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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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Dec 2, 2016
Should you find a Graphic Design Niche?

Have you ever considered a niche for your graphic design business?

Working in a design niche can be very rewarding as well as very profitable. Many graphic designers make a very good living by only servicing a very small demographic of clients.

In this week's episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast ,I discuss various niches, the benefits of working in one, and how not to limit yourself to just one market. I go into much more depth in the podcast but if you want to know some of what I talked about read on.

What is a niche?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a niche is A distinct segment of a market. A place, employment, status, or activity for which a person or thing is best fitted.

So what does that mean for us as graphic designers? A niche in the graphic design industry can be defined in three different ways.

Design Niche

A design niche is when you specialize in a particular section of the design industry. Like a designer who only designs logos, or one who specialises in direct mail campaigns, or one who only designs trade show booths. All of these specialize in their respective design niches.

Client Niche

A client niche is when you specialize in a certain demographic pertaining to the sector you serve. Examples are designers who only design for restaurants or those who specialize in designing for medical clinics, or musicians, or sports teams. The demographic you serve makes up the niche.

Location Niche

A location niche is the most common and many designers fall into this category without even thinking of it. A location niche is when you promote your services in a defined geographic location. A designer who promotes websites for Chicago-based businesses is in a location niche.

Benefits of working in a graphic design niche

You become the expert: The main benefit of working in a graphic design niche is how you are perceived. If you service a particular niche, you are automatically viewed as being an expert in that niche.

Knowledge gained: By servicing a niche you gain valuable knowledge about the topic it covers. This knowledge can greatly help you and your clients when working on design projects.

Better referrals: Clients often talk to colleagues in their niche and referrals passed between them carry a lot more weight than normal.

You could charge more: As an expert in your niche, you can charge premium prices for the value you bring to your clients.

Imagine a dentist who wants a website for the new dental clinic she is opening. She looks for a web designer by asking her friends, family and peers for referrals. A friend recommends a great designer who created his music store website, while at the same time a fellow dentist recommends a designer who specializes in creating websites for dentists. Which one do you think would pique her curiosity more?

Now let's say the dentist decides to interview the two designers. The first designer listens to what the dentist needs and makes a few suggestions based on his knowledge and experience designing websites. The second designer listens to what the dentist needs but then uses her knowledge and experience dealing with the dental industry to suggest things the dentist hadn't even considered. Which one do you think would impress the dentist more?

When reviewing the two submitted quotes, the dentist takes into consideration her impression of the two designers and the value each can bring to her new dental clinic. Even if the second designer's quote is more expensive, there's a very good chance the dentist will still pick her because of her expertise in her niche.

So you see how choosing to work in a niche can be beneficial?

What if you don't' want to limit yourself?

Let me tell you a secret... are you ready for it? Keep this to yourself mind you. You can work in more than one niche.

WOW, Mindblowing isn't it?

There is nothing stopping you from specializing in more than one niche. Perhaps you specialize in creating websites for dentists. Maybe you can use that knowledge to also specialize in websites for chiropractors, or hearing clinics. Much of the knowledge is interchangeable considering they are all medical clinics of some sort.

You could also specialize in completely different niches. Like designing for dog breeders as well as designing for motorcycle racers. There's nothing stopping you from having more than one speciality.

Break one niche into multiple niches for more exposure.

Sometimes, the farther you niche down the more of an expert you appear to be and the more you can charge for your service.

Perhaps your niche is designing T-shirts for sports teams. You could break that down into several smaller niches by marketing yourself as a designer who designs T-shirts for hockey teams, a designer who designs T-shirts for football teams, basketball teams, soccer teams.

Each one of these niches could have its own landing page on your website. Or better yet, have their own website.

Think about it. If someone with a football team wants a T-shirt and does an online search for suppliers. Chances are your football T-Shirt website will be much more appealing to them than a general sports T-shirt website.

So there you have it.

Choosing to work in a specific niche can be a great choice for a graphic designer. Just make sure you are passionate enough about the niche to make the most of it. If so, you could make a killing by servicing a small portion of the market.

After all, as the old saying goes, the riches are in the niches.

Do you work in a particular niche?

Let me know your thoughts? Please leave a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

This week's question came from Don;

Do you work with dual monitors? At what point does multiple screens become nonsense.

To hear what I told Don, you'll need to listen to the episode.

I would love to answer yours in a future episode of the podcast. Submit your question by visiting the feedback page.

