Resourceful Designer

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Even graphic designers need to do some spring cleaning? Just like everything else in life, things seem to pile up in our graphic design business. That's why I recommend taking a little time to do some spring cleaning. I know, not a fun thought but trust me, it will make you more efficient. So let's get started with three spring cleaning sections. Your computer, your office and finally your business. By the way, I go over most of what I talked about in the podcast right here on this page, but if you don't listen you're missing some great additional content, such as my tighty-whity story in this episode. Not to mention that it's so much easier to consume a podcast than it is to read a blog post. Click one of the subscribe buttons above to get started. Spring Cleaning Your Computer Old client files: Do some spring cleaning on your client files. Get rid or archive anything that you don't anticipate needing in the foreseeable future. Get yourself an external hard drive or some cloud service and free up some valuable space on your computer. Mail Mailboxes: Your mail program can use some spring cleaning as well. Get rid of unused mailboxes and clear out old emails from mailboxes you keep. Mail Attachments: Mail attachments are usually duplicates of files you already have on your computer so why keep them. In Apple's Mail.app select everything in your Inbox or Sent Items mailbox, then go to the Messages menu and select Delete Attachments. They're just taking up HD space for nothing. Did you know that if you double click on an attachment in Mail in order to open it, your computer makes a copy of the file first. That copy stays on your computer even after you delete the email or save the file to a different folder. To get rid of these duplicate files go to User>Library>Containers>com.apple.mail>Data>Library>Mail Downloads and delete it's contents. Every folder in there contains a duplicate file that was created when you opened something directly from within mail. Mail Lists: We all receive emails from places that we somehow became subscribed to. Try unroll.me to manage all your email subscriptions. You can easily unsubscribe to those you don't want and request a digest email for those you keep. Fonts: Your computer fonts are in desperate need of some spring cleaning. Try Font Doctor from Extensis to identify and fix corrupt and missing fonts. Application Updates: Don't you find it annoying when you launch an application only to see a window asking if you want to update it? Spring cleaning is the perfect time to get all those updates done in one shot. Open each application in your Applications folder and check them for updates. Don't forget to update your OS while you're at it. Dock & Dashboard: Get rid of any icons in your dock that you don't use. The applications will still be there when you need them but they don't need to be in your dock. Also, turn off any dashboard widget that you don't use. They're using valuable CPU resources for nothing. Bookmarks & Apps: It wouldn't be spring cleaning if you didn't purge a bit. Look at your bookmarks, delete any you no longer need, and rearrange those you keep for easier access. Do the same with the Apps on your mobile devices. Get rid of any you don't need. Update Passwords: It's not necessarily spring cleaning, but it's still a good time to update your passwords. Make sure to create good strong ones for security reasons. Use an app like 1Password to keep things organized. Your Office Clean Filing Cabinets/Drawers/Shelves: These things tend to attract clutter. Take some time to go through them and get rid of anything you no longer need. I'm notorious for keeping multiple samples of past client print jobs when all I really need is one. Organize Your Wires: Untangle and gather all the wires in your office. Use elastics, paper clips or whatever to keep them all neatly together. Use tape or stickers to label your wires for easier access later. Do a Traditional Spring Cleaning: It wouldn't be spring cleaning without a little elbow grease. Take some time to dust/polish/vacuum and everything else. You'll feel better after you do. Your Business Update Your Resume: If you're freelancing while looking for a full time gig at an agency, take some time to update your resume. Make sure to include any new software you're familiar with and any new course you've taken. Update Your Portfolio: Spring Cleaning is a great time to swap out some of your portfolio pieces. Get rid of old, outdated stuff and add in your fresh new designs. Not only on your online portfolio, make sure you have printed pieces in case you're asked at an interview. Clean Up Your Website: You should be on top of this one, but in case you're not, spring cleaning is a great time to not only update your themes and plugins but to also look at your website and see if it needs sprucing up. Take special notice of your About Page. It's usually the most outdated page on your website. For a guile to all the things you need to change in order to put out the best possible first impression you can, get a copy of my Four Week Marketing Boost at marketingboost.net Check Your Social Profiles: When was the last time you looked at your Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter profiles? Have a look and make the necessary changes. And if you're on job sites like Upwork.com or 99designs.com update your profile there as well. Weed Out Bad Clients: Do some spring cleaning on your client list. Decide right now which clients you don't want to work with anymore and let them know the next time they contact you. Freshen Your Goals: What are your goals for your business? Now is the perfect time to look over them and figure out the best way to achieve them. What do you think? Did I leave anything out that you do during your spring cleaning? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode. Questions of the Week If you would like me to answer your question in a future episode please visit my feedback page. This week’s question comes from Fredrik, A question that has come to my mind many time is the general design process and how to stick with it. When I'm in the flow of designing a website, I usually end up pushing things too fast and ultimately have to go back to the drawing board because I skipped some important steps along the way. I lack a proper structure when working, and I end up jumping between areas instead of completing one at a time. How does your design process look like, from start to finish, and do you have any advice on how to be a more efficient designer? To find out what I told Fredrik you’ll have to listen to the podcast. Resource of the week is Pretty Much Everything by Aaron James Draplin I just got my hands on Pretty Much Everything by Aaron James Draplin and I absolutely love it. I thing every graphic designer needs to own this book. Here's the description of it from Amazon. Pretty Much Everything is a mid-career survey of work, case studies, inspiration, road stories, lists, maps, how-tos, and advice. It includes examples of his work—posters, record covers, logos—and presents the process behind his design with projects like Field Notes and the “Things We Love” State Posters. Draplin also offers valuable advice and hilarious commentary that illustrates how much more goes into design than just what appears on the page. With Draplin’s humor and pointed observations on the contemporary design scene, Draplin Design Co. is the complete package for the new generation of designers. Subscribe to the podcast Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on Stitcher Subscribe on Android Contact me Send me feedback Follow me on Twitter and Facebook I want to help you. Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com
Are you an expert graphic designer? Have you ever felt uncomfortable being referred to as an expert graphic designer or expert web designer? Can I ask you why you felt that way? I’ve seen it over and over, designers cringing at the title of expert because they don’t feel they deserve it. In this week's episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I share a little secret with you. You are an expert. Don’t believe me? The Webster Dictionary defines Expert as follows: An Expert is someone having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience. With this official definition in mind, let me ask you again. Are you an expert? I hope you said yes. I'm guilty myself. I must admit. I used to be guilty of this as well. I felt uncomfortable when people would say something like... “Hi Mark, so and so told me I should talk to you because you’re a web design expert” or “Hi Mark, I need a logo for my business and I’m told you’re the expert” It used to make me uncomfortable. But once I realized we're all experts in someone's eyes I started embracing it. Now if someone asks me if I’m an expert I proudly say yes, yes I am. Allow me to shower you with my expertise. OK, maybe I don't say that last part, but I don’t shy away from the title anymore. Why does being called an expert bother designers? I’ll tell you why. Because as designers we’re creative people, and being creative people we’re constantly learning to improve our skills and knowledge. But if we’re constantly learning to improve our skills and knowledge, and there’s always so much new to learn. how can we be experts? It doesn't make sense. The fact of the matter is, we are experts to everyone not in our industry. To everyone who doesn’t understand the workings of a website. we are an expert. To everyone who doesn’t understand the intricacies of proper branding, we are an expert. To everyone who doesn’t understand the nuances of type manipulation and colour usage and page layout, we are an expert. Because we have skills and knowledge they don’t possess we are experts in their eyes. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been a designer for many years like I have, or if you’re just getting into this profession. To everyone who relies on our skills and design knowledge, we are experts. So embrace it. Trust me, you want it this way. How do you think your business would be doing if your clients didn’t see you as an expert at what you do. I don’t think I have to tell you the answer to that one, do I? How do you feel when someone calls you an expert? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode. Questions of the Week Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page. This week’s question comes from Audrey My name is Audrey and I'm from Sydney  I've been working as a graphic designer for 1 year. I'm an in house graphic designer for a fashion brand but I do freelance web design work outside of my daytime job. I have question about how you do web design. Do you show your client a wireframe or just a high fidelity mock up and do you code as well to build a website? Like html and css. Or do you work with a developer to build a website. Also lastly what's the difference between web design and UI&UX? To find out what I told Audrey you’ll have to listen to the podcast. Resource of the week Espresso This week's resource is a web editor called Espresso by MacRabbit. I've been using Espresso since it first came out for all my HTML, PHP and CSS coding. I've created over 50 websites using this application. It's very well laid out and very simple to use. Here's the description from their website. Espresso is for people who make delightful, innovative and fast websites — in an app to match. Espresso helps you write, code, design, build and publish with flair and efficiency. Sophisticated text features, amazing Live Preview with Browser Xray, CSSEdit tools, the Navigator, Dynamo auto-building, and Server Sync. Whether you're starting from scratch or tweaking a live site, Espresso has you covered. Subscribe to the podcast Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music Contact me Send me feedback Follow me on Twitter and Facebook I want to help you. Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com
What gifts do you get a graphic designer? Have you ever been asked the question "what gifts do you want for the holidays?" and you couldn't think of any ideas to say? In last year's holiday edition of the podcast I talked about graphic design gifts for your office. This time around I share gift ideas you can share when that ever so popular questions comes up.  Software/Apps Gift Cards Face it, we live in a computerized world and as designers, we spend a great deal of our time in front of one screen or another. So why not take advantage of it and ask for gift cards that will allow you to buy software and apps. Apple, Microsoft, Google all have app stores with great software for graphic designers. Education Gift Cards As graphic designers, we need to stay up to date on the latest software and design trends. What better way to do so than by taking courses. Places like Lynda.com, CreativeLive, Udemy are great places to learn. You could ask for gifts of knowledge via a gift cards. Gift Cards for "the other stuff" Face it, running a graphic design business costs money. Wouldn't it be nice to cover some of your expenses with gift cards from places like Amazon, BestBuy, or Walmart? Notebooks/Sketchbooks Creative people need an outlet. Most of us, regardless of our skills, like putting pencil to paper for all kinds of inspirational reasons. A nice notebook or sketchbook can help keep those creative sparks alive by organizing them all in one space. Ask for your favourite notebooks or sketchbooks as gifts. Magazine Subscriptions I mentioned in episode 50 of the podcast how one of the perks of running a graphic design business is the free magazine subscriptions you can get. However, there are some great design related magazines that you can't get for free. Why not ask for subscriptions as gifts that keep on giving the whole year long. Creative Cloud Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign are staples in the design industry. They are also an expense graphic design business owners have to deal with. Ask for a Creative Cloud gift card to help cover the costs. Graphic Design Books There are hundreds of great graphic design related books out there. If you're like me there are a few you would love to have but don't want to spend the money on. Now's the time to ask for them as gifts, or put a bookstore or Amazon gift card to good use and finally get the one you've been eyeing. Coffee Shop Cards If you're a home-based graphic designer you've probably opted at one time or another to meet a client at a coffee shop instead of at your house. Coffee shops are also a great change of scenery when you need to think through projects through. If someone doesn't know what to get you as a gift, suggest a coffee shop gift card to them.   What gifts do you think are good for a graphic designer? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode. Questions of the Week There is no question this week. You can submit yours by visiting the feedback page. Subscribe to the podcast Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music Contact me Send me feedback Follow me on Twitter and Facebook I want to help you. Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com
How Good Is Your About Page? The About Page or About Me page on your website is arguably the most important page on your site. And yet, it's so often neglected when people create a website in order to concentrate more on the "meat pages" of the site. Pages like their portfolio, or the services they offer. The About Page is often just an afterthought. You know you need one, so you whip one up quickly and move on. But if you look at the analytics for your site you will probably see that your About Page is one of your most visited pages. Chances are you have a link to your About Page in your menu bar, and when someone lands on your site, regardless of the page they land on, they will probably click on that link to learn more about you. If you don't have a well-crafted About Page you could be turning visitors off and leaving potential business on the table. What makes a great About Page? People often fail in their About Page because frankly, they're talking about themselves. You would think that's what an About Page is for. But in truth, visitors really visit an About Page not to learn who a person or company is, but to find out why they should care. What's in it for them? they're there to determine if they should be interested in you and to figure out if you can help them. If not then why bother looking at the rest of the website. How do you make a great About Page? How long should an About Page be? There is no right answer to this. The length of your About Page should be long enough to get your message across and nothing else. Every business's About Page will be different so it's imperative that you test different things to see what works for you. You've heard about A/B testing? The About Page is a great candidate for such testing. Parts of a great About Page. Part 1: Your About Page should have a hook. Something that immediately grabs the attention of visitors and lets them know they've found the right person or business for them. Here's an example of a good hook. "Welcome to my site. Are you wondering how to promote your business? Do you have a great idea but don't know how to present it to the world? Are you tired of your current brand and want something more exciting? If you're asking yourself any of these questions, then you've come to the right place. The hook gets into the head of your potential clients. The hook tells them that you know what they need help with and that you have the solution to their problem. Trust me, if they think you have the solution to their problem, they'll be begging to work with you. It's a very basic concept but it's super effective. Figure out what questions your potential clients have and list the most popular ones. How do you figure this out? By asking your clients questions. Over time you will learn what common questions come up, what problems they're seeking help with, and you'll be able to address them here on your About Page. If you open with a great hook, your visitors will want to keep reading. Part 2: Share the benefits people get by working with you. Not the services you offer, but the benefits they get. What will they get if they decide to work with you? An example can be something like this. "Allow me to use my vast skills and experience as a graphic designer to create something amazing, something that is truly unique to you. I have a knack for capturing the personality of a company and creating designs that will reflect not only who you are, but designs that lets you connect with your target market on a personal level. In other words, I create designs you can be proud of. You see? This second part kind of describes you a bit, but in a way that benefits the viewer. Part 3: Share social proof. This is a great place to display an image of yourself so your clients have a face to associate you with. Share your accomplishments, not to gloat, but to prove you're the right person for the job. In my case, this is where I would mention being in the design industry since 1989. That I've helped brand 100s of successful companies. Where I've had my designs featured and what awards I've won. A little name dropping also adds social proof as to why someone should hire you so list any well A little name dropping also adds social proof for why someone should hire you. List any well well-known companies you've worked with. They may be local, national or global companies. If you think it will help, mention them here. Another great way to share social proof is to include one or two testimonials from clients praising your skills and partnership with them. People visit your About Page to learn about you. What better way to learn, than by hearing what others have to say about working with you? Be cautious in part 3. Don't include too much in this section or you might come off as too overbearing and smug. Don't talk about awards you won 10 years ago. They have no meaning to today. You only want to share enough to assure people that you are capable of helping them. Part 4: This is where you finally get to talk about yourself. You could mention where you went to school and how you got into the business. Limit it to just a couple of paragraphs. Enough for people to get to know you a bit better. Imagine you are meeting someone face to face for the first time and they ask you why you became a designer. Part 4 of your About Page is the answer you would give them. In my case I would tell them I had no intention of becoming a graphic designer. I only enrolled in the course as a stepping stone to something else I wanted to take in university. But once I started, I fell in love with graphic design and immersed myself fully in the program, graduating at the top of my class. If you want, you can include a few fun facts here about yourself in this section. Hobbies, likes & dislikes, family information you don't mind sharing. Stay away from controversial subjects like religion and politics. Myself I would mention my love of podcasting. That I'm a dog owner. I might also mention how I'm not a coffee drinker, which goes against the typical stereotype of the graphic designer. Use this section to really show off your personality. Remember, your About Page can also weed out people who wouldn't work well with you. If they don't care for your personality, chances are you wouldn't work well together. Part 5: This is probably the most important section and yet it's also the most overlooked. Include a direct link for visitors to contact you. A contact form works best, but any method that allows them to contact you is imperative. Include some sort of call to action letting them know you're anxious to hear from them. They just spent the time learning who you are and how you can help them, so make it easy for them to get a hold of you to start a working relationship. There you have it. A great About Page. Will following these steps guarantee new clients? Of course not. But every bit helps. And there's no reason your About Page shouldn't be given as much, if not more, attention than the other pages on your website. Don't leave potential business on the table because you have a weak About Page. What does your About Page look like? Leave a comment for this episode telling me your formula for a great About Page and I'll make sure to link back to it. Questions of the Week This week's question came from Michael. He asked... I'm a staff designer at an established agency. The leadership here does allow us to take side (for lack of a better word) freelancing jobs to help us grow our skills and creativity. As long as it's not a direct conflict of interest with the company. I'm struggling to gain traction in finding work. I have good set of personal clients that I work with already but nothing to add any substantial amount to mine and my wife's income. Just odd jobs now and then when my skills are needed. What is your method to finding new work/clients? Which ones have you found most effective and which methods would you recommend I stay away from. To hear how I answered Michael's question you'll have to listen to the podcast. I did however share this link with him. 10 Proven Ways To Attract Design Clients I would love to answer your question on a future episode of the podcast. Submit your question by visiting the feedback page. Resource of the week Who Stole My Images FaceBook Group This is not a resource I'm familiar with myself but when I heard about it I thought it would be great for my audience. It was shared by Molly in the Resourceful Designer FaceBook Group. Who Stole My Images is a group that helps creative people when their intellectual property has been stolen for illicit gains. If you sell your designs anywhere on the internet there's a good chance that someone copied your artwork and is selling it as their own. It's not always easy to stop these people and that's where this FaceBook group comes in. The members have experience and are willing to share their tips and tricks to help you target the thieves. If you find yourself in such a situation simply ask to join the group. Subscribe to the podcast Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music Contact me Send me feedback Follow me on Twitter and Facebook I want to help you. Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com
