The graphic designer hiring process comes in many forms. Within the past 5 years, unlimited graphic design services became a desirable alternative, offering graphic design work on a monthly subscription. Penji is a Philadelphia-based startup that offers this unique business model.
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. So, we signed up to see for ourselves.
As with any service, there are pros and cons. To help with your graphic design hiring decision, we decided to condense what we found in a bulleted list below. Here’s a quick summary of our review of Penji’s unlimited graphic design service.
- Easy and quick to create design projects
- Storage for all my requested designs
- 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.
- Helpful features such as a revision tool, ability to invite team members, brand profile, and more
- Upbeat communication from everyone I interact with
- A dedicated and responsive account manager who replies within a few hours
- Can’t call or talk to designers
- Best if you have design projects ready to submit
- Not available as an app
Penji’s “unlimited” design model is a great choice if you have the right expectations going in. The service is affordable for growing businesses and their output is reliable. However, if you’re expecting to be on-call or face-to-face with your designer, this type of service is not for you.
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.
Thinking of trying Penji out for yourself? Here’s a special promo code for Owner’s Mag readers:
Use the Penji promo code “OWNER25” to get 25% off your 1st month.
Disclaimer: we receive a commission when you use the code.
PENJI FULL REVIEW
We put Penji to the test by signing up, requesting a designs, and examining the results. Here’s how it went.
Signing Up For Penji
Signing up for Penji was a relatively quick and painless process. All of my questions were answered in less than 5 minutes by customer support via Intercom and another 2 minutes to complete the checkout process.
Communication with Penji’s Support Team
How fast and reliable a company’s support team is before you are an active customer is a reflection of what’s to come. 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 knowledgeable.
Communication as a Customer
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 Designers
I was assigned 1 designer, Billie, and communication was with her was easy. If you’ve used any messaging platforms like Slack, Facebook Messenger, or Discord, you’d be familiar with this form of communication.
Billie was responsive, attentive, and always seemed to have a positive attitude no matter how demanding my requests were. She had many questions about the projects, which I tried my best to answer as a customer. Though the back and forth took longer than I wanted, I realized she was just being thorough to get the design done right, which I appreciate.
Communication with Account Managers
I was assigned an Account Manager, Charmaine, who 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.
1. Choose a Package
All the packages are laid out with monthly, quarterly, and yearly pricing. Starting at $399 per month for the Pro plan, you’ll be able to make unlimited graphic design requests with a 24-48 hour turnaround. As your design needs grow, you’ll have the Team and Agency packages to choose from.
The form is straightforward and easy to fill out. Checking out was a breeze and took about 2 minutes.
3. Submit a Design Project
Clicking on the “+ Create new project” button, I’m presented with a visual chart of all the design categories they offer. They offer an extensive selection of options and even the ability to request a custom project.
4. Fill Out the Request Form
Next, I filled out a short form detailing what I want designed. For those of you who hate long forms, this one from Penji is easy to follow and doesn’t ask too many questions. Most of the questions are actually optional so you can be as descriptive or non-descriptive as you like.
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 projects to test how well-rounded Penji is and how they handle both simple and complex requests. A simple banner should be difficult, but can they handle a complex infographic with lots of texts and imagery?
Here are my test projects:
- Blog Graphic: Best DSLR Camera Equipment For Beginners
- Custom Illustration: Best Vacuum Cleaner Money Can Buy
- Facebook Post: Isometric Tech Gadget Graphic
- Magazine Print Cover (Owner’s Magazine’s 2020 May Edition
Despite creating four projects, the entire process was quick and smooth. It only took a few minutes to create them and their internal platform was lightning fast. At this pace, I can see myself submitting multiple projects on their platform with ease.
I expected at least one draft the next day. What I didn’t expect were three drafts ready for review. To give you a comparison, most freelancers and design firms we’ve hired take several days to submit just one draft.
After reviewing the designs, which were surprisingly good considering it’s the first draft AND had a 24-hour turnaround, I realized how they did it. Every project had a different designer. I wasn’t assigned just one designer. It was like having my very own virtual design team.
4. Requesting Revisions
Though the designs were good, I still needed a few revisions. The drafts were turned around usually the same day or by the next day. Their support agent actually told me it will take 24 hours to turn around revisions. The revisions that took 24 hours were typically much more involved.
