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Resourceful Designer - Resources to help streamline your graphic design and web design business.

Offering resources to help streamline your home based graphic design and web design business so you can get back to what you do best… Designing!
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Resourceful Designer - Resources to help streamline your graphic design and web design business.
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Oct 19, 2017

Is your design life and personal life balanced?

Face it, being a home-based graphic designer is challenging enough without having your design life interrupted by the personal life that surrounds you each and every day.

Not only do you have to deal with clients and deadlines but you also have to deal with family and friends who for some reason think that since you work from home, you must be available whenever they need you.

It’challengingng to say the least.

The problem is When you work from home, not only are you always at home, but you are also always at work. So keeping that work/life balance is not an easy task.

I go into greater detail about all of this in the podcast so be sure to listen. Here are the four tips I discuss to help you maintain some semblance of balance.

Set Boundaries between your personal and design life.

No matter what your family and friends may think, the fact of the matter is even though you are at home, you are still at work. You need to set boundaries for them, so they recognize the difference and ask them to respect your workday.

That means limiting phone calls, pop-in visits, social nudges, requests to go out, etc. Everything they do that can become a distraction from your work.

Divide your living space and workspace

I talked about having your own workspace in episode 88 A Designer’s Home Office Essentials, and I’m going to talk about it again today.

When you are working from home it’s imperative you have a workspace that is separate from your living space. Your dining room table isn’t good enough unless that the only thing it’s used for, and everyone in your household knows it.

Having a separate room with a door is even better. Choose a room or a section of a room specifically to use as your design studio and only use that space for your work.

This is especially important if you have children.

Having a dedicated workspace will accomplish two things:

  • Whenever you enter your workspace, you will know you are at work. You’ll instantly have that work mindset that allows you to focus on the projects at hand. And then, when you get up and leave your workspace you will know you are no longer at work.
  • Having a dedicated workspace will teach your family members to respect your space and your time.

If you’re sitting in the living room with your laptop on your lap, your family doesn’t know if you are working or simply checking out the latest gossip on social media. But if you go into your designated workspace there’s no question about what you're up to.

Even young kids can be taught not to disturb mommy or daddy when they are in their workspace.

Take Breaks

If you worked at an office or agency, you would be reminded to take regular breaks, and you would be given a designated time for lunch.

Don’t forgo these perks just because you’re working from home.

Sometimes, working in isolation can be a distraction in itself for the important things. I’m guilty of this as well. The fact of the matter is, It doesn’t matter how busy you are at work, it's important that you take breaks. Stop for lunch, stop for snacks, stop just to stretch. Get out of the house if you can. Take your dog for a walk. Stand on your front porch or balcony and breath in some outside air. Go out for a coffee if that’s your thing.

Taking breaks is good for you both physically and mentally. It get’s your blood flowing, and it clears your head which helps your creativity.

Enjoy family time outside your design life

Family time is very important. It doesn’t matter if you are still living with your parents, you bunk with a boyfriend or girlfriend or you’re married with kids. 

It’s important that you spend time with the people that are important in your life.

When you’re working from home, it’s very tempting to hunker down and spend as much time as you can on that big project you’re working on. It’s easy to ignore everything that is going on around you. The problem is, it’s not healthy to do so.

You need to leave your office space and live a life outside of your design life.

My working hours are from 9-5, just like if I was working for an agency or design studio. I suggest you do something similar and let your clients know these boundaries. If you have clients in different time zones or around the world, clearly define to them what hours you can be reached by phone or email.

Yes, there will be times that you'll need to burn the midnight oil, and being a home-based designer makes that very convenient, but it should be an exception, not a regular occurrence. Plus, there is no reason for your clients to know what time of day you are working on their projects.

There you have it, balancing your design life and your personal life.

Set boundaries with family and friends, define your workspace, learn to take breaks, and be sure to enjoy your personal life outside of your design life.

If you can remember these four things, you will be a much healthier and happier designer.

How do you balance your personal and design life?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

I don't have a question of the week this week, but I would love to answer yours in a future episode. Submit your question by visiting the feedback page.

Tip of the week Two Factor Authentication

Two Factor Authentication is a simple way to add valuable security to a website. Two Factor Authentication adds one extra step to the WordPress login process making it that much harder for hackers to gain access to the website.

I use iThemes Security Pro for my Two Factor Authentication coupled with the Google Authenticator App (available on IOS and Android). Every time I log into one of my client's websites I'm asked to input a time-sensitive authentication code. I open the App on my iPhone, choose the appropriate client website and retrieve the six-digit code to complete my login. Each code has a lifespan of only 30 seconds so if it takes me too long to enter it on the login screen the login attempt fails and it asks me for another code.

The time sensitivity of the activation codes is what makes Two Factor Authentication so secure. Hackers only have 30 seconds to try and guess a 6-digit code before they have to start again. And that's only after they have successfully guessed the username and password for the site. Hence the added security.

If you have a WordPress website, or you manage your client's websites, I highly suggest you look into some manner of implementing Two Factor Authentication.

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Send me feedback

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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 13, 2017

Have you heard of the Zeigarnik Effect?

I read an article recently about the Zeigarnik Effect. The article I read was aimed at writers and not graphic designers but I found a lot of it relates to what we do as designers.

Here's a quick background on the Zeigarnik Effect in case you've never heard of it before.

Back in the 1920's Psychologist Kurt Lewin noticed that a waiter at a local restaurant remembered all the orders from each table until the bill was paid. Once the bill was paid, he couldn't remember the orders anymore.

Bluma Zeigarnik, a student of Lewin, studied this phenomenon. Her research explored the idea that a task that has been started but not completed creates a task-specific tension in our mind and allows us to focus more clearly on it.

In other words, when you start a task, your mind is set in motion and a tension builds until that task is completed.

This explains why we feel good when we finish some tasks. Finishing things like crossword puzzles, a good book, an exercise routine or a design project brings us a sense of joy and satisfaction.

Get started on that design

You may have never heard of the Zeigarnik Effect, but I’m sure you’ve noticed that when it comes to designing, starting the design is often half the battle.

If you want to design something, the most important thing you can do is start designing it. Even if your ideas are not concrete and you don't know what direction you want to take. By simply putting things down on paper or on a computer you get your mind thinking about it in different ways. This is when the Zeigarnik Effect kicks in, by creating a kind of tension that your mind wants to satisfy so it devotes more power to it, boosting your ideas and creativity. Simply get the ball rolling by jotting down anything and everything you can to start the design process.

Tension accumulates

Sometimes, when we have a lot of design projects to work on we start to feel overloaded. The Zeigarnik Effect states that that overloaded feeling comes from too many unfinished tasks that your mind wants to finish and forget about.

Your brain doesn't really distinguish between the amount of time a task takes. Whether it's emailing a client, finding a stock image, updating a name on a business card, or designing an entire website.

Your brain doesn't know one task requires more time than another, it just knows you have a bunch of things that are not done.

In episode 66 of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I discussed how to Tackle Your To-Do List With Tasks and Projects. In it, I explained how every project can be broken down into either smaller projects or individual tasks. By completing those individual tasks you are able to check off more items from your To-Do list and feel better about yourself. At the time of that episode I hadn't heard of the Zeigarnik Effect, but in hindsight, it's exactly what I was talking about.

Completing a task eliminates the tension associated with it and frees up your mind for other things.

Eliminate tension

If you find yourself with too many things to do, one solution is to simply eliminate some. Get better at ditching, delegating and doing the little things quickly so you have the mental space for the important projects. Tackle the quick items first. Delete unimportant things from your To-Do list. Hire someone such as a Virtual Assistant to take on some of the work for you.

And remember the Zeigarnik Effect. Once a task is completed, or no longer on your To-Do list, your mind is free to forget about it and concentrate its creative juices on the remaining tasks at hand.

Did you know about the Zeigarnik Effect?

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 Sunil

This is Sunil from India, I have started a design consultancy as a soal-pruner currently. I have boldly dropped my regular job as a senior graphic designer after 12+ years of experience with handling top notch brands on a large scale, from design to execution.

Here’s my question.

Even after serving as a senior Graphics designer and having 12+ years of experience, there is some kind of fear in me that is stopping me to move ahead. Kindly help me in removing/getting out of this barrier of fear to move ahead and also when meeting the clients?

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

Resource of the week Paparazzi!

Simply put, Paparazzi! is a simple application (Mac only) that allows you to take screenshots of an entire webpage, even the parts not visible in your browser window. Simply enter a URL in Paparazzi! and save the page as a PDF, JPG, PNG or TIFF file. It's as simple as that.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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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 6, 2017

What peripherals do you use for your design business?

Peripherals, often forgotten until they are needed, are an essential addition to any graphic design business. In episode 88 of the Resourceful Designer podcast, titled A Designer's Home Office Essentials, I covered some items you should have in your home office. This is kind of a sequel to that episode with a few more things to consider.

I go into more detail on the podcast for each of the following items so be sure to listen for the full story.

UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply)

An Uninterrupted Power Supply, also referred as a UPS is an essential peripheral for your business. A UPS provides a constant steady stream of power for your electronic devices through the use of a rechargeable battery. Think of it as a glorified power bar. Because your computer and other devices are powered via the UPS's battery you don't have to worry about power dips or spikes that may harm your equipment. Even a power outage is not an issue. The battery gives you sufficient time to save your work and power down your equipment in a safe manner.

Surge Protector

If you are not plugged into a UPS, then a surge protector is an absolute must. Most power bars have built-in surge protectors but double check before purchasing one. Surge protectors act as a buffer between a power outlet and your electronic devices protecting them against power surges. Should a surge occur the fuse or breaker in the surge protector will trip saving your devices from harm.

Pantone Color System

A Pantone colour book is essential for a print designer. The ability to choose and match colours is an integral part of our business. Recognized worldwide, using the Pantone colour system ensures you get the perfect printing results every time from every printer.

External Hard Drives

External Hard Drives are another great peripheral to have for your business. They allow for easy backup and storage of less often accessed files. External Hard Drives should not be your only solution for backups. For off-site backups I recommend Backblaze.

Tablets

Many designers use tablets such as iPads, Microsoft Surface, or those by Wacom in their business. If you are a designer who enjoys the hands-on feel of designing then a tablet may be the perfect peripheral for you.

Webcam

Many computers and laptops come with built-in webcams. However, these cameras are not always practical. A USB webcam such as the Logitech HD Pro C920, the one I use, allows you to position the camera at the ideal spot for best picture and lighting.

