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Podcast: Luke Kellett on stimulating change through creativity

Luke Kellett, is the Principal and Managing Director from Headjam, a creative agency that exists to stimulate change. Streamtime Radio caught up with Luke to talk about Headjam’s creative process, their passions and the Newcastle creative scene.

Like this podcast? You can find other insightful episodes on iTunes or at streamtimeradio.simplecast.fm

Alternatively, if you’d prefer to read Luke’s insights, here’s an edited transcript of our conversation.

Company Philosophy

Kye Hush: Thank you for having us in your beautiful offices here in Newcastle. Headjam, how did it start? Why did you start it?

Luke Kellett: Headjam was founded about 13 years ago, in 2002. It now has two directors, myself and my wife Sarah. We’ve really founded the agency out of a desire to work within four key sectors. We have a big passion for health and education and so we work with a lot of research organisations, work on a lot of sexual health campaigns with some fantastic clients nationally, Sydney based like AIDS Council of New South Wales, New South Wales Health and a lot of mental health organisations as well.

“It’s about producing communication solutions that try and influence behavioural change within the Australian market place in a positive way.”

It’s really about producing communication solutions that try and influence behavioural change within the Australian market place in a positive way. That’s our philosophy. A lot of our team come from an arts background so the community and arts section of our four areas are really our passion of museums, galleries and the artistic community within Australia.

We try and involve ourselves and allocate around 10% to 15% of our capacity each year to collaborate with organisations, a lot of not for profits, to help them communicate with the outside world as well. It’s a good dynamic mix.

Kye: It’s a great dynamic mix and it sounds like it’s quite rewarding too… you’re not a slave to the client as such, you’re doing work that’s rewarding, enjoyable and has a meaning.

Luke: It’s definitely rewarding, the work that we produce within health and education. It has its other set of challenges. Some of those challenges are that we’re working on absolutely minuscule budgets and for a lot of organisations, the real challenges come in terms of managing those types of workflow schedules, deadlines and trying to always punch above our weight in terms of what we’re actually delivering from a digital element or from a traditional print element. That’s probably the greatest challenge that comes in outside of the commercial element, working with those sectors, but it’s fun.

Team Collaboration

Kye: With your team here, when you get a brief from the client or a potential new client, is it a whole team collaboration or are you all specialists in your certain areas ?

Luke: That’s a good question. We’re really small and nimble, we have ten full time staff. Our team is made up of usually two developers, three designers, the creative director, two broadcast individuals that work on a lot of video production, 3D animation, editing and then a management team of myself, my account manager and also a studio manager.

“We pull on all of those multi-disciplinary roles in the studio for whatever project comes through, whether it’s small or large.”

Generally how we’ll tackle projects is we’ll tackle it as a group. That kind of philosophy just makes sure that we have lots of different opinions at that beginning ideation stage. It means that we don’t become stagnant in terms of how we’re thinking and how we’re operating. That becomes really important so we try and pull on all of those multi-disciplinary roles in the studio for whatever project comes through, whether it’s small or large.

Kye: This must be great for the team.

Luke: It’s been a real conscious effort and probably that’s a really important element for us. Just making sure that everyone in the studio knows and in the agency knows what the type of work is, what we’re accomplishing and how we’re accomplishing it. We do simple things, not only involved in the elements, but every day or every couple of days we’ll get everyone at the end of the day to stand up and do a bit of a show and tell of what they’ve been doing for that day. They’ll talk about the projects they’re on, the challenges they faced and how they’ve overcome those elements. I think that’s really important to knowledge share and make sure that everyone’s on the same page, understands what’s going on in the studio environment and that just helps bring a collaborative environment together.

Kye: Yes, definitely understanding the challenges people are facing as well because if you’re doing your own thing and you’re not aware of someone else’s, you could potentially get quite frustrated that they haven’t done their bit.

Luke: I think asking for help is a big one. Communicating to everyone, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses so it’s just about open communication and dialogue.

Kye: Communication doesn’t seem to be a particular problem for you guys here as a team. Do you find it easy to communicate with your clients? Obviously because you’ve got some government clients and small startup businesses, they’re quite different. Do you approach them the same way?

Luke: It’s always understanding expectations. It’s probably one of the key things that we try to set in place. That could be as simple as how do you want to be communicated to? Do you want emails? Do you want a phone call? It’s something we’re always working and striving to improve, but it’s a challenge.

How do you get your staff to account for their time? 

Kye: We deal with a lot of clients that struggle with getting their staff to do timesheets. They’ve tried everything. Do you have that trouble or is it just an expectation?

Luke: Definitely we’ve had trouble. I think all organisations will have that… it’s a challenge. One of those elements is always that balance between business reality and the creative industry. Trying to encapsulate that and reign that into one thing is almost madness and an impossible task. Having time-tracking is a really important element, but it’s a constant challenge. We find if we have constant reminders and if we do a little name and shame exercise in terms of looking at the percentage of time based on what’s entered into Streamtime.

“It’s important and I think it’s about us educating the staff about how important it is.”

It kicks people into gear a little bit. If they’re sitting at 45%, 50%, on a Friday afternoon before we go for a beer, they might get a little stick from peers, a bit of peer pressure, a bit of gentle prodding. It’s important and I think it’s about us educating the staff about how important it is. One of the key elements that we drive home or try to communicate is that if you under track your time, we will then allocate that amount of time the next time for you and you will find yourself in a predicament where you don’t have enough time to complete the work.

Our whole business is based on the premise of looking at past jobs, looking at past invoices, making as best an educated guess as possible in terms of how long the projects will take, which is a very difficult thing to do. As you guys know, you might come up with a creative idea in 30 seconds, it might take you 30 years. Trying to quote for that requirement is quite challenging, but allowing the creative team to at least give themselves the correct amount of time and the correct amount of thinking time is really important. That’s generally our methodology, just open communication.

The Newcastle Scene

Kye: Is there a big creative network in Newcastle and would you socialise with other creative studios or is there not really that kind of culture here?

Luke: That’s a good question. Newcastle is a great creative town. One of the really interesting things if you look at Newcastle’s history is that it obviously comes from an industrial background, very blue collar working background. Not too dissimilar to other cities of the U.K. or the areas of America or Australia that have seen real growth over the years. It’s really in that transitional point where it’s finding its feet and it’s really only been in the last three years that it’s probably started to develop its own creative identity here. The city is divided in that capacity in terms of the old and the new and trying to find that direction.

There’s a great, creative community here. There’s a great series of amazing agencies, amazing small design shops and there’s some large scale advertising agencies here that work on national scale projects as well, so it’s a real boiling pot of creativity which is really exciting. We’ve made the conscious decision to try and communicate and build that culture and grow that. We moved into the building that we’re in now, with another creative agency called Mezzanine so the two brothers that run that are close friends of ours and we made the decision in terms of continuing that collaboration and knowledge share, which is really important. It might not be shared throughout the whole city, but I think in time that will happen and that’s what we hope.

What kind of clients are you hoping to attract?

Kye: You’ve told us a little bit about the kind of clients that you currently work for. Is there a domain or type of client or a particular client that you’re hoping to attract that you haven’t managed to lure in yet?

Luke: Sure. I think we are really very passionate like I said about behavioural change campaigns, whether it’s sexual health, mental health or physical activity. That becomes our primary focus, as well as collaborating with tertiary education and post-graduate education institutions throughout Australia.

We’ve been very fortunate in terms of building those relationships, but we’d like to continue to grow and collaborate with research teams around Australia, that’s a really important element for us. It’s really diverse work and it really means that we can make a real impact with the creative work that we produce, the digital work that we produce. That remains our focus and our drive.

Working with organisations throughout Australia that we really believe in or have quite a passion for is our focus as well. That’s working with startups, small local businesses or it could be collaborating with similar type businesses within Melbourne or Sydney. It’s a diverse mix, but it works really well for us. We want to keep going down that road.


Kye: It’s an admirable road. It’s a great road to be on. That leads me to… who or what inspires you to keep working and do what you do every day?

Luke: It’s probably, interestingly, our clients. A lot of our clients are really pushing the boundaries of what should be able to be done with the budgets that are allocated to them or what they can do with the small resources that they have. Collaborating with people that are trying to always constantly push and evolve those processes, those elements for the greater good or the development of behavioral change is really important. We take a lot of inspiration from that.

“A lot of our clients are really pushing the boundaries of what should be able to be done with the budgets that are allocated to them.”

We take a lot of inspiration from Australian design as a whole. There’s a lot of incredible work that goes on here. Whether it’s within the fashion industries, whether it’s within the printing industries or other creative agency studios, obviously, a big inspiration in that community is built. Inspiration as well is probably the latest digital technologies. So, probably one of our other strengths is that we have an internal development team and that development team means that we can accomplish a lot of different development projects and understand. Being small, we can adapt quite quickly and nimbly to changes in app development and web development, apply different methodologies and kind of move forward.

Probably the key people that inspire us there are things like Smashing Magazine in The States, anyone that’s pushing or sharing knowledge in that space and different developers, that type of thing. It’s a real mix.

Working within a tight budget 

Kye: Back on budgets and small budgets, I imagine working for some government agencies, in health and things like that, the budget is small and it’s particular. Do you ever find yourselves going, “Uh, it’s pretty much a charity, should we slash our rates a little bit?” or do you try and stick to a standard rate across the board and just try and make it work, do what you can do within the budget?

“We’re going to be no good to our clients if we slashed a lot of rates and then in 12 months we don’t exist.”

Luke: I think probably the stance that we take there are… our number one priority is making sure that we can survive and exist so that we can influence this change over a long period of time. There has to be a point where we pragmatically looking at that and we’re going to be no good to our clients if we slashed a lot of rates and then in 12, 24 months we don’t exist.

Our mentality has always been that and we keep a pretty standard rate across the board. We do have two brackets of rates that we utilise and that second bracket would probably be for the research based projects, a lot of RND and there’s a lot of work that we can and hope we can get back from government initiatives as well with RND projects where we get a little kick-back from tax and things like that. They can counter that. But it’s really important for us to ensure that our hourly rates and our hours are tracked, they’re taken on as a commercial project. That’s important so that we can continue to do the work for the next decade, 20, 25, 30 years.

Kye: The reason I asked that question is, I’ve just been investigating a lot and I see this a lot, where people, particularly startups are just starting out and they want to do anything to get the work and then they’ve got a body of work and they can build on that. But they’ll do it for free or they’ll have a rate-cut, they do all this extra work that doesn’t get billed and things like that. I guess they’re making a rod for their own back because then the client will expect that all the time.

