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Rank #135 in Design category

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Business
Design
Entrepreneurship

Resourceful Designer

Updated 1 day ago

Rank #135 in Design category

Arts
Business
Design
Entrepreneurship
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

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

iTunes Ratings

89 Ratings
Average Ratings
86
2
0
0
1

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

89 Ratings
Average Ratings
86
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.
Cover image of Resourceful Designer

Resourceful Designer

Updated 1 day ago

Rank #135 in Design category

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

Rank #1: 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
1 hour 6 mins
Play

Rank #2: Raise Your Prices To Get Better Graphic Design Work - RD026

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You need to to raise your prices if you want better work.

Sounds strange doesn’t it? The idea that if you raise your prices you'll get better graphic design work. It kind of goes agains the whole "undercut your competition" idea that is predominant in most industries. But when it comes to graphic design, charging more means better work for you.

I first covered this topic in a blog post titled It's Time To Raise Your Design Rates. In this episode of my graphic design podcast Resourceful Designer, I expand on the topic and tell you how I first discovered the connection between higher prices and better work and I explain how if you raise your prices you'll be better off as well. Make sure you listen to the podcast for the full story.

Pros and Cons if you raise your prices

Let's start off with the cons since there really aren't that many.

  • Con - Harder to land work.
  • Con - May loose clients

That's about it. These cons may be areas to concern yourself with but they are the only two cons, and chances are you won't have to worry about them. So let's move on to the pros.

  • Pro - More money for less work
  • Pro - Higher end clients with bigger budgets
  • Pro - Higher perceived value for your work
  • Pro - Clients who can afford your higher prices will probably have more work for you as well
  • Pro - You will be taken more seriously as a designer
  • Pro - The ability to compete with other high priced designers
  • Pro - More interesting projects to work on
  • Pro - Less one time clients and more recurring clients

As you can see, there are way more pros than there are cons, and I only listed some of the pros. As for cons, I Googled it and those were the only two I found.

The fact is, after your raise your prices you will be in a better position to attract higher end clients with bigger budgets and recurring work. It all comes down to perceived value and people taking you seriously. A large corporation looking to rebrand will have more confidence in a graphic designer that changes them $8,000 than one that charges them $800. It's perceived value. Both designers may have identical skills, but the higher priced designer will be taken more seriously.

It's just like layers. Would you prefer have a high priced attorney represent you or the appointed public defender? The high priced attorney of course. Why? Because of the perceived value. The public defender may be just as competent as the high priced attorney but he/she will never be taken as seriously as the high priced layer. The same theory applies to graphic designer.

Do pricing strategies matter?

No. It doesn’t matter if you charge by the hour, the project, or by value. If you raise your prices you will project an image of having more value to your clients. And if it looks like you offer more value for your clients you will attract bigger and better clients.

Why do you think companies like Pepsi Cola pay so much when they create a new brand? It's not because the designers or agencies they hire spend tens of thousands of hours on the project. Nor is it because the designers or agencies are more talented and more creative than you are. It's because the designers or agencies have created a higher perceived value for themselves that make large companies trust them more and take them more seriously and in return large companies like Pepsi Cola are willing to pay a premium price for them.

You can accomplish this as well. Maybe not land a client like Pepsi Cola, although never say never. But you could land some very lucrative accounts and get the ball rolling. Because once you land one large client more tend to follow suit.

Do you tell your clients when you raise your prices?

This is entirely up to you. The few times I've raised my own prices I didn't tell my clients and they didn't question it when I sent them an invoice billed at my new higher rate. People are used to prices going up and wont be as surprised by an increase as you think they will. Now if you feel this is a little back handed then go ahead and inform your clients when you raise your prices. Chances are you wont hear anything negative from them. And if you do end up loosing a client because of the increase, they were not loyal clients to begin with and you are better off without them.

What do you think?

When was the last time you raised your prices? How did it work out for you. Let me know in the comments section for this episode.

Questions of the Week

I have another Question Of The Week to answer. If you would like me to answer your question in a future episode please visit my feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Norman,

Hi Mark, Hey Mark I'm loving the podcast since my discovering it a few weeks ago. I've learn a ton! My question for you is how did you find/get your first leads and clients, aside from the obvious strategy of working within your current social group or doing work for family/friends, but the first time you had your eyes set on a client that you wanted to work with and how did you go about approaching them? Thanks a ton Mark for all the knowledge and help!

To find out what I told Norman you’ll have to listen to the podcast. But I'll give you a hint. In my answer I refer to my blog post on attracting new clients.

Resource of the week is HostGator

HostGator in my opinion, is one of the best website hosting companies out there. I have several of my own as well as my client's websites at HostGator. They offer easy 1-clickWordPress installation and allow multiple domains and website on one hosting package. And if you are already hosting your site elsewhere you can take advantage of their free migration tool to have your site moved from your old host to HostGator. If you want to see what HostGator has to offer please visit http://resourcefuldesigner.com/hosting and use the coupon code RESOURCEFUL25 to receive a 25% discount on your hosting plan purchase.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on Stitcher Subscribe on Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Mar 11 2016
45 mins
Play

Rank #3: 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
19 mins
Play

Rank #4: Selling Your Idea to Your Graphic Design Clients - RD025

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The Client Isn't Always Right.

The idea for this episode's topic about selling your idea to your client came about because of a Facebook group I'm part of. Recently a graphic designer posted a logo she was working on for critique. The logo was an acronym, a single common word with each letter separated by a period. General consensus in the group was that she should loose the periods and the designer agreed. The hard part was convincing her client. After several days she posted a new refined logo saying she was able to convince her client that the periods were not working. Everybody loved the new logo.

A week or so later, the graphic designer let us know that the project was finished and the client had once again changed her mind and ignoring the designer's suggestion, decided to go with the period version as the final logo.

This is not an isolated case. Every graphic designer that has been around for a while has dealt with clients who wouldn't heed their advice. Unfortunately it's part of our profession. We may have the skills, the knowledge, the expertise and experience but convincing a client to go against their own vision is sometimes a loosing battle.

In this episode of my graphic design podcast Resourceful Designer, I share some past experiences of both failing and succeeding in selling my idea to my own clients. Make sure you listen to the podcast for the full story.

So what is the best way of selling your idea to your client?

It all comes down to confidence. The best way of selling your idea to your client is to show them how confident you are in those ideas.

You need to remember that your client hired you because you are an expert at design. You may not consider yourself and expert, but in their eyes you are, and  you need to live up to that mantle.

When selling your idea to your client you should present it in an affirming and non dismissive way. And word your proposal in a manner that makes the client think they're part of the idea.

Use phrases like "why don't we do this?" or "We should do this instead". Instead of phrases like "What do you think of this?" or "Maybe we should try this."