Powered USB Hub

Peripherals are great, but most computers can only accommodate so many at a time. A Powered USB Hub increases your USB port real estate so you can connect more devices. I suggest a powered port to accommodate multiple devices that draw their power via the USB connection.

Line Gage

A Line Gage can refer to many different tools. The one I'm talking about is a clear piece of mylar or plastic with useful measurement tools printed on it. A line gage allows you to measure things like font size, line spacing (leading), stroke thickness, etc. I designed my own Line Gage years ago and use it on a regular basis. If you want to see what I'm talking about you can download a PDF of my Line Gage and have one made for yourself.

CD/DVD Burner

Sure DVDs are going the way of the dinosaurs, but until they do it might be a good idea for you to have a way to read and burn disks. Some computers have a CD/DVD reader/burner built in, but companies such as Apple have done away with them. USB CD/DVD Burners are not very expensive and are a great peripheral to have on hand should you need it.

Dedicated Phone Number

I talked about phone numbers in episode 7 and episode 14 of the podcast. The fact is, if you are running any sort of business from your home, be it full-time, part-time, or just doing casual freelance jobs, you should have a dedicated phone number for your business. Contact your phone company or look into services such as Google Voice or eVoice and get a business number.

Extra Cables

Don't throw out those old cables when you upgrade your devices. you never know when you may need to connect something to your computer and require one of them. I personally have a box containing many different kinds of connector cables that I can pull out should a client supply me with an external hard drive or camera or whatever.

Computer Glasses

If you wear glasses for reading you may be pleased to know you can get special computer glasses that are specifically adjusted to the distance you sit from your computer screen. These glasses will reduce eye strain as well as back strain from having to lean in towards the screen in order to see it clearly.

You can also get a special coating on the glasses to prevent eye strain by the blue light emitted by computer monitors. This blue light can cause headaches as well as interrupt your sleep if you look at your monitor too close to bedtime.

Inquire wherever you get your glasses if computer glasses are right for you.

What peripherals do you use?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Joseph

I'd like to hear your option on mobile creative devices like the iPad Pro 2 and Microsoft Surface tablets? Do you use one of them and if so how do you use them for design work?

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

Resource of the week Grammarly

I first purchased Grammarly on a whim over a year ago during some ridiculous sale they were having. It was probably one of the best purchases I've made in recent years. Not a day goes by that Grammarly doesn't help me out.

What is Grammarly? Simply put, it’s a spelling and grammar checker for your computer and web browser. But it’s so much more than that. As they say on their website, Grammarly leaves outdated spelling and grammar checkers in the dust.

Grammarly helps me whenever I fill out online forms, when I'm designing in WordPress and when I'm posting on social media. Anywhere I write, Grammarly is there to make sure I write well.

Grammarly doesn’t only correct, it teaches. It tells you if you are using repetitive words, warns of things like weak adjectives, and so much more. According to their website 85% of people using Grammarly become stronger writers. I've seen it in my writing.

It can be set for American or British spelling and is available for both Mac and Windows.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on Android
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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

 

Sep 29, 2017

Do you use checklists in your design business?

What does your morning routine look like?

Do you follow mental checklists to prepare yourself for the day? Do you get out of bed and immediately take a shower? Do you head to the kitchen for your morning coffee? Do you turn on the TV or pull out your phone, tablet or computer to get caught up on the news from around the world? Whatever your morning routine is, chances are you do just about the same thing every day.

Without even thinking about it, you’ve created a mental checklist for yourself which you subconsciously check off items as you progress through your morning routine.

The same goes for your design business. We all use mental checklists to keep on top of what we have to do so things don’t get out of hand.

You probably have a mental checklist for the first contact with a new client, a different one for putting a website together, another before submitting a proof to a client, and a very important one before sending a job to be printed.

Checklists are a must for running an efficient design business. If you can manage your checklists all in your head than kudos to you.

But let me get back to your morning routine and ask you a question. Have you ever left the house and later realized you forgot to brush your teeth?

How could that have happened? You followed the same mental checklists you do every day. And yet you somehow forgot to brush your teeth.

It’s not that big a deal; you can always rub your teeth with your finger or tissue. Maybe chew a stick of gum. It’s not the same as brushing your teeth, but you can still make it through the day.

But what happens if you forget something from one of your businesses mental checklists?

What if you forgot to spell check a document before sending it to be printed? Or you launch a website without verifying all the links are working?

These kinds of mistakes can hurt you financially, as well as hurt your reputation.

That’s why I’m a strong believer in physical checklists.

If you had a piece of paper with your morning routine on it, you would never forget to brush your teeth because you would see it was still unchecked.

Now I’m not suggesting you create checklists for your daily life. But some parts of your design business could benefit from a digital or physical checklist.

Things like

  • Web Design
  • Client questions
  • Proofing jobs
  • Invoicing clients
  • Contracts
  • Getting files ready for Print
  • Handing over completed projects

These are all areas that could benefit from checklists.

Web Design Checklists

Let’s take web design for example. I have a checklist I use each and every time I begin a new web design project. It includes all the steps I do when I install Wordpress. The settings I change, including deleting the default Admin user and creating a more secure one. It also includes all the default plugins I install. I have a list of certain plugins that I install on every single website I design.

Every time I start a new web design project I pull out my checklist and go through it one by one, so I make sure nothing is overlooked. Once my list is completed I can then start designing the site.

Click here to download my checklist

Client Questions

Back in episode 15 of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I went over 50 questions to ask before every new design project. In it, I covered categories like...

  • Questions about the company hiring you for a design project
  • Questions about the company's target audience
  • Questions about the company's brand
  • Questions about the company's design preferences
  • Questions about the design project's scale, timeframe and budget

All of these questions could be made into checklists to ask clients when discussing a new design project.

 Proofing Jobs

I mentioned spell checking earlier, but there are many other things to look out for when proofing a job. You should be looking out for things like...

  • Orphans
  • Widows
  • Rivers in your text.
  • Line spacing
  • Font Styling
  • Colour spaces

These are just some of the things that need to be checked. Creating checklists for these things ensures you never forget an important step.

Invoicing clients

Keep an itemized list of everything you do on a client project and check them off as you add them to the final invoice.

Contracts

Have a checklist of all the sections in your contract that need to be updated before sending it to a client. You don't want to be embarrassed by sending a contract that still has placeholder text on it.

Getting files ready for Print

Before sending any print project to the printer, you need to verify that everything is in order. Create a checklist to make sure nothing costly is overlooked. Things like...

  • Trapping if needed
  • Rich black RGB-CMYK, Low Res images
  • RGB converted to CMYK
  • Low-Res images replaced Hi-Res versions.

Handing over completed projects

Once a project is completed, and it's time to hand everything over to your client. Have checklists on hand to ensure nothing is forgotten. Some items to include are...

  • Signed copies of rights ownership transfer sheets.
  • Digital files are provided in the right formats
  • Assets such as photos and fonts are included if need be.

Checklists for everything

When it comes to your design business, you shouldn't take any chances. Any project or task that could potentially have something go wrong with it can benefit from having checklists to go over.

What checklists do you use in your design business?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Nayda

¡Hola Mark! I'm Nayda from Puerto Rico. I've been listening to your podcast since this summer. It's been super helpful, so thank you.

I have been working for around 10 years as a Graphic Designer. As a freelancer and as, right now, an employee with a Government agency.

I wonder about you opinion in a matter that always worries me. For my freelance clients I work from my 27" iMac and I love it. As for right now It's my only device aside from my iPad. I constantly worry that I have no extra computer in case something happens to mine.

Do you happen to have a spare computer in case your principal broke down? Or you prefer to have just one and have money saved up in case you need to buy one in a emergency.

In other words, how do you handle a situation in which you computer broke down but it can be fixed? Because sometimes there's no need to buy a new one. Although it may take time to repair.

Thank you for your time!

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

Resource of the week Bonus content for Patrons of Resourceful Designer

I have decided to thank everyone who is supporting Resourceful Designer through Patreon by creating bonus episodes just for them. These bonus episodes will be in the form of 30-minute consulting calls with fellow Patrons of the show. Twice a month I will randomly select a Patron for a 30-minute call to discuss their design business. With their permission, I will record these calls and make them available only to Patreon members. These episodes will be great learning experiences as we discuss ways to grow and improve real-life design businesses. For as little as $1 per month, you will have a chance to talk to me directly about your business and to learn from others like you. Become a Patron today.

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

Sep 14, 2017

What's in your home office?

A home office is essential if you plan on running your graphic design business for any length of time. Sure the kitchen table can make due in a pinch, but if you're serious about your business, you will want to carve out a bit of that home real estate and claim it as your own.

But once you've planted your flag and claimed the space in the name of your graphic design business what do you do with it? In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I go over some essentials to make your home office reflect you and your business. Be sure to listen to the episode for the full story. Better yet, subscribe and never miss an episode.

Essentials for your home office space

A dedicated room

A dedicated room in your home devoted solely to your home office will solidify the feeling of running a business. Not to mention that having a dedicated home office makes it much easier come tax time for calculating deductions you can claim as a home based graphic design business.

A door

Sounds crazy but being able to close a door while you are working can establish not only your working space but your working hours. The rest of your family will quickly learn not to disturb you when the door is closed. A door also helps you focus by cutting you off from the rest of the household.

A good environment

Make sure the room you choose has proper ventilation and good lighting. You will be spending a lot of time in your home office, so it's essential to make it as comfortable as possible.

Essential equipment for your home office

A good computer

This one is a given. As a graphic designer, your computer is your main tool when it comes to earning your living. Whether you choose a laptop or desktop, Mac or PC, be sure to choose a computer that will be powerful enough for the projects you will be working on and one durable enough, so you don't have to replace it too often.

A desk

Unless you're a fly-by-night freelancer who likes to sprawl out on the living room couch with your laptop, you're going to need a desk. A desk is a long term purchase so choose one that will fit your needs. Keep storage space in mind when shopping for your desk. There are some beautiful minimalistic styles out there, but they are not very practical for someone who will be using it every day.

An office chair

Do not skimp on your chair! Your chair could be one of the most important investments you make in your business. You will be sitting in your chair for hours on end, day after day so choose one that is comfortable for you. Spend some time trying out different styles and find the one that fits your body type.

