10 Photographers To Follow This Week


Follow Mark Wiens

Armed with their cameras, lenses—and perhaps, smartphones—these talented photographers capture compelling images of amazing places and wonderful things. These are the people with stories to tell, and they are inviting you to look through their discerning eyes. From the artistic to the commercial, the everyday to the extraordinary, these pictures are visual candies to sweeten up your day.

In our ‘Photographer of the Week’ series, you can live vicariously through these shutter-clicking story-tellers, whom you should be following on The Creative Finder.

If you are a photographer, illustrator or someone doing creative work, why not sign up at this professional portfolio network and share your work with other like-minded creatives.


Follow Daniel Grizelj


Follow Derek Seaward


Follow Mitchel Gray


Follow Staudinger + Franke


Follow Kevin Hewitt


Follow Yuvaraj Parasuraman


Follow Jorge Martin


Follow Laura Berman


Follow William Jones

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The Key to Driving Consistent Growth: Understanding Costs

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I have a confession to make. I’m a revenue (sales) guy. I can think about, conceive and vision growth opportunities without even trying. On the other hand, thinking about (and understanding) costs doesn’t come so easily to me.

I’ve learned that understanding your costs is crucial to creating profitable revenue consistently, sustainably and scalably. Unfortunately, very few small and mid-sized companies understand their sales cost structure well enough.

This creates two potential problems (one obvious and one not-so-obvious):

  1. If your costs are too high, you’ll struggle to grow profitably and your very sustainability will be threatened.
  2. If your costs are too low, you may very well struggle to gain the momentum and velocity you need to break through the noise, separate yourself from your competition and achieve your sales growth goals.

An important metric to understand is customer acquisition cost (CAC). While this metric is very common with SaaS companies, my experience is that it doesn’t get the attention it deserves in other industries. It’s important that you understand your CAC, the contributors to CAC and the model you’re implementing to manage it.

With a clear understanding, you can ensure that you are investing wisely in growth. A lack of understanding makes it impossible to determine the effectiveness of your sales and marketing efforts. In this post, I outline the process we recommend for building out your sales cost model and how to monitor its effectiveness alongside your sales and marketing investments.

Calculating CAC

Determining your customer acquisition cost is a relatively simple calculation. You calculate it by dividing the total costs associated with generating new customers by the number of new customers you gained in a specific period of time.

When determining your costs, only include the costs associated with getting new customers. Do not include the costs of retaining or servicing them. If you’ve got salespeople who have responsibilities for both, you must prorate those expenses according to how they spend their time. The same is true for any technology or other sales and marketing overhead.

Here’s a sample calculation based on one year (note: you can run this calculation for any period of time, but for this post every example is based upon one year):

CAC-Cost-Sample-1 

In this case, it cost this company just under $20,000 to acquire each of their 17 new customers. But, here’s the unanswered question: is that good or bad? Did this company spend too much to get their customers, or could they have benefitted from investing more?

Determining Where Your Costs Should Be

To answer that question, you need to determine what your target CAC% is. Calculating target CAC% is done by dividing your CAC by the average lifetime value of a customer. Average lifetime value simply measures how much money a customer contributes to your business over the lifetime that they are with you.

To determine lifetime value, we recommend using a variation of gross profit in the calculation. The variation is determined by taking the value of the sale and reducing it to only the non-sales, direct costs of what is being sold.

Let’s go back to our example. In this case, our sample manufacturing/distribution company earns an average gross profit of $24,000 per customer per year, and their average customer lifetime is 3.5 years. So the lifetime value of the typical customer is $84,000 and the CAC% is 23.5% (calculated by dividing their CAC (19,702.94) by their average lifetime value ($84,000)).

The next step in the process varies depending on several factors, such as the type of business you’re in, your revenue model and how aggressively you’re growing. Most sales and marketing benchmarks recommend that CAC be targeted between 20% and 35% for growth businesses.

As a general rule, here are some key contributors to determine where on the range yours should be:

CAC-Cost-Continuum 

As a side note, if you’re a very young business you should often go above these norms.

Given the nature of their business, our sample company is in a reasonable range. However, one could make the argument that if they invested more in customer acquisition, they’d be able to grow faster and more profitably.

The next step in this process will determine whether that argument can be won.

Establishing Your Optimum Lead Generation Model

One of the most common mistakes I see companies making that aren’t growing at the sustained rate they desire is they’re not allocating enough resources towards the top and middle of the funnel (the lead generation and lead management functions).

