Winning With Independent Contractors

By Catherine Lang-Cline

Sometimes people get very nervous when it comes to hiring independent contractors because they believe it is complicated. It really isn’t, it’s just has its own rules and just like learning the rules to Texas Hold’Em or Cards Against Humanity, once you know how it works, you can play and win.

Rule #1 - Get the definition of the relationship in writing. The employer gets to decide the working relationship and needs to get it in writing so it is understood by everyone. Having an unclear relationship means the worker can say at any time that they have been treated like an employee and then you might need to pay them back benefits if you are audited. Not to mention, the government will want back taxes and penalties. A typical contract will include the scope of work, payment schedule, who owns the finished work, and a project end date.

Rule # 2 - Know your paperwork. You must have a W-9 on file for each independent contractor so that you don't have to withhold income taxes from that individual. You will then have the information to create a 1099-MISC form for that person for the tax year (similar to a W-2 form for employees). All of these are a must. It will also help if you have any information about them that indicated they are working independently from you. Company business card, company address, other clients, etc.

Rule #3 - Businesses of all sizes need to follow the same rules. Don’t think because your business is small you won’t be found out. Audits happen all of the time. Occasionally contractors and employees “spill the beans” and that info will work against you.

Rule #4 - It’s all about the relationship. Let’s say that you have perfectly completed Rules #1-3 yet the auditor says this is an employee. How does that happen? Did you give the independent contractor working hours? Did you manage the job by telling the worker how to do the job? Basically, was this person treated as an employee? Yeah. It’s tough. But compare it to hiring a plumber or an electrician. Do you get to tell them when to be there and how to do their job? No. So it needs to be just like that. If they are working from home, you cannot control their time, but if they are coming internally just let them know the hours the business is open and when you can expect them.

Rule #5 - Temporary workers, probationary, or seasonal workers are NOT independent contractors. This is one of the main reasons that staffing companies exist because they take workers in these categories on as their employees to save you the hassle. Not to mention, staffing companies offer you a little more legal space to move around in because these people are typically hired and treated as employees but with the staffing company covering their taxes, benefits, etc. Another option is that YOU take them on as hourly employees and follow the paperwork that goes along with that.

Now that you know the rules, it’s time to play and win! THE most important thing to remember is to get the paperwork in order, define the relationship, then treat them not necessarily as family but more like the Lyft driver who you have a great time with, but they are really just there to get you where you need to go.

Hiring for Cultural Fit—What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

By Catherine Lang-Cline

We hire for a cultural fit.

Really, we do. And many, many companies do too. Companies do this because it works, but it isn’t perfect. Creating too deep of a mold for a cultural fit can make it so new hires begin to look, act, and think alike.

Let’s start with defining cultural fit. A few years ago the business community determined that every cool business needed a ping-pong table, beer on tap, and a bunch of bean-bag chairs. They were the first steps to building a culture, a place where people with the same interests would want to hang out and work. These turned more into frills as a real culture is built on people that are passionate about what they do. People that work hard when nobody's watching. People that love a job more than their paycheck. (Oh yes, they do exist!)

When people hire for culture and do it in a way that all the employees end up looking the same and thinking the same. They have not allowed room for diversity or special skills. So let’s talk about how to get the best people.

The best way to do this is to dig deeper during the interview process. Great, they love craft beer but if your company is innovative, can they get just as excited about that? Is your customer service something that they admire? Will they be able to work alone or as a group depending on how you currently work? How do they handle conflict?

You are going to want to hear things in the interview that you can relate to, that other people on the team can relate to. Your company has a team of hard workers and your first candidate has a story about how all through their life they have had to pull themselves up. Someone that almost looks identical, is equal in skills, has a story about how lucky they have been, and with their personality, can accomplish anything. Who is the best fit? That really depends on what is a fit for your company.

Does the candidate find job titles important? Do you? How do you feel about egos, communication styles, accountability? All of your questions need to revolve around everything that you value, everything that is important to you, anything that would be defined as a fit for your processes and your team.

If you have the entire team passionate about what you do and have a common approach to getting the work done, rather than all being from the same alma mater, you have a recipe for success.