Do Your Design Clients Know What You Do? As graphic designers and/or web designers you're always looking for ways to find new clients. After all, they are your bread and butter. Without design clients you're out of a job. But finding new clients can be a challenge. I wrote a blog post that may help titled 10 Proven Ways To Attract Design Clients that goes over simple ways that I myself have used to get new clients. But should all your focus be on attracting new design clients or on attracting new design work? Because there's a wealth of potential projects waiting for you with your existing clients if you just ask. Because the fact is, your design clients don't know what you do. Sounds crazy I know. But the fact is, they became your client because they needed you for a specific project and you delivered. But when the next, slightly different project comes along will they think of you? The answer is not unless you tell them you can do it. In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast I share a simple trick I use that keeps winning me more projects from my existing clients. Some of them projects my clients didn't even know they had until I told them. Face it, as a designer you have a lot of skills. Some you use on a daily basis and others you don't get to stretch out as often as you'd like. But those skills are there when you need them. You need to inform your clients of those skills so that when the time comes they will know what you do as a designer. Backblaze online backup solution One of the scariest things you can think of as a designer is what would happen if disaster strikes and you loose all your computer files. What would it mean for your business? Backblaze offers a simple unlimited online backup solution for your design business for only $5/month. And it's so easy. You just set it up and forget about it. Backblaze works in the background automatically backing up your files. And if you ever loose your data for whatever reason, you wont have to worry because you'll know everything can be restored from Backblaze. If you're interested in finding out more about Backblaze's online backup solution, visit resourcefuldesigner.com/backup
Being A Freelance Graphic Designer Could Hurt Your Business   Do you call yourself a freelance graphic designer? Freelance web designer? Or freelance web developer? If you do I suggest you stop right now. I could be hurting your business. Let me share an email conversation (names withheld) I had with a potential client before the holidays... Mark, As you may or may not know, (graphic designer's name) is undergoing surgery in January and will be off for 3 months. I would like to know if you are available to cover for him while he's away. To wich I replied, Thank you for thinking of me. I hope all goes well with (graphic designer)'s surgery. Due to the nature of my business and my commitment to my clients I wouldn't be able to take leave for 3 months. I do however know a graphic designer that would be perfect for you to contact. She is from this area but has spent the last few years working in Montreal. She recently moved back to town and contacted me to let me know she was looking for work. Here is a link to her resume website with all her contact info. To my surprise this is the reply I got. Thank you Mark for your prompt reply. I fully understand that you could not abandon your business for 3 months. Thank you for the tip on (designer's name). I looked over her resume, and although she looks to have the qualifications we need, she calls herself a freelance graphic designer. I'm looking for someone who takes the job more seriously than that. Regards, I couldn't believe what I read. This woman was perfect for the job but he wouldn't consider her because she called herself a freelance graphic designer. What is a freelance graphic designer? According to Merriam-Webster the definition of a freelancer is: A person who acts independently without being affiliated with or authorized by an organization. This person pursues a profession without a long-term commitment to any one employer. Isn't that what we are? The answer is yes. Unfortunately the word freelance has a stigma to that makes it an unfavourable word for potential graphic design clients to accept. Some businesses even have a not freelancer policy when it comes to hiring contractors. Freelancers are often seen as being rebels, risky, lazy, overly proud and hard to get along with. Some potential clients even associate the term freelancer with amateur. Something you don't want associated with your business. Being a freelance graphic designer means you are replaceable. You are one in a long list of graphic designers a company could turn to in a pinch for a quick one time job. Why do we burden ourselves with this title? There was a time when being a freelancer was something exotic, mysterious even. When working for yourself was something that set you apart from the masses. But nowadays, more and more people are going into business for themselves and the novelty has worn off. There are many professions that follow the same format that we graphic designers do but don't use the term freelancer. Can you imagine trusting your money to a freelance financial planner? Would you trust your locks to a freelance hair stylist? I didn't think so. What should you call yourself? When someone asks you what you do, just tell them. You are a graphic designer, a web designer, a web developer or whatever it may be. If they are interested they will ask who you work for. At which time you can explain that you run your own design business. As a graphic design business owner you can explain how you help your clients find solutions to problems they face, which justifies the amount you charge. By stating you are a business owner you are giving yourself instant credibility and proof that you take what you do seriously. It also establishes you as a professional. No matter how you refer to yourself, your livelihood doesn’t depend on how you see yourself, but on how your graphic design clients see you and your work. So don't be afraid to tell people you are a graphic designer and a business owner. Just leave the "freelance" part out of it. I would love your comments How do you refer to yourself? Leave a comment on the show notes page. Four Week Marketing Boost - FREE GUIDE Download my FREE guide, the Four Week Marketing Boost to help improve your business' image and create the best first impression possible to attract more clients. Subscribe to the podcast Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on Stitcher Subscribe on Android Contact me Send me feedback Follow me on Twitter and Facebook Design Resource This week's resources is GrapicStock.com my suggestion to anyone looking for low cost stock images. Use my link and get you code for a one year subscription for only $99. I want to help you. Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com   http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/freelancem 'http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/freelance
Designing for family and friends is the bane of many designers. Opinions vary amongst designers regarding designing for family and friends. Some are firmly against it and for others, it's no problem. I fall into this latter group. A couple of weeks ago I released an episode on starting a design business from scratch. My second step in the process involved reaching out to family and friends to help spread the word about your new design business. After all, who better to spread the word then the people who know you best, your family and friends. And chances are one of them will become your first design client. I go into much more detail and share personal experiences in the podcast episode. Be sure to listen to it for the full story. Here is a rundown of what I covered on the podcast. Setting ground rules for family and friends. Because family and friends are familiar with you outside of a work environment, you need to set ground rules before agreeing to work with them. If you state the terms of your business relationship with them up front, your dealings should go much smoother. Here is the process that has worked for me over the years. Keep in mind that everyone's family and friends are different so what works for me may require some adjustments to work for you. A family member's or a friend's business is still a business. A business operated by a family member or a friend is still a business, and you should treat it as such. Your relationship with them should not change the way you operate your design business. You need to treat family and friends like you would any other client. Follow your standard procedure by sending proposals, making them sign a contract and issuing an invoice once the project is finished. Family and friends should not be exempt from good business practices. The only exception I make is offering them a "Family and Friends Discount" of 30% off my design services. I charge full price for all expenses such as printing or web hosting. Even if you are doing the work for free, you should still use a contract and issue an invoice with a 100% discount. This will teach your family member or friend to value your time and skills by showing them how much you would typically charge for the services you are providing them. Dealing with personal projects from family and friends. Family and friends will sometimes approach you with a personal project that has nothing to do with business. They're hoping that the bond between you is strong enough for you to volunteer your time and skills. How you handle these requests is entirely up to you but keep in mind that it's perfectly ok to say no to them. One option at your disposal is bartering, getting something in return for your services. Family and friends are a great resource for a "favour for a favour". The way I handle these situations is to determine if the project in question is personally for my family member or friend. If it's something specifically for them, I'll do it, as a favour to them. However, if they are asking on behalf of someone else or a group they belong to I will treat the project as a business dealing and determine if it merits a discount or not. Mom's are exempt. When it comes to your mom, everything I mentioned above goes out the window. The woman put up with all your nonsense growing up the least you can do it offer your skills and time to whatever she asks of you. You probably owe her way more than you'll ever be able to pay back anyway.   How do you deal with family and friends? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode. Questions of the Week Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page. This week’s question comes from Kayla In a past episode I remember you saying that you upcharge print materials (i.e. you've designed a brochure and the client wants 500 more of the exact same design. You simply send it to print again). How do you suggest upcharging? A flat rate? Or a percentage? To find out what I told Kayla you’ll have to listen to the podcast. Resource of the week Facebook Groups Facebook groups are a great way to stay connected with our industry and a great source of information when you need help. There are various Facebook Groups for just about any topic. Here are a few I belong to that may interest you. Resourceful Designer Group Logo Geek | Logo Design Community This Design Life Divi Theme Users Divi Web Designers   Listen to the podcast on the go. Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Spotify Listen on Android Listen on Stitcher Listen on iHeartRadio Contact me I would love to hear from you. You can send me questions and feedback using my feedback form. Follow me on Twitter, Facebookand Instagram I want to help you. Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com
Micro Goals are the key to achieving your goals. [sc name="pod_ad"]For your design business to succeed, you must set goals for yourself, and for those goals to be reached you need to break them down into micro goals.  I've talked on a previous podcast episode about setting S.M.A.R.T. goals for your design business, goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Related. But even S.M.A.R.T. goals fail sometimes. That's where micro goals come in. You need goals to measure your personal and professional success. Without them, it's much harder to know when you’ve reached a milestone or level of success. There’s a certain satisfaction in accomplishing goals. It has even been scientifically proven that accomplishing goals releases dopamine, a bodily chemical associated with happiness. Unfortunately, plenty of goals go unaccomplished. Mostly due to a lack of urgency. This happens when a person concentrates too much on reaching an end goal and not on the steps required to get there. Micro goals are the day to day steps needed to achieve those loftier end goals.  For example, a person wanting to lose 100 pounds may feel like it's a daunting task. However, it will seem much easier to accomplish if they set micro goals to lose two pounds per week throughout a year. Micro Goals give you a path. The path to reaching a future goal isn't always clear. Micro goals act as stepping stones that help you along the way by showing what needs to be done tomorrow, today, or even right now. Since they are easier to concentrate on, there’s less chance you’ll lose focus on your micro goals. If your goal is to start your design business within three months, what will you do between now and then? Perhaps some of your micro goals will look like these. Choose a name for your business Complete and file business registration papers Acquire a domain name Set up email accounts for your new business Design a logo for your business Build a website Have business cards printed Open a business bank account Choose and set up an invoicing system These micro goals act as reminders of the steps you need to take each day until you open your design business. Micro Goals give you a reminding push. Because micro goals are small and easy to accomplish, they encourage you to start doing things now that may otherwise get pushed off. They act as reminders that these things need to get done to make progress towards your end goal. Micro goals are also reminders of the progress you are making as you complete each one. Without micro goals, you may fall victim to procrastinating. You may feel that a goal that is still months away isn’t a priority and you may delay working on it for another day, week or month. Micro goals keep you on track and help build momentum.  Do you want to hear something funny? That momentum you gain by completing micro goals makes you feel good about each accomplishment and pushes you to do even more. That's the dopamine effect. Your body releases dopamine whenever you experience a pleasurable sensation, such as completing a micro goal. This effect is associated with your body's reward system motivating you to crave it even more. And that means a greater motivation to tackle the next micro goal to feel good again. According to Psychology Today, “everything from making your bed to doing all the dishes will give you the ‘ding-ding-ding’ feeling of having completed a task. Neurobiologically the satisfaction of completing a task creates internal rocket fuel that energises you to keep working towards your larger goal.” And according to Teresa Amabile and Steven J. Kramer of the Harvard Business Review "The more frequently you experience that sense of progress, the more likely you are to be creatively productive in the long run,” It doesn’t matter how much is left to reach your end goal. Making these little strides can make a huge difference in how you feel and perform today. Isn’t the human body a fantastic thing? Micro Goals help with time management Most of us have more than one long term goal. Sometimes those multiple goals compete for our attention, and it’s hard for us to prioritise them. With our limited time available each day, on which goals should you concentrate? Because Micro goals have small time frames associated with them, they allow you to cut through that confusion by letting you work towards multiple end goals at once. Spend an hour or two on one, a few minutes on another, and an afternoon on yet another goal. By the end of the day, you will have made progress on multiple end goals, and you’ll feel good about yourself. How Micro Goals Work To get started with micro goals you need to ask the question "What individual steps, once accomplished will bring me closer to my end goal?" Write out those steps and start working on and checking them off. You’ll quickly learn to appreciate all these minor accomplishments, and you’ll feel good about the progress you make towards your end goals. Examples of micro goals If your goal is to double your design business revenue, here are some micro goals you could try: Call clients you haven’t talked to in a while and inquire if there’s anything you can do for them Send out an email to your clients asking for referrals. Read one chapter per day of a business or marketing book that could help with business growth. Review and update your pricing strategy.  These are just a few examples of micro goals you could use to double your revenue. Get started today What goals do you have for your future? Break them down into the smallest possible actionable units and get working on them. Pick a micro goal, finish it, and move on to the next one. Repeat this over and over, and before you know it, you will be reaching the goals you’ve set for yourself and your business. And don’t forget to enjoy the dopamine hit along the way. Do you consciously set micro goals for yourself? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode. Questions of the Week Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page. This week’s question comes from Vincent I am just starting to get my business going and already have some good traction with some local churches that have asked for quotes. I am encountering a decent amount of questions about these services like ChurchCo (thechurchco.com) that will create a custom (on demand) website for you and are charging $20-40 per month for the service. I would assume that you have come across some of these. Do you have any advice on how to show the value proposition of going with a true web designer vs. a service like this? To find out what I told Vincent you’ll have to listen to the podcast. Resource of the week remove.bg Remove.bg is a free service to remove the background of any photo. It works 100% automatically: You don't have to manually select the background/foreground layers to separate them - just select your image and instantly download the resulting image with the background removed! Currently, the resulting image is limited to 500px by 500px but they say they are working on increasing the size. Listen to the podcast on the go. Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Spotify Listen on Android Listen on Stitcher Listen on iHeartRadio Contact me I would love to hear from you. You can send me questions and feedback using my feedback form. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram I want to help you. Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com