Don't make your idea proposal a question. If you say "Maybe we should try this" you are instilling some doubt about your idea and giving the client the opportunity to shoot it down.

By saying "We should do this" not only are you including your client in the process by saying "We" which makes them feel like they're part of the decision, you are also minimizing the chance of a negative response because it's not a question. You are the expert after all. If your client feels your confidence in the idea they may second guess any doubts they have with it and proceed with your vision.

Show your graphic design client why they hired you.

As a graphic designer you have a vast knowledge stored in your head of design principles, colour theory, font usage, layout techniques and so much more. Use that knowledge to affirm your client's belief that you are the expert they see you as.

When a client comes to you with what they think is a great idea. but you know otherwise, use your knowledge to explain to them why their idea isn't as good as they think. Explain design principles to them. Explain why ten different fonts on a flyer isn't a good idea, explain why bevels, gradients, and drop shadows on a logo limit it's ability to be reproduced. Reming them that you are the expert and you know what you're talking about.

Clients get ideas from things they see around them and want you to incorporate them into their designs. I had a website client many years ago that insisted that every line of type on his site either flash, blink, scroll, flip, rotate, you name it. He had seen all these things on various websites and thought that including them all on his site would create more "action" and make it more memorable to visitors. It took a lot of convincing on my part, to the point of threatening to tear up the contract before I convinced him that just because it can be done, doesn't mean it should be done.

Sometimes a little shovelling is needed when selling your idea.

Clients often question decisions you make. It's not to second guess your work, it's to affirm their decision in hiring you. They know you are the expert and they want to know why you chose to do what you did. Unfortunately some of your decisions they question may not have a good answer.

Sometimes the decisions you make are done on a whim. You chose the colour blue for no other reason than it's what you felt at the time. You chose a san-serif font because you just finished a logo for another client that used a serif font and you wanted to try something different. These are good enough reasons for you, but not good enough for your client.

You need to be able to explain your decisions in a way that will convince your client of them. And if this requires a little BS on your part, so be it. Now I'm not telling you to lie to your clients, I wouldn't condone that. But you should have enough design background and experience to explain your decision in a logical way that makes sense. Even if that's not why you did it in the first place.

Why did you choose a san-serif font? Because of it's modern look. Because of it's uniform line width. Because you liked the shape of the letter "e". All of these reason could be true and your client will understand them better than telling them you were tired of working with serif fonts. Remember, selling your idea means convincing your client, not yourself.

In the end, it's the client who pays the bill.

No matter how experienced you are, or how much design knowledge you've accumulated, sometimes there's just no way of selling your idea to your client. You shouldn't view this as a failure. Some clients have an idea in their head and there's nothing you can do to change it. All they want from you is someone with the skills to transfer their idea to paper or pixels. In cases like this you need to bite your tongue and do what the client wants. It may not end up in your portfolio but it will help pay the bills.

What do you think?

Do you have any stories of clients who's minds you've changed. Or stories of clients you just couldn't convince to go along with your ideas? I would love to hear them. Please leave your story in the comments section for this episode.

Resource of the week is BackupBuddy

BackupBuddy lets you move a WordPress site to another domain or host easily. This is a very popular feature for WordPress developers who build a custom site for a client on a temporary domain or locally (like a sandbox or playground site) and then want to move (or migrate the entire site with themes, plugins, content, styles and widgets over to a live client domain.

With Deployment, you can set up a staging site and connect it with your existing site using BackupBuddy so you can push or pull changes in as few as two clicks.

The restore function in BackupBuddy is quick and simple. Upload the ImportBuddy file and your backup zip, and it walks you through the steps to restore your site: your themes, plugins, widgets and everything else.

In your WordPress dashboard, you can also restore individual files from a backup instead of having to replace everything together. This is great for replacing an old stylesheet or a couple templates that you want to revert back to.

To learn more about BackupBuddy visit http://resourcefuldesigner.com/backupbuddy

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on Stitcher Subscribe on Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Mar 04 2016
25 mins
Play

Rank #5: Things To Do Before Starting A Home Based Graphic Design Business - RD048

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Before starting your home based graphic design business.

It sounds easy, doesn't it? You have your skills and a computer, so why not start a graphic design business from your home? Go for it I say. However, there are certain things you need to do before starting on your new journey.

In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I go into detail on what you should do before starting your own home based graphic design business. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast so you never miss an episode.

Required research before starting your business.

The first thing you need to do before starting your home based graphic design business is research. Being prepared for what's to come is the key to success. Here are a few things you should look into.

Choose your type of business

You have the options of operating as a sole proprietor, a partnership with someone, or one of the many forms of corporations. Choosing your business structure lays the groundwork for what you will do next.

Study up on tax laws

It's a good idea to learn what you can about the tax laws where you live. What can or can't you claim as business expenses? What tax loopholes can you take advantage of? Do you need to collect taxes from your clients when you invoice them?

Be aware of zoning laws

Zoning laws differ depending on where you live. Check with your city or county to see what affects you. Depending on where you live you may be limited to how you can run your graphic design business.

Size up your competitions

It's always a good idea to know who you're up against. Find out who is offering similar services in your area and figure out how you plan on carving out your own corner of the market.

What you need to get before starting your business. Write a business plan

A business plan will help you stay focused and keep you on track to succeeding as a business owner. Not to mention they are a requirement if you plan on incorporating your business.

Register your business name

Find out the requirements in your area and register your business name. This will protect you in the future should someone else try to operate under the same name as you.

Obtain a business permit

Even home-based businesses require a business permit to operate legally. Contact your municipal government for instructions on obtaining your business permit.

Get business insurance

Just because you're working from home doesn't mean you're covered. Homeowner's insurance doesn't cover your business. Contact your insurance company to find out what options are available to you.

Get help before starting your business. Where to look

Search your local or nearby communities and contact the Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Board and the Business Education Centre. These organisations often offer free advice to help you start your business.

Look for business incubators in your area. They may offer classes and/or resources to help start your business.

Visit your local library. Most libraries offer resources to help small business owners.

Find professional help

Hire a business lawyer to help with things like contracts and incorporating your business.

Hire an accountant for financial advice and to help with your bookkeeping and tax returns.

Visit your bank manager to discuss your best options for a business account and other ways the bank can help you.

Additional help

Take business courses or workshops at a local college to improve your business knowledge.

Contact your local college or university for interns to assist you with writing your business plan.

Visit the US Small Business Administration website for podcasts, webinars, and basic information about starting and growing a business.

 

Are you ready to start your graphic design business?

What research and prep work are you doing before starting your 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 Daniele

I have a recurring issue that I need to solve as I do not want to face it anymore.