A desk lamp

Face it, as a home-based designer you will probably find yourself working at all hours of the day. A good desk lamp is essential when burning the midnight oil. Choose one that is not too harsh, and that won't affect the way you see colours in your room.

Printer/Scanner

A printer/scanner is something every office should have. Depending on your needs, you may be able to get away with one of the less expensive models available.

Filing cabinet

I mentioned storage space earlier. A filing cabinet is a great way to keep track of papers and remove clutter from your room.

A paper shredder

Depending on your clients, you may come into possession of some sensitive documents. When it comes time to discard of them, a shredder is the only way short of burning them.

Essential home office supplies

File Storage

Every office should have disposable storage devices such as DVDs or flash drives for giving files to clients. Do not always count on cloud based storage systems. Some clients will want something physical they can hold.

Spill proof mug

Staying hydrated is important for your health so expect to drink throughout the day. However, liquids and computer equipment don't get along very well. Invest in a spill proof mug or bottle and never worry about knocking it over.

Wire organizers

Face it, between your computer, external drives, phone wires, charging cables and who knows what other wires. The space behind your computer probably looks like a spider's web. Purchase inexpensive wire organizers and keep your wires nice and tidy.

Miscellaneous essentials

If you're like most home-based designers, you will spend more time in your home office than any other room in your house (awake that is). So it's essential that you make this space your own. Decorate it with things that inspire your creativity such as books, artwork, knick knacks, plants, etc. Anything and everything that makes you feel good. Having a happy environment will make you a more productive designer.

If you share your home with little ones, either children or pets, be sure to include a space for them so they can be close to you without getting in your way. A pet bed or a bean bag chair can go a long way to satisfy young hearts.

What essentials do you have in your home office?

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 Lora

I'm new to your podcasts and was introduced to you from the Print Brokering one. I look forward to listening again--interesting and rich in information. I am a graphic designer and design instructor. After teaching graphic design full-time for 15 years, I started Orangish design last year, and teaching design again, part time. It's proving to be a great balance, business is slowly picking up and could use the bonus cash from print brokering you talked about!

I've always thought about print brokering but was concerned, if I'm honest, afraid, of paying the printer up front. Your explanation makes perfect sense and you make it sound so easy--invoice the client, they pay you, then place the print order.

Here is My Question:

I use an online printer, Moo.com, and now plan to work with them as a print broker. When you say: "You can make a good income by adding a hefty markup to their prices.", how do you add that markup to online printer invoices, yet present the marked-up invoice legitimately to your clients? My clients always want to see quotes 1, 2 and 3. Clients are pretty darn savvy these days.

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

Resources of the week: Two Design Podcasts

This week I share two resources in the form of podcasts. I listen and enjoy both these shows, and I think you will too.

Logo Geek is a podcast produced by Ian Paget. Ian interviews influential designers to discuss all things logo related. If designing logos is part of your business this podcast is a must listen.

This Design Life is produced by Chris Green. Chris also interviews designers, but he focuses more on the life they live. Asking them questions like what inspires them and why they choose to become designers.

It's always fun to hear how other designers live and produce the wonderful works they do. Both of these podcasts offer small glimpses into the lives of talented people just like you. I encourage you to give them a try.

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Send me feedback

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I want to help you.

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

Sep 8, 2017

What is Emotional Intelligence?

According to Psychology Today; Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It’s the capacity to be aware of, control, and express your emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.

In other words, Emotional intelligence impacts your thinking and behaviour when dealing with your clients and is a crucial part of building client relationships. In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I discuss how to be aware of your emotional intelligence and use it to grow your design business. Be sure to listen to the podcast for the full story.

Emotional Intelligence and your design business.

It’s a given that client satisfaction and their repeated business is based on their emotional connection to you the designer. If a client likes you, they are more likely to hire you again for future projects. That’s why Emotional Intelligence is something you should be aware of at all times.

There are many different aspects involved when building relationships with your graphic design clients. Emotional Intelligence plays a major role in that process. Being aware of your Emotional Intelligence means being aware that emotions can impact your behaviour and can impact other people’s behaviour, both positively and negatively.

Learning how to manage those emotions, both your own and those of other people, is a key part of building relationships with your design clients.

Here are a few tips for improving your emotional intelligence:

  • Learn to be self-aware of your own emotions. Think about how your emotions have affected the way you react in various situations. If you are the type of person who is always on the defensive you need to learn to recognize and control these emotions.
  • Take responsibility for your feelings and behaviour. When criticized or challenged, rather than taking offence ask yourself, “What can I learn from this situation?” If you lash out it will affect your client’s emotions. Likewise, if you hurt someone’s feelings, offer a sincere apology.
  • Learn how to respond to a situation rather than react to it. Reacting typically involves an emotional behaviour, whereas, responding involves deciding how you want to behave.
  • All client interactions should be conducted in a technology-free environment. Avoid distractions from text messages, emails, and voicemails, and give customers your undivided attention. Distractions create negative emotions in your clients.
  • Take a moment to consider your actions before speaking or acting. This can help you manage your emotions and help you be more thoughtful and less emotional when responding to a situation. It also makes you look more impressive when your client sees you take the time to ponder their questions and comments.
  • Increasing your empathy can go a long way in relationship building. Practice understanding why someone feels or behaves in a certain way and communicate that understanding to them.

Practice makes perfect

If the above is something you struggle with, try scheduling a couple of minutes at the end of the day to reflect on your daily actions and how you handled yourself. We all learn through actions. Think back on your client interactions and try to identify areas you could have done better. The relationships you build with your clients are the most important part of your design business.

As I said in episode 85 of the podcast which was titled Reel in Repeat Clients, a client would much rather work with a good designer they like, than work with a great designer they don’t like.

If you learn to identify and master your Emotional Intelligence you will become the designer your clients like.

Do you struggle with your Emotional Intelligence?

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 Travis

I just finished the episode on hourly rates, and you brought up the niche topic. I target the church/ministry niche, personally, and have several years' experience in this niche. However, it's a niche that typically is not willing to pay standard rates (because they are usually non-profit). The idea of charging more in this niche seems impossible.

Do you have any experience with working for non-profit clients, or any feedback on how to develop good quotes for those in the non-profit sector?

Recently I've been asking them first to let me know what they have budgeted, but they often have no idea what to expect, or simply don't know what to budget. I try to help them come up with a good number, and then I adjust how much time I spend on the project accordingly.

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

Tip of the week Hand Written Thank You Cards.

A great way to solidify your client relationships is by sending them a hand written thank you card after a project is completed. Not only are hand written cards a great way to stand out and be remembered, but they offer another opportunity for you to show off your design skills to your client.

Most people are not used to receiving personal correspondence through the mail anymore. This simple tip will go a long way to establishing your business as one that goes that extra step.

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Contact me

Send me feedback

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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 31, 2017

How do you handle criticism?

As a designer, you will receive criticism on your work. How you deal with that criticism will determine what kind of designer you are.

In this episode of Resourceful Designer, I discuss why criticism is essential to your growth as a designer. Listen to the podcast for the full story.

One of the advantages of attending a design school is the opportunity to experience criticism from your teachers and classmates. It's not fun, but it does prepare you for the real world where clients don't hold back their feelings about your work.

We all have blind spots we can't see. Through criticism, you learn to identify those blind spots and improve on them, which moulds you into a better designer.

Perfection is unattainable

My brother was an artist. After watching him sign his name to a painting he just completed I asked him how he knew it was done? He replied to me that it wasn't done and it never would be done. He signed his name to it not because the painting was done, but because he was done with the painting.

The same goes for design. At some point, you simply have to say the design is complete and move on.

Remember, the design you create is not for yourself, it's for your client. They are the ones that will see and use it on a regular basis. They are the ones that have to be happy with the design. So listen to the criticism they give you. Impart your design knowledge upon them if you find their suggestions don't align with your idea but ultimately, they must be satisfied with what you give them.

After a time, you will come to know your client's likes and dislikes. As your relationship grows, you will receive less and less criticism from them. When that happens, you will know you have become a better designer.

In the meantime, embrace all the criticism directed your way and use it to grow as a designer and as a person.

What's your experience with handling criticism?

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 Antony

I am just starting off graphic and web design here in Kenya and have been thinking of doing this as a business. Most of my questions have been addressed in the podcasts I have listened to but there is one area on which I would like advice on. What are the best terms of payment when doing graphic design work? What works for many service businesses over here is asking for a deposit and the rest paid after the work is delivered. What is your take on this and what has worked for you?

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

Resource of the week Backblaze

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

Hard drive crashes are only one thing you need to worry about. Your files are also vulnerable to hardware theft and natural disasters such as floods, fires, earthquakes etc. With Backblaze you can rest at ease knowing your business files are safe no matter what happens. Backblaze works on Mac or PC and is just $50/year.

If you are currently using CrashPlan as your backup solution you may want to consider switching to Backblaze. CrashPlan announced that they will no longer provide consumer backup services.

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Contact me

Send me feedback

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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 24, 2017

Turn all clients into repeat clients.

Your goal as a designer is to turn all your clients into repeat clients. But you can't do that unless you build a relationship with them.

Many new designers worry too much about the designs they create than they do about the relationships they build with their clients.

Don't get me wrong, good design skills are a key element in building a strong graphic design business. But they're only one part of the equation. You could even say that your ability to build client relationships is more important than being a great designer.

After all, clients would much rather deal with a good designer they like, than a great designer they don't like.

I cover this topic in greater detail in the podcast so be sure to listen. Here is some of what I talked about.

What's the big deal about repeat clients?

You may be thinking "what's the big deal? If a client likes what I do they'll come back." Unfortunately, that isn't always the case.

Clients don't want to work with someone they don’t like no matter how talented you are. And if they do end up working with you and discovering they don't like you, the chances of them becoming repeat clients once that first project is done are very slim.

However, if they enjoyed working with you, they are much more likely to come back to you instead of looking for a new designer. After all, time is money and if they don't have to spend time looking for a new designer then you saved them money.

After all, time is money and if they don't have to spend time looking for a new designer then you saved them money.

What are the benefits of repeat clients?

Once you build relationships with your clients it becomes much easier to pitch new ideas to them. They become much more receptive to your ideas and directions.

Trust is another key factor. If your clients don't have to explain their business to you before every job, they are more likely to give you more freedom in your design choices.

Not to mention the money. Would you prefer work on a $5k job for a one-time client, or on a $1k job for a client that comes back with more work every few months?

In the long run, you’d be better off with the second client. That’s why you should be trying to get repeat clients. Your business success depends on it.

