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Leading Ladies In Tech: Caitlin Clark Zigmond

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Caitlyn Clark Zigmond

 

Caitlin Clark Zigmond is the Vice President of Product Management at CoreDial. She shares her experience of over 30 years where she has worked with numerous companies under several different capacities. She started out in Hi-Tech as the Director of operations working for a company that built precision hot stages in science and industry, which involved working with one of the first windows based research pieces of equipment. From there, Caitlin decided that she wanted to become an entrepreneur and started her own catering business. Growing up, she cooked at home as both her parents were working, and that influenced her first business. She bought a company with just four employees and grew it to the third largest company in Boulder, Colorado. Caitlin gave up the business to start a family with her partner. Over the next few years, she went from being the first Product Manager for New Global Telecom (NGT), to Product Lead for Hosted PBX, then Advanced Voice at Comcast who acquired Hosted PBX, and finally to CoreDial.

Caitlin spoke about the hurdles she had to face in the workplace and managing a work/life balance. Ruth Bader of the Supreme Court is her female role model because of how she has consistently broken down barriers throughout her career while maintaining a true level of professionalism. Though she’s faced immense challenges and a heavy degree of sexism for her role in a previously all-male space, she has a fierce dedication to equality. Caitlin said it reminds her to connect to all those around her, whether it’s family or a more professional setting. As Caitlin says, “Be open to new things and stay strong on your life’s journey.”

Caitlin Clark Zigmond

Caitlin Clark Zigmond

Caitlin Clark Zigmond

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Design Pickle Vs Penji: Which Is The Best Unlimited Graphic Design Service? (w/Promo codes)

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Design Pickle vs Penji cover

Two names dominate the unlimited graphic design space – Penji and Design Pickle. Design Pickle vs Penji, which is the better service for you? We signed up for both companies and see who offers a better service, so you don’t have to.

Unlimited graphic design companies are a new breed of services that are gaining popularity in the last few years (see the complete list of unlimited graphic design companies). Their promise is simple, you pay a flat monthly rate and get unlimited design projects for the month.

No hiring, no HR, no interviews, and absolutely no managing on your part. Just submit the designs, and the company will find the best designer for you and take care of the rest. Sounds too good to be true? We did an in-depth review of Penji and Design Pickle (coming soon) to see if the promise is real, and the promise holds up.

Today, we’ll see which of these two unlimited graphic design service providers offer the best value for your money. For our comparison review, we’re going to be comparing these two companies based on the following criteria: Speed, Quality, Communications, Ease of use, and Value.

DESIGN PICKLE VS PENJI – QUICK SUMMARY

This is a rather long and extensive review. So if you don’t want to go through everything, here’s a quick 2-minute summary of everything.

  • We signed up for both Penji and Design Pickle’s $399 plan to see which company provided a better service and experience.
  • Pricing differences: Penji’s pricing included more design types. Design Pickle didn’t include Logos, complex infographics, and presentations.
  • Custom Illustrations: Included with Penji’s Team ($499) and Agency ($899) plan. Design Pickle charges $499 add-on on top of your existing plan.
  • Design quality test: Both companies received the same four projects with the same exact wording, attachments, etc.
  • Design Pickle won “Versus” blog Featured Image
  • Penji won Facebook Cover Image For Digital Pub, Print Magazine Cover Re-Design, and Content Infographic Re-Design.
  • Creativity & details: Penji’s designs were more creative and got the small details
  • Customer support: Design Pickle had more responsive support and online knowledgebase. Penji’s account manager was more responsive and proactive emailed us.
  • Turnaround: Both companies delivered 2-3 drafts within 24 hours. Revisions were also speedy. Design Pickle took 12 – 24 hours for revisions, while Penji usually turnaround revisions the same day.
  • Platform & Integrations: Both had intuitive and easy to use platforms. Design Pickle had more integrations. Penji’s slack integration was difficult to use and requires dev help.

Final verdict

Design Pickle vs Penji, the winner is Penji in several categories. Design Pickle did win in a few categories. However, Penji won in the major categories that mattered. Penji’s design quality, attention to detail, and creativeness tends to be superior.

Penji offers better value as covering more design categories. Penjis’ team also was more responsive and felt like working with people instead of processes and canned responses.

Design Pickle was excellent in terms of their processes and operations. However, that shows in the design output and communication. Everything felt more mechanical, robotic, and templated.

Penji promo code

If you want to give them a try, use this Penji promo code “OWNER25” to get 25% off your 1st month. Full disclaimer, we receive a commission when you use the code.

Design Pickle’s promo code


DESIGN PICKLE VS PENJI FULL REVIEW

Although both companies offer the same services, their pricing model is very different. Design Pickle separates their plans into Pro and Standard. Standard starts at $399/month and you’ll be working with a Philippine designer for next-day turnaround.

Meanwhile, the $995 lets you work with the designer via Slack for real-time communication and same-day delivery. You also get advanced infographics, animated GIFS, and Powerpoint designs for the Pro plan.

