I’m Going To Learn To Draw In 30 Days

My Drawings are going to be far far far uglier. (Photo Credit: Arthur T Bens)
My Drawings are going to be far far far uglier. (Photo Credit: Arthur T Bens)

I was once on an outing with a girl and we came across a public chalkboard. She started doodling little cartoons and iconic animals, and was encouraging me to do the same. I wouldn’t.

It wasn’t that I thought it was silly (I love doing silly things), I just couldn’t in any manner at that time. For me it was akin to someone asking me to roll my tongue when I couldn’t, or speak Spanish when I couldn’t.

I couldn’t draw. Not even to save my own life. It seemed the neural connections in my brain just didn’t exist.

However I know exactly why I can’t draw.

Back when David Heasman was a young sapling in the British Primary Education System, he used to get frustrated when asked to draw anything. This continued through into his later years. And it wasn’t the frustration with drawing that used to bog him down, it was the frustration that such a manual method was required to put one’s imagination to paper. I used to dream of a device which would transfer the image of your mind onto the paper. Just as I used to think learning languages was redundant as the Universal Translator would one day be invented.

At least I was right about one thing.

Anyway getting back to the matter at hand, I can’t draw. So why all of a sudden do I want to learn the damn thing?

There are a few reasons. One is after browsing DeviantArt and reading ImagineFX, I’ve developed the desire to paint some badass spaceships, awesome samurai warriors, and just general inspiring paintings. I bought a wacom purely for that purpose. Only to realise I have no idea how to “see” a scene. Secondly after I carried out one specific drawing exercise (the famous draw a picasso drawing upside down.) I found the process to be both meditative and relaxing.

Also this is a deficiency. Deficiencies are bad. I want to address all my deficiencies.

But learning to draw isn’t enough. I gotta set a deadline otherwise it won’t happen. So I choose 30 days. From some of the stuff I’ve seen about Metalearning (see the 4 Hour Chef Meta Learning Chapter and Josh Kauffman’s First 20 Hours), you need to have a tight deadline. And all you need is 20 hours to become decent at a skill.

So I choose 30 days to learn to draw. To do this I’ll practice drawing 45 minutes everyday.

While most of what I do is going to be practice I’ll use Drawing On The Right Hand Side Of The Brain by Betty Edwards for deconstruction and autocorrect purposes.

Stay tuned later today for my absolutely horrible first piece of drawing.

Bye Bye

It's been a long time. (Image Credit: alexkerhead)
It’s been a long time. (Image Credit: alexkerhead)

It’s been a while.

During the past year of reconfiguring satellites (a gross exaggeration of my Masters Project) and recruiting an army to take over the world (another gross exaggeration of my marketing efforts for UCL’s Entrepreneurs Society) and general student times (that bit’s exactly what you think) I’ve not had the time to figure out what to blog.

So today I say bye bye to the old blog. I’m going to do a subtle rebranding. The mission statement underneath the blog’s logo is going to read like a shizophrenic’s diary over the next few weeks. I’ll be refreshing it with almost every blog post as I try and figure out the general theme I’m going to blog about.

However in the meantime I’ve got a few projects in the works. One of which I’ll be blogging about heavily for the next 40 days.

So in the words of Arthur C. Clarke and every other single hype writer ever…

Watch This Space.

Why Copywriting is Awesome

The true form of writing. Credit: Kartikay Sahay

This is for those who want to be an entrepreneur someday. Or those who would love to learn how to read minds.

Okay… not like how Professor Xavier could, but in the most humanely possible way.

I mean think about it. If you owned a business, or provided a product or service to people. To customers. To clients. Or even to Toddlers. Wouldn’t it be just downright more-cool-than-moving-the-sun-with-the-power-of-your-mind if you could fully understand them. To know their wants? Their needs? Their habits? Armed with this information, wouldn’t it be just more possible you could be of better service to them (read: make more money)?

Alright I lied. It wouldn’t be cooler than moving the sun with the power of your mind…. But it would be pretty cool, when your customers go “It’s like you read my mind! This guy completely knows me”.

I mean a few percent of them may be creeped out by your new found super powers. However the rest of them will probably think what is reasonable to think. You get them. You probably are a bit like them. You know what this leads to…

They eventually start to trust you

Trust builds relationships…. Relationships build trade… Trade builds wealth.

