Small Business Interview: Shannon Noack

by Tak Hikichi

Today, I interviewed Shannon Noack, who is the Creative Director of Snoack Studios, Maricopa based designer, successful blogger and small business owner. Shannon has great passion for designing, and I was fortunate enough to pick her brain on this topic. Shannon’s ability to network with other business owners generate referrals and repeat businesses, let’s hear what she must say!

Shannon, tell us a little bit about yourself – who are you? How long have you had your business in AZ?

I’m a 26 year old Arizona native, and I am a designer with my own company, Snoack Studios. I just started the studio in 2009 and am enjoying owning my own business and working for myself. I’ve been designing for about 8 years now, and I believe I will always do some form of design for my profession. I’m an avid writer and blogger as well and have had several articles published on popular design blogs. I also run my own blog at http://blog.snoackstudios.com where I talk mostly about design-related things as well as some freelancing, marketing, and internet stuff.

Great to be able to do business with an AZ native. You mentioned that you have had several articles published on popular design blogs.  In fact, that’s how I found you.  Tell me what kind of approach you took to get your articles published on blogs?  Did you know anyone who worked for the blog?

I started blogging for others by chance actually. Jacob from Six Revisions tweeted that he was hiring more writers for his blog and I thought it would be fun so I followed up with him and started writing for Six Revisions. After a few posts came out on Six Revisions I was contacted by other blogs to write for them as well. I enjoy writing and designing is my true passion, so writing about design-related stuff is enjoyable for me.

Wow, so networking with others using Twitter certainly helped you initially. Did you know him other than Twitter or only through following each other on Twitter?  Also, what kind of tweets do you generate?

Yes, I think networking on twitter is quite a valuable resource! I’ve found fellow designers to work with, clients that are in need of design services, etc. It’s been a very valuable tool for me professionally. I didn’t know Jacob or any of the people I write posts for outside of our initial twitter connection. I usually tweet about design-related material like design blogs I’ve found interesting, new sites that I like, and cool design resources. But sometimes I’ll tweet about other stuff that I find interesting like freelancing, small business, and marketing stuff. I love that twitter allows you to make connections though, and I’ve found responding to tweets, requests or questions from others to be beneficial in building relationships.

So, you mentioned “building relationships”, and I assume you’re mostly connected with people online. With the emergence of Social Media, and other than Twitter that you mentioned, what else are you doing to ensure your relationships with clients and business partners are developing? Do you stay connected online or do you take relationships offline? Do you have Facebook “Fan page”?

I am very connected to people online, but also make an effort to connect offline as well. I think it’s best to have a good feel for both avenues. I participate in local networking events, and I’d love to go to trade shows in the future.

Many people love face to face contact especially for business connections, and it’s refreshing to talk to someone in person instead of chatting online. Maintaining relationships with existing and past clients is best done through online efforts, blogging, emails, social media, IMing, etc. I just recently created a Facebook fan page, and I’m loving the new avenue to interact with clients and professional contacts. You can find the page here.

Do you attend local Maricopa events?

Yes, I do live and work in Maricopa and love participating in Maricopa events! They have lots of local events with vendors that advertise their services, but I haven’t participated as a business just yet, although I’ve looked into joining the Chamber of Commerce in the future. The Chamber is certainly a great way to meet local business owners and network with people in your immediate community. The networking events I’ve attended have been in Phoenix, which does provide a larger audience and I do consider the greater Phoenix area a part of my local community.

Shannon's work example (logo)

At these events I just do my best to present myself and my company to people that might be interested. I believe it’s important to not oversell yourself to people that aren’t interested at all, I’ve seen that a lot at networking events. Web design seems to sell itself, as so many people are in need of a web presence or they know someone who does and will pass my name along. Then, people can browse my portfolio on my website to see some of my previous work and decide on their own if they would like to work with me.

I am always curious where people learn their designing skills. So, how did you get started in designing? If you were to start all over, what would you do?

I first learned about graphic design as a profession in high school, and took some beginning classes where I learned Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and QuarkXPress. This is where I fell in love with design and knew it was what I was meant to do with my life. In college, at Northern Arizona University, I majored in Visual Communications and took graphic design, web design, and art courses, gaining more design knowledge. But I think the majority of my skills today have come from working in the field as a professional designer. If I were to start all over I wouldn’t change a thing actually.

You don’t need a degree to be a designer these days, but I believe I learned some valuable things in high school and college in my design classes. Experience working with others and learning from other designers is also something that is valuable for any designer, and I highly recommend it. A lot of designers start freelancing and working for themselves right out of school but you miss out on lots of opportunities to learn from others, it’s something I wouldn’t change at all.

If I want to learn designing skills, but want to be taught by someone, could I take technical classes at community college? I don’t need to become a pro because I could hire you, but would like to learn photo editing skills and basic designing and such. What would you advise?

Yes, I believe most, if not all, of the community colleges in the Phoenix area offer some type of design course. Basic photo and design skills should be easy to come by at a community college, and you can even find classes on basic web design these days too. I don’t know enough about these courses to speak about them unfortunately, but basic skills like learning photo manipulation in Photoshop should be easy to find, and I would think worth your time to learn.

I’ve also heard good things about Lynda.com which is an online tutorial resource where you pay for tutorials on a certain subject like web design or Photoshop. I haven’t used it myself but I’ve heard wonderful things about the site. There are also free beginner tutorials that you can find online but doing some searching around if you’re looking for a way to learn and teach yourself. People usually find it easier to learn from someone, but it really depends on your learning style and how advanced you’d like to become.

Wow, I loved what I saw on Lynda.com thanks for sharing everything you’ve shared with us today. So how should people find you? Also, give us the rundown of all the services your company does.

Lynda.com is great, lots of resources on one site. Thanks for the interview, I’m always to happy to connect with others in the Phoenix area! People can find me at my websitesnoackstudios.com, on twitter @snoackstudios.com, on Facebook, or through email Shannon [at] snoackstudios.com The services my company provides are any kind of design you can dream up, websites, print work, and branding are my specialties. I work with small and large companies that are brand new or have been around for a while to come up with a great look for their company that fits their target audience. I strive to help business get to the next level through marketing and design services that will elevate their brand. Looking forward to connecting with you all soon!

————————————————————————————————-

Shannon Noack is a designer in Arizona and the Creative Director of Snoack Studios. Designing is her passion in life and she loves to create websites, logos, print work, you name it. She also blogs regularly at the Snoack Studios blog and you can connect with her on twitter @snoackstudios and Facebook as well.

———————————————————————————————-

 

Previous post:

Next post: