Create Vector Graphics Fast with Vectr

Vectr

If you can’t afford Photoshop or just want something simpler to create vector graphics, try Vectr. It is a web-based design tool with downloadable apps for Mac, Windows, Linux and Chromebook.

After spending time playing with it, I like Vectr. Currently, it’s pretty low frills. However, the company has an interesting development road map, with coming features such as:

Versioning: All Vectr documents already have a near infinite history of changes. You can close Vectr, come back and re-open the app later, and hit Command+Z into infinity.

When Built-in Versioning is ready, you will be able to save multiple versions of your file on a timeline of your file’s history. This means multiple versions of a design, in the same file.

Marketplace: They will offer a design assets marketplace directly inside of Vectr. If you want to sell something you create, you can add it to the marketplace and set a price. Or if you want to buy something like a web template, you’ll be able to import design assets that others have shared.

Embedded Editor: This will allow you to embed the Vectr editor on your own website. That seems pretty slick in theory. For example, if you have a t-shirt, sticker design or something else that you want users to be able to customize, they will be able to do it without leaving your page.

Cost: Free

Does Your Business Still Need a Phone Number?

Recently, I had an “argument” (more like a pointed email exchange on LinkedIn) with an allegedly smart person who owns a “big data” software company. They were looking for a marketing director and I wanted to inquire on the position.

When I went to their website and looked for a phone number to call them, however, I noticed there was no number listed. So I tracked down the CEO and politely suggested he add it to their contact page.

His response was rude and frankly dumb. He insisted that in the “digital age,” phone numbers are irrelevant, and that if prospective customers need a phone number to reach them, then they aren’t the right prospects for them.

Are you kidding me?

I told him, you have a right to your opinion—and good luck. If I were a prospect, you already lost me by forcing me to fill out a form to reach you. By the way, if I had prequalified your company as a potential partner (which 70+% of B2B buyers do beforecontacting providers), then I went to call you and couldn’t find a number…your chances just went down the tubes. I had questions and was ready to talk to someone…but you were too aloof to give me the opportunity.

I also pointed out how one his largest competitors in the space had multiple phone numbers listed on their website. Put the sites side-by-side and guess which one looks like the amateur?

No wonder his company can’t find a marketing director. Who is going to want to work for someone so arrogant as to think they don’t need a business telephone number?

I understand we’re in the “digital age” and yes, some technologies are dated and unnecessary (Exhibit A: fax machines). But phone numbers aren’t dead and are still very much a critical communications tool for B2B sales and support.

Furthermore, phone numbers are easy and cheap to get—whether you’re using Google Voice, eVoice or another of the dozens of VoIP providers.

If you want to argue with me about it, call me: (704) 584-9656. Better yet, ask me how I can improve your company’s marketing efforts—starting with making your phone number more prominent.

How To Create and Sell Digital Products

Learn to monetize your knowledge online

I recently launched my mini-course, How to Create and Sell Digital Products.

launch a digital business ebookIt has some nifty stuff in it including:

  • Three training videos showing how I created and sold a digital product in less than one week
  • A comprehensive 76-page ebook, How To Launch a Digital Product Business
  • A 5-page checklist to use when launching your digital product
  • A Resources Cheat Sheet for recommended software and service providers
  • A detailed mindmap to help you brainstorm and plan new product launches

Easy Trello Hack to Supercharge Your Boards 

I ran across this great post today on Medium that makes it easier to view your Trello tasks and project statuses at a glance.

It just took me a few minutes to install the Google Chrome extension (I didn’t even know you could change the CSS of any website to suite you, very cool!), and then copy the code from this post.

Source: Simple Trello Hack to Supercharge Your Boards — Medium

“Is my website down?”

isup

When somebody in your office (or maybe a client of yours) starts complaining that their website is down, calmly check it using Isup. Enter the URL, and it will tell you whether it’s down for just them…or everyone.

Put a big smile on your face when you say, “Sorry, Dick/Jane, it’s just you.”

Cost: Free

Source: Cool Tech Tools

Make Meetings More Productive

Admit it—most meetings you attend are terrible, for several reasons. One, they are too long (there’s no app to fix that yet!). Two, there’s no clear agenda. And three, there’s no good summary of what was discussed and what should happen next.

