Practical Wisdom: Toolkits for Creative Professionals

Over the past few weeks, we’ve shared advice across many topics — from creativity to business growth — from the Own Your Content campaign, a collaboration between and CreativeMornings. In this post, we’ll explore a series of “toolkits” that are packed with pro tips and links to resources and videos. Enjoy!


How to make a proper introduction for a collaboration

“Nowadays, a thoughtful email is an art.” A well-written email can be what sets you apart from others: it might be the first point of contact between you and a potential employer, or a client, or a creative collaborator. Luckily, it’s an art that can be learned, as Design*Sponge founder Grace Bonney explains:

Tips and takeaways:

  1. Start with the right name. No nicknames for people you don’t know and please spell names correctly and make sure you’re not pasting the name of another person/publication.
  2. Include a personal introduction. I always feel more connected when someone lets me know a little bit about who they are. A friendly tone is always helpful.
  3. Show me that you know who you’re reaching out to. I don’t mean compliments or praise. I want to simply know that you know who we are, what we’re about and what we do.
  4. Get to the point: Tell me what you’re looking for in detail. I respect people’s time and appreciate the same. So rather than being vague, tell me what you’d like, when it’s due and, if appropriate, what the budget is. The more efficient the communication is, the better.

Read more on email introductions

How to keep your guest list inclusive and diverse

“By adding more seats at the table and uplifting voices that weren’t heard before, we allow ourselves to revel in the richness of diverse viewpoints and beliefs that stretch our understanding and the way we lead our lives.” Building a diverse workforce and inclusive environment was once considered an afterthought, but today, companies across many industries — particularly tech — consider it a priority.

Tips and takeaways:

  • From Kat Holmes, who works in user experience design at Google: “First, start with building diversity in the most senior leadership positions. People in positions of power can move culture more quickly.”
  • From John Maeda, who leads design at Automattic: “Who do you trust more? Someone just like you? Or someone that isn’t like you? The answer is simple: we tend to like people who think like ourselves. And when we make content or products our immediate go-to instinct is to design for ourselves.” Challenge yourself to work with people with different interests and outlooks. Mix it up on your team.
  • From Damien Hooper-Campbell, a chief diversity officer at eBay: “While, yes, race and gender are very important aspects, diversity goes well beyond them. It absolutely should include them, but goes even further into hundreds of attributes.” Expand your definition of diversity.

Read more on diversity at work

How to write your About page

“Your About page copy is like a form of identity for the internet.” It may be your bio, your personal mission statement, or your public record of your accomplishments. For many, it’s a static page on your website that you’ve forgotten about or have never changed. Instead, “look at it like a canvas where every brushstroke adds a new layer of texture and color, adding richness to your story. Once you have a template that flows well, the key is editing and adding new achievements over time.”

Tips and takeaways:

  • From The Muse, on why it’s hard to write about yourself: “Contrary to popular belief, there is no right way to write a mission statement or an ‘about me’ section.”
  • From Paul Jarvis, on writing openly about yourself: “I think we just have to be honest and get over our penchant towards not wanting to brag a little. We should be proud to showcase our accomplishments, our features, our clients, etc.”
  • From 99U, on writing an About page that’ll get you hired: “Move the elements around and see what you can leave out. Focus on answering questions you’d expect your dream clients to have.”

Read more on About pages

How to give proper attribution

“Have you ever held a door for a stranger and they didn’t thank you for it? That’s what it feels like when someone uses your work and doesn’t give you credit or proper attribution.” As creators on the internet, we produce our own material, but are often inspired by and learn from others. The beauty of creating digitally also means sharing, remixing, and reimagining ideas, and it’s proper etiquette to give credit where it’s due.

Tips and takeaways:

Ryan Merkley, the CEO of Creative Commons, says: “Attribution is gratitude. It’s the least you can do to thank someone for creating something and allowing you to use it. CC’s minimum standard for attribution is author, title of the work, link to the original work, link to the CC deed for the licenses.” There are also many resources out there that offer access to free-to-use assets, including:

Read more on attribution

How to build a newsletter list

“Although it is the oldest publishing platform on the internet, email is unquestionably reliable, you can take your list with you, and it is decentralized and untainted by algorithms and companies with hidden agendas.” Oftentimes, sharing on social media feels like screaming into the void, but communicating through newsletters — with individuals who took the time to sign up to receive them — is more personal and direct.

Tips and takeaways:

  • Pick a platform, like Mailchimp, and just start.
  • View it as a learning experience: you’re gaining a new skill and building a new channel to connect with your most loyal readers, followers, or customers.
  • Ditch the fancy template. “People don’t connect with templates, they connect with voices and the people behind them.”

Read more on newsletters

How to showcase your projects

“Nowadays, there are endless tools and platforms that allow us to curate our projects beautifully and to also belong to a larger community of like-minds. Yes, upload your projects to places like Behance and the like, but always always update your website with the latest things you’ve shipped.” It’s great to promote yourself and your work across social channels, but be sure to compile your best and latest projects on the site you call your online home.

Tips and takeaways:

Do an audit of your online portfolio:

  • What’s missing? What should you remove?
  • Where can you provide more information to demonstrate your skills?
  • Can you better organize and present your projects?

Don’t have a portfolio yet? Create a website now.

Read more on showcasing projects

Explore more from the Own Your Content series. Learn more about our campaign partner, CreativeMornings.