Overall, revisions were quick. Most came back within a few hours after I submitted them.
My one gripe would be that I prefer to have some sort of real-time chat with my designer or at least have a Zoom call. That’s one thing I like about working with my freelancers. 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
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.
It took about 1 week to go back and forth with revisions and edits for all 4 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 on the first 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 sent 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 he delivered this draft the next day.
Everything in this graphic was hand-drawn and then colored digitally. Like the first project, I couldn’t think of any revisions except asking him to put the texts “Best Vacuum Cleaner Money Can Buy” on the graphic.
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 first draft amazed me because of how much detail he put into this project. 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 he understood my vision even better than I did.
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 looks too templated. I personally like version 2 and 3 and left revision notes accordingly. The coronavirus image was entirely her idea and I love it.
This project took a bit longer than the others because my designer Billie had 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 included in my design request. Overall, I appreciated the extra time she took to understand me and the project better.
About three days later, I received another draft which blew everything before it out of the water.
All four projects were completed within two weeks and I was impressed with how they all turned out. 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 just a few days and I paid a fraction of what I would’ve paid elsewhere. 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.
Who would benefit:
- business owners
- creatives with consistent design needs
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 subscription.
However, if you do happen to fit their target demographic, then there’s no better alternative out there. The speed and quality of their work easily rival other services I’d ever used. For $399 per month, this is an absolute steal.
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR THE ENTREPRENEUR
Last year put entrepreneurs and business owners through the ringer. Those with small businesses were faced with a whole new set of unique challenges. Many people were forced into a career change and some elected to go into business for themselves. If you’re a business owner or entrepreneur: Congratulations! You made it through last year. Whether your business spent 2020 playing defense or you were able to thrive, the new year is a great excuse to take a look at your business and see where you can improve. Here are the top ten New Year’s Resolutions for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
1. Mondays are for Planning
When you are in business for yourself, there is always the feeling that you could be doing something more. Perhaps, you could be optimizing your time better. Make Monday mornings your time to map out your work week. Give yourself 1-2 hours with your planner. Schedule your meetings, work time, and account for travel and lunch breaks. Having your schedule written down makes it easier to adhere to it and you won’t have that feeling that you forgot something.
2. Keep Your Workspace Organized
Whether your workspace is an office in your home or a storefront, you can always benefit from organization. A clutter free desk is optimal for productivity. Invest in a filing cabinet. Vacuuming and sweeping are often overlooked. Organize the wires that run off your desk from your laptop, monitor, charger, lamp, and tools.
3. Keep Business Hours
Yes, there is always more work to be done. But at the same time, there is always tomorrow. Resolve to assign business hours and stick to them. You will find that when you allow yourself the time to fully clock off, you will be more productive when you clock in.
4. Improve Your Social Media Game
It can seem trivial to post and share on Facebook and other social media, but this could not be further from the truth. Engaging in your community through the internet is the biggest way to get your business out there. You don’t necessarily have to hire a social media manager. Programs like HootSuite help you manage your posts across all platforms. Just engage more. Try and post something once a day whether it’s a picture of your latest project or a special. Like and follow your competitors. Like and follow people who follow them.
5. Tighten Your Spending
The beginning of the year is a great chance to look at the books. The budget is often something we consider when we make a purchase, but don’t often look back on the macro level. Do you subscribe to a graphic design agency? Perhaps a cheaper alternative has come along. Have your vendors slowly been increasing their prices? Take the time to look under the hood.
6. Learn Something New
You have spent some time minimizing your steps and running your business the most efficient way you know how. Now it’s time to learn about other ways to improve your business. Take a field trip to the competitor’s store down the road. Look on their website. What’s a good business magazine to subscribe to? Look up your local community college’s class catalog.
7. Check in with Your Customers
Customers rule your business. Not only are they your source of income, but they also hold the keys to how you can improve your business. Check in with past customers to see how they enjoyed your services. There may be opportunities for repeat business. Perhaps, they were unsatisfied by something, but haven’t spoken up. Constructive criticism is… well, constructive.
8. Read Your Mission Statement
You don’t have a mission statement? Make one. Your mission statement is your north star. It helps keep you on track with your goals. If you do have one, take the time to meditate on it. Has your business strayed from what you set out to be? Perhaps you have evolved beyond it. Take the time to realign and adjust either your work or your goals.
