When you’re in the middle of a graphic design or web project that is already going to take a while, the last thing you want to deal with is your Photoshop or Dreamweaver freezing up every 15 minutes. It’s also a hassle when you have to limit how many tabs or programs you have open because you know one too many can cause problems. As a graphic or web designer who relies on your laptop as your key tool, you want things to run smoothly. For all of these reasons, I decided to come up with a quick post on the best laptops for graphic design, whether a student or a professional freelancer.
From my college days of getting a “back to school laptop” every few years to freelancing in-house occasionally for various agencies now, I’ve been through my share of computers. My favorite was an older iMac (around a 2010 model) that mimicked the ones my university had, but it began to overheat and instead of getting it fixed, I opted to invest in a MacBook for the portability, which I highly recommend if you have a choice between desktop and laptop. Although Apple computers are more in sync with my iPhone, other than that, I’m not a fan of the “cool kid” hype that implies you have to have a Mac. It was really isolating for me during graphic design hangouts in college when I had only whatever Acer or HP my mom could afford to get me that year. So, I decided to break down the laptop specifications that matter for designers. That way, you can focus on those and pick the brand of your choice.
What Specifications Make The Best Laptops for Graphic Design?
Breakdown | RAM is pretty much the memory that your laptop uses to run its operating system, applications, and active data files. The more RAM you have, the more your laptop’s speed is improved and the more applications it can run at once.
What I recommend | 6GB+
Why? | Most laptops on average these days come with 4GB of RAM, which is okay and can definitely be used for graphic design or web design easily in some conditions. However, if you’re like me, running multiple strong programs (Photoshop, Illustrator, etc) at once, you may need to take it up a notch!
HARD DRIVE SIZE
Breakdown | The size of your hard drive is the capacity for storing all files, pics, videos, music, etc. on your laptop!
What I Recommend | 500GB+
Why? | Hey, you’re going to be storing a lot of stuff on this thing! Unlike regular users, you’ll be saving a lot of large graphic design process file types such as PSD or AI. Not to mention still wanting to store music and photos like everyone else.
Breakdown | The size of your laptop’s display in inches.
What I Recommend | 15 inches+
Why? | Well, when it comes to your laptop for graphic design, actually being able to see what you’re working on is pretty important! Being used to over 20″ on my iMac, any laptop will be slightly downsizing, but that’s just fine! I recommend the 15.6″ or 17.3″ models, but if you go for the 17″, remember that it’ll be large and may not fit easily into some bags!
PROCESSOR + SPEED
Breakdown | Your laptop’s processor (or, CPU) is pretty much the brain of your computer. It’s responsible for processing information! With that said, it’s speed is how quickly it processes that info and carries out instructions!
What I Recommend | Intel or AMD Processors with speeds of 2.0Ghz or better!
Why? | These are the most popular and tried processors, and are found in PCs and Macs. A speed of 2.0Ghz is quick enough to handle your workload and is a student laptops’ requirement of most graphic design programs.
Speaking of graphic design programs, a lot of school’s these days (have the nerve to) require that you have a MacBook or a super high power PC. As a former college student that lived the broke life, it sucks. But, they’re simply preparing you for the graphic design field and being able to work with the most popular operating systems and tools. I get it. In these cases, be sure to check with your program for a list of requirements. I love the way that UNL broke it down here. Their list may also help you with some of the specs I didn’t dive into.
Anywho, without further adieu, here are my 5 picks for the best laptops for graphic design. By “best”, I mean what meet the specifications I listed above and also have 4.5-5 star ratings! Prices may vary from the original price listed depending on store sales and offers, but if they’re much higher than my estimate price in the stores you find, shop elsewhere!
- Apple 15″ MacBook Pro Notebook Computer | around $2000+ here and here
HP – 2-in-1 15.6″ Touch-Screen Laptop – Intel Core i7 – 16GB Memory – 1TB Hard Drive | around $829 here
- HP 17-BS011DX Pavilion 17.3″ Laptop | around $599 here
- ASUS ROG GL502VM 15.6″ Laptop | around $1249 here
- Lenovo Flex Convertible 15.6″ Notebook | around $600 here
I understand that these aren’t cheap, but they’re your most important investment in the graphic or web design field! As a tip, if these prices are too steep for you, try going down to options with 4GB of RAM and just making sure all of the other specifications are met!
