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Resourceful Designer

Updated 4 days ago

Arts
Business
Design
Entrepreneurship
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Wouldn't it be nice if you could spend more time designing and less time worrying about your design business? Resourceful Designer offers tips, tricks and resources for freelancers in order to help streamline your graphic design and web design business so you can get back to what you do best… Designing! Let me know what topics you would like me to cover by emailing feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Read more

Wouldn't it be nice if you could spend more time designing and less time worrying about your design business? Resourceful Designer offers tips, tricks and resources for freelancers in order to help streamline your graphic design and web design business so you can get back to what you do best… Designing! Let me know what topics you would like me to cover by emailing feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

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90 Ratings
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Like Having a Mentor!

By MissRgray - Feb 27 2019
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Mark, thank you so much for this podcast. I just branched out on my own, full time, as a graphic designer. Your podcast has been invaluable in the information given, as well as being a motivating virtual “business meeting”! As a social person, getting motivated in the morning when I work for myself from home is difficult. Your podcast inspires me and gets me on the right track every day. I also love getting to learn from your experience so that I don’t have to learn as much from trial and error. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise!

Amazing podcast!

By Jared Macias - Nov 11 2018
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I’ve learned so much with this great podcast always turn it on while I drive to work.

iTunes Ratings

90 Ratings
Average Ratings
87
2
0
0
1

Like Having a Mentor!

By MissRgray - Feb 27 2019
Read more
Mark, thank you so much for this podcast. I just branched out on my own, full time, as a graphic designer. Your podcast has been invaluable in the information given, as well as being a motivating virtual “business meeting”! As a social person, getting motivated in the morning when I work for myself from home is difficult. Your podcast inspires me and gets me on the right track every day. I also love getting to learn from your experience so that I don’t have to learn as much from trial and error. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise!

Amazing podcast!

By Jared Macias - Nov 11 2018
Read more
I’ve learned so much with this great podcast always turn it on while I drive to work.

Listen to:

Cover image of Resourceful Designer

Resourceful Designer

Updated 4 days ago

Read more

Wouldn't it be nice if you could spend more time designing and less time worrying about your design business? Resourceful Designer offers tips, tricks and resources for freelancers in order to help streamline your graphic design and web design business so you can get back to what you do best… Designing! Let me know what topics you would like me to cover by emailing feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

4 Organization Strategies To Help You As A Designer - RD154

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Do you have an organization strategy?

I was recently leafing through an old business magazine from the early 2000s, and I came across an article on organization skills. Specifically, organization skills to help you regain control over your schedule, your environment and your life. Although this article wasn’t about design, I found a lot of what it said still applies to today’s businesses and us as designers.

Here's my spin on the article with some of my knowledge to bring you four basic organization principles to help you as a designer.

Clear out the clutter

In today's society, it's not uncommon to feel overloaded. We deal with too much stuff. Too many obligations, too many tools and resources, too much information. Clearing out the clutter means doing away with anything that is unnecessary. Clutter takes up time, space, energy and money.

Make yourself a plan to clear out as much clutter from these areas as you can. Tackle them one at a time and free yourself.

A place for everything

The number one reason for clutter is not having a set place for stuff. In order to be organized, you need to have a system in place to organize your things. That may be hanging file folders in a drawer, a file cabinet or even a cardboard storage box.

It also means having an organization strategy for your client files and folders on your computer. Whatever it is, having a clearly designated area for your “stuff” will make it more likely that your “stuff” will end up where it belongs. And when stuff is where it belongs, it will make it much easier and faster to find it in the future. That’s the time-saving part of an organization strategy.

Develop systems

I talked about organizing your “stuff” but what about your time? You can go about your daily activities in one of two ways. You can either do things randomly, meaning you have to figure out how to do things each and every time you do them. Or, you can work systematically, where you have a set way of doing those things each time you need to do them.

Systems can apply to any activity you do, from designing logos or websites to invoicing clients, to collecting your tax information at the end of the year. When you have systems in place, you end up spending less energy figuring out how to do things. Instead, it becomes automatic.

I have a system I follow for building websites. It’s a step by step list of everything I need to do in order to set things up to get started, such as installing Wordpress and plugins. Laying out the structure of the website. Figuring out the content of each page, putting those pages together, and finally testing the site to make sure everything is hunky dory.

When you have systems in place, you can spend your time and effort focused on completing the task instead of figuring out how to do the task. Which in turn allows you to finish it much more quickly.

Review and revise your systems

Having systems in place is wonderful. They definitely help you become more organized. Providing they are still effective.

If you are using the same organization systems you put in place 5 years ago there’s a good chance they are not as effective as they were and they could actually be impeding you.

Don’t fall in the rut of doing things only out of habit just because it’s how you’ve been doing them for so long. Every once in a while you should ask yourself these three questions about your familiar routines.

1) Does it even need to be done? Don’t let “busywork” dictate your time just because it’s a habit.

2) Is this something that needs to be done by you? Can it be deligated?

3) Is this the most efficient way to do this? Is there an easier or quicker way?

Get your life in order and you’ll not only be happier, but you’ll be more productive. And if you’re more productive, there’s a good chance your business will grow.

Develop good organization strategies.

What's your organization strategy?

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 Antonio

Hi Mark, I’m studying graphic and web design. I’m from Spain and I start to listen your podcast for homework. After so many years in the business, what advice would you give to someone who is just starting in the industry?

To find out what I told Antonio you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week Securitycheckli.st

Securitycheckli.stis an open source checklist of resources designed to improve your online privacy and security. Check things off to keep track as you go.

It covers interesting things such as how to encrypt your text messages — reviewing your social media privacy settings — reviewing permissions such as location services and even your camera setting.

Mar 04 2019

25mins

Play

Creating A Contingency Plan For Your Design Business - RD173

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Have you thought of your contingency plans?

[sc name="smartpress" ]So you're running a graphic design business. You're plugging away day after day, week after week, engaging with clients and designing amazing things for them. Life is great, and you’re living the dream. But what if the unexpected happened? Are you prepared?

What would you do in the event of a national disaster that destroys your home? What would you do if all of a sudden, without any warning, you lose all your office equipment?

What would you do if something happened to a loved one and you had to drop everything for who knows how long to be by their side?

What if you were hit by a car on the way home from the grocery store and end up in the hospital for several weeks. What would you do?

Any of these events could happen and prevent your business from functioning. That’s where a contingency plan comes into play.

What is a Contingency Plan?

The easiest way to define a contingency plan is to refer to it as a “plan B” for your business in the event of a setback. A contingency plan creates a clear path, a course of action to get your business through a hardship.

All of the scenarios I described above are pretty harsh, but a contingency plan doesn’t have to be. It just needs a bit of time and foresight to prepare. Here are some steps to help you with yours.

Identify triggers that could affect your design business.

Imagine different scenarios that could affect your business. I’ve shared a few with you already, but there could be many more. Each situation will require it’s own contingency plan.

  • What will you do if you lose your office or all your equipment?
  • What will you do if a loved one requires you and you can’t work?
  • What will you do if you are incapacitated and cannot work?
  • What will you do if a trusted contractor suddenly disappears?
  • What will you do if your electricity goes out or the internet goes down?
  • What will you do if, for one reason or another, your business has a setback?

You need to identify these triggers before you can figure out a plan to cope with them. Discuss this with family and friends; they may think of something you haven’t.

Create a contingency plan for each trigger.

Once you identify the various triggers that could impact your design business, the next step is to figure out what actions you will need to take to get over the hurdles.

No one’s contingency plans are identical, but there are a few things you should consider including in yours.

  • Your plan to notify clients of your situation.
  • Your plan to deal with approaching deadlines you can no longer meet.
  • Your plan to reach out to fellow designers if you need someone to take over a project for you.
  • Your plan to acquire new equipment for your office if it needs replacing.

Set a timeline to help you carry out your plans. What steps will you need to take in the hours, days and possibly weeks after your contingency plan is triggered?

Who to involve.

If you have business partners, they should be involved in the creation of your contingency plan since your absence affects them. Make sure they have all the information they need to handle your side of the business until you are back.

In the event of an emergency, you should have someone you can trust to contact your clients on your behalf and inform them of the situation. The last thing you want to be doing during an emergency is talking to clients.

Protecting yourself before anything happens.

There's already enough to worry about with whatever scenario you’re dealing with, and the last thing you need is more hardship that could affect your business. Protect yourself as best you can by setting the following in place beforehand.

Protect yourself in your contract.

You should have a clause in your contract that states any natural disasters, acts of god or family emergency that affects your ability to fulfil your end of the agreement automatically negates the contract. You can also offer a full refund to the client should you need to enforce this clause.

Insurance to cover your office equipment.

You probably have home/tenant insurance to protect your dwelling but does it adequately protect your business assets if you are running a home-based design business? Most home insurance companies will reimburse you for the value of your loss, not the amount it will cost to replace that loss. The money you will receive from the loss of a five-year-old computer will not be enough for you to purchase new equipment. Talk to your insurance company and see if you can include a rider on your policy that will reimburse you the current replacement costs of your losses.

Emergency Line of credit.

A line of credit can help you purchase new equipment or replace lost income due to an unforeseen business shutdown. A line of credit will allow you to pay your bills and make any needed purchases while you are waiting for insurance money to arrive.

Off-Site Backup.

In the event of a natural disaster or theft, and off-site backup is crucial for maintaining your client and personal files. Services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Backblaze are essential for all home-based design businesses.

Safety deposit box.

A Safety deposit box is useful for storing backup drives and essential documents about your business. And you can claim it as a tax write-off.

Create your contingency plans

Creating contingency plans for something you hope never happens is not fun, but if you take the time to plan for the worst, it could mean the difference between your business failing or your business surviving in the aftermaths of whatever unforeseeable event you face.

Think about the various events that could affect your design business and come up with your contingency plans to get through them.

Do you have contingency plans for your design business?

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 Kristy

Before I went off on my own, I used to work as an in-house designer at a local print shop. I got along very well with everyone except one person who would continually go out of his way to cause huge problems for both myself and others. After I left, there was apparently a huge fight between him and the boss and he ended up walking out. Now, he is asking if I still do design work and if can design business cards for him. I need a polite way to tell him that I absolutely do not want to work with him in any capacity that will hopefully end the conversation without further discussion. Thanks in advance!

To find out what I told Kristy you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week Amazon Prime Day

If you are searching for equipment for your design business, Amazon Prive Day offers the perfect opportunity to acquire what you need at a discounted rate.

Here's a list of just a few of the items you may be interested in.

[easyazon_link keywords="computer monitors" locale="US" tag="resourcefuldesigner-20"]Computer Monitors[/easyazon_link]

[easyazon_link keywords="USB 3 Hubs" locale="US" tag="resourcefuldesigner-20"]USB 3 Hubs[/easyazon_link]

[easyazon_link keywords="phone charging cables" locale="US" tag="resourcefuldesigner-20"]phone charging cables[/easyazon_link]

[easyazon_link keywords="Printer ink" locale="US" tag="resourcefuldesigner-20"]Printer ink[/easyazon_link]

Note: Resourceful Designer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon products.

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 TwitterFacebook 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

Jul 15 2019

36mins

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12 Random Graphic Design Tips - RD061

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Here are 12 random graphic design tips to improve your business.

I'm trying a different approach to this week's podcast. Instead of talking about a single subject related to running your home-based graphic design business, I'm going to share 12 random graphic design tips with you. Even if you already know these tips, I'm hoping that talking about them will jog your memory and get you thinking about them again.

Here is an outline of the graphic design tips I cover on this episode. For the full discussion be sure to listen to the podcast.

Tip 1: Find the real deadline

When a client tells you there's a deadline to submit artwork to a third party, you should contact that third party to find out how strict their deadline is. In most cases, those deadlines have been padded to accommodate potential problems with artwork submitted by non-designers. Since you are a professional designer they may allow you to submit the artwork at a later date.

Tip 2: Get the proper file you need

In last week's podcast episode I mentioned how to find and extract logos from PDF files from specific websites using Google's Advanced Search. This tip is simply to contact a company's head office for the files you need. It's much faster for you to talk to them than getting your client to do it.

If your client doesn't have a head office you could instead contact the sign company they used to make their storefront or to put their logo on their vehicle.

Tip 3: Get a client's honest opinion of a design

If you want a client's honest opinion on a design, show it to them in black and white. Showing it to them in colour could influence their opinion one way or another. Showing the design in black and while will allow them to look at the design itself. Once they are satisfied with the design you can move on to colourizing it.

Tip 4: Stop explaining things over and over

If you find yourself having to explain to clients over and over how to do things on their website's CMS you should think about recording short videos of the tasks. This way you only have to do it once and if the client forgets they can simply re-watch the video. To do this I use software on my Mac called ScreenFlow.

Tip 5: Deal with only one contact person

Keep a strict chain of command. When dealing with clients that are made up of a committee or a board, insist you deal with only one person from the group. If anyone else contacts you for any reason simply redirect them back to the contact person.

Tip 6: Set your own meeting schedule

Don't allow your clients to set the times for meetings. Instead, you should give them a few time options to choose from. A client will be less likely to cancel a meeting if it was set to your schedule. Plus, by setting the schedule you are letting your client know that you are in charge of this project, not them.

Tip 7: Get a leg up when meeting a new client

If you ever meet a client at a bar or restaurant to discuss work, insist on buying their drink and food. This will subconsciously put them in your debt and could help in their decision making regarding you and their project.

Tip 8: Quickly remove formatting from text

Sometimes when you copy text from a word processor into another program you may end up with some strange characters or coding. To eliminate this problem, open a plain-text email, paste the copied text into the email, then select and copy it again. All the strange characters or coding will now be removed.

Tip 9: Use Find/Replace to your full advantage

Find and Replace is an often overlooked powerhouse when it comes to formatting text. Learn the advanced techniques for this tool and you could save hours of mundane text formatting on future page layout projects.

Tip 10: Cover all bases with domain names

Suggest to clients that they register multiple variations of their domain name as well as multiple domain extensions and redirect them all to the one main domain they plan on using. For example; The Ant & Aardvark Club may use the domain antandaardvarkclub.com as their primary domain. But they should also register variations such as theantandaardvarkclub.com, antaardvarkclub.com, antandaardvark.com, antaardvark.com, etc. Good practice would be to also register the .net, .org. .ca and any other pertinent extensions for all variations of the domain.

Tip 11: Hijack competitors with variations of their domain names.

Similar to Tip 10: Look at competitor's domain names and register the variations yourself and point them towards your own website. If anyone types in one of the variations they end up on your site instead of your competition. Do the same for your client's sites.

Tip 12: Order extras or tag on orders for yourself.

If you are ordering anything for your client that you may find useful, order extra for yourself. For example, if your client ordered t-shirts printed ask the company to send you a couple of extra shirts without any printing.

You could also tag on personal orders with client orders to save yourself some money. If you design a postcard for a client, design a second one for yourself and order them together. Some printers will charge less when multiple orders are combined. Charge your client the regular price and use the discount for yourself.

Do you have any tips you would like to share?

Let me know your tips 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 Crystal

How do you schedule clients who are in different time zones? I have clients all over the United States and Canada, and none of them are in the same time zone as me. I find myself working late just to accommodate my clients who are 4.5 hours behind me. Is there a functional way that I can schedule my clients so I don't have to work until midnight?

To find out what I told Crystal you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week Awwwards.com

Awwwards.com is an inspirational site I use to see what innovations people are doing in web design. Awwwards.com states they're a meeting point, where digital design professionals from across the globe find inspiration, impart knowledge and experience, connect, and share constructive, respectful critiques. Give them a look the next time you want ideas for your next web project.

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

Feb 23 2017

1hr 6mins

Play

Clarifying Your Brand Message - RD186

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How do you answer the question, "What do you do for a living?"

Does this sound familiar? You meet someone for the first time, and they ask, "What do you do for a living?" and you reply that you’re a graphic designer or a web designer or a UX Designer or whatever form of designer you identify as. Then one of two things happen. The person you’re talking to replies with “that’s great” and then immediately changes the subject. Or, they show a mild interest and ask you to explain more. Perked up by the inquiry, you stumble through your repertoire that you design logos and websites and posters and brochures and t-shirts and tradeshow booths, etc. etc. etc.

Pretty soon, the person you’re conversing with is smiling and nodding with a glassy-eyed expression that indicates they regret asking you for more details.

That’s the problem with our industry. Most people have heard of designers, but unless they’ve dealt with one of us before, they have no idea what it is we do. And when they do find out, they quickly realize they don’t care.

Saying you’re a graphic designer is not the same as saying you’re a firefighter, or an electrician, or a dentist, or an accountant. All these professions have a distinct image in people’s minds. Sure, there are many different types of accountants, but regardless of what branch of accounting someone works in, most people understand that an accountant spends their day working with numbers. That's the acknowledged impression of who an accountant is.

But when it comes to designers. Most people don’t know what you do on a day to day basis, nor do they care. And the reason most people don't care is that most designers are not clarifying their brand message when it comes to presenting themselves.

The proper way to respond when someone asks you, "What do you do for a living?" is not to talk about yourself; instead, you should be talking about your ideal client and how you solve problems for them.

The idea for this topic came to me after reading an article on Medium titled Stop Calling Yourself A Freelancer, written by Andrew Holliday of Special Sauce Branding. If you’ve been following Resourceful Designer for a while, you’ll know that I don’t like the term freelancer, I find it demeans what we do as designers. The connotation behind the term freelancer is someone who is flighty and doesn’t take what they do seriously. I've never called myself a freelancer. I’m an entrepreneur, a business owner. And the business I chose is design.

While reading Andrew's article, I found myself agreeing with his statements, especially on how people perceive freelancers as interchangeable commodities. Then one part of his article jumped out at me. A section titled “Clarify Your Message.”

In his article, Andrew states that the easiest way to clarify your brand message, one that connects with your ideal client and doesn’t just sound like spewed blabber about yourself, is to write a brand script and memorize it.

And it’s so easy to write a branding script. All you have to do is complete these four sentences.

  1. My client is...
  2. They struggle with...
  3. I help them by...
  4. The one thing that makes me different is...

That’s all there is to it.

By completing these four simple sentences, you’ll have a script that provides structure for your business, your brand, AND all your marketing for your design business. It identifies your ideal client, it defines their problem, it solidifies your solution, and it states why you are the perfect design partner for them.

Now, maybe you’re thinking, “I'm not going to say all of that when someone asks me, "What do you do for a living?” and you’d be right not to. It’s overkill. This script is meant to clarify your brand message for YOU.

When it comes to the “What do you do for a living?” question, you need to simplify your script to a single sentence. As Andrew put it, it’s your brand one-liner.

Your brand one-liner is something you’ll be able to use on your website, your social media accounts, your marketing material, AND in every conversation you have where you talk about what you do. Especially when asked, “What do you do for a living?”

Here's how you shorten your script down to a single one-line sentence. You take what you composed for your four-line script and break it down to this.

I help __ to __.

For example, I help small businesses to grow their customer base with a strong brand image. Or, if you want to be a bit more creative, I help small businesses to clobber their competition with comprehensive sales funnels that drive sales through the roof.

Now those are conversation starters that are sure to peak interest, especially if the person you're talking to is a small business owner.

Once you have your brand one-liner figured out and memorized, you won’t be stumbling over an answer the next time someone asks you, “What do you do for a living?”

If you are interested, Andrew, who wrote the Medium article inspiring today's topic, has a worksheet to help you craft your brand script.

What's your brand one-liner?

Do you already have a brand one-liner, or are you now planning on writing one? Please share it in the comments 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 Pauline

How do you manage holidays/vacations, both in terms of responding to initial inquiries, and/or making progress on current projects?

To find out what I told Pauline, you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week BackBlaze

Never Lose a File Again with the World's Easiest Cloud Backup. Backblaze gives you peace of mind knowing your files are backed up securely in the cloud. Just set it up and forget about it. Backblaze works in the background and automatically backs up new and modified files.

With their Version History feature, Backblaze allows you to quickly revert to a previously saved version of files you have backed up. 30-days of Version History is available on all plans. For a small monthly fee, Version History can go back as far as 1-year or more.

The Map Your Computer feature allows you to track your computer via an IP address or even the ISP it's using. Perfect in the event your computer is misplaced or stolen. Coordinate with the police and get your hardware back.

Hard drive crashes are only one thing you need to worry about. Your files are also vulnerable to hardware theft and natural disasters such as floods, fires, earthquakes etc. With Backblaze, you can rest at ease, knowing your business files are safe no matter what happens. Backblaze works on Mac or PC and starts at just $55/year.

Oct 14 2019

25mins

Play

6 Mistakes Freelancers Make - RD144

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Avoid these common mistakes freelancers make.

To the uninitiated, running a design business sounds easy. You find clients, create designs for them, they pay you, repeat. Freelancers, however, know there is so much more to it than merely designing. And yet, even armed with that knowledge there are still several mistakes freelancers make when it comes to running their business.

1) Not using downtime productively 

One mistake freelancers make is not taking advantage of downtime. When things are slow, you should be using any spare time you have on something productive to advance your design business. 

Use downtime to:

  • Update your website
  • Attend networking events
  • Take a course/tutorial to learn a new skill
  • Experiment with your software

Use the time to grow your business and to make yourself a better designer. Just because you are not at a 9-5 job doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be putting in a full day worth of hours into your business.

2) Not building a team (copywriter, illustrator, VA)

In episode 77of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I talked about the importance of assembling a team around your business. To serve your clients, you should align yourself with people who have skills you don't or are more suited to performing specific skills than you are.