Design Pickle's pricing table
(Pricing as of 4/2/2020. Picture edited to fit article. )

Penji’s pricing, on the other hand, has three tiers. Penji’s low plan is ironically called its “Pro” plan. At $399/mo it costs the same as Design Pickle’s Standard plan and appears to offer the same level of design service. Design Pickle offers Zapier integrations. Although Penji doesn’t offer Zapier integrations, they have an Invite feature that lets you add more than one user to the account. I personally find that very useful.

Penji's pricing table
(Pricing as of 4/2/2020. Picture edited to fit article)

For this review, we chose to sign up for the $399 Standard plan from Design Pickle vs $399 Pro plan from Penji. Here’s a chart to compare the two plans side by side.

DESIGN PICKLE VS PENJI $399 PLAN COMPARISON

The pricing page alone doesn’t tell the whole story. We want to know exactly what each plan offers and what you get in terms of design offerings for $399/month. After digging around their websites and asking their support chat, we uncovered more details each plan has to offer. Here’s a chart we made to showcase all of the hidden features and important benefits included with the $399 plan from each company.

Design Pickle vs Penji: Basic plan comparison chart

There’s a number of differences between the two Company’s offerings for their base $399 plans that you need to be aware of.

# Of Designers

This is how many designers you’ll be working with essentially. Design Pickle’s pricing plans indicate that you’ll be assigned to 1 designer and be working with just that designer. Meanwhile, Penji doesn’t assign you to any designer until you actually create a project. When you create a project, they will assign you to the best available designer for that type of project.

Penji’s support team told me they utilize this method of assigning to make sure we only work with designers who are actually good at the type of design we’re requesting. I’ll have to give a point to Penji for this one.

Logo Designs

Design Pickle explicitly stated that they only offer Logo design for their Pro plan ($995/m). It’s not explicitly stated on Penji’s pricing page, but their customer support confirmed logo design is included for all plans.

Illustrations

Neither company offers custom illustrations as a part of their $399 plan. However how they incorporate it is uniquely different. Penji packaged Custom Illustration in their Team ($499) and Agency ($899) plans.

Design Pickle doesn’t include Custom Illustration in their Pro plan ($995). To get Custom Illustrations, you will need to pay an extra $499 add-on every month that you need an illustrator.

Design Pickle vs Penji: Here’s what it will cost you to get custom illustrations with each company.

Penji: Team plan $499 / month (includes Custom Illustrations)

Design Pickle: Pro plan $399 + $499 Custom Illustration add-on = $898 / month

It costs quite a bit more to get custom illustration with Design Pickle. If you rarely need custom illustrations, this won’t be an issue. But if custom illustration is a big part of your design needs, you might need to look closely at this.

1. REGISTRATION AND ONBOARDING

Design Pickle vs Penji’s registration process was both smooth and efficient. I didn’t feel either one asked too many questions or was complicated. Penji allows you to sign up for any plan you want right away. Meanwhile, Design Pickle only lets you sign up for the Standard plan. To register for the Pro ($995) plan, you need to schedule a demo

Design Pickle versus Penji’s Onboarding

After I signed up for their services, both led me straight into their online portal right away. I was able to create my first project almost immediately. I didn’t actually get a “Welcome” email with Design Pickle, which was strange, I figured they’d send me something. I did get a handful of emails, one of which was a brilliantly created video that showed me how to write a better project description. The video was quite long, but it was polished, well written, and hilarious. I love that about their company.

Penji was very conservative with their onboarding. I received an official “Welcome to Penji” email with essential information, which was nice. Then the next day I received an email from someone named Charmaine from their company. It wasn’t a templated or auto-responder email, it was my account manager emailing asking how I was doing. I liked that.

2. CREATING DESIGN PROJECTS

Now for the real question – who provides better quality designs? All the features, bells, and whistles are pointless if the company can’t turnaround quality designs for you.

We created three test projects and posted them to Penji and Design Pickle. To make sure everything was fair, all projects have the exact same description and attachments. We even went as far as giving them the same exact feedback on each of the drafts.

Here are the test projects:

  1. Facebook Cover Image For Digital Pub
  2. Print Magazine Cover Re-Design
  3. Content Infographic Re-Design
  4. “Versus” blog Featured Image

As a digital publication, we work with design agencies and freelancers to get our design work done. These projects are taken directly from our queue. We chose these projects specifically because they all require different skills to complete and will give us an idea of how versatile each company is.

3. TURNAROUND TIME

We submitted the four projects to both Penji and Design Pickle respectively. Both the drafts and revisions were quick by both companies.

Design Pickle

We received drafts for 2 out of 4 projects back the next day. This was very fast, much faster than any of the freelancers we’ve hired. One of the projects didn’t receive submissions because my designer had a question that needed a response, which was understandable.

Upon submitting revisions, I started to see delays. Even when I submitted simple revisions, it seems to always take 24 hours no matter how small or big the revisions were.