Have you tried downselling to win over design clients? Building client relationships is one of, if not the most important thing you can do as a designer. One of the best ways to build relationships is by downselling to your design clients. In a previous episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I talked about Upselling to increase your design revenue. In it, I mentioned how upselling is an excellent way of delivering more value to your clients which in turn will make them think higher of you. Upselling is a great way to build relationships with your clients while also increasing your revenue. However, downselling is another great skill you should practice to not only build client relationships but to win over clients that otherwise would not have hired you in the first place. Downselling is vital in building your company’s reputation. What is Downselling? Downselling is when you offer something of lesser value to win over a client. Usually, once the client has indicated, they won’t be proceeding with your original proposal. For example, you could offer to build a smaller website for less money by eliminating some of the features a client requested. Downselling can also be used when you believe a client is asking for more than what they need or want something that is wrong for them and you counter with something of lesser value that suits them better. This is more of an ethical decision. Sure you can design what the client is asking for and charge them accordingly. But if you downsell them on a lesser idea because it’s the right thing to do, they will realise you have saved them money and possibly misery, and they will become big fans of yours. For example, after looking at their content, you may suggest designing a more economical postcard or rack card instead of an expensive tri-fold brochure. Anything you do that helps the client achieve their objective and save them money will raise their impression of you and strengthen your relationship. When should you downsell? The best time to downsell is once you realise a client isn’t going to move forward with what you are offering them. However, be careful of downselling too early. Sometimes a client simply needs more time or more convincing before agreeing to your initial proposal. But if there are indications that the client is not buying what you are offering them, then a downsell can work. How do you downsell? The best way to introduce a downsell is by acknowledging that your initial offer was too much for the client or that what the client is asking for is more than what they need. “James, I understand that my website proposal is more than what you budgeted for. How about we go over the scope of the job once more and see if there are any areas we can rework in order to cut costs.” In this example, the client was rejecting a quote for an eCommerce website to sell their new product. The downsell is to offer them a simple site with a purchase button hooked up through PayPal, it accomplishes their objective at a more economical cost. When it's a case of the client wanting more than they need it could be something like: “Jennifer, I would love to design the souveneir program for your upcoming concert tour. You mentioned how expensive it is to put on this tour. May I suggest going with a saddle stiched program instead of having it perfect bound? Your fans will enjoy it just as much and it will save you a lot of money on the production costs.” Clients like Jennifer will appreciate your honesty and realise that you have their best interest in mind and your not just viewing them as another source of income. What not to do when Downselling One thing you should never do when downsellng is just lowering your price. Dropping your price is not downselling, it’s informing your client that you typically charge more for what you do than what you think you are worth. Trying to win over a client by dropping your prices will have the opposite effect to what you are trying to achieve. The client will always second guess your future dealings. If you can’t offer an alternate product or service of lesser value that will still benefit the client, you are better off to let the client walk away. Other ways to downsell Sometimes budget or needs are not the issues. Sometimes it’s the resistance of working with someone new for the first time. Downselling can help in these situations. When a client is showing hesitation because they don’t know you or are unsure of your work, you can downsell your services by offering to take on a single part of a more massive project for them to get to know you better. “Charles, I understand how hard it can be to trust your entire marketing campaign to someone you just met. Here’s a proposal, what if we start with just the post card design. If you like what I design for you then we can discuss the rest of the campaign.” This "foot in the door" strategy is a great way to downsell a hesitant client and to build an excellent foundation for the relationship you are starting with them. Downselling pays off In my experience, there is no downside to downselling. Your clients will appreciate your honesty and will be inclined to bring you more projects in the future and to refer you to others. After all, a satisfied client is the best marketing strategy you can have for your design business. Do you practice downselling? Share your experience with downselling by leaving a comment for this episode. Questions of the Week Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page. This week’s question comes from Tiana I just started out in this business and I’m finding it difficult to figure out invoicing and how to charge my clients. Do you take a deposit up front or do you charge for the entire job once it’s done. To find out what I told Tiana you’ll have to listen to the podcast. Resource of the week Depositphotos DepositPhotosis a great stock photography site that offers a reverse image search. No more struggles to find words to describe the right stock image; now you can show DepositPhotos what you want. Upload your photo to reverse image search, and choose from lots of similar high-res images. You can either upload a picture from your computer or copy/paste the URL of a photo you saw online into the search bar. Reverse image search uses image recognition to analyse all components of the photo and provide similar image options in just a few seconds. If this is something that interests you, please check out DepositPhotos Listen to the podcast on the go. Listen on Apple PodcastsListen on Spotify Listen on StitcherListen on AndroidListen on Google Play MusicListen on iHeartRadio Contact me I would love to hear from you. You can send me questions and feedback using my feedback form. Follow me on Twitter, Facebookand Instagram I want to help you. Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com
There's wisdom in all of us. I chose the title "With Age, Comes Wisdom" for this episode not because I believe I’m very wise, but because it’s inevitable that as time passes, all the ups and downs, the successes and failures, the roadblocks and overcome hurdles all add up. And whether you realize it or not, each one of them helps in its own way to shape you into the wise person you are now. As I approach my 50th birthday, I can’t help but reminisce and ponder the choices I’ve made in my life, the paths I’ve followed, and of course the journey that’s still ahead of me. And I’ve come to appreciate better something I’m sure you've known for a long time. And that is, that with age comes wisdom. And what use is wisdom if you can’t share it with people? I’m not talking about being a know it all. Please, don’t be a know-it-all. I’m talking about using the knowledge you’ve gained over time, whether you’re 20, 50 or 80, to help the people you serve. Including your family, your friends, people in communities you frequent, and yes, your design clients as well. I've said it before on the podcast but let me repeat it. No matter what stage you’re at in your design career, to everyone out there who knows less than you, you’re a professional. Even if you’re fresh out of school and have never worked on a real client project, when it comes to designing, you are a professional compared to the majority of people out there. Hold on to that thought every time someone questions your prices or tries to negotiate a “special deal for exposure” with you. You are wiser than that, because of the time you’ve put in to get to where you are. Nobody can take that away from you, and nobody has the right to devalue what you’ve learned during that time. Have I ever told you that Resourceful Designer is the third name I chose for this podcast? I first came up with the idea of doing a graphic design podcast in 2014, shortly after I turned 45. I had just passed the threshold of the early 40s to late 40s. I know there’s the whole mid 40s thing but face it, once you hit the five mark, you’re on the downward side of that hill. As I realized I was in the latter part of my 40s, I started looking at my future. I began having thoughts in my head saying, “who’s going to want to hire a 45-year-old designer, let alone a 50, 55 or 60-year-old designer?” Especially with all the tremendous young design talent that is emerging these days. Not to mention the up and coming generation that's seeing business owners, managers, CEOs in their early 30s if not their 20s. Wouldn’t they want to partner with someone closer to their own age? Luckily I didn’t stay in that funk for too long. sIn fact, it didn’t take me that long to appreciate that at 45, I had accumulated a lot of useful knowledge and skills. Wisdom if you will, that could be very useful to that same younger generation of businesspeople. I had 15 years of experience working at a print shop, plus another nine years running a successful design business. At that time, I had already been podcasting about TV shows, so I knew what I was doing, so I decided to start a design-related podcast. I was going to call it The Aging Designer.I even designed the logo and website. I was going to use the podcast as a platform to talk to 40, 50, 60-year-old designers and remind them that we still have a lot to share with the younger generation. I recorded an introductory episode but never published it. I sat on that podcast idea for quite a few months, not doing anything with it because something didn’t feel right about the whole concept. I ended up sharing my frustrations with some trusted podcast friends, and they told me that the knowledge and wisdom I wanted to share, although useful to people my age and older, might better serve a broader audience. That’s when I switched gears from how to survive as an ageing designer, to how to grow and thrive as a home-based or freelance designer. So with renewed enthusiasm and a clearer path for the podcast, I renamed the show The Wise Designer (I never designed the logo). However, I soon started thinking that calling the podcast The Wise Designerpeople might think I was pretentious. So after some more contemplation, I settled on Resourceful Designer, and I’m glad I did. The word "resourceful" has helped me stay on track and navigate the direction of the show. The podcast allows me to share my experiences and knowledge, you can call it wisdom if you want, with designers like you. I'm talking to you, designer to designer. I don’t know how old you are. I don’t know at what stage of your design career you're at or what discipline of design you are pursuing. I don’t know where in the world you live, your background, your heritage. None of that matters in the context of Resourceful Designer. What does matter is that you’re a designer who cares enough about your current or potential business to listen to my podcast. That’s what counts. Since I launched Resourceful Designer, I’ve probably gained more value from doing it than you have from being a listener. It keeps me rejuvenated. It keeps me curious. It keeps me informed. And it makes me feel relevant. I’m turning 50 this week, and I’m ready to embrace it. I’m prepared for whatever lies ahead on my journey. Those doubts I felt turning 45 are way behind me. I have more today to offer as a designer than I have at any part of my career to date. And I hope you feel the same way, no matter what stage of life or your career you’re at right now. Embrace ageing. Appreciate the skills you’re accumulating, the knowledge you’re gaining, and package it all up in that ball we call wisdom. And use that wisdom to benefit those around you. Even if it’s just to explain to a client why making the logo bigger won’t help. What do you think? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode. Resource of the week Resourceful Designer Community The Resourceful Designer Community is an active community of designers with a common goal, a goal of improving and growing their design business. The Community is for designers of any levels. Current members include designers just starting their business, members with agency experience, members with knowledge of web design and print design, all willing to share what they know. The Community interacts via a private and very active Slack group, with new conversations happening every day. There are also regular video meetings. These video chats are where the magic happens. By seeing each other’s faces and interacting directly with each other, members become closer and more invested in what each of their fellow members is doing with their business. If a member can’t make the live video chats, they can view the recording which is archived for members to watch at their convenience. If have your own design business or are thinking of starting one, regardless of your skills as a designer, and you are looking for a tight-knit group of designers to help you by being mentors, confidants, and friends, then you need to be part of the Resourceful Designer Community. Listen to the podcast on the go. Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Spotify Listen on Android Listen on Stitcher Listen on iHeartRadio Contact me I would love to hear from you. You can send me questions and feedback using my feedback form. Follow me on Twitter, Facebookand Instagram I want to help you. Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com  
You can't grow your design business if you rationalize the value of what you do. Most designers don’t get paid what they’re worth. The reason they don’t is that they rationalize the value of the service they provide. What I mean by this is they try to justify why they are charging the price they do for their designs by itemizing what’s involved in their creation process. A logo will cost this amount of dollars because it will take me X hours of research, and another Y hours of development and finalization. Since my hourly rate is Z, the cost of the logo is (X+Y) x Z Cost of design = hours invested X hourly rate. This formula works for many designers and they're happy with running their business this way. But the problem with this scenario is you're trading time for money. Yes, it’s a tried and true method used across many industries. But it shouldn’t be used for design. Or at least it shouldn’t be the sole method of calculating what you charge your clients. How much you earn running your graphic design business should not be related to how many hours you put in. It should be connected to the value you provide. Face it; we live in a world where we assign a dollar amount to most services. A haircut costs this much. A cab ride downtown costs this much. Having your car serviced costs this much. But even simple things such as these have variations based on value. My daughter changed her hair colour recently. It’s not the first time she’s changed the colour, but this time she decided to go to a different salon. One that charges almost double what her usual salon does. Why? Because the man running the new salon has a reputation for excellence and the perceived value of the service he provides is worth that much more to those who go there. In the end, my daughter paid a much higher price for her new hair colour than she used to. She loves her new look and is getting compliments left and right so in her mind it was well worth it. It's a perceived value. The same scenario applies to cars. When you have a problem with your vehicle you can take it to a privately owned garage, maybe a national chain such as a Walmart garage or you can have it serviced at the dealership. From my experience, the dealership is always more expensive. But think of it from a value perspective. If you drive a Honda, who is more equipped and more knowledgeable about your car than the Honda dealership? That perceived value is why some people are willing to pay more to have their car serviced by the dealer. What does this have to do with your design business? The services you provide as a web designer or graphic designer are not commodities like haircuts or oil changes. There is no one price fits all. Or at least there shouldn’t be. A logo for a local bricklayer should not cost the same as one for a regional airline because they bring different values to each client. The representation the logo brings to each client affects them each differently. You may design a great logo for the bricklayer but what’s he going to do with it? Stick it on the side of his truck and his business cards. That may be it. Most of his work will come via word of mouth referrals and through contractors. What his logo looks like may not have that much impact on his business. The airline, on the other hand, is going to showcase their logo on everything to bring awareness to their business. It will be on their planes, their building, their uniforms, their tickets, even on the cups and napkins they serve on their planes. And that’s not counting the vast marketing campaign they will use it on. Their logo will be displayed everywhere, and over time the logo you designed will come to represent an excellent, reliable airline, that offers quality flights with courteous, friendly staff. For that reason alone the airline’s logo should cost way more than the bricklayer’s logo. It doesn’t matter that both logos took you the same amount of time to design. Their value is different. And yet many designers would still charge for both logos solely on the time they spent designing them. When you start trying to rationalize what it is you do by focusing on things like time and effort, you lower the value of the service you provide. This rationalization devalues what design is all about. Designing is all about vision. It’s about emotional impact. Giving a visual voice to what the design represents. It’s about problem-solving. Both the bricklayer and airline needed a logo, but the problem that logo is solving for each company is vastly different. Instead of rationalizing your pricing to your clients by explaining every little thing you are charging for, or how much time a project will take, you need to explain to your clients how they will benefit from your designs. How design is an investment and not just an expense. When done right and with proper focus, a well-implemented design can skyrocket a company’s growth. When explained this way, a client will begin to see the value you bring. Will there be a backlash if you do this? Of course, there will be. Some clients will counter with “You're crazy. I could have someone on Fiverr design my logo for a fraction of your price.” Yes, they absolutely could. And what would they get back in return?  Maybe a hastily-designed image. Something that uses stock imagery and may or may not be similar to many other logos out there. There is one thing to be sure; it will fulfil their rationalized expectations of getting a logo for as cheap as possible. What they won't get from places like Fiverr is the conviction a well thought out design generates. A design that represents their company’s voice, the tone they want to present to the world. Something that will truly represent them and everything their company does. they will be missing that value. Don't rationalize the value of your designs. As a professional designer, and that's what you are, it's your job to explain to your clients how that extra value goes beyond how much time it takes to design something. It's that overall value that you should be charging to your clients. The logo itself is only part of the overall picture it represents. Show your clients the value you provide them. Show them how you are focusing on the desired outcome they want to achieve with the design and not just on the design itself. When you can successfully convey that message to your clients, they will stop questioning your prices. They’ll know that whatever they pay you is an investment they are making in their business and not simply a purchase. If you want to grow your design business, you need to stop exchanging your time for money. Stop rationalizing value. Do you agree or disagree? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode. Questions of the Week Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page. This week’s question comes from Adam I've recently quoted for a Web Design & Development job. After the project is finished, I've quoted a monthly fee that covers ongoing content updates and design consultation, plus domain, web hosting, and 7 custom email addresses. The client is stating my price is a bit too high and is wondering how I "calculated" my price. I don't necessarily "calculate" my price numerically, but rather set it based on value to the client and what I believe my services are worth. The client's mentioned that July-Dec is typically quite slow for content updates, and so, would like to see a reduced price for the 2nd half of the year. What do you think? Any suggestions are appreciated. To find out what I told Adam you’ll have to listen to the podcast. Resource of the week resource name Resource Description Listen to the podcast on the go. Listen on Apple PodcastsListen on Spotify Listen on StitcherListen on AndroidListen on Google Play MusicListen on iHeartRadio Contact me I would love to hear from you. You can send me questions and feedback using my feedback form. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram I want to help you. Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com