Your team can consist of:

  • Copywriters
  • Illustrators
  • Programmers
  • Developers
  • Translators
  • Social Media Experts
  • Photographers
  • Virtual Assistants
  • more

I made a mistake when I first started my business in thinking I needed to do everything myself. If I couldn’t do it, then I didn’t take on the project. I missed out on some great jobs and clients because the projects they presented me with were beyond my ability.

Then I learned that it’s ok to ask for help. Since then I’ve expanded my circle to include many talented people that allow me to offer services I couldn't provide if I were doing everything myself.

3) Not taking advantage of extra income opportunities

The bulk of a designers income should come from client design work. But many peripherals can earn you money as well. Things like:

  • Print brokering
  • Web hosting/maintenance
  • Selling design resources (Photoshop/Illustrator brushes, patterns, fonts, other design resources)
  • Merchandising (T-shirts, posters, etc.)
  • more

You’re a creative person. Put that creativity to work by looking around and finding innovative ways to supplement your income.

4) Not spending time working on your outreach when you're busy.

There are hills and valleys when it comes to running a design business. Some weeks you have barely anything to do, while other weeks you can’t believe how much work you have. To minimise this up, down, up, down effect you need to figure out how to fill in those valleys.

The problem is, most people wait until things start to get slow before trying to drum up new work. But the time to promote yourself is when you’re busy. When you're at the top of a "hill". If you do it right, you’ll drum up work while you’re busy that will fill in those valleys and even out the terrain for you, creating a much more balanced working life.

5) Not saving money

As a home-based designer, you probably don’t have a steady paycheque. Nor do you have any guarantees of how or when money will come in. If you do a good job on point number 4 and work on your outreach when you're busy you’ll minimise those slow times when money isn’t coming in, but that’s not a guarantee of income.

That’s why you should be putting aside a fixed percentage of all your income for those “just in case” or “What if” situation. You should be saving for those unexpected times when a "valley" stretches out longer than expected.

Start putting money aside for:

  • Slow Periods
  • Emergencies
  • Unexpected expenses
  • Known expenses (taxes, licences, etc.)
  • Time off (vacation, medical, etc.)
  • Retirement

There will come a time some day when you decide to stop, or you’re forced to stop working and then how will you provide for yourself?

6) Calling themselves Freelancer 

Long time listeners of the Resourceful Designer podcast know that I don't like the term Freelancer. Back in episode 17, I shared a story of a designer I know who missed out on a  job opportunity because she called herself a freelancer. The potential employer told me he was looking for someone who took the job more seriously than that.

He’s not alone. People often associate the term freelancer with temporary or in transition designers. Designers who are willing to work with you until something better comes along. You and I know that’s not the case. But that’s how many people in the business world, people who are your potential clients think about freelancers.

Consider this before deciding what to call yourself. A freelancer is a designer looking for a boss. If you imagine yourself working FOR your clients, then feel free to call yourself a freelancer. However, if you imagine yourself working WITH your clients, partnering with them to solve their design problems, then you are not a freelancer, you are a designer who runs your own design business. Don't sell yourself short.

Avoid these mistakes freelancers make

You already have enough on your plate. There's no need to cause yourself more stress. If you avoid these common mistakes freelancers make, and you'll be on your way to having a successful and fulfilling design business.

Are you guilty of making any of these mistakes?

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 Chris

Do you have any advice for those who are starting a business focused on 3D? Have you done much work with 3D artists? Do you know of any niches that a 3D graphic designer might pursue?

To find out what I told Chris you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Link to the article I mentioned in my answer.

Resource of the week iThemes

iThemes makes some of my favourite WordPress plugins and add-ons. Including BackupBuddy for managing site migration and backups. iThemes Security for keeping nefarious individuals out of your website. And iThemes Sync for managing multiple WordPress websites from one easy dashboard.

Until the end of 2018 iThemes is offering 40% off all of their products. Here's my affiliate link if you plan on purchasing.

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 TwitterFacebook 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

Dec 10 2018

32mins

Play

5 Things To Consider Before You Become a Freelance Designer - RD108

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Are you looking to become a freelance designer?

At one point or another, every designer wonders what it would be like to become a freelance designer.

Maybe you’re a student dreaming of tackling the world after graduation. Perhaps you’re an in-house designer tired of working 9-5 designing similar things for the same company year after year. Maybe you work for a design agency as part of a larger team of experienced designers, and you feel like you are not being used to your full potential.

Regardless of where you are in your design career, the thought of becoming a freelance designer, to run your own business from home, to be your own boss, might be something going through your head.

I’m a big advocate of freelancers. I’ve focused Resourceful Designer specifically on helping home-based designers. But I’m also the first person to say that not every designer is suited to freelancer life. That’s why I put together this list of 5 things you should consider before deciding to become a freelance designer.

Why do you want to become a freelance designer?

The first thing you need to ask yourself before handing in your resignation letter is why do you want to become a freelance designer?

Is it for the flexible schedule? Is it for the ability to choose your clients and projects? Is it for the tax write-offs? Is it for the ability to work in your pyjamas at any hour of the day? Is it simply to be your own boss?

Whatever your reasons, make sure they are good ones before you make the leap and start your design business.

Here are five things to consider before deciding to become a freelance designer. 1) How will you deal with the isolation of working from home?

Working from home can get lonely. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons designers give up the freelance life and go back to a 9-5 job. It’s a big enough issue that there's an entire episode of Resourceful Designer where I talk about coping with isolation when working from home.

Ask any home-based designer, and they will tell you that isolation is a real issue. If you are someone who enjoys talking face to face with colleagues throughout the day, it's something to keep in mind.

Before you decide to become a freelance designer make sure you can handle the loneliness that comes with being by yourself most of the time.

2) How good are you at time management?

When you are an employee, chances are someone is telling you, or at least directing you in what you need to do on a daily basis.

Once you become a freelance designer, you won’t have someone telling you what to do anymore. Some people see this as a benefit, but you need to make sure you are disciplined enough to not only create a work schedule for yourself but to stick to it.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. Not having a boss looking over your shoulder and keeping you in check can lead you astray.

Without someone making sure you’re working on what you are supposed to be working on when you're supposed to be working on it makes it very easy to get caught up on tangents. Before you know it, you’re spending way too much time on YouTube or Facebook, or succumbing to the temptation of that brand new season of your favourite show that just dropped on Netflix.

Make sure you know how to manage your time and make sure you know how to stick to a schedule, even one you made for yourself.

3) Can you plan for the future?

Running your own design business is not about the here and now. It’s about the future. When you are an employee, chances are there’s someone else worrying about the future of the business where you work. But when that business is your own, it’s your responsibility to ensure for your future.

No matter how good your clients are, or how big the projects your working on become, there is no guarantee they will still be around in a few months.

You need to be able to look ahead and prepare for slow times by continuingly looking for new projects and new clients to sustain your business.

A home-based designer’s life is full of ups and downs when it comes to projects. The trick is to minimize those downward curves by preparing ahead for them.

4) Can you be your own boss?

When you become a freelance designer, you don’t give up a boss. You become the boss. But are you boss material?

Are you able to keep yourself accountable to not only get the design work done but to handle the other day to day activities that running a business requires?

Designers thinking about freelancing don't often think about everything involved. Running your own design business is much more than just designing.

If you want to know what else is involved in running a home-based design business, listen to episode 38 of Resourceful Designer: The Many Hats Of A Home Based Graphic Designer.

5) How good are you at finances?

One of the many hats you will need to wear after you become a freelance designer is that of an accountant. Freelancing is not a financially stable profession. You don’t get a steady paycheck every week. Some months lots of money may come in and other months barely a cent. Especially when you first start off.

You need to be able to handle your income in a way that is sustainable for you. That means making sure that not only are you covering your bills but that you have enough saved up for those times when work is slow.

Is the freelance life for you?

Many designers think that life would be so much easier if they started their own design business. The truth of the matter is that freelancing is very difficult and requires a particular type of person to succeed at it. You might be that type of person. But ask yourself these five questions before you quit your job to become a freelance designer.

Do you have what it takes to become a freelance designer?

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 Shenai

I know some universities have classes that cover some of the legal issues with designing but mine did not offer this. If you have advise on when you should trademark designs, or other ideas of design protection - I would love to hear that episode! In a time where everyone is marketing themselves on social media, I have a huge fear of being ripped off and really don't know at what lengths to go to cover my bases.

To find out what I told Shenai you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week Coolors.co

This week's resource is the website Coolors.co. Coolors.co is a super fast and super easy way to create, save and share colour pallets for all your projects. Choose from a gallery of readily made pallets or create your own from scratch or based on some pre-selected colours.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe on Stitcher Subscribe on Android Subscribe 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.

Feb 15 2018

21mins

Play

Building The Perfect Design Portfolio - RD060

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What exactly is a design portfolio?

If you want to get super technical, a design portfolio is a flat case, preferably made of leather, that is used for carrying, drawings, artwork, photographs and other designs.

At some point in history, the paper contents of these flat cases took on the verbiage of the container and they too became know as an artist’s portfolio.

Nowadays, with the advent of online galleries and such, a design portfolio is simply a collection or a sampling of an artist’s work, regardless of the means or medium used to present them.

What is the purpose of a design portfolio?

Taking it down to it’s most fundamental level, a design portfolio is simply a way to say “look at me, see how great I am, you should hire me”.

A design portfolio is a way to showcase what you are capable of doing in the hopes of impressing potential clients to want to work with you.

Let’s face it. You may want to deny it, but deep down we all know, we designers are a conceded bunch. And that’s OK. If we didn’t think we were good enough we wouldn’t be in this profession. Nobody says “I don’t think I’m a good designer but I’m going to start a design business anyway” No! We’re all doing this because we believe we’re good at what we do, and we like having people confirm that assumption. Why else would we showcase our work for everyone to see? And what better confirmation than having a client hire us for a job.

We’re no different than the proud peacock displaying his plumage in the hopes of attracting a mate. We just do it to attract work.

That’s it, really, there are no other reasons to have a portfolio.

Do you need a design portfolio to be successful?

The short answer is no, you don’t. I use myself as an example. My own business website has been “Coming Soon” for several years now. During all that time I have not had a visible portfolio, and yet I’m running a very busy and successful design business mostly through word of mouth referrals.

In fact, during the past year, I can count on one hand how many times I was asked to provide samples of my work before a client hired me.

Could I attract more work with a visible portfolio? I’m sure I could. But I just want to point out that a design portfolio is not the be all and end all of your marketing efforts. It’s a great tool to have, but it’s only one of the many in your toolbox.

What goes into the perfect design portfolio?

I hear this question a lot. Especially from newer designers just entering the field. And it’s a valid question. Even if a portfolio isn’t a requirement to be successful, it sure does help to establish yourself, especially at the start of your career. And it can help you attract clients.

Whether you have a physical or a digital portfolio, and if you want my recommendation you should have both, the contents within should represent your best work. The culmination of your skills and talents.

But where does that work come from if you're new and don’t have any clients yet?

This answer is simple. It comes from anywhere and everywhere you can get it.

Remember when I said that a portfolio is a way of saying “look at me, see how great I am, you should hire me”? That means your design portfolio should contain things that showcase how good you are.

A portfolio shouldn’t be a showcase of “look who I’ve done work for”. Although there’s nothing wrong with name dropping well-known clients, providing the work is actually worth showcasing.

What potential clients are looking for when they look at your portfolio is whether or not you have the ability to help them. They’ll be able to judge that regardless if the samples you show are for real or fictional companies.

You see, the work within your design portfolio should display your diversity as a designer. It should demonstrate the skills you possess. It should show your knowledge of good layout, colour theory, and design technique.

It doesn’t matter if the work you’re showing was something you did for a client, something you made in school, something you did for fun for yourself, or something you designed specifically to go into your portfolio. As long as it demonstrates what you have to offer, it’s good.

And yes, you can showcase work you did while working for a previous employer as long as you don't have an agreement with them stating otherwise.

Showcase what you have, when you have it.

As your career progresses and you design newer and better things, you simply replace the older pieces in your portfolio with new ones. or in some cases age isn’t what matters, you replace your previous good designs with your newer great designs. It’s as easy as that.

Don’t go overboard with your design portfolio

The best design portfolios I see are the ones that are sparse in what they show.

When building your portfolio. Show only a handful of your best work in each category. Be confident in the few you display and keep a few more aside in case a client asks for them.

The worse thing you could do is to show too many samples. Showing a few samples invites the viewer to admire what you have to offer. Showing a large number of samples invites the viewer to criticise your work and find flaws in what you have to offer.

Keep it simple. I the client wants to see more let them ask for it and then tailor the extra samples specifically to their needs.

What to leave out of your design portfolio

Simply, don’t display anything you don’t want to do! If you don’t enjoy designing logos, then don’t include logos in your portfolio. If you’re not into web design then don’t display any websites you’ve created.

This should go without saying, but unfortunately, I see this all the time with new designers who include almost every school project in their portfolio regardless of their lack of desire to do many of them.

If you’re an artist who draws robots and science fiction scenes.  Don’t include the cutesy teddy bear drawing your mother guilted you into doing for your cousin Millie’s baby announcement. Because if you do, it’s almost guaranteed that’s the kind of work you’ll be asked to do.

What’s in your portfolio?

When was the last time you looked at your portfolio? Could it use updating? Have you designed anything really good lately that should be included? Why not take some time this week to go over it? It might just help land the next client that looks at it.

What are your thoughts on design portfolios? I’d love to hear about it. Leave me 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 Marselo

Can I Buy Adobe Photoshop outright? I want the Adobe software but honestly I am a bit lost with all the monthly payment options and extras that are offered. So what is the "common practice"? or what are most freelancers doing in general?

At the moment I am using Photoshop, Illustrator and Premier Pro but I ideally would like to buy all of them as you know we are continuously expanding and experimenting with new things as we never know what the future holds.

To find out what I told Marselo you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Tip of the week Google Advance Search

This is a simple little trick that has helped me out fo a jam many times over the years. If you find yourself in need of a certain company's logo and don't want to jump through hoops trying to get it. Use this trick. In the Google Search Bar type "site:companywebsite.com" followed by "filetype:pdf". What this does is return search results displaying all PDF files at that particular domain. Open the PDFs one at a time until you find one with a good looking logo (you can usually tell by zooming in). Download the PDF and open it in a program such as Adobe Illustrator. If you're lucky you will have a perfect vector logo you can use.

You can also accomplish this by visiting Google's Advance Search page, but I find simply typing the paramaters into the regular search bar is much faster.

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

Feb 16 2017

34mins

Play

Client Onboarding: Part 1 - The Process - RD160

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What is Client Onboarding?

Client onboarding is the process of turning potential clients into paying clients. It’s the process of introducing them to your business, addressing their questions and concerns, and ensuring they understand the services you offer and your processes while providing those services.

Onboarding is all the steps from the initial contact with the client until you start working on their design project. It’s your chance to explain to a client;

  • What they should expect from you.
  • What their part is in the relationship.
  • How communication between you should happen.
  • When and how you are to be paid.
  • And more

Over the next few episodes of the podcast, I’m going to dive into specific parts of the client onboarding process, but for today, I’m going to talk about the process as a whole.

Why is Client Onboarding important?

Let’s look at the process from two angles.

From the client's point of view:

The Onboarding process plays a vital part in building and nurturing the relationship between you and your client. It’s a way of ensuring you’re all on the same page when it comes to working together.

Clients don’t often know how partnering with a designer works. It’s nervewracking for them to trust you, someone they may not know, with this vital part of their business's future. With proper Client Onboarding, you give the client a glimpse of what it will be like working together and hopefully leave them feeling confident that they’ve made the right choice in hiring you.

For your point of view:

The Onboarding process is a way for you to grasp the scope of the project the client is presenting you with, as well as a chance to get to know the client. You learn their communication style which allows you to address any concerns you may have right at the start, so they don’t become problems later on. And it allows you to show the client your "plan of attack" for tackling their project, letting them know what you expect of them.

The onboarding process is also a great way to weed out potential bad clients. At this point, you have not agreed to anything with the client. Use this time to determine if they are someone with whom you want to work.

Finally, the onboarding process is a great opportunity for you to show the client just how awesome it will be to work with you, hopefully putting them at ease and solidifying in their mind that they’ve chosen the right designer.

To sum it up, Client Onboarding is all about keeping the client happy, because a happy client will come back for more. That’s how vital the onboarding process is.

Ignoring the process.

Client Onboarding is a process. As a process, it has a structure that over time you will become intimately familiar with and comfortable using. Once you get used to an onboarding process, you will find it much easier to land clients.

If you receive inquiries from potential clients but with very few of them converting into paying clients, then you need to evaluate your client onboarding process.

Whenever you meet a potential new client, you can’t just start throwing random information at them and expect them to come on board immediately. It’s overwhelming for them. And yet, that’s precisely the strategy many designers take. They give as much information as they can without taking the client’s point of view in mind, which is probably why they find client acquisition difficult.

Onboarding involves not only informing the potential client of what they need to know but listening to them and answering their questions and concerns. It’s about making the experience of hiring a designer as smooth as possible for them. If you don’t do it right, you’ll leave the client with the wrong impression, and the chances of them hiring you or coming back are slim. However, If you do it right, the client will come to believe that there is nobody else they want to work with but you.

Part of running a design business is being a salesperson. And as all good salespeople know, having a good onboarding process in place is half the battle to winning over clients.

When should Client Onboarding start?

The onboarding process should start as soon as a client reaches out to you. There are various steps to the onboarding process that I’ll cover in the next few episodes of the podcast. But just know that Client Onboarding is ongoing from the first contact until project start, and sometimes beyond.

Client Onboarding gives you direction.

Any time you start working with a client, both sides usually have a sense of enthusiasm towards the new project. Ideas go back and forward, people get excited and before you know it, decisions have been made without any form of direction.

Client Onboarding gives you that direction.

Part of the process is to create a schedule and a plan for the project. This allows you to set out roles by determining who will be doing what and when. How long the process should take and what is expected from all parties. This way nothing is left up in the air and there are no surprises. Design projects go so much smoother when everyone involved knows what to expect.

Managing client expectations.

I mentioned earlier how a lot of clients don’t know how partnering with a designer works. Onboarding can help alleviate this by managing client expectations.

Part of the Onboarding Process is to make sure clients know what they can expect, and also what not to expect from you when it comes to your processes and how you work. Take scope creep for example. It’s the bane of many designers. However, Most clients don’t realise the problem when they ask you to do “just one more thing.”

To prevent scope creep, outline your policies in the onboarding process and let clients know by;

  • Defining exactly what is involved with their project.
  • Explaining what is allowed and what isn’t allowed within that definition.
  • Letting them know the costs involved with additional work.
  • Making sure the client knows what they are paying for.

Setting them straight on the way you work and the processes you use is a key ingredient to a successful project and a long and prosperous relationship.

Show your clients why choosing you was the right choice.

Client Onboarding isn’t just about preventing potential problems. It’s also about showcasing what it is you can do and how much value you can bring them. This is important because, as I mentioned earlier, at this stage the client is excited to get their project started. That excitement lends well to you introducing other creative ideas and services to them. While they are most receptive take the opportunity to bring up other creative ideas or services you offer.

The results of good Client Onboarding.

When you’re successful with your client onboarding, you will not only increase the percentage of potential clients that convert to paid clients. But those clients will:

  • Stay with you longer and be more loyal.
  • Order more products and services from you.
  • Become ambassadors and advocate for your company and services. Spreading the word and helping you grow your design business.

And that’s why you should have a client onboarding process for your design business.

Do you have a client onboarding process in place?

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 Fanis

My name is Fanis, and I am from Greece.

By reading about Graphic Design process, I always turn out to the same issue. What if I live in an island and most of my projects are about tourism, like hotel brochures, maps, rental brochures etc.? How can I define my client goals and who may be my client competition?

To find out what I told Fanis you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

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.

Apr 15 2019

30mins

Play

Setting Your Hourly Design Rate - RD083

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What's your hourly design rate?

What you should charge as your hourly design rate is an often debated topic amongst designers. Everybody seems to have their own opinion as to how to calculate what you should charge. I guess I'm no different because on this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast I do just that. I give you my opinion of how you may want to choose your hourly design rate.

One of the biggest issues I see is designers undercharging for their services. They're either not confident enough in their skills and abilities and are afraid to charge a high enough fee. Or they feel they can't charge higher fees because they're only designing part time.

Regardless of how long you've been designing or the amount of time you currently spend designing you're probably not charging enough for your services, but that's the topic for another day.

Today I want to share why you need an hourly design rate and ways to determine the rate that's best for you.

Why you need an hourly design rate.

Even if you normally use project based or value based pricing you still need to know how much you are worth per hour. Even if it's just to know whether or not you are under or over charging on your projects.

You also need to know how much you're worth if someone asks you for your time. Perhaps as a design consultant. Without knowing your hourly rate how will you know what to charge for your time?

What determines your hourly design rate.

Your hourly design rate depends on many factors and differs for each designer. Where you live, what sort of clients you're going after, your experience, your skill all play factors in determining what you should charge.

Specializing in a niche can also play a factor. A designer who specializes in a certain industry should command higher prices than a designer not familiar with it.

All of these things should be taken into considering when determining what your hourly design rate will be.

Determining your hourly design rate.

