How to Fix Windows 7 Not Waking Up From Sleep Mode

Recently I began to experience a strange problem with my computer. It began to refuse to wake up from sleep mode and at the same time became extremely slow. It was almost hanging after every command and needed a couple of minutes to process information.  I even encountered a blue screen, something I have not experienced since I bought the computer over 5 years ago. 

I thought the Graphics Processor was the cause since I encountered an error message concerning it as I tried resolving the issue. Consequently, I decided to uninstall and reinstall the graphics processor drivers but the problem persisted.  I tried scanning for viruses and unplugging all devices connected to the computer but to no avail. I also tried system restore but all the restore points previously created were missing. I had reached a dead end.

Therefore I decided to search the internet and see if I could find a solution. The information I gathered pointed me to Windows 7 important updates which I had installed earlier in the week. I made a decision to uninstall them and see if things would improve and to my amazement the problem was resolved.

If you are experiencing similar problems, you might consider doing what I did. Just try uninstalling the recent updates and see if the problem disappears. Before doing so, try starting your computer on Safe Mode to verify that the basic drivers are working fine-the issue disappears on Safe Mode.

If you do not know how to go about uninstalling the updates follow the steps below:

  1. Go to the Control Panel, click Uninstall a program under Programs;

2. On the upper left side, under the tool bar, click View installed updates;

3. To quickly identify the last updates you installed, right click inside the updates panel and under Sort by click Installed On which should arrange the updates in the order in which they were installed;

4. Right click on the updates you want to uninstall and allow your computer  to restart and reconfigure – a process  which takes a considerable amount of time;

5. After the process is complete and your computer starts working normally, I encourage you to create a restore point just in case you need it in future.

I hope Windows will sort the problem in their subsequent updates and I also hope that this post has helped someone. Feel free to share your comments below.

Thank you for reading.

4 Tips On How To Charge For Graphic Design Jobs

04How much should I charge for graphic design jobs is a question many freelance graphic designers and small business owners battle with over and over again especially when pitching for new projects. I have found myself many times asking questions like, “Did I over charge or did I sell my services too cheaply?”

It is challenging when you follow up on a potential client only to be told that your rates are too high hence disqualify you. At that point the common temptation is to plan to lower your rates which might not even be the best solution to countering the price objection.

In fact lowering the rates sometimes proves that you are not sure of what you are offering or the value you are adding. Alternatively, if you lower your rates with a high margin with no reasonable explanation the client tends to think you were trying to fleece them.

So how much should you charge and what should you consider before settling on a particular figure?

1.       The dynamics of the project.

More often than not projects are never similar and asking the right questions is essential so that you are able to get proper perspective of the work.

For example, two different clients, client A and client B might ask for a quotation to design an A2 poster. Client A requires you to source for the images and deliver samples for approval within two days while Client B supplies you with high resolution images and needs samples for approval within three days. The question to ask is, Is it reasonable to charge the clients the same? Definitely no because though both want an A2 poster designed, the dynamics are different and should therefore attract different charges.

Having a fixed rate for every job or charging as the next graphic designer across the street is recipe for failure.

It is therefore important to get as much details as possible regarding any project so that you are able to provide an informed price.

2.       Your experience

As long as you are learning, every year increases your experience so that when a similar project like the one you handled in the past years come up again, it finds you better equipped to solve it more quickly and efficiently.

Therefore, do not fear raising your rates occasionally because you are also adding to your experience with every passing year.

3.       Industry rates

Sometimes, what would appear cheap in one country or area might be expensive in another. It is therefore good to find out what the acceptable industry rates are so that you do not charge yourself out of business or be the one devaluing the trade by offering unsustainable cheap rates.

At this point one would ask, what about the influx of “designers” in the market who are charging Kshs 450 ($5) for a logo or Kshs 2,700 ($30) for a website? The answer is to ignore them and stick to your rates if you know they are fair and you can justify them.

It is better to lose out on a job because you were expensive than get one by undercharging.

If you over charge it is easier to come down in future but very difficult to raise your rates to a client you brought on board by undercharging. Actually, such a client might even want to bargain when giving you more work in future and the worst part is that he might refer you based on the same rates.

Competing based on price alone leads to a war that is won by clients but one that leaves graphic designers closing their businesses and crying foul.

Instead of lowering your rates, explain to the client what you are bringing to the table that is different from the next guy offering an incredibly low price.

4.       Type of client

If you are asked give a quotation for redesigning a logo for a world renown brand like Microsoft or Mercedes Benz, the price would not be the same as redesigning the logo of a local chemist in your neighbourhood.

How the two companies’ impact society is so different and the revenues each generates per annum is far apart from each that such details must be taken into consideration when coming up with the total price.

Since graphic design is a service and not a product, it is impossible to have a common rate for all graphic design services here in Kenya or anywhere else in the world. Consequently, striking a balance so that you are neither too expensive to get hired nor too cheap to be trusted is principal.

There are many more factors to consider when determining how to charge, feel free to add to the list through the comment form below.

Jessica Hische has also written quite an insightful article on pricing which is a must read and you can find it here.