Resource of the week CreativeLive

CreativeLive is a great resource for expanding your design knowledge. They offer a wide selection courses and classes at reasonable prices related to graphic design. CreativeLive also offers FREE Live and On Air classes on a regular basis. Simply register for the class you want and watch it for free when it's offered.

At the time I'm writing this they have upcoming free classes on Designing a Proposal, Hand Lettering, Graphic Design Fundamentals, Building Infographics, as well as courses for many of the Adobe Creative Cloud programs.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on Android
Subscribe on Google Play Music

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

Nov 23, 2016
Easy Gifts For Graphic Designers - RD053

What gifts do you get a graphic designer?

Have you ever been asked the question "what gifts do you want for the holidays?" and you couldn't think of any ideas to say? In last year's holiday edition of the podcast I talked about graphic design gifts for your office. This time around I share gift ideas you can share when that ever so popular questions comes up. 

Software/Apps Gift Cards

Face it, we live in a computerized world and as designers, we spend a great deal of our time in front of one screen or another. So why not take advantage of it and ask for gift cards that will allow you to buy software and apps. AppleMicrosoftGoogle all have app stores with great software for graphic designers.

Education Gift Cards

As graphic designers, we need to stay up to date on the latest software and design trends. What better way to do so than by taking courses. Places like Lynda.comCreativeLiveUdemy are great places to learn. You could ask for gifts of knowledge via a gift cards.

Gift Cards for "the other stuff"

Face it, running a graphic design business costs money. Wouldn't it be nice to cover some of your expenses with gift cards from places like AmazonBestBuy, or Walmart?

Notebooks/Sketchbooks

Creative people need an outlet. Most of us, regardless of our skills, like putting pencil to paper for all kinds of inspirational reasons. A nice notebook or sketchbook can help keep those creative sparks alive by organizing them all in one space. Ask for your favourite notebooks or sketchbooks as gifts.

Magazine Subscriptions

I mentioned in episode 50 of the podcast how one of the perks of running a graphic design business is the free magazine subscriptions you can get. However, there are some great design related magazines that you can't get for free. Why not ask for subscriptions as gifts that keep on giving the whole year long.

Creative Cloud

Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign are staples in the design industry. They are also an expense graphic design business owners have to deal with. Ask for a Creative Cloud gift card to help cover the costs.

Graphic Design Books

There are hundreds of great graphic design related books out there. If you're like me there are a few you would love to have but don't want to spend the money on. Now's the time to ask for them as gifts, or put a bookstore or Amazon gift card to good use and finally get the one you've been eyeing.

Coffee Shop Cards

If you're a home-based graphic designer you've probably opted at one time or another to meet a client at a coffee shop instead of at your house. Coffee shops are also a great change of scenery when you need to think through projects through. If someone doesn't know what to get you as a gift, suggest a coffee shop gift card to them.

 

What gifts do you think are good for a graphic designer?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

There is no question this week. You can submit yours by visiting the feedback page.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on Android
Subscribe on Google Play Music

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

Nov 17, 2016
How A Great About Page Can Attract Design Clients - RD052

How Good Is Your About Page?

The About Page or About Me page on your website is arguably the most important page on your site. And yet, it's so often neglected when people create a website in order to concentrate more on the "meat pages" of the site. Pages like their portfolio, or the services they offer. The About Page is often just an afterthought. You know you need one, so you whip one up quickly and move on.

But if you look at the analytics for your site you will probably see that your About Page is one of your most visited pages. Chances are you have a link to your About Page in your menu bar, and when someone lands on your site, regardless of the page they land on, they will probably click on that link to learn more about you. If you don't have a well-crafted About Page you could be turning visitors off and leaving potential business on the table.

What makes a great About Page?

People often fail in their About Page because frankly, they're talking about themselves. You would think that's what an About Page is for. But in truth, visitors really visit an About Page not to learn who a person or company is, but to find out why they should care. What's in it for them? they're there to determine if they should be interested in you and to figure out if you can help them. If not then why bother looking at the rest of the website.

How do you make a great About Page?

How long should an About Page be? There is no right answer to this. The length of your About Page should be long enough to get your message across and nothing else.

Every business's About Page will be different so it's imperative that you test different things to see what works for you. You've heard about A/B testing? The About Page is a great candidate for such testing.

Parts of a great About Page.

Part 1: Your About Page should have a hook. Something that immediately grabs the attention of visitors and lets them know they've found the right person or business for them.

Here's an example of a good hook.

"Welcome to my site. Are you wondering how to promote your business? Do you have a great idea but don't know how to present it to the world? Are you tired of your current brand and want something more exciting? If you're asking yourself any of these questions, then you've come to the right place.