The issue is how to properly store bookmarks of helpful websites, web aps, articles and so on. We spend most of our time online and we use some great resources. We need to keep a track of them and store safely for a later use. I have hundreds of bookmarks on Google chrome divided in folders, whilst Chrome does a good job on offering a search bar for a quick lookup, I have found myself looking for an extended length of time as I would not remember how I called that folder or link.

So, I wonder if there is a better way than just saving bookmarks on Chrome?

To find out what I told Daniele you’ll have to listen to the podcast. But I'll give you a hint. I recommended she get the book Evernote Essentials.

Resource of the week is Have i been pwned?

Have i been pwned? is a free resource for anyone to quickly assess if they may have been put at risk due to an online account of theirs having been compromised or "pwned" in a data breach. A "breach" is an incident where a hacker illegally obtains data from a vulnerable system, usually by exploiting weaknesses in the software. All the data in the site comes from website breaches which have been made publicly available.

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

Oct 18 2016
46 mins
Play

Rank #6: 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
40 mins
Play

Rank #7: Naming Your Graphic Design Business - RD041

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Trouble naming your graphic design business?

Forget colours, forget logos, forget layouts, one of the hardest things you will face when starting out on your own, is naming your graphic design business.

Colours can be changed, logos can be updated, layouts can be tweaked, but your business name is something that will endure for the life of your business.

That's why it's so important to get it right the first time.

In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast I go over the PROs and CONs of working under your own name vs. coming up with a unique business name. I talk about a lot of different considerations and problems that could arise when naming your graphic design business. I hope you find this episode helpful.

Here are a few of the things I covered in the podcast. Naming your graphic design business with your own name PROs
  • It makes you look more affordable
  • It makes you feel more transparent and approachable
  • People remember you and not a business
  • Your name is recognisable to people who know you
  • No worries about trademarks
CONs
  • Makes you seem less experienced
  • Can make you seem too approachable
  • Companies may treat you like an employee instead of a business contractor
  • Harder to grow or sell your business.
Naming your graphic design business with a business name PROs
  • People are willing to accept higher prices from a business
  • It makes you seem more established
  • Allows for easier future growth
  • Easier to sell your business.
CONs
  • Less personal than using your own name
  • People automatically think you're more expensive
  • People don't remember your name
  • Can run into trademark or other legal issues.
Problems that could arise

Besides the PROs and CONs of naming your graphic design business with your name or a business name, there are other problems to consider.

  • Names that are hard to spell or pronounce
  • Common names; if they're too common you may get lost in the crowd.
  • Famous names; people may not take you seriously
  • Maiden names; may confuse people
  • Names with alternate meanings such as Wood, Steel, Silk.
  • Be wary of abbreviations and confusing acronyms
Inventing words when naming your graphic design business
  • Invented names don't mean anything so they are harder to remember.
  • Combining partner names may cause problems should the partnership ever end.
Other considerations when naming your graphic design business
  • Are there multiple ways to spell the name which could confuse people?
  • Are there silent letters that people might not notice?
  • Does the name or pronunciation have other meanings internationally?
  • Is the name future proof? (will it still be a good name 20 years from now?)
  • Is the name regional and will it impact clients decisions?
More things to consider
  • Is the name available? Do a registry and trademark search.
  • Are domain names and social media names available to match the business name?
Finally...

This is more my personal preference so take it as you will. But trying to get cute by changing the spelling of real words isn't always a good idea. Adding "Grafix" or something similar to your business name will just confuse people.

Don't forget...

There's nothing wrong with having a business registered under a business name and also running a side business under your own name. Some designers create multiple businesses in various niches to target certain clients.

Flaunt My Design has a fun questionnaire to help you determine what type of name to choose when naming your graphic design business.

Did I anything?

Did I miss anything when it comes to naming your graphic design business? If so please leave me a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

The podcast was a bit long this week so I didn't answer any questions. If you have something you would like to ask please submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

Resource of the week namechk.com

Use Namechk.com to see if your desired username or vanity url is still available at dozens of popular Social Networking and Social Bookmarking websites. Promote your brand consistently by registering a username that is still available on the majority of the most popular sites. Find the best username with Namechk.

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

Jul 29 2016
54 mins
Play

Rank #8: Selling Digital Products To Supplement Your Design Income - RD155

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Have you ever considered selling digital products?

Selling digital products is a great way to put your design skills to the test. Not only will you challenge yourself to come up with great ideas, but if you're successful, you can make excellent money doing it.

I've never tried selling digital products myself so on this episode of Resourceful Designer; I'm happy to be joined by Tom Ross, the founder of Design Cuts, one of if not the best place for acquiring and selling digital products online. Listen in as Tom, and I discuss everything there is to know about selling digital products so you can hit the ground running and do it right.

In this episode you'll hear us discuss:
  • How to determine what product you want to create
  • Choosing quality over quantity
  • Ways to promote your digital product
  • Creating sample and preview images for your digital product
  • The difference between designing for clients and designing for a marketplace
  • Income possibilities
  • And more

Whether you are contemplating selling digital products or you are an old pro at it, you're sure to gain some valuable knowledge from this episode. Be sure to share it with all your design friends.

What's your experience with selling digital products?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

There's no QotW this week, but I would love to get one from you. Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

Resource of the week The Honest Entrepreneur Show

The Honest Entrepreneur Show is a new podcast and YouTube channel by Tom Ross, founder of Design Cuts. Each episode is 10-20 minutes long and contains zero fluff and zero B.S. Just real, candid insight into modern entrepreneurship. Tom covers topics such as dealing with mental health, to burnout, to behind authentic.

You can watch The Honest Entrepreneur Show on YouTube, or listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts on Google Podcasts or Spotify.

Be sure to follow Tom on Instagram at instagram.com/tomrossmedia

Mar 11 2019
48 mins
Play

Rank #9: Be So Good... A Graphic Designer's Guide to Success - RD033

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Be So Good... That Nothing Else Matters!

Running a graphic design business isn't an easy task. There's a lot more than just being a good graphic designer involved. You need to build relationships with your clients, find the best suppliers for your business, seek out help for the tasks you can't handle. Not to mention the day to day tasks that go into running any business. Invoicing, bookkeeping, banking, paying bills etc.

So how is a single graphic designer, running his or her own business expected to compete with every other graphic design company out there? Simple, be so good that nothing else matters.

This week's podcast is a little different than my past episodes. It's more on the motivational side than the norman educational pieces I've put out. Leave me a comment letting me know what you think of this one.

Be So Good...

With everything required of you and your business, it's hard to be the best person out there for clients to choose from. But maybe being the best is aiming too high. I'm not saying you shouldn't strive to be the best. What I'm saying is whoever the "best" is can be subjective. How do you even determine who the best is? You can't really, and neither can your clients. So instead you should strive to be so good that it doesn't matter who is best.