WorkLife (formerly MeetingHero) aims to make meetings more productive, with collaborative tools to help get everyone on the same page.

Using WorkLife, you can sync your meetings from Google Calendar (other calendars are coming soon). Here’s where it gets cool: every meeting now gets its own “Work Room,” where attendees you invite can access and add to key items such as an Agenda, Decisions, Action Items, Notes, Private Notes and Open Issues.

You can set it to automatically send all attendees the agenda 15 minutes before the meeting. During meetings, take notes on your laptop, smartphone or tablet. After meetings end, you can send a summary to everyone by email, post to Google Drive or Slack*, or copy everything to your clipboard.

If more people used WorkLife, meetings would (hopefully) be a lot more productive and efficient.

Cost: Free while in beta

* P.S. Want to dig deeper into Slack? Join my growing Learn Slack team at www.learnslack.com.

Source: Cool Tech Tools

Career Advice to Recent College Graduates

The Ladders, a leading career site, reached out to me recently and asked me to give advice to graduating college students.

I’m honored to do it.

Here are my top insights…nearly three decades past my graduation from UNC Chapel Hill.

Don’t Settle

When I graduated, the economy sucked (sound familiar?). I couldn’t get a job applying my newly minted skills as a journalism major. For a few months, I stayed in Chapel Hill, delivering pizzas, waiting tables and working in an outdoor store at a mall. It was demoralizing, to say the least.

It tooks me several months of hustling to finally land a job in PR, which meant moving to New York City and living with five flight attendants in a one-bedroom apartment. But I was determined to make it work.

To young graduates, I say: Stay focused, even if you are schlepping through low-paid, agonizing work you hate. Don’t give up.

Another thing—you have probably been told your whole life that you needed to go to school, get a degree and work for someone else. That’s one way to go…but you also have my permission to become an entrepreneur.

Build Your List

When I was young, I hated the term networking. I thought it was slimy for some reason. Yet I did enough of it to land a few quality internships that eventually help me get that first PR job.

It would take me years to understand that I should’ve focused on building a stronger network from the start. Great supporters are like money—you can take them to the bank.

A few years ago, I tested this theory when I was forced to leave an entrepreneurial venture I had started. I desperately needed a “real job” to make up for lost salary and time. Fortunately, my networking efforts paid off quickly.

You can read about what I did here during what I called my Open Source Job Search. Feel free to steal my playbook.

My advice is to treat your network like gold—and stay in touch with them regularly (not just when you are desperate or need something).

Three years since that job search, I’m happily back doing what I love as an entrepreneur. But I still email my entire list of contacts every two weeks without fail.

Always Give Back

You’re never too young to give back to others. In fact, the more you give, the more you’ll get. You might not believe it, but just take my word for it.

Why should I stop what I’m doing and write this article, for example? Because it might help one person on their journey. That’s all I care about right this moment.

I know plenty of older people helped me when I was young, scared, untalented and naive…and I probably didn’t even recognize their contributions at the time. Now I know better.

Wherever you find yourself, you can always give something back. I find it especially vital to never turn down a request by young people for advice. You just have no idea what impact you can make.

One more thing–used tools like the Ladders, LinkedIn and social media to your full advantage. I didn’t have any of that stuff when I graduated. Be grateful for the times you live it, with such amazing technology at your fingertips.

Best of luck to you!

Design Like A Pro With Canva

Canva free graphic design tool

Need to make a quick graphic for your blog, social media site or a presentation? Canva lets anyone create graphic design layouts quickly, with minimal design skills. It won’t replace a bona fide graphic designer, but it’s great when you need something easy and cheap.

Canva features a lot of predetermined graphic sizes ranging from social media graphics to blog graphics, Facebook covers, cards and more. It also has many free stock images, fonts and background images. Canva also offers over 1,000,000 premium graphic files that you can purchase cheaply (around $1/graphic).

After you create a graphic in Canva, you can easily download the file or share it on Twitter and Facebook.

Cost: Free and premium graphics available for your layouts

Break The Routine

I haven’t blogged on here in months. The reason? I got mad at myself for being lazy and just repurposing content from my Cool Tech Tools newsletter.

My tip today is two-fold:

  • Don’t be lazy
  • Save value for your email subscribers

I want to blog more, but just not with rehashed content.