Okay what the heck is this mystical power I’m talking about? Don’t worry I’m not suggesting you go to your nearest witch doctor and learn black magic.

It’s simple. Learn how to copywrite.

Just what the fegizzle in the nizzle is copywriting Heasman? You asking me to be Don Draper huh? DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I’VE ALREADY TRIE-….

While it is true that what the uber cool character Don Draper in the hit TV Show Mad Men does is copywriting, I’m not asking you to suddenly become a suave uber man who drinks whiskey and smokes cigarettes (you’re completely free to do so if you want to however).

However copywriting in the tv and poster advertising sense, is more….. an art form than a skill that can just be learned. I’m sure to be a successful Maddison Avenue copywriter takes years in the industry. I’m not asking you to do that.

The copywriting I’m talking about is the Direct Sales kind.

You know…. The kind of copywriting you find in those (sometimes sleezy) sales letters you get through the mail. Or the ones you find on the internet which are subtly persuading you to try or buy their service.

Simply put Copywriting is writing that convinces the reader to take an action.

Now… I know that sounds manipulative. And while there is some psychology involved, trust me it isn’t manipulative. Copywriting is a tool. And like all tools it is morally neutral. It has the power to build…. Or to destroy.

There are many people who use this tool to in a negative fashion. You see it on the internet when someone tries to sell you a really crap product, or convinces you that you actually had a weight problem, when you didn’t before.

Simple cheap and crap copywriting picks at the lowest hanging fruit. It exploits our common insecurities. However good copywriting. Awesome copywriting convinces you to buy their product to solve an itching problem, an itching need that has been on the back of your mind.

Which when you think about it… is very useful. Most products and services solve a problem. A client needs a website. A web designer comes in and solves his problem of not having a website, of not having a platform online in which they can communicate to the world. They solve this by building an effective website.

Or a person wishes they could carry their whole music collection around with them. They’re tired of burning cd’s which can only hold 20 tracks and logging them around in a case. Along comes the iPod. 10,000 songs in your pocket.

(By the way that last phrase is a form of copywriting. Notice how it addresses the problem? Notice how it elegantly states the solution as well. I mean if you’re a music aficionado, you’ll immediately get what this product is trying to solve. In fact soon enough the only question on your mind will be: How much?)

By now you can probably get what copywriting involves. It involves understanding your customer. However this isn’t the only step. It also involves communicating to your customer in a language they’ll understand. It involves holding their reading attention, and then throughout building demand. Then at the end delivering a call to action. A simple link, or number, or PO Box where the customer can place an order.

I’ve wanted to be an entrepreneur for a while. I’ve wanted to build a product or service that would change the world, and have customers lining up outside the door in droves.

It’s common sense, (though I only actually realised this a few years ago), that the first step in doing this… is to come up with an idea. Yeah… I was pretty stupid for not realising this for a while. I only thought ideas were in the context of writing novels. Silly Heasman…

Anyway back to the matter at hand, I started to look at successful ideas. I slowly saw something in common. These products or services… solved a deep or pressing problem their customers had…. Or they did before they became mainstream (see Adoption of Innovation Curve). After they became mainstream people were just buying their products because everyone had them.

How, I asked myself, how do I workout what a pressing problem is? Well there were 2 options. Lookout out for serious problems in my life. Only problem with this is I’m kinda a weird guy… I’m not sure how many people out there have the same problems as me.

Or… I could learn how other people think. Why they do what they do. For example what problems does a 35 year old professional male have? Well one of which is not having enough time. Seriously after he’s come back from a hard day of work, all he wants to do is put his feet up and watch some TV to wind down. However the problem with this is….the stuff on TV he doesn’t want to watch. Why the heck is everything crap? Wouldn’t it be cool if he could just have the stuff he wants to watch recorded when it’s broadcast.

Along comes Tivo…. Or Netflix… or Sky on Demand… or whatever on Demand TV service you can think of.

So how exactly do you learn how people think? How?! Why learn to write Copy of course. Like anything in life, the best way to learn something is to read a little, and then practice. Practice some more. Practice like Muay Thai apprentices who kick a tree everyday from childhood. Eventually you’ll start to get it, and then… and then the world is yours.

So you want to learn more ay? Well the best (FREE) resource I’ve found are the Boron Letters. Gary Halbert was one of the most successful Direct Sales Copywriters of his time. In these letters he imparts his wisdom to his child. Do yourself a favour, print out all of them (on paper, yes REAL paper!). Read them in one sitting and write notes on the side. You won’t regret it.

