless battle. My non-teacher friends love to say… “but you get summers and winter break”.  (I rolled my eyes just typing that sentence.)

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I believe I’m a really good teacher. I can totally connect to high school kids – in fact, I love it! I am innovative. I am organized. I am funny and witty. I coach and sponsor multiple activities and sports. I can email and contact parents with the best of them. I can PLC. I love collaborating. I’m tech savvy. I challenge the kids in a way they want to preform. I make kids THINK.

And all of that is really great and dandy but… I need more.

Teaching pays shit. I mean total and complete shit. And, unless I want to go back to school or stick it out for the next 30 years, how do I grow? How do I move up? How do I just become a better teacher?

Perfect world: There’s opportunity for teachers to prove their hard work pays off with their students and they don’t have to get another degree or teach for 30 years to make a little money.

I’m 29 years old and I feel as though I have peaked in my career.

Now now, please do not misinterpret what I’m saying here. There are people who this is meant for. Teaching is their life and they know this is what they are meant to do because they are completely satisfied with the pay off of student learning.

All I’m saying is that I am not one of these people. I am not just quitting teaching because I want to make more money, although that is part of it. I have dreams I want to chase. I love teaching but I love designing too. I’m going to go chase that dream for a little while and see where it gets me. I might just come back to teaching someday… who knows.

But until then, I’m dropping teacher from my title. We’ll just leave it at designer for now.

More to come about my future plans… stay tuned.

4 Quick Tips to Working With A Designer (of any kind)

I’ve worked with a lot of clients. Most of my clients are bloggers but I also work with small business owners to build websites, as well as do some consulting for home design projects. Regardless of what kind of project I’m working on I’ve found there are some key qualities and tips I often want to give my clients. Most of the time these come with some hindsight or reflection of mistakes I make or projects that don’t go exactly as either me or the client would have liked.

I am not perfect. I make a lot of mistakes on the reg. It’s my favorite thing in the world to have a client squeal with joy from what I can give them. But, I’ve also had a few train wrecks for projects. Nothing puts a pit in my stomach worse than an unhappy client. I think any designer (of any kind) can tell you that’s the last thing they want when they work with someone.

4-Quick-TipsKeep in mind, these tips go both ways! When you hire a designer it’s a partnership, you each have to pull your weight. Here are my tips to you:

4 Tips to Hiring a Designer1. Do your homework.

Don’t just wing it. Come in to the partnership of working with a designer with a game plan. Know what you like and what you don’t like. Ask questions. Go see what others have done.

One of the best things I have my clients do is create a Pinterest board. This seems almost cliche. But, it’s the best way for me to get a visual for what they like. This is just a small piece of homework.

When it comes to working with a blog designer, if you are just starting your blog, go out and do some research on blog designs and the anatomy of a blog before jumping in feet first. One of the questions on my little questionnaire I give to clients asks about navigation and sidebar. I cannot tell you how many times I get asked what those are. If you are going to be a blogger, you gotta know what those are and more importantly how you want yours to function.

Tip #1 – do your homework. It will benefit you in the long run and the process will go so much smoother.

tip22. Be organized.

As you begin planning your design project, keep it organized. If this means using a notebook of ideas, labeling your emails or coming up with your categories for our navigation, just make sure you keep it organized.

Here are a couple free resources I handed out at the Go Blog Social workshop back in February. These are simple blog design check lists to help you organize your thoughts.

Design Your Blog Checklist 1

Design Your Blog Checklist 2

(If you enjoy the free resource, would you tweet about it for me?)


3. Be decisive.

Although you are hiring a designer to design your project – it’s going to eventually be yours whether that be a living room, blog, website or any type of space. You might hire the designer for their creative brilliance BUT you still have to make decisions.

The good news is… if you do tip #1 really well, this tip becomes a whole lot easier.

There is nothing wrong with deciding to make edits or revisions. There is nothing wrong with deciding you don’t like exactly what the designer presents you. But, there is nothing more frustrating than a project that just hangs out there because of indecisiveness. Ick. Don’t do that.

tip44. Communication is key.

I could probably write a whole blog post in and of itself with just this one tip. The most important thing to remember about communication is that it is a two way street – for sure. I’ve done some reflecting on old projects and be the first to admit – “Man, I should have communicated that better.” or “I should’ve asked them that questions earlier.”. Communication takes work.

Keep in mind when you are working with a designer that DESIGN = TIME. Time is money. Some projects and budgets only allocate for so many revisions before it’s going to start costing you to keep making edits. It takes time to answer email and questions. It takes time to come up with proofs. It all takes time.

Sometimes I think about some of my projects and if I took their invoice and divided it up into an hourly rate instead of a flat fee – they are getting one heck of a deal! With that being said, my number one goal as a designer is to make sure you are getting what you want.

Anything else you’d add to this quick list? There are probably a 10-15 other items I could add to this list but I’m more curious to know if you’ve ever worked with a designer and what tips you would give those hiring one. Ready, go.