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16 in 2016

I have already made my vision board for the new year, but when I saw my friend, Esther’s 16 in 2016 list, I was inspired to make my own.

If there’s anything Esther and I both love, it’s making lists. Does anyone else do this? I just love planning my year out and figuring out what I want to accomplish.

These goals are essentially my vision board, broken down into more specific and manageable tasks.

a goal without a plan is just a wish

Personal Goals:
1. Speak more Mandarin to my girls.
2. Teach my oldest daughter to swim this summer.
3. Eat healthier:
– soda or sweet tea once a week in Jan, then once every two weeks for rest of the year
– same for desserts
– fast food (Chick-Fil-A) once a week
– no French fries
4. Plant a fruit tree in the backyard this spring
5. Grow vegetables and herbs in our garden to cook with in the spring and summer
6. Vacation at a new Caribbean island
7. Visit a US city that we haven’t been to before

Fitness Goals:
8. Run a 5k race in under 30 min
9. PR in the Peachtree Road Race
10. PR in the Atlanta Half Marathon: shouldn’t be too big of a stretch since I sucked it up real bad when I ran it in 2010.
11. Lose 15 pounds by Dec 31, 2016

Always Learning:
12. Work on rescue diver certification – finish online e-course
13. Get CPR and First Aid certified
14. Learn conversational French – work my way through Duolingo

15. Get Google Analytics certification
16. Get Google AdWords certification

January 20, 2016 - 7:28 pm

estherjulee - yay!! i miss our weekly accountability sessions. how do you get certified in google analytics / adwords, and what does that do?

April 25, 2016 - 11:39 am

Melissa - Wow, I am so bad at responding to comments. I need to get back on this blog thing :)

To get certified in google analytics and adwords, you just have to watch their tutorial videos and pass a test. It’s more useful to get jobs in digital marketing, show that you know your stuff.

2016 Vision Board

I love my vision boards. I’ve made one each year for the past five years, and while some years it has proven more effective than others, I still enjoy taking the time to plan out my goals for the year.

2015 Vision BoardLet’s look back at 2015:

Left to Right, Top to Bottom:
1. Create and preserve more memories.
2. Eat healthier, and more of a plant-based diet. Getting better at this. I’ve gotten into the groove of meal prep on Sundays so that I have healthy lunches ready for the work week.
3. Grow our family. We are now a family of four!
4. Improve upon my sewing skills, learn to quilt. – Nope. Started a new job, had a baby… no more free time.
5. Passion. My word for the year.
6. Publish a book. – Big nope. Will revisit this one in a couple years.
7. Continue playing tennis, perhaps start teaching Mini-me to play this spring. – Nope. Too pregnant.
8. Run bitch. Didn’t run much while pregnant, but I’ve recently started up again.
9. Beautify the yard around our house, gardening both flowers and vegetables. – Nope. Pregnant = Nauseous.

On to 2016!

Here is this year’s vision board.
2016 vision board sm

Left to Right, Top to Bottom:
1. Take a scuba diving trip
2. Grow into my new role as mom to two girls
3. Continue raising my girls to be little heroes
4. New running goals
5. I love this quote from “The Devil Wears Prada,” it’s a great motivator for me for this new year of business and career goals
6. Spend more time outdoors with the girls and work on our garden
7. Get my pre-baby body back
8. Travel more
9. Eat more of a plant-based diet, inspired by Dudley, also make a trip to visit him in Knoxville this year.

January 5, 2016 - 11:59 am

16 in 2016 » Melissa Crane | Digital Marketing & Brand Storytelling - […] goals are essentially my vision board, broken down into more specific and manageable […]

5 Interview Tips for Graphic Designers

5 interview tips for graphic designersWe recently hired a new graphic designer at work, to help take on some of the design workload since I became digital marketing manager. It was interesting, coming from the “other side” as a hiring manager, you can see so very clearly what employers are looking for when making a hire.

Finding a great graphic design job can seem like an impossibly difficult thing to do, especially if you are new to the field. But, it really doesn’t need to be that hard.