“It’s really important for us to ensure that our hourly rates and our hours are tracked, they are taken on as a commercial project.”

Luke: Yeah, you’re right. I think that we’ve been around for 13 year so we definitely went through what I would describe in that capacity as growing pains of some capacity throughout that period of time. If you under quote, if you under-bill once, that’s the expectation level. It’s really important for us to make sure that that’s really nice and clear and upfront, just making sure that we’re on the same page.

If we ever do do work pro bono and there will always be an associated quote and invoice sent to the client for example, that outlines what has been provided in terms of the hourly rate, the total cost of what that would have cost in the commercial sense. I think again that’s really important for the expectations so that they understand what’s being provided.

We’ve started doing really basic things like creating memorandums of understanding, what we’re getting out of the relationship, what the client wants out of the relationship, if we ever do do work at a discounted rate. The majority of the time our rates mean that we have a price point that we can work with these type of organisations and they also understand that they want us to be here in more than five years.

Best piece of advice

“Your entire career will be defined by the times you say no”

Kye: Finally I’d just like to finish off with, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Luke: This is a good one. I have one for this. This was given by a photographer that I used to work for when I was an assistant in the U.K. She was called Sarah Mango. She told me that my entire career would be defined by the times you say “no” and that is incredibly true. We carry that on today in terms of turning down a lot of work and making sure that the work we do take on is the work that we want to produce.

Kye: That was a wonderful piece of advice. I might take that on board too. Thank you for sharing it with us and thanks for having us in your studio today.

Luke: No worries, thanks for coming.

Images courtesy of Headjam.

Thinking of upgrading to El Capitan?

As you might have heard, Apple have released ‘El Capitan‘, their newest operating system for Mac.

We have received word from FileMaker today that no versions of their software are currently supported on El Capitan. As a result, if you’re a Streamtime user we do not recommend upgrading your work machine or server at the moment, as you may encounter issues for which we don’t yet have a solution.

If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know.

Streamtime Radio ep 06 – featuring Flyn Tracy

In this episode of Streamtime Radio, we catch up with Flyn Tracy, Industry Program Manager for Tractor, Organiser for CreativeMornings Sydney and Founder and Host of Australian Design Radio.

Over a couple of glasses of red wine at the Streamtime Sydney offices, Flyn shares his views on education in the Design industry and why he started the CreativeMornings Sydney chapter and Australian Design Radio.

Like this podcast? You can find other insightful episodes on iTunes or at streamtimeradio.simplecast.fm

Are you going to Sex, Drugs & Helvetica?

Sex, Drugs & Helvetica has been described as “industry espionage” and “work experience at six studios in one day”. It’s an opportunity to not only be surrounded by other like-minded creatives, but to meet and talk with six renowned designers from Australia and abroad.

The killer lineup of speakers for 2015 features Business Strategist and Communication Designer Cheryl Heller (US), Cannes Lion winner and Koto Founder James Greenfield (UK), Interbrand Creative Director Ben Miles, Eskimo Founder Zoë Pollitt, Projects of Imagination Founder Nick Cox and August Co-Founder Daniel Banik.

The first event kicks off in Brisbane next Friday 4th September, followed by Melbourne on Friday 11th September. If you don’t have tickets yet get cracking as it’s sure to be a sell out!

Streamtime Radio ep 05 – featuring Finger Industries

In this Game of Thrones themed episode of Streamtime Radio, I catch up with Marcus Kenyon and Rachael Exton from Finger Industries.

Over drinks and dinner at Grain Store, London we talk about their animation techniques, the importance of Production Managers in a creative agency and running a business up near ‘The Wall’.

Like this podcast? You can find other insightful episodes on iTunes or at streamtimeradio.simplecast.fm

How to increase your agency’s profitability: step 3 the right tools

In the final part of our profitability series we take a look at how Streamtime can help you increase your agency’s profitability.

Capturing costs

The only way to ensure you are going to be profitable is to invoice your clients correctly. The only way to ensure you are invoicing your clients correctly is to review the costs on your jobs. The only way to know your costs is to track them all! Time spent on jobs, in-house printing, taxis to meetings, lunches and gifts for clients, couriers, catering at shoots, these are just some of things that make up the costs of your jobs.

Streamtime Web makes it simple to enter time and expenses whether working from your desk or on the run. With the click of a button you can record that three minute phone call with your client or add that courier expense straight onto the job.

See our ‘Adding expenses to a job’ article in the Streamtime knowledge base for more information on capturing costs.

Change of scope, client amendments and charging for extras

How many times do you make a “really quick change” at your client’s request? How many times do you charge these changes onto your client? If the answer is rarely or never, you should reconsider. You are undervaluing your time by not charging these on to the client, and according to the The Wow Company‘s survey results, you could also be losing out on potential profit.

In Streamtime, we recommend sending a revised quote to your client if the scope of the job changes. This way you’re being totally transparent with your client about the additional charges, so there will be no surprises come invoice time.

Our knowledge base article, ‘How can I capture & invoice client amendments’ provides further information on how to effectively do this in Streamtime.

Reviewing your jobs

The best thing you can do to increase your profitability is to review your jobs regularly, not just after they’ve been invoiced, when it’s potentially too late. There are several ways you can review your jobs in Streamtime.

The financial overview screen in Streamtime is a great way of seeing all figures associated with a series of jobs. This view shows what was quoted, your job costs (time and orders), the value of your time and orders, what was invoiced, as well as your Gross Margin (invoiced less costs) and Gross Profit (invoiced less supplier costs).

If you want to focus on individual jobs, the JCR (Job Cost Report) in Streamtime allows you to review each individual cost on a job, and check whether they’ve been invoiced or where you could reduce costs.

If you’re a Streamtime user you have already taken the first step in increasing your company’s profitability. You can get more tips from our blog or feel free to contact our team for advice or take advantage of the remote training that’s included in your Streamtime subscription. To book remote training email training@streamtime.net.

Other articles in this series:

How to increase your agency’s profitability: step 1 pricing
How to increase your agency’s profitability: step 2 measuring profit


Danielle Wilson loves her job. In fact you won’t come across anyone more enthusiastic to help customers work more effectively and efficiently. She is very passionate about the environment and Bloody Marys. Just don’t try and serve her fast food from a multi national!

Best Design Awards – Streamtime are announced as finalists

We’re absolutely chuffed to announce that Streamtime Web is a finalist in the 2015 Best Design Awards, an initiative of The Designers Institute of New Zealand.

Streamtime Web is project management for creative studios, and we’re finalists in the best interactive design, applications category.

Congratulations and thanks to our awesome design and development team: Cam, Aaron, Pius and Kevin for making this all possible.

If you haven’t already, try Streamtime Web for yourself.

Podcast: Ross Floate & Josh Kinal on dressing for success

For this episode of Streamtime radio we’re in the studio with the impeccably dressed Ross Floate and Josh Kinal from Floate Design Partners. We discuss their approach to solving problems, working with Clover Moore, meeting Gene Simmons and how Josh loves doing timesheets.

If you’re fans of The Nudge, you’re going to enjoy this podcast. Warning: Parental guidance recommended.

Like this podcast? You can find other insightful episodes on iTunes or at streamtimeradio.simplecast.fm

The evolution of Streamtime support

Providing exceptional support has been a key value from the early days at Streamtime. Making each individual Streamtime user better at their jobs, and helping them become experts as effortlessly as possible is a vision we try to apply to each client interaction.

We are constantly looking at ways to improve this experience, so we recently spent some time reviewing our current process, where it could improve and what things we wanted to change. After long discussions with our team, review of our support metrics, investigation of the more successful support interactions and a look at how other organisations who provide great support work, we decided to remove the option for inbound phone support – effectively guiding our clients to a brand new support landing page.

From a client perspective, no longer being able to call us seems like step in the wrong direction. We don’t see it that way and here’s why:

Our metrics show that Monday mornings, Wednesdays and Thursdays are the busiest times for support. At these times, it was common for all of us to be on the phones which meant callers getting our voicemail system – not a great experience.

Some of our staff have naturally gravitated towards certain areas of Streamtime and become experts in that area. Having that expert answer your specific question means the question is answered, a clear explanation provided and what steps to avoid in future discussed. Our contact page will get all our client questions to those experts in the quickest way possible.

• This change does not mean you will never speak to us. We recognise that for more in-depth questions, a phone call is best. So the best person will be responding to certain questions via a phone call, on average within minutes of receiving your request.

Things go wrong in every piece of software in the world. Fixing those problems efficiently is vital. Having all questions come through into the one area means that our entire company have eyes on the requests. Everything is automatically logged and, if required, easily passed to development. This means faster resolution, and allows us to see trends which highlight troublesome areas.

 Our metrics also show that the majority of questions asked over the phone were training questions (our support is a mix of technical and ‘how to’). Often, scheduling a session with a trainer provides a better understanding of the area. Being able to differentiate between those two questions means our clients are not being ‘handballed’ to different people in the quest for an answer.

We want our support to continue to separate us from our competitors and help more individual users become experts. We believe that this change will allow us to provide a far more consistent support experience for all our clients, getting the answers they need faster.

How to get the best from your creatives

Every studio has one, a creative diva, that Eyeore type that grumbles and moans about every task, hates whatever they are doing, yet doesn’t really do anything about it.

Why are they like this? Well, they do live in a daily environment of design by committee, where they constantly get told to change, change, change their masterpiece – until it’s diluted down enough to meet the client’s satisfaction.

Everyone has a design opinion and creatives feel this more than most, as theirs usually sits at the bottom of the heap. When looking at the situation this way it’s actually quite easy to understand why they feel stifled and frustrated.

Yet unlike a portion of other designers who ‘drop the baby’ and allow the client to do whatever they like, just to get it out the door and move on – these ones don’t. Their incessant bellyaching drives everyone around them wild but it’s actually a sign that their passion still lies beneath, a sign of suppressed creativity.

So what are the keys to engaging these people and making the environment painless for everyone?

1. Allow them to be unproductive – to do the absurd and fail. Innovation comes from experimentation and exploring outside the parameters. Expect the costs that come along with this but in the long run it will be cheaper than losing clients through not staying ahead of the game.