Penji

We received drafts for 3 out of the 4 projects back from Penji within 24 hours. Just as fast as Design Pickle. My designer also asked a question about one of the projects, but she skipped that one and worked on the 4th project instead of waiting for my response.

Revisions were usually done the same day. And I noticed that if my designer isn’t online, my account manager would assign another designer to quickly jump in and make the revisions.

Turnaround Winner…Penji

Design Pickle vs Penji in terms of turnaround time, Penji is the faster company. Both companies were fantastically speedy with delivery and I can’t say I was disappointed with either company. However, Penji was able to deliver fast revisions, especially simple ones much quicker. And that’s important because waiting 24 hours for a fix on a small grammatical error is frustrating.

4. DESIGN QUALITY

Now for the ultimate reveal. Design Pickle vs Penji, which company produced better quality design? See for yourself.

“Versus” blog Featured Image

Blog Graphics Comparison

View DP’s design | View Penji’s Design

This was a fairly simple blog graphic request. We write a lot of comparison articles and wanted a featured image that we can use as a template and swap out names of products or companies we’re comparing.

Design Pickle: My designer was Arvin. It took us several revisions to get to the final product, and overall it’s very close to what I had envisioned. 8/10

Penji: My designer was Kenny. It also took several revisions, however, I can’t say I was pleased with the final product. It felt like Kenny was just following literal instructions and nothing more after the 2nd revisions. I give this project 5/10.


Facebook Cover Image For Digital Pub

Design Pickle vs Penji Facebook Cover Design Comparison

View DP’s design | View Penji’s Design

One of our publishing partner Consumer’s Guide needed a new Facebook cover photo. This was a fairly simple design request, with the exception that you have to check out the website and understand what the company does in order to create a banner. I gave special instructions such as …use the Logo in the design and showcase what the publication does on the cover image.

Design Pickle: Given I was impressed with Arvin on the 1st project, I was thoroughly disappointed with this one. I don’t think the designer ever went to the website to review the publication at all. Just a glance would’ve helped. This looks like 6 random images from Pexel or Unsplash stitched together. 3/10

Penji: Rowell (a different designer) was assigned to this project, and it seemed like he took the time to review the website before designing. I didn’t even know, but apparently there was a new logo on the website that I wasn’t aware of. Rowell took the time to ask for the new logo. The end result was beautiful and our friends over at Consumer’s Guide loved it. 9/10


Print Magazine Cover Re-Design

Magazine Cover Comparison

View DP’s design | View Penji’s Design

By far one of the most important projects for us. We’re both a digital and a print publication and this spring we’re releasing another edition of Owner’s Mag. The designers are tasked to design the actual cover for Owner’s Mag second edition print magazine. All instructions, copy, and even past designs were given. The cover needed to look professional, refined, and most importantly highlight the Coronavirus Pandemic. I also asked for this to design in Photoshop.

Design Pickle: I was assigned to Alyssa randomly, and wasn’t sure why. The first draft was atrociously bad and she gave me Adobe Illustrator files instead of Photoshop like I had requested. Arvin (my main designer) was quickly re-assigned to fix the design. Several drafts later, it’s just nowhere near the level of polish and professionalism that we needed. I gave instructions to “Highlight the Coronavirus” section. My designer proceeded to make the texts CORONAVIRUS texts bigger. Quality rating: 3/10.

Penji: Billie was assigned to this project. The first several drafts were simply amazing. It was clear to me that Billie has designed plenty of magazine covers before as she knew where to place things and how to organize content blocks on a cover. It took a few revisions to be perfect, but I was happy from the beginning.

What I was most impressed with was how she clever highlighted the “Coronavirus” section. I was speechless at the final product. I showed the design to my editor and they couldn’t believe it didn’t come from one of the design agencies we hired. Of all the designs we submitted, the quality and level of creativity in this design far exceeded our expectations. And this is the design we will likely be going with for our print edition. Quality rating: 10/10


Content Infographic Re-Design

View DP’s design | View Penji’s Design

Infographics are some of the most challenging and difficult designs to get right. We’ve hired a lot of people to design infographics for us, and it’s hard to find someone good who understands how to design infographics. Infographics need to be entertaining to look at. And they also need to present statistics and numbers in a creative and meaningful way that’s easy to read and digest. We weren’t sure how either Design Pickle or Penji would fare in this. If anything, we expected both companies to do poorly.

Design Pickle: Arvin did follow instructions, however, there was no creativity in the design. It’s just left and right blocks of texts and icons. The icons were all of the different stylings, clearly from different designers on Freepik or another free resource site. And there’s just no creativity in this design. It looks boring, bland, and the numbers are just displayed. It’s hard looking at this design and imagining a lot of thought went into it.

I have to be fair and say that it’s not a bad design, but it’s not an infographic. Not even close. And this isn’t something we can use to publish for our audience. Design quality: 4/10

Penji: I was assigned another designer from the beginning, but requested for Billie given how impressive her Magazine cover design was. The result – absolutely breath-taking. The gradient is beautiful and easy to look at. Each item from 1 – 8 was organized and flow gracefully down the page.