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! What kind of laptop do you currently have? Any awesome suggestions for the best laptops for graphic design? Leave a comment!
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As a designer, when searching for a new home in the city, I naturally found myself gravitating towards branded residential property developments. And when it came to deciding between a place with a strong identity and those without, it was almost a no-brainer. Of course, I’m not alone in this. At certain price points, prospective tenants are looking for a full package that spans way beyond the four walls of their unit. After completing the branding for Villa 5 and being reminded of just how much branding a property can have an effect on even a small rental property scale, I knew it was time to put together a quick post on how powerful residential property branding can be.
What Is Residential Property Branding?
Plainly put, residential branding is the thought and process behind bringing architecture, interior, and graphic design together to create a full and cohesive identity for residential developments, whether for rent or sale. Residential property branding can span from small vacation rentals to local apartment complexes to luxury high rises or mansions.
Why Is Residential Property Branding Important?
After Knight Frank’s “Branded Development” research study was published, pure facts and numbers prove that branding residential properties is key and worthwhile. “‘Branded residences command an average uplift of 31% compared to equivalent non-branded schemes”, Knight stated. Here are a few reasons why residential property branding is key in today’s market.
Create Consistency To Drive Sales
Residential property branding has a way of turning a place to live into a full experience. This is especially true when the marketing materials that peak a residents interest are carried out throughout the building during that key initial visit. Other than meeting a checklist of personal home requirements, residents are looking for a feel-good vibe and a lifestyle match. For example, a luxury highrise looking to attract buyers with high budgets should have a luxury style logo and brand identity, premium marketing materials, a luxe and modern website, trained agents in suits and luxury interiors and details.
Stand Out From The Crowd
When attempting to appeal to residents, property branding can easily help you stand out from the crowd and lure them. A branded residential development will stand out amongst those that are not or do not create an experience. It also gives residences a chance to show their individuality. Perhaps your residence wants to focus on how eco-friendly it is, or perhaps your residence wants to show off how strongly inspired it is by the local art community. These are features that can be carried out and highlighted via residential branding and strategy. It’s also great that this can change from development to development, as each property type typically has its own identity, even when created by the same company.
Branding builds an automatic sense of trust and reliability when done correctly. “A well-crafted identity captures what words cannot. It encapsulates everything a brand stands for and represents all the adjectives you might want to attach to a development – without saying a word.” With high-quality design and services comes trust that things will continue to meet standards after purchase/rental of a residential property.
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When it comes to hotels, marketing is a key tool for keeping your rooms booked year-round. This is especially important for smaller, boutique hotels that may not be backed by a huge chain or brand name. While paid ads can obviously be huge for website traffic, I wanted to share some SEO tips for hotels based on some key changes that you can make to your website to bring in customers without a big marketing budget!
5 Key SEO Tips for Hotels
1. Optimize Your Website for Your Hotel’s Location
For any hotel, appearing in search engine results for your location is a top priority. There are several ways to achieve this and here are some key tasks that you want to make sure are complete:
- Ensure Hotel Is Listed On Google My Business: This is a free local listing on the biggest search engine, so it’s a major one. After creating a listing by entering your hotel’s details and a short verification process (Google will send a postcard with a PIN number in order to verify the address), you’re listed! Be sure to fully fill out your listing as well as add photos for the best results
- Optimize Pages On Your Site With Location Details: This can be completed by adding the city and/or state your hotel is located in via title and meta description tags on each page of your website. If you have an about page, for example, ” About” as the SEO title could be changed to “About | Reign Hotel | Atlanta, GA”. If you have a WordPress website, which I recommend for hotel website design, then a tool or plugin such as Yoast is great for this. Including your hotel’s location in titles, page descriptions, image alt tags and even your footer helps search engines recognize your location even more.
- List On Other Directories: Other than being listed on Google, there are other online “directory” type sites that can be important to make sure your hotel is listed on that link to your website. Merchant Circle, Yellow Pages, Citysearch, and Yelp are just a few.