Are you legally allowed to run a business from home? [sc name="pod_ad"]By this point in the Definitive Guide To Starting A Home-Based Design Business series, you’ve determined that you want to start a home-based design business, you’ve written your business plan, and you’ve figured out your workspace situation at home. If you haven’t done any of that, go back and listen to Part One and Part Two of this series. Now that the ball is rolling, and you’ve figured out precisely what you want to do and how to go about getting it all started, it might be a good time to see if you are allowed to run a business from home. Legal restrictions. Are there any restrictions that may prevent you from starting your home-based design business? Depending on where you live, there may be certain rules and regulations in place dictating what is allowed and what is not allowed when it comes to home-based businesses. Some municipalities and communities require all home-based businesses to have a business license. Some require a home occupation permit, and some may require a regulatory license depending on the business model. Contact your local government to see what licenses and permits your business requires. These licenses and permits cost money and, in some cases, may take time before they are approved. Some of them are one-time fees, while others must be renewed on an annual basis. All permits and licenses are tax-deductible as a business expense. On top of the licenses and permits, you must check if there are any municipal or even neighbourhood by-laws that may prevent you from running a home-based business. For example, the neighbourhood I live in has a by-law preventing me from seeing clients regularly in my home. Something else to look into is whether or not you might require license and permits from nearby municipalities. For example, if you live in one municipality but regularly commute to a nearby municipality to do business, you may require a license in both places. No employees. Many municipalities have by-laws prohibiting home-based businesses from having employees other than family members residing in the home. In most cases, this won’t be a problem for a home-based design business. However, if you are starting as a partnership or want to hire a salesperson or anybody else, you may not be allowed to depending on where you live. I suggest you contact your local municipality to find out exactly what you need to run your business in your area legally. You can also contact your local business center and your chamber of commerce for their advice as well. Employment Contract. If you are starting your home-based business on a part-time or casual basis while you work another job for someone else, be sure that your main job doesn’t have restrictions against employees owning or working at another business. If you signed a contact at your current employer, review it and make sure nothing in the contract prevents you from moving forward. Insurance Another thing to think about is insurance. Both on your business and your property. Your home insurance premiums may increase if you are operating a business from your home. And some insurance companies may void your coverage altogether, so be sure to check yours. Some municipalities require proof of insurance before issuing you any business permits. When reviewing your insurance policy, consider increasing your liability coverage. This protects you should anyone come to your home for business purposes and are hurt while on your property. You may be thinking you don’t’ need extra liability coverage because you don’t plan on having clients over. But what about delivery people? If you order a new printer or computer and the delivery person slips and falls on your steps, and your insurance company discovers they were delivering goods for your business, they may decide not to cover you. Also, as a sole proprietor, you are personally liable for all debts. If you order a $10,000 print job and your client fails to pay. You are liable to the printing company. You may also want to acquire business interruption insurance in the event of a fire, theft, etc. It can help cover the costs of getting things up and running again. Permits, licences and insurance may not be fun, but they are something you need to think about when starting your home-based design business. Marketing Let’s talk briefly about marketing your business. As you know, marketing is key to any business’s success. It ensures that your services are put in front of people who need them. Because all businesses market themselves differently, and that includes design business, home-based or not, you must decide how you plan on promoting yours. Your skill levels, knowledge, experience and resources will help determine who your clients will be and how you will promote your services to them. A business that’s just starting should ask both existing and potential clients what they should be doing to promote their business. Start conversations, interview clients and potential clients, hand out questionnaires, and use the valuable information you get back to determine the best way to market your services. Networking. Networking is a significant part of marketing. Every established designer in the Resourceful Designer Communityattributes networking to the success of their business. And it’s the same everywhere. Design is mostly a word-of-mouth industry, and you cannot rely solely on your clients, spreading the word. You need to get out there and pound the pavement and let people know that you’re open for business. Networking should be a big part of your marketing plan, especially at the start. Failure to develop a strong marketing plan is one of the reasons most new businesses fail. Pricing your services Defining your target market, Methods for promoting your services, including a website, brochures, maybe ads and trade shows. All of this is part of your marketing plan. Your website. Build a website first. If you are not a web designer, hire someone else to design one for you. In episode 149 - Starting A Design Business From Scratch, I mentioned how if I was starting over, the very first thing I would do is build a website for my business. I have a website for my side business Podcast Branding that brings me several new design projects every week. Don’t underestimate the power of a well-designed website. When done right, it can become your most valuable client acquisition tool. In part 4, the final installment of this series, I’m going to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of the different business structures you can choose and a few other odds and ends as I wrap up this definitive guide to starting a home-based design business. Make sure you’re subscribed to the podcast, so you don’t miss it.   Tip of the week Asking for critiques When asking people for critiques, don’t ask what they think about the design, instead ask them how they would improve the design. You'll get much better and more useful responses from them.
Want to use your illustration skills to earn extra income? A conversation I had with Andrew, a member of the Resourceful Designer Community, inspired me to write this post. Andrew is a very talented illustrator and designer. He’s created many illustrations for his clients as well as illustrating and publishing his own children’s book Heyward the Horse! In his book, children follow along with Heyward, a carriage horse from Charleston, South Carolina, as he takes them on an illustrated tour of local landmarks. Andrew and I were discussing various ways he could use his illustration skills to earn extra income. After our conversation, I started thinking, Andrew is not the only designer with illustration skills. So why not use our discussion as a starting point for a podcast episode? Just to preface, you do not need to be an illustrator to benefit from what I’m about to share. I am not an illustrator, and yet I’ve generated a decent amount of passive income over the years by putting my design talents to use on things other than client work. Also, these are not ways to earn money quickly. That’s not the point of all of this. What I’m sharing today are ways to put things into motion to generate a form of recurring income down the road. Be it a year from now or even ten years from now. Earning extra income. I’ve always believed that creative people should never lack for work. A creative person has the skills to make money from their creations. As graphic and web designers, you earn your primary income by completing projects for clients. But there are numerous other ways you could make money with your skills. We’re living in an unprecedented age for creative people. There are more opportunities today than there has ever been before. Take Etsy, for example. Before platforms like Etsy, a craftsperson could only sell their wares in local bazaars or craft shows. Now, they can reach clients around the globe. The same opportunities are available for illustrators and designers. Here are some ways for you to use your creative skills to earn extra income. Talent Marketplaces Talent marketplaces such as Fiverr or Upwork have a bad reputation amongst designers. However, these are perfect marketplaces for illustrators. Many people search these platforms for illustrators for both small and large projects. If you are an illustrator, you should create an account on talent marketplaces to showcase your services. Don’t think of these marketplaces as cheap discount services. You can charge whatever you like for your illustrations. Showcase your portfolio of work, and even if your prices are higher than other illustrators on the platform, clients who love what they see will find it within their budget to hire you. If you’re not on these platforms, there’s zero chance of being discovered. Stock Image Sites Earn extra income by digitizing and uploading your illustrations to sell on stock image sites. A friend of mine has been doing this for years. He’s uploaded hundreds of illustrations to various stock image sites. He doesn’t make much money on each sale, but the volume of sales adds up to a nice income. Stock image sites are one and done platforms. Meaning you create something, upload it to the platform, and forget about it. Allowing you to draw your next illustration as the first one earns you money with each sale. The trick to earning extra income through stock image sites is diversification. While some images will sell very little, others will bring in a steady earning each month. The more images you have for sale on these sites, the better your chances of a monthly payout. Add in compounding by uploading the same image to multiple stock sites, and you increase your return for that one image. Design Marketplaces Design market places such as Creative Market and Design Cuts offer a platform for designers and illustrators to sell digital products. Fonts, digital brushes, and illustration bundles, amongst other digital products, provide various opportunities for creative people to earn extra income. Designers and other creative people frequent these marketplaces looking for ways to simplify their process. Make money by offering a solution to their needs. Unlike stock image sites that sell individual images, the benefit of design marketplaces is the bundles they offer. Bundles contain many similarly themed illustrations packaged together for one price. An example of a bundle might be a collection of illustrations of farm animals all drawn in the same style. Floral packages are also trendy. Whatever you enjoy illustrating, try to find a way to turn it into a product to sell. If you’re not an illustrator, you can create brochure templates or logo templates that people can use as a starting point for their projects. Print-On-Demand Print-on-demand services allow you to upload your image or design and sell it on merchandise in their marketplaces. Popular merchandise includes T-Shirts, mugs, phone cases, stickers, pillows, leggings, notebooks, wall art, and so much more. You don’t have to be an illustrator to make money on these platforms. A well-designed image or a word or phrase written in a beautiful font can also sell very well on merchandise. Not sure what to design, consider Fan Merchandise. Platforms such as Redbubble, CafePress and Zazzle have license agreements with entertainment properties that allow you to create and sell merchandise without infringing on intellectual property. Design merchandise for popular movies such as: A Christmas Story Elf: The Movie Dumb and Dumber the Matrix National Lampoon’s Vacation movies The Exorcist, The Hangover movies The Wizard of Oz TV Shows Amazing Race Big Bang Theory Black-ish Breaking Bad Flintstones Friends Grey’s Anatomy How I met Your Mother Westworld Star Trek You can also design merchandise promoting the U.S. Military. U.S. Air Force U.S. Marine Corps U.S. Army U.S.Navy Here are links to available licensed fan properties on each platform: Redbubble, CafePress, Zazzle. It’s a long game. If you decide to put your illustration skills to use on any of these services, keep in mind this is a long game. You probably won’t make much money this week, or this month or possibly for months to come. You are doing this to generate extra income down the road. These platforms work because of compounding. You start slow, with maybe one or two images per week, or possibly even per month. And over time, if you’re persistent, you’ll end up with lots of designs that bring you money regularly. Even if the payout from each platform is small, they all add up over time. Wouldn’t it be nice to know your monthly car loan or mortgage payment was taken care of through the work you created long ago? It only takes time. You’ve heard the saying, “you need money to make money?” In most cases, that’s true. However, for everything I’ve talked about above, the only investment on your part is time. If you’re willing to put in a little bit of time now, it can pay off tenfold in the future. And there’s something satisfying when you see that first $1 come in because some random person, somewhere in the world, purchased an image you created. That’s when you know you’ve got something. Because if one random person thought what you created was good enough to spend money on, there must be others out there as well. That feeling should encourage you to keep on producing and uploading. Who knows, maybe one day, you’ll be able to retire and live solely off this passive income you’ve created with your creative skills. Let me know how you earn extra income with your creative skills. Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode. Resource of the week Four Week Marketing Boost The Four Week Marketing Boost! is a free guide I created that will help you strengthen your marketing position, boost your brand’s awareness & social presence and ultimately ensure you are in tip-top shape to offer the best first impression to potential new clients. This guide is divided into 20 short actions that comfortably fit into your regular day and are designed to take as little time away from your client work as possible. Although you can complete these exercises quickly, it is recommended you tackle only one per day, spending no more than 30 minutes per task. After completing this four-week plan, you will be in a better position to present yourself to, and win over new clients. You can download the Four Week Marketing Boost for free by visiting marketingboost.net. Or, if you are in the U.S.A., you can text the word MARKETINGBOOST to 44222. Improve your business' image and create the best first impression possible to attract more clients.
If you ever created a business plan, you’re probably familiar with the term SWOT Analysis, but here’s how designers can use it for their projects. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats. It’s a process first developed at Harvard Business School in the early 1950s. To run a SWOT Analysis requires four “areas,” such as four pads of paper or perhaps a board divided into four quadrants, each labelled Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats. Regardless of the medium you use, the process goes like this. By asking questions, you place the answers under one of the four categories. The first two categories, Strengths and Weaknesses, are internal matters you can control. The second two, Opportunities and Threats are external matters that are out of your control. SWOT Analysis for a freelance web design business. Here are some example questions and answers you might use when doing a SWOT Analysis for a home-based web design business. 1) Strengths: Questions you could ask: What are the strengths of the business? What advantages does the business have? What does the business do well? What resources does the business have? What do other people think of the business? Possible answers: The designer running the business is fast and proficient at creating web sites. The designer can use many different design applications. The designer is very experienced with WordPress. The designer knows some coding languages. The designer is great at time management. The business has many connections with writers, photographers, coders, etc. 2) Weaknesses: Questions you could ask: What disadvantages does the business have? What improvements can the business make? What skills is the designer lacking or knows but isn’t very good at? Are there any parts of web design the business should avoid? What objections might clients have towards the business? Possible answers: The designer lacks development skills. English is the designer’s second language, which may complicate communication with clients. The designer has weak administrative skills. The designer is Introverted. 3) Opportunities: Questions you could ask: What options are there for the business to grow? Are there new technologies emerging you can take advantage of? Is there a shift happening in the economy? Are social patterns changing? Possible answers: Few talented web designers in the local area. Knowledge of a particular field or industry can allow the business to niche. Clients are seeking sustainable products with low environmental impact. 4) Threats: Questions you could ask: What risks or potential hurdles does the business face? What obstacles does the designer face? What is the competition doing? Will new technologies threaten your business? Possible answers: Inexpensive DIY website builders can potentially lure clients away. More people learning web design could become competitors. Services offered by competitors may lure clients away from the business. Of course, this is a very simplified SWOT Analysis of a freelance web design business. If you were doing this for your own business, I would expect many more items listed under each section, but you get the idea. Once you’ve filled out the four categories, you can then use the information to form a strategy for your business to grow and succeed. And who knows, your SWOT Analysis may inspire a change in direction you might not have considered before. That’s the power of performing a SWOT Analysis. But a SWOT analysis isn’t just used for business plans. You can apply it to products, services, design strategies, and so much more. Using a SWOT Analysis as part of your design strategy. As a designer, you can use SWOT Analysis for many things, such as. Determining if a client is a right fit for you. Figuring out how to tackle a design project. Vetting potential candidates to hire as contractors. During design strategy sessions with clients And many more. Let’s look further into how a SWOT Analysis can help with design strategy sessions. Let’s say a new startup company hires you to develop their branding. Your first step is to hold a discovery meeting and ask questionsto get to know the client and their new company. Compose your questions in a way that allows you to place the answers in one of the four SWOT categories. For example: Strengths: What are the advantages of the new company’s product or services to their customers? What are the advantages this new company has over its competition? What makes this new company unique? Weaknesses: What areas of the new business can be improved? What issues need to be avoided? What limits does the new business face in providing their product or service? Opportunities: What opportunities are there for the product or service? Are there peaks or trends the new business can take advantage of? Can the business’s strengths be turned into opportunities? Are there any changes in the industry that could lead to opportunities? Threats: Who are the existing or potential competitors? Are there any factors that could put the company at risk? Are there any potential threats to the product or service? Is there any possible shift in consumer behaviour that could affect the product or service? Once you have this information divided into the four categories, it becomes easier to figure out a strategy or direction to take when it comes to designing. You want to build upon the strengths, address the weaknesses, seek out and explore the opportunities, and monitor and defend against the treats. As a designer, a SWOT Analysis of a design project allows you to dig deeper and uncover opportunities for your clients. With the information you gather, you’ll be able to highlight your client’s needs and create an effective design campaign that takes their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats into mind. This is an added value your clients will appreciate and pay more for. But I’m just a designer. Maybe your thinking to yourself, this all sound good, but all my client wants is a website. I don’t need to know any of this stuff. You’d be wrong in thinking that way. Clients often know what they want, but it’s your job as a designer to supply them with what they need. Performing a SWOT Analysis can help you find areas to focus on to produce better design results. By getting to know your client better as you go through this procedure, you build a relationship with them, which allows you to make recommendations they’ll listen to. Clients will see this as a useful tool they can use internally beyond the creative designs you provide. That’s valuable to them. A SWOT Analysis gives you a foundation to stand on should your client not follow your advice. It’s a kind of “I told you so” that shows your expertise to the client. No matter how big or small, or what the design project is, you should perform a SWOT Analysis to help you with your decisions. Get your client and their team involved — the more people who participate in a SWOT Analysis, the better the results. But even if you do it on your own, you’ll appreciate the insight it offers you. Analyze your competition A great experiment is to run a SWOT Analysis of your competition. You’ve should have already done one for your own design business to help you position yourself. But doing one of your competition can help you even further as you learn new ways to improve your business. Run a SWOT Analysis and then ask yourself. Can you match your competition’s Strengths? Can you offer a service that makes up for their Weaknesses? Can you snatch away their Opportunities? Can you do a better job at fending off whatever Threatens them? Conclusion I hope you see why a SWOT Analysis can be relevant to everything you do. Including your own business and every design project, you take on. It helps you develop new strategies for your designs to tackle. It increases your value, allowing you to charge more for your services. And It saves you time on future projects for the same client. A proper SWOT Analysis should take anywhere between 1 to several hours and should be performed with multiple people when possible, especially those higher up in a company. Plus, it looks great on a proposal when presenting your idea to a client. They’ll be impressed by your effort, which will increase their opinion of you, and allow you to charge higher rates. Have you ever performed a SWOT analysis before? Let me know by leaving a comment at https://resourcefuldesigner.com/episode202. Have you ever performed a SWOT Analysis before? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode. Questions of the Week Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page. This week’s question comes from Kat After listening to the episode about raising your prices, I wondered how you get local price comparisons? I was just doing a local competition survey and only one person listed anything pricing related on their website To find out what I told Kat you’ll have to listen to the podcast. Tip of the week Join Groups You’ve heard it time and again, as designers, we’re problem solvers. And that doesn’t just apply to design. It also applies to the processes we use while creating those designs. If we can’t figure something out, we tend to want to tinker with it and try to find a solution. While this is a great way to learn. Sometimes, it’s a waste of time. When faced with a problem, it's always more beneficial for you to seek help in order to find the solution quicker.