I became a Design Guru after reading this book…. I think

Can the principles of design simply be taught? Surely the skills and ‘talent’ for design is something that one is born with, and is gained through a lifetime of experience?

Well that’s what I thought. Until BOOM! I came across this book which claimed that it could teach me – a logical, right-brained, rigid Physics student – the principles that are used behind good design.

You can imagine my intrigue. You can also imagine my eyes flew out of my head faster than a speeding bullet, and I hammered my mouse on the buy button when it described it would teach design in the context of web-design and also App design.

Well 6 weeks later, after a bunch of Physics exams (I am still a student after all), some video-games, many nights of drinking, and also reading this book, I can safely say that I have finished Principles of Beautiful Web Design by Jason Beaird

Here are some thoughts on it:

Who is it for?


Anything of true value that is produced in this world isn’t made for everyone. Firstly this book would be of benefit for people who are interested in web design. However it won’t help all web designers. If you are already a complete guru zen master in Web-Design, and make websites which could make Arnold Schwarzenegger weep at its sheer beauty… then it isn’t for you. BUT if you’re a level 0 aspiring web-designer, then this book will be TREMENDOUSLY HELPFUL. If you’re at an intermediate level, having already designed a few websites then you may also find it helpful.

But if you don’t even have a passing interest in web design, app design, UX design, UI design, Information Architecture, and whatever the heck the term for digital design is these days…. then please do not buy this book. It would be like feeding a Lion a vegan diet.


What does it deliver?


Principles of beautiful web design starts from a basic level. It talks about the layouts that work, usually based on the rule of thirds. It discusses the different colour combinations, and the emotional responses they can create. There’s a massive deconstruction on what fonts are, and the different types of fonts, all under the umbrella term of Typography. Finally it talks about texture and imagery.

All throughout the book, the author is not just discussing what these different principles are, but relates them to good web design. There is a case study throughout the book which applies all these principles, and the book is littered with different examples of awesome websites. It also whenever possible introduces web tools which would aid the aspiring designer. Everything is also discussed at the level of a beginner. No unnecessary jargon is used, and there is no presumption of foreknowledge (except in CSS, but even this is unnecessary in my opinion).


What it doesn’t deliver

This wouldn’t be a fair review if I didn’t draw some attention to its weaknesses. This book promises to teach you the principles of beautiful and awesome web design, which it does. However it doesn’t teach you how to bring about these effects. There is very little technical how-to. If you’re looking for a book which would also teach you how to bring about these effects on a website using CSS, then this is the wrong book.

But that information can be easily found in other resources, and after all that isn’t what Jason Beaird said he was going to do in the book.

 

Did it work?

I guess this is the most important question. It’s all well and good me talking about what it does and doesn’t do, but the absolute fundamental issue at hand here is: Does it do what it says on the cover?

 
I can absolutely hand on heart, cross my hands, swear till I die that it does. I am no Da-Vinci or Walt Disney. But I have gone from an absolute data driven rational monster to analysing design in the everyday world. I find myself looking at the centremost object in an advert or logo, asking questions to myself. Why did the designer put that there? What is he trying to convey? What do I “feel” when I look at the image? What would I do differently?
I have no hard evidence of my design skills, as I’m still teaching myself the technical know-how. But when I finally achieve the title of “Design Apprentice” I know I’ll feel more confident in coming up with a design solution.
Even if I don’t get that far, at the very least I can now probably hold a 30 minute conversation with a designer.
So do you want to know more about design? What makes good design good, and bad design bad?

If not, well… thanks for reading this far I guess.

If yes, then you can buy this book. If you don’t buy it, borrow it from someone who knows someone who has it (it’s also in pdf format…. in fact more than likely most people who own it own the pdf version).

(By the way that isn’t an affiliate link. I want you to know this is an honest review with no economic incentive. So wotcha waiting for? BUY IT ALREADY!!!)

You can also get a free version if you subscribe to .net magazine in the UK.

Of course this will only be of interest if you want to learn design.

How to draw Wireframes in Photoshop

Amazing Blog Author’s note: This tutorial was supposed to have helpful images along with the instructions, however my uh, hard-drive blew up, and those images weren’t backed up. I’ll update this post soon with the aforementioned images. Moral of the story, always always work in dropbox.