2. Don’t constrain them – performance will be better if they’re allowed to work autonomously. Don’t force them to follow unnecessary processes or hover over them, asking what they’re doing or how they’re doing it. Creatives are easily distracted so keep them away from emails, IMs and phone calls. In short, don’t interrupt the creative process. Allowing them to work outside normal hours is also beneficial as they will often prefer to be left alone.

3. Don’t criticise the bad ideas – Make them feel important. Creatives are used to criticism but it often cuts deeper than you think; they can often feel crushed. Not noticing that special effort spent on a job will do you no good, as their opinion will be verbalised and bad energy can affect the whole team. Be lavish with the praise but also be sincere about it.

4. Consider carefully before allowing them to manage others – your most talented creatives may be wonderful at their jobs but this certainly does not mean they should be managing others. Actually it’s rare that natural innovators have good leadership skills, (a number of extremely successful business owners have identified their own leadership deficits and brought in others to make up for it, Mark Zuckerberg for one). A study showed that the most talented creatives also exhibit psychological characteristics such as being rebellious, being independently motivated and low in empathy.  All can inhibit them from being effective leaders.

Understanding what really makes your creative divas tick will help you to build an environment where they can flourish and truly allow their brilliance to shine.

Image courtesy of Bryant Arnold.


Becca Stevens wants to live in a world where clients stick to the initial brief and designers go home on time. As a Studio Manager, she’s been subjected to all kinds of job juggling, patience testing and deadline moving situations. When she’s not training other agency folk how to use Streamtime to harness the chaos, you can find her poking around antiques and vintage places, finding curiosities to treasure. 

Podcast: Rhys Gorgol on the importance of collaboration

For episode 03 of Streamtime Radio we’re in the studio with the delightful Rhys Gorgol, Creative Director at The Company You Keep. We talk about the importance of collaboration, standing behind the value of design and trusting your instinct.

Like this podcast? You can find other insightful episodes on iTunes or at streamtimeradio.simplecast.fm

Is collaboration good for business? An agency view

According to The Wow Company’s 2015 Benchpress Review of the UK’s independently-owned agencies, 47% have committed to strategic alliances with other agencies in the coming year.

Forming relationships with someone originally thought of as a competitor can feel uncomfortable. Guest blogger, Ruth Kent gives her thoughts and experiences on this tricky but potentially lucrative approach to growing business.

While it’s true that inter-agency partnerships come in a variety of ‘flavours’, the most common set-up is where one ‘leads’ and the other ‘supplies’. It’s this arrangement that we’re going to explore here.

To start here are the possible benefits for each agency and, of course, the client.


Possible Lead Agency Benefits

• Access to niche/specialist skills/expertise within the supplier

• The supplier agency is an agency too, so can ‘hit the ground running’ and scale steep learning curves quickly and successfully.

• The supplier agency can be relied upon when time is tight or when internal resources are already fully engaged, thus enabling the lead agency to offer uninterrupted service to their client.

• A supplier agency is a more flexible and less risky ‘turn off and on’ alternative to growing in-house capabilities/teams.

• Partnership with a supplier agency enables the lead agency to offer a fuller range of services.

• There’s often an opportunity for ‘mark up’ on the supplier agency’s rates.

• The supplier agency can become a very useful, knowledgeable ‘trusted advisor’ to the lead agency.

• Partnering with the right supplier agency can enhance the lead agency’s overall reputation.


Possible Supplier Agency Benefits

• Access to desirable clients via the lead agency and the chance to ‘grow the portfolio’.

• Possibility of lower project/client acquisition costs (the lead agency can often be less demanding re: new business proposal requirements, for example).

• Lead agencies can make very good ‘repeat customers’.


Possible Advantages for Clients

• Ease of management of a variety of skillsets (especially if the lead agency is the primary point of contact, filtering down to the supplier agency).

• Good agency partnerships mean cohesive/consistent work – especially from a brand perspective.

• Agencies can ‘educate’ one another in their respective specialism/offerings, thus generally driving up standards.

• The whole ‘two heads are better than one’ aspect of bringing partner agencies together – leading to better ideation.

• A little ‘healthy competition’ between partner agencies can enhance execution and end results.

• Scope for cost saving opportunities.


But what are the issues you might experience and how do you avoid them?

• It’s possible that agencies may be unable to align successfully because of their differences (values, culture, processes, etc). Agency partners can avoid this with one or more mutual ‘credentials and chemistry’ workshops, before the partnership is put into practice. We’d advise socialising with one another too!

• There might be a disconnect in the general quality of each agency’s output. Again, getting to know one another is an invaluable first step here. You’ll soon get the measure of the output of your potential partner agency.

• Clashes of ego! The easy way to inoculate against this is to have clearly defined roles/responsibilities across the inter-agency partnership and also to avoid ‘doubling up’ on roles.

• The possibility of messy communication and confusion. Avoid this by using the right collaboration tools and communication techniques, along with clearly defined roles/responsibilities. This should all be nailed down before the agency partnership becomes a working one.

This post has been a quick jaunt through the likely workings of an inter-agency relationship. There are pros and cons to any relationship you might form but for Contra it has been a success on a number of levels.

Take heed of their sage advice and you’ll hopefully see why 2015 is the year of collaboration.
Ruth Kent is Client Partner at the multi-award winning creative agency Contra.

Image courtesy of The Wow Company.

Agency Management: Five top tips for how to boss it!

My experience in various studio management roles and later operations taught me it doesn’t matter how big or small your agency is; besides running a profitable studio, you will also be expected to be all things to all people and your feet are unlikely to touch the ground for more than two minutes at any given moment.

This is why a solid infrastructure is your best friend and can mean the difference between leaving work with a smile on your face or a massive headache. Here are my five top tips:-

1. Equipment
Ensure your team have the necessary tools to do the job; nothing worse for a designer than a Mac with insufficient memory that keeps crashing ahead of a tight deadline. This leads to frustration, missed deadlines and will impact your profit margin.

2. File storage
Get a pre-defined file structure in place for all projects files; if your team are unable to quickly locate job assets, it will cost your agency money. A good example of this would be  Date > Client name > Job number/name. This also makes your annual archiving  a less daunting task. A shared drive on a rock solid internal server will minimise downtime from service dropout.

3. Organisational Chart
It is important that everyone knows who is responsible for what and who reports to whom. A transparent chain of command makes communication more efficient, which in turn makes your agency more efficient (and profitable). It’s particularly important that your Project/Account Managers are reliably communicating client feedback to your creatives; poor communication makes more work for everyone.

4. Studio workflow
Develop a considered and practical process for managing jobs in-house; it should be simple but structured. Think about what happens once a new project comes into the studio; how does this get communicated to the studio? Don’t forget the number one thing that frustrates creatives; a job without a brief. The brief should clearly define the project expectations and constraints (description, budget, deadline etc).  Consider introducing  job management software; this will help with the structure and management of workflow as well as providing a central go to place for all concerned with that job.

5. The right team
Having the right team in place is the deal breaker for any agency; for example a good digital project manager can mean the difference between a website build running to schedule and within budget (increased profit margins), to it losing you lots of money.

Studio Management is all about the behind the scenes stuff with none of the glamour of pitch winning and client schmoozing; but if you can make the studio the most productive it can be, with the least amount of pain to your team, then that is certainly something.

Podcast: Simon Hipgrave on the joys of the letterpress

For this episode of Streamtime Radio we’re in the studio with Simon Hipgrave Founder and Creative Director of The Hungry Workshop. We talk about the challenges of starting a business, the joys of the letterpress and printing with Vegemite.

Like this podcast? You can find other insightful episodes on iTunes or at streamtimeradio.simplecast.fm

Alternatively, if you’d prefer to read Simon’s insights, here’s an edited transcript of our conversation.

It started with a passion

Kye: I cannot tell you how excited I actually am to be here, you guys can’t see this but we are surrounded by the printing presses and I am just in heaven. So, I guess I just wanted to start with, what drove you to start this business?

Simon: It started off as a hobby really, as a passion project. We had a neighbour who was venturing up to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, we lived in Brisbane at the time and she would go up and do letter press printing at an old historical village. Jenna got talking to her and it sounded interesting to her so Jenna started going up as well. Jenna and I, we have a creative background we both studied design and she was working at a design studio at the time and I was working at an ad agency. She would go up every weekend. It was the kind of place where they had an old dairy, where they had all the old machinery and there was an old engineering shop where they would fix up trucks and things like that and then they had the old print shop. The old print shop was the only place there that was really, really kind of humming along. I used to rip on Jenna a little bit and ask if she had to speak in the Old English when she was there. I didn’t really get it.

She coaxed me into going up one weekend and I went into this print shop, it was a little tin shed in rural Brisbane, out of skirts Brisbane and it was just humming, the whole place was full of machinery from floor to ceiling and these two old retired printers, Ken and Bob, were in there and they were really passionate about what they were doing. They would just print and they would teach anybody who was willing to learn and kind of pass on their art, their life’s work. They were very contagious people.

Kye: That sounds amazing!

Simon: Yeah, it was really, really good. So, Jenna invited me up and I came up and had a look around. They showed us some of the equipment, we got printing. We started going up every Saturday, then we started going up every Saturday and Sunday, then we started going up in the evenings and we got a bit carried away with it. It was just a hobby forever and like I said the shed was full of equipment and one day as we were leaving, they were like, “You guys really like this printing stuff, don’t you?” and we said, “Yeah,” and they said, “Would you like one of these printing presses, we’ve got too many.”

“We started going up every Saturday, then we started going up every Saturday and Sunday, then we started going up in the evenings and we got a bit carried away with it.”

Kye: No way!

Simon: Yeah, so we laughed and left and kind of joked to ourselves, wouldn’t that be crazy, if we got a printing press what would we do with it, where would we go, where would we put it, because we lived in a little two bedroom apartment and the printing presses are one and half tons. We had nowhere to put it, so we just kind of laughed it off, and then in the morning we thought actually we should do this and two weeks later we had a crane truck lowering this printing press into my parents living room, which was much more accessible then our two bedroom apartment, and told them it would only be two weeks,it was there for a while. Yeah, that’s kind of how it all got started, we started from this offer of this printing press and we thought you know what we could do this, make a job out of it.

Kye: So, then the move to Melbourne, how did that come about?