Each icon makes sense with its content block. And the way the 55%, and 78% statistic was intelligent and meaningful. All of the content seems like they fit and flow together. This infographic design is on the same level of professionalism and detail that we’re used to from working with design agencies in our city. Design quality: 10/10

5. ATTENTION TO DETAILS

Both designers from Penji and Design Pickle were fantastic individuals to work with and we don’t have complaints with either Arvin or Billie. However, designers from Penji seem to pay more close attention to the details of the designs. In several designs, if you inspect closely, you can see how much attention Penji designers put into all the little details.

There was a lot of little errors from Design Pickle’s submission. The woman in the pink shirt icon is duplicated in two of the graphics. The 78% graphic didn’t make any sense and you can’t see the tiny icons inside of the icon.

The other thing that bothered us was the use of colors. The design on the left had poor color choices for the background colors. The light-blue is used twice, and they connect and bleed into each other (1 and 7). Penji’s design on the right had colors that complement one another and just overall looks more professional.

6. CREATIVITY

Creativity is a difficult thing to measure and ask for. It’s easy to tell your designer to “be creative” with the design, but it’s almost impossible to pinpoint. Creativity is one of those things where you just have to trust that your designer has.

My experience working with Design Pickle vs working with Penji was polarizing. Despite giving the same instructions and feedback word for word, the outcome was completely different. Design Pickle’s designers were great at following detailed instructions and almost too good to the point where they didn’t put in their own creativity.

For the Magazine cover design, I gave the following instructions

  • Have stock images of people moving and working in the background to show movement
  • Make Product Review and Exclusive sections stand out
  • The major headline is “Coronavirus Pandemic Explained”. Make this the most prominent element on the page

As you can see from the image above, the two designers both had a different creative vision for how to make the Coronavirus section stand out. To us, Penji’s vision was more creative and impactful.

ONLINE PLATFORM

Both Design Pickle and Penji have their own dedicated platform, which is both a good and a bad thing. We personally prefer if their designer just joins our platform and works with our team on Asana or Trello. But we understand their business model can’t allow for that kind of personalization.

Both platforms were super easy to use and I have very little complaints. They’re not complex platforms and are both seamless enough that you won’t need any complicated tutorials or share-screen walk-through to get the hang of.

I didn’t like how Design Pickle’s platform constantly tries to sell me their CEO’s content. The platform tries too hard to get me to click on links to his podcasts, webinars, etc. and I was more annoyed than appreciative.

Penji’s platform is cleaner, less bulky, and didn’t try to sell me anything. And that, I appreciated. I get that Design Pickle wants to get more clicks and signups for their CEO’s webinars, but there are better ways to do that.

INTEGRATIONS

One of the things I love about Design Pickle is its abundance of integrations thanks to Zapier. Although I haven’t used it myself, my co-workers swear by it and have used Zapier integrations with other software. I don’t know how their Slack integration works because we signed up for the Standard plan, but I have a feeling it’s not actually an integration, but more so someone joining our slack team and working with us. And that’s a great thing.

Penji didn’t have Zapier integration, instead, they have Slack Integration API. It was a bit complicated and required our developer to actually setup with our Slack. Definitely not user-friendly or intuitive. This point goes to Design Pickle.

COMMUNICATIONS

Communication is VERY important in graphic design. Both companies did an exceptional job communicating within all of the design projects. Despite not being able to meet or talk to any of the designers and having everything be done online, communication always felt responsive and tight with both companies.

The one thing I like about Penji was that my account manager was very active in communicating with me. I believe I also had an account manager for Design Pickle, but I can’t even remember their name since they rarely contacted me except when I wanted to cancel.

My account manager, Charmaine, emailed me right after I signed up and personally contacted me when she saw that I wasn’t happy with some of the revisions. That’s an extra layer of care that Penji gave that was missing from Design Pickle. And to me, it made a huge difference in my overall satisfaction.

CUSTOMER SUPPORT

Design Pickle vs Penji’s customer support. Both companies provided top-notch customer support and both were very responsive to my needs.

Design Pickle shined in two major areas when it comes to their support. They use Intercom for live chat and during most day-time hours someone was available to answer me. They also have a knowledge base where you can look up commonly asked questions, although I’m not sure how useful this would be since this is a service and not a complex SaaS software. Regardless, it was a nice thing to have just in case.

Penji’s customer support was also excellent as my account manager was a real person who constantly checks on my projects and contacts me proactively whenever there was an issue. I really liked the human element that Penji always seems to provide. The downside is that there’s no live chat. And whenever I needed help, the chat interface of Penji just sends an email out to my account manager.

Overall, both companies were great. Design Pickle responds faster and has more online help resources. Penji, on the other hand, has a very active account manager who proactively emails me.

OUR FINAL VERDICT

Choosing a winner is difficult as both companies are great in their own respective ways. Both have been around for several years, however, I believe Design Pickle has been around longer. Both provide a great experience and I can’t say I’m upset or disappointed with either service. But there are many areas where one outshines the other.