Time Hop: The Evolution of the Staffing Industry

By Kristen Harris

A relatively new industry, the current concept of “staffing” has only been around for several decades. Even so, it’s evolved over that time.

Let’s jump in the way back machine…

The first temporary staffing firms started just after World War II, tapping into a growing market for part-time help. These early firms mostly focused on filling part-time or intermittent needs, especially in offices and secretarial pools. A combination of a few national firms and lots of local firms providing these services continued to grow throughout the 1950s and 60s. This type of work was especially appealing to women, allowing them to work outside of the home on their terms. In 1959, of the 150,000 people per year who found work through the top five firms, 85% were women

By the late 1960s and into the 70s “temporary help firms” were placing people with a broader range of talents and skills beyond the traditional office or clerical roles. Engineers, executives, financial controllers, and other professionals liked having more control over their work opportunities and schedule. This became especially attractive to people who were retiring but wanted to continue to work in some capacity.

In response to attempts at regulation of this new and growing industry, The Institute of Temporary Services was formed in 1966 to defend and advance the interests of their members. Now called The American Staffing Association, this industry organization continues to be the leader in support and advocacy for the staffing and recruiting industry.

Today American staffing companies employ more than three million people in an average week, adding up to nearly 17 million people per year. No longer just focused on office or clerical roles, there are staffing and recruiting firms to serve virtually any occupation and fill roles at any level. While there are plenty of firms that accept requests for any type of role, there are many firms (like ours) that have expertise in a niche. Instead of all jobs for all people, niche firms focus on specific jobs for specialized people.

Candidates who work with a staffing or recruiting firm gain access to more short-term, long-term, or full-time opportunities, based on their career interests and personal needs. Schedule flexibility is still a top reason people choose to work with staffing firms. However, half of the staffing employees see it as a route to a permanent position, with 9 out of 10 saying they felt their staffing assignment made them more employable.

As the needs of business and employees evolve, the staffing industry continues to evolve as well. Acting as hiring experts and consultants, firms partner with their clients to solve workforce needs and are often seen as a critical piece of a company’s hiring strategy. 

Want to know more about the staffing industry? Check out the American Staffing Association’s online timeline and historical archive.

Want to know more about the creative hiring specialists at Portfolio Creative? Connect with our team at

People Like Us

Why We Started a Business

By Catherine Lang-Cline

Two graphic designers start a business, but it’s not a graphic design business. That is, we don’t design anything. The people we work with are the creatives and we just decided to help everyone find each other.

People like us, in the creative industry, know the challenges of finding great help. We also know the challenges of finding a place where we are happy to do our craft. Speaking for myself, I started out in a production role. Then did graphic design, then I designed gift wrap, then I worked at an ad agency, then another one, then I got into two retail marketing departments after freelancing for them and freelancing for a few other companies in between all of that. Creative roles needed to keep me interested and I moved around often. I am guessing that the majority of the people in creative roles operate in a very similar way.

People like us struggle where our creativity can’t be free, be challenged, be made to blossom. We know that we might be the misfits of an organization because we think differently and do our work with the opposite side of our brain than everyone else. We think in color. If we are lucky, we also can fire up the entire brain and think logically. People like us were told to write with our right hands, pay attention and stop doodling, and quite often were discouraged to be good at math.

That is why we wanted to help people like us. We understand what it is like to be the client looking for a candidate that will come in and “get it.” One that won’t have to be trained on the software and can bring a specialized talent to the table. We also understand what it is like to be a talented person just wanting to be a part of the creative process and really want to “wow” the team. We help them by knowing them. We help them by connecting them. We help them by being a part of their career and their creative process by finding the people that we would want to work on our projects. 

In order to do all of this properly, we needed to make this a business. It was a full-time job. Sure, it might look like a staffing company but it really is about connecting people like us. It is about understanding our clients' projects and understanding who is the best person for the task. It’s about partnership and pride and making creative things, and we love that we have created a business that brings together people like us.

Let’s all be creative together.