Simon: Yeah, so, we had been kind of working our jobs for a while and we had just gotten married and we kind of already had set in our minds that we were going to do something else. Initially it was going to be a move to the US where Jenna is from and the GFC happened and it kind of kyboshed those plans. So, we were mentally prepared to leave and try something else. So, when we decided to start the Hungry Workshop. We thought, “Look let’s do that somewhere else, let’s do it in Melbourne.” So we kind of started the business and moved all at the same time. It took us about eight to twelve months to get down here and get up and running properly but it was a really good journey.

Kye: That’s an amazing story. Did you just originally start it to be a letter press business or was the design side always going to be a part of it?

Simon: Yeah, the design side’s super important to what we do. Part of the joy that we first discovered when we were up there printing was getting the design project, your own creative work, your own idea, you’ve designed it, you’ve put a lot of thought and effort into it and then actually going and producing that and it was that complete picture that really lit us up, from a design perspective…from an advertising perspective where I was working at an agency, it was a reasonable sized agency. We’d spend months and months and months and thousands of dollars and there would be arguments and there would be tears and people would be turning grey and it would all boil down to 30 seconds of airtime.

“There is something really physical and tactile about getting back to basics of just producing something that you printed yourself or designed yourself and having a hand in manufacturing it.”

It was so intangible at the end of it. It was a really fun process and I really, really loved working in that industry but there is something really physical and tactile about getting back to basics of just producing something that you printed yourself or designed yourself and having a hand in manufacturing it. The design is really important and we love design, that’s kind of why we moved to Melbourne because there are so many great studios to work with down here. We get really excited when we see other people’s design, we get really excited about having a hand in bringing that stuff to life. I think, the design is just as important as the making.


Kye: When you collaborate with other design studios and they come in with their work, is there ever a case of envy? Do you ever say, “Oh, I wish I had done something that”?

Simon: All the time, that’s kind of what gets us excited. We love working with guys like TCYK and Rhys. Everything they send our way usually blows us away. I think that’s the other half of the reason to get up in the morning, is to see all this work before anybody else gets to see it and work with people we admire and…

Kye: Bring it all to life…

Simon: Yeah.

Kye: When it comes to clients, are you choosy? Do you take whoever comes along? Do you have a particular kind of client you are trying to attract?

Simon: Look, with the way that we print…letter press printing is really labor intensive, it requires a lot of resources to do it properly. It’s not the cheapest way of producing stuff. The work that we get is naturally people’s best work. They’ve got a client that they love, they’ve put a lot of thought and effort into the design. They really want to finish a project with a super high level of attention to detail and finishing and make it look fantastic. So, you naturally get clients who are really driven and really excited about their projects, so they are a good quality client, usually.

Kye: I guess when a client comes to you, they have their final product vision of it and how it’s going to look and stuff. Do they quite often know what kind of stock they want to use and things like that or is that where you guys can come in and…?

Simon: Yeah, we help them with that. There’s stocks and design for letter press printing which work really, really nicely. One of the beauties of letter press printing is the fact that it’s just such a simple process. It’s just relief printing so you get a reverse image and that’s converted into a raised plate, that plate is inked and pressed into the paper. It’s like a giant stamping machine. So, what that means is, we can feed any paper through the press, it works off a flat bed, so the paper doesn’t go around a roller. So we can print on 1200 gram box board all the way down to super thin paper like the yellow pages. We can print on anything, which is quite fun. I think you can be expressive with the paper that you choose. We did a project on yellow pages which was fun. We’ve done projects where we’ve got children’s storybooks and cut the spines off and fed that paper through the press. You can be really experimental with that as well.

Printing with Vegemite and wine

Kye: Tell me about the Vegemite.

Simon: Vegemite that was a really great project. A friend of mine who I used to work with at Brisbane was working down here at an ad agency and we kind of collaborated on the job to print with Vegemite for Vegemite. It was a really great job. Again, that’s another one of the advantages of this process is that the ink goes in an inkwell up the back, there’s no propriety cartridges, anything that’s kind of inky and gooey, you can put it in the inkwell and give it a crack. So, we’ve printed with Vegemite, which was super fun and a real kind of bucket list project and we’ve also printed with wine before. We’ve boiled wine down and created an inky kind of substance, so that’s always good fun to experiment with that kind of stuff.

Learning the business of the business

Kye: Okay, so you and Jenna are designers, from a design background, you were working for other people and you started this business. Did you find the business side of things challenging to stay creative, you want to do all these amazing things, but you’ve got a business to run?

Simon: Yeah, totally. The business side of things was definitely challenging, it was something that we had to learn as we went. We are really fortunate to have found a really great kind of management consultant. It was really funny we were actually printing up business cards for a guy called John Calabro from The View from Here. He’s a really fantastic designer, he designed these cards and sent the job to us. We were printing them and literally the card was coming off the press and I picked it up, read the card and was like, “I need to call this lady,” and I called her up. So, she’s been very helpful with all sorts of management duties and helps us understand the business side of things.

“There’s a vast difference between having worked with people and worked in teams than there is to working with people and managing teams and managing people.”

There is absolutely a huge learning curve. Like I said before, there’s a vast difference between having worked with people and worked in teams than there is to working with people and managing teams and managing people. So yeah, it’s definitely been a learning curve. I think we’re kind of fortunate that Jenna and I have different skill sets and different approaches. We’re both from the creative industry, the creative field, but my experiences with our direction was more conceptual big picture stuff. I worked in a team where we had finished artists and designers, so I could do the rough, get it down and send it off. Whereas Jenna was working in a really small studio that was about four or five people there and had to do things like spell check their documents, which I often neglected to do. Jenna is much more detail-oriented and I’m much bigger picture, which means we’re not always fighting to do the same sort of tasks. She’s always kind of had a penchant for filling out forms and admin stuff so she took control of most that stuff, which was really fantastic.

Kye: Do you have any advice for people that might be wanting to start up and progress…you know they might just be a sole trader for now but down the track they might get a bit busier and might only ever be two of them but it’s still a business that they’ve got to run.

Simon: Yeah, I think take it slow, that would be my advice, take it slow and don’t over capitalise.

The future of AGDA

Kye: Yourself and Jenna are involved in AGDA. I deal with AGDA from time to time and I know that funding can be a bit of a problem, they are always looking for sponsorship to put on these amazing talks in the different States, the Biennale and stuff like that. Do you think an organisation like AGDA is still relevant today?

Simon: Yeah, absolutely. Jenna has been on AGDA committee for four or five years straight. She did three or four years in Brisbane and I think a year or two down here in Melbourne. So, we’ve been in and around AGDA for a long time. I believe that it’s an organisation that we desperately need as an industry and I think it’s the kind of thing where the more you put in the more everybody will get out. I think it’s a real community issue. I think if AGDA is doing a bad job then we’re doing a bad job as an industry. I think they are a body that is supposed to represent us and if people think they…I know there was some criticism about their relevance or if they’re doing a bad job or…I think it’s all a reflection of the industry at large and if you’re feeling under represented or under serviced, then get in there and change it, pitch in and help out and do it for everybody.

“It’s an organisation that we desperately need as an industry.”

Kye: I feel like there seems to be so many organisations and things that are just popping up and offering creative talks and creative advice. I feel sort of like there’s a lot of competition at the moment. Every other weekend there seems to be a seminar or something design-like on and they aren’t cheap. Particularly for someone who has just graduated. It fees like today’s creative needs to pick and choose which events they are going to go to. Having said that, I’m from Sydney and I have seen some fantastic talks. I know AGDA Victoria are coming up with a new design business thing in September and that sounds fantastic as well. I just wanted to know from someone who’s been a part of that…

Simon: I think there was a time where AGDA were the only people doing those kind of talks and I think they really paved the way and created the market for them. Now that they do have competition I think their job is done in that space and now they can move on to other stuff. I don’t think they need to be competing with those people. I think AGDA did a really great job in creating that. I’m not saying AGDA shouldn’t do talks, but I’m saying it shouldn’t be their focus. One of big things…you look at other industry bodies and I think AGDA could take a note from the architecture industry, what the architecture industry does to support and control their industry is really, really fantastic. And I think accreditation would be really wonderful just considering how accessible design is becoming, with the proliferation of the tools, the tools are becoming easier to use. To have someone who really puts the time and the effort into to thinking about a brand or thinking about design, thinking about a project, I think accreditation would be really, really valuable and I think that’s potentially the next big challenge for AGDA.

“I’m not saying AGDA shouldn’t do talks, but I’m saying it shouldn’t be their focus.”

Kye: Hopefully they’re up to it, I know they would be.

Simon: Yeah, I know there’s going to be talk about it for some time now but the industry is changing and AGDA needs to change with. It will change if the people who are practicing are involved in it. It will always reflect the people who are involved in it.

Inspiration and mentorship

Kye: What or who inspires you, to get up every day and come in here to create this beautiful work?

“The industry at large in Melbourne is really inspiring, there’s lots of fantastic work being produced.”

Simon: That’s a good question. I don’t know. I think on a day-to-day, current inspiration, I think just the industry at large in Melbourne is really inspiring, there’s lots of fantastic work being produced. We love being involved in it. I get excited about getting emails and seeing artwork before and seeing how we can help people bring it to life. I think mentorship is really important and I’ve had some really fantastic mentors over my career and I always think back to what those guys would do in my situations and they’re always a big inspiration for me, that would be Bob and Ken who taught us how to print. They taught us the right way to do it and then they taught us how to break the rules and kind of push the boundaries with it, which was really fantastic.

Kye: Yeah, mentorship I feel like it’s a very important thing. Not a lot of people are lucky enough to have a good mentor and I think there’s a lot of people out there who would like to mentor people…

“I think there’s always a case for doing work that builds your portfolio but there’s also a case for working in a place that builds you as a person.”

Simon: I think whether you have a formal arrangement or not, everybody has a mentor. Everyone who is in a senior position is essentially a mentor to those who work under them.

Kye: Well, they can be, if they choose to be.

Simon: You either get a good influence or a bad influence. I think it’s really important for people who are starting out in the industry to find a place where they want to work, but particularly find somebody who they want to work with, who they value their opinions of and who feel like they can teach them a lot and kind of grow and improve and be better. I think there’s always a case for doing work that builds your portfolio but there’s also a case for working in a place that builds you as a person and builds your skill set as a wider idea.

Best piece of advice

Kye: Finally, what’s the best piece of advice that you’ve been given?

“Try everything twice.”

Simon: Try everything twice.