Design quality – Penji

Of the four projects, Design Pickle won 1/4. Penji won the remaining 3/4. The clear winner in terms of design quality goes to Penji. From our experience, the design quality, creativity, and attention to detail were better with Penji than with Design Pickle.

Turnaround time – Tie

Design Pickle vs Penji in turnaround is a complete tie. Both were exceptionally fast with their initial drafts and also revisions. Design Pickle lagged a bit and usually took 12 – 24 hours to complete revisions, but my designer turned around more drafts than Penji.

Penji even though turned over fewer initial drafts, the designs were higher quality and revisions were usually the same day. Both providers were incredibly fast by any standards, therefore we call this one a tie.

Attention to detail – Penji

Penji outright wins in this category. In just about every design submission we received, our designer from Penji seems to pay closer attention to the little details than their counterpart at Design Pickle.

Creativity – Penji

Design Pickle vs Penji’s creative output is actually a close one. Arvin from Design Pickle was great at the Versus blog graphics. It was so creative that we’re using it for this specific review. However, Arvin and the other designers assigned to me seemed to stumble at more complex projects such as the infographic and Magazine cover.

Penji designers tend to ask me more questions and submit more drafts for me to choose from. You can see from the designs above, submissions from Penji generally appear more refined, creative, and artistic.

Overall, Penji wins at the creative output.

The winner…

Design Pickle vs Penji – the winner has been decided. It’s Penji. Both companies are exceptional, however, we chose Penji for the following reasons:

  • Penji offered more value for the same price
  • Better quality design, attention to detail, and creativity
  • Felt like I was working with real people more than processes and automation

This certainly doesn’t mean that Design Pickle doesn’t have good designers. We acknowledge that luck could play a role. Perhaps Arvin from Design Pickle wasn’t the best pick for us. And perhaps we got paired with the best designer on Penji. Who knows. But factoring in multiple criteria and testing various types of design projects, we concluded that Penji gave us a better experience and proved to be a better value.

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Business

Penji Review: Unlimited Graphic Design Service (w/25% Promo code)

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Penji review with promo code

Penji is a relatively new startup based in Philadelphia, PA offering a unique business model. They offer unlimited graphic design services for a flat monthly rate. You can submit as many design projects as you want via their online portal, and they’ll complete your requests one at a time until your queue is complete.

This type of service promises to be a great added resource for teams to improve productivity. Sounds too good to be true? We thought so too, that’s why we decided to sign up and see if the promise is real.

Quick Summary

Don’t feel like reading? Here’s a quick summary of our review with Penji’s unlimited graphic design service.

Pros

  • Easy and quick to create design projects
  • VERY fast turnaround on most projects. I expected just 1 draft in 24 hours but instead received 3 drafts. Revisions were sometimes completed the same day I submitted them.
  • A lot of features such as Revision tool, Invite team members, Brand profile, and more.
  • Upbeat communication from everyone I interact with.
  • Dedicated and responsive account manager that replies within a few hours.

Cons

  • Can’t call or talk to designers

Final Verdict

Penji’s “unlimited” design model turned out to be an amazingly high-quality service at an affordable price that’s backed by a great team. But you need to have the right expectations going in. The experience is entirely online and you won’t get any face-time with your designer.

Compared to designing yourself, hiring freelancers, or using Fiverr, Penji is a much better service and value by a long shot. Their team of designers lived up to the promise and exceeded my expectations.

Penji Promo Code

If you want to give them a try, use this Penji promo code “OWNER25” to get 25% off your 1st month. Full disclaimer, we receive a commission when you use the code.


PENJI FULL REVIEW

Signing Up For Penji

Signing up for Penji was a relatively quick and painless process. Overall, took about 5 minutes to get all of my questions answered by their customer support via Intercom and another 2 minutes to complete the checkout process.

1. Support Chat

This is something I personally test every company for – how fast and reliable their support is. If they’re unresponsive now, it will only get worse once I’m a customer. I hit up Penji’s customer support team via their Intercom chat popup and got a response within 30 seconds, which is pretty good. I asked basic questions and the agent seemed knowledgable

2. Choosing a plan

Clear and easy to understand. All the packages are laid out with monthly, quarterly, and yearly pricing. Each of the features also has a little information icon that explains what it is.

3. Checking out

The multi-step process was easy to follow, and what you pay is clearly displayed. Checking out was also a breeze and took about 2 minutes for us.


Submitting Design Projects

Now it’s time to create my first project. Clicking on the “Create new project” button, I’m presented with a visual chart of all the designs they offer. I personally prefer this, because I can see what the designs look like. They offer a lot more categories than I thought and the list is extensive.

Filling out the form

Similar to most other online design services, I have to fill out a form explaining what I want. The form is intuitive, easy to follow, and doesn’t ask that many questions. Most of the questions are optional.