How do you turn clients into repeat clients?

The formula is quite simple really. If you do good design work and treat your clients well, there’s a very good chance they become repeat clients. It's that simple.

Think about any restaurant you've visited. If you enjoyed the food and had great service, wouldn’t you go back? On the other hand, if either the food or the service was subpar there's a good chance you would avoid that restaurant in the future.

But treating your clients well goes beyond simply doing what they ask of you. In episode 84 of the podcast, I talked about being more than a "Yes Man or Woman" and becoming a problem solver for your clients.

You need to become more than just someone your clients like. You need to become someone they value. If you do it right, you may even become someone they can’t imagine not working with.

The best way to turn clients into repeat clients is to let them know what other services you can offer them. You need to make suggestions for things they haven’t thought about. Be a Problem Solver. The best problem solvers find solutions to problems the clients didn’t know they had. If you can do that, you’ve won yourself a repeat client for life.

What's your strategy for getting repeat clients?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Barbie

When is the best time to ask your clients for testimonials and what is the best way to ask them?

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

Resource of the week: Coming Soon Page & Maintenance Mode

This week's resource is a Wordpress plugin I install on each and every website I build. It's called Coming Soon Page & Maintenance Mode by SeedProd. This plugin has two functions. The first allows you to display a customized "Coming Soon" page on a domain while the site is being built. The second allows you to create a custom "Maintenance Mode" page to display any time you are doing work on a live site.

I always design these custom pages with the site company's logo and contact information so that even with the website down visitors are still able to get a hold of the company. It's also very handy for blocking out curious eyes while a site is under construction. When it's time to show your client something you simply turn it off and allow them to look. You can then turn it back on again to continue working in private.

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Contact me

Send me feedback

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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 17, 2017

Have you ever heard the term "Yes Man" or "Yes Woman"?

A Yes Man or Woman is someone who follows orders without questioning them. Whatever is asked of them is what they do. A good designer can't be a Yes Man or Woman.

As a designer, you are also a problem solver. Your job is not to do what the client asks without question, but to question what the client asks.

Your job is not to do what the client asks without question, but to question what the client asks.

When a client presents you with a brief for a new project you need to be able to examine the outline and explain to them why something will or won't work. And if something won't work, you need to be able to provide alternative solutions. You need to solve the problem.

Some clients have no idea what it is they want or need. That's why they come to you. As the problem solver, they are trusting you to have the solutions.

If you can provide those solutions you become much more than just their designer. You become a valuable asset to their business. And that translates into a loyal client for life.

For a more in depth discussion on this topic please listen to episode 84 of the podcast.

How have you been a problem solver for your clients?

Let me know what problems you have solved for your clients be leaving me a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Joseph

How do I introduce a design that I feel like a company really needs?

Details

I went to a vegan restaurant and noticed their menus are homemade or crafted by Fiverr’s finest. I really want to give them the menu they deserve and maybe need. I’m a designer who’s still in college pursing my design degree. The problem is this will be my first time pitching. I usually just get a referral for work so this is new to me. I'm not shy or nervous with people but some tips for the approach would be great.

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

Resource of the week 21 Stock Image Sites Every Designer Should Know About

Love 'em or hate 'em, stock image sites are the backbone of any graphic design business. As such, every graphic designer should have a repertoire of good quality stock image sites in their toolbox for when the need arises. I've gathered 21 such stock image sites that I believe every designer should know about. Some are premium sites, some offer inexpensive stock photos and images and some are completely free. All offer quality stock images that can be used for commercial use by your graphic design business.

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Contact me

Send me feedback

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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

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.

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Contact me

Send me feedback

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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 27, 2017

Legacy Plans help build client loyalty

What are Legacy Plans you ask? Legacy Plans are when someone continues to pay a certain price when everyone else is paying more for the same service.

Physical fitness gyms do this best. When you join a gym chances are your monthly fee is fixed for life. As long as you remain a member your fee will never go up. But if you let your membership expire and then decide to come back, you will be forced to pay the same higher fee newer members are paying.

In this week's episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I discuss ways to use legacy plans with your design business. Be sure to listen to the episode for the full story.

How to use legacy plans with your design business

When you raise your design rates.

The best time to introduce legacy plans in your design business is any time you raise your design rates. Every time you raise your rates you have an opportunity to lock in your current clients at your old rate. I don't suggest you do this with every client. But good recurring clients who would benefit from the discount are perfect candidates for legacy plans.

By placing good clients on legacy plans you send them a message that you care for them. This builds loyalty and trust which translates into more business and referrals from your clients.

Maintenance plans

Maintenance plans are another opportunity to introduce legacy plans. Informing your clients that you've raised your monthly maintenance fee for managing their website is never fun. But if you tell them you've raised your rates but they're locked in at the old rate they'll appreciate your services that much more.

Retainer agreements

Legacy plans and retainer agreements go hand in hand. Informing a client that your retainer rates are going up but it doesn't affect theirs for as long as they keep paying is a great way to build client loyalty and guarantee your steady retainer income. Knowing their retainer rate will go up if they stop paying it is a great incentive for clients to keep sending you money month after month. Even if they don't have work for you.

Things to keep in mind with legacy plans

Make them feel special

When informing your clients about their legacy plans be sure to make them feel special. Tell them not all your clients are being offered this special deal. By showing the scarcity of the plan you show your clients how important they are to you.

Have an escape clause.

You can set an expiry date for any legacy plan, telling your client it will expire in one, two or three years at which point they will be billed your going rate.

You could also leave the end date open. Let your clients know that you don't know how long you will keep these legacy plans going but you will let them know well in advance should you decide to do away with them. The last thing you want is to start resenting a client years from now because they're only paying you $20 per hour when everyone else is paying you $100. So make sure you leave yourself a way to end the plan on your terms.

Do you use legacy plans with your design business?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

Tip of the week Outlining Text in Adobe Acrobat

This week's tip was shared by Dana in the Facebook Group. If you've ever had to extract some design element from a PDF file you've probably encountered the dreaded "font missing" message. Your choices are to accept a substitute font or try to match the original with the closest font you have available. Neither is the best scenario. This week's tip offers another work around. By following the steps mentioned on this page you can create a new PDF file with the fonts outlined, making it possible to extract your needed elements the way they are meant to look. Give it a try.

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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 21, 2017

Have you ever been burned due to proofing errors?

Proofing errors are the bane of all graphic designers. Anyone who has been in this business long enough knows that clients will almost always try to blame you when they find errors on their project.

You can’t really blame them, it’s human instinct to try and pass the blame. We’ve been doing it since we were young. Even a toddler who sneaks a cookie might try to blame it on one of his siblings or maybe even on the family dog.

It’s because of this instinct that we need to protect ourselves. Because when it comes to proofing errors on graphic design jobs, especially when printing is involved, there’s a lot more at stake than a simple reprimand for eating a cookie.

It’s not as big a deal when it’s a website or some other digital piece. Those errors can easily be fixed. But fixing an error on a printed job could cost thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. And you don’t want that on you.

On this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I discuss ways to protect yourself from proofing errors. Be sure to listen to the episode for the full story.

How do you protect yourself from proofing errors?

You can't. Proofing errors are going to happen. It’s the blame you need to protect yourself from and it all starts with your contract.

Your contract may be full of unintelligible legalese but all that bloated wording is there for a reason, to protect you. On your contract, you must include a clause absolving you of any blame once the client approves and signs off on a job. Once they sign off, it’s in their hands and you are clear of any blame.

For this reason, you should NEVER ACCEPT an approval from your client that says something like “we approve this job with this one small change”. No matter how trivial the change is, you need to have it viewed and approved by the client.

You may think to yourself "that paragraph that's missing a period at the end isn’t a big deal. I’ll just add the period and send the file to print."

Don’t do it.

Every time you touch a project there’s a possibility of something going wrong, something shifting, something changing. So don’t take any chances. Get the client to approve every change they ask for. Even if it means delaying a deadline to get that approval.

Here's an example of how a simple revision could go wrong.

A client tells you the job is approved once you change "S. Thompson" to "Steve Thompson" on page 3. You go to page 3, find "S. Thompson" and charge it, as requested to "Steve Thompson" and send the job to print.

But unknown to you, "S. Thompson" appears 2 times on the third page. The client wasn't specific and you didn't realize there were multiple occurrences and only changed the first one.

What started out as a simple change turns into a costly error that could have been avoided if only the client had seen the revision before it went to print.

Regarding your contract.

Your contract should state that the client is fully responsible for making sure every aspect of the job is satisfactory to their liking. This includes layout, text, copy, images, colours, folding, etc.

Your contract should also state that the client is ultimately responsible for any errors, EVEN IF THE COPY THEY SUPPLIED YOU WAS CORRECT.

This is a very important one. Clients will often proofread their copy before providing it to you and think they don't have to proofread it afterwards. You need to make sure the client still proofreads it to make sure nothing has changed between the time they supplied it and the time they approve it.

Remind your client that you are not responsible for any errors should the client not proof the job carefully.

Beyond the contract

Even with a clause in your contract absolving you of any errors due to improper proofing, you should take it upon yourself to remind the client with every proof you supply them. A simple statement told to them or a small paragraph in an email stating once again that you are not responsible for any errors or omissions once they sign off on the job.

The more you remind them, the less chance they come after you should an error be found afterwards.

Things that could help prevent errors.

Don't forget to use your computer's Spell Check/Grammar Check features. It's such an easy thing to forget to do but it could save you many headaches down the road.

Proofread your work. You are not responsible for spelling errors but they still look bad on a piece you designed. Read everything yourself to see if you can spot any problems. Tip, read from right to left, one word at a time. This will force you to read each word individually and you’ll catch more spelling errors that way.

The mind is a wonderful but weird tool. You can easily overlook misspelt words that are right in front of you as you are reading. Have you ever seen this paragraph before? Every word is misspelt. The first and last letters are correct but the middle letters are mixed up. And yet you can still read the paragraph easily enough. This goes to show you just how hard it is to spot spelling error while reading.

I cnduo't bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghhuot slelinpg was ipmorantt! See if yuor fdreins can raed tihs too.

What's the takeaway?

Graphic designers are human. Just like everyone else, we make errors. And that’s OK. Things happen. fast typing fingers might miss a beat and type something wrong. Accidental mouse clicks can shift things on a page. Copy/paste might miss something that wasn't highlighted.