Ok, here's the nitty gritty of it. Ways for you to determine exactly what you should charge per hour. You will need to decide which method, if any, is best suited to your situation.

Guess

It sounds crazy but guessing is actually a pretty popular method used by many designers. I'm not saying it's a good method, just that it's a popular one. Some designers simply pick a number out of thin air and use it as their hourly design rate. Most of the time the number they choose is much lower than they should be charging but guessing is a viable option for choosing.

Spy on your competition

Tried and true for generations, spying on your competition is an easy way to judge what the going market is for designers in your area. Simply call them up, or have a friend do it for you, and request quotes. Use those quotes to determine what they are charging and to set a baseline for your own pricing. Adjust as needed for experience and skill and then start hunting for clients.

Research industry averages

There are many organizations that compile design salaries around the globe. The AIGA and RGD are great resources in North America. Research what designer in your area are making and base your hourly rate to match.

Calculate your hourly rate

Probably the most accurate way to determine your hourly design rate is to calculate it yourself.

Add up all your expenses including general expenses and labour expenses, savings, etc.. Then estimate the number of billable hours you expect to work each week. Divide the first number by the second number to determine your hourly design rate.

For example:

Your monthly expenses including mortgage, utilities, car payment, fuel, groceries, medication, etc. = $4000/month A spending allowance for things like movies, restaurants, treats, etc. = $400/month Money you put aside in savings = $400/month Total $4800/month

Billable hours you want to charge per month = 80 (20/week) Remember that billable hours and working hours are two different things. You will only be able to bill for some of the hours you spend working each month.

Divide your monthly expenses by the number of billable hours to determine your hourly design rate.

$4800 ÷ 80 hours = $60 per hour.

In this example, the designer needs to charge $60 per hour and work a minimum of 20 billable hours per week in order to cover their expenses and savings.

Keep in mind that this is just a base and is intended to give you an idea of where to start. You do not need to use this number as your hourly design rate.

Your personal situation will also factor into this equation. If you're a student living with your parents you may not have as many expenses as someone renting or paying a mortgage.

What should you do?

I can't tell you which method is best for you. Only you can decide that. I can tell you that establishing an hourly design rate will help you regardless of whether or not you bill by the hour.

If you don't have one yet, I highly encourage you to determine your hourly rate as soon as possible.

How did you determine your hourly design rate?

Let me know your goals 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 Jonathan

I am looking to start a web design business while I am a full time employee. I've been doing a lot of research and wondering your thoughts on a sole proprietorship vs. llc. I feel like the business side of the business is preventing me from starting the business before it's even been made. I'm not completely sure its worth setting up an llc if I am starting a business on my free time. (ex: quarterly taxes) Any help you may have is greatly appreciated.

To find out what I told Jonathan you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week Screenflow

This week’s resource is something I've shared before, ScreenFlow screen recording software. It has helped me streamline my graphic design business so much that I have to share it again. Using ScreenFlow has saved me so much time and headaches. Instead of teaching clients how to use their new websites and then helping them again a month or so later when they’ve forgotten, now I just record a short instructions video showing them what to do. If they need a refresher or need to train someone new, they have access to the video and they don’t have to interrupt me for help. For that reason alone I highly recommend ScreenFlow.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe on Stitcher Subscribe on Android Subscribe 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

Aug 10 2017

49mins

Play

Are Updates Leaving You Behind? - RD182

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When was the last time you updated a piece of software?

Think about the last time you updated a piece of software. Whether it was an app on your phone, a website plugin or theme or an application on your computer. When you updated it, did you look at why it was being updated by reading the release or change notes?

There are three main reasons why a piece of software requires an update.

  1. Bug Fixes
  2. Security improvements
  3. New Features and Functionality

Do you know which of these reasons each update you perform is for, and why it was released?

We've been taught to update without thinking about the reason.

It’s become so easy these days to update software. Our phones have a convenient “Update All” button, so we don’t have to scroll and update each app individually. There are convenient services that allow you to manage and update multiple WordPress websites from a single dashboard. Even the software on your computer makes it easy. Most of the time, a popup will appear informing you of a new update and asking if you want to update the program right away or do it later. In some cases Later will happen in the background without you needing to be there.

What added new features and functionality do those apps, plugins, and software you download offer? By not paying attention to why there's an update to a piece of software, are you being left behind? Are you missing out on functionality that may improve your processes and your abilities as a designer?

I remember back in the day when physical floppy disks or CDs were required to update software. In those days, software companies would mail you promotional material showcasing all the great new features they were adding to their program hoping you would purchase it. I also remember reading magazine articles leading up to the new releases describing how each new feature would make my life easier. With today's subscription models, software companies don't need to sell us with the hype of new features, they already have our money.

I remember reading about the upcoming version 3 of Adobe Photoshop with the introduction of great new features, including one called Layers. I just had to have it, no matter the cost. By the time I received and installed the latest versions, I knew every new feature available to me and whether or not it was something I would use.

Nowadays, there isn’t as much fanfare with software releases as there used to be. We've been conditioned to automatically click when we see a little red dot without giving it much thought. Maybe it’s just me not being on top of things or following the right blogs or social media accounts, but I don’t think I’m the only one in the dark. Are you’re like this too? It makes me wonder what other features programs such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop have that I don't know about that could benefit me.

Adobe regularly releases a major update for all their programs each October. Many Adobe users, myself included have absolutely no idea what new features Photoshop, Illustrator and all the other CC programs will have. There are probably articles highlighting what new features to expect. But unless you search for them, there's a good chance you'll update your software without giving it much thought. What will you be missing out?

If you want to improve your productivity, increase your skills, and add to your toolbox, the next time you update an app, plugin, or software, read the changelogs or release notes. Learn why the update was released and what possible new features and functionality they offer.

So let me ask you again, when you perform a software update, do know why?

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 a member of the Resourceful Designer Community

I have a website project that has stalled out and has been dormant for several months. My client is unable or unwilling to provide me what I need to complete the site. The copywriter I hired is demanding full payment for her services even though there’s still some outstanding copy to be written that’s dependent on what the client still needs to provide me. Should I be paying the copywriter her full fee even though not all the agreed upon copy was written?

To find out what I told them, you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week Careful Cents article on Lowering Invoicing Fees

Do you use PayPal as part of your invoicing process? Are you aware of the fees you are paying to use the service? Would you like to lower those fees and keep more of your hard-earned money? Decrease PayPal Fees: 5 Ways To Lower Invoicing Feesis an article on Careful Cents that may be able to help you do just that.

Sure, transfer and processing fees are the costs of doing business. But lowering those fees by even half a percent could save you thousands of dollars each year and put more money in your pocket.

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 TwitterFacebook, 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

Sep 16 2019

24mins

Play

Using Social Media To Promote Your Design Business - RD178

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Are you promoting your design business through social media?

[sc name="pod_ad"]Many designers don't know how to use social media to attract design clients. They post their work hoping to attract business, but all they get is a following of fellow designers. Does this sound familiar?

I'm by no means an expert on social media. That's why I invited Andéa Jones of OnlineDrea to join me and help clear the confusion of attracting clients via social media. Andréa is a social media strategist who helps businesses build their online presence through targeted social media and content marketing solutions.

Andréa is also the founder of the Savvy Social School, where she shares her proven strategies for succeeding on social media. Savvy Social School helps businesses to stop wasting time on social media and finally get more attention, leads, and sales from their online community. Through the strategies she teaches, you learn to build a following of people who will hire you for your design services. As a Resourceful Designer listener, save $20 off the monthly membership fee.

Here are some of the topics you'll hear us discuss in this episode.
  • Building your social media presence.
  • Social media platforms should you use.
  • The Power of LinkedIn.
  • Narrow down or diversify your social media presence.
  • How much time to devote to social media.
  • Attracting and converting followers into clients.
  • Best times to post to social media.
  • What content works best for social media.
  • What language to use in your posts.
  • Using #hashtags.
  • Turning a sigle case study into multiple social media posts.
  • Are paid social media ads worth it.
  • And so much more.
Here are the tools Andréa recommends for managing social media. Are you successfully using social media to grow your design business?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

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 TwitterFacebook 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

Aug 19 2019

42mins

Play

Make Your Marketing Message About Your Clients - RD188

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Less about you and more about your clients.

Graphic and web designers tend to have visually striking websites. However, where they excel in visuals and usability, they often lack in their marketing message. A lot of designers don’t know how to market themselves properly.

Have you ever heard the statement, “The best marketing in the world can’t help a bad product?” The same is true of the opposite. Bad marketing can harm a great product or service. That’s what many designers are doing to themselves — bad marketing.

Flip your marketing message.

Want to know a secret? Clients don’t care about you; they don’t care where you got your education; they don’t care what awards you’ve won; they don’t care what big-name clients you’ve worked with before; they don’t care about your processes and procedures. What the client cares about is whether or not you can help them with their problem.

As a designer, you’re a problem solver, and that’s all the client cares about, whether or not you can come up with a solution to whatever problem they are currently facing.

No business person wakes up in the morning, thinking, “I want to hire a designer today.” What they actually think is, “I need a logo, or website, or marketing material, etc. for my new business, and to get that, I’ll have to hire a designer today.”

It's the end product that will help their business that's important to them, not the designer. They don’t care about you. They care about whether or not you can provide what they need.

When it comes to their marketing message, a lot of designers are not putting the client’s needs first and foremost in their marketing. So what’s the trick? Stop talking about yourself and start talking about the client when promoting your services.

Put your clients' needs first.

It all comes down to your wording. Let me give you two hypothetical examples.

Designer #1has this statement on their home page.

“Need a designer? I’m an award-winning designer with over 15 years experience and I would love to work with you. If you would like to diacuss your project, please schedule a time via my contact form.”

Designer #1's statement is all about themself. There’s no incentive for the client to hire them. The client may be impressed by the credentials. But there’s nothing in the statement telling the client what’s in it for them.

Designer #1 delivered a very brief resume for the client to contemplate. Almost as if they were applying for a job position instead of being a professional business for hire.

But if we reworded the same message?

Designer #2 

“Do you have an idea that requires a designer? You’ve come to the right place. For over 15 years I’ve been helping people just like you with their creative needs. I look forward to working with you on your design project. Please let me know the best time for us to discuss your project via my contact form."

Do you see the difference?

Let’s dissect both statements from a client’s point of view.

Opening statement:

Designer #1“Need a designer?”

Designer #2“Do you have an idea that requires a designer?”

Remember, a client never needs a designer, what they need is something designed, and someone to do it for them. The design itself is more important to the client than the designer. So Designer #2 wins the opening statement because they appeal to the actual needs of the client. They talk about the problem.

The body:

Designer #1“I’m an award-winning designer with over 15 years experience, and I would love to work with you.”

Designer #2“You’ve come to the right place. For over 15 years, I’ve been helping people just like you with their creative needs. And I look forward to working with you on your design project."

Once again, Designer #1 is talking about themself, whereas Designer #2 is saying the same thing but from the point of view that takes the client's needs into account.

Closing statement:

Designer #1“If you would like to discuss your project, please schedule a time via my contact form.”

Designer #2“Please let me know the best time for us to discuss your project via my contact form.”

These two statements are almost identical, yet Designer #1 still manages to make it about them by telling the client, "here's when I'm available, pick a time." Designer #2, on the other hand, is asking the client to pick a time that is most convenient for them, making the client feel in charge.

Both designers may have the same time slots available on their calendars. But the difference in wording changes the emphasis from the designer to the client, creating a subtle difference that could persuade a client to choose Designer #2 over Designer #1.

The power of putting your client first.

These examples use one small paragraph. Imagine if you used this same marketing message strategy across an entire website. A client visiting a site with a marketing message talking about them and their problems would quickly start to feel like the designer behind that site gets them, understands their challenges and their needs. When that happens, the client will start thinking, “I need to work with this designer.”

Isn’t that the goal of your website? To entice clients to want to work with you?

So stop explaining your skills and your accomplishments, and start weaving those same facts into your narrative as you tell clients how their problems will be solved by working with you. In the end, that’s all that matters to the client.

P.S. Once you learn how to create a marketing message that focuses on the client. You’ll be able to incorporate this same process into websites you build for those clients, creating high converting sites they will love.

Does your marketing message talk more about you or your client?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Resource of the week Divi 4.0

The Divi Theme Builder is a fully-featured website templating system that allows you to use the Divi Builder to structure your site and edit any part of the Divi Theme including headers, footers, post templates, category templates and more. Each Theme Builder template consists of a custom Header, Footer and Body layout. These three areas can be built and customized using the Divi Builder and its full set of modules along with Dynamic Content.

Click here to learn more about Divi 4.0 and to purchase your copy.

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 TwitterFacebook 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

Oct 28 2019

20mins

Play

5 Overlooked Opportunities To Grow Your Design Business - RD103

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Are you looking for opportunities to grow your business?

[sc name="pod_ad"]It's a given, you want your design business to succeed. To accomplish that, you need to find opportunities to grow. Some of those opportunities take time and money and are well worth the effort. But some opportunities to grow are so small and simple that they are often overlooked. On this episode of the podcast, I share five such opportunities you can implement today to help grow your design business. Be sure to listen to the podcast for the full story, but here's a sample of what I discussed.

5 Overlooked Opportunities To Grow Your Design Business 1) Your Email Signature

Most people's email signature consists of their name, title, perhaps their business name and contact information. If this sounds like your email signature, you are missing out on an opportunity to grow your design business.

Include a short sentence or a bullet list mentioning the services you offer. Be specific. Go beyond simple print and web design and mentions things like trade show displays, T-shirt designs, Facebook and Google Ads, vehicle wraps, signage and anything else you may offer.

You never know when someone might see it and think "I didn't know they did that. I should contact them about it".

2) Your About Page

The About Page on a website is something many people get wrong. Don't be one of them.

An About Page is not there for people to learn about you, it's there to help people decide if you are someone they want to work with on their next project.

If your about page isn't formatted correctly, you are missing out on a HUGE opportunity to grow your business.

To learn more about the proper way to construct an about page listen to episode 52 of the podcast titled How A Great About Page Can Attract Design Clients.

3) The Back Of Your Business Cards

Why do people leave the back of their business cards blank? It's such a waste of valuable real estate and a lost opportunity to help grow their business.

Face it, most of your clients don't know what you do for a living. They hired you for one thing, and as far as they know, that's the only thing you do.

The back of your business card should be used to list your services so naive clients can see everything you offer and perhaps give you more work.

Whenever you hand out a business card, make sure you mention your list of services on the back. You never know who will end up with one of your cards and contact you because of a service you list on your card. Don't miss out on this opportunity to grow your business.

 4) Your Social Media Profiles

Just like your email signature and the back of your business cards, you are missing a huge opportunity if you don't list your services on your social media profiles.

Every social media platform allows you to write a description of yourself. Simply saying you are a graphic and/or web designer isn't good enough because it doesn't mean anything to a lot of people. Use this space to list your services.

Your social media posts should speak for themselves. But if the person viewing them wants to know more about you, don't make them jump through hoops.

A link to your website or portfolio is a must in your profile but listing your services is an even better way to attract people's attention. Many designers find new clients via social media so don't neglect this opportunity to grow your business.

5) Your Out Of Office Reply

A typical out of office reply looks something like this;

Hi, thank you for your message.

I’m out of the office and will not be replying to emails until my return. If a reply is required I will get back to you the week of [week of return]

Thanks,

If this is the type of out of office reply you are using you are missing out on a huge opportunity to grow your business. Use this space to interact with the person emailing you and start a conversation you can continue upon your return. Something like this;

Hi, thank you for your message. I can’t wait to talk to you about ways to improve your website’s search engine rankings.

Unfortunately I’m out of the office right now and won’t be replying to emails until my return.

I’m back the week of [week of return] and I’ll get back to you then and we can discuss your website or anything else you want to talk about.

Thanks,

I recently used this as my out of office reply with amazing results. 75% of the people who received this message asked me about search engine rankings upon my return. 25% of them converted into new website projects. Best of all, none of the people who received my out of office reply was contacting me about their websites.

It just goes to show you that there are opportunities to grow your design business where you least expect them.

What overlooked opportunities to grow are you using?

Let us know what small and simple things are growing your business 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 Ismael

I am a full-time Government employee in the U.S and currently attending Full Sail University pursuing my Graphic Design degree. I am only 5 months in. The reason I am reaching out is because I am a bit nervous. I have never been very good at drawing and being creative. As you progressed through your education how did you feel? I am 35 years old, not very young. I plan to eventually start my design business on the side while I continue to work in my current profession until hopefully I just have to dedicate more time to it. Some general life advice as to how you became self employed with a family may be useful. Thanks again. You are doing us all a great service by providing this content.

To find out what I told Ismael you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week Battery Life App

This week's resource is a smartphone app that helps you monitor the condition of your phone's battery. Smartphone batteries deteriorate over time and with each charge. The longer you own your phone, the faster you'll see your battery charge deplete. That's because your battery doesn’t hold as much of a charge as it used to. Using a Battery Life App allows you to keep track of the life expectancy of your battery, so you know if it's worth replacing or not.

Some of these apps also give you insight into what installed Apps and Services use the most energy on your phone causing your battery to discharge faster.

There are many such apps to be found in the Apple, Google and Windows App stores. Simply search for Battery Life and download the one you like the best.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe on Stitcher Subscribe on Android Subscribe 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

Jan 11 2018

24mins

Play

Dealing With Impostor Syndrome - RD172

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Do you ever feel like a fraud?

In a previous episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I talked about Superhero Syndrome. It's when someone takes on more responsibilities than they need or should take on. Sometimes doing things they are not qualified to do instead of doing the logical thing and finding someone qualified for the task.

Today I’m talking about the opposite of Superhero Syndrome. And that’s Impostor Syndrome.

What is Impostor Syndrome?

Impostor Syndrome is a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist even in the face of information that indicates that the opposite is true. It is experienced internally as chronic self-doubt and feelings of intellectual fraudulence.

In layman's terms, Impostor Syndrome is the belief that you're an impostor and not qualified to do the things that are asked of you, even though you are qualified.

Several years ago, I talked about impostor syndrome on an episode Stuff I Learned Yesterday, another podcast that I shared hosting duties. That was the first time I had heard about Impostor Syndrome, and I had to do a lot of research before recording that episode. Since then, the term, and unfortunately the suffering, has become more popular.

Before choosing this topic for today’s episode, I decided to do a bit more research into the subject. After reading several articles and blogs on the topic of Impostor Syndrome, I've come to one conclusion.

Impostor Syndrome is B.S.

Not the syndrome, that's real, and I believe that many people, especially designers, suffer from it, including myself.

I release a new podcast episode every week. I do this to help you with your design business. But there are plenty of times when I think to myself. “who am I to be advising the people who listen? Why should anyone care what I have to say? I’m no superstar designer. I don’t have hundreds of thousands of followers like Chris Do does.” That’s Impostor Syndrome. And even though I know what it is, the feeling is still there. We all suffer from it at some point.

As designers, we’re expected to create things from nothing using only our imagination and creativity. Businesses stake their growth on the ideas we dream up for them. That’s a daunting task. What if we’re not up to it? That’s what I'm calling B.S. on, that view that people suffering from Impostor Syndrome have about themselves.

Am I the most qualified person to talk about the 170 plus topics I’ve shared with you on the Resourceful Designer podcast? No, of course not. There are plenty of designers more qualified than me. But that doesn’t mean I’m not qualified in my own way. I have over 30 years of design experience, 14 of which I’ve spent running my own design business. Everything I’ve learned over that time and everything I’m still learning, that’s what I’m sharing with you, and there’s nobody better suited to share my experiences than me. I’m the designer, and the person I am today because of the time I invested in myself.

When I start feeling Impostor Syndrome, I remind myself that you’re there listening to me. You’ve decided to press play on my podcast. You’ve determined listening to me is worth your time. And that gets me through it.

But what about you? Do you ever feel like you’re a fraud? An impostor?

If you do, then I'm telling you to stop. If you are at the point in your design career where you are working with or thinking of working with clients, trust me, you earned that right. Chances are, if you weren’t ready yet to work with clients, you wouldn’t be trying to.

It's a common belief amongst impostor syndrome sufferers that they only got to where they are by pure luck, or by somehow deceiving others into thinking they're more skilled and competent than they believe themselves to be. No matter the evidence of their competence, those with Impostor Syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and don't deserve the success they have.

Again, it's all B.S.

I don't want to sound mean or come off as impassive. What I'm trying to say is, unless you're trying to pass yourself off as a designer but never designed anything before, then you’re not an impostor. An impostor would be someone offering to create a website, but they've never done one before, or someone charging to design a logo without any knowledge of what a logo is.

Chances are you got to where you are in your design career because you deserve to be there, wherever “there” is. I believe a lot of designers should have more confidence in their abilities than they do. It’s that the self-doubt that gets to them.

You've earned that degree that says you’re a designer. When you were in school, you did the same projects and took the same tests as those around you. Sure some of your classmates may have done better than you, but that doesn't mean you didn't earn your passing grade.

If you didn’t go to school for design, then chances are you’ve spent time honing your skills and learning the necessary programs and techniques to be a designer. Don’t think for one second that just because you didn’t attend design school that you are not a designer.

The same goes for your career if you’re working somewhere as a designer. You were hired for your design position because you were the best candidate. Nobody hires a designer out of pity. They hire a designer because they see the desired traits, skills and qualifications they need.

Keep pushing yourself.