My test projects

As a digital publisher, we produce content on a daily basis and always have a need for on-brand graphic design. I created several diverse types of projects to test how well rounded Penji is and how they handle both simple and complex projects. A simple banner should be difficult, but can they handle a complex infographic with lots of texts and imagery? Here are my test projects.

  1. Blog Graphic: Best DSLR Camera Equipment For Beginners
  2. Custom Illustration: Best Vacuum Cleaner Money Can Buy
  3. Facebook Post: Isometric Tech Gadget Graphic
  4. Magazine Print Cover (Owner’s Magazine’s 2020 May Edition

Despite creating four projects, the entire process was quick and smooth. I didn’t feel like I spent too much time creating them and their internal platform was lightning fast. At this pace, I can see myself submitting a ton of projects on their platform with ease.

These four projects range in difficulty and should be enough for me to evaluate Penji’s competency. Now that the projects have been created, I’ll wait and see if Penji can deliver on the promise of these being turned around within 24 hours.


Turnaround Time

I expect at least one draft the next day. What I didn’t expect were three projects to have drafts. That’s absurdly fast by any standards. Most freelancers and design firms we’ve hired take at least several days to turn around just one draft.

After reviewing the designs, which were surprisingly good considering it’s the first draft AND were turnaround within 24 hours, I realized how they did it. Every project had a different designer. I wasn’t assigned just one designer. That explains how they get things done so quickly.

Revision Turnaround Time

Revisions were turned around pretty fast. Their support agent actually told me it will take 24 hours to turn around revisions. I found that its a same-day turnaround most of the time. The revisions that took 24 hours were typically much more involved.

Overall, I never felt like revisions took too long. Most came back within a few hours after I submitted them.


Leaving Revisions

Everything is done online so I can’t just call my designer and tell them what I want to change. My one gripe would be that I prefer to have some sort of real-time chat with my designer or at least have a skype call. That’s one thing I like working with my freelancers, is that whenever they were online, we could just have a back and forth conversation to get the revisions across. I can’t do that with Penji.

Built-in Revision Tool (see image above)

Penji has a built-in revision tool that lets me click anywhere on the design to leave a revision. I found this incredibly useful and enables me to pin-point what I want to change.


The Results

It took about 1 week to go back and forth with revisions and edits for all 3 design projects. At the end of the week, I received the final drafts for all three. Here are the results of the three test projects.

1. Blog Graphic: Best DSLR Camera Equipment For Beginners

This far exceeded my expectations and will more than do for the blog I’m writing about DSLR camera equipment. I think most designers would probably just stop with 1-2 icons and graphics for this design. My designer decided to add the tripod, three lenses, drone, backpack, and a whole entire stage lighting kit.

I didn’t ask for those, but I’m impressed with the quality of the design. No revisions needed. I approved this project 1st try.

2. Custom Illustration: Best Vacuum Cleaner Money Can Buy

For this project, I asked my designer (Kei) to do a custom illustration of a man vacuuming his floor. He actually drew it up and then send me a rough sketch first before he started coloring it in. That was an extra layer of care and attention to detail I wasn’t expecting. Needless to say, I approved of his drawing and then he delivered this draft the next day.

Revisions

Everything in this graphic was hand-drawn and then colored. That’s impressive. Like the first project, I couldn’t think of any revisions except asking him to put the texts “Best Vacuum Cleaner Money Can Buy” in. Just when I thought Kei couldn’t outdo himself…

He went the extra mile and designed the text to fit the graphics. See for yourself above. Details like these I would have had to harass my freelancer and he would try to nickel and dime me for every revision. Great work Kei!

3. Facebook Post: Isometric Tech Gadget Graphic

My designer Jave’s 1st draft amazed me because of how many icons and details he put into this graphic. I had asked for an isometric graphic with various tech products laid out on an isometric glass plane. I honestly thought my description may have been a bit too vague, but somehow he understood my vision better than me and made it work.

I left one comment for this project, “Wow.” and marked it as complete.

4. Magazine Print Cover (Owner’s Magazine’s 2020 May Edition)

My designer Billie gave me 3 versions of the magazine cover. I don’t like Version 1 at all, it seems too templated. I personally like Version 2 and 3 and left revisions accordingly. The Corona Virus image was entirely her idea, and I love it.

Revisions

This project took a bit longer than the others because my designer Billie had a lot of questions and we had a lot of back and forth. I didn’t mind at all since she was asking good questions that I should’ve clarified in the first place. Overall, I appreciated the extra time she took to understand me and the project better.

About three days later I got another draft and this one blew everything before it out of the water.


Communication

All communication is done online through Penji’s proprietary online portal. That includes revisions, feedback, and answering any questions my designers may have.

Communication With Designer

I was assigned 1 designer and communication Billie was great. Billie was responsive, attentive, and always seem to have a positive attitude no matter how demand I came off. She had a lot of questions for some of the projects, and the back and forth took longer than I wanted, but I realized she’s just being thorough and wants to get the design done right, which I appreciate.