2. List Your Hotel On Industry Specific Directories
Speaking of listings, making sure that your hotel is listed on popular travel sites is key. Although most hotels prefer direct booking, these sites are still primary sources for traffic, ranking, and reviews. One great site like this is TripAdvisor, as its high-ranking and will be a great backlink (a link outside of your site that leads to yours) to aid in your SEO strategy.
3. Have A Modern, Updated Website
If you’re putting in a ton of effort on gaining traffic for your websites, then it helps to have a beautifully designed site for potential customers to land on. Unfortunately, hotels often have out-dated websites that are slow-loading, not responsive (viewable on desktop and mobile) and utilize flash or other old site elements. These are looked down on by Google and other search engines, which hurt their rankings, deter new customers or aren’t great at displaying the property in its best light. For this reason, a good hotel website design is key.
Redesigning your hotel’s website allows you to not only modernize visually but also to work out the best structure for an amazing user experience and optimal features for SEO. I specialize in branding and web design for hotels and hospitality brands, so feel free to check out my services or portfolio and contact me if you need help in this area.
4. Create A Blog for Searchable Content
If you got to my website via a search or post on social media, then you should be able to see how important creating a blog is to gain site traffic. This is especially true for your hotel. Having a blog on your website is great for SEO and can be a key part of your marketing strategy. Think about what your hotel customers may be searching for, whether it be restaurants in the area, a local museum or a landmark. These are things you can base content around. Also, if you’re having an event or promotion, a blog is a great place to display that!
Utilizing bloggers and bringing them on as guests for your hotel’s blog is another avenue for fresh content that you can occasionally tap into. To find local bloggers, try hopping on Instagram and using your city name + blogger (ex: #charlotteblogger). These bloggers are close and can provide local-based posts such as “10 Things to do in Charlotte this Summer” which would be great for travelers that are looking to come to the city and may need a great place to stay!
5. Utilize Social Media
One of the best marketing tools out there is social media. Posting your own images, blog articles, hotel events, packages and deals on networks such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and more can bring in a lot of site traffic, and aid in search rankings. Using hashtags such as #travel, #hotel, #vacation, etc can lead users on these platforms to your posts, and engaging with users and other local businesses can help you build a following and community. For this reason, utilizing social media is my last but not least of the SEO tips for hotels.
If you don’t have the time to handle your own social media consistently, you can look into some hotel social media management services from me, more local freelancers, or larger agencies if you feel necessary. Social media that isn’t updated often is almost worse than no social media at all because it can have major effects, such as making people wonder if you’re even still in business!
If you have a bit of a marketing budget, you can target bigger travel bloggers / influencers and pay for their trips (as well as provide a free room and potentially a press tour). This can be great for trendy boutique hotels or hotels looking to attract a certain audience. Having these bloggers take photos and post on various social media channels can be a great way to create “social media envy” that makes their followers want to visit your location as well.
Do you have any SEO tips for hotels? Feel free to leave them in the comments below!
– – Lindsey
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One thing that I’m learning is that personal style is universal. Life is kind of like a brand mood board sometimes. Lately, with my new bedroom coming together, I’ve settled on a modern tribal theme. It’s clean yet bold, and incorporates some “tribal” style photography that I had canvased a few years ago. Of course with any new design style idea has come a lot of Pinterest. Here are some of my favorite tribal interior designs:
Art imitates life. Look how easily my style ties into the building of this new decor.
Leopard Print Shoes: via Dolce Vita
Black Bag: via Kohls
Numerology Bracelet: via Alex and Ani
As a web designer that has worked with several real estate clients on creating new websites, I know how traditionally boring real estate websites can be. This is often compounded by the fact that real estate websites often require integrations for listings. That means that not just any theme can be used, or that custom development may get costly. Luckily, I’m happy to share these WordPress themes for real estate websites that are both functional and modern.