As long as you continue to learn and push yourself, you can never call yourself a fraud. Are there people better qualified than you? I can almost guarantee there are, but that doesn't mean you are not qualified yourself. Not every player on a team can be the star player, but everyone one of them made the team on their own merits. So stop looking at other people’s successes and keep working on developing your best self.

Impostor Syndrome is not a mental disorder, nor is it a personality trait. It's only a reaction to certain stimuli and events, and you can overcome it. Henry Ford once said, "Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right."

You know the term “fake it until you make it”?. That term applies to every designer who ever lived. Even the best designers in the world keep learning and improving themselves because they know they can be better. They keep learning because, in their mind, they’re not as good as they want to be. I know that’s why I keep learning. Because I’m not the designer I want to be. I don’t think I ever will be, and that’s OK. It keeps me going.

You need to get out there, do your best, keep learning, and you’ll be ok.

What can you do if you suffer from Impostor Syndrome?

If you think you suffer from Impostor Syndrome here's something you can try. A conventional therapy I found in several articles says that keeping a journal of your accomplishments can help you associate them with reality. By keeping track of those accomplishments, you'll alleviate your sense of inadequacy.

Keep all those “Great Job!” and “This design is amazing!” emails and comments you receive. They make great testimonials for your website and promotional material, but they also act as a reminder that you’re good at what you do. They let you know that people appreciate what you do and that you're not a fraud.

Another thing you could try when you’re feeling insecure is to find people with whom you can talk. Best of all, other designers who know what you’re going through. The Resourceful Designer Community is a great place to share your thoughts and build confidence in yourself.

You’re not alone.

In my research, for today's episode, I came across a lot of famous people that suffer from Impostor Syndrome.

Actress and Comedienne Tina Fey often feels people will realise she's not that funny.

Michelle Pfeifer is constantly afraid that people will find out she's not very talented.

Kate Winslett wakes up some mornings thinking "I can't do this. I'm a fraud."

Even Tom Hanks suffers from Impostor Syndrome, in an interview he said ‘I still feel sometimes that I’d like to be as good as so-and-so actor,’ he continued. ‘I see some other actors’ work, and I think I’ll never get there. I wish I could.’”

Even someone as talented as Tom Hanks who is recognised as one of the top actors in Hollywood sometimes thinks he's not good enough. And yet he has the awards to prove otherwise.

You may not be as famous as those people, but that doesn't mean you don't deserve to be where you are.

If you feel this way about yourself, if you think you may suffer from Impostor Syndrome, let me tell you this. You've played a significant role in your success. It wasn't those around you, so stop comparing yourself to them. Nobody belongs where you are more than you do. You've earned your position. You are not a fraud. You didn't get to where you are by luck. Your accomplishments are yours and yours alone.

Once you realise this, there's no telling what you can achieve. So don't hold back. If you do, you're only robbing the world of the value you can bring.

Do you suffer from Impostor Syndrome?

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 Tracy

How do you separate life and work?

To find out what I told Tracy you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week The Logo Package Express

The Logo Package Express is an Adobe Illustrator extension that allows you to create, export and sort hundreds of logo files in under 5 minutes. What would typically take an hour or more to do can now be accomplished in minutes. Think of all that time you can put to better use.

Do you want to see it in action? Here's a demo video I recorded using The Logo Package Express.

Jul 08 2019

27mins

Play

12 Effective Ways To Ruin Your Design Business - RD151

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Don't ruin your design business, avoid the following.

[sc name="pod_ad"]Think of your design business like climbing a mountain. To climb a mountain, you require willpower, perseverance, skill, knowledge, stamina, patience and concentration. All these traits come together to allow a mountain climber to make their way up a mountain. You need these same traits to run a design business. Sure, you use them differently, but they’re the same traits nonetheless. And similar to maintain climbing, one slip can mean disaster.

Luckily, slipping up on your design business won’t result in death like falling off a mountain will. But it could ruin your reputation, which in turn will ruin your design business. That’s why it’s good to stay on your guard and avoid these 12 ways to ruin your design business.

Doing these could ruin your design business 1) Failing to communicate - taking too long to reply to emails.  

You are not expected to drop everything you're doing to reply to each new email. It's standard business practice to respond within an acceptable window of time. However, that window shouldn't stretch several days long. It can become increasingly frustrating for the person waiting for your reply. Do this often enough, and clients will lose confidence in you and take their business elsewhere.

If Gmail is your email platform check out Boomerang that allows you to set follow up reminders, so you never miss replying to an email. If you don't use Gmail, setting reminders is easy using Siri on your Apple device, your Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Simply set a time for your device to remind you to reply to the email. 

2) Missing deadlines.

Missing deadlines is a sure fire way to ruin your design business. Miss more than one and there's a good chance your clients won't bring you any more design projects. Missing deadlines is usually a case of bad time management and biting off more than you can chew (see number 4). Whenever possible try to pad your deadlines, meaning once you figure out how long a project will take, add on a few days or weeks to act as a buffer, just in case. If you go over your estimated time that buffer will keep you within the deadline. And if you manage to finish on time, your clients will be that much more impressed with you. 

3) Showing a lack of confidence in your skills.

Nothing turns off a client more than showing a lack of confidence in your abilities. If you show any doubt in what you present to your clients, they will start having doubts about hiring you. Even if you are unsure, you need to present with confidence. Your client will let you know if your designs are not right for them.

Never ask a client what they think about the designs you present them. You can ask them what they like or don't like, but not what they think. Asking them what they think is a way of saying you are unsure of what you are presenting and you are seeking their affirmation.  

4) Biting off more than you can chew.

Don't be afraid to turn down work or to delay working with a client because of your heavy workload. Being in a situation where you cannot take on any more work is a great position to be in. If a client wants to work with you, they will wait their turn. The worse thing you can do in this situation is accepting the work anyways. It's a sure fire way to missing deadlines (see number 2).

The same goes for projects with scopes larger than you can handle. You should have a team you can call uponin certain situations, but some projects are just too big for solo designers, no matter how much you'd like to take them on. Don't be afraid to pass on them. 

5) Overreacting to criticism.

If you can't take criticism, you shouldn't be a designer. It's the nature of our industry that not everyone will like what you do. You need to learn and grow from the criticism you receive, regardless if you agree or disagree with it. Responding to criticism with a strong emotional reaction is an excellent way to alienate your clients. Keep your hurt feelings to yourself.

 

6) Over-promising and under-delivering.

Over-promising and under-delivering is another way to ruin your design business. Examples are missing deadlines (see number 2) or biting off more than you can chew (see number 4). However, sometimes you might be tempted to over-promise your skills and abilities. Telling a client, you can do something, when in fact you are not sure how to do it can lead to disaster. Never promise a client you will/can do something unless you know you can follow through. 

7) Don't take time to learn and experiment.

This relates to you as a designer. Our industry is continuously changing with new tools, new platforms and new trends. If you fail to keep up your business is doomed. Clients hire designers to help them compete in their market. For that to happen, you need to know how to design things that can compete. Nobody wants a designer who is behind on the times.

8) Don't take time to be inspired. 

You are a creative person; it's why you became a designer. Feed your creativity by seeking out things that inspire you. Visit museums, read art magazines, watch documentaries or study the world around you. Inspiration can be found in everyday things if only you take the time to look. Not finding ways to fuel your creativity is another way to ruin your design business.

9) Commenting negatively on a client's previous designs.

No matter what you think of a client's previous designs, you should never tell them they are bad (unless you are the one that designed them. In that case you are ok). You don’t know the history behind the piece. The client may have created it themselves or had a friend or relative design it for them. The client may be very proud of the work. If you tell a client their previous designs are bad, you may be insulting the client and ruining your chance to work with them.

Instead, tell the client how you will do things differently. How you will modernise the look. How you will use innovative new approaches to produce great work for them. Just don't tell them how bad their old stuff is. 

10) Talking carelessly about clients.

Once you've been at this for a few years, you'll build up a library of weird, funny, strange, and possibly horrible stories about clients. There's a whole website dedicated to lousy design clients. Even though they make great conversation topics, you should be very careful about what you say and to whom you say it when talking about your clients. You never know if someone listening may know and report back to the client. Talking about a client behind their backs will not only ruin your design business but ruin your reputation as a designer.

11) Lying to a client

I shouldn't have to explain this one to you. Lying to clients is not good. Never tell a client you are "almost done" a project you have not started yet. Never tell a client you "didn't receive their email" (they may have Read Receipt turned on). Never tell a client... you get the idea. Don't lie to clients. Getting found out is a definite way to ruin your design business. 

12) Passing off other’s work as your own

Another one I shouldn’t have to explain. However, I'm not talking about stealing another designer's work. There's already enough of that happening on crowdsourced design sites. I'm talking about taking credit for stock images you use in your designs or taking credit for something you contracted out. Clients understand that you cannot do everything yourself. Let them know when you've gotten help.

It's your reputation on the line.

Your business and design reputation plays a very important role in people deciding to hire you and whether or not they keep working with you. Building a relationship with your client is the best way to ensure a long term commitment from them. By avoiding these twelve things, you are taking the proper steps to ensure you don't inadvertently ruin your design business.

What did you think of this week's topic?

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 Kevin

I have a question about closing deals. At times potential clients reach out to me with an interest of having a website designed for them. They will usually reach out to me by email telling me the basic details for the website, such as page structure, features colors, etc. I realized that when replying to their first email, most of them never reply back.

So how would you go about responding to a clients email? Do you tell them your pricing straight up? Do you ask them to tell you their budget for the project?

To find out what I told Kevin you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

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.

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 TwitterFacebook 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

Feb 04 2019

44mins

Play

Targeting A Design Niche - RD093

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Do you service a design niche?

According to Lynda Falkenstein, author of Nichecraft: Using Your Specialness to Focus Your Business, Corner Your Market and Make Customers Seek You Out. “Many people talk about ‘finding’ a niche as if it were something under a rock or at the end of the rainbow, ready-made. That's nonsense,” she says “Good niches don't just fall into your lap; they must be carefully crafted.” 

Back in episode 54 of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I talked about what a design niche is and the benefits of working in one. If you haven't listened to that episode yet I suggest you do before continuing. But just to elaborate a bit more on the subject, a design niche and a field are not the same things.

If you specialize in designing for the medical industry you are targetting a field. However, If you specialize in designing websites for dentists, you are targetting a niche within the medical field.

There’s nothing wrong with focusing on a field instead of a design niche. I just want you to know the difference.

And remember, you can do both. Even if you specialize in designing websites for dentists, there is nothing stopping you from taking on a chiropractor as a client. It's ok to have more than one niche or to branch out and take clients outside your niche. It’s your business after all. All of this is discussed in greater detail on this episode of the podcast. Please listen to get the full story.

Now you may be wondering, "If I can work with anyone even though I'm targeting a niche, what’s the point of even having a niche?"

I discussed this in episode 54 but here are the main points of why you may want to have a niche.

  1. It’s easier to identify potential clients.
  2. You become a sought out expert in the niche
  3. You get better referrals within the niche
  4. There will be less competition in the niche
  5. You can have more focused marketing material
  6. Increased chance of repeat business
So how do you choose a design niche to target? Determining your niche.

What type of client do you want to design for? Be very specific. Identify things like geographic areas, the types of businesses or customers you want to target. If you are not sure whom you want to work with, it will be a lot harder to make contact with them.

The smaller and more focused the design niche is the better your chance of succeeding within it.

Targeting Startup companies may be too broad a niche. But aiming at startup companies that create green, eco-friendly products out of bamboo is a better goal.

Keep in mind that it’s always best to find a niche that you are familiar with and possibly have a passion for. Look at your interests and hobbies. Maybe there’s something there you could target.

Marketing to your niche.

Marketing to a specific design niche is easier than marketing to a non-niche. All of your marketing material, be it your website, brochures, Facebook ads, business cards, can be designed specifically to appeal to that niche, which will make them easier to spot by people within that niche.

Look to see what type of visuals and wording is already being used in your target design niche and structure your marketing material to follow suit.

Present relevant work in your portfolio.

The best way to win over a client is to showcase work that appeals to them.

If your target niche is yoga studios, you don’t want your portfolio to showcase the website and poster you designed for a monster truck show.

If you're going after a niche within the design space such as Logo Design, then you better have some good logo designs to show off. And perhaps remove any unrelated projects such as car wraps and websites from your portfolio. Anything that distracts from your skills at logo design should be minimized.

Remember, you can have more than one design niche, so save that other work for a different portfolio on your website, or better yet, on a completely different website.

You’ll have a much better chance of being hired if you showcase projects that are similar to the niche market you want to work in.

Start promoting yourself.

Now that your marketing material is in line with the design niche you’re targetting it’s time to start promoting yourself.

This is the grunt work that will lead to your success.

Create social media accounts that are consistent with the niche you are targetting. Drop by and introduce yourself to related businesses in your area. Do some research, Invest in some stamps, and mail out brochures, postcards, business cards, to anyone who may be a potential client. This is a great opportunity to use a virtual assistant as I explain in Episode 62 of the podcast: How to use a virtual assistant for your graphic design business.

Find out where people in your target niche meet up and go see them face to face. Imagine a convention for restauranteurs. Everyone there owns a restaurant and is there to learn ways to grow and improve their own restaurant. They may be interested in other attendees but there's little they can actually gain from them. Now imagine you introduce yourself as a graphic or web designer who specializes in marketing for restaurants. That might just garner a bit of attention for you. Especially if your marketing material follows suit.

Start hunting for clients.

There are potential design clients everywhere. In your hometown, across your state or province, and across the globe. All you need to do is look for them.

Find businesses in your targetted design niche that are in need of a rebrand or a new website and approach them. Drop by in person if you can or introduce yourself by phone or email. Explain how you found them, who you are and suggest some ways you could work together to benefit their business.

Don’t alienate them. Focus on what you think is working well with their current material and then suggest ways to improve upon it.

If you start off by critiquing what they are currently using you may turn them off before giving yourself a chance. Especially if they are very attached to their current designs.

Show your interest in your chosen design niche.

To succeed in the niche game, you have to have the knowledge and a general interest in your chosen niche. If you don’t, it will quickly become transparent to your clients.

Remember that one of the benefits of choosing a design niche is to be viewed as an expert in that niche. To be viewed as an expert you need to be able to show your knowledge to potential clients. That’s why choosing a niche you are already familiar with is often your best choice.

Clients would much rather pay premium prices for a specialized designer that already understands their business, their hurdles, their competition, and their target market, instead of having to educate a different designer on all of that.

By showing potential clients how much you know about their industry, you automatically start to align yourself with the company, and they will immediately start viewing you as a valuable asset they want to work with.

Be patient but persistent.

You know the saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day” well neither will your portfolio of dream clients. It will take time an effort on your part. But if you persevere you will have a much better chance of success.

Just because a client turns you down doesn’t mean it’s the end with them. Some companies, especially very large ones are always changing and developing new strategies and ideas. Keep reaching out to them every few months by showing them projects you’ve done for other clients and asking if they have any projects they would like to discuss with you.

You never know. The time may come when they decide your services are just what they need.

Niche marketing is a constant flux.

Niche marketing is not a fixed approach. There are many different ways to go about finding those dream clients.

Stay flexible for opportunities and listen to client feedback, and then fine tune to discover more and more about what you are passionate about and the best at.

One last thing...

If you are a new designer or a recent design school grad, don't’ worry about it. Create some sample designs within your target design niche that show off your creative skills. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t specifically designed anything in that niche before. As long as you're passionate about it it will show through in your designs.

Do be honest however and indicate that you are showcasing sample projects to show your skills, then replace your sample projects with real ones as you produce them.

How do you market to your design niche?

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 Florida-Boy

Thank you for all that you share. It helps encourage us that are looking to forward our own business's growth. I'm personally looking to venture into my own business.

I was wondering, you mentioned in a previous podcast that you use a virtual assistant, and they can be used for whatever kinds of tasks you may need them to do...To what extent do you think a lone designer/business owner should be answering the phone or using the virtual assistant to take your calls and/or messages?

Also, how do you balance working/designing with marketing yourself to new clients and taking care of business paperwork all when you are the only person to do everything?

Thank you so much for your response!

To find out what I told Florida-Boy you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week Four Week Marketing Boost.

I put this guide together in the hopes to encourage you to look at your own brand and image. The daily tasks in my guide require only 15-30 minute of your time and focus on the parts of your marketing material that are often overlooked or neglected.  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 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.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe on Stitcher Subscribe on Android Subscribe 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

Oct 27 2017

51mins

Play

Good Design, Quick Design, Cheap Design. Pick two! - RD071

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Have you heard the concept of Good, Quick, Cheap?

I first heard the concept of Good, Quick, Cheap on The Real Brian Show podcast. I was so fascinated with the concept that I decided to explore how it affects the graphic design industry. In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I expand on the concept and talk about Good Design, Quick Design and Cheap Design.

To get the full story you'll need to listen to the podcast but here's a breakdown of what I discuss in the episode.

The dream client

Wouldn't it be nice if our clients had unlimited budgets, gave us all the time in the world to work on their projects, and allowed us to design it any way we wanted?

We can dream, can't we?

The truth of the matter is, there are very few clients that have both the budget and the time we would like to have on a project. If you manage to find one of these elusive clients, latch on to them for dear life and don’t do anything to compromise that relationship.

The realistic client

More realistically clients want you to design something good, quick and cheap. But therein lies a problem. You see, good, quick and cheap are all possible but only two at a time.

Pick two

The concept behind Good, Quick, Cheap is that not all three are available at the same time. Your client can only choose two of them.

  • If they want a Good and Cheap Design, they won't get it quickly.
  • If they want a Cheap and Quick Design, it won't be any good.
  • If they want a Good and Quick design it won't be cheap.

It all comes down to perception, need and value. Your client needs to decide which one they can do without, Good, Quick or Cheap.

Be sure to listen to the podcast episode for the full story.

Have you ever thought of the Good, Quick, Cheap concept 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 Michael

Do you turn down work that does not align with your personal values and morals? If so, how do you "let them down gently"

To find out what I told Michael you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week iThemes Sync

It's important to update WordPress, both for the security of your site and to take advantage of the latest features and improvements. But updates to WordPress core and any plugins or themes installed on your sites can happen pretty frequently. If you're managing multiple WordPress sites, keeping them all updated can take up a lot of your valuable time.

iThemes Sync is an easy way to manage updates for all your WordPress sites from one place. Instead of logging in to each site individually, you have one place to view and install available updates, making WordPress maintenance easy.

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

May 04 2017

28mins

Play

Pricing Design Jobs with Undefined Time Lines - RD073

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Do you dread pricing design jobs when you don't know how long they'll take?

Have you ever had to quote on a design job but you have no idea how long it will take to complete it? If you're familiar with Project Based Pricing or Value Based Pricing then it isn't really an issue. But if you're one of the many designers who bill by the hour you may dread this scenario. 

In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I talk about what you can do when you have no idea how long a project will take. Be sure to listen to the episode for the full story.

Pricing design jobs by the hour.

It takes a lot of practice to correctly guess how long a design job will take to complete. Notice I used the word "guess"? Because that's what it is, a guess. If you guess wrong you could loose a lot of money on the job. The only way to protect yourself if to pad your guess by overestimating which isn't good for your client.

But what if there's another way that works for both you and your clients?

Actual time billing.

When the scope of a design project is such that there's no way to determine how long it will take, offer to bill for the actual time you spend on the job.

Many clients will accept a contract stating you will bill them your hourly rate for the total time you spend working on their project. This is the easiest method and it benefits both you and your client. You know you won't loose any money on the design project, and your client knows they won't overpay on the job.

But what if the client is worried you'll take too long?

If your client is hesitant to sign your contract, you could offer a maximum price for the project. You bill them by the hour for the time you spend working on the project up to the maximum price, providing the scope of the job hasn't changed.

This option should satisfy worried clients and make you look good when you come in under the maximum price. Just be sure the maximum price you set is enough to cover any unforeseen complications that may arise during the project.

How do you handle pricing design jobs with undefined time lines?

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 Tim

How many works/projects/clients do you normally allow yourself to take in simultaneously within a week?

To find out what I told Tim you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Tip of the week Get your Clients to pay for it.

When it comes to hardware, software, plugins, fonts etc., If you need to purchase something for a specific project then you should be charging the client for it. Even if it's something you will be able to use in the future for other clients. There is nothing wrong with telling a client you require something to complete their project and including it on your invoice. You can then use that item as a selling feature or service you offer for future clients.

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

May 18 2017

46mins

Play

Crafting Your Elevator Pitch - RD116

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Do you have an elevator pitch?

Imagine running into an old high school classmate at the airport. Someone you haven’t talked to in years. After exchanging some pleasantries, you realise they would be a perfect design client for you. They ask you what you do for a living, and as you start thinking of the best way to pitch your services to them, their flight is called, and you’ve lost your chance.

That’s where having an elevator pitch could have helped you.

What is an elevator pitch?

An elevator pitch sometimes referred to as an elevator speech, or elevator statement is a short persuasive speech you give to people that explains who you are in such a way that it sparks an interest in the listener. It typically explains what it is you do, who your services are for, why the people may need those services and how you go about completing those services.

Your elevator pitch needs to be interesting, succinct, memorable and it needs to describe how you are unique amongst all the other designers out there.

It also needs to be short. An elevator pitch of around 20-30 seconds works best.

When to use an Elevator Pitch.

You should use your elevator pitch any time you are talking about yourself and your business. Use it whenever you meet a new potential client. Use it whenever you are introduced to someone, and they ask what you do for a living. Use it as an introductory paragraph on your website.