For the truly dedicated, work can take precedence over everything else. If you’re deadline driven, nothing will get in your way. This attitude is essential in the short run but can be problematic in the long term. Make a point to take care of yourself outside of your business. Eat right, go for a run or walk. Clear your mind. Afterall, you are the head of your company. You want to be firing on all cylinders.
Just as important as organizing your days in the beginning, you should also keep a journal at the end of the day. Set aside time to record the things you accomplished, and things you are hoping to accomplish. What did you learn today? Did you come across any problems? How did you resolve them? Journaling gives us the chance to reflect on the things that we ignored or overlooked.
Stocks and 2020: A Love Story
With 2020 finally in our rearview mirror, some investors in the stock market are licking their wounds – hoping that 2021 offers some relief. Many business owners are now watching from the sidelines as their companies did not make it through the year. The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have radically affected our economy and how the world does business. While industries like travel and entertainment have taking a beating on the market, some companies have been able to thrive. Here are some of 2020’s most successful businesses on the stock market.
Unsurprisingly, the dramatic lifestyle changes that the world faced last year has paved the way for a successful FedEx in 2020. While foot traffic at storefronts went down, people took to the internet to do their shopping, and FedEx was there to deliver.
- Stock at start of 2020: $152.42
- March 2020: $90.39
- Stock at end of 2020: $262.20
Moderna is one of the drug development companies to create a vaccine for COVID-19. Developing a vaccine in a fraction of the time it would normally take, the company has seen success in both development and value. It saw nearly 600% growth.
- Stock at start of 2020: $18.70
- March 2020: $21.30
- Stock at end of 2020: $104.77
Amazon is another business that is seemingly pandemic proof. The lockdowns were devastating for the mom-and-pop shops, but Jeff Bezos only small more success for his online shopping juggernaut.
- Stock at start of 2020: $1,874.97
- March 2020: $1,874
- Stock at end of 2020: $3,259.93
As millions across the world adapted to working at home, Zoom became a household name. Companies used Zoom to conference with their employees and clients. Friends and families used Zoom to stay in touch when they weren’t allowed to leave the house.
- Stock at start of 2020: $67.28
- March 2020: $107.47
- Stock at end of 2020: $337.32
Last year, movie theaters and gyms were closed. Sporting events and concerts were cancelled. In some places, it was even prohibited to go for a walk in the park. When looking for some entertainment and a break from the doom and gloom of the news, households all around turned to Netflix.
- Stock at start of 2020: $325.90
- March 2020: $332.83
- Stock at end of 2020: $540.73
Elon Musk’s electric vehicle company, Tesla has seen amazing success in 2020. With 830% growth from the beginning of the year, Tesla became one of the top ten most valuable businesses in the world.
- Stock at start of 2020: $84.90
- March 2020: $72.24
- Stock at end of 2020: $705.67
Even with vaccine distribution well underway, the world is not out of the woods yet. COVID-19 and the lockdowns will leave a lasting impression. And the market will adapt. With businesses adjusting to incorporate a permanent work-from-home model, some think Zoom maybe worth a long-term investment. But what will Netflix and FedEx look like as the world opens up again?
7 Crucial Trends in Graphic Design Technology You Should Know About
The value and need for the services of graphic designers are of pressing importance nowadays. Any business or company will know how crucial great graphic design work is to its brand and marketing strategies. And it’s no secret that technology geared towards improving the graphic design process has risen in the past few years. With emerging technologies in graphic design and a whole global talent pool at anyone’s disposal, there is absolutely no excuse for a company not to get a graphic designer.
As trends change and industries adapt to the ever-changing atmosphere of creative work, one must know where graphic design is going in the next few years. Whether you’re a graphic designer yourself or you hire graphic designers, it’s important to put one’s ear on the ground and listen to the rumbles of the digital industry and marketing world.
Here are some seven crucial trends that graphic designers, marketers, and business owners should get a vibe of in 2021 and beyond.
1. Artificial Intelligence in Graphic Design
Artificial intelligence is on an inevitable rise and is changing the way we do business. In 2015, only 10% of businesses used some form of artificial intelligence in their operations. Only four years later, that number rose to 37%, a 270% jump in such a short amount of time.
New technology in graphic design is moving towards making use of artificial intelligence in the design process. AI companies are venturing towards developing systems that use the massive online repositories of fonts, icons, and colors to develop algorithms that will produce sleek design work for companies.