In the eyes of your clients

Be so good... that they know you care about them and their business. Be so good... that they think of you as a friend and confidant. Be so good... that they trust your opinion and follow your lead. Be so good... that they measure other designers by you. Be so good... that they treasure your work, your experience and your expertise. Be so good... that they feel fortunate to have met you. Be so good... that they don't question your prices. Be so good... that they're willing to pay more, pay extra and in advance for your services. Be so good... that they're willing to wait for you when your busy. Be so good... that they seek your opinion in non graphic design matters. Be so good... that you are the first person they think of when needing business advice. Be so good... that they bring up your name in conversations with their collegues. Be so good... that they refer you, even when nobody asked them for a referral. Be so good... that they know you're there for them when they need you. Be so good... that they can't imagine running their business without you.

In the eyes of your Competitors

Be so good... that they try to copy or even steal what you do. Be so good... that they come to you seeking advice. Be so good... that they refer their clients to you when they can can't service them. Be so good... that they want to partner with you.

In the eyes of your Critics

Be so good... they criticize your work because they can't compete with it. Be so good... that your critics just strengthen your resolve and your drive to do even better. Be so good... that their criticism doesn't bother you. Be so good... that others come to your defence and stand up for you.

In conclusion

Be so good... that your customers revere you for making their lives so great, your competitors become your collaborators and your critics, well, who cares about the critics. You're so good that you don't need to worry about them.

What do you think?

I would love to know what you thought of this episode? Let me know by leaving me a comment.

Questions of the Week

If you would like me to answer your question in a future episode please visit my feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Norman,

How do you handle working with clients from out of town or city? How often would you go to meet these clients in person, before or after the project has started?

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

Resource of the week is CushyCMS

CushyCMS is a truly simple content management system that allows your clients to safely edit their own website, and allows you to pick and choose what parts of the website that have access to. CushyCMS is extremely easy to use. There's no software to install and only takes a few minutes to setup. Simply add a special class tag to the sections of the website you want your clients to be able to edit and give them access. It's that easy. Your client makes their desired changes and CushyCMS updates the website. And it's all standards compliant and search engine friendly.

CushyCMS is free to use for up to 5 websites. You could also pay a monthly fee for additional sites and options, and for the ability to use your own branding on the site.

If you build websites and want to allow your clients to edit only certain areas of the site, CushyCMS is for you.

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 06 2016
25 mins
Play

Rank #10: 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
30 mins
Play

Rank #11: 50 Questions To Ask Before Every New Design Project - RD015

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50 Questions To Ask Before Every New Design Project

What makes you stand out as a graphic designer amongst the many "contest" sites that are springing up, is your ability to converse in detail and ask questions of your clients before every new design project. By asking questions you not only show that you are a professional, you also inspire confidence in your client. Questions put them at ease and let them know that you are viewing their design project seriously. By putting your clients at ease and bestowing the confidence in them that they've chosen the right person for the job, you also show them that you are worth every cent you are charging them.

In this week's Resourceful Designer I'm covering 50 questions you can ask whenever you're faced with a new design project.

I don't expect you to ask all of these questions. But pick and choose the ones right for your design project, and in the process come up with questions of your own.

Remember, no design project ever failed because the designer knew too much about the company that's hiring them.

I've decided the questions into five sections.

  1. Questions about the company hiring you for a design project
  2. Questions about the company's target audience
  3. Questions about the company's brand
  4. Questions about the company's design preferences
  5. Questions about the design project's scale, timeframe and budget

To facilitate the conversation I'm using "company" as a global replacement for the client. The same questions can be asked of individuals, service clubs, organizations, charities, events, etc.

Questions about the company hiring you for a design project.
  1. What is the name of your company?
  2. Can you describe what your company does?
  3. What services or products do your company produce?
  4. How long have you been in business?
  5. Why was this company started?
  6. How big is the company?
  7. Are you a local, national or international company?
  8. Who is your competition?
  9. How are you different from your competition?
  10. How are your competitors marketing themselves?
  11. What are the long term goals of your company?
  12. Can you describe your company's strengths?
  13. Can you describe your company's weaknesses?
Questions about the company's target audience
  1. Can you identify and describe your target audience? (Age, gender, social class, location)
  2. Are you focusing just on this market or are you trying to hit other markets as well?
  3. How do you think your target audience describes your company?
  4. How does your target audience currently discover your company?
  5. How do you connect with your target audience?
Questions about the company's brand
  1. Does your company use a specific colour palette?
  2. Are there any design elements associated with your company? (fonts, icons, images, etc.)
  3. Does your company have a mission statement?
  4. What current and pass marketing material have you used?
  5. What did you like or dislike about your past marketing material?
  6. Why are you looking for something new?
  7. Do you have a company slogan?
  8. What feedback have you received on your past marketing material?
  9. Do you consider your brand material to be more traditional or modern?
  10. Is your brand associated with high end or cost-effective products and services?
  11. What would you like your target audience to think of when they see your marketing material?
Questions about the company's design preferences
  1. What colour palettes do you prefer?
  2. Will this project be used in print, on the web, etc.
  3. Is there anything from your past marketing material that you want incorporated into the new project?
  4. Are there any restrictions or limitations to consider when designing this project?
  5. Are there any new design elements you would like to try in this project?
  6. Are there any design styles you do not like?
Questions about the design project's scale, timeframe and budget
  1. Do you have a budget for this project?
  2. How many different concepts would you like to see?
  3. What material will you be providing me for this project?
  4. Are there any deadlines associated with this design project? (Are these preferable or firm deadlines?)
  5. Who will be my primary contact on this project?
  6. Who is involved in the approval process?
  7. Are there any third parties involved in this design project?
  8. Who will be dealing with involved third parties?
  9. What services are you expecting from me?
  10. What do you expect from me regarding this design project?
  11. What material do you require from me at the completion of this design project?
  12. Is there anything else you would like to discuss that we haven't already covered?
Bonus Questions
  1. Are there any other design projects I can help you with?
  2. Is there anything I asked you about that you need help with?
  3. Do you know anyone else that may require my services?
And finally...

The last questions you should always ask, When do you want me to get started on this design project?

Four Week Marketing Boost - FREE GUIDE

Download my FREE guide, the Four Week Marketing Boost to help improve your business' image and create the best first impression possible to attract more clients.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on Stitcher Subscribe on Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Design Resource

This week's resource is PDFpen. A Mac only software used to sign, fill out, correct, complete, edit and alter PDF files. I've been using PDFPen for several months now and it has quickly become my go to software whenever I need to work with PDFs. Keep and eye out as PDFpen is often included in software bundles or at a reduced price on it's own.

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 17 2015
51 mins
Play

Rank #12: 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
24 mins
Play

Rank #13: Pricing Strategies For Your Graphic Design Business-RD011

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Pricing Strategies For Your Graphic Design Business.