Kye: Nice and simple, I like it. That’s a great bit of advice. Well, thank you so much for having us, I could talk to you all day…

Simon: Oh, it’s a pleasure, thank you for coming down.

How much should I be charging my clients?

The rate you charge your clients is the most important calculation you can make for your business, as it plays a key role in your company’s profitability. At the recent Jacky Winter Gives You The Business seminar in Sydney, Linda Jukic, Creative Director at Hulsbosch talked through the key factors to consider when determining your hourly rate.

Step 1 – Calculation
You should start by working out the initial calculation. According to Linda, there are four aspects to take into consideration when working out your hourly rate.

• Labour Costs – salary, super/pension, annual leave, public holidays
• Statutory – payroll taxes, workers compensation, insurance
• Overheads – space, equipment, utilities, materials
• Profit Margins – margin, gain, return

Step 2 – Variation
Once you have worked out the initial calculation, there are a lot of variations to consider. For example, you shouldn’t have one standard rate.

If you have different levels of expertise in your business, don’t charge the same rate for them. Charging out a senior designer at the same rate as a junior, undermines the senior’s experience and talent. Similarly, if you charge a junior out at senior rates, there’s a high probability that the junior will take longer to do the work, therefore potentially taking you over your budgeted hours.

The same principle applies for standard work versus rush jobs. If a client briefs you in the appropriate time frame, then charge them your standard rate. If they expect you to drop everything and turn something around in a near impossible time frame, then you should charge a higher fee or rush rate. This isn’t just compensating you for the potential overtime or the extra staff that may be required to complete the work on short notice, this is also a way to educate your client. Let them know if they want it done fast, then they have to pay a premium. That way they will only ask for rush work in an emergency, and when they do, you will be compensated accordingly.

You should also consider charging different rates for concepts versus corrections. Concepts are your creative ideas and the reason the client has hired you, so you should charge accordingly. So if you charge the same rate for an award winning concept and a small change to some text, the client won’t differentiate between the two. While corrections should definitely be charged for, they should be charged at a lower rate, again educating your clients on the value of the idea.

Other variables to consider when determining your charge out rate:

• Frequency of work
• Length of contract
• Reliability of payments

If a client gives you a lot of work, a lengthy contract or they simply pay their bills on time, that could also be an incentive to reward them with a reduced rate.

Step 3 – Evaluation
Once you have your calculation and you’ve taken into consideration the variations, it’s now time to evaluate. Linda says when evaluating your hourly rate it’s important to think about:

• Who is your audience? – size, scale, standing
• How do you compare? – budget, mid, premium
• What’s your worth? – experience, expertise, effectiveness

When you present a client with your idea and they buy into that idea, that’s where your true value lies. So consider your audience, how you compare and your level of experience and expertise when calculating your rate.

Step 4 – Reconciliation
The final thing to consider is reconciliation. Linda says, “it’s really important to keep timesheets”, and we couldn’t agree more. Timesheets are the foundation to reconciling your hourly rate. You should be tracking your jobs, keeping an eye on estimated time versus actual time and making sure you invoice the time accordingly.

While it’s important that you have value based pricing ($ = Time + Value), Linda’s final bit of advice when working out your charge out rate is, “don’t take advantage, people do talk and it becomes quite apparent that you’re at a higher markup.”

It’s also important to remember, once you have worked out your rates, that you agree to the terms of those rates, especially regarding the number of hours required to do the work.

If you have value based pricing and you manage your client’s expectations, you will have the winning formula for a successful business!

Managing your team in Streamtime

For the final webinar in this series, Streamtime Aces Adam Kensington and Lindsay Schofield show you how to manage your team in Streamtime. They share tips on creating tasks and using Streamtime’s scheduling tools; a must watch for studio managers.

Missed this series of webinars? Don’t worry, you can find our earlier webinars on our website or follow us on vimeo.

We’ll back with a new series of webinars in September.

In the studio: a new Streamtime video series

At Streamtime we’re genuinely interested in our clients and what they do. In this new video series we head into the studios of some truly talented people to discuss design, inspiration and what makes them tick.

First up is Luke Kellett, founder and general nice guy from Headjam. He talks about working in the health and education sectors, and helping their clients push the creative boundaries despite their sometimes limited budgets.

You can hear the full interview with Luke on our podcast Streamtime Radio.

Managing your sales pipeline in Streamtime

In our latest webinar Streamtime Aces Mark Cooper and Lindsay Schofield show you how to manage your sales pipeline in Streamtime. They share CRM tips like managing contacts, creating and managing opportunities and they also share some reports to help you track your progress.

Want more webinars? It’s not too late to register for the last webinar in this series:

Managing your team and their time
In this session we’ll be showing you how to create tasks, use Streamtime’s scheduling tools, track time and report on what your team is spending its time on. A must for studio and account managers.

Wednesday 10 June 3pm GMT. 30 mins

Or you can find some of our earlier webinars on our website.

How to increase your agency’s profitability: step 2 measuring profit

We’ve already shared our tips on pricing and how important that is to your profit. In the second part of our profitability series we are going to share some tips on the tools you need to measure your profit.

The results of The Wow Company’s survey of creative businesses in the UK showed that 18% of companies do not know how much profit they are making. This is alarming. It’s very important that you have steps in place to measure how your business is tracking.

So how do you measure profit? Here are 3 steps to get you started.

1. Work out your billing capacity.
To start, you should work out your billing capacity (your day rate x number of people in your team x days in a month) and then compare it with how much you are actually billing. The results may surprise you.

2. Manage your jobs
If you are a creative business and you want to know how profitable your jobs are, it doesn’t matter if you’re a company of one or 100, project management software is essential. Timesheets, in particular, are one of the most important (and easiest) things you can use to measure profit. By doing timesheets you can ensure you know exactly how much time jobs take, so you can quote and charge your clients accurately and take away the guesswork.

An interesting stat from the survey was the increase in creative companies using project management software from 2013 where it was 53% to 77% in 2015. So don’t be left behind. If your peers are using software to help measure their profit, you should be too.

Below is a selection of the software used by those surveyed to help manage their projects.

If you are in the market for project management software there are plenty of options to choose from, you just need to do some research. Remember: before purchasing software from any company make sure you get a demonstration or give it a test run before purchasing. It’s important you get software that is the right fit for your business.

3. Get the right accounting software
While project management software is there to help you manage your projects, accounting software will show you your true profit and loss. In the past, accounting software has been quite complex and expensive, you may have also needed a degree just to use it. But times have changed, they are now more cost effective and much easier to use.

By far the most popular accounting software for those companies surveyed was Xero. There are other products out there, just do your research and get rid of those spreadsheets.

Having the right tools at hand is important for measuring and increasing your agency’s profitability. For more information check out The Wow Company’s webinar, where Peter Czapp shares some of the results from the 2015 survey.

Slides courtesy of The Wow Company and main image by TaxRebate.org.uk and used under Creative Commons license.

Other articles in this series:

How to increase your agency’s profitability: step 1 pricing
How to increase your agency’s profitability: step 3 the right tools

Streamtime Radio hits the airwaves

We’re very excited to announce the arrival of Streamtime Radio, a series of podcasts where we head into the studio with creative agencies to discuss design and inspiration.

For our first episode we’re chatting with Luke Kellett, founder and general nice guy from Headjam. He dishes the dirt on their creative process, their passions and the Newcastle scene.

You can find us in iTunes or at streamtimeradio.simplecast.fm


Help! I’m new to Streamtime

Are you new to Streamtime? Then our latest webinar is for you. Streamtime Aces Mark Cooper and Adam Kensington share their tips on what Streamtime does and how.

Want more webinars? It’s not too late to register for the remaining webinars in our series:

Creating and managing your sales pipeline in Streamtime
Our training aces will show you how to get more out of the CRM functions of Streamtime. Managing contacts, creating and exporting contact lists, creating and managing opportunities and some reports to help you track progress.

Wednesday 3 June 3pm GMT. 45 mins

Managing your team and their time
In this session we’ll be showing you how to create tasks, use Streamtime’s scheduling tools, track time and report on what your team is spending its time on. A must for studio and account managers.

Wednesday 10 June 3pm GMT. 30 mins

Or you can find some of our earlier webinars on our website.

Happy viewing.

Top tips for financial reporting in Streamtime

In our latest webinar, Streamtime Aces and all round nice guys Michael O’Riley and Miel De Rycke share their tips on financial reporting in Streamtime.

What you’ll get in this Streamtime webinar is a quick overview of invoicing, an explanation of the financial terms we use, a run through of how figures are calculated in Streamtime and we also look at key reports that will help you analyse your data.

You get all that and the smooth voices of Michael and Miel, so what are you waiting for? Watch the webinar now!

Want more webinars? It’s not too late to register for the remaining webinars in our series:

Creating and managing your sales pipeline in Streamtime
Our training aces will show you how to get more out of the CRM functions of Streamtime. Managing contacts, creating and exporting contact lists, creating and managing opportunities and some reports to help you track progress.

Wednesday 3 June 3pm GMT. 45 mins

Managing your team and their time
In this session we’ll be showing you how to create tasks, use Streamtime’s scheduling tools, track time and report on what your team is spending its time on. A must for studio and account managers.

Wednesday 10 June 3pm GMT. 30 mins

Or you can find some of our earlier webinars on our website.

Happy viewing.

4 tips for managing client expectations

One of the many highlights of the recent Jacky Winter Gives You The Business seminar in Sydney was a session with Bianca Bramham on Managing Client Expectations. Bianca had some great advice on how to create harmonious relationships with clients. Here are our key takeaways.

1. Define the brief
When taking a brief from a client it’s your responsibility to ask questions and clarify it. Where possible take the brief in person or over the phone, never via email. Speaking with a client allows you to build a rapport and Bianca says, “it will help minimise the risk of misunderstandings.” Once you’ve taken the brief make sure you relay it back to the client. This is your chance to work out any misunderstandings, but also it shows the client that you’ve heard what they’ve asked for, you’ve gained their trust.

2. Define the scope
Be clear with what is involved to complete the brief, in particular make sure you cover the specific conditions around your estimate. How may revisions are included? What are your payment and cancellation terms? Most importantly, put it all in writing and get the client to provide written approval. You don’t want to do all the work and be out of pocket.

3. Define the process
There’s a chance the person you are dealing with has no idea how long things take in the creative process. Spell it out for them by guiding them through your process and how long each step will take. Bianca calls it “bringing your client on a journey of your creative process.” By doing this they become part of the process and it will be a much more harmonious relationship going forward.