There are various types of websites when it comes to real estate, such as those for firms, individual agents, rental companies, residential developments, etc. With all of this in mind, here are some key features that I find helpful and look for when considering WordPress themes for real estate websites:
Property Listing: Whether listing properties individually via a property submission form or using an integration (such as IDX) to pull from databases, property listings are a key component of the majority of real estate sites. It’s also a plus if the property listings can be organized in different ways, such as a grid list or via a map. For real estate developers, however, you can usually go for a WordPress theme that simply has a nice portfolio feature. This is because you’ll most likely be listing projects and case studies versus current listings.
Styled Gallery: Buyers love photos, so making sure that listings have a nice, smooth styled photo gallery is key.
Fully Responsive: This should go without saying these days, but many real estate websites are old and not as functional as they should be. With that said, any modern real estate site should be fully responsive for viewing whether on a desktop computer, tablet, or mobile!
4 Modern WordPress Themes for Real Estate Websites
Of course, like any designer will tell you, a theme is “just bones”. It still takes amazing design to customize a WordPress theme and take it from something cookie-cutter to something unique and on-brand. Here are some awesome themes with great bones.
This is one of the top real estate website themes on the market and for good reason. It has a modern flow and includes all of they key components I listed!
Windsor is a standout WordPress theme for modern apartment complexes and developments. It has stunning gallery and floor plan features with an overall super-modern flow.
The clean, modern style and special agents / agent listings features make this a great theme for larger real estate firms!
This theme is unique when it comes to vibe. It’s warm, welcoming and very personal. This would be best used for a small inn or individual vacation home.
If you’re in need of design, I specialize in branding and web design for interior, real estate, and hospitality brands. I’d love to help you with your real estate website design! Feel free to contact me to inquire about a new project!
It has officially been one month since I made my move to Charlotte, NC. So far, this place is amazing. I’m still feeling the good vibes that I felt when I first visited the city, paired with new friends and new experiences. With that said, I’d like to welcome you to my apartment. I’m officially (for blog purposes) naming it “The Unit”.
Outfit: Switch The Scene Tank Dress c/o Tobi | Shoes: YRU Quozmo Hi White
Upon browsing Instagram one day, I was pleasantly surprised by some amazing and quirky ceramics in beautiful brown tones. It was one of those things that you don’t just double tap and move past. I had to learn more. Hence, my discovery of the amazing work of Kenesha Sneed and her brand, Tactile Matter.
(img via @TactileMatter)
Kenesha Sneed of Tactile Matter
First noted by several blogs for her motion design work, Kenesha has now added amazing ceramic art (with a goods store to match) to her repertoire. From pots to mugs to dishes, her style is modern and unique. She crafts her handmade housewares in her LA-studio. Here are some of my favorite current pieces in the Tactile Matter shop:
Incense Burner No. 1 | $52
Ring Handle Floral Mug | $68
Nude Pitcher No. 1 | $110
I can easily imagine having a chill work night while A Seat at the Table plays and incense is burning from my cute Tactile Matter holder. Nude, thick, brown and cultural.
You can shop Kenesha’s amazing work on the Tactile Matter website.
So, you’ve made the big jump and started your freelance career. Good for you! But wait, there’s no boss to tell you what to do, no nosey coworkers peeking over your shoulders when you wander onto Twitter. So who’s going to keep you in check?!
As a freelancer, you’re all alone to become a responsible self-employed employee so you better stay on top of shit! I’ve never really been the type to stick to times and plans, but this creating a daily schedule thing has really helped keep me on task and keep the work flowing! Here’s my schedule and tips on creating a daily schedule for freelancers.
MY FREELANCE DAILY WORK SCHEDULE
7:00 AM | Wake Up + Morning Coffee
Depending on what time of year it is, yep, I’m up before the sun. By habit, the first thing that I really do when I wake up is check my phone. I respond to texts and play a round or two of whatever phone game I’m addicted to at the moment. What I don’t do, however, is check any e-mails or work-related notifications at this point. This all only takes about 10-15 minutes, and by the end of it, I’m pretty much fully awake. I then take another 10-15 minutes to reflect, meditate, pray or whatever I’m in need of at the moment. After that, I head to the kitchen to make my morning drink. In the winter, it’s either tea or coffee. In the summer, I’m pretty much the iced coffee or smoothie queen. Either of these drinks get my energy up and brain flowing.
