As a creatively driven person, admin and repetition are natural killers to the spark that ignites us, and as a solopreneur/freelancer these mundane (and very critical tasks) can be the ‘one more thing’ that steals the joy from doing what we love. Life also has a tendency to get in the way with real issues like stress, illness, burnout, our health, the health of loved ones, death, divorce, new babies or sometimes it’s just plain creative block.
Harvard studies have shown that the creative brain processes information differently due to low levels of ‘latent inhibition’. Creative people struggle to screen out excess information. The brain of a creative person is constantly taking information in, that’s why we come up with ideas that no one else does. We have our own subconscious brainstorm session constantly running! It is also incidentally the reason why some creative people are not very stable mentally. A creatively wired brain takes all that information and weaves it into a solid idea (you can read more about it here).
When the chips are down and you need to suck that awesome concept out of the ether and your creative brain has hit overload, you can always try and pick another creative’s person’s brain… online that is. Here is a list of some tools that can help ignite your creative genius again. It could just be the kick start you need to get the project going.
A quick visual to explain what different optimization settings do for an image. One of the challenges that web designers face is achieving the ultimate balance between a comforable sized image (kb) and a well optimized image. Some of the optimization options such as png aren't covered in the above visual, since the visual is to give a basic comparison between low-res and hi-res image optimization. Although some of the parts of the image appear crisp when optimized as a Gif (see green fur in first square in the upper right, compared to the pink fur), other parts of the image loose a lot of detail. What I haven't listed in the above image is the size of each segment in kb. The items that are the smallest in kb (on the left hand side) are also the items with the least image data. The pixelation of the first jpg is very obvious and the ideal would be to use either a Gif with 256 colors or a jpg at 80% as an optimization option.
My first blog I had was blogger - I switched to OnSugar as it was way easier to use and customize. I recently set up a blogger account and found that it was a bit tricky to add posts the navigation tabs - so here's my hack to get your blogger posts to link to your navigation tabs.
I'm a great believer in the benefits of cloud apps and don't see why one should reinvent the wheel. I recently needed an event managment app for a client site. I know there are many online apps that do event management and I thought I had an easy job before me.
BUT I needed an event management app that could accept payment in ZAR from clients making bookings. Well, It proved a mammoth task. PayPal is still not the payment of choice for most South Africans. It takes too long to load money into your account and too long to receive money (let alone some of the regulations governing how your PayPal money can be used). We live in an instant world where some people consider a page load of 250 milliseconds too long. To wait 6 working days for your money, is maybe too long.
This made the R&D phase all the more challenging. My first idea of using Constant Contact fell flat when I realized that accepting payment in ZAR was not an option. Many sign ups, logins and demo days of other apps followed... I can give personal testimony to some of the great customer service I sampled.
For future reference I've compiled a quick link list of some of the online apps I tried. Not all the apps offered a comprehensive service so I listed some that would help with at least one aspect of event management. My list contains apps/services that maybe only handled the email marketing side, or just the form creation aspect, or maybe they just offered some form of analytics that I believed could be helpful to an event management site.
So here is my round up for event management. Most of the sites below offer you a free trail period to enable you to take their product for a test drive so you can TBYB (try before you buy). Most of the options below also have PayPal as their standard form of payment.
Constant Contact Great product but not as many custom options as I wanted (more template customization control). This can easily be your one stop event management solution if your country has a PayPal mentality. A little bit slow to use at times (with South African DSL speed).
Eventbrite Easy to use, can be linked to your mail Chimp account.
Formstack For custom form creation. You can create your own landing page linked to the form, fast and easy to use. No prebuilt templates (like Wufoo). For the right project they would be great.
Cvent Great customer service. They offer very comprehensive tailormade solutions (that's why there are no prices on their site - they're what bespoke is to the template industry). A very comprehensive package that goes beyond just manageing your event and your attendees, they even have biz apps that help you to analyze the finacial profitability of each event. One great aspect is (if you have a merchant gateway), all your money goes straigth to you when an attendee pays/books. They do not hold the funds until after the event or until you withdraw the funds. They have embraced the fact that the world is flat and have a definate global appeal.
Launchrock Got a major event on the way? Still trying to sort out what you need, but want a web presence straight away? Setting up a launching/coming soon page easy with Lauchrock is super easy. A lovey full page graphic and a simple one field form helps you get exposure and email addresses - so you get to build your database ASAP.
Event Elephant - One of the few sites that include ZAR as a payment option.
Wufoo - One of the easiest to use online form builders.
One of the great failings of some of the event management apps is the fact that they hold your money till AFTER the event - this means that if you have people booking for an event for the end of the year, they get to keep your money in their account until after the event. Most of the apps include PayPal as a payment option. This is a dealbreaker for local events since the tickets always have to be charged in a foreign currency.
There are usualy only two options for ticket sales - a paid event or a free event. Most of the apps also allow you to use their services for free if the event is free. Pricing also varies as each app has their own pricing plans. Some charge a monthly fee only (you are responsible for any merchant/card processing fees). Some charge a monthly fee and a processing fee per ticket (especially if you make use of their merchant/payment gateways). Some charge a flat rate per ticket while some have a sliding scale, based on how many tickets and how many events.