You should use your elevator pitch every chance you get.

How to construct an Elevator Pitch.

Your Elevator Pitch will evolve and may change depending on who you are talking with. You may even have more than one Elevator Pitch depending on the situation. Regardless, it should follow these basic rules.

1) Explain who you are.

Start off by introducing yourself and your business. If you’re already acquainted with the person you are talking to you may skip this part for obvious reasons.

2) Explain what it is you do.

For an elevator pitch to succeed, it needs to explain what it is you and your business does. Remember, an elevator pitch should be interesting and memorable. Don’t say that you design websites or logos or flyers. Those things are boring to everyone but you. Instead, explain what sort of problems you solve for your clients. Give the listener something to remember about you.

For example. Instead of saying “I design responsive websites”. You could say something like “I design websites that let my clients communicate to their target market in the most efficient way possible regardless of what device they are using.”

Isn’t that more interesting than just saying "I design responsive websites"?

If what you are saying doesn’t excite you, then it certainly won't excite the person listening to you. Your pitch should make you smile. The person listening may not remember everything you say, but they will remember the enthusiasm in your voice when you said it.

3) Explain your Unique Selling Proposition.

A Unique Selling Proposition often referred to as a USP, is what makes you different from all the other designers competing for the same clients. It needs to be something that will make the listener take notice and want to work with you.

For example, you could say something like this. “When it comes to websites, I take the time to research and get to know my client and their target market before ever sitting down to design their site. This allows me to create something that not only looks great, but something that appeals to the site visitors and truly represents the core of who my client is.”

4) Finish by asking the listener a question.

The whole point of an elevator pitch is to start a meaningful conversation. To do that you need to make sure you finish your pitch with a question that gets the person thinking and forces them into a discussion with you.

Make sure you ask a question that cannot be answered by a simple "Yes" or "No" answer. You might ask something like “What kind of return are you getting from your website?”

5) Combine everything together

When you put all these previous steps together, you should have a solid 20-30 second elevator pitch to impress potential clients.

Time yourself. If it’s too long, you risk losing the person’s interest. Find ways to shorten it.

Here’s how the examples I gave earlier come together.

“I design websites that let my clients communicate to their target market in the most efficient way possible regardless of what device they are using.”

“When it comes to websites, I take the time to research and get to know my client and their target market before ever sitting down to design their site. This allows me to create something that not only looks great, but something that appeals to the site visitors and truly represents the core of who my client is.”

“What kind of return are you getting from your website?”

See how it all works together?

6) Practice, practice, practice.

Your elevator pitch needs to sound natural, not rehearsed. How you say it is as important as what you say. You may have to edit it a bit since we often write differently than we talk. Say your pitch out loud repeatedly and on a regular basis.

As you practice, you may end up changing parts of your pitch so that it sounds more natural to you. The more you do it, the better it and you will become.

Here’s my elevator pitch.

This is the elevator pitch I currently use in my business. It has evolved many times over the years, and I'm sure this will not be its last incarnation.

"I help businesses and organisations fine-tune their brand strategy and give them a better chance of success.

Unlike a lot of designers, I invest my time in building a relationship with my clients in order to help them reach their goals. I accomplish this through the proper use of graphic design, web design and other marketing means.

In other words, I help businesses reach their target market.

How are you attracting your clients?"

What's your elevator pitch?

Do you already have an elevator pitch or have I convinced you to create one? I would love to hear it. Leave it as a comment for this episode, and I'll let you know what I think of it.

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 Diego

Hi Mark!

My name is Diego I'm from Uruguay and I'm an art librarian. That’s right, I’m not a designer, but I did take some courses in my teens. Now I’m 26 years old and I’m trying my fit back in at the University again.

I see all the other kids at school with their amazing drawings and I just don’t feel up to their level. I'm feeling discouraged, like I’m trying to catch up. I would really like some advice.

Is it important to have the artistic skills to be a designer?

Are there any course you recommend I should look into? Not on how to use Photoshop or how to create a logo in illustrator. But basic design things.

Thanks, I Love your podcast.

Diego.

To find out what I told Diego you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week Canva Colors

Canva Colors is a great source for discovering colours for your next design project. Their Design Wiki on Colors teaches you everything you need to know about specific colors, their meanings, their history and the color combinations that will hopefully give inspiration to your next design!

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

Apr 12 2018

24mins

Play

10 Things To Avoid While Running Your Freelance Design Business - RD127

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Avoid these 10 things to grow your design business.

To run a home-based freelance design business you need to know what to do for it to succeed. You also need to know what to avoid doing so as not to fail.

You’ve done it. You’re running your own design business. It’s a fantastic feeling, isn't it? The freedom and the power it brings you. The counterweight is the responsibility and pressures you face because everything is now on your shoulders. When done right, running your own business can be the most satisfying occupation there is. Just ask any successful entrepreneur. But if things go wrong, you have nobody to blame but yourself.

When it comes to starting a home-based freelance design business, most people research how to go about starting one. They read up on the things they need to get. They make lists upon lists of what they need to do to give themselves the best chance of success. That’s how you should do it.

However, what often happens along the way is you pick up bad habits that can affect you and your business negatively.

Here are 10 things you need to avoid while running your freelance design business.

1) Avoid Slacking Off

One of the most significant obstacles to overcome when running your own design business is the illusion of the freedom it brings.

Don’t get me wrong. Setting your hours and taking time off whenever you want without having to ask for permission is a definite perk when it comes to freelancing.

However, I said the illusion of freedom for a reason. Freelancing doesn’t mean fewer hours and less stress. It’s the opposite in fact. You are running a business on top of designing for your clients. That doubles your responsibilities. This holds especially true for new businesses. You may find your social life suffering as you devote countless hours to get things off the ground.

Avoid slacking off.

2) Avoid A Lack Of Direction

Maybe running your own home-based design business was always your dream. Perhaps you ended up here unexpectedly through lack of employment. Regardless of why you are doing it, you need to have goals if you want to succeed.

What do you want to accomplish with your business? Do you want to conquer a particular niche? Do you want to become known for a specific skill?

It’s nice to have design work that pays the bills, but if you don’t have goals and you don’t push yourself towards those goals, you will not improve as a designer.

As a design professional, you should have a mindset that design can change the world. Set goals to grow your business and to grow as a designer and don’t get left behind.

Avoid a lack of direction.

3) Avoid Isolating Yourself From Other Designers

As a freelance designer, you spend a lot of time by yourself, sitting in front of your computer designing amazing things for your clients. But how do you expect to improve as a designer if you’re not communicating with other designers? There’s only so much you can learn from articles, videos and yes, even podcasts. You need people you can bounce ideas off of and get real criticism from. People who are not afraid to tell you when you’re going in the wrong direction.

Clients don't count. Sure clients give you valuable feedback on what you’re doing. But they will never be able to view your work with the critical eye you need to improve your skills as a designer and business person.

I’m talking about your peers. Other designers. People who not only understand what it is you do but how you do it. People in the same trenches as you. One of the biggest mistakes Freelancers make is not keeping in touch with other designers.

Find people to discuss design ideas with, to get critiques from, to solicit business advice. The more designers you are in contact with the more you'll grow.

Avoid isolating yourself from other designers.

4) Avoid Being Exploited

One of the problems of running a home-based design business is that many people don't see it as a real business. They imagine you as an unemployed designer who sits at home binge-watching Netflix and occasionally designing something whenever someone calls upon you. To them, it’s like designing has become your hobby and you’re lucky enough that some people pay you for it.

Because of this perception, friends, family and acquaintances may ask you to design for them as a favour. If they do offer to pay you, it's rarely what you merit. After all, you're not doing anything, and it shouldn’t take you long. Plus, they’ll help you out by spreading the word of what a great designer you are. Maybe they're hoping this exposure will lead to employment for you. Don’t fall for it.

Sure it’s OK to design your sister’s baby announcement cards as a gift. But if your brother, your uncle joe or your old college roommate asks you to design a logo for a new business, they need to pay you. Give them a discount if you want, but let them know you’re not at their beckon call. You are running a business, and they will treat them as clients.

Not sure where to draw the line? Look at it this way. If they are asking you to design something that could directly or indirectly bring in money for them, and this includes charities raising funds, then they should pay you for your services.

Avoid being exploited.

5) Avoid Being Under Paid

Another issue when starting your own design business is not knowing how much to charge. In most cases, designers undersell themselves and it ends up hurting them and the industry as a whole.

Even if you are a new designer fresh out of school, your skills and knowledge are still valuable. Seek the compensation you deserve. Find out what other designers and design studios in your area are charging and try to fit in line with them.

Remember, it takes a lot less effort to land one $60 per hour client than it does to land four $15 per hour clients.

Avoid being underpaid.

6) Avoid Taking On Every Project

It’s human nature to want to please others. When a new client comes along or an existing client has a new project for you. You welcome them with open arms.

This gimme, gimme, gimme attitude is great when you are just starting out and can use all the work you can get. But as you grow and take on more clients and more work you will realise that not every client or design project is a good fit for you.

You need to be comfortable turning down work. It may sound like a foreign concept to you, but you need to determine if the project offered is right for you or not. If it isn’t then it’s OK for you to turn the job down.

Avoid taking on every project.

7) Avoid Rushing

As a home-based designer working by yourself things can get stressful when jobs start to pile up. Instincts will tell you to pump out as much as you can to lighten the load. But in doing so, you are compromising your creativity.

Design concepts take time to germinate. The more time you take thinking about them, the more variations will come and go from your mind helping you narrow down your focus and creating the perfect solution to the problem.

To allow yourself the time needed to do the job properly you could always pad the timeframe you tell a client. If you think a project will take you three days, tell them it will take five. It will allow you extra time if you need it. And If you complete it within three days, your clients will appreciate you even more.

Yes, there will be projects you will need to do in a short time. But remember episode 71 of the podcast titled Good Design, Quick Design, Cheap Design, Pick Two? If you rush a project, you are either producing sub-par work, or you need to make sure you are being compensated financially for the extra burden of turning a job around quickly.

Your best bet, avoid rushing.

8) Avoid Being Over Accessible

Unlike traditional 9-5 jobs, home-based designers are almost always home. That knowledge will often lead to clients expecting you to be available whenever they need you regardless of the time or day. It’s OK if you want to work evenings and weekends but do you want clients reaching out and expecting replies during those times?

You need to set boundaries from the start. Let clients know when they can contact you and how they can contact you. If you have a business phone, it’s not OK for clients to contact you on your home phone. Same goes for email. Clients should not be contacting you on your personal email.

Remember, this is your business. Your clients are just that, clients. You work on your terms, and you get to decide when it’s appropriate for clients to communicate with you and how clients should contact you.

Avoid being over accessible.

9) Avoid Overworking

At the top of this article, I talked about how you should avoid slacking off. The opposite is true as well. Without the regiment of a 9-5 job, many freelancers or home-based designers tend to overwork themselves, working more extended hours than an agency or in-house designer.

Working long hours adds extra stress and could compromise your creativity and lead to burnout. You need to step away from work on a regular basis. A healthy social life is vital if you want to be a happy and healthy designer.

Enjoy your evenings and weekends. Spend time with family and friends. Separating your work and private life will help both your business life and personal life success.

Boost your motivation and avoid overworking.

10) Avoid The Status Quo

Designers by nature are critical people, and I presume you are no different. You never settle for what is good enough when you know you can do better. It’s what makes you great at what you do and It’s the the reason clients keep coming back to you.

You are a problem solver. But the key thing to remember is that problems are not always correctly defined. Meaning the problem a client comes to you with may not be the actual problem they are trying to address.

A client may tell you they want more visitors to their website when in fact the problem is they need better visitors to their site. There are two options for every design problem presented to you. Give the client what they want, or give the client what they need.

Giving the client what they want is the easy route, but it doesn’t help you stand out from all the other designers out there. By digging deeper and giving the client what they need you will be making a name for yourself which will help the success of your business.

Question every design problem you face and see if there’s something more you can provide. Don’t limit yourself by just following orders and following the briefing word for word. Running your own home-based design business opens up a whole world of possibilities for you.

Take advantage of your position and avoid the status quo.

Are there other things you should avoid while running your design business?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

My mailbag is empty, so there is no question of the week this week. Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

Resource of the week Daily Logo Challenge

Like the title says, each day Daily Logo Challenge send you an email with a fun new logo design challenge for you to try. These are not real projects. These challenges are to inspire you and expand your abilities as a designer. You can share your design for community feedback to help you grow as a designer. Signing up at https://www.dailylogochallenge.com will get you 50 days of design briefs.

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

Jul 13 2018

21mins

Play

12 Business Uses For Your Mobile Phone - RD193

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Your mobile phone is so much more.

There are many uses for your mobile phone besides the obvious. Sure, you can text people, take photos and videos, peruse your social media accounts, watch YouTube, listen to music and podcasts, browse the web and even make phone calls. But there are so many other uses for your mobile phone that can help you with your design business.

Here are 12 ways to use your phone to support your design business. 1) Two-factor authentication

Two-Factor Authentication is an easy way to add extra security to a website. Apps such as Google Authenticatorturn your phone into a security key by generating a constantly changing number that is required to log into a website in addition to a user name and password.

2) What The Font App

Quickly identify fonts while you are out and about your day with What The Font App. Launch the app on your mobile phone, point your camera at a line of type, and What The Font will show you the closest matches in its database.

3) Pantone Color Studio

Pantone Colour Studio uses your mobile phone's camera to capture and identify colours. Discover the Pantone number for colours in everyday objects and share them with your Creative Cloud account. You can also use the app to generate colour pallets and test colours on 3D-rendered materials and designs.

4) Testing mobile versions of websites

Another use for your phone is to check the mobile-friendliness of sites. Many web design platforms and page builders, such as Divi, let you simulate what a website will look like on a mobile device. But it's never the same as actually visiting the site on the phone. Use your phone to spot problems before releasing a website to your client.

5) Time Tracking/Mileage Tracking

Stop guessing your time spent, or distance travelled. Your mobile phone is an excellent tool for keeping track of time and mileage associated with a design project.

6) Invoicing/bookkeeping/banking

Your mobile phone makes it easy to manage all your finances while on the go. Send and check the status of invoices, verify your accounts and do your banking, all from your phone.

7) Passwords

Use a password manager like 1Passwordor LastPass to access all your passwords in one convenient location securely. With the app on your phone, you never have to worry about not being able to access an online portal.

8) Project management/File Management

With Project Management software, your mobile phone allows you to keep track of your design projects regardless of where you are. Software like Trello and Plutioare perfect tools to manage your projects.

Your files can also be conveniently management through services such as Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive.

9) Make lists

Use your mobile phone to create all sorts of lists for your business and everyday life. Apps such as AnyListand Todoistmake it easy to create lists for anything and everything.

10) Set alarms and reminders

Never forget an appointment or meeting by setting alarms and reminders on your mobile phone. It takes just seconds with Siri or a similar mobile service.

11) Calendar

Keep track of your schedule and appointments by accessing your calendar on your mobile phone. Create different calendars for your business and personal life and always know what you have coming up.

12) Take written or audio notes

Jot down important details or record things you don't want to forget so that you can review them later. Use your mobile phone's voice recorder to record meetings to capture everything you discuss with your clients.

What else do you do on your mobile phone?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Resource of the week Streamline icons

Streamline Icons boast over 30,000 icons. That’s Over 10,500 in three different weights. Fifty-three categories, 720 subcategories, and over 30,000 something in total.

These icons are great for UI designers. They have different pricing categories depending on if you want all three weights or just one of them. They also offer 100 icons in all three weights for free.

Dec 02 2019

38mins

Play

Design Business Networking - Part 2 - RD192

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Network without a face-to-face meeting.

Networking is an essential element to grow your business. In part 1 of this two-part series, I shared advice for getting out and interacting with people face-to-face to promote your design business.

But to many people, the thought of networking is intimidating. That’s why I suggested you don’t think of it as networking, but instead think of it as relationship building. When you adjust your mindset, it alleviates a lot of the burden that comes with trying to grow your business.

However, meeting people face to face isn’t the only way to network. There are other ways to build those relationships. Here are some less intimidating methods of reaching out to people.

Network with Email

You may not realize it, but every time you send out an email, you’re building relationships. And since relationship building is a crucial element in your business’s growth, you should consider upping your email game, especially when you’re just starting.

The best advice I can give you as a new design business owner is to email everyone you know. Not just family and friends. I’m talking

  • Former co-workers
  • Former bosses
  • Other designers
  • Printers
  • Former classmates
  • Your neighbours

Email everyone in your contact list. Let them know you’ve started your own design business and explain how you’re helping people solve their problems through your design services. Then ask if they know anyone who could benefit from working with you.

That’s a secret trick to networking. Don’t ask if they need your services, ask if they know anyone else who does.

This way, you’re asking for their help, which goes much further towards relationship building than asking them if they need a designer. It’s implied that if they need a designer, they can hire you.

Email is also an excellent way to grow an established design business. It can never hurt to reach out to people. Just change your message from “I started a design business” to “I’m looking for new clients for my design business.”

Don’t just ask them if they know anyone who could use your services, ask them for that person’s contact information so you can reach out to them directly. Most people won’t give you that information, but it shows them you’re serious, which will make them less likely to delete your message and instead ponder your question and possibly forward it on to someone.

Network with Social media

Networking is all about building relationships, which is the driving force behind social media. The trick to networking on social media is to interact with people positively. Join groups and communities where the type of people you want to work with hang out and help them.

If you work in a niche, then you’re all set. Join niche related groups and start engaging. If you don’t have a niche, try to figure out the type of client you want to work with and go to where they hang out online.

Once you find a group, start interacting. Answer people’s questions whenever you can. Leave comments on people’s posts. Post useful information and tidbits that will benefit people. Let people know you're there.

For example, as a designer working in the podcast niche, I’m part of several podcast-related communities. I scan those communities regularly for people asking questions about podcast artwork, or websites, and I try to answer them in the most helpful way I can.

I don’t offer my design services unless it’s directly related to their question. Instead, I offer advice free of any sales pitch. I’m building relationships.

On Instagram, I comment when people post their new podcast artwork. My comment usually goes something like this.

“Hi, I just wanted to let you know how much I like your new artwork. I design podcast artwork and websites, but you obviously don’t require my services. Good luck with your new podcast.”

Why do I bother when they already have artwork? Because maybe that person has their cover art done, but they still need a website. Seeing my comment may make them check out my website and hire me.

That’s what happened with one of my clients. She saw a comment I left about her friend’s new podcast artwork and reached out to me for help with the social media branding for her show.

The other reason I do this is that from time to time, someone will ask a question on facebook or LinkedIn such as “does anyone know where I can get my podcast cover artwork designed?” Inevitably, someone usually ends up mentioning my name before I get a chance to reply. Why? Because they’ve gotten to know me through my interactions in the group.

And when the person who asked the questions receives a dozen different designer names, I’m hoping they recognize my name from all the times I’ve helped other people in the group.

I’m building relationships. And you can too, all it takes is a tiny bit of time and the willingness to help.

Network with a Newsletter

Another great way to build and strengthen relationships is with a newsletter.

Andrew, a member of the Resourceful Designer Community,has a fabulous newsletter he shares with his clients.

In every issue, he shares useful business advice that may or may not relate to his services. He also shares some personal information about what he’s been up to lately and talks about a project or two that he’s recently completed. He always finishes his newsletter with a question. This question allows him to engage with his clients should they answer it.

A newsletter is a great way to keep in touch with current and past clients, which in turn will keep you front of mind should they hear of someone who is looking for a designer.

Networking with printed material

If you're running a design business, you should have a business card. I know, I know, we’re living in a new world where you can tap a button on your phone and someone’s contact information is instantly added to your contact list.

Don’t get me wrong. I love how easy to use our phones. When I was at WordCamp Ottawa, a presenter asked us to open LinkedIn, and with the press of a few buttons, I connected with over 40 WordPress enthusiasts in attendance.

But still, there’s nothing like having a conversation with someone and then handing them your business card. Or better yet, giving them several cards and asking them to share the extra with people who would benefit from working with you. Let them do the networking for you.

Business cards are not the only way to network with printed materials. You could try postcards, door hangers, pens and such. Anything that can be picked up is a form of networking, relationship building.

Get out there and build relationships.

So there you have it, four ways to network without having to meet people face to face: email, social media, newsletters and printed materials. Get out there and spread the word. Build relationships and watch your design business grow.

What's your experience with networking?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Resource of the week Font Macherator

According to the FontSpring website, The Macherator is the most robust font detection tool available. It offers powerful technology and features under the hood and allows you to match OpenType features. Something WhatTheFont doesn’t provide.

I’ve been using WhatTheFont for years. I have the app on my phone and have used it several times while I’m out and about and spot an attractive font. However, WhatTheFont is not infallible. There are several times it couldn’t identify a font for me. That’s why it’s nice to have Matcherator as a new player in the game for font identification.

If you want to give it a whirl, visit https://www.fontspring.com/matcherator

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 TwitterFacebook 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

Nov 25 2019

23mins

Play

Design Business Networking - RD191

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How do you feel about design business networking?

For some people, networking comes naturally. Put them in a crowd and watch them work their magic. But to other people, the thought of walking up to a stranger and starting a conversation fills them with dread.

I know, I was that guy. Growing up, I was as introverted as they get. Unless I was with my small group of friends, I preferred to be by myself. I was quiet, shy, and tended to avoid eye contact whenever possible, especially with those of the opposite sex. I was not one of the popular kids at school.