Is working from home for you? Designers fall into one of three categories, those who work from home, those who long for the ability to work from home, and those who don’t want to work from home because they don’t realize how great working from home can be. Ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Even though working from home is great, I admit, it’s not for everyone. In past episodes of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I’ve shared numerous excellent reasons for working from home. Still, I always cautioned you to examine your lifestyle before taking the entrepreneurial plunge, to make sure this life is for you. If you are an introvert or someone who likes to do things at your own pace, then the idea of working alone, without anyone looking over your shoulder sounds terrific. Plus, of course, there are all the benefits. No commute time You get to set your hours Tax benefits More freedom and flexibility when choosing design projects. The list goes on and on. That’s why, as we start this new decade, more and more people, designers included, are opting to work for themselves by starting a home-based business. But what many of these people fail to realize is, as I stated earlier, working from home is not for everyone, and you may fall into that category. You see, even though working from home has plenty of perks, there’s a downside to it as well that I don’t touch on very often on this podcast. For one thing, you may be the type of person who will get bored being by yourself all day, every day. There have been entire weeks where I haven’t seen another human being other than my family. That may seem fine to you at first, but will you be ok as time goes by and your life becomes more and more monotonous? Work-Life balance goes out the window Anyone who works from home will tell you that inevitably, your work-life balance will be affected. Unless you have strict structures in place, the freedom that working from home gives you could cause you to falter and become lazy. If you don’t set guidelines for yourself, you’ll start putting things off, and procrastination will become a problem. And before you know it, all your good intentions go out the window, and you become more interested in binging the newest Netflix series than working on that crucial website for your client. Why not? There’s nobody there to stop you. Being all alone, without anyone to hold you accountable, can lead to your downfall. When you’re alone, it becomes easy to lose track of time, to forget to stop for meals, it can cause you to neglect your health. I know, I’ve been there myself. There have been days when my wife walks in at the end of the day, asking about supper, and I realize I never even stopped for lunch. I remember seeing the school bus pull up at 3 pm to drop off my kids and sprinting to the bedroom to get dressed because I was still in my bathrobe. And I can’t tell you how many times over the years my wife has asked If I was planning on shaving soon because I hadn’t bothered for a few days. Why should I? I wasn’t leaving the house. When you work from home, things that people with 9-5 jobs would never think of suddenly become the norm for you. To some people, this might sound great. But to others, it’s self-neglect, and self-neglect once started, can grow and grow. Coping with isolation When you work in an office environment, you get to interact with your coworkers. You talk about your families, your vacations, the latest sports scores, television shows you’ve watched and of course office gossip. When you work from home, there’s none of that. Talking to your family members is not the same as interacting with others. And even the most introverted individuals need some interaction with others. I did an entire episode on dealing with isolation If you're interested in learning more.  Unlike the rest of the world, people who work from home need to schedule social time consciously — time to interact with other human beings. When your family members get home at the end of a long day, they may want nothing more than to curl up on the couch and watch tv. That’s great for them, but you’ve been alone all day, so you don’t need to unwind as they do. In fact, contrary to what they desire, you may want to get out of the house. That’s one of the reasons I do the groceries for our household. At the end of a busy day, my wife has no desire to go shopping. Me, on the other hand, I want to get out. I love going to the grocery store, even if the only person I talk to is the cashier I’m still out and among people. A study done by the University of Iowa found that the average office worker has face-to-face interactions, a conversation of more than a few words with 20-28 people per day who are not members of their family. For a remote worker, such as a home-based designer, that number drops to 0.8 interactions per day. Translates to 71 days per year that a remote worker doesn’t interact with another human being. Depression is a possibility. For some people, that lack of social interaction from being isolated all the time can affect their mental health and lead to loneliness and possibly depression. Which, if not caught early, can spiral out of control. People suffering from depression rarely want to interact with others. And therein lies the problem. A lack of interaction can lead to depression, and depression can make people isolate themselves from others resulting in a lack of interaction. Sure some of this can be alleviated by interacting with people on social media or in online groups such as the Resourceful Designer Facebook Group, or even better, the Resourceful Designer Community. But interacting online is never the same as interacting with someone face-to-face. I know that this is a very dark thought compared to most of my podcast episodes, but I don’t want to hide the fact that there is a less glamorous side to working from home of which people don’t often talk. What can you do? What can you do if you start to feel any of what I talked about above? The first thing to do is consider whether or not working from home is for you. Some people thrive better in a social environment, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe you gave it a go and decided working from home is not for you. That’s OK. Use the experience you’ve gained to help you in your next position. But if you are determined to give working from home a go, here are some steps you can take that may help. Work where there are other people. Consider working from a co-working space, the library or a coffee shop. Even if you don’t talk to the people around you, simply being around others will improve your mental state. Set a schedule and stick to it. Most people work a 9-5 job, so why don’t you? A fixed schedule can help maintain your work-life balance. Plan your day. Writing down your daily tasks is a great way to stay productive, and it wards off procrastination by starting your day, knowing what you need to accomplish. Schedule networking events. Find out what events are happening in your community and make a point of attending as many as you can. Even if it doesn’t lead to more work, it will contribute to your mental health by being around others. Join a community. If you start feeling Isolated and lonely, reach out to people. Join a community, as I mentioned earlier. A live in-person one would be best, but even an online community can help alleviate that sense of isolation. And if you start feeling depressed, please seek help. Depression is no small matter, and if left unacknowledged can lead to some dark places. Is working from home for you? What I've talked about is part of the reality of working from home. And unfortunately, it’s not for everyone. However, if you are ready to face the challenges and can overcome and persevere through this less glamorous side of freelance life, the rewards are numerous. As many home-based designers will tell you, myself included, I have never regretted my decision to work from home, and I will never go back to a regular office job. What "less glamorous" side of working from home have you experienced? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode. Resource of the week Vectoraster Vectoraster is a macOS and IOS graphics utility by LostMinds for creating vector-based raster patterns and halftones based on images or gradients. Create halftones with different point shapes including circles, polygons, and even font characters. You can even import your own custom vector shapes to use. You can also create circle and straight or curved line based halftones. You have full control over the size of the points, the spacing between the points, the distribution pattern of the points and more. And once you’re happy with the look of your pattern or halftone you can export it as a vector to EPS or PDF, or you can save it as a raster JPG, PNG or TIFF file. Have you ever seen one of those photos that’s made up of paragraphs of text with different thicknesses of letters? When you look at the paragraph as a whole you can see the photo of a person or something? You can create that effect in seconds with Vecoraster. If you ever wanted to create a halftone gradient or use an image effect making a photo look like it was printed using large halftone dots, then Vectorraster is for you. I’ve had this program in my toolbox for years. And although it’s not one I use very often, when I do, it comes in very handy.
Are you charging enough for your design services? Many home-based designers don't charge high enough for their services. They undervalue their work and struggle to find meaningful relationships with great clients. And although it might sound counterintuitive, when you find yourself in this situation, the solution is to raise your prices. It's been proven time and again that the more you charge, the better and more appreciative your clients will be. But when should you raise your design prices? Below are ten indicators to let you know it's time to increase yours. But before we get to them, here's a quick way to determine your hourly rate. For the record, I don't believe you should be charging by the hour. The following just gives you an idea of where you stand. Calculating your hourly design rate. Say you want to make $60,000 per year, a realistic number for a freelance designer that allows for comfortable living. As an employee working 9-5 for someone else, you would need an hourly rate of $28.85 to make $60K annually. But you're not an employee getting paid for an 8 hour day, five days per week. You're a home-based designer, a freelancer if you want to use that term, and there's nothing steady about a freelancer's income. To make $60,000 as a home-based designer, how much do you need to charge as an hourly rate? Let's do the math. There are 260 weekdays per year. Let's eliminate 25 days for vacation and other miscellaneous days. (3 weeks vacation plus sick days, medical appointments, children's activities, etc.) That leaves us with 235 working days per year. During an 8 hour workday, freelancers average 4.5 billable hours. This adds up to 1057.5 billable hours per year. So $60,000 per year, divided by 1057.5 billable hours, equals $56.74/hour (let's round it up to $57.) $60,000 ÷ 1057.5 hours = $57/hour (rounded up) Although you shouldn't be charging hourly for your design services, knowing your hourly rate helps you figure out if you are charging enough per design project. 10 Signs You Should Raise Your Design Prices 1. You're super busy and starting to feel overwhelmed. All the big business sites (Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc., Business Weekly) all say the same thing, having a back-log of projects or a waiting list of clients or just being super busy all the time is a sign that you are not charging enough for your services. The strategy here is that raising your rates, and being more selective in who you work with, will lessen the fell of overwhelm, but the higher prices you're charging will make up for any loss incurred from having fewer clients. 2. You're attracting undesirable clients. Are you attracting the type of client that doesn't put much value in what you do? Clients that want it all but are not willing to pay much for it? Clients, that micro-manage you complain and criticize your work, or tell you how to do your job? Clients that would leave you in a heartbeat for a competitor to save a buck? If this sounds like the type of client you're currently working with, raising your rates should fix the problem. Those clients will stop bothering you and go looking for a less expensive solution. Your new rates will attract new clients who are willing to pay higher prices. Plus, they'll trust and value your services and are likely to stay loyal, even if a lower cost option presents itself. 3 You're not landing your ideal clients. If clients are reaching out to you but not hiring you, it might be because your prices are too low. When someone is expecting to pay a certain amount for a project, and you quote a price lower than they expected, red flags go up, and they start wondering if perhaps you're qualified or experienced enough for what they need. They'll imagine all sorts of deficiencies to justify your low prices. So if you're losing more clients than you're landing, consider raising your prices. 4. You start offering a new service. Have you learnt a new skill such as video editing or 3D animation and have added it to your services? New skills and services make you more valuable to clients, and your rates should reflect it. The convenience of getting more services from you instead of needing to hire additional people is worth the extra expense to clients. 5. You're price-matching your competition. A strategy used by many freelancers is to price-match their competition or even undercut them. This only works if the service you offer is equal to, or inferior to what your competition offers. If you believe you are a better designer than your local competition, then indicate it with higher prices. From a client's perspective, a designer charging $3,000 for a website must be a better web designer than one charging $2,000. Many clients want to work with the best and won't hesitate about the price. 6. Your competition charges much more than you. On the flip side of #5, if your prices are much lower than your competitions' prices, then you'll develop a reputation as the cheapest designer around, which is not a good thing. If you're viewed as the cheapest design, clients will never take you seriously. 7. The cost of doing business has increased. Face it; inflation is as sure a thing as death and taxes. To remain profitable, you must match the inflation rate with the money you bring in. Keep track of your business expenses year over year, and if you notice your expense costs going up, make sure to compensate for them with a price increase. 8. You haven't raised your price in over a year. The best strategy you can employ is to raise your price a little bit every year. If you wait too long before increasing your rates, your clients will feel the impact. It's much easier for a client to accept a small 5% yearly increase in your price than to accept a 25% price increase after five years of paying the same rate. 9. You've niched down. By choosing a niche, you're establishing yourself as an expert in that area. And as an expert, you deserve to be paid more for your expertise. It's the reason doctors with a specialty make more money than general practitioners. It's their expertise and perceived value. Clients are willing to spend more to hire someone who understands them. 10. You tried charging a higher rate and got the job. A perfect way to see if a rate increase is to test it out. If you usually charge $600 for a logo design, try charging $800 the next time someone asks. If the client agrees, it's a good indication that a price increase is in order. Conclusion What it comes down to is this. If you are not charging what you are truly worth, you are doing your clients a disservice. Being the lowest or second-lowest designer in your market has no advantages to you. It's great for the cheap clients looking to hire from the bottom of the barrel, but that does you no good. In fact, it could dig you into a hole that will be very difficult to get out of. You should be pricing yourself above average if not closer to the top when it comes to your local competition. If you're not there now, do something about it. Don't worry about increasing your prices; everybody does it. In fact, if you don't increase your prices, you'll be falling behind as the price of things like fuel for your car, utility bills, groceries, clothing and all your day to day necessities go up. Benefits of raising your prices. 1. Higher rates attract higher-quality clients. It's a case of "you get what you pay for," and some clients are willing to invest in the best. 2. Your clients will better value your work. Lower priced designers are simply a body for hire, easily replaceable. When you charge premium prices, clients will treat you with respect and trust your authority. 3. Your clients will get better results. Designers who charge more tend to work with fewer clients, allowing them to devote more time and energy to each project, producing better results for their clients. 4. You build better relationships with your clients. With fewer clients who better value your work, and who see better results from dealing with you, it's inevitable that you'll build better relationships. And better relationships mean more recurring work and more referrals. 5. Charging higher prices boost your confidence and self-worth. Once you start charging premium prices and start landing new clients, you'll feel great about yourself. That confidence and self-worth will be evident when it comes to networking, promoting and marketing your services. People will take note and want to work with you. What are you waiting for? Raise your rates today. What's your experience with raising your design prices? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode. Tip of the week: Aliases (Mac), Shortcuts (Windows) Aliases are an often overlooked feature of the MacOS. Aliases act as a link or portal to its original counterpart on your computer. Opening an Alias of a file will open the original file, Opening an Alias of a folder will take you to the original folder. To create an Alias, Right-Click on a file or folder and select "Make Alias" (Create Shortcut on Windows). You can place your Alias files anywhere on your computer for easier access to the original file/folder. Listen to the podcast episode to hear how I use Aliases to help with file management and to improve my productivity.