4. Define the schedule
When defining the schedule it’s important to not only think about how much time you need to complete the job but also how much time the client may need to get you feedback and approval. Discuss this with your client and be clear about what you need from them. Remember your client is just as busy as you are. Once you’ve completed the schedule, go through all the key dates and make sure they are comfortable meeting their deadlines. This gives them accountability.

Other things to help the process run more smoothly:

• Communicate what can and can’t be changed once you move onto the next stage.

• Ask for consolidated feedback, there’s nothing worse than getting feedback in dribs and drabs. If there is more than one stakeholder, tell the client you require all the feedback at once.

Communication is key to managing client expectations. Be clear and upfront and you’ll have a better, more collaborative working relationship with your client. Bianca summed it up best when she said, “by investing in time upfront, you give yourself the space and the freedom to do what you do best.” We couldn’t agree more.

How to increase your agency’s profitability: step 1 pricing

Every year our friends at The Wow Company run a survey so creative businesses in the UK can benchmark themselves against their peers. The results for the 2015 survey have been released and Wow’s Peter Czapp shared some of their findings in a recent webinar. Here we share Peter’s tips on pricing and how it can help your business to be more profitable.

Should I be increasing my prices?
Pricing is a key component to running a profitable business. 51% of companies surveyed plan on increasing their prices in 2015, which is a wise move. Think about it, suppliers are not reducing their rates, utilities and rent aren’t going down either. Peter says, “if you’re not increasing your prices regularly then your margins are getting squeezed.” So if you’re part of the 49% that won’t be increasing your prices this year, that could have serious impact on your profit.

How much should you be charging? 
To increase profit it’s important to look at your charge out rate. The survey showed the average charge out rate in the UK is £86 per hour. If your hourly rate is below the average in your region, then you should consider increasing your prices.

Sure a competitor may have a lower charge out rate, but are they providing the same quality of work and service?  As the saying  goes “you get what you pay for”, so don’t sell yourself short. Do your research, calculate your cost rate and outgoing expenses to work out the correct charge out rate for your business.

How should you be charging?
When surveyed, 45% of companies said they used fixed pricing. While this can be quite a profitable way of charging, you can also lose out if you do not scope your jobs properly.

Scope is very important when it comes to how you charge your clients. Remember to take everything into consideration. What might seem like a lucrative job to begin with might not be so lucrative after you’ve spent many additional hours completing the work. As Benjamin Franklin said “time is money”, if you put in the time, you deserve to be paid for it.

Should you charge for extras?
In a nutshell, hell yes! The survey results showed that 57% often or always charge for extras and the remaining 43% rarely or never.

Again remember what our friend Benjamin Franklin said. If you spend the time making amendments these should be charged for.

If you manage a client’s expectations and communicate clearly with them at the very beginning of the job, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise when you charge them for something outside the original scope.

Peter did some further analysis on this and found that there’s a correlation between charging for extras and profit, with those that charged often for extras making 10% more profit, than those that rarely do.

So if you’re in the 43% that rarely or never charge for extras that’s something to think about.

Pricing plays a massive role when it comes to profit. Our advice, look carefully at your rates and the way you charge your client, that could make all the difference.

Slides courtesy of The Wow Company.

Other articles in this series:

How to increase your agency’s profitability: step 2 measuring profit
How to increase your agency’s profitability: step 3 the right tools




The work around the work

We post about timesheets quite a bit around here, but here’s a slightly different take on timesheets from our friends at Floate. In his article for Dear Design StudentRoss Floate talks about the “work around the work” being the actual work. In other words, the design work that you do is only part of your job.

We have a strange saying at Floate, “The work around the work is the work.” By that we mean that timesheets, meetings, phone calls, conversations in Basecamp or any of a million other things are part of the fabric of what we do. This work around the work comes with the territory and get ready for this one crazy thing they didn’t tell you in design school — if you are bad at this stuff then you are bad at your job. Period.

Have a read of “Q: Do I really have to do all of this paperwork? Can’t I just, you know, design?

We’re back with a new series of Streamtime webinars

Following on from the success of last year’s series, Streamtime’s fantastic webinars are back. These sessions will be focussed on diving deeper into Streamtime’s features, helping you understand how it all works and how to get more out of it.

Presented by our very own Streamtime Aces, this will be the perfect opportunity to sharpen your skills, pick up some handy hints and tips and ask any burning questions of our experts.

Best of all these sessions are free. So what are you waiting for? Register today!

Gaining better financial views in Streamtime
In this webinar we’ll cover a quick overview of invoicing, explain some of the financial terms we use, how figures are calculated and step you through a few key reports to help analyse your data.

Thursday 21st May 2:30pm GMT. 45 mins

New to Streamtime
In this webinar we’ll give a brief overview of what Streamtime does and how. We’ll show you how quotes, tasks, jobs and time entries are related and the reports you can use to get more out of this information.

Wednesday 27 May 3pm GMT. 45 mins

Creating and managing your sales pipeline in Streamtime
Our training aces will show you how to get more out of the CRM functions of Streamtime. Managing contacts, creating and exporting contact lists, creating and managing opportunities and some reports to help you track progress.

Wednesday 3 June 3pm GMT. 45 mins

Managing your team and their time
In this session we’ll be showing you how to create tasks, use Streamtime’s scheduling tools, track time and report on what your team is spending its time on. A must for studio and account managers.

Wednesday 10 June 3pm GMT. 30 mins

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Note: These webinars will be run from our London office (GMT). If you can’t tune in don’t worry, we’ll also be recording these sessions and posting them to our website.

The wonderful world of Wes… in a bar

Here at Streamtime, we’re big fans of Wes Anderson, so imagine our delight when we discovered that he has designed a bar.

Complete with formica tables, a juke box and a Steve Zissou pinball machine, Bar Luce is part of the Fondazione Prada, Prada’s new art and culture complex in Milan.

This isn’t the first time Wes has worked with Prada. If you haven’t seen them already, check out the short films Castello Cavalcanti and Candy, both done for the fashion house.

Agency: a satirical web-series about advertising and stuff

If you’ve ever worked in the creative industry (and if you’re reading this blog then you probably do) get some Agency playing on your iDevice right now! It’s “a satirical web-series about advertising and stuff” made by some awesome folks down in New Zealand. They’ve got 3 episodes out to view now, with a bunch more to come.

Watch the first episode below, or check out the rest here.

3 steps to accurate timesheets

We’re often asked what is the best way to get staff to do their timesheets. The other day, I took a call from a client asking how they could force their staff to enter a minimum of eight hours every day in Streamtime. What they wanted was a way for Streamtime to prevent staff from doing anything in the software until their timesheets for the day were completed.

This question isn’t uncommon and certainly not irrational. Like all feature requests we have given this our consideration, but we have decided against it and here’s one of the reasons why.

Kye, from our Sydney office, used to work at an agency that was really strict on timesheets. By 5pm Monday, all timesheets for the previous week were to be completed. No excuses, three strikes and you’re out! So what happened? Come Monday afternoon 4pm people would start to panic about last week’s timesheets and they would just add time to random jobs – anything to get to the required 40 hours. As a result of this strict policy, they found time was often added to the wrong jobs, totally defeating the purpose of timesheets.

This company scared staff into a panic mode, which resulted in unreliable timesheets. While other companies can be a bit too relaxed in their approach, resulting in incomplete timesheets. We discuss timesheets every day with our clients and we have discovered there’s an art to getting accurate timesheets from your staff. Here we share the three steps we believe will get you results.

• Educate your staff
There is a lot of animosity towards timesheets, people tend to think it’s their boss’s way of keeping tabs on them. There are plenty of reasons to do timesheets, that you can share with your staff. However it’s really important to communicate clearly with them and be totally honest. Be transparent about the finances of individual jobs. You don’t have to share all of the details, hand pick the jobs that best illustrate how much money was (potentially) lost by not completing timesheets. Don’t just point fingers at those who caused the problem, open their eyes to the common goal of your agency and make everyone part of the solution.

• Make it easy for them
Since time entry is such an important part of a designer’s day, give them a simple and flexible way to enter time. Most solutions these days allow staff to time work as they go via a phone, tablet or their desktop. If they don’t have time at the office, they can enter time on the go or at home. If you invest in a system, that has that flexibility, there can be no more excuses.

• Give them an incentive
Arguably paying someone a salary should be enough incentive, but sometimes staff need a little extra push. There’s two roads you can go down with an incentive, reward or shame. JWT Brazil reward their staff with the beer fridge while Razorfish shame timesheet offenders by posting their photos in the building’s lobby. Our advice? Have a little fun with it and make timesheets part of your company culture, you’ll definitely start to see results.

We’d love to hear how you get your staff to do timesheets.

Effortless time entry with Streamtime

Today we released an update to Streamtime on the web that makes time entry even more effortless. In fact we’ve made it so easy to enter time you don’t even need to use your mouse!

Use the up and down arrows to browse through weeks, and use the left and right keys to move back and forward days. Hitting ‘t’ will return you to today’s date. Once you’re on the day you need, selecting ‘n’ on your keyboard will create a brand new time entry where you can tab through the fields, type in what you need and searching as you go, and then finally just hit enter to save your time entry. It really is that simple.

A full run down of these new features can be seen in the video below.

If you’re not already a customer of ours why not try Streamtime on the web for yourself.

If you’re already a Streamtime subscriber and want to use Streamtime on the web, our knowledge base has all the information you need to get this up and running, or you can always give our support team a call for assistance. We’d love to help get this in your hands.

Remember with Streamtime on the web you can enter time from anywhere anytime.

Rainworks: Street Art that only appears when it’s wet

Peregrine Church has created a form of Street Art that will only activate when it is wet, or raining.

Rainworks is the brainchild of Peregrine’s imagination. He uses a super hydrophobic substance which he then stencils onto the sidewalks around Seattle. Once that substance gets wet, the artwork is revealed. Perfect for a place like Seattle, where there is a high chance of rain all year round.

He figured since it is always going to rain, why not do something fun with it? Why not use this as a chance to brighten someone’s day?

What a great sentiment. Let’s hope we start to see Rainworks popping up in other cities around the world soon.

Until then, see Rain.Works for locations of his artwork around Seattle.

Friday Inspiration: Great title sequences

Like most people I’m looking forward to the return of Mad Men to our screens. It’s been part of my life for the last eight years and with every new season I get that buzz of excitement.

