REBUS St. Louis

The Freelance Diaries | Part I: How to Act Professional in Front of the Client by Michael Buffa
April 27, 2011, 1:12 pm
Filed under: Advertising, Job Search | Tags: , , , , ,

The Freelancer Diaries is a blog series I hope will provide some valuable info on what it’s like to be a freelance creative. It occurs to me that going freelance is an attractive proposition for many young creative professionals. It also occurs to me that many of the lessons I learned about being a freelancer didn’t come from a classroom; they came from real world trial and error. So gather round party peoples, and let’s discuss the practical particulars of being an independent contractor.

First, a little bit of bad news: The difference between “freelancing” and simply being unemployed is remarkably subtle. While freelancing can be a terrific way to build a portfolio and gain experience, months can pass by without a project. That’s why it’s important now, more than ever, to be on your A-game during every client interaction. Whether it’s a phone call, email, or the dreaded face-to-face, you have to practically ooze professionalism out of your pores. But be careful, and don’t ooze too much- it’s easy to come off as slimy.

The Basics

Let’s talk business for a minute. If you freelance through a recruiting agency like “The Creative Group,” or “Bishop Partners,” you don’t have to worry about the sorted technicalities of the business side. If you’re going it alone as a free agent, however, you have a lot more work to do.  Ultimately you’ll have more control over every aspect of your business, but there is a learning curve and I’m guessing you don’t have a business degree lying around (then again, maybe you do). Luckily, in reality, you really don’t need one. You just need to have a few mandatory items figured out before you can put yourself out there as a legitimate business. With that, here are the things you need to have ready before you should even begin talking to a client as a free agent.

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Size Shouldn’t Matter: Starting Your Agency Career by Michael Buffa
April 20, 2011, 8:15 am
Filed under: Advertising, Agencies, Job Search | Tags: , , , ,

Bart Cleveland, a contributor at Ad Age and Creative Director at McKee Wallwork Cleveland penned a recent article titled, “Why Starting at a Small Agency Is Better for Your Career.”  In the article he hits on a number of points, but the fundamental fact he tries to hit home is that having a mentor plays the most important part in career development.  He argues that at a small shop, the chances of interacting one-on-one with an industry expert or a mentor are greater than that of a large.  With no big agency experience behind my belt, I thought I’d weigh in with my two cents (for what they’re worth) in saying that I don’t think it’s the size of agency, I think it’s the determination of the individual, that truly fosters growth.

When I started out as wee little intern (a little less than 18 months ago), I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.  Much to the dismay of my employer, I was typical gen Y’er, a fearless kid that didn’t label myself with a job description.  I was a damn good writer (or so I thought), a social media enthusiast (staying far away from the term guru), and an organized, detail person with an avid interest in strategic planning.  I didn’t go to brainstorms to manage the conversations; I went in to throw out ideas.  But learning more and more about production, the demands of developing interactive platforms, and the idea that writing copy was much different than writing a blog post, I soon realized that client services was where my passions were best played out.  At a small agency, I was given the chance to find my strengths, sit in on meetings, and understand where I was best suited.  I can’t speak for what the experience would have been like at a larger agency, but I assume that internships are often approached from a similar standpoint regardless of agency size.

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St. Louis Ad Club Presents: AdStock 2011 by Michael Buffa
April 13, 2011, 7:59 am
Filed under: Advertising, Agencies, Events | Tags: , ,

Member of the St. Louis Ad Club?  Member of a band?  Now’s your chance to show off in front of the St. Louis music scene.

The St. Louis Ad Club is hosting AdStock 2011, a battle-of-the-bands style party giving Ad Club members an opportunity to rock the stage for a 30-50 minute set at Blueberry Hill.

Think your guitar skills could shred Chuck Berry into chuck roast?  We recommend you check out the details below.

Date: August 2011 (exact date TBD)
Venue: Duck Room @ Blueberry Hill
Bill: 4-6 bands
Approx Set Time: 30-50 minutes
Drums and amps provided
At least 1 band member must be a member of the St. Louis Ad Club

Contact Jon Fulmer by April 18 if you’d like to be on the bill —

Vote For Vibram: Help Coolfire Win a Webby by Michael Buffa
April 12, 2011, 11:34 am
Filed under: Advertising, Agencies

Local shop Coolfire Media is making some national news this morning with a Webby nomination for their Vibram YOUARETHETECHNOLOGY Web site they produced last year.  The Web site- was produced with agency partner NAIL out of Rhode Island and has been nominated for BEST VISUAL DESIGN in the FUNCTION CATEGORY.  Other nominees include: CNN, VIMEO, TED, and the ANNE FRANK HOUSE, so they’re up against some pretty heavy hitters.

Want to help Coolfire kick the competition to the curb?  So do we.  Voting is (somewhat) simple.  See below for instructions on how you can help support Coolfire and the St. Louis ad scene.

Go to this link to vote:

1) You will see the category at the very top of the screen.  Go under the YOUARETHETECHNOLOGY icon and CLICK “REGISTER TO VOTE”.

2) This will take you to a registration page.  You can quickly create a registration password there or log in using Facebook or Twitter.

3) Once you register, THEN go back to this link again:

4) This will take you directly to the category again but this time you will be registered and can vote directly.  VOTE for

Good luck to the team at Coolfire.

What do you think of the Vibram Web site?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Fabricated & Fabulous: How to Build a Design Portfolio Without Professional Experience by Michael Buffa
April 4, 2011, 2:53 pm
Filed under: Advertising, Design, Job Search | Tags: , , , , , ,

Let’s get hypothetical for a moment. You’re a designer. You recently graduated, or just changed careers, and don’t have a lot of what the experts call “real world experience”. Interviewers want to see your portfolio, but all you have is that logo you did for your friend’s indie rock band. They shake their heads in disappointment and call security to escort you from the building. They don’t even validate your parking.

If this chilling scenario is a little less hypothetical than you’d care to admit, you’re not alone. The problem many budding creative professionals face during their early years is a lack of quality samples. This can seem like a catch 22; you need experience to fill your book, but you can’t get experience unless you already have a book filled with killer work. This doesn’t have to be the case. You can always sell yourself on your potential. Here’s how.

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