Then I got a job working at Sears and met my friend Mike. Mike and I worked together throughout high school and college. We didn’t work the same departments, but since we were the same age and had the same breaks and lunchtime, we started hanging out.

Mike was the complete opposite of what I was. I was quiet and kept to myself. Mike was loud and outgoing and treated everyone like they were great friends, even if they had just met. From the day we met, Mike set a goal to get me out of my shell. And he eventually did to an extent.

I’m by no means a converted extrovert. I still prefer to be by myself than spend time in large crowds. A small dinner gathering with a few friends, I’m in. A large party or gathering with dozens of people, I may take a raincheck on that one.

But I am much more outgoing than teenage me was. I have no problem striking up a conversation while in the checkout line at Walmart, or asking a perfect stranger for advice at a store. But stick me in a large gathering of people and tell me to go network, and I still feel that apprehension creep back.

Therein lies the problem for many designers, the apprehension towards networking. However, to grow your design business, you need to get out there and talk about your design business. You can’t just sit at your desk all day and hope the work comes to you. You can’t keep your fingers crossed and hope that your SEO efforts pay off, and clients start arriving in droves. It doesn’t work that way. Or at least for most designers, it doesn’t.

If you want your business to grow, you need to get out there, meet new people and talk about what you do.

So how do I get over the apprehension towards networking? I stopped thinking of networking as “networking.” Instead, I try to think of it as “relationship building.” I don’t attend gatherings with the intent of getting new clients or growing my business.

Don’t get me wrong. That is the desired outcome. Otherwise, why do it at all? But I don’t set it as a goal. Instead, I set a goal of starting and building relationships with people. I’m not there to win them over or sell them. I’m there to get to know them.

Removing the burden of being a salesperson makes it much easier for me to interact with perfect strangers. I present myself as an interested bystander as I get to know people. You see, Landing a new client is a byproduct of building relationships. Not the other way around.

I’ve talked many times before on the Resourceful Designer podcast about the importance of building relationships with your clients. And yes, you should be trying to build a relationship with every client you have. But relationship building isn’t exclusive to existing clients. Relationship building can be a strong precursor for someone to become a client eventually.

I do work for a media agency. I got the gig because I had built a relationship with the owner of the agency. Because of that relationship, when it came time for him to find a designer, I was the first person that came to mind.

But how does that help you at networking events? It doesn’t, but it does show you the power of relationship building. So what if you’re an introvert and the thought of networking or relationship building still terrifies you?

Here are some tips to help you network. Start with people you know.

It’s a lot easier to have a conversation with someone when you’re familiar with them. Talk with your doctor and dentist, the mechanic who services your car, your landlord, parents of your children’s friends. Old schoolmates. Anybody with whom you’re already familiar. Have conversations with them and be sure to mention small tidbits about what you do.

Find small gatherings.

You don’t need to attend large conferences to be successful. Start building relationships at a small gathering.

If you have kids, try talking with other parents at their school events. Don’t have kids? Look in your local area and attend events where you can meet people. Check Facebook for events happening near you, or try meetup.com.

Check to see if there’s a WordCamp near you. It’s a great place to meet people, and you’ll probably learn something while you’re there.

Listen and ask questions.

The best part of building relationships as opposed to networking is instead of trying to sell yourself; you’re trying to get to know people. Ask them questions about where they work and what they do. Then listen and follow up with more questions depending on how the conversation goes. Be sure to mention what you do, but don’t’ try to sell yourself.

Set a “People quota.”

Before attending an event, set a goal for yourself to meet a certain number of people. Tell yourself I want to meet X new people today. And once you’ve accomplished that goal, permit yourself to leave if you feel inclined.

Attending large conferences.

Before attending a large conference, join in the community. If there’s a Facebook group or such associated with the conference, become a part of it and get involved.

Follow the conference hashtags on Twitter or Instagram. Use the hashtags yourself. Take note of other people who are also excited about the conference and ask them if they would like to meet up once there. It will give you a reason and a base to talk to people.

The best thing about conferences is the people you meet. Given a choice, I will always skip a session or speaking panel to keep a great conversation going with someone I just met.

Get out there and do some design business networking.

So there you have it, tips to help you get over the fear of meeting new people and growing your design business.

I know this can be difficult, especially if you’re an introvert. But if you want to grow your design business, you need to get out there and talk about it. But like everything else in life, if you take it one step at a time, you’ll manage.

You may never become entirely comfortable having a conversation with a stranger. But hopefully, that feeling of apprehension will diminish, allowing you to give it your best effort.

Have a look in your local area and choose an event to attend. There’s no time like the present to get started.

What's your experience with networking?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Nov 18 2019

23mins

Play

Don't Cut Prices - Reduce Your Offering Not Your Price - RD190

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No matter how nicely a client asks, don't cut prices.

[sc name="pod_ad"]Does this sound familiar? You present a quote for a design project, and the client responds with, “Is there any way you can cut your price?”

If you haven’t heard that question before, or something similar, it’s only a matter of time. It’s almost a right of passage for home-based designers. Because you work for yourself, some people think they can haggle with you as if you were selling your services at a yard sale.

So what do you do when someone asks you to lower your price?

My advice is never lower your price. On Resourceful Designer 113, I talked about offering discounts. In that episode of the podcast, I shared six valid reasons for providing a discount, and three times you shouldn’t offer one. Can you guess where “Because the client asked for a discount” falls?

If you lower your price, you’ll be setting future precedences. Once a client knows they can negotiate with you, they’ll never take you, your services, or your prices seriously again. You’ll become a discount designer.

Even worse, the client may start spreading the word that your prices are negotiable, which is not the kind of reputation you want when trying to grow a business.

Hopefully, you’re in a good enough financial situation that you’re ok with possibly losing clients if you don’t cut prices.

But what if your financial situation isn't stable? What if times are tough and bills are piling up? Or you just started your business and money hasn’t started flowing in yet? Or for whatever reason, you cannot afford to turn down clients. What then?

That’s a conundrum. Lowering your prices may bring in a bit of money now, but it’s bad for future business. Whereas not cutting your prices may drive away clients, which is bad for your present business. So what’s the solution?

Don't cut prices, lower your offering instead.

What does this mean? It means you can appease your clients and meet their lower price expectations, but only if you equally lower the service you’re offering.

Look at it this way.

Imagine a contractor gives you a quote of $9,000 to completely renovate your bathroom. You think that price is a bit high, so you ask if there's any way he can do it for less?

The contractor replies he can do the job for $7,000, but only if you choose a laminate countertop instead of granite, and choose a ceramic tile for the flooring instead of marble. He lowered the price by reducing the offering.

You can do the same with your design services. Don’t cut prices. Instead, offer fewer services for a lower cost.

For example,

If a client thinks a web design project is too expensive, offer to lower the price in exchange for a three-page website instead of a six-page site.

If a client thinks your logo price is too high, offer to lower it by providing only two initial concepts instead of three, and allow only a single round of revisions instead of two or three.

Whatever the design project is, lower the price by offering fewer services or features. This way, the client gets a lower price, but you also reduce the amount of work required to complete the project. The client will appreciate you accommodating them, but they won't think they are getting a discount since they're still paying full price for the reduced services you are offering them.

And you know what? When you lower your offerings to lower the price, many clients will decide to stick with your original higher price for the extra value.

This is a similar concept to Three-Tier Pricing. Implementing a three-tiered pricing strategy is a great way to prevent people from asking you to lower your price because it’s built right in.

A three-tier pricing strategy works by offering a client three price options, the middle price being the one you hope they choose. The lower price option cuts back on the provided services, and the higher price option adds in extra perks and bonuses that may not be necessary.

The reason a three-tier pricing system works so well is that the human brain is wired to compare things to the first item it sees. If you go into a store to buy a new shirt, and the first shirt you pick up has a price tag of $40, then subconsciously, you will compare every other shirt in the store to that first one. A $60 shirt will seem expensive by comparison, and a $30 shirt will look of lesser quality compared to the $40 shirt.

This is why you see three-tiered pricing so often used for online purchases. In most cases, the middle price is labelled as “Best Value” or “Most Popular.” It’s a way to subconsciously embed that middle price as the focus element in the viewer's mind. When they see it, their brain automatically registers it as the base price. The higher price on the right may seem too expensive, and the lower price on the left won't feel like a good deal compared to the middle one.

The other benefit of three-tiered pricing is that instead of the purchaser wondering what other options are available elsewhere, they often use the three prices in front of them to make their decision.

But even if you don’t use a three-tier pricing model, it’s a good idea to use the lower-tiered strategy to lessen your services or options to reduce the cost should a client asks if you can do something for less.

Hopefully, you won’t be at this stage for too long, and your business will be successful enough for you not to have to cut prices. Instead, you can reply, "This is the price for what I'm offering.” and leave it to the client whether they want to work with you or find another designer. If they decide to hire you great. If not, no worries, you have plenty of other clients vying for your services.

Hopefully, you understand that lowering your price is never in your best interest. You have nothing to gain from doing so. You're now prepared not to offer a discount, but offer a lesser service that is more in line with what the client is willing to pay.

Don't cut prices. Lower your offering instead.

Do you use this strategy?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Resource of the week A good office chair

You can get by as a home-based designer with old computer equipment and inexpensive software, just don’t cheap out on your office chair.

On average, a home-based designer spends between 8-10 hours a day sitting in front of their computer. If you’re going to spend that much time sitting in front of your computer, you really should invest in a good quality, ergonomic chair. Something comfortable for long periods.

Trust me on this one. Your health, especially your back, will thank you for it.

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 TwitterFacebook 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

Nov 11 2019

21mins

Play

Four Vital Questions To Ask Design Clients - RD189

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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.

  1. You’ll start to understand your client’s needs better.
  2. Your clients will show more respect for what you do.
  3. 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;

  1. Showing your interest to your client, which helps build your relationship.
  2. Getting them to open up to you, making them feel more comfortable talking to you.
  3. 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 TwitterFacebookand 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

Nov 04 2019

27mins

Play

Make Your Marketing Message About Your Clients - RD188

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Less about you and more about your clients.

Graphic and web designers tend to have visually striking websites. However, where they excel in visuals and usability, they often lack in their marketing message. A lot of designers don’t know how to market themselves properly.

Have you ever heard the statement, “The best marketing in the world can’t help a bad product?” The same is true of the opposite. Bad marketing can harm a great product or service. That’s what many designers are doing to themselves — bad marketing.

Flip your marketing message.

Want to know a secret? Clients don’t care about you; they don’t care where you got your education; they don’t care what awards you’ve won; they don’t care what big-name clients you’ve worked with before; they don’t care about your processes and procedures. What the client cares about is whether or not you can help them with their problem.

As a designer, you’re a problem solver, and that’s all the client cares about, whether or not you can come up with a solution to whatever problem they are currently facing.

No business person wakes up in the morning, thinking, “I want to hire a designer today.” What they actually think is, “I need a logo, or website, or marketing material, etc. for my new business, and to get that, I’ll have to hire a designer today.”

It's the end product that will help their business that's important to them, not the designer. They don’t care about you. They care about whether or not you can provide what they need.

When it comes to their marketing message, a lot of designers are not putting the client’s needs first and foremost in their marketing. So what’s the trick? Stop talking about yourself and start talking about the client when promoting your services.

Put your clients' needs first.

It all comes down to your wording. Let me give you two hypothetical examples.

Designer #1has this statement on their home page.

“Need a designer? I’m an award-winning designer with over 15 years experience and I would love to work with you. If you would like to diacuss your project, please schedule a time via my contact form.”

Designer #1's statement is all about themself. There’s no incentive for the client to hire them. The client may be impressed by the credentials. But there’s nothing in the statement telling the client what’s in it for them.

Designer #1 delivered a very brief resume for the client to contemplate. Almost as if they were applying for a job position instead of being a professional business for hire.

But if we reworded the same message?

Designer #2 

“Do you have an idea that requires a designer? You’ve come to the right place. For over 15 years I’ve been helping people just like you with their creative needs. I look forward to working with you on your design project. Please let me know the best time for us to discuss your project via my contact form."

Do you see the difference?

Let’s dissect both statements from a client’s point of view.

Opening statement:

Designer #1“Need a designer?”

Designer #2“Do you have an idea that requires a designer?”

Remember, a client never needs a designer, what they need is something designed, and someone to do it for them. The design itself is more important to the client than the designer. So Designer #2 wins the opening statement because they appeal to the actual needs of the client. They talk about the problem.

The body:

Designer #1“I’m an award-winning designer with over 15 years experience, and I would love to work with you.”

Designer #2“You’ve come to the right place. For over 15 years, I’ve been helping people just like you with their creative needs. And I look forward to working with you on your design project."

Once again, Designer #1 is talking about themself, whereas Designer #2 is saying the same thing but from the point of view that takes the client's needs into account.

Closing statement:

Designer #1“If you would like to discuss your project, please schedule a time via my contact form.”

Designer #2“Please let me know the best time for us to discuss your project via my contact form.”

These two statements are almost identical, yet Designer #1 still manages to make it about them by telling the client, "here's when I'm available, pick a time." Designer #2, on the other hand, is asking the client to pick a time that is most convenient for them, making the client feel in charge.

Both designers may have the same time slots available on their calendars. But the difference in wording changes the emphasis from the designer to the client, creating a subtle difference that could persuade a client to choose Designer #2 over Designer #1.

The power of putting your client first.

These examples use one small paragraph. Imagine if you used this same marketing message strategy across an entire website. A client visiting a site with a marketing message talking about them and their problems would quickly start to feel like the designer behind that site gets them, understands their challenges and their needs. When that happens, the client will start thinking, “I need to work with this designer.”

Isn’t that the goal of your website? To entice clients to want to work with you?

So stop explaining your skills and your accomplishments, and start weaving those same facts into your narrative as you tell clients how their problems will be solved by working with you. In the end, that’s all that matters to the client.

P.S. Once you learn how to create a marketing message that focuses on the client. You’ll be able to incorporate this same process into websites you build for those clients, creating high converting sites they will love.

Does your marketing message talk more about you or your client?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Resource of the week Divi 4.0

The Divi Theme Builder is a fully-featured website templating system that allows you to use the Divi Builder to structure your site and edit any part of the Divi Theme including headers, footers, post templates, category templates and more. Each Theme Builder template consists of a custom Header, Footer and Body layout. These three areas can be built and customized using the Divi Builder and its full set of modules along with Dynamic Content.

Click here to learn more about Divi 4.0 and to purchase your copy.

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 TwitterFacebook 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

Oct 28 2019

20mins

Play

Choosing A Name For Your Design Business - RD187

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Are you having trouble choosing a name for your design business?

[sc name="pod_ad"]How much trouble are you having choosing a name for your design business? Do you already have a name picked out or are you wracking your brain thinking up and then discarding dozens of names hoping to find one that suits you?

One of the hardest decisions entrepreneurs face is choosing a name for their business.

In a previous episode of Resourceful Designer, I talked about the pros and cons of using your name as your business name compared to using a unique made-up name. Consider this episode a sequel to that one.

Why choosing the right business name is important.

Why is the name you choose for your design business so important? It’s important because word of mouth is and always will be a design company’s most lucrative avenue for acquiring new clients. Ask any home-based or freelance designer, and they’ll tell you that the bulk of their work comes from word of mouth referrals.

Therefore, choosing a good, memorable name could help propel your company by making it easier for clients to spread the word about your services. Whereas, if you choose a poor, hard to remember name, you could impede your company’s growth.

Imagine someone asking a friend about web design.

– "Do you know where I can get a website made?"

– "Yes, I heard of this place called 'The Web Design Studio,' you could try there."

OR

– "Do you know where I can get a website made?"

– "Yes, I heard of this place called... 'Stellarific Web Design'? or maybe it was 'Synergific Web Design'? 'Stunningific'... I don’t know, it started with an S and had 'ific' at the end of the name. Sorry I can't be more helpful."

Yes, your business name matters.

A process for choosing a name for your design business

Make the process of choosing a name for your design business easy on you by starting with a procedure you should be familiar with.

Chances are every design project you start begins with a design brief. It might be a multi-page document with a detailed analysis of what the design project needs to accomplish. Or it might be a 5-minute conversation where a client briefly explains what they are looking for. Either way, you have a brief to work from to create your designs.

Use the same method for choosing your business name. Create a naming brief. Ask yourself some standard brief questions to help guide you in choosing a name.

1) Who is your target audience?

If you are targeting a niche, it might make sense to choose a name for your business that fits in well with that niche.

If you are targetting small to medium size law offices, then a name such as Rock On Designs may not be suitable. However, if your target market is people in the music industry, then Rock On Designs may be a perfect fit. If you plan on targetting a niche, you may want to consider a name that suits that niche.

For example, Craig Burton's design company is called School Branding Matters. Can you guess who his target market is?

2) Descriptive or Abstract?

Do you want a descriptive name, something with meaning like Reliable Design Services? Or do you want something more abstract like Peacock Creative Agency?

3) Real or Made Up Words?

Do you want a business name that uses real words like Solid Core Creative? Or do you want to create a new word like Ryjo Design Services?

Rember that word of mouth is a key source of new design clients. If you create new words, make sure they’re short, easy to remember and easy to pronounce.

Be careful with the fad of dropping vowels from words. It may be cute and the "In thing," but it could also confuse your target market. How many times do you think Chris Do has to say, “That’s 'The Futur' without an “e” at the end.” I’m sure that can become tedious very fast.

There are no right or wrong names for your business. Names are subjective, just like designs are. What one person likes another won’t. Make sure you choose a name that feels right for you and the design market you are targetting.

Criteria for choosing a name.

Here are some criteria you can use to determine a name's effectiveness. Create a grid with potential names listed on the left and these criteria listed along the top. Then assign a score of 1 to 5 under each criteria for each of the names. Once done, add up the scores for each name, and the one with the highest score is probably the best choice for your design business.

Assign a score from 1 to 5 for each of the following criteria.

  • Distinctiveness (How distinct is the name? Ex. Joe’s Design Studio probably ranks a 1 or 2, whereas Joe’s Emporium of Creativity ranks a 4 or 5)
  • Emotional Impact (What emotional impression does it give clients? Joe's Design Studio doesn't enlist much of an emotional response, but Amazing Creations Design Studio does.)
  • Clarity (Do people know what the business does just by hearing the name?)
  • Pronounceable (Is the name hard for people to say?)
  • Memorable (Is the name easy to remember?)
  • Trademarkable (Can the name be trademarked?)
Do Your Research

Once you come up with a solid list of potential names for your design business, it’s time to do your research.

The problem with discovering the perfect name for your business is, if the name is that good, chances are someone thought of it before you.

Before you get too excited about a name, do some research to see if you can use the name. Start by Googling the name and see what comes up. Are there any other design businesses using it or a very similar name? Make sure you search broadly enough. There may not be another graphic or web designer around with the name you like. But what about interior designers, fashion designers, or even cake designers?

If you are in the USA, try searching through the U.S. Patent and Trademark website. It’s an excellent place to see if anyone has already registered the name you like.

Companies in different industries can sometimes have the same names providing there is no chance of mistaking one company for the other. For example, "Crowd Pleaser Creative Services" and "Crowd Pleaser Pool Installations."There is little chance a client will mix up these two companies.

Just because another design company has the same name as you doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t use the name. It all depends on where they registered the name. A name registered in the USA doesn't prevent someone from registering the same name elsewhere, such as in Canada or Australia.

Contact your local municipality's business resource center and get their advice on registering your business name. They’ll be glad to help.

I highly suggest you get a lawyer involved when it comes time to register your business name. It’s good for you to do your research, but a lawyer who specializes in business law will have more resources available to make sure the job is done correctly. Hire a lawyer to vet your name before you spend money trying to register it.

Simple names are not always the best names.

Something else to avoid is using common words or popular "keywords" when naming your business. Earlier I used an example of a web design business called The Web Design Studio. In reality, The Web Design Studio is not a very good name for a business because it will be almost impossible to rank for it in search engines since it's a term used by many web design businesses.

What it comes down to

The name you give your design business is one of the most critical touch points for anyone encountering your business. You can update logos and branding reasonably quickly, but not so much with a name. However, your business name, although important, is only one facet of your business. A great name won’t guarantee success, just like a less than ideal name doesn’t ensure failure.

It’s up to you to ensure that the business you are running creates a strong foundation for your business name to live up to. As long as the name you choose reflects your brand and values, you should be good.

How hard was it for you to come up with your business name?

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 Pauline

When you're brand new in business, should you price a little lower at first, or are you storing up trouble for later?

To find out what I told Pauline, you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Oct 21 2019

30mins

Play

Clarifying Your Brand Message - RD186

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How do you answer the question, "What do you do for a living?"

Does this sound familiar? You meet someone for the first time, and they ask, "What do you do for a living?" and you reply that you’re a graphic designer or a web designer or a UX Designer or whatever form of designer you identify as. Then one of two things happen. The person you’re talking to replies with “that’s great” and then immediately changes the subject. Or, they show a mild interest and ask you to explain more. Perked up by the inquiry, you stumble through your repertoire that you design logos and websites and posters and brochures and t-shirts and tradeshow booths, etc. etc. etc.

Pretty soon, the person you’re conversing with is smiling and nodding with a glassy-eyed expression that indicates they regret asking you for more details.

That’s the problem with our industry. Most people have heard of designers, but unless they’ve dealt with one of us before, they have no idea what it is we do. And when they do find out, they quickly realize they don’t care.