These applications are One Trick Ponies. A One Trick Pony is a person or thing with only one unique feature, talent or area of expertise. In the scope of today’s episode, a One Trick Pony is an application that only does one thing, but it does that one thing very well. Here are sone One Trick Ponies I regularly use that could help you with your design business. 1) 1Password (Mac + Windows) 1Password is an application for managing passwords on Mac, Windows, IOS and Android. 1Password allows you to store all your strong hard to remember passwords in a secure location. All you have to do is remember one single password and let this password manager do the rest. 2) Squoosh (Web-based) Squoosh.app is a useful website to optimize and shrink the file size of your images without compromising quality. Drag an image onto the browser window, adjust the settings if needed, and download the smaller image file for use. 3) BackBlaze (Mac + Windows) BackBlaze is a set-it-and-forget-it backup solution for your computer. Install it and let it do its job unhindered and rest assured that your computer is continuously backed up. Should you ever need to restore your computer, you can easily do so from the online backup, or order a physical hard drive containing all your data shipped to you. 4) Carbon Copy Cloner (Mac only) Carbon Copy Cloner creates bootable copies of any hard drive. Create manual backups or schedule automated backups of any drive. Smart Updates saves time by only backing up files that have been added or modified since your last backup. Windows users, here are some alternatives to Carbon Copy Cloner. 5) Disk Inventory X - (Mac) Disk Inventory X is a free disk usage utility for Mac. It shows the sizes of files and folders in a unique graphical way. Quickly determine what is using up the most space on your hard drive. Disk Inventory X is based on WinDirStat for Windows. 6) Font Doctor (Mac + Windows) Diagnose and fix common font problems automatically with FontDoctor, FontDoctor locates and eliminates hard-to-find font issues that can cause problems on your computer. 7) Grammarly (Mac + Windows) Compose clear, mistake-free writing that makes the right impression with Grammarly's writing assistant. Grammarly works in all your favourite web browsers and applications. 8) Little Snitch (Mac Only) Little Snitch makes invisible internet connections visible so that you remain in control of who your computer is talking to. Keep track of your computer's network activity and take charge of who it does or doesn't communicate with. Windows users, here are some alternatives to Little Snitch. 9) MAMP (Mac + Windows) MAMP creates a local server environment on your Mac or Windows computer allowing you to run WordPress locally. MAMP is available in a Free and Pro version to match your needs. 10) Paparazzi! (Mac) Paparazzi! is a small Mac utility for taking screenshots of entire webpages, even the portions not visible on the screen. Enter the URL and tell Paparazzi! what format you want your screenshot, PNG, JPG, TIFF or PDF. Google Chrome screenshot feature. On Mac 1.Opt + Command + I 2.Command + Shift + P On Windows/Linux/Chrome OS 1.Ctrl + Shift + I 2.Ctrl + Shift + P These keyboard shortcuts will open Chrome's developer menu. Then Type "screenshot," and you'll see options for capturing portions of or the full webpage. Chrome will automatically save the screenshot to your Downloads folder! 11) PDFKey Pro (Mac + Windows) PDFKey Pro lets you easily unlock password-protected PDF files allowing you to open, edit and print them. 12) TNEF’s Enough (Mac) TNEF's Enough allows Mac Users to extract and read Microsoft TNEF stream files, often received as windmail.dat attachments. 13) VLC (Mac + Windows) VLS is a free cross-platform multimedia player that plays most multimedia files as well as DVDs, Audio Cds and VCDs. What One Trick Pony applications do you use? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode. Resource of the week 4-Week Marketing Boost The Four Week Marketing Boost! is a free guide I created that will help you strengthen your marketing position, boost your brand’s awareness & social presence and ultimately ensure you are in tip-top shape to offer a best first impression to potential new clients. This guide is divided into 20 short actions that comfortably fit into your regular day and are designed to take as little time away from your client work as possible. Although you can complete these exercises quickly, it is recommended you tackle only one per day, spending no more than 30 minutes per task. After completing this four-week plan, you will be in a better position to present yourself to, and win over new clients. You can download the Four Week Marketing Boost for free by visiting marketingboost.net. Or, if you are in the U.S.A., you can text the word MARKETINGBOOST to 44222. Improve your business' image and create the best first impression possible to attract more clients.
These four questions will change your design business. [sc name="pod_ad"]Your job as a designer is to solve problems, not to create pretty designs. When you embrace the notion that your job is to provide a solution to whatever dilemma your client is facing, a few things will happen. You’ll start to understand your client’s needs better. Your clients will show more respect for what you do. You’ll be able to charge more money for your services. After all, a solution to a problem is much more valuable than a pretty picture, no matter how well designed that picture is. Before you can find the perfect solution, you need to figure out precisely what the problem is your client is facing. The only way to do that is to ask questions, lots of questions. In episode 15 of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I shared 50 questions you can ask before every design project. Those questions cover a wide variety of topics, including: Questions about the company hiring you. Questions about their target market. Questions about their current brand. Questions about their design preferences. Questions about a project’s scale, timeframe and budget. What I didn’t get into on that episode are the four most valuable questions you can ask your design clients. Questions that will get to the root of the problem for which they need your services. Questions that can either change or narrow down the focus of a project. Questions that may allow you to charge higher rates because as I said earlier, solutions to problems are much more valuable than pretty designs. Here are the four most valuable questions you can ask your design clients. Question #1 - Why do you need this? The power in asking, "Why do you need this?" is that the question is unexpected. When was the last time you tried to buy something, and the salesperson asked you why you wanted to buy it? I can’t remember either. That’s why this question is so powerful. It gets the client thinking, and it gets them to open up. It doesn’t matter if a client is coming to you for a logo, a website, a poster or a trade show display. And it doesn’t matter if you think the reason is apparent, ask your client why they need this? And then listen carefully to what they say for some real gems. The deep insights that could completely change your way of thinking about the project or help you narrow down your focus to one small area. Question #2 - What results do you expect from this project? The results a client is expecting can often change the direction of a project. As a designer, you may see better options to reach those results than what the client is expecting. For example, your client may be asking you to design a poster for an upcoming event. However, you can explain to them, based on their expectations, that a postcard may produce better results. Listen to the podcast episode to hear my story of how this question helped me deliver a better solution for one of my clients. Question #3 - How will you judge the success of this project? This is another great question that can change the direction of a project. If you’re building a website for a client, you may make different design choices depending on how a client will judge the site successful. If the client is looking for increased website traffic, you may design it one way. If sales measure success, then you may create it differently. And if it’s to elevate their brand image, then you may design it a third way. How a client judges a design project successful can have a significant influence on how you tackle the project. For example, You're hired to produce a poster for a local school’s drama club. Will success be measured by ticket sales, or by the awareness the production brings to the school's drama program? In one case, you will design a poster with emphasis on how and where to purchase tickets, with only a little focus on the school itself. In the other case, you will design a poster with more emphasis on the school and keep only a small portion of the poster for ticket information. That’s why asking, “How will you judge the success of this project?” is so important. The most important question of all. Question #4 - And What else? "And what else?" The power of this simple question is endless. Why do you need this? Ok, great, ok... And what else? What results do you expect from this? Mmm, mmhmm. And what else? How will you judge the success of this project? Perfect, that’s great, I understand. And what else? Use this short and yet amazing question during any conversation you have with your client. Tell me about your target market. And what else? What marketing approach have you tried in the past? And what else? Do you see the power of this question? By asking “and what else?” you are; Showing your interest to your client, which helps build your relationship. Getting them to open up to you, making them feel more comfortable talking to you. Getting additional information your client wouldn’t have offered freely. Asking, "And what else?" will give you valuable information you can use to shape the perfect solution to your client's problem. After all, don't you wish you had more information before tackling any problem? Four questions. When you put these four questions to use, you'll find not only will your clients appreciate you more. But you’ll be able to create much better designs for them because of the information you’ve gathered from asking them. Do you use these four questions? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode. Questions of the Week Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page. This week’s question comes from Jade I have a huge predicament! Im in the midst of drafting a rebrand. Im doing drafts for 2 different reps (2 different contracts repping the same company) that know each other has contracted me for their design ideas. Both paying out of their own pockets. Essentially they will be presenting these designs to a board to make a decision. Now the board themselves have been involved with one of the reps, contacting me directly to further refine ideas. My questions is.... should I just can both original contracts and redo one with the company itself, that way everyones ideas go through the same avenue? Or continue the way it is and feel like s**t cause Im charging everyone for the same rebrand? To find out what I told Jade, you’ll have to listen to the podcast. Resource of the week Dual Sim Phones If you are looking for a way to manage both home or mobile phone number along with a business phone number, you may want to think about getting a dual sim phone. A dual sim phone allows you to receive text messages and phone calls from two different phone numbers on a single mobile phone. Here are some popular dual sim phones iPhone XS, XR and 11 Huawei P30 Pro OnePlus 7 Pro Samsung Galaxy Note 10 or S10 series. Listen to the podcast on the go. Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Spotify Listen on Android Listen on Stitcher Listen on iHeartRadio Contact me I would love to hear from you. You can send me questions and feedback using my feedback form. Follow me on Twitter, Facebookand Instagram I want to help you. Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com
Try this pricing strategy for your design business. I learned of the three-tier pricing strategy many years ago, but I never gave it much thought in regards to the design industry. Until recently that is. A few months ago I came across it again while reading a business book. A day or two later I was watching a YouTube video, and a designer mentioned using a three-tier pricing strategy in his design proposals. Maybe there's something to this I thought and I decided to give it a try. And you know what? It works. I’ve used it on several proposals recently with great results. What is a three-tier pricing strategy? A three-tier pricing strategy is when you offer three different pricing choices for essentially the same service or product but with different options which increases the value for each one.  Look at this example of a fictional web hosting company using a three-tier pricing strategy. A web host may offer three different hosting package. A $4.99/mo package that is good for 1 site and offers basic security A $9.99/mo package that is good for 3 sites, offers advanced security and monthly site backups and a free Basic SSL Certificate. A $49.99/mo package that is good for unlimited sites, offers Super advanced security including daily malware monitoring, plus daily backups and the free Wildcard SSL Certificate. I know you’ve seen this type of pricing strategy before. You’ve probably also noticed that companies usually highlight the middle price as the “recommended” or “most popular” one according to the seller. That’s because it’s the option they are hoping you will choose. The other two are there to help you come to that decision. Why a three-tier pricing strategy works There are two main reasons why this type of pricing strategy works. It gives the purchaser options to choose from, which makes them feel more in control of what they are buying. It showcases the value of what the purchaser is buying making their choice easier. In the above web host example, the buyer sees three options. One that’s good for one website, another for three websites and a third for unlimited sites. It also shows escalating value options at each tier. Tier 2 offers more advanced security plus backups and an SSL Certificate where Tier 1 doesn’t. Tier 3 offers super advanced security PLUS daily malware monitoring. It also provides daily backups instead of only monthly and a Wildcard SSL Certificate over a standard SSL Certificate. By offering these three options to a potential client, the hosting company is altering the purchaser's mindset. Instead of giving the client one option and having them ponder “is this a good value for me?” they are given three options and instead ask themselves “which one of these is the best value for me?” A single pricing option requires a yes or no decision. But by introducing the variables in three-tier pricing, you force the client to contemplate their decision making them feel more in control of their buying choice. And when a client feels in control of their buying choice there's less chance of them deciding to shop elsewhere. The other benefit of the three-tier pricing strategy is how it educates the client on the value of what it is they are buying. They see what their money is getting them. The client came to the website looking for web hosting for their one site. But now they are shown that there are different values available to choose from when it comes to hosting a website. Even though tier 2 allows up to three websites, the added value included with that option may persuade the client to choose it even though they only have one site to host. You can almost predict the outcome The great thing about a three-tier tier pricing strategy is that you can practically guarantee what option a client will choose. Why do you think so many sites highlight the “recommended” or “Best Value” option? It's because they made it the most tempting of the three. Some people call that middle tier the "anchor price" or the "pillar price". You base your entire strategy on that price. How a three-tier pricing strategy works This pricing strategydoesn’t work very well if you charge an hourly rate based on your time. For it to work, you should be using fixed, project-based or value-based pricing. You start by figuring out a price for your ideal proposal and what benefits/value to offer with it. That's your anchor price. It should be the best value for the price. Once you’ve determined your anchor price, you create a lower priced option with fewer benefits/value. Make this more economical option close in price to your anchor price. You wan the client to look at the first two options and come to the conclusion that tier 2 is the better deal even though it costs more. For Tier 3, you set the price significantly higher and offer a lot more value with it. But most clients can usually do without the added benefit offered in Tier 3. When a client looks at the three tiers, there’s a  good chance they choose Tier 2, your anchor price. Most people will see the cost vs value of Tier 2 as the better bang for their buck. Most will skip over Tier 1 because they don’t want to be the person who chose the cheap route. It’s a prestige thing. Tier 3 is there to show the client there are more expensive options, making them feel like they are getting a bargain by choosing Tier 2. Automobile manufacturers embrace this strategy. Most cars are available in three models. A base model, a deluxe model, and a Luxury model. Which model do you think sells the most? It's the deluxe model — the one in the middle. There's nothing wrong with the base model vehicle. It will get you from point A to B just fine. But even though the deluxe model cost more, it comes with extra options. All those bells and whistlesare usually enough to get people to choose the deluxe model.  That’s three-tier pricing at it’s best. Not many people will choose tier 3, The luxury option, but embrace those who do, they really want to work with you. Also, keep in mind, you do not want to underprice Tier 1. Make sure that if a client does choose that first option, you are not losing money on it. Trust me; those car manufacturers are still making good money any time they sell a base model vehicle. Implementing a three-tier pricing strategy for your design business So how does this apply to your design business? Let’s look at two examples using website and logo design. Keep in mind that you can apply this same principle to any design project. When quoting on a website design, you may want to offer something like this. Tier 1) $1,500  Design a website based on the content and material provided by the client and install it on the server of their choosing. The client will be responsible for all maintenance and upkeep of website after launch. Tier 2) $3,000 + $600/year for maintenanceDesign a website. Provided content will be edited by a professional copywriter ensuring maximum SEO impact. Submit website to Google and other directories for faster indexing. Provide site security and manage monthly updates, maintenance and backups. Tier 3) $9,000 +$2,400/year Everything from Tier 2 plus Keyword monitoring and SEO rank tracking. The idea here is to show the client how much value you bring when you partner with them. If all they want is a website, you’re happy to design one for them and be done with it. However, if the client wants a partner that has their best interest in mind, someone who will make sure their website keeps performing optimally and help their business grow, they can have that for nominal extra investment. When quoting on a logo design, you may want to offer something like this. Tier 1) $750 Design a logo and provide it in colour and B&W in the necessary file formats. Tier 2) $1,500 Everything from Tier 1 plus a style guide showing how to strategically use the logo to build a cohesive brand across the entire company.  This style guide will help the company create a positive brand recognition strategy as a foundation upon which to build their business. Tier 3) $5,000Everything from Tier 2 plus a full day strategy workshop presented at the client's place of employment. This workshop will explain the new brand to the company’s staff, teaching them the proper use of the new brand to achieve brand synergy throughout all levels, from part-time employees all the way up to top management. When you look at all three tiers, you can see that the best value is Tier 2. A Logo and Style guide. The idea here is to illustrate the value the client receives by working with you. They should be hiring you for more than just a logo design. But if a logo is all they want, you’re happy to design one for them. Give it a try. I hope you can see the value in implementing a three-tier pricing strategy. I can tell you that of the last dozen proposals I sent out using this strategy, three clients decided not to hire me. From the nine who did, one chose my Tier 1 and eight chose my Tier 2. One was ready to choose Tier 3 for their website design, but I convinced them after further review that Tier 2 was a better choice for them, I don’t believe they need the service I was offering in Tier 3. But I did tell them we can review it again in the future. They appreciated my honesty very much. Are you using a three-tier pricing strategy? Let me know if you plan on implementing a three-tier pricing strategy. If you already use this strategy, I would love to know how it's working for you. Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode. Questions of the Week Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page. This week’s question comes from Christopher On several episodes, you mention the "discovery phase" where you ask questions and do research on your potential client. Can you elaborate on what kinds of research and the types of questions to ask? As I only do web design and not logo/graphical design, I would appreciate a focus on web sites. To find out what I told Christopher you’ll have to listen to the podcast. Tip of the week Ask cold calling clients if you can add them to your email list. Sometimes cold calling doesn’t work because the client doesn’t need your services at that time. But there's no way to know for sure. One thing that may help is by asking the prospect if you can add them to your email list to keep them informed of exciting projects you're working on. If the prospect agrees you'll know they have an interest in you and could become a client in the future. Listen to the podcast on the go. Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Spotify Listen on Android Listen on Stitcher Listen on iHeartRadio Contact me I would love to hear from you. You can send me questions and feedback using my feedback form. Follow me on Twitter, Facebookand Instagram I want to help you. Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com