But for graphic designers afraid of the day that robots will take over their jobs, there is little to worry about as artificial intelligence in graphic design looks to augment and not replace human designers.
2. The Rise of Non-Adobe Graphic Design Software
It’s hard to imagine that there was once a time that Adobe held a near-monopoly on the graphic design software industry. Tools like Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, InDesign, and Illustrator seemed to be the only viable options for editing graphics and making various collaterals and materials. But today, there are more options available to designers.
Tools like Sketchapp, Pixlr, and Vectr are great alternatives to Adobe Suite products. Designers can also now use cloud-based design software Canva, which starts with a free plan. To check out all the available graphic design software available, check out this graphic design software guide by CompareCamp.
3. Increased Demand for Landing Page Design Software
Nowadays, people who run online businesses will have some form of landing or sales page to promote their products. A landing page is one long-form web page that sells one or a few products with a compelling storyline or sales script.
Building websites previously needed fluency in HTML and CSS to happen. But today, various landing page design services are available online.
Services like Leadpages, Convertkit, Instapage, Shogun, and Kajabi allow people to create websites with a drag and drop interface and practically zero code work. These services also provide various landing page layouts that have proven conversion history with other users.
4. On-Demand Graphic Design Services
Another rising trend in the field of graphic design is the surge of on-demand graphic design services, a business model that gives customers access to a team of graphic designers whenever they need them. This model contrasts with the more traditional method of hiring a freelance graphic designer.
With on-demand graphic design companies, clients get a hold of a graphic design agency and ask the company to link them with a designer when needed. Compared to hiring a freelance designer, getting an on-demand graphic design service can provide certain benefits, including instant availability and a wider variation of styles. Of course, there is still a place for freelance graphic designers, but on-demand graphic services prove to be a good alternative to companies who don’t need a high volume of graphics for their business.
One good example of a company that provides on-demand design services is Penji, which offers entrepreneurs and small businesses access to a graphic designer who can create unlimited designs for as low as $399 a month.
5. Infographics Templates and Builders
In the last few years, infographics have taken the internet by storm. Nowadays, even B2B marketing places a big premium on infographics, with 65% of B2B marketers using some form of an infographic to promote a product or service.
But anyone who wants to keep up with graphic design trends should know that there is now an extensive collection of infographics templates and infographic-generating online services available online. Now, graphic designers don’t have to start from scratch when making infographics, saving a lot of time and resources. Online tools like Piktochart and Venngage are great examples of such services.
6. Computer Systems Design
As high as the demand for graphic designers is today, the industry is hitting a tipping point. Experts say that the number of available graphic design jobs will decrease by 4% in the next few years. But even as the overall market for designers falls, there’s a subset of graphic designers that disproportionately goes against the flow.
As the number of needed designers in print and traditional media poises itself for a drop, there will be an increase in needed graphic designers in computer systems design. In fact, a report shows that there will be a 20% increase in computer systems graphic designers from 2016 to 2026.
7. Smarter Revision Software
One of the most tedious parts of the graphic design workflow is dealing with revisions. Designers have dealt with the seemingly never-ending back and forth of revisions and comments. A good chunk of the refurbishing of designs often happens because of a lack of communication between clients and designers, especially when communicating online.
As innovators look to address that need, some have become better at improving the revision process with graphic design technologies. A good example of such tools includes Wipster, Filestage, Usersnap, and Skitch.
Where Graphic Design is Heading Towards in 2021
The year is coming to a close pretty soon, and we’ll be welcoming another new year before we know it. As 2020 comes to a close, it’s time professionals in the creative space and business, in general, should start looking towards graphic design trends 2021 predictions. Like every other year, graphic design trends have changed immensely as people seek more novel ways to communicate messages.
But just as important for graphic designers and clients to know are the various technology trends shaping the way designers operate and work. Much has changed in little time as more services that help with the creative process pop out. Yet even as more and more softwares becomes available, creatives will be happy to know that the future looks bright for graphic designers everywhere as many of today’s tools look to streamline the creation process and allow artists to work smarter and more effectively.
Of course, that is if graphic designers stay with the times and continue watching over the horizon for the next tool that will provide them with hacks to improve their design processes. For anyone ready to adapt to the latest trend in graphic design and try new tools and processes, there can be a whole new world of possibilities and growth in the field of creative work.