Face it. Errors will happen. there’s nothing you can do about it. So you might as well protect yourself as best you can so that the blame for those errors don't fall on you.

Do you have any stories about proofing errors you would like to share?

Let me know your goals by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

There's no question 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 Coolors.co

Coolors.co is a super fast and super easy way to create, save and share colour pallets for whatever job you’re working on. Choose from a gallery of ready made pallets or create your own from scratch or based on some pre-selected colours.

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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 14, 2017

Do you explain why you took the direction you did when presenting designs to your clients?

If you belong to any graphic design groups on Facebook or Linkedin you've seen people post their work for critique. Why not, it's a great place to get the opinion of fellow designers. However, one problem that happens over and over when people explain their work is they usually explain how they designed it when what they should do is explain why they designed it.

That's the topic I cover in this week's Resourceful Designer podcast. Be sure to listen to the episode for the full story.

Explain why you designed it, not how you designed it.

Face it, clients hire you for one reason and one reason only. Your ability to get the job done. They don't care how you get it done. All they care about is the finished product. As long as you can produce good quality work in a timely fashion they will be happy.

Think of a carpenter hired to build a cabinet. The client doesn't care what tools the carpenter uses. Nor does he care what skills or techniques he employs. All the client cares about is having a well crafted and functional cabinet. The same goes for design work. It's the finished product that matters, not the journey you took to get there.

Explain why and avoid going back to the drawing board.

Client's don't reside in our world. They don't live and breath design the way we do. Because of this we sometimes forget that clients may not see our designs the same way we do.

If you take the time to enlighten the client and explain why you designed something a certain way, there's a good chance they will appreciate the design much more and you avoid having to go back to the drawing board to change a perfectly good design.

Present in a way that allows you to explain why.

Obviously, the best way to present your designs to a client is in person. Unfortunately, it's not always possible to meet face to face with them. Therefore it's up to you to present your designs in a way that allows you to talk to the client as they're seeing the design for the first time.

  • Set up a video or phone call and email or provide a link to your design for the client to see while you're talking to them.
  • Record a screen capture video explaining your design to the client and send it to them.

However you can manage it, try to be present when your client sees the design for the first time. Explain what they are seeing and explain why you chose to design it that way. Your explanation will go a long way in showing the client the value in the design.

How do you explain your designs to your clients?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Jordan

I was wondering what types of content I can post for my business on social media? I've started creating blog posts. But, I know brands are about 70% content 30% selling when it comes to social media. If you're a potato chip company for example... you can post a picture of your potato chips and say "Have a great summer with acme potato chips". If you're an music entertainment company you can post "It's Miley Cyrus' birthday today. #HappyBirthdayMiley". But, I'm at a loss for what content would be valuable to clients of a graphic design/web developing business and not just targeting other graphic designers, developers, and creatives who aren't my clientele.

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

Resource of the week; Four Week Marketing Boost.

I put this guide together in the hopes to encourage you to look at your own brand and image. The daily tasks in my guide require only 15-30 minute of your time and focus on the parts of your marketing material that are often overlooked or neglected.  After completing this four-week plan you will be in a better position to present yourself to, and win over new clients.

You can download the Four Week Marketing Boost by visiting marketingboost.net. Or, if you are in the U.S.A. you can text the word MARKETINGBOOST to 44222.

Improve your business' image and create the best first impression possible to attract more clients.

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Contact me

Send me feedback

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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 7, 2017

Do you get word of mouth referrals for your design business?

Growing your design business takes a lot of hard work. Especially when first starting out. Word of mouth referrals are and always will be the most effective way of achieving this growth.

Back in episode 67 of the podcast, I shared a proven strategy for getting design referrals. That episode was more geared to designers working in a specific niche. I received a lot of great feedback on that episode but one question kept coming up. How do I get design referrals if I don't have a niche? Hence this episode, be sure to listen to the podcast for all the details.

As designers, we work in a world of marketing, advertising, promoting, social sharing and so much more, but nothing beats an evangelist who spreads the word about you and your services by word of mouth.

When you break it down to its core elements, there are only two main ingredients to garner word of mouth referrals.

  • You need to offer great designs to your clients
  • You need to offer great service to your clients

That's it. If you can offer both of those you are on your way to getting word of mouth referrals.

It all comes down to client relationships. The better the relationship with your client the better the chance they will refer someone to you.

Why is word of mouth so important?

Here are some stats I came across while researching this episode.

92% of consumers are influenced by word of mouth.

This means 92% of potential clients will choose a designer based on what they are told over what they see or read in advertising.

76% of consumers refer a company they trust.

This means 76% of your clients will refer you to someone else providing they have a good relationship with you.

59% of business will ask their peers for advice before making a purchase

This means 59% of business owners, your potential clients, will ask other business owners their advice before choosing a designer.

With these numbers already in your favour, why not give them a little push. Don't sit back and wait to see what will happen. Be proactive and take charge of your own word of mouth campaign.

How you should promote word of mouth referrals

Be proactive.

Don’t wait until after the project is done to ask for referrals. Ask for referrals up front. Tell your clients from the start what services you will be providing them and ask that they share what you’re doing with others. Tell them that if they’re happy working with you, you would be grateful if they would pass on your name to friends, family and colleagues who might require similar work.

Be sure to mention other services you do that they could refer you for. Who knows, you may even get more work from them.

Offer an expiring incentive for referrals.

Even with the best of intentions clients will probably forget to refer you when the chance arises. But if you offer them an incentive, especially one with an expiry date, they will be more inclined to think about who could use your services.

Offering a gift card for every referral they send your way is nice. However, offering a gift card for every referral they send your way within the next 30 days gives them a lot more incentive to talk about you.

Give them an easy way to make referrals.

The easier you make it for them the more chance they will refer you. Give them extra business cards to hand out. Provide them with your social media profiles to share. Create a referral form on your website they can use to introduce potential clients to you.

Thank them and keep on thanking them.

As soon as you hear from a referred client, even if they don't hire you, you should thank the person that referred them to you. Letting your client know how much you appreciate the referral will go a long way to garner even more referrals.

If the referred client does hire you, let the client that referred them know how the project turned out. You can even send them a thank you gift afterwards regardless if you gave them a referral incentive or not. The bigger the project the more personal the thank you should be.

It's all up to you.

By taking advantage of these simple tools you will become more visible, gain the trust of your clients, build better relationships with them, and increase your bottom line.

Start your word of mouth campaign today!

How have you promoted word of mouth referrals for your design business?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from James

Thank you for your article on retainer agreements. I had a question. How do you handle the assignment of rights for the artwork. What if it is likely that one will be designing logos or original characters under a retainer agreement?

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

Tip of the week The Golden Ratio

I'm not going to go into the mathematics of the Golden Ratio (or Golden Spiral). Simply put, it's a formula that appears in many places in nature. Many believe it's the formula that adds beauty to the things we see around us. By incorporating this formula into your design work you can create designs that are much more appealing to the eye. Have a look at these YouTube videos on how to incorporate the Golden Ratio into your design work.

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Contact me

Send me feedback

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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

Jun 30, 2017

Have you ever heard of upselling?

Upselling is the process of getting someone to upgrade their purchase or getting them to add things to their order at the time of sale. Most predominant in the fast food industry where you will often be asked if you would like to increase the size of your drink or if you would like fries with your order. Upselling is a great way for a business to increase revenue. 

Many people believe "upselling" is a dirty word. A way of manipulating clients into spending more money. But upselling can actually help clients get more value from their purchase and in turn, help your business get more loyalty and revenue from the client.

When done correctly, upselling can help build deeper client relationships. Don't view it as a sales tactic, view it as a client happiness tactic because of the extra value you are providing them.

In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I discuss ways you can use upselling to your advantage. Be sure to listen to the episode for the full story.

How upselling applies to your design business.

Every time a client discusses a new design project with you, it opens a window of opportunity for upselling other services and products you can offer them.

For example, while discussing a new web design project you can offer additional services such as hosting, website security, backup, upkeep and more. You could also offer to design their social media profiles so they match the new website.

These are things the client may not think of. By upselling them on these services you are providing them with added value while also increasing your revenue.

Designing a logo for a new company is the perfect time to upsell them on stationery, signage, vehicle wraps, social media branding and so much more.

Even something as simple as offering stickers with their logo on them is an added value for the client.

Do you offer print brokering?

Print brokering is a perfect opportunity for upselling. Clients often don't realize that printing costs decrease exponentially as quantities increase. So a print order that costs $200 for 1000 items might only cost $275 for 2000 items. Paying an extra $75 to double their order may be worth it for the client. You are providing them with an extra value while also increasing your profit margin on the print order.

Do you work on retainer?

Not only do retainer agreements provide you with a guaranteed steady income, they can provide immense value to your client. A retainer agreement in itself is a valuable upsell for your client that uses your services on a regular basis. Especially if you offer them a discount on your rates in exchange for the guaranteed income.

Give it a try

Upselling to design clients has been happening since the inception of the design industry so why not take advantage of it to provide extra value to your clients while also increasing your revenue?

It's very easy to do. Simply offer the client more than they expected while discussing design projects with them. Not only will they appreciate the added value, but it will make them more loyal to you and strengthen the important client relationship you are building. Both parties win and there's nothing dirty about that.

Upselling, give it a try.

What examples of upselling have you used?

I would love to know how you use upselling to increase your design revenue. Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Florida Boy

Hello Mark! I've listened to a lot of your podcasts, and while at this moment I'm not looking to make a leap just yet into becoming a solopreneur, I am very much inclined to doing so. In multiple podcasts, Mark, you mention that although we are alone, we do not need to go about conducting business alone; it's OKAY to have help. I have over a decade of experience with Print media, shirts, signs, etc., but what if, instead of only contracting out specific things, I contracted, say, ALL the work out and focused on maintaining relationships with the customers and designers and all the marketing aspects? Does it seem like too much to not have a handle on? I would really love to hear your thoughts on this. Thank you and keep up the great work on all your podcasts!

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

Resource of the week Missinglettr

Missinglettr creates strategic, automatic social media campaigns that drive traffic for an entire year. Leaving you to focus on writing your next blog post. I've been using Missinglettr for several months now and am very pleased with the results I'm getting. Missinglettr is a simple way to create social engagement without taking up too much of your time. If you have, or you know someone who has a blog, Missinglettr might be the solution to help spread it to the masses.

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Contact me

Send me feedback

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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

Jun 22, 2017

Who do you have on your Design Team?