Expanding Our Table

By Catherine Lang-Cline

When you want to invite more guests to your conversation, you add chairs and expand the table. When you believe you can offer more people your service, you expand your business.

Fourteen years ago, we had this idea to specialize in creative staffing. My business partner and I worked in advertising and marketing for many years and really understood the industry. As a result, we created a company that created perfect matches based on that experience. Then we asked, why stop the conversation there? Let’s add people to the table.

Let’s start with how much we love Columbus. Columbus has been so welcoming to us and many, many other entrepreneurs. Columbus also has a great arts community; great museums, theaters, and more. If you have ever been to Cleveland or Cincinnati you know that they too have an incredible arts scene. Because it is so strong, we know that the people that live there have an admiration for the arts and thereby also appreciate great talent in all things creative, including advertising and marketing. That is the only way that this formula works.

It is for these reasons we believe that we can add Cincinnati and Cleveland to our conversation. We speak creative and have ingrained in us the type of excellence we expect our clients to have. Clients that belong to creative communities and understand the value of creative talent. Yes, yes, many staffing companies place creative talent and general staffing and they exist in both places. We believe that placing creative people is not typical staffing. It is based on a person’s personal style. It is also based on strengths and whether or not a person is a fit with your values and culture. But creative teams know this. 

As we sit between both cities, we have loved visiting Cleveland and Cincinnati. We have been to its ballparks, museums, restaurants, and mostly we know a number of creative people that live in both places. So pull up a chair and let’s talk (more) creative.

What Makes Us Unique

By Destiny Evans

When you wake up in the morning what motivates you to get through the day? Excellence is the driving force behind the day to day activities here, contributing to an environment where accountability keeps us in control. Here at Portfolio Creative, our company values are instilled in each and every one of our team members. Providing top-level talent requires us to be at the top of our game. We use each day to be better than the last. Today we explore the key to a healthy work environment. Owners Catherine and Kristen both highlight pivotal moments that have influenced the culture here at Portfolio Creative. How does the company culture foster positivity and healthy, productive work relationships? From tips on work-life balance to the foundation of company values, we can see what it takes to create the perfect workplace! 


Kristen and I began at Limited Brands where they emphasized facetime or hard work in the office. It was a great company that paid its employees well and really offered lots of opportunities to advance and grow. The big thing was that there wasn’t a lot of work-life balance. So moving forward we wanted to use what we learned but expand and make it better. We’ve engrained a level of excellence into our company that pushes everyone to do their best. With a small company, everyone plays an important part in striving for that excellence. Everyone can bring forth suggestions and ideas. We are within the realm of “do your best” and meet your set goals at work, and in your personal life. Life balance is important for personal and professional goals. We send our team information on events they can go to, boards they can join; all in an attempt to foster constant growth which benefits the company and the team. We don’t believe in counting anyone's time because everyone holds each other accountable. Keeping it fast and loose helps everyone work when they are at their best! 


We were very purposeful in creating the culture because we wanted it to be a place where we wanted to work. We have both worked at many places where we felt that the environment wasn’t the best. We strive for fun & friendly! Company culture is a reflection of the people who work there and in a way it embodies our personalities. The relaxed environment comes from peer accountability. Everyone is responsible to each other which is a direct result of our company values growth, passion, excellence, drive, and accountability. We use these values when screening candidates because we are a self-regulating team. People catch each other and have each other's backs. Because of that, we can have relaxed policies and rules which works for our small size. We don’t want to let each other down and our collaborative environment reflects that. Our EOS system helped to capture what tools we needed to put in place. Our formal meetings, agendas, and metrics help emphasize expectations amongst the team.

A Day in the Life: Q+A with Jamie Wells

Hi, I’m Jamie, the latest addition to the Portfolio Creative family! I graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelors in Psychology so I’m captivated with learning about the human connection and how we interact with each other. I’m also a creative with a deep appreciation of good design and a penchant for live music.

I love that I get to call German Village my home. The charming shops and restaurants scattered amongst the historic brick houses has always felt a little bit magical to me. Plus, spending the day getting lost in the Book Loft is always a good day.