Saying you’re a graphic designer is not the same as saying you’re a firefighter, or an electrician, or a dentist, or an accountant. All these professions have a distinct image in people’s minds. Sure, there are many different types of accountants, but regardless of what branch of accounting someone works in, most people understand that an accountant spends their day working with numbers. That's the acknowledged impression of who an accountant is.

But when it comes to designers. Most people don’t know what you do on a day to day basis, nor do they care. And the reason most people don't care is that most designers are not clarifying their brand message when it comes to presenting themselves.

The proper way to respond when someone asks you, "What do you do for a living?" is not to talk about yourself; instead, you should be talking about your ideal client and how you solve problems for them.

The idea for this topic came to me after reading an article on Medium titled Stop Calling Yourself A Freelancer, written by Andrew Holliday of Special Sauce Branding. If you’ve been following Resourceful Designer for a while, you’ll know that I don’t like the term freelancer, I find it demeans what we do as designers. The connotation behind the term freelancer is someone who is flighty and doesn’t take what they do seriously. I've never called myself a freelancer. I’m an entrepreneur, a business owner. And the business I chose is design.

While reading Andrew's article, I found myself agreeing with his statements, especially on how people perceive freelancers as interchangeable commodities. Then one part of his article jumped out at me. A section titled “Clarify Your Message.”

In his article, Andrew states that the easiest way to clarify your brand message, one that connects with your ideal client and doesn’t just sound like spewed blabber about yourself, is to write a brand script and memorize it.

And it’s so easy to write a branding script. All you have to do is complete these four sentences.

  1. My client is...
  2. They struggle with...
  3. I help them by...
  4. The one thing that makes me different is...

That’s all there is to it.

By completing these four simple sentences, you’ll have a script that provides structure for your business, your brand, AND all your marketing for your design business. It identifies your ideal client, it defines their problem, it solidifies your solution, and it states why you are the perfect design partner for them.

Now, maybe you’re thinking, “I'm not going to say all of that when someone asks me, "What do you do for a living?” and you’d be right not to. It’s overkill. This script is meant to clarify your brand message for YOU.

When it comes to the “What do you do for a living?” question, you need to simplify your script to a single sentence. As Andrew put it, it’s your brand one-liner.

Your brand one-liner is something you’ll be able to use on your website, your social media accounts, your marketing material, AND in every conversation you have where you talk about what you do. Especially when asked, “What do you do for a living?”

Here's how you shorten your script down to a single one-line sentence. You take what you composed for your four-line script and break it down to this.

I help __ to __.

For example, I help small businesses to grow their customer base with a strong brand image. Or, if you want to be a bit more creative, I help small businesses to clobber their competition with comprehensive sales funnels that drive sales through the roof.

Now those are conversation starters that are sure to peak interest, especially if the person you're talking to is a small business owner.

Once you have your brand one-liner figured out and memorized, you won’t be stumbling over an answer the next time someone asks you, “What do you do for a living?”

If you are interested, Andrew, who wrote the Medium article inspiring today's topic, has a worksheet to help you craft your brand script.

What's your brand one-liner?

Do you already have a brand one-liner, or are you now planning on writing one? Please share it in the comments 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 Pauline

How do you manage holidays/vacations, both in terms of responding to initial inquiries, and/or making progress on current projects?

To find out what I told Pauline, you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week BackBlaze

Never Lose a File Again with the World's Easiest Cloud Backup. Backblaze gives you peace of mind knowing your files are backed up securely in the cloud. Just set it up and forget about it. Backblaze works in the background and automatically backs up new and modified files.

With their Version History feature, Backblaze allows you to quickly revert to a previously saved version of files you have backed up. 30-days of Version History is available on all plans. For a small monthly fee, Version History can go back as far as 1-year or more.

The Map Your Computer feature allows you to track your computer via an IP address or even the ISP it's using. Perfect in the event your computer is misplaced or stolen. Coordinate with the police and get your hardware back.

Hard drive crashes are only one thing you need to worry about. Your files are also vulnerable to hardware theft and natural disasters such as floods, fires, earthquakes etc. With Backblaze, you can rest at ease, knowing your business files are safe no matter what happens. Backblaze works on Mac or PC and starts at just $55/year.

Oct 14 2019

25mins

Play

Are You An Investment Or An Expense? - RD185

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When pitching, do you position yourself as an Investment or an Expense?

I've covered a similar topic to this in a past episode of the podcast. This time around, I don't want you to think like a designer. Instead, I want you to put on your entrepreneurial hat, and think like a business owner.

As a business owner, what is your number one goal? If you answered anything other than growing your business, you need to rethink your priorities. Any business owner who’s first goal isn’t to grow their business, might as well throw in the towel and find a job working for someone else.

Don’t get me wrong; according to Entrepreneur.com, there are plenty of reasons to start a business.

  • To provide a needed service
  • To help people
  • The Freedom it gives you
  • The pride of ownership
  • Allows you to follow your passion
  • Gives you more flexibility
  • Lower taxes

However, regardless of why someone starts a business, if their priority, once the business is running, isn’t growth, then failure is almost a sure thing. Because in the business world, standing still is the same as going backward.

With that in mind, what is one fundamental way to grow any business? Let me give you a hint. To make money, you need to... SPEND MONEY.

For any business to succeed, the owner has to spend money on the company’s behalf. And there are only two types of spending when it comes to business — spending as an investment or an expense.

What’s the difference between spending as an investment or an expense? The difference is ROI, Return on Investment.

When spending money on a business the owner needs to determine whether or not there is an expectation of return from that spending. With an investment there is. The same cannot be said of an expense. Have you ever heard the term ROE - return on expense? I haven’t. An article on the website Ratchet and Wrench states “you can recover an expense, but only by identifying it and reframing it as an investment”

So with an expense, a return is not expected. However, there is a return expected with an investment. The very definition of an investment is “to allocate money in the expectation of some benefit in the future.”

So once again, thinking like a business owner, what do you think will help you grow your business faster? Spending money on an expense or spending money on an investment?

The obvious answer is as an investment. The tricky part is knowing how to identify which is which.

Investment vs. Expense.

How do you know when an expenditure is an investment or an expense? Is a building an expense or an investment? What about a vehicle? Office furniture? Decore? Association or Memberships fees? Training?

It can sometimes be challenging to identify because many spendings could fall into either category. A business owner needs to be able to identify, which is which and try to minimize expenses while spending on investments to grow their business.

Ok, you can take off that entrepreneurial hat and start thinking like a designer again. As a designer, whenever you pitch an idea to a client, be it a logo design, a new website, a car wrap, or a trade show booth. Are you consciously positioning yourself as a business expense or as a business investment?

Are your clients wondering how much your services will cost them, or do they imagine how much your services will earn them? Do you see the importance of that distinction?

As soon as you flip that switch, and get clients thinking about the ROI, the return on their investment with you, then the price you charge isn’t an issue anymore. When done right, the client will think you are not charging nearly enough and sign your contract before you come to your senses.

How to position yourself as an investment.

The way to position yourself as an investment is by showing your client the value you bring them.

For a logo design project, you want to explain how the new logo will be memorable, increase client retention and familiarity with the brand and grow the customer base. More customers sound good to any business owner.

Plus, a new logo can rank at the top of the market and possibly even surpass the competition’s brand imagery. How much is it worth to a business to be seen in higher standards than their competition? $1,000? $5,000, $10,000?

There’s much more to successfully pitching a branding project, but you get the idea. Your part of the selling process is much easier when the client sees you as an investment.

For a web design project, never agree to a web project simply because "the client needs a website." It's a given that every business needs a website, but there's much more to it. Why do they need a website? If a client's only reason for a new site is because everyone else has one, then what you are offering is an expense for the client.

However, by positioning the website as a client acquisition tool that, once again grows its customer base, increases their sales rates, brings more awareness to their brand, etc., etc. Suddenly the cost of the website changes from an expense to an investment.

So many designers struggle with pricing. They are afraid to let the client know how much a project will cost, for fear of losing the job. Don't be like them.

Prepare your clients by showing them how hiring you is an investment and not an expense, and the cost often becomes a moot point. When taking the ROI of their investment into consideration, most clients will think you are not charging enough.

When done correctly, you will discover just how easy it is to land design projects.

How are you positioning yourself?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Oct 07 2019

24mins

Play

Deductible Business Expenses To Be Aware Of - RD184

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Do you claim all the business expenses you're entitled?

[sc name="pod_ad"]Are you aware of all the things you can claim as business expenses when running a home-based design business?

You've heard the saying, "You need to spend money to make money"? People quoting that often neglect to inform you that some of the money you spend running your design business, can be recuperated as business expenses.

If you are running your own design business, you really should enlist the help of a professional when it comes to filing your taxes. If not, you could be losing out on entitled money. The cost of hiring an accountant or bookkeeper is a wise investment when it comes to doing business.

With that said, I am not an accountant or bookkeeper. I'm going to share some often overlooked expenditures that may qualify as business expenses for you. Please verify with whoever prepares your business taxes if you are allowed to claim any of the following.

People

In the course of running your design business, you may need to hire external help. The money you pay these people may qualify as business expenses.

  • Virtual Assistants
  • Business Coaches
  • Contractors (illustrators, programmers, developers, designers, etc.)
  • Massage Therapists / Physio Therapists (after those long days sitting in your chair)
  • Counseling
  • Accountant / Bookkeeper
Subscriptions

As a designer, there are plenty of reoccurring expenses when it comes to your design business. You can claim many of them on your taxes.

  • Design Software
  • Wordpress Plugins
  • Software Addons
  • Membership / Club fees
  • Magazine subscriptions
Business Expenses

You can claim the costs involved with running and promoting your design business as business expenses.

  •  Advertising fees
  • Delivery and Shipping Costs
  • Legal, accounting and professional fees
  • Tax prep
  • Bank fees
  • Processing fees
Travel Expenses

You can claim business-related travel expenses, whether it's to a conference or to see a client, on your taxes as business expenses

  • Conferences costs (travel, hotel, ticket fees, meals)
  • Networking event fees
  • Travel Expenses (fuel, parking, rental, car wash, maintenance)
  • Vehicle expenses, including interest on loan or lease payments.
Home Office Expenses
  • Office Decorations
  • Work Clothes (must be branded to your business)
  • Cleaning (house, yard)
  • Office Supplies
Personal Expenses
  • Computer Glasses
  • Cellular phone
  • Computer Tablet
  • Smart Watch
  • Training / Courses
  • Child Care

These are only a few of the hundreds of things that may qualify as business expenses.

In some cases, you won't be able to claim some of these items. It all depends on your situation, your business, and where you live. Check with your accountant. They'll know what you can and cannot claim.

I go into more detail on each item on the podcast. Be sure to listen to the episode for the full story.

What unusual item have you claimed as a business expense?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Tip of the week Entrepreneur Mindset

I heard someone quote Tony Robbins on a podcast recently. To paraphrase the quote, "Being an entrepreneur is 80% mindset and 20% mechanics." I couldn't agree more. Without the confidence and proper mindset, you will not succeed. And when you do have the appropriate confidence and mindset, the actual running part of your business should come easily.

As Henry Ford put it, "If you think you can, or you think you can't, you are right." So when it comes to running your design business, make sure you have a "CAN" attitude. It will make things so much easier.

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 TwitterFacebook, 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

Sep 30 2019

27mins

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With Age, Comes Wisdom - RD183

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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 TwitterFacebookand 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

Sep 23 2019

16mins

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Are Updates Leaving You Behind? - RD182

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When was the last time you updated a piece of software?

Think about the last time you updated a piece of software. Whether it was an app on your phone, a website plugin or theme or an application on your computer. When you updated it, did you look at why it was being updated by reading the release or change notes?

There are three main reasons why a piece of software requires an update.

  1. Bug Fixes
  2. Security improvements
  3. New Features and Functionality

Do you know which of these reasons each update you perform is for, and why it was released?

We've been taught to update without thinking about the reason.

It’s become so easy these days to update software. Our phones have a convenient “Update All” button, so we don’t have to scroll and update each app individually. There are convenient services that allow you to manage and update multiple WordPress websites from a single dashboard. Even the software on your computer makes it easy. Most of the time, a popup will appear informing you of a new update and asking if you want to update the program right away or do it later. In some cases Later will happen in the background without you needing to be there.

What added new features and functionality do those apps, plugins, and software you download offer? By not paying attention to why there's an update to a piece of software, are you being left behind? Are you missing out on functionality that may improve your processes and your abilities as a designer?

I remember back in the day when physical floppy disks or CDs were required to update software. In those days, software companies would mail you promotional material showcasing all the great new features they were adding to their program hoping you would purchase it. I also remember reading magazine articles leading up to the new releases describing how each new feature would make my life easier. With today's subscription models, software companies don't need to sell us with the hype of new features, they already have our money.

I remember reading about the upcoming version 3 of Adobe Photoshop with the introduction of great new features, including one called Layers. I just had to have it, no matter the cost. By the time I received and installed the latest versions, I knew every new feature available to me and whether or not it was something I would use.

Nowadays, there isn’t as much fanfare with software releases as there used to be. We've been conditioned to automatically click when we see a little red dot without giving it much thought. Maybe it’s just me not being on top of things or following the right blogs or social media accounts, but I don’t think I’m the only one in the dark. Are you’re like this too? It makes me wonder what other features programs such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop have that I don't know about that could benefit me.

Adobe regularly releases a major update for all their programs each October. Many Adobe users, myself included have absolutely no idea what new features Photoshop, Illustrator and all the other CC programs will have. There are probably articles highlighting what new features to expect. But unless you search for them, there's a good chance you'll update your software without giving it much thought. What will you be missing out?

If you want to improve your productivity, increase your skills, and add to your toolbox, the next time you update an app, plugin, or software, read the changelogs or release notes. Learn why the update was released and what possible new features and functionality they offer.

So let me ask you again, when you perform a software update, do know why?

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 a member of the Resourceful Designer Community

I have a website project that has stalled out and has been dormant for several months. My client is unable or unwilling to provide me what I need to complete the site. The copywriter I hired is demanding full payment for her services even though there’s still some outstanding copy to be written that’s dependent on what the client still needs to provide me. Should I be paying the copywriter her full fee even though not all the agreed upon copy was written?

To find out what I told them, you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week Careful Cents article on Lowering Invoicing Fees

Do you use PayPal as part of your invoicing process? Are you aware of the fees you are paying to use the service? Would you like to lower those fees and keep more of your hard-earned money? Decrease PayPal Fees: 5 Ways To Lower Invoicing Feesis an article on Careful Cents that may be able to help you do just that.

Sure, transfer and processing fees are the costs of doing business. But lowering those fees by even half a percent could save you thousands of dollars each year and put more money in your pocket.

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 TwitterFacebook, 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

Sep 16 2019

24mins

Play

Moving The Needle For Your Design Business - RD181

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Are you moving the needle and growing your design business?

Let me ask you a question. What have you done today, this week, this month that will help propel your design business? How are you moving the needle towards future growth and sustainability?

Isn't that a funny saying; "Moving the needle"? It means making a significant difference, having a measurable statistic that will change as a result of an action.

So let me ask you again, how are you moving the needle for your graphic or web design business? What actions are you taking that will produce a measurable change in the statistics of your business?

Statistics such as:

  • Getting more clients.
  • Increasing your revenue
  • Streamlining your processes.

What are you doing to move your business forward?  

Businesses are like sharks.

Just like a shark can't sit still or it will die, for a business to prosper, it needs to make advancements. it needs to look forward towards the future, It needs to evolve.

Think of car companies such as Ford or Honda. They don't just develop a new car and let it be. No, every year they make advancements and evolve each one of their models. The 2020 Ford Edge or Honda Civic is better than the 2019 models which were better than the 2018 models.

Subway, the biggest restaurant chain in the world, even larger than McDonalds, did not get to where they are by riding the status quo and always offering the same sandwiches. 

No, all these companies grew, because they evolved with the times, they experimented, they introduced new options and features. These companies are continually moving the needle.

Now I don't expect your design business to compare on the same levels as Subway, Ford or Honda. But if you're not consciously trying to improve your business, there's a good chance others who are will surpass you.

Even if you are happy with the current state of your business, if you're lucky enough to be making a decent living and you have plenty of clients to keep you busy, that doesn't mean it will always be that way. 

If it did, your town or city would have a family run general store instead of a Walmart or other big-box chain.

No matter how great your design business may be right now, you can never forget that even the best clients can shut down, reduce their design budget or even find another designer.

New technologies and software are always emerging, that makes our jobs easier, but they also make it easier for clients to do things on their own, requiring less and less of our services.

And as time goes by, you'll need to adjust your income to accommodate your ever-changing lifestyle, not to mention inflation who's steady pace seems to be a sprint.

It's great to be happy with the current state of your business, as long as you don't get complacent. Avoid getting into habits and routines that keep you in the status quo. If you do, you'll find that eventually you'll become out of the loop and be outdated.

So how do you move the needle?
  • Make sure you stay up to date with technology and trends. 
  • Learn a new skill that makes you more valuable to your clients. 
  • Find new avenues to promote your business.
  • Become more involved with your existing client's business.
  • Streamline your process and become more efficient.
  • Build a team that can help you evolve and grow.

Once again let me ask you. What are you doing to move the needle for your design business? Take one step today that'll help you in the long run. That's what moving the needle is all about. 

Growing a business is a journey; you need to do it one step at a time. Even a baby step still counts.

How do you plan on moving the needle for your design business?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Tip of the week Professional Head Shots

Clients always prefer dealing with a person over a faceless company. Having your photo visible on your website creates that sense of intimacy clients seek when hiring a designer. Seeing your face gives them comfort that they are dealing with a real person.

Since you only get one chance to make a first impression, why not give it the best shot you can by having your photo taken by a professional photographer. Not only will a professional photographer capture the best you, but visitors to your website will see that you take your business seriously enough to invest in professional photos.

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 TwitterFacebook 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

Sep 09 2019

15mins

Play

Embracing A YES Attitude - RD180

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Do you have a YES attitude when it comes to accepting design projects?

If you want to grow as a designer, you need to embrace a YES attitude when it comes to dealing with prospective design projects.

I’m hearing more and more designers, both graphic and web, who turn down projects because the job doesn’t fit their skill set. It frustrates me when I hear this. It frustrates me because I’ve been there and I’ve done that.

When my design business was still relatively new, I turned down several projects and several clients because I didn’t know how to do what they were asking.

I turned down a $50K website project because I wasn’t comfortable enough with my knowledge of PHP and MySQL. I wasn’t sure I was capable of doing the job and was afraid to try. I’m not an illustrator, so when projects requiring illustration came my way, I would turn them down.

It frustrates me now knowing how much work I turned away, and how many possible great clients I ended up not working with because I didn’t have the skills for the job, so I turned them down.

I wish I knew then what I know now. Running a design business as a solopreneur, all by yourself doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. Yes, you should take every opportunity to learn and expand yourself as a designer, but in some cases, the best option is to team up with someone proficient in the skills you lack.

Every independent designer requires a team.

In episode 77 of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I talked about how being a self-employed designer requires a team effort, how every independent designer needs to have an arsenal of peers and associates with complimenting skill sets to fill in the gaps that they have. 

That’s where embracing a yes attitude comes in. And it’s simple. When a client asks you if you can do something, say yes even if you don’t know how to do it.

Saying yes to one of these projects can open incredible doors for you. If it’s doable, use the project to learn the skill you are lacking and add it to your repertoire. If it’s not something you can or want to learn, find someone who can do it for you.

When I started embracing a yes attitude, it propelled my design business by leaps and bounds. I embraced a yes attitude and stopped turning down jobs on the pretense that I wasn’t sure I could do them.

This doesn’t mean you should take on every single job presented to you. There are still plenty of valid reasons to turn down design projects. What I’m saying, is to embrace a yes attitude for projects that sound great but that you’re not sure how to do. Then figure out how to do them yourself, or figure out who can do them for you.

Grow as a designer.

Since embracing a yes attitude, I’ve had a client ask me if I could add their logo to a photo and make it look like a neon sign. I’ve had a client ask me if I could create a realistic-looking 3D type heading and make it look like it was on fire, with realistic flames. I’ve had a client ask me to create a title heading for their poster with the words made out of stacked ice cubes.

I didn’t have the foggiest idea of how to do these things when I took on the jobs. But when they asked me I readily said yes, I could do that. And you know what? I figured out how.

You don’t need to know how to do something beforehand to get it done. Learn along the way.

Grow your design entourage.

Since embracing a yes attitude I’ve had clients ask me for e-commerce websites, I’ve had clients ask me for illustrations, for video. In each case, I found someone who could do those things for me and delivered the job.

Saying yes to a client doesn’t mean you have to do it yourself. It just means you can get the job done.

Solve the problem.

Remember, as a designer; you’re a problem solver. It’s your job to provide a solution to what your clients want or need. Solution, that’s the keyword. A solution indicates that the answer is unknown and you must discover it. This challenge applies to every design project.

So the same way the answer is unknown, the skills and knowledge required to complete a project may be unknown at the start as well.

Part of finding that solution may be trying to figure out how you’re going to get something done that you don’t know how to do. Say yes, and then find the solution.

When you say yes to one of these design projects, you end up adding to your skill set, your repertoire, possibly to your portfolio, and of course, to your reputation.

Clients will appreciate you.

I know some designers feel like this is being deceitful to their clients. However, a client doesn’t care if it was you or someone you oversaw that completed the work as long as they are happy with the outcome.