Are you taking measure of your design business? Whether you are running your design business full-time or part-time, you probably started it with a vision of how your ideal business should look.  How does it measure up? Are you exceeding your expectations or are you falling short? If you are exceeding your expectations, do you know how you're doing it? What is contributing to your success and can you sustain it and continue to grow your design business? If you’re falling short of your vision of an ideal design business, do you know why? Knowing why your falling short is a significant step in rectifying your situation. I’m publishing this during the first week of 2019. I know it’s cliché but the beginning of a new year is the perfect time to look at your design business and see if it measures up to what you imagined it would be. It’s also the perfect time to make any needed changes to realign and get back on track if it isn't. For most people, the beginning of a new calendar year also means the beginning of a new fiscal year. If you've been in business for more than a year you can take some time and compare the past year over the previous ones to see how things stand. A new year also means you have a clean slate to build upon going forward.    Taking measure of my own business, I see that I didn’t grow in 2018. I made about $2,000 less in 2018 than I did in 2017.  In the grand scheme of things, $2,000 isn’t that much, so I’m not worried about it. But it is the first time since I started my design business that I haven’t seen growth from the previous year. So what went wrong? I invoiced for more design work in 2018 than I ever have. So that’s not the issue. Looking at my accounting books, I see that revenue from the print brokering service I offer declined. Design revenue went up, while print brokering went down. Please don't take that the wrong way, there’s still a significant amount of money to be made in print brokering if you’re thinking of getting into it. I believe I can pinpoint the decline in print brokering revenue to three clients. I had two clients who went completely digital and decided not to have printed versions of their annual report last year. A third client, a yearly festival had some financial difficulty and drastically reduced the number of booklets, pamphlets, posters and other printed material I handled for them. Between the three of them, I lost several thousand dollars in printing revenue. Considering this, I need to take the time to figure out how I can make up for the decline in print brokering revenue going forward should the trend continue. Should I concentrate on promoting my print brokering service more, or should I focus on getting more design work? That’s up to me to decide. What you need to decide is what it is you want to accomplish with your design business this year. I don't know your particular situation so I can’t tell you exactly what you need to do, but I can offer some suggestions that may help your business grow.  Improve your touchpoints Touchpoints are the avenues potential clients come in contact with your business. They consist of things like your business cards to your website to the way you answer your phone. My free guide, the Four-Week Marketing Boost can help you with this. As the old saying goes, "You only have one chance to make a first impression." so why not make it the best first impression you can. Review your contract and proposals Take a few minutes to review your contract and proposal templates. Do they protect both you and your clients as thoroughly as they should? Make sure any new services you offer are listed and remove anything that is outdated. Raise your prices The beginning of a new year is a perfect opportunity to raise your rates. Especially but not limited to anything you charge for by the hour. Raising your prices not only increases your income, but it can elevate the quality of clients who seek you out. Expand your services Did you learn anything new last year that you could add as a service you offer? SEO, Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, Print Brokering and so much more can become new services that can increase your income. Niche down Have you considered specialising in a niche? Narrowing your focus and concentrating on one industry is a great way to be seen as an expert in your field. The beginning of a new year is a perfect time to start targeting a new niche. Set goals for your business. Of course, January is the perfect time to set goals not only for yourself but for your design business. Determine what it is you want to accomplish this year. Having a goal makes it much easier to track your progress, and it becomes much more satisfying when you reach it. Any time of year works No specific time of year is best for reviewing your design business, but January seems like the most popular time for taking measure of things in your life. However, even if you are listening to this episode in April or in July, you can still take a bit of time for taking measure of where things stand with your design business and make whatever course corrections you need to make. What did you find after taking measure of your design business? Let me know how things are working out for you by leaving a comment for this episode. Resource of the week Four Week Marketing Boost The Four Week Marketing Boost!is a free guide I created that will help you strengthen your marketing position, boost your brand’s awareness & social presence and ultimately ensure you are in tip-top shape to offer a best first impression to potential new clients. This guide is divided into 20 short actions that comfortably fit into your regular day and are designed to take as little time away from your client work as possible. Although you can complete these exercises quickly, it is recommended you tackle only one per day, spending no more than 30 minutes per task. After completing this four-week plan you will be in a better position to present yourself to, and win over new clients. You can download the Four Week Marketing Boost for free by visiting marketingboost.net. Or, if you are in the U.S.A., you can text the word MARKETINGBOOSTto 44222. Improve your business' image and create the best first impression possible to attract more clients. Listen to the podcast on the go. Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Spotify Listen on Android Listen on Stitcher Listen on iHeartRadio Contact me I would love to hear from you. You can send me questions and feedback using my feedback form. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram I want to help you. Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com
Are you freelancing as a side gig? [sc name="pod_ad"]I created Resourceful Designer to help designers run their full-time home-based design business. However, a large number of you are not full-time freelancers. Many of you have another job and freelance as a side gig. Maybe you work for a design agency, or you’re an in-house designer dreaming of going at it alone. Perhaps you’re like Jose, one of my listeners. Josee is a full-time firefighter with a spark for creativity. He started by designing posters and things for his fire hall. When his coworkers saw how good he was, they started hiring him to create stuff for them. Eventually, word spread and now Josee runs a part-time design business on the side but has no intentions of leaving the fire service. You might be a student, taking on a few side projects to earn some extra spending money while still in school learning the trade. Or you could be a student exploring your options for after you graduate. Maybe you haven't started any side hustle yet. You are reading this because the idea of working for yourself appeals to you. It’s something you would like to do shortly or maybe far down the road, but you’re not there yet. Regardless of your situation, know that many designers are in the same boat as you. To help you along, here are four things you need to take into consideration when freelancing as a side gig. 1) Time Management. When you’re running your own business full-time, you are in complete control of your schedule; you have 24 hours every day to divide up how you see fit. If there’s a networking event at 10 am on Thursday you want to attend, no problem, work your schedule around it. If the forecast calls for rain later today and the lawn needs mowing, do it now and put in an extra hour tonight if you need to. If you're burning the midnight oil to complete a project, no worries, you can make up for it by sleeping in a bit tomorrow. When running your own full-time design business, your schedule can be as flexible as you need it. However, when you have a full-time or part-time job, and you're running your design business as a side gig, it diminished that flexibility drastically. You will have fewer hours in your day to devote to your side gig. That may translate into sacrificing leisure time or sleep, especially when you have deadlines to meet. Clients don’t care if you run your business full or part-time, as long as they get their job when they need it. To meet those deadlines, you may have to give up relaxation time or time with family and friends. It’s not that bad if you’re single, but if you have a significant other or children, your partner or kids won’t like playing second string to your design work. Figuring out how you are going to manage your time is crucial if you are freelancing on the side. 2) The scope of the design projects you take on. One solution to the above mentioned time management issue is the scope of the projects you take on. If your design time is a couple of hours in the evenings and a few on the weekends, you might want to avoid taking on any large projects with tight deadlines. Running a part-time, some may even call it casual-time side gig requires you to know your limits. How much time do you have, or better yet, how much time don’t you have to devote to design projects? Sure you can hire help with big jobs, but doing so requires time devoted to overseeing the parts of the project you hand off. Sometimes it’s not worth the stress of taking them on. 3) Extra income from your side gig. One of the biggest fears holding designers back from becoming full-time entrepreneurs is the uncertainty of income. There are no guarantees of income when you are working for yourself. And giving up a steady paycheck is scary. One mistake people often make is thinking "Once my side gig income equals my current job’s income I’ll be ready to quit my job and work full-time for myself." This scenario is fine, as long as you don’t spend any of the money you earn from your side gig. If you put it all into savings and continue to live off your regular paycheck, you should be fine. When you decide it’s time to leap, you’ll have a nice financial cushion to hold you over during the transition period. The mistake people often make, is in using their side gig income as extra income alongside their regular paycheque. If you make $25,000 per year in your day job, and you work up your side gig to the point where you are making $25,000 per year there as well, you are actually making $50,000 per year. When you quit your day job, you are cutting your income in half. That can come as quite a blow, especially if you’ve grown used to having that extra income. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use or spend your side gig income. I want you to be aware that if your goal is to build up your side gig until it can replace your new full-time job, be aware of the consequences before quitting. 4) Conflict of interests If you are working for a design agency, studio, a commercial printer, or any other business in the design sector, be aware that starting a side gig may be a conflict of interest. Some companies make you sign documents when you are hired restricting you from starting a business on the side. Even if they don’t, starting a business on the side that is, in essence, a competitor to your employer is not a good thing to do. If you work at a design agency that only handles print design, you may be OK starting a web design business as your side gig. However, if your web design clients ask you to design logos for their websites you may have a conflict of interest if the design agency you work for also creates logos. Watch out for conflicts of interest between what you are doing in your side gig and what your employer offers. You should also ensure you haven't signed any documents granting ownership of anything you design to your employer while in their employ. If you do, then those websites or logos you develop on the weekends belong to your employer, and they could demand compensation or refuse to transfer ownership rights of the designs to your client. Even if you didn’t agree to anything in writing, make sure what you do at home isn’t potentially taking money away from the company where you work. I’m not a layer, but they may have grounds to sue you if it does. Start your side gig Enjoy your freelancing side gig for whatever it is. A simple side hustle to bring in a bit of extra income. A lucrative past time to unleash your creative side. A toe dip in the water to see if the entrepreneurial life is for you. Or a stepping stone to your new career as a full-time home-based designer. If you are not already taking on design projects on the side, I highly encourage you to give it a try. Start slowly with small jobs for family and friends and then move on to acquiring real clients. I have a feeling that once you give it a go, you’ll be hooked. Are you running your design business part-time? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode. Questions of the Week Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page. This week’s question comes from Landon I was just wondering how you select a color palette for a website/brand. I'm aware of a boat-load of tools out there, but are there some rules of thumb I should keep in mind? To find out what I told Landon you’ll have to listen to the podcast. Resource of the week Coolors.co Coolors.co is a super fast colour schemes generator. Press the spacebar and create beautiful colour schemes that always work together. Coolors.co also allows you to pick colours from uploaded images. You can adjust and refine colours by temperature, hue, saturation, brightness and more. You can also save your pallets for easy future access. They also offer an IOS and Android app as well as an Adobe Add-on for Photoshop and Illustrator to display all your pallets in your programs. Listen to the podcast on the go. Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Spotify Listen on Android Listen on Stitcher Listen on iHeartRadio Contact me I would love to hear from you. You can send me questions and feedback using my feedback form. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram I want to help you. Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com
How to politely turn away clients Are you afraid to be stuck with a client from hell? If so, knowing how to turn away clients politely is a skill you better learn. In the last episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I shared 12 red flags for spotting bad design clients. You should be familiar with them before continuing to read. Unfortunately, spotting a bad client is only half the battle. The next hurdle is turning them away. I go into much more detail in the podcast. For the full story be sure to listen. But what if you're wrong about a client? They may have raised one or more red flags, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't have turned out to be a great client after all. Just in case you have the opportunity to work with them again someday, you need to turn away clients in a way that doesn’t burn any bridges. Script templates you can use to turn away clients. Feel free to copy, use and reword these script templates whenever you need to turn away clients. Just be sure that your final draft is as polite as possible and that you don't insult the client. After all, you never know what the future holds. Clients you want to avoid. In most cases, this first script will be all you need. From the red flags I shared in the last episode, this one covers clients with a bad reputation, clients with inconsistent communications, clients who complain about previous designers, those who flirt with you and clients who for whatever reason, give you a bad feeling. All of these fall under clients you want to avoid. The best way to avoid going any further with them is to send them a message like this. Dear (client’s name) Thank you for considering me (or your business name) for your (insert kind of design project here). It sounds like an exciting project. Regrettably, due to my current workload, I am not taking on any new projects at the moment. Thanks again for considering me (or your business name). I wish you success with your (insert project name). Regards, (insert your name) That’s it. That’s all you need to say. Politely tell the client you are unable to take on new projects at this time and you wish them the best. No other excuses or explanations are required. If the client asks when you will be available for new projects, tell them your work calendar is full for the foreseeable future. Client rudely challenges your fee. Challenging your fee is expected. It's called negotiation. However, when a client starts to get rude or obnoxious about it, you need to remove yourself from the situation with a message like this one. Dear (client’s name) Thank you for considering me (or your business name) for your (insert kind of design project here). I know my (fee/rate/price) is not for everyone. I’ve spent many years developing my craft as a designer, and I’ve positioned my fees to reflect the level of service I provide to my clients. I understand you are looking for something in a lower price range. Perhaps you can contact (insert list of designers who may take on the project). I believe (he, she or they) may be able to help you where I cannot. I wish you success with your (insert project name) Regards, (insert your name) If you don’t want to provide a name or list of designers, you could switch paragraph three to this. I understand you are looking for something in a lower price range. I believe you would be better served by a designer whose services are not as involved as mine are. This paragraph reaffirms that your prices are higher for a reason. Should the client not be satisfied with another designer they may return and accept your higher rates. A client wants you on call 24/7 or to micromanage you. This client still has potential. If you don’t want to work with them, you can use the first script above. However, if you wish to try and save this client but curb their overbearing ways, you may want to try something like this. Dear (client’s name) Thank you for considering me (or your business name) for your (insert kind of design project here). It sounds like an interesting project that I would love to work on with you. Before we get started I’d like to share how I operate. My business hours are (insert your working hours). I expect all communications between us to be via email or phone during my business hours. All correspondence regarding your design project is to be by email. Email documents our communications, so we each have a record of what we discussed in case we need to refer to it in the future. I will try to respond to email promptly. I am reachable by phone during my business hours. However, I do not accept any project changes, updates or approvals over the phone. Any changes or approvals must be sent by email. If you would like to move forward with this project let me know and I will forward you my contract. Thanks again for considering me (insert client’s name) as your designer. Warmly, (insert your name) Include other vital points such as how often you provide updates or how many revisions you allow. Stating these things up front gives you grounds to part ways with the client should they not oblige. If they agree to these terms, be sure to repeat all of them in your contract. That way, if they do start to become overbearing, you can refer back to the agreed upon document. A client doesn’t want to partake in your discovery