As I so elaborately wrote about in my previous post, I’ve been teaching myself how to use the adobe creative suite. And by use I mean for something other than creating crappy posters. I have been learning how to use Photoshop and Dreamweaver to build websites.

I’ve been using an infiniteskills video course to guide me, but as I haven’t finished it yet I’m unable to write a review. Instead I’ll give a quick tutorial on how to draw a website wireframe in photoshop.

 

Uh… What’s a wireframe?

Before I completely dive in, I’m sure it would be useful to actually know what a wireframe is. Many people out there on the internet do know this, and if you’re one of those…. just skip this paragraph. Otherwise these words will just be a waste of your time.

If you don’t know what a wireframe is, worry not. A wireframe is just a fancy name for the 1st rough outline of the design. As I’m talking about web design it would refer to a document which shows roughly where the different areas of content will be on the webpage.

Okay, that makes sense. But why can’t you just sketch the damn thing on paper and be done with it?

You may not have asked this question, but it’s a pretty cool question. It’s useful to draw your wireframe in photoshop or in HTML as you’ll use this as the foundation block to draw our further designs. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your website is sure as hell not going to be built in one pass.

Okay – To The Tutorial!!!

First it would be very useful to figure out what website you actually want to build. For no reason at all, I’m going to focus on a splash page for a web service.

The first step, sketch the various blocks on paper. No need for stuff to align or for the proportions to be right. It’s a sketch:

Sketched wireframe on paper with words

Sketched wireframe on paper without words

 

So this webpage is going to be a bit simple. For a splash page a Logo and a navigation menu will be on the top. Underneath will be the headline copy or image which will attract the visitor’s eyes and show off the key benefit of the service. Underneath in the 4 smaller boxes, will be further benefits and features which describe the service. Underneath will be a FAQ box, and to the right of that a section with miscellaneous information. Underneath all that will be a footer. There will also probably be a call to action box somewhere above the footer, but no need to worry about that now.

Next as we’re building a web page, we should make sure photoshop is set up to give measurements in pixels. Load up Photoshop on your favourite operating system. Then go to Edit → Preferences → General or press Ctrl + K (or Cmd + K if you’re on a mac).

Go to Units & Rulers

You then want to change Rulers to be in pixels.

Click OK

Let’s now make a new image. There’s lots of talk about adaptive web design and what is actually the right width for a website. For now we’re gonna keep life simple, so that we can actually learn about this stuff.

Click on File → New and you should get this dialog:

Set an image size for a width of 960 pixels and a height of 2000 pixels.

You should then get this screen. Double click on the image you just created, or press f for “fullscreen”

Another day I’ll talk about what I feel is the most optimum workspace for web design, but for now the windows you’ll need for this exercise are the Tools and Layers panels.

We should create some guides for this wireframe. I’m going to keep it simple and just divide up the page into thirds. Show the ruler by going to View → Rulers or by pressing Ctrl + R (Cmd + R).

We’re then going to create guides. First make sure “show guides” is turned on by going to View → Show → Guides or pressing Ctrl + ;  or Cmd + ; . Then we’ll make a guide by dragging from the ruler on the left hand edge of the workspace like so:

⅓ of 960 pixels is 320 pixels, and ⅔ of 960 is 640 pixels. Hence I’m going to drag the guide to 320 pixels, zooming in when necessary to get the exact value (Quick tip, zoom in by pressing Ctrl and + or Cmd and +. To zoom out Ctrl and – or Cmd and -), and then doing the same for 640 pixels.

Now before we do the easy but important task of making our wireframe we should work out what the exact measurements are. There are a few ways of going about this. You can go back to your sketch and make some educated guesses of what the pixel size of the blocks should be. Or you could just throw down some rectangles and resize them to get their rough size and position and resize them later.

My workflow involves making sure photoshop is at 100% zoom, so that I can actually intuitively see what the website will look like. I know that I want the second box, the largest box to be “above the fold”, i.e. users with 720p displays will be able to see that block when they initially come to the page. For arguments sake I’m going to call this at 600 px. I’ll then throw down the shapes and play around with resizing them to see what works and what doesn’t.

(Note by the way there’s alot of controversy over if the “above the fold” is actually useful and relevant in web design e.g. http://iampaddy.com/lifebelow600/)

To do this I’m going to use the rectangle tool

I’ll change the colour to a neutral gray, it’s just what I prefer, you can make it pink or gold if you want.