Communication With Account Manager

I was also assigned an account manager who emailed me the first day. Charmaine was very quick whenever I needed something. It usually takes just a few hours for me to get a reply via email from her. When I had an issue with one of the projects, she quickly stepped in and helped resolve the situation.


Final Verdict

All four projects were completed within two weeks and I was impressed with how they all turned out. See for yourself below. If I had paid hourly or per project, these would’ve easily cost me well above $1200+ to get done, and probably taken weeks.

With Penji, it took less than a week and I paid a fraction of what they should’ve been worth. Definitely impressed with both the turnaround, quality, communication, and value this startup has to offer.

But Penji isn’t without its flaws. The service definitely isn’t for everybody. Their service is more catered to business owners, marketers, agencies, and creatives with consistent design needs. They’ll take all the heavy lifting off of your shoulder. If you don’t have a consistent need, the bill will start racking up after a couple of months and you won’t see the value in the membership.

However, if you do happen to fit their target demographic, then there’s no better replacement out there. The speed and quality of their work easily rivals of not exceed any other services I’d ever used. For $399/month, this is an absolute steal and I can’t recommend them enough.

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‘Or Die Trying’ Webseries Empowering Millennials

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Or Die Trying Series

Inspiring millennials across the nation, Or Die Trying is sharing a story about four women living in Hollywood pursuing their dreams in the entertainment industry. In this exclusive interview, they reveal the truth about LA, crowdfunding, and feminism. The passion behind the webseries stem from the lives of the creator Myah Hollis and producer Sarah Hawkins. They are the masterminds behind Or Die Trying, and this is how they’re doing it.

What is Or Die Trying about?

MH: Or Die Trying is about four millennial women living and working in Hollywood. When it comes to their careers in the entertainment industry, they know what they want and they have an idea of what it will take to get there, but they struggle with making all of the pieces of their lives mesh seamlessly. While they’re strong in one area, they’re lacking in another. It’s a story about their journeys as they develop as women and try to come to some type of equilibrium, while not compromising who they are in the process.

Tell me about the characters.

MH: Amelia Tinsley is a journalist, struggling with her identity and her sense of purpose, and trying to get herself back on track. Bailey Rosenberg is a comedian who is totally in tune with who she is and what she wants, but is having opposing expectations forced on her by her mother who wants her to live more traditionally. Ellie Hansen is an indie actress who is disinterested in the idea of fame at the expense of art, even though she’s constantly being pressured to “sell out.” Raegan Thomas is the creator and co-showrunner of a TV show who, although she’s doing very well professionally, is dealing with things in her personal life, and she doesn’t really have the ability to compartmentalize the two. Each character is trying to achieve a sense of balance between two dueling aspects of their lives.

How did you ladies meet?

SH: Myah and I met a few years ago in Philly where we both lived and worked. We both made the leap to LA within months of each other in 2013, Myah moving here for writing, and I sought to pursue acting. Being friends and fellow film industry ladies, we wanted to create something together that we could call our own, as if you wait for the perfect role or opportunity to come to you, you’re never going to find it. We’ve been work wives ever since!

Why LA?

SH: Los Angeles is like Mecca for artists and those striving to put one’s dreams into fruition. Most everyone is here with purpose, and that alone can be incredibly infectious. Who wouldn’t want to feed off that type of energy every day?

MH: If you’re seriously pursuing a career in TV or film, this is the heart of the industry. It’s where you need to be. It also helps that it’s sunny all year and there’s a ton of sushi.

What is your day to day like?

MH: Every day is hectic in its own way, but not extremely exciting to be honest. It’s just a marathon of checking things off of checklists, chugging gallons of caffeine and trying not to sink into the warm comfort of an unproductive Netflix binge.

SH: I’m not sure I can really echo Myah’s sentiments enough on the coffee bit. Coffee in an IV and an obscene mountain of emails.

What inspires you?

SH: My fellow women in film. I feel like there is such community within our little network that is just pure of heart and down to earth, so much that at times it can kick your own ego-butt every now and then. This industry can be just absolutely brutal, but when I see like-minded, passionate, badass women who just want to help level each other up, I get incredibly motivated to do the same and progress the conversation further.

MH: I think I’m most inspired by the statistical improbability that I should be successful as a writer in this industry. When I first decided that I would pursue this instead of going down one of the many roads that would lead me to a stable job, I was very aware of the fact this is something that I should fail at. More people fail than succeed, that’s just a fact. You know this going in but you do it anyway. The idea of being successful despite those odds is what drives me.

Why a story about women?

MH: There aren’t enough stories about women told by women. There’s a unique perspective that’s missing in Hollywood because women are not telling our own stories, therefore the stories that are being told are not representing us properly. It’s a systemic problem that will only change if we make it our responsibility to create more complex, realistic female characters.

Who are some of your role models? Why?

MH: Shonda Rhimes is my main professional role model, for reasons that feel really obvious to me but I’ll just go ahead and lay them out. She has knocked down so many barriers and has become the epitome of a woman building her own empire and playing by her own rules. She has beat the odds in every way, and that’s really inspiring. My role models in my personal life are my parents and my family and close friends. I’m just surrounded by so many strong, resilient and talented people, it’s insane.