The hook gets into the head of your potential clients. The hook tells them that you know what they need help with and that you have the solution to their problem. Trust me, if they think you have the solution to their problem, they'll be begging to work with you.

It's a very basic concept but it's super effective. Figure out what questions your potential clients have and list the most popular ones. How do you figure this out? By asking your clients questions. Over time you will learn what common questions come up, what problems they're seeking help with, and you'll be able to address them here on your About Page.

If you open with a great hook, your visitors will want to keep reading.

Part 2: Share the benefits people get by working with you. Not the services you offer, but the benefits they get. What will they get if they decide to work with you?

An example can be something like this.

"Allow me to use my vast skills and experience as a graphic designer to create something amazing, something that is truly unique to you. I have a knack for capturing the personality of a company and creating designs that will reflect not only who you are, but designs that lets you connect with your target market on a personal level. In other words, I create designs you can be proud of.

You see? This second part kind of describes you a bit, but in a way that benefits the viewer.

Part 3: Share social proof. This is a great place to display an image of yourself so your clients have a face to associate you with. Share your accomplishments, not to gloat, but to prove you're the right person for the job. In my case, this is where I would mention being in the design industry since 1989. That I've helped brand 100s of successful companies. Where I've had my designs featured and what awards I've won. A little name dropping also adds social proof as to why someone should hire you so list any well

A little name dropping also adds social proof for why someone should hire you. List any well well-known companies you've worked with. They may be local, national or global companies. If you think it will help, mention them here.

Another great way to share social proof is to include one or two testimonials from clients praising your skills and partnership with them. People visit your About Page to learn about you. What better way to learn, than by hearing what others have to say about working with you?

Be cautious in part 3. Don't include too much in this section or you might come off as too overbearing and smug. Don't talk about awards you won 10 years ago. They have no meaning to today. You only want to share enough to assure people that you are capable of helping them.

Part 4: This is where you finally get to talk about yourself. You could mention where you went to school and how you got into the business. Limit it to just a couple of paragraphs. Enough for people to get to know you a bit better. Imagine you are meeting someone face to face for the first time and they ask you why you became a designer. Part 4 of your About Page is the answer you would give them.

In my case I would tell them I had no intention of becoming a graphic designer. I only enrolled in the course as a stepping stone to something else I wanted to take in university. But once I started, I fell in love with graphic design and immersed myself fully in the program, graduating at the top of my class.

If you want, you can include a few fun facts here about yourself in this section. Hobbies, likes & dislikes, family information you don't mind sharing. Stay away from controversial subjects like religion and politics.

Myself I would mention my love of podcasting. That I'm a dog owner. I might also mention how I'm not a coffee drinker, which goes against the typical stereotype of the graphic designer. Use this section to really show off your personality. Remember, your About Page can also weed out people who wouldn't work well with you. If they don't care for your personality, chances are you wouldn't work well together.

Part 5: This is probably the most important section and yet it's also the most overlooked. Include a direct link for visitors to contact you. A contact form works best, but any method that allows them to contact you is imperative. Include some sort of call to action letting them know you're anxious to hear from them. They just spent the time learning who you are and how you can help them, so make it easy for them to get a hold of you to start a working relationship.

There you have it. A great About Page. Will following these steps guarantee new clients? Of course not. But every bit helps. And there's no reason your About Page shouldn't be given as much, if not more, attention than the other pages on your website. Don't leave potential business on the table because you have a weak About Page.

What does your About Page look like?

Leave a comment for this episode telling me your formula for a great About Page and I'll make sure to link back to it.

Questions of the Week

This week's question came from Michael. He asked...

I'm a staff designer at an established agency. The leadership here does allow us to take side (for lack of a better word) freelancing jobs to help us grow our skills and creativity. As long as it's not a direct conflict of interest with the company.

I'm struggling to gain traction in finding work. I have good set of personal clients that I work with already but nothing to add any substantial amount to mine and my wife's income. Just odd jobs now and then when my skills are needed.

What is your method to finding new work/clients? Which ones have you found most effective and which methods would you recommend I stay away from.

To hear how I answered Michael's question you'll have to listen to the podcast. I did however share this link with him. 10 Proven Ways To Attract Design Clients

I would love to answer your question on a future episode of the podcast. Submit your question by visiting the feedback page.