Use the rectangle tool to draw a rough rectangle. Then resize it using the move tool. Click on the shape with the move tool. Launch transformation controls by either clicking the checkbox “Show Transform Controls” at the top, or by pressing Ctrl + t or Cmd + t. Drag and play around with the corner boxes to get the size you want. Then press enter twice or click the tick button in the top bar.

Rinse and repeat with other rectangle shapes, play around with them to get the design you want.

Once you’ve finished this there are two things you need to do. First you need to rename the shapes in the layer panel so you don’t get lost. Do this by double clicking the name in the layer panel. If you have “Show Transform Controls” checked, the shape should become highlighted in the workspace. Rename the layer to something you’ll remember. Uh, you know… like “header” or “Dragon’s tail”… or whatever works for you. I’m gonna keep it simple and call mine things other people will understand though….

After you do this, you also should crop the canvas to get rid of the spare white space at the bottom. You’re not exactly going to use it are you? So crop and delete it.

Do this by pressing the crop tool. Then drag around the selection of stuff you want to keep.

BAM!! You got yourself a wireframe! You can now:

  1. Relax
  2. Play with your cat/video games
  3. Think about the stuff you’re going to put on top of those wireframe boxes
Completed Wireframe


If the job is for a client, you’ll probably want to send if off for review. If you’re going to do that some extra steps are necessary. You’ll want a label for each of the boxes so the client knows just what the hell they are. They can also offer any adjustments or corrections now. I say now, because you don’t want to start adding extra features after you’ve built half of the damn website via html & css.

Its very simple to label the wireframe boxes. Grab the type tool. And I’m sure you know how to place a cursor and type right? Well go and do that.

Pro tip, make one label. Play around with the font/stroke to make it as pretty as you want. Then copy that label to the others by using the move tool and holding alt while dragging it. (Uncheck “Show Transform Controls”). Rename the labels by double clicking on them with the type tool.

Afterwards also rename the labels in the layer panel. You may also want to group them by clicking Ctrl + g, so your label panel doesn’t become too clustered.

There you go, you’re actually finished! You can send the wireframe off to review as a pdf.

If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe? There’ll be awesome follow ups every tuesday and friday.

I’m Going to become a Web Designer

It is July 2012. A masters graduate looks outside the window to see a brief blessing of a hot summer’s day in London. Yet he can’t enjoy it. For he is a temporary waiter at a catering event staff. Smiling as he walks around holding a tray of salmon canapés, he tries to forget the underlying resentment he feels. The resentment of the interview he had the day before. By all accounts it was a success. He was working today, but there had been one caveat. One painful caveat

‘Awesome, David you can start right away. However… there is one thing,’ the smile of the interviewer seemed to genuinely reach her eyes.

‘Yeah?’ the graduate replied. Deep in an unspoken part of his mind he was thinking how he would do almost anything for a girl with those eyes.

‘While I’m a genuine fan of your hair – gosh I wish I could grow an Afro myself! However I’m afraid you’ll need to tidy it up to work with us. Would it be too much to ask for you to trim a lot of it off?’

The smile on the graduate’s face froze. Anything but THAT!!! His mind silently screamed. But even as his subconscious was protesting he knew he had to do it. He had to cut off his best friend. The Afro he had before he’d even started his four years of University. He had to if he wanted to get rid of those amazing and horrifying red numbers on his bank balance.

After the canapés, he had got told by the floor manager there were some glasses in the back that needed polishing. The graduate sat down and got to it. On his fortieth glass or so, his mind halted its wondering and began its protesting. Where had his dreams of being a start-up guy gone? Where was that entrepreneurial spirit of his he had discovered? It had been months before he had finally buckled to pressure and started going to interviews for respectable jobs. It had involved swallowing his pride. His pride and statements of arrogant youth of ‘I SHALL NEVER WORK FOR ANOTHER MAN. NEVER!!!’

At these interviews he also finally started using his trump card. He remembered the first interview he did it in. He had a rapport going with the interviewee. When asked, ‘tell us of your greatest challenge’ he set forth to wow and dazzle them. He gave a rousing story of a competition he had taken part in. A competition against fellow like-minded would be entrepreneurs. He told of how in a task which involved generating as much profit with £30 in four hours, his team had succeeded. They had succeeded by buying and selling apples. Taking advantage of adding an offer, they had been able to come out of it with £156. He explained the challenge, the gasping horror he had felt when told that this was their task. He had explained his fear of selling. But he had succeeded. As he finished the story, he knew he had got the job. Yet imagine the graduate’s surprise when he was told,

‘Sorry David, I’m afraid I can’t give you the job. Times are tough.’