One of the hardest things to figure out when starting your graphic design business is what pricing strategies to use. There are so many options to consider; your location, your skill level, your reputation, your competition and many more. Hopefully after todays episode of Resourceful Designer you'll have a better understanding of the various pricing strategies you can use to run your business.

Here are the 5 Pricing Strategies Discussed 1) Hourly Rate Pricing

Hourly Rate Pricing is the easiest pricing strategy to implement. You simply determine your rate and then charge it to your client for each hour or part thereof spent on their job.

 

2) Cost Plus Pricing

Cost Plus Pricing isn't as popular in the graphic design industry as it is in others but it does prove useful if you're also acting as a broker for printing or other services. In Cost Plus Pricing you determine the full cost of a job and then mark up that cost by a certain dollar amount or percentage in order to make a profit.

3) Competitor Bases Pricing

Competitor Based Pricing is great for new and inexperienced graphic designers when they first start their business. You determine your competitions' pricing strategies and then base your price on theirs. Either matching or beating their price. Once your business is established you should abandon Competitor Based Pricing for one of the other methods.

4) Project Based Pricing

Next to Hourly Rate Pricing, Project Based Pricing is the most common in the Graphic Design profession. With Project Based Pricing you determine through experience and guessing what a job will cost. It is suggested you pad your estimates in case you encounter unforeseen hurdles along the way. If you complete the project faster than you had estimated you make a bigger profit.

5) Value Based Pricing

Value Based Pricing is the Holy Grail of the pricing strategies. With Value Based Pricing you ignore the actual cost of the job and instead determine a price based on the perceived value your client will get from he project. Some clients will are willing to pay premium prices for that perceived value. Value Based Pricing is the most advanced of the pricing strategies and should be approached with care. However, when done right, Value Based Pricing will produce your highest profit.

When you succeed with your chosen pricing strategies you'll...

Attract better design clients Have a better return on your time Be able to devote more time per project Have less trouble dealing with your clients

If I missed any pricing strategies please leave a comment at resourcefuldesigner.com/episode11

Four Week Marketing Boost - FREE GUIDE

Download my FREE guide, the Four Week Marketing Boost to help improve your business' image and create the best first impression possible to attract more clients.

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Design Resource

This week's resource is the font management software Suitcase Fusion from Extensis. I've been using Suitcase Fusion to manage my fonts for over 15 years and I have never thought about switching to another option. Suitcase Fusion allows you to organize your fonts and activate/deactivate them as you need them. You can tag your fonts with provided styles or create your own allowing you to easily search through and find the font you need amongst the thousands on your computer.

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 19 2015
40 mins
Play

Rank #14: Freelancing As A Side Gig - RD139

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Are you freelancing as a side gig?

[sc name="pod_ad"]I created Resourceful Designer to help designers run their full-time home-based design business. However, a large number of you are not full-time freelancers. Many of you have another job and freelance as a side gig.

Maybe you work for a design agency, or you’re an in-house designer dreaming of going at it alone. Perhaps you’re like Jose, one of my listeners. Josee is a full-time firefighter with a spark for creativity. He started by designing posters and things for his fire hall. When his coworkers saw how good he was, they started hiring him to create stuff for them. Eventually, word spread and now Josee runs a part-time design business on the side but has no intentions of leaving the fire service.

You might be a student, taking on a few side projects to earn some extra spending money while still in school learning the trade. Or you could be a student exploring your options for after you graduate.

Maybe you haven't started any side hustle yet. You are reading this because the idea of working for yourself appeals to you. It’s something you would like to do shortly or maybe far down the road, but you’re not there yet.

Regardless of your situation, know that many designers are in the same boat as you. To help you along, here are four things you need to take into consideration when freelancing as a side gig.

1) Time Management.

When you’re running your own business full-time, you are in complete control of your schedule; you have 24 hours every day to divide up how you see fit.

If there’s a networking event at 10 am on Thursday you want to attend, no problem, work your schedule around it. If the forecast calls for rain later today and the lawn needs mowing, do it now and put in an extra hour tonight if you need to. If you're burning the midnight oil to complete a project, no worries, you can make up for it by sleeping in a bit tomorrow.

When running your own full-time design business, your schedule can be as flexible as you need it. However, when you have a full-time or part-time job, and you're running your design business as a side gig, it diminished that flexibility drastically. You will have fewer hours in your day to devote to your side gig. That may translate into sacrificing leisure time or sleep, especially when you have deadlines to meet.

Clients don’t care if you run your business full or part-time, as long as they get their job when they need it. To meet those deadlines, you may have to give up relaxation time or time with family and friends.

It’s not that bad if you’re single, but if you have a significant other or children, your partner or kids won’t like playing second string to your design work.

Figuring out how you are going to manage your time is crucial if you are freelancing on the side.

2) The scope of the design projects you take on.

One solution to the above mentioned time management issue is the scope of the projects you take on. If your design time is a couple of hours in the evenings and a few on the weekends, you might want to avoid taking on any large projects with tight deadlines.

Running a part-time, some may even call it casual-time side gig requires you to know your limits. How much time do you have, or better yet, how much time don’t you have to devote to design projects?

Sure you can hire help with big jobs, but doing so requires time devoted to overseeing the parts of the project you hand off. Sometimes it’s not worth the stress of taking them on.

3) Extra income from your side gig.

One of the biggest fears holding designers back from becoming full-time entrepreneurs is the uncertainty of income. There are no guarantees of income when you are working for yourself. And giving up a steady paycheck is scary.

One mistake people often make is thinking "Once my side gig income equals my current job’s income I’ll be ready to quit my job and work full-time for myself."

This scenario is fine, as long as you don’t spend any of the money you earn from your side gig. If you put it all into savings and continue to live off your regular paycheck, you should be fine. When you decide it’s time to leap, you’ll have a nice financial cushion to hold you over during the transition period.

The mistake people often make, is in using their side gig income as extra income alongside their regular paycheque.

If you make $25,000 per year in your day job, and you work up your side gig to the point where you are making $25,000 per year there as well, you are actually making $50,000 per year.

When you quit your day job, you are cutting your income in half. That can come as quite a blow, especially if you’ve grown used to having that extra income.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t use or spend your side gig income. I want you to be aware that if your goal is to build up your side gig until it can replace your new full-time job, be aware of the consequences before quitting.

4) Conflict of interests

If you are working for a design agency, studio, a commercial printer, or any other business in the design sector, be aware that starting a side gig may be a conflict of interest.

Some companies make you sign documents when you are hired restricting you from starting a business on the side. Even if they don’t, starting a business on the side that is, in essence, a competitor to your employer is not a good thing to do.

If you work at a design agency that only handles print design, you may be OK starting a web design business as your side gig. However, if your web design clients ask you to design logos for their websites you may have a conflict of interest if the design agency you work for also creates logos. Watch out for conflicts of interest between what you are doing in your side gig and what your employer offers.

