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Math Tips For Creative Types

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Social media marketers, copywriters, graphic designers and other creative-centric professionals typically navigate college and early career opportunities using as little math as possible. When was the last time anyone on the creative team volunteered to do the calculations to split the bill at a group lunch? But as you advance in the workplace, you'll probably take on additional duties that including budgeting, basic financial knowledge and company-wide presentations that show team or project results – and those include a lot of numbers! Here are a few of the skills needed (and shortcuts) to help you breeze through your next math-heavy project.

Brush Up on Excel Skills

The good news is that much of the math in today's workplace can be done with the help of Excel or similarly functioning Google Sheets. Think of it as more than simply a spreadsheet to store info. In reality, the program packs a powerful punch that will help you sort and make sense of data and can solve a lot of everyday business math problems for you. Best of all, there are plenty of preset functions (all you need to do is hit a button or three) that will spit out answers in moments.

In addition to performing simple sums like addition and subtraction, use Excel to find the average, the median, round numbers up or down, or even find the square root.

Become a Pro at Percentages

If you need to figure out how much web traffic increased (or decreased this quarter), growth in sales, or generally need to determine the relationship of one number to another (for example, quarter-over-quarter growth), you need to master percentages. You probably already know that 25 cents is 25 percent of $1, but how do you figure out the percentage growth in social media followers? It's a two-step process. Figure out how many new followers you have (new number - old number = number of new followers) then divide the increase by the original number and multiply the answer by 100.

Don't sweat just yet. Here's how to have Excel do the dirty work of figuring out percentages. There are also online calculators that will do it or you, but first, you need to have both sets of numbers – the new number and old number.

Keep an Eye on the Budget

Whether you are coordinating video shoots or are simply in charge of the social committee budget for the office, it's easy to overspend if you don't have a process to manage the math. Even if you don't have access to sophisticated tracking and budgeting tools, it's easy enough to do in a spreadsheet. First, ensure you considered all the steps and expected costs associated with a project. Next, set up the sheet to include the total money allocated to the program and each category where there will be expenses. Then it's just a matter of subtraction. There are handy templates available to help you configure, depending on the complexity of the project.


About the Author

Kristin Amico is a career and business writer who spent more than a decade managing creative teams at digital agencies. She has written for The Muse, The Independent and USA Today.