Resource of the week Who Stole My Images FaceBook Group

This is not a resource I'm familiar with myself but when I heard about it I thought it would be great for my audience. It was shared by Molly in the Resourceful Designer FaceBook Group. Who Stole My Images is a group that helps creative people when their intellectual property has been stolen for illicit gains. If you sell your designs anywhere on the internet there's a good chance that someone copied your artwork and is selling it as their own. It's not always easy to stop these people and that's where this FaceBook group comes in. The members have experience and are willing to share their tips and tricks to help you target the thieves. If you find yourself in such a situation simply ask to join the group.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on Android
Subscribe on Google Play Music

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

Nov 10, 2016
12 Steps To Great Design Presentations - RD051

Are your design presentations great?

Whether it's in front of just one person or in front of a board of directors, giving design presentations to your clients can be scary, even for the most seasoned graphic designer. In this episode of Resourceful Designer, I share 12 steps you can use to make your design presentations great.

Please listen to the podcast to hear me act out two fictional presentations to show you the difference these 12 steps can make.

The 12 Steps To Great Design Presentations.

1 Practice your presentation

It doesn't look good if you stumble on your words, or you don't come across as knowing what you're talking about. It doesn't matter if you're presenting in person or via video, you need to come across like you know what you're talking about. After all, you should know what you're talking about. If you need to, write out your presentation in full or point form and study it. It will help you know your material inside and out. Plus, should your client interrupt you with questions, you'll know your presentation well enough not to be thrown off track.

2 Be punctual

This one should be obvious. Make sure you show up for your design presentations on time. If you don't show up on time you already have a strike against you regardless of what you present. The client may love your design, but as far as future projects are concerned, designers are replaceable and they may not consider you if they think you are not punctual.

3 Dress for success

I'm a T-Shirt and Jeans kind of guy. But I would never go into a meeting dressed that way. when you're doing your research for your design (you are doing research aren’t you?), also find out what type of client you have. If they all wear suits and ties to work, you should do the same. If they wear khakis and Hawaiian shirts, dress better than them. Don't be afraid to be overdressed. It's better than looking underdressed.

4 Have handouts

People like holding things, but don't give them out before the meeting. You want their eyes on you as you lay out the story of the design. If you give them handouts they will be more focused on what's in their hands and not on you. By the time you reach the grand finale of your presentation, they will have already seen it in the handout.

5 Show Confidence

If you show confidence people will be more inclined to trust you and engage with you. You've been hired to do a project, so don't act as if you're applying for the position. Act like someone who is already familiar with the position. You also show confidence with the words you choose. Never use words like "I think you'll like this" or "Maybe we could do this". Instead show your confidence in your abilities by using decisive words like "You'll like this" or "We should do this". Don't give your client a chance to consider if you are right or not. Use your words with confidence and they'll know you are right.

6 Use keywords

Work recognisable keywords into your presentation. Use keywords like brand recognition, brand awareness, customer loyalty, increased sales, better exposure, growth. Terms that will leave a positive impression on your client and make them more inclined to go along with what you say.

7 Refer to the brief

Whether you were provided with a formal brief for the project or it was just a casual email conversation, make reference to it. Not only does this show that you were paying attention but it shows that you take what the client has to say seriously.

8 Talk about the research you did

Your client doesn't know what goes into designing something. All they know is what they are paying you. Give them some peace of mind by explaining the type of research you did. Give details so they know the money they are paying you is worth it. Plus, talking about your research gives them insight into the type of person you are and they will appreciate you that much more.

9 Explain before showing anything

The best presenters use a system. They tell the audience what they are going to see, then they show the audience, and finally they tell the audience what they saw. Your presentation should be done the same way. This three step approach will help you client retain the information you are giving them and they will feel you've given a very good presentation.

10 Anticipate questions and answers them before they are asked

This one is tricky. When preparing your presentation try to think like your client and anticipate any questions they might have. Then address them in your presentation. You'll come across as someone very knowledgeable and help put them at ease.

11 Plant seeds for future work you can do for them

This might be just one project. But there's no harm in planting the seeds for future work. Try to work into the presentation other things you could do for them. Mention other services you offer. Things they may not have even thought about. The best thing to do is include them in the process. Don't say things like "This new design will help you grow your business" instead say "Together, with this new design we can grow this business"

12 Follow up after the meeting

Don't wait too long. Call or send an email the next morning asking if there are any new questions that came up that you could answer. In fact, let them know during your presentation that you will be following up the next day in case they think of any new questions. This way they know to expect your call. A few days later follow-up if you haven't heard from them to inquire if they've reached a decision.

Do you follow these steps?