He used the same story in his other interviews with mixed results. Some of the interviewees were genuinely impressed. Others were in fear. Some even looked at him in disgust, ‘You sold apples at a 60 pence mark-up?! What kind of monster are you to your fellow man!!!’ But despite these mixed reactions, the end result was the same.

‘Sorry David. Times are tough.’

As he sat self-reflecting, the graduate vowed once again that he would not be in this position. He’ll quit this job the soonest moment he could. He ignored the voice that told him that it was the fiftieth time he’d made this vow. He ignored it and told it that this time. This time things would be different.

*

Contrast this with another story:

It is July 2012, a young male with an Afro wakes up to the sunrise. He turns on his computer, looks to his phone and checks his email. He smiles. His mentor had been able to arrange a meeting with a book agent. He had another ten emails requesting his business services. Though the young male was technically a masters graduate, he was identified as something else amongst his peers. He was called a Web Designer.

He’d been able to save enough money during his final year at University to permanently move out of his parents’ house and rent an apartment in the up and coming Holborn area in London. He checked his to do list and saw he only had two simple items and then his day was free. The sun was shining, and he thought to himself life is good.

*

Obviously one graduate’s state is better than the other, and by the time I’ve finished my MSc year in Physics I want to clearly be in the second camp. Right now I am critically aware of just how useless my masters degree is going to be in getting a job when I graduate. Heck even if I get a job it will clearly not be a job I’m going to like. I’ll be lucky if the person working directly above me is more competent than me (I have an extreme arrogance in my own abilities, after all Lex Luthor is my hero).

While some may lament at an extra year in University (A bachelor’s degree in the UK is three years) I relish it. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. This is the year where I’ve got to stop partying and start working on making myself employable.

How do I make myself employable in such a downturn economy? Well as naïve as I’m going to sound, I’m sure a simple answer would be by learning a marketable skill.

Wait. Just what da funk do I mean by a marketable skill? Well the way I see it; the easiest way to give value in a monetary society is by offering skills and services that allow companies or people to make money.

There are a few skills that come under this category from what I can think of, and this is by no means an exhaustive list, but the ones I’ve been able to come up with are:

  • Copywriting
  • Sales
  • Web Design
  • Web Development
  • App Development
  • Consultancy
  • Marketing

Some of these are very broad (consultancy, marketing), while some are quite niche and knowing the fast way technology progresses, they may become obsolete. Out of the ones I’ve listed I’ve personally chosen Web Design.

Heck, now why would I go and do something as crazy as choose web design? Only because it is the MOST BADASS THING A MAN CAN BE!!!

(Actually …. No, I’m sure being a Lion-tamer would be more badass but alas I care too much for my own skin to choose that career. So web design it is.)

However there are more legitimate reasons I chose this path. It allows for me to adopt a freelancer lifestyle, the one lifestyle I definitely want. If Peter Parker was a freelancer photographer while being Spider-Man, then I definitely want that lifestyle. (Please note the author is semi-deluded that one day he shall be bitten by a radioactive spider …)

Radioactive Spider bites Peter Parker

On a further note being a freelance Web Designer will force me to learn Sales and Marketing skills if I want to be able to get any business. I have come to realise these skills are beyond vital if you want to succeed economically. I know that eventually I want to become an entrepreneur starting something that will break the world in half and remake it in my image (look at what Elon Musk did last week for instance). And I know that one way to increase my chances is to be amazingly awesome at networking and being in contact with awesome people. Loads of amazing stories to do with success involve some crazy strike of serendipity which includes some out of touch person who knew the right person at the exact right time.

My scientific mind only sees one variable that I can control in this, knowing the right people, and having the right relationship with them. Also it isn’t hard to see how sales is useful. Sales is what gets business moving. Being good at sales doesn’t hurt. But I’ll talk more about that at another date.

Another reason its web design and not something I really want to be close to my heart i.e. being a web programmer… is because of the turnaround time before I can deliver something useful. I know design isn’t easy, but with programming you’ve got to work solidly for 12-36 months before you can deliver something useful. Sure there are the stories of those Ubermen who did it in 12 weeks or in 80 hours, but there’s no way I will be able to market those shoddy skills to clients in good faith. Plus learning such a logic intensive task will clash with my Physics degree. Better to learn something which requires a different way of thinking so as to keep myself motivated.