To be able to clearly answer the question about the effectiveness and sustainability of your effort, you must dig deeper into the CAC numbers and determine which parts of the process are your costs being allocated. A simple model to use is:

  • Lead Acquisition Costs Percentage – what percentage of your customer acquisition costs are allocated to create sales qualified leads (SQL).
  • Sales Acquisition Costs Percentage – what percentage of your customer acquisition costs are allocated to support the new-sales process.

Let’s go back to our sample manufacturing/distribution company and see how it stands up. By using the same numbers as we did to determine the overall CAC but changing the % allocated column to reflect the percentage of costs that go towards creating an SQL, we can determine the cost per SQL.

CAC-Percentage-Sample 

Now we’re quickly able to see that less than 10% of their acquisition costs are geared to support lead generation, and more than 90% go to supporting the actual sales process. This is a formula for stagnation.

Knowing the company that this data is based upon, they’re challenged because they feel that their sales team is at capacity and they’re still not getting the growth results they want. They would be far better off allocating more money toward the top and middle of the funnel to create more sales qualified leads and/or to improve the quality and readiness of those leads when they get into the hands of the sales team.

Here again determining how much money you should invest in the lead generation efforts is highly influenced by the business you’re in and the model you’re using. We recommend that anywhere between 25% and 60% of your CAC be allocated to the creation of SQLs. The following items will help determine how to split your acquisition costs between lead generation and sales:

  • How complex is your sale?

The more complex the sale, the more you’ll want to allocate towards the sales process, and therefore be on the lower end of the scale. Don’t make the mistake, however, of under-allocating resources towards lead generation, nurturing and conversion.

  • What’s the value of the sale?

A higher value sale will often allocate more towards the sales process and a smaller percent towards lead management.

If you don’t, you should consider one. This would put you towards the middle or even upper band of the lead cost percentage continuum.

  • How much of the sale do you want done before it gets in the hands of a salesperson?

A growing trend in the world is empowering the customer to do more of the sale on their own so that when they get to your new-sales team, they’re better educated and ready. This would mean you’d allocate more of your CAC towards lead management.

The Benefits of Allocating More Resources to Lead Generation

When more money is allocated towards lead generation and management, your sales process becomes much more efficient and effective. You’re able to increase the volume and velocity of your lead generation, thus enabling you to increase the average sale value and your closing ratio. Research shows that companies that manage leads well enjoy 50% more sales ready leads (Forrester Research) that make 48% larger purchases (The Annuitas Group).

Up to this point I’ve been highlighting how to calculate and use this data when looking at the results of your efforts. This data is equally important when planning for the future. Determining what you can and should invest in each part of the revenue generation process is valuable when determining the tactics you will use, how you will implement them and how you’ll track your progress.

We call these numbers your target costs. To determine this we created The SQL Target Cost Calculator. Now let’s go back to our manufacturing/distribution company and figure out how much they should be allocating towards creating SQLs (for where they are now and what they should do to drive better results). 

SQL-Cost-Calculator 

Over time, as you improve and enhance your process you’ll see that your sales costs, and even acquisition costs, will decrease. While this is a strong indication of an effective process, don’t make the mistake of under-allocating resources as you may kill the very momentum you worked so hard to create.

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Can’t Focus? 5 Ways to Overcome Distractions at Work

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How often have you or one of your coworkers uttered the phrase, “I wish there were more hours in a day”?

Between work, your commute, the gym, cooking, kids, happy hours, baseball games, knitting, your band, and whatever else it is you try to squeeze in — oh yeah, I almost forgot sleep — it can be hard to accept that 24 hours in a day is all you get.

But acceptance is the first step. The second? Making the most of your time at work so you can get more done in less time. Learning how to maximize your time will lead you to perform better, feel better, and allow you to give your all to the slew of things you do outside of work that make you the human you are.

We get it, though. Sometimes, the office can feel like a game of whack-a-mole — you never know where the next distraction will come from. (And it can be stressful as heck.) To help you be more productive at work, here are five tips for how to avoid and overcome distractions at the office.

But first, do a time audit.

The biggest mistake people make when trying to increase their productivity? Not taking the time to learn what it is that distracts them.

Is it email? Twitter? The news? Your boss? These are common distractions we all deal with at some point or another, but what is it that affects you the most?

For one week, keep a log of what you do with your time both inside and outside of work. Time management expert Laura Vanderkam calls it the 168 Hours Challenge. Log your time using a spreadsheet, Evernote, a physical journal — whatever works for you. To determine where you spend your time online, try a time tracker like RescueTime to record how long you spend on certain websites and apps. And at the end of the week, review how you balance different activities at work.