process. A client who doesn’t want to partake in discovery is not only dismissing your abilities as a designer, but they are doing themselves a disservice by not providing you with everything you need to do your job. A message like this one may help. Dear (client’s name) Thank you for choosing me (or your business name) for your (insert kind of design project here). Design is more than a pretty image or layout. When done right, design solves a problem. The possible problems I’m facing with your (insert project) are (list possible problems). To pinpoint your exact problem and come up with the perfect design solution, I need to find out everything I can about you, your company, and your clients. Only then can I create a design that will work for your needs. To accomplish this I go through what’s called a discovery process in which I ask you questions that I need you to answer honestly. Only then, once I get to know you and your business will I see the direction your project will need to take. Let me know when you will be available to talk. Regards (insert your name) A client wants you to steal or copy another designer’s work. In a case when this happens, and it will happen at some point in your career, you should educate the client on why you cannot do what they are asking with a message like this one. If they still insist your only option is to walk away. Dear (client’s name) Thank you for considering me (or your business name) for your (insert kind of design project here). Regrettably, I am not able to take on your project as described. What you are asking of me not only breaks copyright law but it infringes on ethical standards. Designers are skilled professionals who deserve to be paid for their expertise. You are asking me to steal the work of another designer and pass it off as my own. This I will not do. What I can do for you is create something unique that will represent you in the best possible way. If you wish to discuss this possibility further, please contact me. Thanks again for considering me for your design project. Sincerely, (insert your name) A client doesn’t want to sign a contract. A client not wanting to sign a contract is a terrible sign. You must insist on a signed document before any work is to start. Sending them an email like this may help. Dear (client’s name) Thank you for choosing me (or your business name) for your (insert kind of design project here). I’m really excited to start working on it. I’m just waiting for you to sign the contract before any work can begin. Once I receive the signed agreement I can start working on it. Thanks again for choosing me (insert client’s name). Regards, (insert your name) A client wants you to work for free, on spec or for exposure. It's too bad that some people don't believe designers are worth paying. The best you can hope for is to educate them enough that they change their ways. Dear (client’s name) Thank you for considering me (or your business name) for your (insert kind of design project here). It sounds like an exciting project. Regrettably, without proper monetary compensation, I will not be able to take it on. I’ve spent years developing my skills as a designer and although I appreciate the offer of (insert their offer of exposure, references, a portfolio piece.). However, such offers are a gamble, and there’s no way to guarantee the sustainability of my business by taking it on. I’m sure you can appreciate that just like any other profession, I use my expertise as a designer to make a living. I cannot do that if I am not compensated financially for the work I provide. Thanks again for considering me (insert client’s name). I wish you success with your (insert project name) Regards (insert your name) Build your client list Dealing with clients like the ones mentioned above is frustrating. The good news is there are a far greater number of clients who appreciate you and your talents. Over time you will build a list of great clients with whom you'll enjoy working. Appreciate them and build relationships with them. By doing so, you will ensure a happy and successful design career. Do you have a script to turn away clients? Do you have your own scripts you use to turn away clients in any of the above-mentioned situations? Please share them with me by leaving a comment for this episode. Questions of the Week Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page. This week’s question comes from Audry My question is regarding logos and what files sizes to give to clients. I understand the file types (PDF, SVG etc.), but just don't know which ones to provide a client that doesn't know ahead of time where their logos will be placed. So how can I be safe and provide them with all the right sizes and file types they'll ever need? I just want to make sure I cover all the necessary formats for where it could possibly be going (pens, letterheads, vehicle wraps, billboards, etc.). To find out what I told Audry you’ll have to listen to the podcast. Resource of the week Porkbun.com Porkbun.comis a great place to purchase speciality domains. You can purchase standard domains such as .com and .net at Porkbun.com but they specialize in domains such as .art, .boutique, .consulting, .gallery, .marketing, .photography or .photos plus many more. Porkbun.com prides themselves on being the #1 ranked registrar for lowest registration and renewal prices. On top of low prices, every Porkbun.com domain also comes with Free WHOIS Privacy and Free SSL Certificates making them an even better deal. I own several .design domains and if you would like to own one I highly suggest you give Porkbun.com a try. Listen to the podcast on the go. Listen on Apple PodcastsListen on Spotify Listen on StitcherListen on AndroidListen on Google Play MusicListen on iHeartRadio Contact me I would love to hear from you. You can send me questions and feedback using my feedback form. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram I want to help you. Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com
Freelancer or Design Studio, which is best for your home-based business? I talk a lot on the Resourceful Designer podcast about running a home-based design business. In fact, it’s why I started the podcast in the first place. Like my catchphrase says, I’m doing this to help designers like you streamline your business so you can get back to what you do best, designing. I’ve covered many topics in the previous 124 episodes over the past few years. Things like pricing strategies, attracting new clients, coping with the isolation when working from home and many more. However, I’ve never talked about what options you have in the type of design business you run. Deciding what type of home-based business you run is important because the direction you take could determine the kind of clients you attract and the growth of your design business. Including how much money you can potentially make. The options I’m talking about are whether you define yourself as a Freelancer or Design Studio. There is a third option available, a Design Agency. The reason I’m omitting Design Agency is that by definition, a Design Agency is made up of several people, all with different talents working on all aspects of client projects and usually all working under one roof. Perhaps you fit that category, but as I stated earlier, Resourceful Designer was created to help home-based designers, and I don’t think many home-based designers run agencies. That leaves two options, Freelancer or Design Studio Calling yourself a Freelancer According to dictionary.com, a Freelancer is a person who sells work or services by the hour, day, job, etc., rather than working on a regular salary basis for one employer. Cambridge Dictionary defines Freelancer as someone who works on different projects with different companies instead of being a company employee. And finally, Merriam-Webster says a Freelancer is a person who pursues a profession without a long-term commitment to any one employer I’ve never called myself a Freelancer. I’ve always found the term derogatory and noncommital. I always viewed the term as a kind of fly-by-night thing where the client will never be sure if the Freelancer will be there for them. Remember the Merriam-Webster definition was someone who pursues a profession without a long-term commitment. Not to mention my business is registered, so in a roundabout way, I can say that I’m an employee of my own company, therefore, as an employee, I cannot be a Freelancer. But that’s neither here nor there. For this article, a Freelancer is merely a one-man band when it comes to design services. As a Freelancer, you are everything from an art director, to a designer, to a coder, to handling accounts receivable and payable, etc. You do it all, and there’s nothing wrong with that. When I first started my own home-based design business, I did precisely that. I handled everything. I was a one-man band. And if I didn't think I could do something in a project, I didn’t take on the job. Defining yourself as a Freelancer, meaning it’s just you, limits the type of clients you can take on by the skills and services you offer. If you’re not a web designer, you don’t take on web clients and vice versa. Freelancers tend to attract smaller clients such as Start-Ups or the "quick" clients. Those who call you up and need something done this week, or worse yet, they need it tomorrow. The average freelance designer takes on clients and jobs in the $500-$5000 range. Calling yourself a Design Studio Remember above when I said a Design Agency is made up of multiple people working together under one roof? A Design Studio is similar to an agency in that is offers a wide variety of skills and services, but some of those skills and services come from third-party contractors. As a Design Studio, you still run your home-based design business like a Freelancer does, however, rather than offering a full range of services under one roof like an agency, you subcontract the parts of a project that you can’t or don’t want to handle yourself. Things like photography, coding, copywriting, illustration, etc. Being a Desing Studio allows you to take on larger clients with more significant projects and spread out the work to get jobs done more efficiently. With a Design Studio, everything is processed through your business and clients deal directly with you instead of dealing with multiple businesses. You take on the role of art director and manage the subcontractors working on the projects with you. Design Studios tend to attract small to mid-sized companies as clients. Companies that may have a marketing department but don’t have an in-house creative team. The Design Studio acts as their creative team. Clients seeking Design Studios often have budgets ranging from $5,000-$20,000 or more. Freelancer or Design Studio, what’s right for you? Choosing between a Freelancer or Design Studio is a matter of choice. The difference between the two is your willingness to work with subcontractors to complete design projects. Neither Freelancer or Design Studio is a more favourable choice. I ran my business as a Freelancer (even though I don’t use that term) for several years before switching models and redefining as a Design Studio. I still do most design work myself. But I now have a list of illustrators, copywriters, coders, etc. that I can call upon should I need their skills and talents for a project. I don't suggest one option as being better for you over the other. It’s entirely up to you how you run your business. If you’re fresh out of school or still new to the industry, maybe you want to work as a Freelancer for a while until you get the hang of things. Perhaps you don’t want the extra responsibilities of overseeing subcontractors. That’s OK. Many designers spend their entire career working as Freelancers. If you are comfortable handling larger projects and directing various people to complete specific tasks then maybe a Design Studio is right for you. This article is simply to give you an idea of what’s possible depending on how you define what you do. So are you a Freelancer or a Design Studio? Do you consider yourself a Freelancer or Design Studio? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode. Questions of the Week Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page. This week’s question comes from Allison Hello, I love your podcast and have enjoyed getting some great advice on my freelance business from it. I was wondering if you had any recommendations for font subscriptions. Fonts are so expensive, I don't know how designers can afford to purchase so many unique fonts and was wondering if a font subscription would be the way to go. To find out what I told Allison you’ll have to listen to the podcast. Resource of the week Sharpen.design This week's resource was shared with me by Resourceful Designer listener Naomi. It's the website https://sharpen.design. Sharpen.design produces random design prompts to challenge you to think outside the box. With over a million possibilities you are sure to find an interesting project you can tackle to grow your skills and portfolio. This website is an excellent resource for students or anyone new to the design industry who needs ideas of what they can design. Give it a try. Listen to the podcast on the go. Listen on Apple PodcastsListen on Spotify Listen on StitcherListen on AndroidListen on Google Play MusicListen on iHeartRadio Contact me I would love to hear from you. You can send me questions and feedback using my feedback form. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram I want to help you. Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com
What's in a title? Since the inception of the design industry we designers have struggled with what title to give ourselves. I started my career calling myself a Graphic Artist. Later I changed to Graphic Designer and stuck with it until just recently when I took on the title of Design Consultant. Even though the bulk of my work these days is web design I’ve never called myself a Web Designer unless I paired it with Graphic Designer. As in, I'm a Graphic/Web Designer. In my experience, the title Graphic Designer encompasses a broad array of work, possibly including web design. However, the title Web Designer limits you skill wise to only web design. Graphic Designer and Web Designer are but two of the many titles designers call themselves. Some others include; Creative Designer Visual Designer Visual Artist Artistic Designer Communication Designer Multimedia Designer Commercial Artist Commercial Designer As well as some more focused titles such as; Logo Designer Brand Identity Designer Motion Designer Video Designer Package Designer UX or UI Designer Shouldn't your work be more important than your title? I always thought the title you used wasn't as important as your portfolio of design work. After all, isn't that why clients hire you? Then something happened recently, and I realised how people perceive you based on the title you use. For the longest time, whenever I would meet someone new and our conversation would inevitably turn to what we did for a living. I would answer the question saying I’m a Graphic Designer. The most often reply to this is, “what sort of things do you design?” To which I would go into my long-practised routine of telling them that I design everything from logos, business cards, posters, magazine ads to websites and online advertising etc. Most of the time the response I would get would be something along the lines of “That sounds interesting” before whoever I was talking to quickly changed the subject. Sure, on some occasions the person was interested and ask me to elaborate. Sometimes those conversations would lead to a proposal and maybe even a design project. But most of the time the discussion about what I did for a living just stopped there. The effects of calling myself a Design Consultant. A few months ago, I was at a local gathering, and I met someone who asked me that oft-asked question, what do you do for a living? Instead of my standard response of "I'm a Graphic Designer", for some reason, on a whim, I told them I was a Design Consultant. The reaction I received was noticeably different than previous encounters. Instead of asking what type of things I designed, the person asked what a Design Consultant does. I quickly made up an elevator pitch on the spot. I told him I help businesses fine-tune their brand strategy through the proper use of graphic and web design which helps them attract more clients. To find out more about elevator pitches and how mine has evolved since that meeting, listen to episode 116 of Resourceful Designer  After blurting out the random title of Design Consultant and giving an impromptu elevator pitch, the person took me by surprise by asking how much I charge for a design consultation. I wasn't prepared for that question so I blurted out the first thing that popped into my head. $200 for a 1-hour session. The guy handed me a business card and asked when I was available to meet to go over his company's brand strategy. To make a long story short. I set up a meeting to go over his company's brand identity and current marketing material. He’s now hired me to not only refresh his website and print material but to act as a design advisor to ensure he keeps on track with his brand strategy going forward. I genuinely believe I landed this client because of the title I gave him when he asked me what I did for a living. My new title as Design Consultant is not a fluke. Since that day, I've been using the title of Design Consultant, and I've discovered that what transpired with that gentleman is repeatable. Every new client I’ve met with since then has agreed to my fee to meet with them and go over what could work for their business. The best part is, clients are now interested in discussing their entire brand strategies, not just logos, business cards and websites. We examine everything including uniforms, vehicle colours, office decorations and more. Things that are not graphics or web related, but do play a part of their overall brand strategy. For me, this translates into clients with bigger initial budgets. In fact, since implementing my new title, I’ve landed clients with bigger starting budgets than most clients I've worked with in the past. Weeding out undesirable clients. Another benefit of calling myself a design consultant and charging a consultation fee for our initial meeting is it weeds out clients that would otherwise take up my precious time. I’ve had a few people say they can’t afford my consultation fee. If they can’t afford my consultation fee then they certainly can’t afford my design rates. An added benefit for me. Something I had not foreseen is people that want to hire me just for the consultation. I’ve had a few people hire me just to get my advice on what they can do themselves to help their brand. These are people who don't have a budget to hire a professional designer but still want to know the best way to build their brand. It’s a win-win for me. Since changing my title, every person I’ve met with has paid me. Not all of them have become clients, but I was paid for the consultation regardless. Will calling yourself a Design Consultant grow your design business? I would love to say outright that yes, changing your title will grow your design business but that would be naive on my part. I know I have almost 30 years of experience behind me and I have a lot of confidence when talking to people. Both of which help me sell people on hiring me as a design consultant. If you have the experience, knowledge and confidence to be a design consultant then maybe it will work for you as well. If you're not at the point in your career where you can pull this off, you should keep it in mind for the future. Maybe, down the road, you'll be ready to take your design business to the next level by offering your services as a design consultant. What title do you use? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode. Questions of the Week Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page. This week’s question comes from Laurie Hello! I love your podcast By the way, you came to me at the perfect time as I just became an LLC running my own graphic design business. I had a question about the non disclosure agreement episode. I have a graphic design agreement done but is an NDA recommended? To find out what I told Laurie you’ll have to listen to the podcast. Resource of the week Resourceful Designer Facebook Group I would love to see you in the Resourceful Designer Facebook Group. Join many designers just like you as we share our experiences of running a design business. It doesn't matter at what level of your career you're at I would love to have you as a member. Be sure to answer the three question that pops up after clicking the join button. See you on Facebook! Listen to the podcast on the go. Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Spotify Listen on Stitcher Listen on Android Listen on Google Play Music Listen on iHeartRadio Contact me I would love to hear from you. You can send me questions and feedback using my feedback form. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram I want to help you. Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com
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Podcast Details

Started
Sep 30th, 2015
Latest Episode
Jul 13th, 2020
Release Period
Weekly
No. of Episodes
228
Avg. Episode Length
34 minutes
Explicit
No

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