Have you ever heard the term it takes a village to raise a child? Basically what it means is that a person is a sum of the people around them. Those people around them mould and form them into the person they become.

The same can be said of you as a designer. You are the child in the village. As such, you require a team to make you the most well-rounded designer your clients can hire. That team needs to be made up of people that can help your business succeed.

In this week's episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I discuss who should be on your team and how to find them. Be sure to listen to the episode for the full story. Here's a brief outline of what I talked about on the show.

Who should make up your team?

Your team should be made up of people with skills to complement the services you offer. People with skills you either don't have yourself, skills you are not that good at, or skills you simply don't want to do.

People to consider adding to your team.

  • Photographers
  • Illustrators
  • Copywriters
  • Programmers
  • Translators
  • Print designers
  • web designers
  • Developers
  • Facebook ad expert
  • Email marketing expert
  • Sales funnel specialists
  • SEO Experts
  • etc.

There are much more people you can have on your team but you get the idea.

Where do you find team members?

Good places to find team members are on websites like toptal.com, upwork.com or even fiverr.com. But don't limit yourself to these resources. People to include on your team can be found everywhere if you keep and eye out. Pick up business cards whenever you can. Write down names you hear on podcasts or read on blog posts. Take note of people mentioned in magazine articles, people you see on social media, people you meet at conventions and gatherings. People referred to you by family, friends and peers.

Basically, anyone with a skill you may end up needing some day should be added to your team.

They don't need to know they're on your team.

Building your team is mostly a one-way streak. It's great if you can get to know someone before adding them to your team but it's not necessary. All that is necessary is that you know what they can provide to you and your business. Team members don't even have to know they're on your team. In fact, they don't even have to know who you are to be part of your team!

If you hear of a great architectural photographer in your area you could add them to your team of photographers to call upon should the need arise. When the time comes and you need architectural photography you'll already know someone to contact. That's the reason to build a team.

Plus, when a client asks if you can take photos of their building you can say yes, knowing you have a great photographer you could hire for the job.

Team members to make your life easier.

Besides people with design related skills, you may need you should also have team members to help you run your business.

  • Bookkeeper
  • Lawyer
  • Accountant
  • Virtual Assistant
  • Business Coach
  • Mentor
  • Networking groups
  • Your Peers

And don't forget to include your family and friends. You need their support more than anyone's if you are going to succeed in your business.

Who do you have on your team?

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 Mrs. Flowerpot

How do you politely decline clients who requests part of your intellectual property. ie. suppliers details, how I created a particular graphic and more specific questions about my practice that has taken me years to gather the knowledge for. These incidences have happened to me in the past and in trying to be helpful, I have in fact allowed them to take work and fees from me. Am I holding my knowledge too tight? How much should we share? How do we decline their questions without the conversation becoming awkward?

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

Subscribe to the podcast

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Contact me

Send me feedback

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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

Jun 15, 2017

Have you made the transition yet from employee to entrepreneur?

This week's podcast episode is a bit different. Instead of answering a listener's question at the end of the episode like I normally do, I chose to create an entire podcast episode to answer a great question I received.

Here is the question I received from Dave.

I work full-time as a graphic designer/prepress operator and have wanted to start my own freelance business for some time. I have also been learning web development to broaden my skills, which I usually try and work on at weekends along with juggling life as a new dad with a 5 month old son.

I am at the stage where I want to take on small design jobs to build my client base before eventually being a home based designer full-time.

So my question is how did you approach the transition of moving from the print shop to working for yourself? how long did it take? and do you have any insights for someone who is very time poor that wants to make the leap into self employment?

Thanks again for everything you do through the podcast, it has answered so many questions for me already. keep it up!!!

kindest regards,

Dave

I thought this question merited more than just a couple of minutes at the end of the show.

My Story

To fully answer Dave's question I need to tell my story of how I made the transition from employee to entrepreneur. I'm not going to go into everything here. If you want to know my full transition story you'll need to listen to the podcast.

The short version is when the print shop I worked at decided web site design was a service they no longer wanted to offer I took my skills and knowledge home with me and started a part-time business in the evenings.

It didn't take long for web clients to start asking me to design things that were a direct conflict of interest with my day job. After discussing it with my wife I made the decision to start working towards the day I could leave the print shop and work full-time for myself.

One year later I handed in my resignation and never regretted the decision.

Of course, there's a lot more to the story so be sure to listen to the podcast.

My advice for those getting ready to transition from employee to entrepreneur.

Create a business

Freelancing on the side doing the odd job here and there is great. But if you are planning to someday work for yourself full-time you should start a business now. By registering an official business you will have a much easier time in setting things up when it comes to dealing with banks, credit, suppliers, and so on. Not to mention all the tax write-offs you can claim through a business.

Create a buffer

Unfortunately, some people are thrust into the transition situation without warning through business closures, downsizing or any other number of reasons. But if you have the time to set things up I suggest you create a cash buffer to get you buy the slow times, because there will be slow times, especially at the beginning. Saving up six months worth of salary is usually a good buffer.

Build up a client list

If at all possible, try to form relationships with the clients you work with at your present job before transitioning. If you're lucky they may follow you when you leave. Or they may refer new clients your way if they know you're a trustworthy and skilful person.

Tell your employer

The first thing you should do is make sure you don't have any agreements with your current employer saying you cannot start a business on the side. If no such agreements are in place then you should let your employer know what you are doing. They don't need to know you eventually want to leave, but they should be aware of what type of business you are running after hours. They may even encourage and help you out. The last thing you want is for your employer to discover your side business through some third party.

Don't burn bridges

When the time finally comes to part ways from your current job, do so in an amicable way. No matter what you thought of your boss or the company you should part on good terms. You never know when you might require their services in the future or whether or not they may refer clients your way.

Being an entrepreneur is a wonderful thing

I love working for myself from home. I could never see myself working for someone else again. However, self-employment isn't for everyone. It takes a certain type of individual to have the drive and discipline to make it work. If you think running your own graphic design business is something you want to do I highly encourage you to start setting the pieces in place today for your transition. Mark your calendar and get working towards the day you make the leap from employee to entrepreneur.

Best of luck on your transition.

How did your transition go?

I would love to hear how your transition from employee to entrepreneur went. Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Resource of the week Udemy

As graphic designers, we need to keep our skills and knowledge in peak form. Udemy is one of the best places to learn new skills or brush up on rusty ones. Udemy offers a wide variety of courses for all stages of your career. I've personally bought courses on SEO, Google Analytics, Facebook Ads and more. Have a look today and see what you're going to learn next.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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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

Jun 1, 2017

Does your design website have dedicated landing pages?

One of the most asked questions I get is how do I attract new design clients? I wrote a blog post a while back sharing 10 proven ways to do just that but today I decided to do a podcast episode on another way, landing pages.

Be warned, this isn't a quick way to attract new design clients. Landing pages are a slow burn meant to work over time but they do work. Below are some of the points I cover in the podcast. Be sure to listen to the episode for the full discussion.

What is a landing page?

Technically speaking, any web page someone lands on after clicking a link is a landing page. But when it comes to marketing the term "landing page" has taken on a new meaning.

A landing page is a webpage with only one marketing purpose in mind, to generate leads and sales for your business.

What makes a good landing page?

A good landing page should be a standalone page without any distractions except for its primary goal, getting visitors to click on your call-to-action.

The best landing pages have no sidebar, no footer and possibly no header or menu. The whole purpose of the page is to relay your message and allow your visitors only one option, to follow through on your CTA.

A good landing page should have a pleasant, flowing design including compelling copy, appropriate imagery and a very easy way for visitors to interact with it, either a button or simple form allowing them to contact you for more information.

At the bottom fo the landing page, almost as an afterthought, you should include a single line of text and a text link inviting visitors back to your website to learn more about you.

How to use landing pages for your design website.

Way back in episode 2 of the podcast I talked about how your design clients may not know everything you are capable of doing and how you should be informing them every chance you get. I also talk about this and how to get new work from existing clients in episode 72.

But when using landing pages to attract new design clients you need to flip that concept around and concentrate on only one service at a time.

I presume you already have a website for your design business and on that website you list all the services you offer. Things like logo design, business cards, trade show displays, posters, t-shirts, websites, social media profiles and so much more.

It's great that you list all those services but the problem is, so does ever other designer in your area.

That's where landing pages come in. You should be creating a landing page for every service you offer.

Logo design should have its own landing page, website design should have its own landing page, wedding invitations should have its own landing page, you get the idea.

Every one of those landing pages will focus on that specific service and nothing more. Not only that, but they should be composed in a way to entice visitors to want to work with you.

Think about it from a potential client's point of view. When they google "poster design [add city name]" the search results will display a bunch of designers in your area capable of designing posters. But what will be more impressive to the potential client, a design site simply mentioning they design posters, or a dedicated landing page specifically talking about posters?

Imagine them landing on a page with text something like this...

Are you in the [city name] area and looking to have a poster designed for your business or upcoming event? If so, you've come to the right place. Here at [company name], we've been designing business and event posters for over xx years and we would love the opportunity to design your next poster."

Again, what would be more impressive to the potential client looking for a poster design, a design site that mentions poster design amongst many other services or a simple landing page dedicated solely to poster design?

Now, imagine if your site had landing pages for poster design, T-shirt design, ticket-design, etc. etc. You get the idea.

Landing pages improve your design site's SEO

I've talked about the benefit of landing pages from a potential client's point of view, but don't overlook the benefits to your website's findability.

Adding dedicated landing pages to your site will improve its SEO ranking in Google, especially when it comes to Google's local search results. Google is much more likely to rank a page completely dedicated to logo design higher than a page that simply mentions logo design once on the page.

I just mentioned Google's local search which allows local pages to rank higher than non-local pages. Take advantage of this by specifically mentioning your city or area on your landing page.

You can also take advantage of other areas by creating multiple landing pages for each service by targeting different cities or areas. For example; build landing pages for wedding invitations in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, etc. Each landing page is a potential gateway to attract new clients.

Build it and they will come

As I mentioned at the beginning. This isn’t a strategy for getting new clients fast. It’s a long-term strategy. It may take months or maybe even years before it pays off.

But all it takes is one person to one day Google something like "event poster design" and your hometown and the effort will have paid off.

And you know what? As the concept of landing pages for online marketing becomes more and more popular others will be looking for landing pages for their own websites. So you can even build a landing page advertising that you build landing pages. How meta is that?