Admittedly, I am not a morning person (I’ve tried- it’s just not going to happen), so my mornings are no-frills. My routine is always accompanied by a podcast: NPR’s Hidden Brain, The Daily from the New York Times, This American Life, and Note to Self are in heavy rotation. To celebrate leaving on time, I reward myself with a venti cold brew from Starbucks. That’s when I really come alive!



During the week, my afternoons are spent helping companies connect with the top creative talent this beautiful city has to offer, but on the weekends I like spending my time catching up with friends and family, hosting get-togethers, trying out a new brunch spot, or getting out in nature.


For an evening spent at home, I enjoy working in my flower garden, cooking dinner, or catching up on whatever HBO show I’m obsessed with. If I’m out and about, you can find me at the latest rooftop bar trying a craft cocktail (who doesn’t love a rooftop view?), enjoying a concert with friends, or sampling food from whichever new restaurant has recently opened.


5 Great Tips To Develop a Successful Remote/Work From Home/Freelance Habit

By Catherine Lang-Cline

In brief, my career has consisted of working for a company, freelance,  working for a company, freelance, working for a company, freelance, etc. While I was self-employed as a freelancer and even when we started our business, there were a few rules that had to be followed as far as setting up shop at home. These were put in place to make sure that I/we developed great work-from-home habits that turned into real business behavior.

Here are the 5 top things that worked:

  1. Get dressed for work. You can keep it casual, but get dressed. No successful business person stayed in their pajamas all day. Getting dressed means that you have a purpose, you are ready for anything! While you are at it, make your bed, too.

  2. Have an “open-for-business” start time. Pick a time that you think you will be ready to work and stick with it. In the beginning, I showed up at my business partner’s house at 9 AM, dressed and ready to work. Every day. Then do your best to work a “full day.”  Time will go faster than you think, so when start time arrives, get to work!

  3. Have a dedicated work space, separate from distraction. When working from home I have tried working at the kitchen counter but within my view was the television, the laundry room, and food! Just one show, one snack, or maybe throwing in that laundry slowly chips away at the time. Once I set up a desk in the guest bedroom did I actually stay in there for hours and conquered all of my tasks. If you don’t have a guest room that is okay, just set up a workspace that is void of or not facing any distractions. Also, try not to let your work take over your entire house. If possible, keep the work in the workspace. (I will admit when we started our business it did take up a lot of my business partner’s house...but she had a lot of space to do so.)

  4. Set up a daily or weekly schedule of when you will work on things. A calendar on your computer is perfect to plan and set up reminders. Set aside times to work, set aside time to send out invoices, deposit checks, do some marketing, and of course, sales and networking. Map it all out and stick to it! If you need to save some time for working out or running errands, do so. This schedule is meant to be flexible and make time for you but also cover all of the basics of business. You will be surprised how quickly invoices can back up if it is not scheduled and you want to keep that cash flow coming in. 

  5. Have a stop time. Since work and home have now become one you need to be able to separate the two as well. You might find yourself working well into the night because you conveniently live at your office now. “I can get just one more thing done.” This may work for a few days when chasing a deadline, but you really need to unplug and refresh at the end of every day. Again, this is business, be aggressive, work hard, but know when you are done for the day.

The overall idea here is disciplining yourself in your “new” surroundings. Up to this point you have just lived in your house. It has been a place of safety, comfort, and rest. Working from home changes that overall feel and it does take some time to get into a rhythm. You can do it and you can enjoy the flexibility that you have worked so hard for.

Out of Office: Tips and Tricks To Really Unplug

By Catherine Lang-Cline

You have actually booked the vacation that you really need and find yourself constantly checking in. Three days into your trip and you have not relaxed at all. Your family is begging you to plug into them instead of work. I mean, you needed a break from this right? Because technology makes it so easy to stay connected we all struggle with being disconnected. Here are a few tips and tricks you can try so you can actually get the rest and relaxation you deserve.