1. Be prepared – make sure your portfolio is up to date, there’s almost nothing worse than a designer who comes into an interview and when asked “what’s a project you are most proud of” and not be able to show off said project.

Speaking of portfolios, if web design is listed as a skill, you should have an online portfolio. No excuses. No website, no interview. We are moving on.

2. Google is your best friend. Do your research – look up everything there is to know about the company you are interviewing with, and if you know who you will be meeting with, read up on them too.


Knowing something, anything, about the company you are interviewing with will set you apart from all the other candidates. You would be surprised at how many people don’t do their research.

3. Relax – once you’re asked in to interview, the hiring manager is usually pretty sold on your skills, now we want to see if you’re a good fit for the company and the team you will be working with. So relax, and talk to us like we are real people. This is the time to connect with your future co-workers.

4. Want it. (This may be the most important)
If they give you a design test, put some effort into it. It will be painfully obvious if you don’t.

And remember that bit about the portfolio that I mentioned? It wouldn’t hurt to update your portfolio with your latest work. Especially with work that the company that you are interviewing with would be interested in seeing.

5. Thank yous.
This is a detail that many job seekers forget to do.

After the interview, if you really want the job, ask for business cards and send a thank you email as soon as possible. It’s that cherry on top of the sundae that employers notice.

#OptOutside with REI on Black Friday

REI’s most recent marketing campaign is taking over social media by storm.

In what is almost unheard of in the retail industry, the upscale outdoor gear company is closing all of its stores on Black Friday, encouraging its customers to #OptOutside instead.

In recent years, social media has been buzzing with complaints about stores opening earlier and earlier for Black Friday, with many opening on Thanksgiving evening. And while I was never one of those who shopped on Thanksgiving after our family dinner, I usually do go out and do some shopping on Black Friday – that’s just what you do, right?

Granted, we would go shopping as a family, so there’s that.

But, if your family is like mine, we are spread across the country and don’t get to see each other very often. This #OptOutside campaign actually made me stop and think:

“Hey, maybe we can go do something together, rather than do shopping together.”

This marketing campaign is brilliant and fully in line with REI’s target market. CEO, Jerry Stritzke to CNN Money, “This business centers [on] the outdoors,” he said. “Thus, we can do something like close our doors on Black Friday, and we’ll have the membership that’ll think that’s cool.”

Stritzke thinks that this campaign is going to be a great way to bring in new, passionate customers. Which will be worth more than competing with holiday bargain shoppers.

Yes, I would have to agree.

What Parenting Has Taught Me About Marketing

halloween costume shoppingOr, how your customers are just like a three year old.

The same principles that you use to convince a toddler to eat their vegetables can also be applied to content marketing.

1. Get to the point and it better be interesting.
You have a grand total of about 3 seconds to grab the attention of a toddler. I would venture to guess that you have about the same amount of time to grab someone’s attention online.

2. “Again!”
When my three year old likes something, her favorite word is “again!” Entertain me and I’ll watch that awesome video five more times.

3. What’s your favorite color?
Something boring can be amazing if it’s the right color. It’s all about the packaging.

4. Shhh… It’s a secret
Anything can be special if it’s a secret. Make people feel special and feel like they know something their friends don’t know yet.


If you think about it, we are all kids at heart. Appeal to that inner child and see what happens.

Friday Finds :: Sea Turtle Pendant

Turtle pendant omerica organics 3Handmade crafts have a special place in my heart. Even though I studied industrial design, which is all about designing products that can be manufactured in bulk, I really love the personalization and care that goes into crafting a single product.

Omerica Organic is an environmentally conscious, Denver-based shop that crafts beautiful jewelry pieces out of wood. My friend Esther, posted about them a few months ago on her blog, and I knew I needed to add one of these little jewels to my collection.

After browsing their site, I spotted this turtle necklace.

Turtle pendant omerica organics 2

Sea turtles hold a very special place in my heart. They are one of my favorite animals to spot when we go diving.

So, I informed my husband that I wanted this turtle as my push gift.