So go get building your own landing pages.

have you ever used landing pages before?

Let me if you've used landing pages before or if it's something you plan on implementing. Leave me a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Chloe

At what point should you start charging a client you started off doing volunteer work for. I offered to do a bunch of smaller design jobs for them to help out as my values and interests aligned with theirs. They are a smaller organisation without much money I wanted to offer some services for free as I really like their brand and would value having them as a client/for my portfolio. How do you bring this up without damaging the relationship and then how do you go about increasing your hourly rate over time as the workload increases and becomes more regular?

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

Resource of the week: LeadPages

Leadpages integrates with many popular platforms and services to give you the best landing pages and lead generation tools available. Their very simple creation tools have allowed everyone from Fortune 500 companies to first-time entrepreneurs, people in every industry to take control of their marketing and get better results.

Leadpages is what I use here on Resourceful Designer to deliver all my special content including my free 4 Week Marketing Boost guide.

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Send me feedback

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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 25, 2017

How often do you feel that afternoon crash?

You know what I’m talking about don’t you? That crash you feel somewhere around 3 pm? You were productive all morning, you had a good lunch and came back revigorated but somewhere mid-afternoon it hits you. The Afternoon Crash. 

Some say it’s caused by low blood sugar, some say it’s your body’s natural sleep cycle, others blame diet or being mostly inactive during the day.

Although I can’t make you suppress those afternoon yawns, I can offer some tips and advice on how to avoid the dreaded afternoon crash and remain productive until the end of the day. For full details be sure to listen to the podcast but here is a brief rundown of what I talk about in this episode.

Tip #1, Take Short Breaks

You’ve heard how sitting for too long isn’t good for you? Well, One of the best suggestions I have for you is to incorporate short breaks into your workday to get up and walk around.

Getting up and walking around will help clear up your mind so you can remain focused when you return to whatever task you were working on. Not only that but it’s also good for your long-term health.

Just like your body gets tired and needs rest to recuperate, your brain gets tired as well. All it takes is a couple of minutes of getting up and walking around and you’ll be surprised how much better you’ll feel.

Tip #2, Eat Well

One of the perks of being a home-based designer is that we have the entire kitchen at our disposal when it comes to snack and meal time.

One of the cons of being a home-based designer is that we have the entire kitchen at our disposal when it comes to snack and meal time.

What you choose to eat during the day plays a big part in how productive you’ll remain.

Having the whole kitchen at our disposal makes it very easy to grab the wrong things when we’re “in the groove” and don't want to take too much time away from our desk. It’s a lot easier to grab a few cookies and get back to work than it is to peel and cut up a carrot.

Last night’s leftovers make a great lunch, providing you eat a lunch size portion. If you pack on your lunch plate like it’s dinner time you’ll only be contributing to that afternoon crash as your body uses up energy to digest the large meal.

Eating healthy and in proper portions will help you remain productive when you really need it.

Tip #3, Get Organized

Every designer has their own way of handling tasks and projects. To learn more about how to do this listen to episode 66 of the podcast Tackle Your To-Do List With Tasks and Projects.

Keeping your to-do list organized and up to date helps you organize your time and balance your workload. And when you have a balanced workload it makes it easier to focus on the tasks at hand, even when your brain starts to feel that afternoon crash coming on.

When you feel that fog approaching, turn to your to-do list to keep you on track. If you’ve organized it well, you’ll know exactly what it is you have to do next.

Tip #4, Limit Distractions

In order to work most effectively, you need to limit the number of distractions around you. This will allow you to remain focused on the task at hand.

Studies prove that it takes roughly 15-20 minutes to recover from a small distraction and get fully back into the task they were doing before being distracted. Every one of those distractions saps away at your energy and contributes to that afternoon crash.

Email is the biggest culprit. I talked about how to handle email in episode 43, A Don’t Do List For Your Graphic Design Business.

Emails distract you with every new email notification. If you stop what you’re doing to check your email every time you hear the new email chime go off, you’re going to find it hard to keep your concentration up for the entire day. Instead, you should set aside certain times of the day for checking and replying to emails. Or at least wait until you complete your current task to check them.

Better yet, turn off your email when you are not using it and you’ll notice a big difference in your work habits and energy.

Email isn’t the only distraction. Social media, internet browsing and many other things can distract you and sap the energy you need to get through your afternoon without experiencing a crash.

It's up to you

Everyone has a different working style and what may work for one person might not work for another. But if you follow these simple tips you’ll find yourself with enough energy to avoid that afternoon crash and overall you’ll be more productive.

What do you do to avoid that afternoon crash?

Let me know your strategy 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 Andrew

I know you are wildly successful, so I'm surprised when I hear you talking about smaller jobs that you take on here and there. Do you take on everything that comes your way no matter how small? Do you have guidelines about what you will and won't take on?

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

Support The Podcast

If you've been enjoying the Resourceful Designer podcast and are looking for a way to give back, you can now become a Patron of the show. For as little as $1 per month, you can show your support. There are also several perks for those who wish to donate more. Visit http://resourcefuldesigner.com/patreon for more details and to start supporting the show.

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Send me feedback

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I want to help you.

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

May 18, 2017

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

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

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

Pricing design jobs by the hour.

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

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

Actual time billing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Tim

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

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

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

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

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Contact me

Send me feedback

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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 11, 2017

Where do you look for new work?

One of the most asked questions I’ve heard over the years is “how do I get new design clients?” It’s a valid question. But let me turn it around and ask you, why do you need new design clients when your existing clients have plenty of new work you could do for them?

In this week's episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I discuss how you can leverage your existing clients to get new work. Be sure to listen for the full story.

Your clients already know you.

Wouldn’t it be easier for both you and your client to work on new projects together since you already have a relationship started? It would be so much easier than starting from scratch with a new client.

"But if my clients had new work for me they would surely let me know."

Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. In fact, your clients may be coming up with all sorts of great design projects and not thinking about you at all. There are so many jobs and projects that go on in a business that would be perfect for you but for some reason your name never comes to mind. Things like display and presentation boards, facebook ads, internal handouts and so much more.

It’s not because the client doesn't want to spend the money, it’s simply a case of them not realizing it’s a job for a skilled designer.

Why don't they ask me to do it?

The answer may be as simple as your client not knowing the full scope of what you are capable of. To learn more, listen to episode 2 of the podcast.

If your client hired you for web design they may not know you also do print design or vice versa. Just because you designed a logo for a company don't presume they know you can also design their business cards and stationary unless you've told them. A lot of clients don't think that way.

Telling a client you can design everything for them isn’t enough. Because your client may not know what “everything” entails.

How do I get new work from existing clients?

The answer is simple, make sure they don't forget about you. In other words, make sure you have a good relationship with them. Because people don't forget those they have good relationships with. And if they have a good relationship with you, they will think of you when new work comes up.

How do you build a good client relationship?

The trick is to keep in constant contact. No, I don't mean you should stalk your client. Just make sure they don’t forget about you. You have plenty of tools at your disposal you could use without seeming overbearing.

Email or e-newsletter.

Email or E-newsletters are great ways to stay in contact with your clients. Use them to let your client know what you've been up to.

  • Let them know what interesting projects you've done for other clients.
  • Let them know what new skills you've acquired.
  • Let them know what new products or suppliers you've started using.
  • Let them know what new services you're offering.
  • Let them know anything and everything that may peak their curiosity.

Your clients may find something you write about interesting and ask you to do a similar project for them.

Don't forget to send personal emails to congratulate your clients on anniversaries, events, new products, accomplishments, and anything else of interest. Congratulating them via email is much more personal than doing so over social media.

Any reason you can find to reach out to your clients and remind them you are there is a good thing.

Who knows, they may just reply to your email with some nice new work for you to do.

Phone

Email is good, but hearing your voice is so much better. Follow the same examples as above but do so over the phone. They will appreciate it more and remember it longer.

Not to mention that having you on the phone makes it much easier for them to ask your advice and possibly send some new work your way.

Social Media

Follow your clients on social media and interact with them. Comment on, like, and share your client’s posts. They take notice of who is following them and will remember you for it when they have new work that requires a designer.

Visit them in person

The above methods are a great way to improve client relations. But nothing beats a face to face meeting to drum up new work. Even if it's just popping in unannounced to say hello while you're in the neighbourhood. The fact that you took the time to stop in shows that you are serious about your relationship with them. Plus, there’s something about having you right there in front of them that can spark a client’s memory which can easily lead to you leaving with new work to do.

A wealth of opportunities exist.

We spend so much time worrying about attracting new clients that we sometimes overlook the wealth of opportunities available from our existing clients

Reach out to them. The worst that can happen is you build a better relationship with them which could lead to new work in the future. And that’s never a bad thing.

How have you leveraged your existing clients for new 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 Ruel

I'm starting to offer design services for payment. In the past I didn't charge. I'm at a point where I utilized a stock image from a service called Shutterstock.com. Since the service charges for license, how would you go about charging for a design project that uses licensed material like a photograph?

Would you pay for the photograph license and include that cost for the overall job?

Would you have the client pay for the photograph license separately and charge for the design job without it?

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

Tip of the week Payment Fees

This week's tip is more of a warning. If you are charging your clients an additional fee when they pay by credit card or through services like PayPal you are probably breaking the law. According to the terms of agreement with these companies, you are not allowed to pass the service fee you pay on to your clients. If you are caught doing so you could loose the privilege of accepting payments that way.

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Send me feedback

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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 4, 2017

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

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

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

The dream client

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

We can dream, can't we?

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

The realistic client

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

Pick two

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

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

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

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

Have you ever thought of the Good, Quick, Cheap concept before?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Michael

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

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

Resource of the week iThemes Sync

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

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

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Contact me

Send me feedback

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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 27, 2017

Did you know your design business has a reputation?

Have you ever thought about your design business’s reputation? What both your clients and more importantly potential clients know about you?

Having a good reputation for your design business will not only enhance those important client relationships. But it can also increase your overall revenue and profit.

So it’s vital that you do everything to avoid a negative reputation and make sure everyone sees you in a positive way.

In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I share tips for improving your design business's reputation. Be sure to listen to the podcast for the full story.

Here are some tips to manage your design business’s reputation

Timely responses

Provide timely responses to all inquiries, comments, complaints or requests you receive. It doesn’t matter if it’s on social media, by email, a phone call, even an old fashion letter. Getting back to someone in a timely manner will help your reputation.