Many of you might be tempted to skip this step because it seems like a time suck. Aren’t we supposed to be saving time, here? My advice: Don’t overlook this one. While logging your time for a full week will take a little extra effort on your part, it’s an investment that’ll teach you an enormous amount about how you actually spend your time — and it could save you hundreds of hours in the long run.

Once you’ve identified what distracts you, it’s time to come up with strategies to help you overcome those distractions. Here are some ideas to get you started.

How to Overcome Distractions at the Office

Tackle the small stuff later.

Your coworker stops by your desk to ask a quick question. A calendar invite comes in and you need to check your schedule. Your phone buzzes — you got mentioned on Twitter! Distractions like these might seem small and insignificant, but they quickly add up over the course of the day.

What’s worse, once distracted, it takes the average person 23 minutes to get back to the original task, according to a study of digital distraction. In other words, tackling small tasks as soon as they come up can seriously interrupt your flow.

“When you’re interrupted, you don’t immediately go back to the task you were doing before you were interrupted,” says Gloria Mark, who spearheaded the study. “There are about two intervening tasks before you go back to your original task, so it takes more effort to reorient back to the original task.”

Also, interruptions change the physical environment. For example, someone has asked you for information and you have opened new windows on your desktop, or people have given you papers that are now arranged on your desk. Often the physical layout of your environment has changed, and it’s harder to reconstruct where you were. So there’s a cognitive cost to an interruption.”

To limit these distractions, HubSpot Growth Marketer Scott Tousley suggests finishing your current project first, and then tackling those tiny interruptions. Or, if you’re working on a long-term project, rotate between periods of work and short periods of rest, during which you can cross those little things off your to-do list.

In the meantime, invest in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones, turn off push notifications on all your devices (including your desktop computer), and put your phone on Do Not Disturb mode.

Block off specific time for email.

Chances are you’re spending way too much time checking your email. According to a report from the McKinsey Global Institute, the average person spends 13 hours a week (28% of their workweek) reading, deleting, sorting, and sending emails.

Sure, many of us have jobs that require responses to emails within a few hours at most, but it’s important to take that literally. You have a few hours to respond to that email, not a few minutes. Approaching email like you need to respond this very minute or the world will end is likely severely limiting your productivity during the day.

One solution to this problem? Email batching. This apporach requires you to tackle email during specific times of day depending on your needs. A schedule like the one below can help you curb your email addiction, limit the time you spend transitioning from task to task, and increase overall productivity.

email-batching.png

Image Credit: Sidekick

Still having trouble? For a more disciplined approach, download the Chrome extension “Block site” to literally block Gmail.com during specific times of day. (Read this blog post to learn how to set this up.)

Schedule in “distraction time.”

There are a lot of different theories and methodologies out there for how to manage work and rest time during a typical workday.

The popular Pomodoro technique, created in the late 1980s, involves dividing up time into 25 minutes of work followed by five minutes of rest. A study by the Draugiem Group found that the employees with the highest productivity spent 52 minutes working, followed by 17 minutes of rest.

The common denominator here? Schedule in “distraction time” where you can focus on something other than work. Researchers from the University of Illinois found that “deactivating and reactivating your goals allows you to stay focused. … When faced with long tasks (such as studying before a final exam or doing your taxes), it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task.”

Block meetings in a row.

Ever had meetings that stopped and started within 30-60 minutes of one another, where you spent most of that awkward, in-between time checking email, reading the news, and haphazardly looking at your notes? That’s lost time that can really cut into your productivity.

So, in the same vein as blocking out time for email and down time, schedule meetings back-to-back wherever possible. “That way, you’re not losing productvitiy between them and trying to get back into the “flow” every other hour,” says Leslie Ye, a writer for HubSpot’s Sales Blog.

(While you’re at it, make sure the meetings on your schedule are ones you actually need to attend.)

Physically remove yourself from distraction.

Sometimes, the best way to avoid distraction is to literally move yourself away from it.

Ginny Soskey, section editor of HubSpot’s Marketing Blog, suggests booking a conference room to get away from coworkers and really get stuff done in a quiet space.

Brittany Leaning, content strategist at HubSpot, finds that getting into the office early — before everyone else arrives — helps her boost productivity. “I like to grab a coffee, find a quiet space, put my feet up, put my headphones on, and pump some classical music,” she says. “Then, I proceed to write my face off until lunch.”

Best-Selling Author Stephen King agrees. In his book On Writing, he strongly recommends that people “close the door” when writing to shut out the rest of the world and let people know you’re working and don’t want to be disturbed.

How do you overcome distractions at the office? Share your tips with us in the comment section.

free marketing goal setting template

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A Beautiful, Astronomy-Inspired Paper Sample Kit With Star-Filled Pages

This paper sample book we featured previously is a lovely tome that paper-lovers would appreciate—here is another project that shows that paper can be a thing of beauty .

