Hello and welcome to the The Spark & The Art creativity podcast. Thank you for subscribing to our weekly podcast, where we alternate between interviews with creative folks from all different career levels and insight and inspiration episodes. All with the intention you’ll get what you need to get your creative projects started and, more importantly, finished.
I’m your host Tucker and this week is an update on my job search and what I’ve been doing to create my own opportunities.
You can sell anything you want. The secret is to sell what other people want. I’m not going to get into the difference between selling what people want and what people need I’ll cover that in another episode one day.
I’m a user experience designer by trade. User experience is the design space that sits between visual design, technology design and business design. I feel like my core skill is interaction design. This is where designing how an interface for an app or online tool will communicate to a user what can or can't be done and what the current state of the tool is. It’s more of a behavioural view of an interface than look and feel. There is a lot of need for this skill set but most companies still consider this visual design task and most UI/UX positions are geared toward this.
I spent the first portion of my time off putting together my resume and portfolio I did this in a PDF format and it outlines 3 large successful projects I worked on. I researched the companies that were currently offering UX positions and wrote a cover letter specifically for each one outlining how my skills match the ones they outlined in the posting. Choosing skills that weren’t necessarily outlined in the resume/portfolio. Once those applications were finalized I had a choice. I could wait for them to call and search for more positions to become available. Or I could set out looking at what it might look like if I set out to own my own job.
I could head out into the market and say I’m a web designer and get some Wordpress themes but there are already a large amount of small companies filling this need. I could choose a niche serving plumbers or real estate agents or musicians but I feel like this particular market isn’t where I best fit. Also, at some point I need to replace as much of my current salary as possible and I’m not sure I could find enough 3K or 5K website projects to support my family.
So I looked at my other skills. In the last year I spent a lot of time using click-tracking and heat mapping software on websites. Okay this may sound creepy but there are websites who record your interactions on their sites. Each mouse move and mouse click on every page you visit is recorded. These anonymized interactions with the site are observed and behaviour patterns are gleaned so that the design of the site can be optimized to remove areas of friction in the process. Whether that’s on the sales side where we want to make sure that a purchase isn’t abandoned in the cart or in a self-serve account section where we want to enable the customer to control their settings and preferences so they don’t have to call-in to the call-centre because no one wants to wait on hold to set their call waiting settings for their phone.
So, I have those skills and know they are valuable to companies and their customers. The things I have to figure out are: What to offer. How much to charge and who to offer it to. You know simple little things. I chose to focus on the 'What to offer’ first. And just how exactly would I find out if people need heat mapping and click tracking analytics on their websites? I asked them.
Here is an example of the email I sent to 5 people at different sized companies:
- Does [your company] use heat-mapping or click-tracking services when optimizing your purchase flow? (i.e. Clicktale, Crazyegg, HotJar)
- Do you know if [your company] has considered using these products?
- What kept your team from moving forward?
- If these products are new to you what are a couple of the first questions that come to mind?
So far I've received 3 responses and I learned:
- Had heard of the tools but weren’t clear on how it would help them
- They had each tried the tools but found they didn’t have time to figure it out
- If they understood it better themselves they’d be more likely to take the idea of these tools to their team/customers
How does it work?
- "How do you make valuable adjustments to the site?"
- How do you make sense of the data?
- “Heatmaps are more intuitive than just numbers"
What is it for?
- Are heatmaps Usability? Design? Marketing? How can it help in each of these?
- "How does heat mapping help my business?"
I understand these sentiments from when I first started using the tools myself. I could figure out how to get the data but interpreting the data to get answers to my questions was the challenge. So after some training and web searches and a lot of time in side the software itself I came up with a process and a philosophy that worked to find trouble areas in a website flow.
If I am going to offer these services in a consultant role I need to get potential clients to understand the value I know is possible from these tools. I can’t just show up at their door and say “I’m good at heat maps yo.” I need to put on my salesman hat. I need to answer the questions above.
How do I do that? A couple ideas are:
- I could offer training sessions for people who do have these tools but need help on how to analyze the data. I could do this in person or set up a self-guided online course.
- I could find a couple people I know and work through the process on their site pro bono. This would give me a couple test cases to showcase to potential clients.
- I could just offer to do pro bono work for potential clients with a caveat that if there is improvement I am paid a pre-negotiated rate
- I could write blog posts or do video examples of how it all works and off them for free to potential clients in an inbound marketing fashion.
That’s where I am. I’ve applied for some available positions and I’ve set out on a path to set up my own job.
This is where you get to do some thinking:
- Do you even want to make an income doing your creative work? Or is it to fill a personal need in yourself?
- What do you do that other people don’t, can’t or won’t?
- Who will be best able to benefit from what you offer?
- Who will be best able to compensate you for what you offer?
- How will you let your potential customers know what you offer?
I had some really nice comments come through email on the laid-off episode. I really appreciate it. Especially Gareth your letter was awesome and I think you should find a way to share your film sooner rather than later. Release the original cut and then the director’s cut later if you decide to make your tweaks.
You can get me on twitter @sparkartpodcast
Thanks for listening and remember: you won’t get the art without the work and you won’t do the work without the spark.