SH: Amy Sherman-Palladino for the creation of Gilmore Girls, which is probably some of the best feminist writing on TV and on a personal level, my dad. He has been a huge influence on my career as an actor and as a producer, and is a constant source of inspiration.

What advice can you give to people chasing their dreams in LA?

SH: Find your “person(s)”. LA can be extremely lonely and competitive if you let it. Surround yourself with people who push you to be better, to think outside of yourself, to keep the end goals in perspective when the day-to-day gets muddled and messy. That’s what I love most about Myah’s & I’s relationship. She keeps me in check and we push on together.

MH: Don’t listen to people, listen to your instincts. Listen to your gut. Succeeding in this city takes stamina. Only you know when you’ve had enough. Don’t stop going after what you want until you’re sure you don’t want it anymore.

How did crowdfunding through Seed & Spark help you?

SH: Seed&Spark was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences. Crowdfunding is never easy, but the folks at Seed&Spark vet you and prepare you on a level that is incredibly empowering. Really cool filmmakers came out of the woodwork to support us, not only financially but with loans of goods, services, promotions, etc. Our project became a community through Seed&Spark, and we’re excited to continue to build that village through production this October.

How are you trying to make your audience feel?

MH: I don’t ever want to tell people what they should feel. I’m kind of a psych nerd, so I can get a little hippie-dippie at times, but I really think that everyone is at a different point in their lives and different things resonate with you depending on what you’re experiencing at the time. I just want people to be able to empathize on some level, but whatever feelings our show ignites is fine with me as long as they’re engaged.

What is your message to your audience?

MH: You have to trust your instincts, regardless of the backlash that may cause. You also have to be willing to put in the work to become whoever it is you want to be, both professionally and personally. Those are the main things that I want people to walk away with. Other than that, I just hope people take what they need from it and that they’re both inspired and entertained.

What sort of person is going to love the show?

SH: We sought to really hone in on our fellow millennial women in film, because they are our community, our niche; the ambitious, driven women who know what they want and are actively doing everything they can to make it happen. I know ODT echoes universal truths far beyond that demographic, that dreams are worth fighting for, and given by the reaction to our trailer, our Seed&Spark Campaign, and other press, I can’t wait to see who latches on to it, as both men and women alike have been extremely anxious and excited for us to get it out there.

Or Die Trying Myah Hollis

What was the happiest moment?

MH: Finishing the scripts was a huge relief. I tend to pick at them compulsively until they’re exactly the way I see it in my head, so when they were officially locked in and ready to go I felt like I could finally breathe.

SH: For me, it’s the seeing the community we are beginning to build with Or Die Trying. A distinct moment was at our ODT Networking Party, and looking out into the crowd to see all the amazing people who not only came out to support our series, but came out to connect with fellow filmmakers and level each other up by networking with one another. It was so cool to witness!

How has pursuing Or Die Trying affected your lives?

MH: It’s completely dominated the past year and a half of my life. Everything has revolved around this project for so long, that I don’t really remember what I was doing with my days before. It’s also made me really confident in my abilities as a writer and producer, and very thankful to be surrounded by such talented and creative people every day.

SH: Same! ODT on the brain 24/7.

What struggles are women facing today?

SH: I’m going to chunk this down to women in film because there are some pretty wild problems outside of this industry women have been and are currently fighting against. To put it plainly, there is unequal opportunity for women behind and infront of the camera, unequal pay above and below the line, and very little movement to illuminate the female perspective onscreen.

Would you consider yourselves feminists?

SH:  Yes. Men and women are equals, it’s time our society reflects it. Feminism shouldn’t be a dirty word.

MH: I honestly don’t understand how you can not be a feminist. There are negative implications about what feminism is, but it’s very simply the belief that women are equal to men in every capacity. I can’t believe that’s something that we’re still debating as a society.

How do you feel about the film industry today?

SH: I think we are in a unique time where collaboration and creation is becoming increasingly more welcome than competition. So much of this industry is cut-throat, but when it comes down to actually bringing a project into fruition on the indie level, I believe most people are in it for the right reasons. Maybe that’s naive of me to say, but at the very least, that’s been our experience with ODT. Everyone just wants to be apart of something bigger than themselves, and I believe our series speaks to that.

What obstacles have you faced?

SH: The proverbial “no,” and learning that it has no real merit on you or what you’re capable of achieving.

MH: The great thing about building your own projects and creating your own opportunities is that you don’t face many obstacles that you can’t overcome. There are always logistics that need to be figured out, but the fact that you’re not waiting for someone to tell you what you can or can’t do eliminates a lot of that hesitation and stress that can hinder you in this industry.

Who would you like to work with in the future?

MH: Shonda.

SH: Jill Soloway.

Is there anything you want to highlight?

SH: We’re headed into production of Or Die Trying this October, but you can stay tuned on our progress at odtseries.com and on social media @ODT_series and at #odtseries

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