But what drew me in in the first place? Being an ex “Ad Gal” I was interested to see Matthew Weiner‘s take on the Madison Avenue advertising executives of the 50′s & 60′s, but it was the opening title sequence that got me hooked.

Never before had I seen anything so simple yet so elaborate for the opening titles of a TV show. The mesmorising spin of the fan, the subtle shift of the trouser leg, and that stomach turning free fall. It was so elegant in its execution, it totally blew me away.

Main title sequence for ‘Mad Men’, produced & created by Imaginary Forces. Editorial by Caleb Woods.

Of course these days we’re used to seeing titles that mirror the quality of the show, True DetectiveHouse of Cards and Breaking Bad come to mind. But this opening title sequence created by Steve Fuller and Mark Gardner and produced by Imaginary Forces was something totally new for the times. Matthew Weiner’s vision of a man trying to find himself was perfectly executed by Fuller, Gardner and their team.

For full details on how this beautiful sequence came to life check out this wonderful interview with Cara McKenny, Steve Fuller and Mark Gardner by Art of the Title.

I’ll be sad to see the end of Mad Men, but like everyone else I can’t wait to see the final chapter in the lives of Don, Peggy, Roger, Joan and Co.

Beeldr develops custom planning tool through Streamtime API

It’s always awesome to see our clients make the most of their Streamtime solution and even better to see them think outside the box with it. Beeldr are a team of nine people that specialise in brand, design and interaction, who operate out of a floating workspace in Amsterdam. Apart from their great work, we’ve always known them to be a fun bunch of people with just the right amount of crazy.

They’ve been happy users of Streamtime for almost 3 years, but something seemed to be missing for them. “We’d been struggling for a while to determine how to manage our tasks in Streamtime” says Martijn Koek, co-owner of Beeldr. “Each morning, we have a short team meeting, where we look at what’s going on in the studio for that day. Our projects get broken down into tasks, but when we make a website, one task in Streamtime could get broken down in 100 tiny little to dos. So we felt we needed to have better insight into the status of each task. It would allow us to get through our morning meeting quicker and more efficiently.”

After investigating a series of possibilities, they decided to build a custom application, using the Streamtime API. Tasks from Streamtime are now synchronised with a separate mysql database, where they get assigned a status: To Do, WIP, Complete, Test. The extra status level makes it easier to keep track of what’s going on with each of the tasks. It also makes it easier to see who’s working on what and what tasks are still in the backlog (not started). Through a custom web interface, they can consult the workload at any given moment.

The main area shows the scrum board, with all the tasks they are currently working on. Tasks can be dragged and dropped in different columns to assign or change the task’s status. Each tasks showing the Streamtime job number, job name, client name, task/material, estimated time, used time and task notes. Buttons at the top of the page allow to quickly filter the scrum board on staff members.

Another area is to check capacity and shows all staff in the studio and their workload (in hours) for the coming weeks. “With the work we’d already done, it was pretty easy to create this overview, so it was like a bonus. However, when I’m meeting with a client, it does allow me to quickly assess our workload and set expectations for delivery dates”, says Martijn.

The third area is the planning board. It shows a classic calendar, listing each person’s tasks per day.

Keen to create your own tools using Streamtime’s API, then check out our documentation online.

Streamtime is No 1 in the UK: we reveal the secrets of our success

We’re well chuffed that Streamtime is officially the leading project management and time tracking solution for UK creative agencies.

The Agency 2015 Benchpress Survey was conducted by The Wow Company in February 2015 and is the UK’s biggest survey of independently-owned agencies.

So what’s put us at the top of the table? Obviously we have a product that people enjoy using, and that’s something we’ve worked really hard to achieve. However having a great product isn’t the only reason for our success. Here we outline a few of the key ingredients that we believe have helped make us the UK’s leading project management and time tracking solution.

Loving our clients and their work - we spend a lot of time with creatives. We talk to them every day. We attend and sponsor the events they go to. We immerse ourselves in design. We share inspiration via our blog.

Understanding agency culture - we understand that adding time to timesheets isn’t high on a creative’s list of things to do. We make it easy to add time so that the experience is as effortless as possible.

We also have a team of aces that have mostly come from an agency background and have our own inhouse design team.

Helpful but not overbearing - We want our clients to be experts in using our system and will help them in whatever way we can. With dedicated support and training teams on both sides of the globe, we make it easy to get the help they need, when they need it.

We listen - we encourage our users to feedback on their experiences with our product and service. We send a simple yearly survey, offer client reviews and collate feedback from support tickets and calls, this gives us an opportunity to see how clients are using Streamtime. We also encourage users to let us know if there are features they’d like to see included in our development road map. Every feature is considered by our CEO and development team.

All clients are equal - whether you’re a start-up with a couple of employees and growing, or a multinational design agency, we aim to give you the same experience and support. We also understand that needs vary and we adapt our advice and suggestions with this in mind.

We love our team - what makes Streamtime a success is our team of aces. We are very lucky to have a great work culture where the team have a lot of fun together. Whether it’s through organised work events like monthly TeamTime activities, Friday afternoon beers, personal training sessions and trips aboard or impromptu activities like a trip to the cinema after work or making a last minute video for the boss’s birthday, we’re a team that really enjoys hanging out together and we believe that is reflected in our work.

If you’d like to find out more about The Agency 2015 Benchpress Survey, you can view the survey results here.

Streamtime top 2015 creative industry survey. Again!

Streamtime is officially the leading project management and time tracking solution for UK creative agencies for the second year running.

The Agency 2015 Benchpress Survey is the UK’s biggest survey of independently-owned agencies. Conducted by The Wow Company in February 2015, the survey looks at all aspects of a creative business from how many members they have in their team to how much they charge per hour.

We’re delighted with this recognition and special thanks must go to our team who have been working really hard to bring our clients a product they can love.

If you’d like to find out more about The Agency 2015 Benchpress Survey, you can view the survey results here.

Friday Inspiration: JR

There are some of us at Streamtime that have a bit of a crush on JR. You see JR is an artist who owns the biggest art gallery in the world. He’s responsible for amazing projects like Face 2 Face in Israel and Palestine, Wrinkles of the City in Cuba and Women are Heroes in Brazil. He’s a photographer, a film maker, and the man has even done a Ballet!

While all of his work could be considered inspiring, what really stands out for me is the Inside Out Project. In 2011 JR won the TED Prize and with it he created the people’s art project. He said, “I wish for you to stand up for what you care about by participating in a global art project, and together we’ll turn the world inside out.” And just like that, the Inside Out Project was born.

Here JR outlines his plans for the Inside Out Project at TED 2011.

The project has been a huge success worldwide, with people taking up the challenge in places like Tunisia, Taiwan, Nepal and the North Pole. HBO have even made a documentary about it.

JR is someone that’s taken what he loves doing and used that to make a difference. He’s not only shared his incredible talent with the world but he’s encouraged the world to join him and that to me is pretty inspirational.

If you want to be inspired daily by this man, I recommend you follow him on instagram, you won’t be disappointed.


New Feature: Send and approve quotes online in Streamtime

Get in touch with our team of aces to get quoting online!

Send your clients professional looking quotes right from the web in Streamtime. Clients receive quotes instantly when you send them online, and they simply click a button to accept the quote. Add internal messages for your team, and even allow clients to comment and discuss the quote.

So what are you waiting for? It’s free for Streamtime subscribers, and we’ll help you with the setup. Get in touch with our team of aces to get quoting online!

Dublin based illustrator designs limited edition Jameson bottle

When asked by Irish Distillers, Jameson Irish Whiskey to design their fifth annual limited edition bottle, Dublin based illustrator Steve Simpson jumped at the chance.

Steve has been plying his trade for the last 30 years, so how did he feel when he was asked to pitch for the 2015 limited edition bottle?  ”I remember thinking ‘I really, really want this – if I don’t get it, it won’t be because I didn’t put enough effort into trying’. When I won the pitch I was the happiest man in Ireland. I’ve lived here for 25 years and it feels like I’ve been adopted,” he said.

Steve Simpson enjoying the fruits of his labour

Jameson has been brewed in Dublin since 1780 and Steve drew heavily on the themes of the city, with the new label featuring images of famous Dublin landmarks like Trinity College and O’Connell Bridge.

The label also includes illustrations of some Dublin icons, that Steve holds close to his heart. This video, takes a further look at the inspirations behind the design.

Daniel Lundberg, global brand director for Jameson, says: “Jameson is synonymous with its hometown of Dublin – both are steeped in heritage, have infectious, welcoming personalities and are leaders in contemporary craft, so this limited edition bottle is our way of paying homage to this great city.”

The new limited edition bottle is available now.

For all the behind the scenes work that went into this 21 month project, check out Steve’s Behance page.

Images courtesy of Steve Simpson.

Friday Inspiration: Greenpeace campaigns

Can you remember why you became a designer? That joyous day where you realised you could make an actual living out of being creative, the promise that every new day would be filled with fun and inspirational ways to meet new, stimulating briefs – all stuff that made you excited to get out of bed.

Are you still living that dream? I bet the reality for most of you is that dream has been squeezed into an awkward gap inbetween corporate stuffiness and brand guidelines. Well, last week my inspiration was reawakened, I had that feeling again – the one where you are inspired to make a difference, to contribute to something, to give something back, to change the world.

The reason for my inspiration? I was privileged to be able to listen to an incredibly motivational man, John Sauven, the Executive Director of Greenpeace UK. A well known, international environmental charity, famous for their contentious campaigns, purposefully created for maximum impact. Campaigns to cause reaction and more importantly to drive results, results like reducing deforestation figures from 27000 sq kilometres down to 4000 sq kilometres in the last 15-20 years. These staggering results mean Greenpeace are truly a force to be reckoned with.

How did they do it? Did you know that rainforests don’t have any corporate value until companies like Cargill (an international food conglomerate) destroy it to make room to grow soya beans? It was shocking to hear that they seem to have the monopoly on food production and how Greenpeace were able track the supply of soya beans from Cargill’s farms in Indonesia to Liverpool and then into McDonald’s restaurants. Fascinating, but somewhat frightening!

The vastness of this problem meant they needed the help of some of the greatest creative brains in the industry. After launching a campaign that lasted a mere 24 hours, Greenpeace got a call from McDonald’s who then committed to sign an agreement not to touch chickens that were fed on Amazon soya. They are now in the 8th year into the agreement – all of this off the back of a powerful campaign managed by a creative force for good, which not only inspires but causes action!