California-based graphic designer Minh Nguyen has created the ‘Orion’ paper sample kit for a fictitious paper company—it consists of several parts, including a Constellation book that features illustrations of all 88 constellations, and a Field Notes book containing 24 lb. writing paper.

There is also a Star Finder wheel that is made with various sample of 80 lb. cover stock.

Scroll down for more images of this astronomy-inspired paper sample kit, and head over here to check out more of the designer’s portfolio.

[via Minh Nguyen]

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Girl Sneaks Into Set Of ‘Orange Is The New Black’, Creates Fun Photo Series

[Click here to view the video in this article]

19-year-old Samantha Gardella is a huge fan of the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black.

Upon finding out that the film set is only 25 minutes away from her house, she decided to drive to the location—the abandoned Rockland Children’s Psychiatric Center in Orangeburg, NY—for a looksee.

Other than capturing multiple photos and recording a short tour of the set, Gardella has also created a fun photo series.

Taking screenshots from the show, she would match the scenes to its real world film set.

She told Business Insider, “Since it’s abandoned, there is really no security. There were no crew members there that day and weirdly, everything was completely unlocked.”

Check out more images here or on Gardella’s Tumblr.

You might also like this travel blog that matches famous TV and movie scenes with real world locations.

[via Business Insider, Samantha Gardella]

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Ben & Jerry’s Celebrates Marriage Equality By Renaming Its Iconic Flavor

To commemorate the nationwide same-sex marriage ruling, Ben & Jerry’s hopped on the bandwagon to join in the celebration.

The ice cream brand announced that they will be renaming their iconic ‘Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough’ flavor to ‘I Dough, I Dough’ (“I do, I do”), available this summer for a limited time at participating Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops.

It comes in a commemorative pint sleeve featuring adorable illustrations of two cows under a rainbow. These pint sleeves can be purchased online through the Human Rights Coalition.

Head over here to read more about Ben & Jerry’s stance on the new nationwide ruling.

[via Laughing Squid, Ben & Jerry’s]

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Renowned Artist Shares Her Honest, Intimate ‘Misfortune Messages’ Online

Lisbon, Portugal-based artist, Rita Gomes, best known as ‘Wasted Rita’ in the creative community, shares intimate insights into her innermost thoughts and observations in her recently concluded exhibition, titled ‘Human Beings – God’s Only Mistake’.

Giving her large, international fan base a taste of the content showcased in her solo exhibition, Gomes shares a series of ‘Misfortune Messages’ that she wrote for the show on her Instagram account, working her way towards publishing all 80 messages.

Take a look at some of her works below, and follow her updates here.

A photo posted by Artist + Creative Writer (@wastedrita) on Jun 21, 2015 at 1:53pm PDT

A photo posted by Artist + Creative Writer (@wastedrita) on Jun 15, 2015 at 3:24am PDT

A photo posted by Artist + Creative Writer (@wastedrita) on Jun 1, 2015 at 9:20am PDT

A photo posted by Artist + Creative Writer (@wastedrita) on May 30, 2015 at 5:24pm PDT

A photo posted by Artist + Creative Writer (@wastedrita) on May 14, 2015 at 3:42am PDT

A photo posted by Artist + Creative Writer (@wastedrita) on May 12, 2015 at 9:40am PDT

[via Instagram]

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For Inspiration: A Tumblr Blog Of Color Palettes Based On Beyoncé’s Outfits

Running out of color combination ideas?

You might want to check out ‘Beyoncé Palettes’—a Tumblr blog that concocts color palettes based on Queen Bey’s outfits.

View our selection below and head on over here for more.

[via Visual News, images via Beyoncé Palettes]

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Infographic: How To Make Your Own Wine

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For the wine lovers, Wine Investment has created an infographic that will teach you how to make your own wine from scratch.

It includes the tools that you will need, the ingredients found in a wine kit—which is recommended for first timers before advancing to crushing your own fruits—and the process for fermenting the wine.

Scroll down to learn how to make your own wine.

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[via Visualistan, Wine Investment]

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A Beautiful Collection Of Vintage Travel Posters Designed To Inspire Wanderlust

The team at InVision takes a step back from modern graphic design and typography, and explores the design aesthetics of yesteryears through vintage travel posters.

Diving into the archives of The Federal Art Project, which was part of the New Deal’s Work Progress Administration (WPA), the team uncovered over 2000 bold, striking posters created between 1936 and 1943.

Check out some of the travel posters below, and head here to take a look at more.

[via InVision Blog]

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