And this past Thursday I finally received this little guy.

Isn’t he a beauty?

Turtle pendant omerica organics 1

Oh, and our new little addition to the family isn’t too shabby either.

Crane family at hospital

July 24, 2015 - 6:17 pm

Esther of Local Adventurer - omg!! congratulations on your new addition (both the baby and the necklace hehe)!!! I feel so out of the loop over here on the west coast.

July 29, 2015 - 9:15 pm

Melissa - Thanks!! And I feel so out of touch because I don’t have time to blog anymore :-/ miss you guys!

December 31, 2015 - 10:15 pm

2016 Vision Board » Melissa Crane | Digital Marketing & Brand Storytelling - […] on Sundays so that I have healthy lunches ready for the work week. 3. Grow our family. We are now a family of four! 4. Improve upon my sewing skills, learn to quilt. – Nope. Started a new job, had a […]

Why I Need to be a Working Mom

Mommy belly pics with older sisterAfter almost 7 years of freelance work, I started a full time job back in February. I think I shocked quite a few people when that happened, myself included. But after five months of this change, I can confidently say that it was the best decision I could’ve made.

Here’s why.

I’m not fit to be a stay-at-home mom. 

Being a SAHM is truly a special job, believe me, I lived it for over two years.  While I wouldn’t trade the time I got to spend with my daughter for anything in the world, I found my patience wearing thin on most days and my brain felt like it was melting from lack of adult interaction.

Now that I’m working full time outside of the house, I’ve found myself less stressed. And happier when I come home and get to spend those precious few hours with my daughter and husband. Quality over quantity is what works for us.

My daughter is flourishing at daycare

She is learning things that I wouldn’t have taught her on my own, both because I don’t know much of anything about educating kids and from pure exhaustion from chasing a toddler around all day. She got bored at home a lot, now she stays busy at daycare all day and she loves it.

I don’t feel that I am losing an important part of myself.

I have been a passionate and driven person my whole life. I set goals and I make plans to reach those goals. It’s such a big part of my personality and  what keeps me going.

Being a SAHM was causing me to feel as if I was losing that part of myself. Even though I was still doing freelance design & photography work, having to balance both work and taking care of a child wasn’t working for me.

I didn’t want my career to stall while my kids were young, and then have to start my career again when the kids are ready to go to elementary school. A bit selfish on my end? Maybe. But it’s what’s best for my mental health, and I’m a strong believer that if Mommy isn’t happy, the kids (and husband) won’t be either.


The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (of Design Agencies)

good bad ugly design agencies

Been hearing horror stories of people dealing with design agencies lately, and since it’s Friday the 13th, this seemed like the perfect day for a post like this.

I’ve been wanting to write on this topic for a long time, and now that I’m moving on from freelancing/running a small design agency on to a full-time job (as a designer, but not at an agency). It’s time to share some of these thoughts that have been simmering deep in my belly with you.

When searching for an agency, you are looking for a partner to guide you through this crazy design process. Especially if you are new at the design process, don’t know much about developing and managing a website or just need to hand the project off to someone else to handle, you need to be thoughtful with who you choose to work with.

The Bad:
– Will they give you a straight answer when you ask them a question. Or do they try to avoid the question?
– Do they make changes by the time they say they will? Or does it take them two weeks to make a copy change.
– Are they helpful? Do they make suggestions toward the design of the project? When the client asks for suggestions? One of the big reasons clients hire design agencies is for our creative input

The Ugly:
– Restrict WordPress: The beauty of using WordPress is that we (the agency) can hand the reins over. The only reason an agency would put restrictions on WordPress is so that they can make more money from you (the client) when small changes are needed to be made.

Let’s end with The Good:
Signs of a good design agency:
– They give you straight answers
– Provide guidance
– They are willing to educate you on the design process.

My biggest tip: Does the agency treat you with kindness, respect and (most important of all) transparency.

Good luck out there! But be assured there are some fantastic agencies out there to work with. You just might have to dig through the bad and the ugly to find the good ones.