Similar stories can also be told for giants such as Procter & Gamble, Colgate Palmolive, Johnson&Johnson, Kelloggs, Shell, and Unilever, but the list certainly does not stop there.

This hard hitting video was asking Nestlé to “give rainforests a break” and again the campaign was a huge success.

When was the last time you had complete freedom to create design without boundaries, to be devil’s advocate and deliver a strong, fundamental message? No I can’t remember either, but your luck might be in. In his closing statement, John mentioned that they are always looking for talented creatives to join their team – so what are you waiting for?


Becca Stevens wants to live in a world where clients stick to the initial brief and designers go home on time. As a Studio Manager, she’s been subjected to all kinds of job juggling, patience testing and deadline moving situations. When she’s not training other agency folk how to use Streamtime to harness the chaos, you can find her poking around antiques and vintage places, finding curiosities to treasure. 

How do you get staff to do their timesheets?

Getting staff to do timesheets is not always easy. JWT Brazil have an awesome way to reward their employees for completing their timesheets, by having an electronic lock on the beer fridge, that won’t open until all timesheets are completed.

We’d love to hear how you get your staff to do their timesheets. If you’ve got any tips simply comment below and we’ll share them in a future post.

Image courtesy of JWT Brazil.

‘The dress’ used for anti abuse campaign

In a powerful campaign for the Salvation Army in South Africa, advertising agency Ireland/Davenport have used the hype surrounding ‘the dress‘ to highlight domestic abuse.

For the full story see BuzzFeed News.


We’re sponsoring CreativeMornings London

In 2008, Tina Roth Eisenberg started CreativeMornings, a free breakfast lecture series for the creative community in New York City. Since then the CreativeMorning’s phenomenon has grown to 106 cities worldwide.

We think it’s important to support the creative community, particularly in the cities that we live and work in. Back in November, 2013 when there were only 60 chapters, we teamed up with CreativeMornings Sydney and now we’re proud to announce that we’re also sponsoring CreativeMornings London.

So if you’re lucky enough to have tickets to see environmentalist and executive director of GreenpeaceJohn Sauven speak in London this morning, we’ll see you there. If you missed out this time or would like to know about CreativeMornings in a city near you, then check out the CreativeMornings website for up and coming CreativeMornings.

Vince Vaughn poses for stock photography images

Need a stock image of a business environment, but your client doesn’t want to pay the fees? Well iStock might have just what you’re looking for.

To promote his latest movie, Unfinished Business, Vince Vaughn and his co stars have posed for a series of stock photography images, available for free download from iStock.

So images like “successful applauding executives sitting at the table” (seen above) can be all yours, for free!

Courtesy of Adweek.

Humans in honey

For his latest project Preservation, Blake Little has photographed the human body covered in honey, to produce some truly stunning imagery.

The folks at designboom have more on this fascinating work.

Image © Blake Little.

Friday Inspiration: ImageBrief

Every day when I open a new browser I am greeted with a fantastic, unexpected image from a professional photographer I have never heard of.

Photographer: Allison Achauer

It’s become a little ritual that I look forward to each morning, as the images are varying, quite beautiful and inspire me to view life in a more creative manner.

Photographer: Michelly Rall

The Google Chrome extension I use is called ImageBrief Daily, from ImageBrief.

Photographer: A K Dayton

ImageBrief do not provide your standard stock photography service. Instead those seeking a professional image for a project will submit a brief and budget.

Photographer: Mat Rick

Photographers from around the world in ImageBrief’s network compete for the work. It’s an interesting, fair, simple and sometimes very generous process.

Photographer: Erika Szostak

The by-product of this system is the Google Chrome extension. If you’re looking for a burst of creativity each day, I highly encourage you to look into it.

New in Streamtime Web: Save a quote as a PDF

We’ve just released an update to Streamtime Web, adding more features and improvements to online quoting.

Through Streamtime Web you can now create a PDF of a quote and send that directly to your client.

A full review of this feature can be found in the video below.

If you are not already a customer of ours why not try Streamtime Web for yourself.

If you are already a Streamtime subscriber and don’t have Streamtime Web, our Streamtime knowledge base has all the information you need to set this up, or alternatively give our support team a call for assistance, we’d love to help get this in your hands.

Friday Inspiration: Chie Mihara

Breathtaking – that’s how I would describe a pair of Chie Mihara shoes. Yes shoes are subject to personal taste, but Chie Mihara doesn’t just create shoes, she creates works of art.

Inspired by her Portuguese upbringing and her Japanese culture, Chie has created shoes that are feminine, fun and most importantly comfortable. A combination that can be difficult to get right.

She is also involved in every aspect of the design process. It starts with a sketch, then she hand picks the fabrics and materials making sure everything is the best quality. Every detail is carefully considered.

This video shows Chie and her team in action and gives you a real feel for how much love goes into a pair of Chie’s shoes.

Chie Mihara shows that no matter what you do, as long as you show commitment and passion, the results are bound to be amazing. For me, that is inspiring.

If you want to get your hands on a pair of these beauties, or even just admire them from afar they are available from the Chie Mihara online store. If you’re lucky enough to be in Sydney, check out the spectacular The Cook, His Wife and Her Shoes. Their Chie Mihara range is exclusive to them as they choose the colour combinations and designs personally for their store.


Friday Inspiration: Sons & Co.

Sons & Co. produce stunning work, there’s no question about that. In 2014 they picked up one gold, one silver and five bronze at New Zealand’s Best Awards and three out of four distinctions in the AGDA Design Awards Digital Design category.

But it’s not just their designs that inspire, it is also their philosophy. Speaking at AGDA NSW’s Small Talk in Sydney this week, Tim Kelleher and Matt Arnold delighted the audience with their no BS approach to business and web design.

While website design is what they do, Sons & Co. have chosen not to have a company website. They don’t have a logo, they don’t have stationery and they don’t do social media. Instead they’re all about doing great work for their clients. Matt says, “we may appear amateurish and goofy from the outside, but we put it all in behind the scenes.” As a result, they get most of their clients through word of mouth and that is just the way they like it.

When they get a brief they don’t look at it as website designers and developers, they look at it from a graphic design point of view. Tim says when they design a website they “take stuff out of the browser and ask does it work as a poster etc.”

They also have quite an unusual business philosophy. In a nutshell they:

Only work with clients that are interested in what they do.
This makes for a more harmonious relationship.

Want to be approachable and affordable
Tim and Matt believe that they can do fast, cheap and good work for clients by eliminating unnecessary workshops and meetings.

Say yes to everything that doesn’t matter
By doing this, they believe that when they say no to a client, the client knows they are serious.

Try to be social
Despite being out of their comfort zone, they realise the importance of being social. Matt says, “if you want to work with people you need to start hanging out with them.” They also believe that “if you really want to work with someone, you should just ask them.”

Don’t take themselves too seriously
If you meet Tim and Matt in person it is evident that while they take their work and commitment to clients seriously, they are down to earth, relaxed and unpretentious guys.

When they started Sons & Co. back in 2008, Tim and Matt wanted to create the kind of company that they knew they’d still be running when they were old. With this philosophy towards business and design, it looks like they’ll be in business for a long time indeed.

Money & Clients: Jacky Winter Gives You The Business

Last year we wrote a piece on talking money with clients and why it can be a difficult conversation to have.

If this is something you struggle with then get yourself down to Jacky Winter Gives You The Business this weekend in Melbourne. There you’ll get some great advice from the likes of  Katie Wellbelove, Producer from Grey Melbourne and Sharon McNamara, General Manager at SouthSouthWest who will be discussing the topic How and when do I talk about money with a client? Linda Jukic from Hulsbosch talks about How to determine your hourly rate and if that’s not enough incentive to get you there Maria Amato from Results Management will talk about that all important topic How to get paid on time.

It’s all happening this Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th February and tickets can be purchased here. The added bonus is that it runs from 11am to 4pm each day, which leaves you plenty of time to check out Supergraph (located just across the street), while you’re there.

Remember while you’re in the business of being creative, you also need to eat. This event by the team at Jacky Winter will show you how both is possible.

Photo by Michi Dixon and used under Creative Commons license.

Friday Inspiration: Factory Records

When Factory Records opened it’s doors in 1978, the music industry had never seen anything like it. Not only did the label’s artists enjoy creative freedom but so did the graphic designers that produced the album artwork. Album covers were suddenly stimulating, they had vision, they were beautiful.

Factory famously didn’t worry about budgets or deadlines. Artwork created by Peter SavilleCentral Station Design8vo and the other designers at Factory often used expensive stocks, metallic inks and die cuts in their designs. 7 inch and 12 inch formats had different artwork, even Factory’s numbering system became part of the creative process. Other record labels would never dream of doing this because of the cost involved. Working there was a designers dream.

“Why was packaging important to us? Because the job was a sacred one. Music had transformed our young lives, children of the sixties all. And now we were in the privileged position of putting out records ourselves.” – Tony Wilson, Co Founder, Factory Records (taken from Factory Records The Complete Graphic Album).

Blue Monday” (Fac 73) was probably the most famous product of this design first, profitability second policy. Designed by Peter Saville, the packaging for New Order‘s 12 inch single was more expensive than the single itself. Designed to resemble a floppy disk, it included expensive die cutting and a silver inner sleeve. There was no mention of the band’s name or even the name of the song anywhere on the cover. Instead Saville created a code using a series of colour blocks. The key to decipher this code would be found on the back sleeve of New Order’s Power, Corruption & Lies album (Fact 75), a secret code for the initiated. “Blue Monday” became the biggest selling 12 inch single of all time in the UK.

Blue Monday 12" cover

The designers at Factory Records didn’t just create album artwork, they also designed flyers, posters, stationery, Factory Records HQ, a bar, and even a nightclub. If you have the slightest interest in design (which we assume you do if you’re reading our blog) or even just want to see the artwork synonymous with the Manchester music scene of the late 70′s, 80′s and early 90′s then I recommend Matthew Robertson’s book Factory Records The Complete Graphic Album (Fac 461).

Peter Saville would later say that “Factory misled a generation into believing all designers have unlimited freedom” and that may be so. Designers may never enjoy the same creative freedom bestowed upon the Factory Records employees, but that freedom started a legacy of great, cutting edge design in the music industry and beyond.

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