Let me know what you do for your presentations? Please leave a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Due to time constraints, I didn't answer a question this week. But I would love to answer yours in a future episode of the podcast. Submit your question by visiting the feedback page.

Resource of the week Selling The Invisible by Harry Beckwith

SELLING THE INVISIBLE: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing is a succinct and often entertaining look at the unique characteristics of services and their prospects, and how any service, from a home-based consultancy to a multinational brokerage, can turn more prospects into clients and keep them. SELLING THE INVISIBLE covers service marketing from start to finish. Filled with wonderful insights and written in a roll-up-your-sleeves, jargon-free, accessible style.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on Android
Subscribe on Google Play Music

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

Nov 1, 2016
Perks To Running A Graphic Design Business - RD050

There are some great perks to running a graphic design business.

There are many benefits to running your own home-based graphic design business. In episode 24 I covered some of them, including getting to choose who you work with. Making your own hours. Deciding how much you want to charge and other things like the tax breaks you get and being able to work in your bathrobe if you want to.

All of these are great reasons to want to run a graphic design business, especially from home. But in this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I'm talking about perks. The little things that go a bit beyond the benefits.

7 Perks to running your business.

Free Stuff

When you register your business you are put on a list that becomes available to anyone who wants to purchase it. I know that sounds scary, but in fact, it's a good thing. Because many of the people who purchase that list want to send you FREE STUFF! Mostly promotional items like pens, mugs, keychains etc. usually with your company name on them. They hope that you like their stuff enough to either buy them in bulk to hand out yourself or to become a reseller for them.

Another perk is free magazine subscriptions. There are many graphic design related magazines that offer free subscriptions to businesses in the industry. Visit your favourite magazine's website to see if they offer this.

Credit Card Points

When you run a business you need to buy things. You might as well get some extra perks in the process. Use a credit card that offers some sort of reward. It could be travel, goods and services, or simply cash back. Make all your purchases using this card and watch how quickly your points accumulate. Just make sure to pay off your card each month. The extra perk isn't worth it if you pay interest on your balance.

Access To Credit

Owning a business allows for easier access to credit. Many banks and financial institutions are much more willing to lend money to businesses than they are to individuals. If you're in a bind and you need some extra cash, this is one perk you'll be glad your business provides you.

Networking

Face it, it's much more impressing to say you own your own business than it is to say you work for someone else. Not only will it open more doors for you, but the quality of the interactions will be better as well. Not only that but the knowledge you gain from these interactions can greatly benefit your business.

Education

Another perk of running your own graphic design business is the chance to learn new things when you want to learn new things. If you want to take a course or watch a tutorial you have the option to do so. There's nobody to stop or hold you back. The same goes for things you're not interested in. If it's not something you want to learn you don't have to. You have the option of hiring someone to do it for you instead.

Work/Life Balance

Creating your own work hours is a perk in itself. But the big bonus when you run your own business, is the ability to step away from your business whenever you want to. There's no need to schedule personal appointments around work hours. Instead, you can schedule your work hours around your personal appointments. If your doctor only has an opening at 10am it's not a problem for you. If your child has some special event you want to attend, there's no one you need to ask permission of for you to go.

Your Businesses' Personality

One of the biggest perks of running your own graphic design business is your ability to personalise it however you want. If you want it to have a formal corporate look, do it. If you prefer a fun joyful look, then do that.

Your business has a personality that reflects who is behind it, you. The freedom to mould that personality into anything you want is probably one of the most powerful perks you have. Express yourself, there's nobody holding you back.

What perks do you enjoy from your business?

I would love to know what perks your business allows you. Let me know what they are 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 Sean

I have a few questions about budget and pricing. Your pricing podcast was amazing. Here are some questions you can include in a future podcast.

1) How to ask a client for a budget?
2) Should it be in the project questionnaire
3) Should it be in the contact form
4) How about a pull down menu of price ranges
5) Would it be better to allow prospect to enter their own amount rather than selecting a price range?
6) How about showing prospects minimum project price for any given job. This is the starting price and the quote would reflect the price quote from thereon.
7) How about showing three price ranges after questions are all asked.
8) Majority of designers do not negotiate or wish to discuss pricing if it does not agree to the prospects budget. Should we be open to that considering this is a business first then design?

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

Resource of the week is TopTracker

This resource was shared by Dan in the Resourceful Designer FaceBook Group. Here's what he had to say about TopTracker.