There is one other of the marketable skills I mentioned which slightly fits the above description, that of copywriting. It is said that a good copywriter will never look for work, for it is such an in demand skill. Writing is and always will be a persuasive form of communication when done right. I also happen to love copywriting, especially the direct-response kind. It involves getting inside the customers head, understanding their problems and desires, and communicating across a solution. As someone who wants to change the world, it’s something I’m deeply passionate about, and will probably pursue a little bit on the side. However I’ve already given this skill some time and have even practised it a little. So pursuing it won’t be as entirely challenging as I thought. However going for web design, something I have no talent in whatsoever (honestly talk to my Design Teachers at school, they thought I was Satan), and learning enough of it so I can market it. NOW THAT’S A CHALLENGE!!

So how am I going to go about this? Well I have a few plans and objectives. I’ve already identified a few resources a la App Sumo, which are more action and get-you-up-to-speed based. It involves mainly a video course to go from wire-framing to full website via Adobe Suite[i] (something I own and never use). Additionally there are The Principles of Beautiful Web Design 2nd edition by Jason Beaird, which gives a brief theoretical overview of its title. The Elements of User Experience 2nd edition by Jesse James Garrett, it gives an introductory overview of UI/UX something very useful in effective web design[ii]. My impression is that these resources should arm me enough to redesign my mum’s business website by 15th June.

Wait! Why so soon you ask? Well one because I want to hit the ground running. Two I actually have a shit load of time free at the moment as I just finished exams so I want to do something useful. Also because setting such a near goal is the only way I know I’ll get started. Like I always tell myself whenever I want to start something:

Whatever you do it won’t be perfect. Yet the only way to get better is by doing it. Then do it again , improving by-by-bit.

It may or may not be true, but it’s the only way I’ve found to get myself to get started on something, having faith that the simple act of action means I can fail faster, iterate faster and improve faster. Heck the website I’ll make for my mum may be so terrible she’ll reject it despite the fact I’m family. But I’ll learn a shitload of stuff during the process. And then I can make another website, which will hopefully be a bit better. Bit-by-bit, bird-by-bird I’ll get better. Who knows by early next year I might start having a portfolio I won’t cringe looking at.

 

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To be a Freelance Copywriter or not to be?

So out of all the hair brained money making schemes my mind has come up with (I’ll tell you later how I wanted to teach people how to write sci-fi novels….when I hadn’t done it myself) I think I’ve found one that’s a bit realistic and doable.

I want to become a freelance copywriter. It’s the perfect job for a money making obsessed student like me. Plus freelance means I can have as much time as a Time Traveller….Okay maybe not.

But for people to hire my super talented self, I first need to have a portfolio of work. Seeing as its going to be hard work convincing people to pay a Physics student money to write some words, I’m going to have to initially make some stuff up. Then I can offer my services for free. And finally actually start getting paid for my work.

But what to make up?

Well there is a candidate.

I got this thing through the mail the other day.

[table id=1 /]

Being the curious geek who’s had digital priting experience, I was naturally intrigued. I also love Netflix, my only criticism being that for now, they don’t have the range of choice a Film buff like me needs. So I opened it up to read what they’re sales pitch would be.

I was horrified

Netflix Sales Letter

Netflix Sales Letter Top Zoomed in

Netflix Sales Letter Bottom Zoomed in

Hopefully you can read it from the images, and if you can’t don’t worry. All you need to get to understand my horror is the amount of times the word “FREE FREE FREE” is scattered around. Also the base of my horror, is just how many call to action’s there are.

The 1st Rule of Copywriting, there are no rules. The 2nd Rule of Copywriting, if there is a rule it’s ONLY HAVE ONE CALL TO ACTION!!! ONLY ONE YOU FOOL!!!

How the hell am I supposed to become interested in what you have to say if you initially are telling me what to do? I don’t like being told what to do. And you shouldn’t either.

Imagine your a single guy. You see a girl you like. You think you know what she wants and likes. You go up to her. However before you chat her up. You say, “here’s my number” and hand it over. Do you think that:

a.) She’s going to take it?

b.) And if in the offchance she does take it and doesn’t slap you down for being the creep you are…. She’s actually going to stay around and listen to what you have to say?