8:00 AM | Start Work
I work the best early in the morning. It’s when my brain is alert and I’m excited and motivated. This is when I start my first 2 hour work block. These blocks are what I’ve found most helpful in my daily routine. Not working for 8 hours straight is a perk of the freelance life. I start out by reviewing and answering emails, then beginning on work.
10:00AM | Quick Breakfast
Hey, a working girl has got to eat. Once the morning coffee, tea, or smoothie has worn off, it’s time for a quick breakfast!
10:30AM | Shower + Get Dressed
Even if you’re a freelancer and working at home, one thing that I’ve learned is key is not living in your pajamas for the whole week. Freshening up, putting on some comfy clothes, and actually brushing my hair keeps me in a more productive mood.
11:00 AM | Back To Work
Here’s when I get back to another work block. If I need a break from client projects, then I typically put a different task here, such as social media or general marketing tasks! This could be anywhere from scheduling tweets, planning a new campaign, browsing sites for inspiration, or shooting photos for sharing/posts.
1 PM | Lunch Break
Nom. Nom. Nom.
2:00PM | Back To Work
For some reason, this part of the afternoon is the hardest for me, but depending on the project, I’m still usually pretty excited and focused. Find some good tunes and push through this part of the day!
3:00 PM | Gym / Errands
One amazing part about creating your own daily schedule for freelance is the opportunity to do things in the middle of the day that others usually can’t. This is a great time for me to head to the gym (in my building so it doesn’t take me much travel time) or run to the grocery store during non-busy hours! Be careful with this exact time slot if there are schools in your area, because. . . bus traffic!
4:00 PM | Back To Work
This is my last scheduled work block in my daily schedule. I package up any things that are to be delivered before EOD and then go back to designing. I finish up this part of my daily freelance routine by noting any important to-dos for tomorrow.
The Secret Freelance Hours
Okay, let’s be real. I’m not the type that has a totally healthy sleep schedule. I wish I was the 9pm in bed type, but between my favorite TV shows, browsing the internet, cooking, Twitter, Instagram, and relationships. . .that just doesn’t happen! Often I’ll find myself bored around 9 or 10pm and get some work in until about midnight. This is a great time for working on things to better your freelance business / reach instead of working on client tasks. I’ve always been somewhat of a night owl, so as long as I don’t have to get up at 6:00am and prepare to sit in traffic anymore, it doesn’t really make my workdays harder!
Generally, I do actually do work on Saturdays and Sundays, but I definitely don’t pressure myself with a schedule. The weekends are time for house cleaning, laundry, brunch, date nights, and things like that. Anytime that I’m in the mood to work, I do! Because as I stated before, if freelancing is really the career for you and you’re in the right field and working with amazing brands, it’s not really “work”!
My Tips For Creating A Daily Schedule for Freelancers
- Use general blocks instead of assigning specific tasks to certain times such as “check e-mails” or “Pinterest for 30 mins”. Those types of specifics make sticking to a schedule harder, because it seems more robotic than free.
- Opt for a few batch days a month. These are days when your work blocks are filled with a certain once-a-month task for the entire day, to help them get completed and out of the way! Examples are blogging batch days, admin / finance batch days, and social media design / scheduling batch days.
- A freelancer’s daily routine should be based on their life or the life they want to live. It’s amazing because when it’s time to adjust, you’re the boss and can do that. If you need morning time with your kids, the weekends off, a set date night, a weekly girl’s entrepreneur meet-up, schedule around it! It’s all about a work / life balance and life is so important!
What does your daily schedule for freelance look like? Do you find that a schedule helps or is it hard to stick to one?
I’ll do a complete list of books to help new freelancers in a separate post, but here are just a few to get you started:
Diverse stock images are definitely a need that isn’t adequately being filled today. So naturally, when I first got word of BRWN Stock Imaging and what they were doing, not only was I excited to be considered for creating the identity, but excited for the venture as a whole! I absolutely love entrepreneurs that are filling the gaps, and it just so happened that I was friends with the lovely Porsha Antalan, founder and photographer.