  1. If you must, set up some time to check in. Wake up an hour before your family does to reply to any necessary emails or to return any calls. When everyone up us and ready to go, you are done. Don’t make them wait. Go! And don’t check on anything again until the end of the day when everyone is unwinding. Really decide if you absolutely need to reply or if it can wait until you get back. People don’t always need an immediate answer. Personally, I have been scolded by clients and staff for replying to emails on my vacation.

  2. Turn off your alerts or volume on your phone. Turning your phone completely off may not be realistic because you do want to capture some great photos and in an actual emergency, you might want to be reached. If it is work that is calling, don’t answer. Waiting for a more appropriate time t return the call, it is not going to stop the wheels of progress to return a call a bit later.

  3. Leave all of your work in capable hands. Try and tie up any loose ends before you head out and leave another person as a contact for any issues. Let this person vet any issues that need to be pushed to you and then trust them to handle everything else. Be in a “contact me if you absolutely need me” mode and discover that things will be okay for three, six, or ten days.

  4. You like a good investment, so invest in you. Accept the fact that if you really go on vacation or take any kind of real break that when you return, you will be more productive, think more clearly, and be a lot more effective. Not thinking about work and exercising your brain in a different way will break you out of ruts and the status quo. You will return with a refresh that will only help the business. Maybe putting it this way will force you to think differently about work.

  5. No time to even plan a trip or a few days off? Have someone else do it for you. Contact a travel agent, recruit your friend, spouse, partner, or child to pick some days and plan a trip. Tell them where, when, and how is the best way for you to recharge or get away. Maybe it is a place with no internet coverage? Did I just make you freak out a bit? Mark the calendar and stick to it even if you have to plan way out a few months, get it on there.

The final thing I will say about this is that you MUST take time off. Do it. You have earned it and you would probably never advise someone not to take a little time for themselves. This message comes from a person that understands the grind of getting it done, do more, work harder, work faster. It wasn’t until I realized how much it benefited the business to get away and regroup did I become a preacher of this message. I also needed time off that was at least five days plus the weekends that connected to those days. The first three I always struggle with checking in, but by day four I could feel myself pulling away and recharging. Most of all, no one at the end of their life says that they wished they put in more hours at work but they do say that they wished they spent more time doing more in life. Now, what days are looking good to get a recharge?

Pups of Portfolio Creative || Take Your Dog to Work Day 2019

This year we celebrated Take Your Dog to Work Day on Wednesday, June 19—check out some of our favorite photos from the day, and some recent photos of Scarlett and Luna who were not in the office to play with us this year.

In honor of Take Your Dog to Work Day we interviewed our favorite four-legged pals! Check out what they had to say!


My name is Crew!

I am 11 months old Terrier Chihuahua mix.

My favorite snack is pupperoni.

When my my Mom or Dad comes home I run as fast as I can to get a hug!

I get along well with others.

My favorite toys are animals but the moose is my favorite!

My parents think I’m sassy but I’m actually pretty playful and friendly to others.


Hello I’m Pippy!

I am 4 years old Cavachon.

My favorite snacks are kettle corn, eggs and watermelon.

When my Mom and Dad come home I’m ready to play!

I kind of like to stay to myself.

My favorite toy is an everlasting treat ball.

I am sassy.


My name is Rusty!

I am an 8 year old Lab mix.

My favorite snacks are my Mom’s homemade dog biscuits.

When my Mom or Dad come home I love to ask for food!

I get along with others.

My favorite toys are shoes, even though I’m not supposed to chew on them!

I am friendly.


Hello I’m Moon!

I am 2 years old.

My favorite snacks are greenies, carrots and turkey jerky.

When my owner comes home I like to wag my tail and give her a big hug !

I get along well with others.

My favorite toy is my squirrel.

I am friendly.


Hello, I’m Scarlett!

I am 9 years old Viszla/Lab mix.

My favorite snack is all of them.  I don’t really have a favorite, I love all snacks! I will help myself to your snacks to if you aren’t paying attention!

When my Mom or Dad come home I like to bark and jump around because I know it’s time to eat and go for a walk.

I get along well with others, even cats.  

My favorite toy is…….I don’t really go in for toys. My parents buy them for me but I am more interested in napping.

I am friendly and lazy.