No. She won’t.

And neither would a potential customer if you go to him “BUY ME, BUY ME!!!” and don’t tell him why to first.

Close at the end. Just like you would with a girl. (…If your a guy. I can’t speak for women as …. I’m not a woman)

So, David Heasman, in a fit of anger and lack of anything else to do. Sat down and gave his potential copywriting skills an exercise. The exercise was to write what he believed would be better.

So here it is:

My draft of a Netflix Sales Letter

 

My plans from here:

  • Send a copy to the VP of Netflix
  • Write a more interesting, more funny version of it
  • Make this the first item in my portfolio

Stay Tuned!

Why I’m writing this blog

My apologies if this post lacks the super clarity that future ones will. I went around my room pretending to kick things like Jean Claude Van Damn as opposed to actually writing a plan on what I want to say.

Oh well: Here goes.

So why am I actually writing this blog?

I’ve already mentioned the fact that personal branding is gonna be everything in the future. The CV or resumé is dying. In its place people are asking for examples of previous work, or Press Releases of projects you’ve worked on. In 15 years time, I can’t see a personal blog being evaded from assessing a person’s prospects. I’m not talking about working for corporations, I’m talking about working for companies that actually have souls and that you want to work in.

The personal blog is going to be the new business card. That is my prediction. And I don’t want to miss out.

However a super duper more pressing reason I’m writing in this thing is that of accountability. I want to hold myself accountable for the crazy path I’m going to take down. You see saying I’m going to start a business is probably going to keep me in the dreamland that I like to live in. In this dreamland, I can not only fly and shoot laser beams from my eyes. But I am also be super productive and do whatever I’m going to say I do. All the hard work is minimised with a montage to an inspirational song like Push it to the Limit in Scarface.

Superman charging his laser
Me in my dream world

However I don’t live in this dreamland. I live in the real world. I didn’t get a choice like Neo to take the red or blue pill. This world is real. And results only happen after effective and consistent actions. The only way to become consistent is to generate habits. A great way to force yourself to be consistent is to let the entire world know your doing something. Stealth mode is dead. The new way of doing things is notifying everyone.

Well…not everyone. I still do like my social life without awkward questions like ‘So Heasman, how’s that business thing of yours going? [Insert common doubting message here]’. Hence instead I’ll detail my exploits here. By publishing it to the web, I can be held accountable. I did say I was going to do x. Hence I should do x. Knowing that the most respected trait of an entrepreneur is that of execution, this will hopefully make me learn how to execute.

There. The reason I’m writing in this blog. The reason the future posts are going to be damn detailed, and maybe nude. Well…probably not nude.

My Manifest Destiny to rule the world…or Hello World

Hello there!

This shall be my blog of THE HEASMAN dot com. I used to write on tumblr but I decided I needed a real blawg (you can find my tumblr here.)

I hadn’t yet started this because I used to wonder “Why should I bother? The people who have the best blogs are the ones who started around 2005.” Unfortunately I couldn’t start blogging in 2005 because I was 15 years old. And my biggest worries at that age were….whatever 15 year olds worry about. Y’know…. TV, girls, video games… that sorta stuff.

SO, there I was thinking:

“Shit. I need to get on this…But there’s no point”.

Sad Summy

sad summy is sad

But AHA! There is a point. I need a personal brand. In the age of the internet I do not want to be the dinosaur who is watching the impending asteroid of a forgotten identity crash into the world. And I’m going to rule this world. Surely the Earth needs a chronicle of how this is done?

So what is this blog actually going to be about?

I intend to chronicle my path to being an absolute BILLIONAIRE. (Well you gotta shoot for the moon. But worry not, my goals are not completely wealth based. I got plans for that money. Big plans.)

But I know its not going to be easy. It’s going to be a haaaaaaaaaaaaaaard road. A road involving slaying flying lions and dragons. (In metaphorical terms of course.)

Why am I doing this? Well firstly I need something out there on the internet that is mine. But also that this whole Entrepreneurship stuff…. is hard. I know this because I haven’t yet done it. I mean I have some very shallow experiences with the whole hustle game which I’ll detail in another post.

Onwards.

I decided I was going to round off this post by talking about why I’m actually so AWESOME.

Initially I’m going to say why I’m so awesome because I’m mixed race and the future Genetic Template of Humanity.

Deal with it.

Follow me @TheHeasman