For this brand identity project, I focused on a clean and modern style. We chose a palette and mood that is very inclusive and representative, as well as celebratory of brown shades and POC.
Okay, so you’ve made your decision and you’re ready to quit your day job to freelance full-time. Whether it’s design, writing, or any other creative skill, preparing to quit your job can be a scary thing. Especially when you’re an adult and paying adult bills. My simple advice to you all is do not do it on a whim! I get it. You’re fired up about future goals, you’ve made your decision, and you’re ready! But, are you really? Here are the 5 steps I took (and you should too) before quitting my job and beginning to freelance for a living.
HOW TO PREPARE TO QUIT YOUR JOB TO FREELANCE FULL-TIME
I worked full-time as a visual designer in a creative start-up space. It was an amazing job with amazing people, but I knew I wanted to be my own boss and make my own hours. As I secretly plotted on my exit, I chose to go a responsible route.
With rent for a Brooklyn apartment and various bills, I couldn’t afford to just quit on a whim without any backup. My advice, although it was tough and took longer than I wanted, is to save up enough money to cover at least 3 months worth of rent or bills. Experts recommend 6, but I’m not that patient, nor did I have anything close to that already in my account — thanks online shopping addiction. In my head, I figured that gave me two months to work daily at fulfilling my dreams as a freelance designer, and one month to find a new job if those two months weren’t working for me! Doing freelance work, nothing is guaranteed. There are slow months and there are busy months, so saving and being responsible are skills that you will need to survive in this world!
If you’re not good at budgeting or saving, I’d suggest signing up for a free account on LearnVest or Mint. They both have websites as well as phone apps. These tools allow you to note your income, budget and spending habits as well as savings goals. They can be connected to your credit/debit cards and bank accounts for super accurate tracking! Aside from personal finance tracking, you can also use one (or both) of these sites for tracking your freelance business income and spending!
Prepare A Schedule
As a new freelancer, a lot of time is going to have to go into not only what you’re creating, but marketing yourself and administrative tasks too. If this is going to be a full-time job for you, then it’s a great transitional step to take. Otherwise, you’ll end up watching Netflix in your pajamas at 3am, because you’re living way too freely. When you’re first starting out, you’ll probably work more hours in a week than you did at your 9-5. You have to work hard to get to the work-life balance point.
I started with a plan of a healthy 8am-5pm schedule, leaving a block for a 1 hour lunch and a few 15 minute breaks, just as I had at my corporate job. Now that I have a steady stream of clients and more processes in place, I can better manage my time, and have created a schedule that fits with my lifestyle. We all know that you’ll end up working on a project deadline at 2am, but it’s nice to at least PLAN a healthy work schedule and then eventually work towards it.
Build Your Brand + Portfolio
Before you quit your job to freelance, it’s important to create your personal or business brand and website if you haven’t already (view my design services if you need some help). Ideally, you’ll also have a bit of a clientele base built up, to help with your portfolio. This will usually lead to some continuous referrals that will come along just when you need them. While you have alternate steady income, now is the time to do those pro-bono or concept projects to attract the type of clients you’d like, and build up your freelance portfolio.
Also, having the experience of managing clients (after work at your current job and on the weekends) can give you a taste of the work load before you do it full time. If you have a problem getting clients, then you definitely have some work to do before you tell your boss goodbye. (I’ll work on some tips for doing so for an upcoming Working Girls post)
Whether Pinterest, Behance, family, or friends, inspiration is very important for creatives. Sitting at a desk all day is not very inspiring and although sometimes new work is inspiring, sometimes. . .it’s not. Add a little time in your daily schedule to find a little inspiration!
Just as your freelance career was side-revenue to your day job, it’s always nice to have a backup for your freelancing. Perhaps you can knit or make jewelry and would like to open an Etsy store. Perhaps you’re an expert on certain topics and can create a niche blog that brings in ad revenue. Focus on some of your other passions and figure out how they can help support your freelance dreams!
I’ll be elaborating on some of these points in upcoming posts, but if you have any questions, please let me know!
What did you do to prep for becoming you quit your job to freelance?