You should also ensure you haven't signed any documents granting ownership of anything you design to your employer while in their employ. If you do, then those websites or logos you develop on the weekends belong to your employer, and they could demand compensation or refuse to transfer ownership rights of the designs to your client.

Even if you didn’t agree to anything in writing, make sure what you do at home isn’t potentially taking money away from the company where you work. I’m not a layer, but they may have grounds to sue you if it does.

Start your side gig

Enjoy your freelancing side gig for whatever it is. A simple side hustle to bring in a bit of extra income. A lucrative past time to unleash your creative side. A toe dip in the water to see if the entrepreneurial life is for you. Or a stepping stone to your new career as a full-time home-based designer.

If you are not already taking on design projects on the side, I highly encourage you to give it a try. Start slowly with small jobs for family and friends and then move on to acquiring real clients. I have a feeling that once you give it a go, you’ll be hooked.

Are you running your design business part-time?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Landon

I was just wondering how you select a color palette for a website/brand. I'm aware of a boat-load of tools out there, but are there some rules of thumb I should keep in mind?

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

Resource of the week Coolors.co

Coolors.co is a super fast colour schemes generator. Press the spacebar and create beautiful colour schemes that always work together.

Coolors.co also allows you to pick colours from uploaded images. You can adjust and refine colours by temperature, hue, saturation, brightness and more. You can also save your pallets for easy future access.

They also offer an IOS and Android app as well as an Adobe Add-on for Photoshop and Illustrator to display all your pallets in your programs.

Listen to the podcast on the go.

Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Spotify Listen on Android Listen on Stitcher Listen on iHeartRadio

Contact me

I would love to hear from you. You can send me questions and feedback using my feedback form.

Follow me on 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 29 2018
48 mins
Play

Rank #15: Graphic Designing With A Retainer Agreement - RD032

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Is a retainer agreement part of your pricing strategy?

Back in episode 11 of Resourceful Designer I talked about pricing strategies for your graphic design business. In it I talked about how value based pricing is the Holy Grail of all the pricing methods. In that episode I didn't cover the retainer agreement because I don't really view it as a pricing strategy. It's more of a payment method. But if I was to include it in all the ways you can be paid I think it comes in a close second.

What is a retainer agreement?

Simply put, a retainer agreement is a way to be paid in advance for work you'll do in the future. It's an agreement between you and your client stating that for a fixed amount of money paid up front on a regular basis, you agree to provide a predetermined amount of work for that client.

Why should you use a retainer agreement?

There are several reasons why a retainer agreement will benefit your home based graphic design business. First and foremost it creates a steady stream of income. Anyone running a graphic design business knows that it's not a profession of absolutes. There are no steady paycheques to be collected every other week. Instead we live off the whim of our clients and their schedule for paying their bills. Having a client on retainer creates a small piece of dependability where you know for a fact that money is coming in. It's like receiving a paycheque on a regular basis.

Another benefit of using a retainer agreement is it allows you to plan your work in advance. Knowing that you have to work on a certain job every week, or that you have to devote a certain amount of time to a client each week allows you to set a schedule and be more productive with the remainder of your time.

Don't forget, when you have a client sign a retainer agreement with you, it's a guarantee that they will come to you for their work and not look elsewhere for a graphic designer.

What are the Pros and Cons of a retainer agreement? Pros

Steady Pay: As long as your client pays according to the agreement, you know when and how much income you can expect.

Better Clients: Entering into a retainer agreement is a big commitment. It takes a client with whom you have a good relationship with to agree to it. Since the relationship is already there, entering into a retainer agreement with them solidifies their loyalty to you.

Retainer Agreements Benefit the Client: There are many benefits to the client to sign with you. The client solidifies their relationship with a graphic designer and wont have to shop around each time they have a project to do. And the client knows in advance how much they are spending, allowing them to create more focused budgets.

Cons

Scheduling Conflicts: Although it's nice to know how much work you will be doing for the client each week. It may be hard to schedule other clients around this, especially if they have tight deadlines for their projects as well.

Dependence Issues: Relying solely on clients with retainer agreements may seem great as far as your income goes, but it can be dangerous if you don't diversify your work with non retainer clients. If a client with a retainer agreement decides to end the contract and leave you, there goes a good chunk of your income.

Potentially Less Pay: One of the things clients like about retainer agreements is the chance to acquire your services at a discounted rate. This, along with the scheduling conflicts I just mentioned could mean putting aside higher paid work in order to complete the work for the client under contract. You could potentially loose out on better paying jobs because your time is tied up due to the retainer agreement.

What type of work do you do under a retainer agreement?

The best type of work for a retainer agreement is anything that is done on a regular basis. Reoccurring work is perfectly suited for this scenario. Work such as website maintenance, newsletters, advertising, consulting, strategic planning.

Don't forget emergency issues. Some clients may want to pay you a small amount on a monthly basis just in case they need you for something.

Type of retainer agreements.

There are may ways you can set up your retainer agreement. This is something you and your client will need to work out. But here are some of the more popular options.

  • Paid to work a fixed amount of hours in a given time frame
  • Paid to work a fixed number of jobs in a given time frame
  • Paid a fixed amount of money you need to "work off". Usually within a given time frame.
  • Paid to be on call or to give the client preferential treatment.
Discussing a retainer agreement with your client.

When approaching a client about a potential retainer agreement you should keep the following in mind:

  • Remind the client how dependable you are.
  • Remind the client how much money they are regularly spending on you.
  • Discuss the benefits to BOTH of you if you enter a retainer agreement.
  • Discuss possible bonuses to the client.
What to include in a retainer agreement.
  • The amount of money you'll receive and the amount of work expected of you.
  • The date you are to be paid and how often
  • What type of work is expected of you.
  • How much notice will you be given for the work.
  • How much time will you have to complete the work.
  • What happens if you go beyond the agreed upon terms (do not offer discounts for additional work)
  • Who pays for expenses incurred while doing the work.
  • Specify that there is no carryover of unused time money at the end of the specified period.
  • What is required and how much time is required to end the retainer agreement.
  • Include an end date or a renegotiation date so you have a scheduled point when you can raise your rates if need be.

I want to include a special note about working beyond the specified time/amount of you retainer agreement. You may be inclined to offer a discount to your client should you go over the time/amount specified. I strongly advise against this. Consistently exceeding the agreement shows that the specifications were not realistic and gives you the opportunity to renegotiate the agreement. If you offer a discount for time spent beyond what is in the agreement the client will be less inclined to negotiate a new agreement.

Don't get complacent

It's nice to have a steady income you can rely on and that's exactly what a retainer agreement can offer you. But don't get complacent while working on retainer. You need to continue to grow your business and look for more work because you never know when or why a client will decide to end the agreement and leave you with a smaller income stream.