Handle criticism well

Negative feedback and criticism can be harsh. How you handle it will influence your reputation. Reply to these comments politely and constructively, and use this feedback as a way to improve yourself and your business. You are a designer after all. Hopefully, you’ve developed a thick skin in dealing with criticism.

Promote your clients

Promote customer testimonials, success stories, and customer references on your website and print promotional materials. Clients like thinking they’re special. Show them off and your work along with it to your other clients.

Create a client referral program

One thing you may want to try is creating a customer referral program. It could be a discount on future orders or a gift card to a popular store or restaurant. Doing so will encourage happy customers to spread the word about you and your services. In the process, your reputation will grow.

Ask clients for reviews and testimonials

Encourage happy clients to write reviews and testimonials about their experience dealing with you. Having a client say good things about you will go a long way to increasing your positive reputation. Be sure to share them as mentioned above.

Share with your clients

Create newsletters, blogs, and even vlogs to keep your clients informed about new products or services you offer as well as industry news, and other helpful tips or resources. If you show you care about your clients they will care about you.

Follow your clients

Show you care about your clients by following them on social media. If they mention an event or a milestone congratulate them and share their message. To make this easier Set up social management tools and Google alerts so you can track and respond to client mentions on the web. Don't forget things like birthdays, anniversaries, events, etc.

Better Business Bureau

Set up a BBB (Better Business Bureau) profile so consumers can check your credibility. This will go a long way in improving your reputation.

Customer appreciation

Create customer appreciation events that are focused on thanking your customers for their loyal business.

Community involvement

Nothing makes you or your business look better than showing that you care about your community. Sponsor local organizations and teams, or donate time, money, or services to a charity to show your community support.

Ask for advice

Create customer surveys and offer a valuable coupon in exchange for your customer's time and input. Letting them know you care about their opinion will go a long way to helping your reputation.

How do you manage your design business's reputation?

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 Jerome

I am a young student and I am into graphic design. I need help choosing a name for my business.

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

Resource of the week Four Week Marketing Boost.

I put this guide together in the hopes to encourage you to look at your own brand and image. The daily tasks in my guide require only 20-30 minute of your time and focus on the parts of your marketing material that are often overlooked or neglected.  After completing this four-week plan you will be in a better position to present yourself to, and win over new clients.

You can download the Four Week Marketing Boost by visiting marketingboost.net. Or, if you are in the U.S.A. you can text the word MARKETINGBOOST to 44222.

Improve your business' image and create the best first impression possible to attract more clients.

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Contact me

Send me feedback

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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 20, 2017

Are you an expert graphic designer?

Have you ever felt uncomfortable being referred to as an expert graphic designer or expert web designer?

Can I ask you why you felt that way?

I’ve seen it over and over, designers cringing at the title of expert because they don’t feel they deserve it.

In this week's episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I share a little secret with you. You are an expert.

Don’t believe me?

The Webster Dictionary defines Expert as follows:

An Expert is someone having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience.

With this official definition in mind, let me ask you again. Are you an expert?

I hope you said yes.

I'm guilty myself.

I must admit. I used to be guilty of this as well. I felt uncomfortable when people would say something like...

“Hi Mark, so and so told me I should talk to you because you’re a web design expert”

or “Hi Mark, I need a logo for my business and I’m told you’re the expert”

It used to make me uncomfortable. But once I realized we're all experts in someone's eyes I started embracing it. Now if someone asks me if I’m an expert I proudly say yes, yes I am. Allow me to shower you with my expertise. OK, maybe I don't say that last part, but I don’t shy away from the title anymore.

Why does being called an expert bother designers?

I’ll tell you why. Because as designers we’re creative people, and being creative people we’re constantly learning to improve our skills and knowledge. But if we’re constantly learning to improve our skills and knowledge, and there’s always so much new to learn. how can we be experts? It doesn't make sense.

The fact of the matter is, we are experts to everyone not in our industry.

  • To everyone who doesn’t understand the workings of a website. we are an expert.
  • To everyone who doesn’t understand the intricacies of proper branding, we are an expert.
  • To everyone who doesn’t understand the nuances of type manipulation and colour usage and page layout, we are an expert.

Because we have skills and knowledge they don’t possess we are experts in their eyes.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been a designer for many years like I have, or if you’re just getting into this profession.

To everyone who relies on our skills and design knowledge, we are experts. So embrace it.

Trust me, you want it this way. How do you think your business would be doing if your clients didn’t see you as an expert at what you do. I don’t think I have to tell you the answer to that one, do I?

How do you feel when someone calls you an expert?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Audrey

My name is Audrey and I'm from Sydney  I've been working as a graphic designer for 1 year. I'm an in house graphic designer for a fashion brand but I do freelance web design work outside of my daytime job. I have question about how you do web design. Do you show your client a wireframe or just a high fidelity mock up and do you code as well to build a website? Like html and css. Or do you work with a developer to build a website. Also lastly what's the difference between web design and UI&UX?

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

Resource of the week Espresso

This week's resource is a web editor called Espresso by MacRabbit. I've been using Espresso since it first came out for all my HTML, PHP and CSS coding. I've created over 50 websites using this application. It's very well laid out and very simple to use. Here's the description from their website.

Espresso is for people who make delightful, innovative and fast websites — in an app to match. Espresso helps you write, code, design, build and publish with flair and efficiency. Sophisticated text features, amazing Live Preview with Browser Xray, CSSEdit tools, the Navigator, Dynamo auto-building, and Server Sync. Whether you're starting from scratch or tweaking a live site, Espresso has you covered.

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Contact me

Send me feedback

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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 14, 2017

Would clients stick with you if you take advantage of them?

I was thinking recently how our design clients rely on us when it comes to their branding and marketing material. How easy would it be to take advantage of that trust and make a few extra dollars on each project we bill them for.

This reminded me of a joke I heard not too long ago.

A young boy enters a barber shop and the barber whispers to his customer, "This is the dumbest kid in the world. Watch while I prove it to you."

The barber puts an old crumpled dollar bill in one hand and two brand new shiny quarters in the other, then calls the boy over and asks, "Which do you want, son?" The boy takes the quarters, thanks the barber and leaves.

"What did I tell you?" said the barber. "That kid never learns!"

Later, when the customer leaves, he sees the same young boy coming out of the ice cream store.

"Hey, son! May I ask you a question?

Why did you take the quarters instead of the dollar bill?"

The boy licked his cone and replied,

"Because the day I take the dollar, the game is over!"

The moral of this joke can apply to our design businesses just as easily.

I’ve talked before about pricing strategies for your design business, as well as how raising your prices can actually attract more design work. But one thing I haven’t talked about before is our ability to take advantage of our clients.

We work in an industry without standardized pricing. Someone could literally pay $5 for a logo or fifty thousand dollars. We’ve seen it happen both ways. And paying more doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting a better product for your money.

With this wide pricing range available to us, it could be tempting to take advantage of our clients for a few extra dollars here and there. it would be so easy to pad your time if you’re charging by the hour. After all, your client doesn’t know how long you actually spent on their project.

If you bill by the project you could easily pad that price as well in order to put some extra dough in your bank account.

I’ve seen it happen before. I’ve seen designers boast about it. They get greedy and if it works once they try upping it again next time.

But just like the kid in the joke, if you take more for your services than they merit, your game could soon be over.

I knew a designer who priced himself beyond what his market could afford and he suffered. In fact, a couple of my clients are with me for that exact reason, their previous designer got greedy and started charging too much.

I’m not saying you’re not worth your rates. In fact, most designers I talk to are not charging enough for the services they provide.

What I’m saying is know what your rates are and stick to them.

This applies to all levels of business. I know some designers who won't take on projects under $5000, and that’s fine. There is a market at that level of work. But the same rules apply to them as to those who do less expensive work.

If they charge $10,000 for a corporate website that’s only worth $7,000 it could come back and bite them.

This doesn’t only apply to cost. The same goes for services and features. There’s a term that started in the restaurant industry but has migrated across all business. It’s called the upsell. If you’ve ever been asked if you would like to turn your meal order into a combo, that’s an upsell. They are trying to persuade you to purchase something that sounds like a great deal. A fry and a drink for an extra $1? What a bargain. You'd be crazy not to take it.

What they did was get you to spend an extra dollar, money you weren’t planning on spending to begin with, on something that cost them only $0.30. They didn't have your best interest in mind. They were simply trying to make an extra $.070 off you.

The same applies to your business.

If all a client needs is a very simple $500 website don’t try to sell them a $1000 website full of features they don’t need.

Again, I’m not saying upselling is wrong, providing what you add is of value to the client and isn't just there to increase your bottom line.

There are times that the client won't think of everything. In fact, most times the client doesn’t think of everything. That’s part of what we do as designers, offer solutions to their problems, even if they don’t see the problem yet. But again, don’t sell them on something they don’t need just to make a buck.

There’s a local web design company in my area that doesn’t like me because I’ve stollen so many of their clients away from them. I didn’t seek out to steal them. Those clients came to me when they found out they were being charged for services they didn't need and were not even using. That web design company was taking the dollar bill instead of the two quarters.

There’s a big difference between being greedy and charging an honest price no matter how expensive it is. And clients are not that dumb not to realize it. They may be fooled for a bit, but not forever.

If you get greedy and start charging more for your services than what they are worth, the game will be over for you as well.

Have you ever been taken advantage of?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Michael

I've been a professional graphic designer for 8 years this August, but I'm just now transitioning from general graphic design to doing mostly web design. What are some resources you can recommend for an easier wire-framing and design mockup process.

I'm aware of a couple applications like Sketch, and Adobe XD. Have you had any experience with either of those and if so what has your experience been thus far?

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

Tip of the week; prevent wrist pain

Many designers suffer from wrist pain. Sometimes it can get so bad that surgery is the only solution. This week I would like to share a tip that a doctor gave me many years ago when I was suffering from chronic wrist pain. Tilt your keyboard backwards. Positioning your keyboard so that the number keys at the top are lower than the spacebar at the bottom forces your wrists into a more natural position and removes the strain that often is the cause of wrist pain. Since I changed the angle of my keyboard my wrist pain has gone away completely. That was over ten years ago. Invest in a [easyazon_link keywords="keyboard tray" locale="US" tag="resourcefuldesigner-20"]keyboard tray[/easyazon_link] that allows you to tilt your keyboard backwards. Your wrists will thank you.

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I want to help you.

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

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