Think of it this way, whenever someone is having surgery, they want to know who the doctor operating is. But surgeons never operate alone. They have a team assisting them and doing things the doctor can’t or shouldn’t be doing themselves.

The same goes for your design business; you’re the “design surgeon”; the client is hiring you. They don’t need to know who your team is because they’re putting their trust in you. As long as you deliver, they’ll be happy, and they’ll keep coming back.

All because you embraced a yes attitude.

What was the last project you took on that you didn' have the skill set for?

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 Christie

I have a question. Many times when I’m asked to do a new project, there are elements of the project that I don’t know how to do. One guy needs a video along with his marketing, another needs illustration, etc. My experience is designing websites, brochures, email, mailers and I don’t feel I’m very good with logos. I also don’t know video, have a great camera or know how to do the backend of a website. All of these things would have been done for me at companies I’ve worked at before, and my freelance projects have been so random that I’m continually learning new skills. It’s nice, but sometimes I don’t know what to do in those scenarios since I don’t know a lot of other freelancers. Can you recommend some resources or best practice? I’m just starting out.

To find out what I told Christie you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week Your Local Library

Your local library can be an excellent opportunity for you and your design business. We often forget all the great resources libraries offer. Libraries are great for learning, getting inspiration, self-improvement, hosting presentations, and so much more.

Enquire with your local library to see what services they offer that you could incorporate into your life.

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 TwitterFacebook 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

Sep 02 2019

24mins

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Niching: Stalking Your Client Herd - RD179

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Finding clients at niche conferences

I had planned a different topic for this week, but after attending Podcast Movement last week, I want to share my experiences hoping they can help with your design business.

Here’s a little background.

I’ve attended five out of the six years Podcast Movement has been around. The first year I couldn't attend, but I did purchase a virtual ticket so technically I've been part of all of them.

The first one I went to was in Fort Worth, Texas, in 2015. That was before I launched Resourceful Designer. At that time I was a TV Show Fan podcaster, in fact, I still am. If you’re a fan of the science fiction television shows Killjoys or The Expanse you can check out my fan podcasts on my network at Solo Talk Media.

In 2016 I attended Podcast Movement as both a TV Show fan podcaster and as host of Resourceful Designer. But my attendee badge still listed me as Mark Des Cotes from Solo Talk Media. I changed that In 2017 and 2018. When I attended those conferences, I made sure Resourceful Designer was front and center since it was my main podcast. 

Attending the conferences as the host of Resourceful Designer started to get my name out there as a designer. After all, I was doing a podcast related to the design industry, so I must be a designer, right? 

What started happening was whenever the topic of podcast artwork or websites came up, my name got passed around. It would be in the context of, “you need artwork, or you need a website? Mark is a designers, maybe he could help you.” Sure, my name was shared, but so was every other designer out there.

A change of strategy.

This year I did something different. In February 2019, I launched Podcast Branding; a company focused on providing professional design services to podcasters.

I’ve talked about niches in episodes 54 and episode 93 of the Resourceful Designer podcast. Not to mention my interview with Craig Burton in episode 174 where we talked about his work in the School Branding niche. I decided to take my advice and started a company that focused on the podcast niche. Podcast Branding was born.

Attending the conference.

At a podcast conference, the icebreaker question whenever you meet someone new is, “do you have a podcast?” After all, the majority of attendees either have a podcast or are thinking of starting one.

So at Podcast Movement, when someone asked me, “do you have a podcast?” I answered, “Yes, but I’m here promoting my company Podcast Branding,” and the rest of the conversation focused on their branding needs and the services I offer.

Before I knew it, my name was being passed around to anyone interested in podcast artwork or websites. People were tapping me on the shoulder, saying, “so-and-so said I should talk to you.” In some cases, I didn't even know who the "so-and-so" who referred me was. 

These conversations usually ended with them asking me for my business card so they could reach out to me after the conference. Throughout the four day conference, I quickly gained recognition, not as Mark, the graphic designer who can possibly help you. But as Mark, the guy who specializes in artwork and websites for podcasters. I was the "podcast designer."

It just goes to show you that being available to a niche and actively focusing on a niche are two different things. For years, I was available to podcasters for their design needs. It wasn’t until I decided to focus and target podcasters that things took off.

And for the record, I landed several new clients at the conference, and even more emails with “Hi Mark, I met you at Podcast Movement." are starting to come in.

I put my money where my mouth is and took my advice. I attended a conference where my target market was. I promoted a business that focuses on that target market, and my name is now slowly spreading amongst that market as THE person to talk to when it comes to their branding needs.

It could work for you.

If you target a particular niche, even as a side gig, the best thing you can do is go where your target market is. After all, what better place to network, than a large gathering of your ideal target market?

Find a conference in your niche market and try to attend. Before you know it, your name may become known as THE designer for that niche.

Clients know the added value of working with a designer who specializes in their industry and are willing to invest more in hiring them.

Have you ever attended a conference to pick up clients?

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 Juliane

I'm curious if you have any resources on how to charge sales tax for prints?

To find out what I told Juliane you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Tip of the week Dealing with stubborn or difficult clients.

Sometimes, it’s easier to make a client happy by doing what they ask, even if it goes against your better design judgement. It's not worth arguing with them and possibly pushing them away just to make your point.

The client is always right, even when you secretly know how wrong they are.

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 TwitterFacebook 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

Aug 26 2019

34mins

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Using Social Media To Promote Your Design Business - RD178

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Are you promoting your design business through social media?

[sc name="pod_ad"]Many designers don't know how to use social media to attract design clients. They post their work hoping to attract business, but all they get is a following of fellow designers. Does this sound familiar?

I'm by no means an expert on social media. That's why I invited Andéa Jones of OnlineDrea to join me and help clear the confusion of attracting clients via social media. Andréa is a social media strategist who helps businesses build their online presence through targeted social media and content marketing solutions.

Andréa is also the founder of the Savvy Social School, where she shares her proven strategies for succeeding on social media. Savvy Social School helps businesses to stop wasting time on social media and finally get more attention, leads, and sales from their online community. Through the strategies she teaches, you learn to build a following of people who will hire you for your design services. As a Resourceful Designer listener, save $20 off the monthly membership fee.

Here are some of the topics you'll hear us discuss in this episode.
  • Building your social media presence.
  • Social media platforms should you use.
  • The Power of LinkedIn.
  • Narrow down or diversify your social media presence.
  • How much time to devote to social media.
  • Attracting and converting followers into clients.
  • Best times to post to social media.
  • What content works best for social media.
  • What language to use in your posts.
  • Using #hashtags.
  • Turning a sigle case study into multiple social media posts.
  • Are paid social media ads worth it.
  • And so much more.
Here are the tools Andréa recommends for managing social media. Are you successfully using social media to grow your design business?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

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 TwitterFacebook 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

Aug 19 2019

42mins

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Convincing Clients Why You're Better Than Discount Designers - RD177

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Are you competing with discount designers?

Let me start by saying that I've never lost a client to discount designers. I've had clients question my higher prices, but in the end, they ended up hiring me. I know that many designers have difficulty justifying their costs to their clients so I thought I would share what I do when a client asks "Why should I hire you when I can get that designed cheaper elsewhere?" 

This is a follow up to last week's episode - Stop Competing On Prices. In it, I explained why lowering your design prices to compete with discount designers is not a sustainable way to run a design business. If you haven't listened to that episode, I suggest you do before continuing with this one. 

I don’t have a ready-made checklist or prepared response for when a client questions my prices compared to discount designers. Instead, I follow these guidelines.

Encourage the client to inquire about discount design sources.

I never tell a client with my true feelings about these discount design services. Doing so would seem petty and expected. After all, of course, I want their business, so why wouldn’t I badmouth the “competition?”

Instead, I encourage my clients to look into whatever service they mentioned. Even if it’s another local designer. Here’s something I might say:

“I think you would be better off with me because I’m going to take the time to get to know you and your business before designing anything for you. By getting to know your business and its pain points, I’ll be able to direct my creative energy to find the perfect design solutions for your problems. I understand if you need to consider your budget and decide to look into (insert cheap designer source here), however, if you do decide to hire them instead of me, I want to make sure you get what you truly need.”

This response shows the client that I have their best interest in mind even if it means losing them as a client.

Coach the client on what to look for.

If I were to send a client off without any instructions, I would probably lose them on price alone. After all, why pay multiple times the price for what you believe is the same service. However, by coaching the client on what to look for and what to look out for, I help them make a more informed decision. Here’s a conversation I might have with them:

As you’re looking into (discount designers platform) for your design project, here are some things you’ll want to know before deciding who to hire.

1) Are they using clip art?

According to most licenses, clip art is not allowed to be used in logos. Not all, but many of the discount designers on these platforms use clip art to speed up their process and keep their costs down. You can run into legal problems if the designer you choose uses clip art. Don’t take their word that they don’t. Once you see the initial proof of your job, it’s your responsibility to check it against the various clip art catalogues to ensure you can legally use the design.

2) Is it copyrighted material?

Clip art isn’t the only thing you need to watch out for. Make sure that whatever they design for you is not stolen from someone else, or that there isn’t something almost identical out there that could again, lead to legal troubles. Some of the designers on these platforms have been known to steal other people’s designs and pass them off as their own.

3) What files are they providing?

Make sure you are getting the proper files and resolutions for everything you need now, and for everything you may need in the future. Some discount designers only supply you a screen resolution JPG file. You’ll want to ensure you choose someone who will also provide you with hi-res and/or vector files.

4) Are they willing to talk to you?

For a designer to do a good job, they need to know their client. Try to have a conversation with the designer you want to hire so they can fully understand you and your business. You’ll know a good designer because they’ll want to get to know you a bit before designing anything for you. Anyone who doesn’t want to talk with you first, doesn’t care about you or your business, all they care about is pumping out a design as fast as possible, because the quicker they can do it, the more money they make and the quicker they can forget about you and move on to the next client.

5) Do they charge for extras?.

Be careful of prices and add ons. A lot of discount designers advertise inexpensive designs and then charge you extra for things that professional designers include at no additional charge — items such as vector files or higher resolution files needed for print. In the end, you may end up paying multiple times what you thought it was going to cost. Make sure you find out all the prices upfront and ensure you are getting everything you need.

If you keep these things in mind when you’re choosing your designer, you shouldn’t have a problem. I’m here if you have any questions. Good luck.

By providing this list of things to look out for, I'm helping the client make a better decision and ensuring they are not losing out. It shows that I have their best interest in mind.

Results

As I said at the start, I’ve had several clients question my prices and bring up Fiverr or 99 Designs. And yet I’ve never lost a client to those or any other discount design platform. The trick is to be helpful and even encourage them to have a look. 

If you take a defensive position and start bad mouthing discount designers, the client won’t take you seriously. They’ll think you’re only saying those things because you want their business. Which they are correct in their thinking, regardless of how truthful you are about those discount graphic design services. You do want their business, after all.

But by being helpful, and encouraging them, they see that you have their best interest at heart, and that is a HUGE influencer in their decision-making process. A known relationship, even an unstarted potential one, is way stronger than an unknown faceless person at the other end of a text chain to who knows where.

In all my years, I’ve only had one client follow through and try to get something done on 99 designs. A couple of months later, he hired me after his failed experiment. For everyone else, they quickly dismissed the idea and hired me. Maybe I scared them with all the things to look out for, or perhaps they just appreciated the way I handled myself. Regardless, they all became my clients in the end.

So that’s how I usually handle the question of “why should I hire you when I can get this done cheaper over there?”

How do you handle it with clients challenge your prices vs. discount designers?

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.

Aug 12 2019

19mins

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Stop Competing On Prices - RD176

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Lowering your prices can hurt your design business.

I was talking to a fellow designer recently who is concerned about competing on prices. He asked me what I do if a client says they can pay less for a logo at Fiverr, Upwork, 99 Designs, or any other discount design platforms.

This isn't the first time I've heard this concern from a designer. You may have experienced this exact thing with your clients questioning your prices compared to discount design sources.

The fact of the matter is, competing on prices is a no-win scenario. There’s no way that you can compete with the prices these places offer. Ok, maybe that’s not true. Sure you could lower your price to their level, but what would it accomplish? You would be selling your services for a pittance, and cementing yourself in a rut that would be difficult to escape. Competing on prices is not a sustainable way to run, let alone grow, your design business.

I’m going to make this a two-part series. Next week I’m going to explain how I respond to clients who say, “I can get it cheaper elsewhere.”

For now, I want to explain why competing on prices is a harmful and unsustainable way to run your business.

It all comes down to this. If you offer rock bottom prices, you will never be taken seriously as a designer, let alone a business owner.

If you try to match the pricing found on places like Fiverr or Upwork or 99 Designs, You’ll end up developing an unfavourable reputation that will be extremely difficult to overcome. You'll have a tough time trying to raise your prices in the future, which you will need to do if you plan on making a decent living at this design life.

Are you familiar with the concept of a “dollar store”? There’s probably at least one, if not many around where you live. The premise of a dollar store is that just about everything they sell costs between one to three dollars. They're known as cheap discount stores.

Dollar stores have a reputation for selling cheap merchandise. Not just in price, but in quality as well. After all, just how good can a $2 butcher’s knife or a $1 mini speaker be? And These stores are ok with that reputation. They make no claims that they are anything but what they are. Dollar stores don’t make their money by selling quality products; they make it by selling quantities of products. They make their money one dollar at a time.

Could you imagine if all of a sudden a dollar store decided to sell a crystal wine decanter for $50? Their customers would question the validity of that product. There must be something wrong with the decanter, or it must be sub-par in some way. Nobody would take them seriously, let alone believe the decanter is worth $50. It’s a dollar store, after all. And their reputation for selling cheap merchandise for low prices would hurt them.

That’s what happens to your design business when you try to compete by lowering your prices. Nobody will take you seriously as a designer, especially if you later decide to raise your rates.

So how do you deal with discount designers taking clients away from you? The answer is easy; stop competing with them. In fact, and this may sound weird to you, but if you feel discount designers are your direct competition, the best solution is to raise your prices.

Wait; what? How can raising prices help in this situation? I’m glad you asked.

I talked about this in an early episode of Resourceful Designer. In it, I explained how Raising your prices can lead to getting better graphic design work and more committed clients.

Recently I was listening to Tom Ross’s Honest Entrepreneur podcast, episode 87, to be specific. Tom is the founder of Design Cuts. He was on episode 155 of Resourceful Designer where we talked about supplementing your income by selling design products. 

Tom mentioned an excellent point in episode 87 of his show. The biggest issue with pricing low is that the lower your price, the more designers you’re competing with.

Tom permitted me to use this image, depicting his idea.  

Looking at this hypothetical chart, would you want to be competing against 10 million designers for a client that will pay you $10? Or would you prefer to compete against 50,000 designers for a client that will pay you $1,000?

Because there are so many designers charging lower prices, a client has more leverage over you. If they’re not happy with what you’re offering, they can very easily find a different designer for the job at the same or even lower price. And since the cost is so little, the client doesn't care where they get it from, as long as they get it.

However, clients with a $1k or $10k budget have much fewer designers from whom to choose. So when they find one they like, they tend to stick with them.

As you can see, offering low prices not only diminishes your income, but it drastically increases the number of designers you’re competing with. Why would you want to be in that situation?

By ignoring all the discount designers and raising your prices, you diminish your competition, increase your income, and you earn the respect of those clients who hire you.

Paraphrasing what Tom said on his podcast,

“Increasing your prices goes way beyond just earning more money; it makes everything else about running and growing your design business easier.”

Now you know why you shouldn’t be competing on prices, and why, if you find yourself doing so, the answer is to raise your design prices.

Unfortunately, your clients don’t always understand these same reasons. Next week, I’m going to share how I handle it when clients bring up the option of discount designers. And I’ll give you a little tease. You may be surprised by what I tell them.

Have you ever raised your prices and discovered you had less competition and better clients.

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.

Aug 05 2019

21mins

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3 Criteria To Accept or Decline Design Work - RD175

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Turning down design work.

The idea may seem foreign to you. Especially if you’re relatively new to running your design business. If you’re at a stage in your freelance career where you’re trying to establish yourself, you’re trying to get your name out there; you’re trying to make ends meat and pay your bills, then you might not be ready for this concept. Turning down design work may not be in your best interest right now.

However, if you plan on growing your design business to be more than a commodity, more than selling your time for money, then there will come a time when you will need to stop and think, “Is this a design project I want to take on?”

You see, the goal for most home-based designers is to become successful enough to be in high demand. The type of demand where you are booking new clients and new design projects weeks, possibly months in the future. The kind of demand where a client is willing to wait several weeks for you instead of finding a designer that can start on their project sooner.

When I was hand-coding websites, there were times when I was booking two to three months ahead. I don’t see that as much these days since WordPress makes it much quicker to design a website, but demand is still there. And when there’s demand, it means there’s an abundance of work coming in. And when there’s an abundance of work coming in, you can afford to be choosy in the type of projects you take on, and which projects you turn down.

But how do you choose?

I’m going to give you three criteria. Each criteria is made up of a few simple yes or no questions. Asking yourself these questions can help you decide “is this a design project I want to take on?”

Criteria # 1 Yes or no?
  • Does this project sound fun or interesting?
  • Will it be challenging?
  • Will it push me?
  • Will it make me learn new skills?

Is the project to design an event poster for a new upcoming festival, or is it to format a company’s 80-page code of conduct manual? One of these two projects sounds fun and challenging and can push you to learn new skills. The other, not so much. You need to decide if the project is a YES or a NO.

Criteria # 2 Yes or no?
  • Will this project get me a foot in the door?
  • Will it lead to other work?
  • Will it lead to more interesting work?
  • Will it connect me with people I want to connect with?

What will the future hold for you by taking on this project? If it’s an entry to bigger and better things, then it’s a definite YES. Otherwise, it’s a NO.

Criteria # 3 Yes or no?
  • Is this project profitable?
  • Will I make money on it?
  • Will it bring me recognition or reward?
  • Is it worth my time?

Note: Being profitable and making money are not always the same thing. Profitable can mean the project is advantageous, or helpful to you in some way besides monetary income. If you’re trying to break into a particular niche, maybe adding a niche related project to your portfolio is worth more to you right now than the money you’ll make on the project.

Adding up the answers.

Ask yourself these criteria questions before every new design project. If you answered YES to all three criteria, then the design project sounds like a dream job and you should accept it.

If you answered YES to two of the three criteria, then you should highly consider taking on the project. It sounds like an ideal job for you.

If you answered YES to only one of the three criteria, you should be leary of the project. Chances are, it’s not a project worth taking on.

And of course, if you answered NO to all three criteria, take a hard pass on the project, it’s not for you.

Go with your gut.

These three criteria to accept or decline design work are just guidelines. Always follow your gut when it comes to working with clients and on new projects. If you’re hesitating about a job, even one that passes two or even three of the criteria, then the best course of action is to turn it down politely. Never take on a project you don’t feel right about.

Are you in a position where you can afford to decline design work?

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 Julie.

Should I use different branding for my photography business or I should include it as part of my design business?

To find out what I told Julie, you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week WordCamp.tv

If you can attend a WordCamp in your area, I highly suggest you do so. However, if attending WordCamp is not feasible for you, fear not, the sessions and presentations from all WordCamps are available for viewing, free of charge at wordcamp.tv.

If you are a WordPress designer or developer, attending WordCamp should be a regular part of your schedule. WordCamp is a place for WordPress enthusiasts and novices to gather and share their knowledge. Sessions and presentations accommodate all levels of WordPress skills, so everyone benefits from attending. 

Jul 29 2019

24mins

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Targeting a Niche: School Branding with Craig Burton - RD174

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Have you ever considered designing in a particular niche?

Have you heard the term "The Riches Are In The Niches"? It shouldn't come as a surprise that the more focused you are on a particular sector, the more familiar with it you become. And the more familiar with it you become, the more you are perceived as the expert in that particular sector.

Graphic and web design is no different. Designers who focus on a particular sector become knows as experts and command more respect and earn more money from clients in that sector.

I've talked about niches before on the podcast. In episode 54; Should You Find A Graphic Design Niche, I explained what a niche is and the benefits of choosing one, as well as not having to limit yourself when you choose a niche. In episode 93; Targetting A Design Niche, I teach you how to go about finding and marketing to your particular niche.

In today's episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I'm talking to Craig Burton, owner of School Branding Matters, a New Zealand based branding agency that specialises in helping schools craft compelling visual brands. Craig found his niche and has spent the past ten years building his company and inspiring journeys in school branding.

In this episode you'll hear us discuss:
  • How Craig stumbled upon his niche. Hint, he didn't look for his niche, his niche found him.
  • The early days of developing his niche
  • What worked and what didn't in the process
  • Working within his niche before defining it as his niche.
  • What came first, his niche or his business focusing on the niche.
  • How Craig learns about and creates unique brands for similar and yet very different institutions in his niche.
  • Conflicting branding ideas for different schools.
  • How Craig attracts clients ten years into his business.
  • Repeat clients, branding is more than a logo; it's a journey.
  • The Pros and Cons of working in a specific niche.
  • How working in a niche requires a passion for that sector.
  • Competing with non-niching designers
  • Working with non-niche clients.
  • How Craig has changed as a designer over the past ten years.
What's your experience with working in a design niche?

Do you work in a design niche? Let me know what your experiences are by leaving a comment for this episode.

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 TwitterFacebook 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

Jul 22 2019

40mins

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