What do you think?

What do you do when you take some time off from your graphic design business? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

If you would like me to answer your question in a future episode please visit my feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Caitlin,

I've been lucky enough to gain my first handful of web design clients, which is extremely exciting. But as each contract comes to a close, I'm always flooded with a variety of other services I know I could offer the client, such as content marketing designs or eBook designs. How would you recommend turning web design clients into retainer clients? Even if the retainer is simply website maintenance. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject, how you've handled this issue in the past and what services you tend to offer your clients on a long standing basis after the website design is complete.

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

Resource of the week is WhatTheFont

Whatthefont.com is a website I've been using for many years to help me identify fonts used on designed pieces by simply uploading an image of the font. The site uses OCR to identify the characters, allowing you the option to fix the selected character if it chose wrong. Then the site uses it's vast library of fonts to try to identify or provide you with fonts that closely match the one you provided.

This site has saved me countless hours over the years I would have spent scrolling through my font library looking for that elusive font.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on Stitcher Subscribe on Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Apr 29 2016
52 mins
Play

Rank #16: 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
49 mins
Play

Rank #17: 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
21 mins
Play

Rank #18: What To Do When You Mess Up A Graphic Design Project - RD030

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Whose fault is it when YOU mess up?

Sounds like a silly question doesn't it? If YOU are the one to mess up, then shouldn't it be your fault? That's what I thought. However, after reading through the heated discussion in a Facebook group about graphic design, I realize that some people aren't so sure about what constitutes a mess up. I was so perturbed about what I read that I decided to devote this podcast episode to this one topic.

Here's a bit of context: In a graphic design Facebook group I came across a question posted by a designer seeking advice. The gist of his story when something like this. He designed a flyer for a client who then took the artwork to a printer to have the flyer printed. Towards the end of the design stage the designer had sent a proof for the client to sign off on. Instead of signing off on the job, the client told the designer that everything looked good, however they decided to change one word in a heading and would sign off on the job once the designer supplied them with a new proof with the requested change. The designer made the change, sent a new proof to the client for verification and promptly received their signed approval. The designer then produced the final PDF files for the client to supply to the printer. End of job. Or so the designer thought.

A couple of weeks later the client contacted the designer saying there was a mess up on the flyer and they couldn't use what they had. They needed the error fixed and they wanted the designer to pay for the reprint.

Now I know what you're thinking. The client signed off on the proof so it's their problem, not the designer's. The designer even had a clause in his contract stating that he wasn't responsible for any errors in the artwork once the client signs off on the job. So why the issue?

Here's where things get interesting. It turns out the proof the client did not sign off on when they asked for the word change in the heading was 100% ok everywhere else. They had had it proofread and verified by several people. Somehow, when the designer changed the word in the heading, something else must have happened to mess up a completely different section of the flyer and nobody noticed. When he sent the client the final proof they did not verify the entire flyer again, they only verified the word change and then signed off on the job.

So after this long explanation (which was even longer in the Facebook group) The designer asked the group whether or not he was at fault.

Who is responsible for the mess up?

Maybe it's my old fashion ways, but I was surprised at how divided the discussion was. Half the people said it was the designer's responsibility because he had messed up something unrelated to the one change the client requested. The client had no reason to look over the rest of the flyer again after determining that it was OK. The other half said it was the client's responsibility because they signed off on the proof with the mess up on it. They should have verified everything again before signing off on it. The discussion got pretty heated. Much more so than I thought the topic merited but everyone involved wanted to hold their ground.

I decided not to get involved in the discussion, and I don't know what the designer ultimately decided. I do know that he mentioned arguing with his client over the matter, which is why he was asking for advice.

When you mess up, you should man up to it (or woman up to it).

My stand on the topic is that the designer is ultimately responsible. Not only for the mess up, but for his integrity and his reputation. Should the client have rechecked the entire flyer? Perhaps, and they probably will on the next project. But ultimately they had no reason to. What would have happened if instead of asking for a new proof, the client had instead signed the first proof and told the designer the project was approved with one simple word change. I know this has happened to me many times. "Mark, here's the signed approval, just add a period to the end of the second paragraph and everything is good." If the client had done something like that instead, the mess up would clearly be on the designer. But because he showed them that he had changed that one word, the question of responsibility is now up in the air.

It's not worth it.

I don't know how many flyers were printed with the mess up. I have no idea if it was a $200 job or a $20,000 job. Regardless I hope the designer makes the right decision and takes responsibility for it. Not just because I believe he's at fault. But because of the possible repercussions for his business.

The designer mentioned that was was arguing with his client over the matter which is never a good thing. It's ok to have disagreements with clients, or difference of opinions. But arguments should never enter into the equation. I can almost guarantee that even if the designer takes responsibility for the mess up, the damage has been done and the client will be looking for another designer for any future projects. And what of the designer's reputation? When word gets out in the business community of how he handled the situation it wont look favourably for him and could make it harder for him to find future work.

Do you disagree?

Who do you think was ultimately responsible for the mess up? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

I have another Question Of The Week to answer. If you would like me to answer your question in a future episode please visit my feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Toby,

Hey there Mark I have a question for you that hopefully you may be able to shine some light on. I check up on my clients sites fairly often just to make sure everything is up and running and in working order, and just recently I noticed that a particular plugin that I have used for multiple clients pages is no longer functioning as the provider has changed their API, essentially breaking the plugin. I have said all that to get to my question which is how do I handle explaining to my client's (some of whom may not be understanding) that it is broken and is not my fault? I have not informed any of them yet as they are past clients I have not worked with in a few months, but seeing as when I handed the site over to them everything was working as it should and now it is not due to something out of my control, if they notice and then come to me for a fix would I be in the wrong to charge them to fix this? Thank you so much for the knowledge and help!

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

Resource of the week is Sync by iThemes

It's important to keep WordPress sites updated, both for the security and to take advantage of the latest features and improvements of themes and plugins.

Updates to WordPress core and any plugins or themes installed on sites can happen pretty frequently. And 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.

You can set up and manage up to 10 sites for free by visiting http://resourcefuldesigner.com/sync

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on Stitcher Subscribe on Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Apr 07 2016
31 mins
Play

Rank #19: Explaining Target Markets To Your Design Clients - RD097

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Do your clients understand who their target markets are?

As a designer, you need to know what target markets you are going after if you want your design campaigns to succeed.

Every design campaign should have a type or group of people to target. Maybe you're designing for women between the ages of 25-35 with a toddler at home. Maybe it's balding men over the age of 50. It could be weekend warriors who like to surf. How about black businessmen between the ages of 22-35 who like driving fancy sports cars and jetting off for weekend parties in Las Vegas? All of these are target markets.