Hope this helped,

Five tips to consider before starting a freelancing business in Kenya

HandshakeIn this post I will highlight five tips or areas to consider before starting your freelancing business in Kenya. I will use graphic design related examples which happens to be my field but the tips can be applied across board.

  1. Choose whether to operate as a consultant or company

From the beginning, it is good to decide whether you will do business and be paid using your personal name or will register a business.  You need to weigh carefully the pro and cons of each mode of operation since what you settle on will impact your business. For example when you operate as a consultant who gets paid in your personal name, you might not be able to bid for bigger projects which require only registered companies.

But when you decide to register a business name or company, do not be tempted to issue any invoice with your preferred business name until you have been successfully registered and issued with a certificate of registration. A freelancer might jump the gun and ask a client to write a cheque in a business name that has not been registered only to go to the registrar of businesses later on and discover there is an already existing business with a similar name. The result is, having to go back to the client and ask the cheque to be rewritten in a different name-how unprofessional and embarrassing this is.

  1. Open a bank account

After registering your business at the registrar’s office, shop for a bank that meets your needs and open an account. Learn to separate your business monies from personal ones. Avoid banking money paid out by a client for services rendered into your personal account. If you ever require a business loan from your bank, one of the assessments the bank will make is on your cash flow (how your money comes in and goes out). So learn to bank every payment made to you by clients, whether small amounts or huge ones for you never know when you might require credit facilities. It is also one of the easiest ways of keeping track of your total sales.

  1. Decide if you are I or We

If you register a business, another thing to decide is whether to refer yourself as I or we. This sounds obvious but many freelancers have found themselves in dilemmas when pitching jobs or writing proposals on whether to refer themselves as I or we. If you intend to involve other associates or partners in your business then using “we” is appropriate but if you will be offering the services alone then use “I”.  

  1. Narrow down your passion

Define and narrow down your passion. Choose areas you are good at and invest your time and money in them. People will pay more to deal with a specialist than a general practitioner. If you are good in logo design but find yourself struggling to come up with creative animations or websites, outsource or get another creative you can refer the business to and he can also refer you in areas you are strong at.

When clients seek your services, they want to be sure you can solve their briefs without abandoning their work half way. Clients are happy when you handle their projects professionally and even exceed their expectations. This cannot be achieved if you only know a bit of everything, master one or two areas where you will do a thorough job.

  1. Streamline your accounting

Get your books in order either by hiring an accountant or purchasing a booking keeping software to assist you. Many freelancers and business persons start their business without giving thought to this aspect of their business until they land into trouble with Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) or miss out on an opportunity because they couldn’t prove that they have been paying taxes. Not only does paying taxes and good accounting discipline keep you in good books with Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), it will also help you know the financial status of your business and whether you are making any progress or just marking time.

I know I have left out many more areas that are often overlooked, feel free to add to the list by commenting below.

Hope this helped,

Designing on Speculation

imacDesigning on speculation or speculative design is asking a designer to supply sample designs of real work without any commitment of hiring him. In most cases the client provides several graphic designers with a brief and then asks for sample designs. The client then decides on who to hire based on samples sent and price charged. The other graphic designers who do not qualify are neither compensated for time spent interpreting the brief or work done.

Speculative design arises because of failure by the designer to communicate terms of engagement to clients and would be clients. Another reason is that many designers are ignorant of the worth of their intellectual property. They tend to view design as only software manipulation.

When I started out on my own after quitting employment, I met this client who asked me to design a logo for an NGO he was establishing. He had been referred to me by a client I was servicing and whom we were having a cordial relationship. Based on this, I innocently trusted him and started designing the logo. This I did even after he told me that he did not have the money but was sourcing it from some donors. I assumed even after knowing that assumption is the lowest form of knowledge that he would pay me once the funding started flowing. Anyway, I emailed the ideas I had come up with and he replied by mentioning that the work was a good beginning and I should consult with his colleague to finalize on the logo. That was the last time I heard from him. After a year or two of silence I decided to visit his website and see what logo he was using since we had not finalized on what I had come up with. To my amazement, he had picked one of the samples I had emailed him and used it in all their material. Seeing this, I tried to use all possible means at my disposal to seek compensation but was not successful. I could only blame myself and had to learn the lesson the hard way. My ignorance had finally rewarded me handsomely.

Dear designer, beware, do not involve yourself in speculative work no matter how promising the offer is.

To you dear client, please judge the ability of a designer based on his portfolio. Asking for speculative work is unprofessional and disrespectful of a designer’s time and intelligence.  It is forcing  a designer to work for free whether he is aware of it or not.

No professional agrees to offer their services without guarantee of payment. Whether it is a lawyer, doctor, architect or even carpenter. The least they require from a client is a deposit, which acts as proof of commitment and in several cases signing of a contract. Advertising agencies are perhaps the only exceptions which can offer samples since they can pitch a concept before they have the work, but once they get the work they buy all the client’s media. This in return earns them millions in commissions.

More read on the same;

Spec You! Why Designers Should Never Work For Free


Hope this helped,