Whatever target markets you are designing for, it's your job to get into the heads of those people and design something that appeals to them.

But what happens when the marketing message your client wants you to create is more geared towards them than their target market?

In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I discuss your position as the designer and how it's your job to educate your clients on what will and what won't work for their marketing campaign. Be sure to listen to the podcast for the expanded story.

Some clients don't understand the difference.

Some clients have a hard time distinguishing between what interests them and what interests their target market. A new restaurant owner is probably very interested in what brand of pots and pans they use in their kitchen, whether they have a gas or electric stove, where they get their meats, produce, spices. All of these things contribute to a successful business.

Patrons of the restaurant, on the other hand, don't care about the pots and pans or where the spices came from. They're interested in a good tasting meal eaten in a good atmosphere.

Both sides are interested in the restaurant, but they are interested in different things about the restaurant.

It's your job as the designer to weed through the information provided to you by your clients and pick out those bits that are of interest to the target markets.

Changing the message but keeping the meaning.

Sometimes, the success of a marketing campaign all comes down to the wording used in the campaign. Hiring a copywriter or wordsmith can help focus the message, but budgets don't always allow for them.

Look at the information provided by your client and try to determine the impact it will have on its target market. Adjust the information if needed to appeal to the target markets you are going after.

A paint shop that advertises "We can match any colour with a 95% accuracy" isn't as appealing as a paint shop that advertises "Show us a colour and we can match it almost perfectly". Both messages mean the same thing, but to a customer wanting a special colour paint, the second one is more likely to get them to purchase their paint at that store.

Explaining it to your clients.

Some clients understand the concept of target markets naturally. But for those who don't, it may seem like a daunting task to explain it to them. You may be inclined to simply use the information they provide you and create their marketing campaign as is. If you do that, you will be doing your clients a disservice.

Point out the differences between what they think is important in their business and what their target market thinks is important. Use the restaurant analogy from above if it helps. If you can get them to understand, it will make it much easier working with them going forward.

If you point out the miscommunication between your client and their target markets you can improve the message they want to get out. Not only will you be creating better-focused marketing material, but you are also building a bond between you and your client that could last for many years. The next time that clients need something they will trust your judgement more.

Have you dealt with clients who didn't understand target markets?

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 Elly

My question for the podcast is about internships; would you take on an intern in your business as a home based designer? What would you look for in an intern? How importat do you think internships are in building a successful design career? I'd love your view on internsips both as a business owner and a former design student who has built a succeesful career.

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

Tip of the week Sales

Running a graphic design business can get expensive. Not only is the hardware required very pricey, but some software has recurring pricing which becomes a monthly or yearly expense. Taking advantage of special sales such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Boxing Day sales can save you a lot of money. Even if your subscriptions are not due at that time of year, you can probably extend them by purchasing or upgrading during a sale. Pay now to save later. After all, every cent you don't have to spend means more money in your pocket.

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

Nov 24 2017
33 mins
Play

Rank #20: A Don't Do List For Your Graphic Design Business - RD043

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Regain valuable time by creating a Don't Do List.

Every day we spend needless time on tasks, routines and distractions just because they've become habits. We also spend valuable time doing things just to please others. Even if it doesn't benefit us at all. If you take back some of that wasted time you'd be amazed at how much more efficient your business can be. That's where a Don't Do list comes in.

Let me ask you a question.

Imagine this fictional scenario; you are a busy graphic designer with multiple client projects on the go. You win a great proposal and are  awarded a new 40-hour project to complete within a tight deadline. Unfortunately, due to personal issues, you are only able to devote 4 hours per day to your business for the foreseeable future. What would you eliminate from your daily tasks and routines to make your life easier? What would you include on your Don't Do List?

Create a Don't Do List

By creating a Don't Do List for your graphic design business you are able to hold yourself accountable and take back some of your wasted time and put it to better use. In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I share 10 items that are on my own Don't Do List. Your list may look different and that's OK. Please share in the comments below what you would include on your Don't Do List.

My Don't Do List

For more details on each item in my list please listen to the podcast.

  1. Don't schedule client meetings in the morning.
  2. Don't look at email until I've done at least an hour of work in the morning.
  3. Don't treat emails from people I don't know as if they're urgent.
  4. Don't answer the phone or reply to text messages in the morning.
  5. Don't check my social media in the morning.
  6. Don't listen to music with words which could interfere with my creativity.
  7. Don't eat a sugary breakfast in the morning.
  8. Don't turn on the TV in the morning before work. (I'm bad at this one)
  9. Don't start my morning without already knowing what I'll be working on.
  10. Don't leave my email or social media programs open all day. Turn off Email and social media notifications. Set my mobile phone's do not disturb to end later in the morning.
What's on your Don't Do List?

Is there anything you would include on your Don't Do List that I don't have on mine? 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 Norman

I have a question about dealing with clients that refuse to pay, or extremely drag there feet. I Recently had a client who asked for a 3 page list of changes to her website, I believed there would be no issues as I had no issues with this client not paying in the past, however this list turned out to be an 11+ hr job which was the biggest bill I ever sent her. She received the invoice and said she mailed my check, So after hearing that, and in good faith based on our relationship thus far, I committed a cardinal web design sin, I uploaded the site changes BEFORE I actually received the check.

To make a long story short, the check never arrived, 1 week later, when asked about it she told me to meet her at her studio to pick up a new check and she would cancel the missing one. I showed up but she was nowere to be found, when I finally heard from her she gave me some lame excuse that she was in a meeting running late. So I sent her a digital invoice via PayPal that she could pay. She never replied so I sent her this message:

"Considering you told me that you would be able to meet me at 2 I expect the invoice to be paid by 2 or you can meet me somewhere closer in town with a check, either way if payment is not received by 2:30 today I will unfortunately have no choice but to take down the updates made to the site until payment has been received. Thank you for understanding"

She immediately wrote back a very long message filled with excuses and finger pointing, also saying that she would pay the invoice within a few minutes. 2:30 comes around and still no payment, I wait another hour to give her the benefit of the doubt, until at 3:30. When I still did not receive payment I removed the updates. It is now the following day and still no payment.

Did I do that right thing by following up and taking down the updates until I received payment or should I have given her more time or approached it differently?

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

Resource of the week is DepositPhotos

DepositPhotos is a great stock photography site that now offers reverse image search. No more struggles finding words to describe the right stock image; now you can show DepositPhotos what you want. Upload your photo to reverse image search, and get lots of similar high-res images to choose from.

You can either upload a picture from your computer or copy/paste the URL of a photo you saw online into the search bar. Reverse image search uses image recognition to analyse all components of the photo and provide similar image options in just a few seconds.

If this is something that interests you please check out DepositPhotos

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

Aug 26 2016
39 mins
Play

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