I know Mark uses Billings Pro, but I don't use a Mac currently so I searched around for an alternate. I checked out a few and decided that there's a better one for me. I've been using TopTracker to track my time. It's excellent, easy, flexible and can spit out a tonne of different reports for you to prove your time if you need it. And best of all, it's free forever for freelancers.

According to the website TopTracker offers;

  • Effortless Time Tracking From Any Device
  • Centralized View Of All Projects
  • Full Privacy Control For Freelancers
  • Detailed Productivity Reports
  • 100% Free and No Limits

There are no superficial limits on the number of projects or users you can configure.

Available on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on Android
Subscribe on Google Play Music

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

Oct 26, 2016
Print Brokering To Supplement Your Graphic Design Business - RD049

Print Brokering, it's easy money.

Is print brokering part of your graphic design business strategy? If not, it should be. We spend hours upon hours putting our creative skills to use for our clients. But if at the end of a design project we simply hand the printer files over to our client then we're leaving money on the table. With the addition of print brokering to your services you not only increase your value to your clients, but you can also drastically increase your income.

It's not as scary as it sounds

Getting into print brokering isn't that daunting a task. You don't even need to know anything about the print industry. You only need to know how to set up a proper print file, which you should be doing already. Then, instead of handing those files over to your client, you send them to the printer on your client's behalf.

So what's the point?

Let me illustrate it for you with an example.

Let's say you design a 4-colour tri-fold brochure for your client. You spend several hours creating it until it's exactly what your client wanted. You send your client the final file along with your invoice, and you get paid a few hundred dollars. Good job!

Now let's say you've added print brokering to your services. Instead of sending the final file to your client, you contact two or three printers for quotes on printing the brochure. You then show those quotes to your client, decide together which is the best one, and send the file to the selected printer. Once the job is printed and delivered to your client, you send them an invoice for both the design and the printing. In return, you receive an invoice from the printer MINUS your commission for bringing them the job. Did you catch the keyword in that last sentence? Commission. That's right; you receive a commission for sending the job to the printer. Depending on the cost of the printing job that commission could be several hundred, or perhaps even thousands of dollars.

That's the point!

So, how do you start print brokering?

Contact local commercial printers.

The easiest thing to do is contact your local commercial printers and ask them if they have special deals for graphic designs which bring them work? Chances are they already do. If that's the case, you simply have to let them know who you are and start earning income from print jobs you send them.

If they don't have some plan already in place here's one you could suggest to them. Ask if they are willing to give you a flat discount on all print jobs you bring to them. 15% is a good place to start. Whenever you have a print job to broker, the printer would supply you a quote for the full printing price. This quote is what you share with your client. Then, once the print job is finished, the printer invoices you, including your 15% discount. Your client pays you the full price of the quote, and you, in turn, pay the printer the discounted invoice, keeping 15% of the printing price as your commission.

This way, your client is not being taken advantage of since they are paying the same price they would have if they went directly to the printer themselves. The benefit to them is you now handle that part of the job for them. The benefit to the printer is unlike their regular customers who doesn't understand printing files or printing, once they train you how to supply files to them the way they want them, they never have to worry about your jobs again. This means faster turnaround through their pre-press department which translates to more profit for them. Of course, the benefit to you is the added income you get from the print brokering.

Copy shops

Copy shops are a bit different. They don't have the same profit margins as print shops and can't offer the same discounts. However, most copy shops offer tiered pricing. Meaning the price per copy drops with the more copies ordered. A deal you could offer them is to pay a certain amount in advance. Like a retainer of $500 or $1000 for example, in exchange, they would charge you their lowest rate for copies you order regardless of the quantity. They simply deduct your copies from the "retainer" you've provided them.

Trade Printers

Trade printers are similar to commercial printers except they only deal with clients "in the trade" which includes graphic designers. Trade printers offer wholesale like pricing, so unlike the commercial printers mentioned above, you simply mark up their quotes by whatever margin you want to make before giving the price to your client.

Online Printers

Online printers such as ePrintFast offer low prices because they bulk print their jobs. Your business card order is printed on the same sheet as many other business card orders, lowering the cost for each of you. Even with shipping costs, the prices are great. That's how they offer prices that your local commercial printers can't compete with. You can make a good income by adding a hefty markup to their prices. Search online for similar printers near you.

Print brokering isn't just for paper

You can take your print brokering service beyond the printed page. Screen printed t-shirts, ball caps, coffee mugs, pens, pins, etc. You name it. If it can be printed on, you can make a profit from it.

Do you use print brokering to supplement your business?

I would love to know if you offer print brokering as part of your business. Let me know what they are by leaving a comment for this episode.

Resourceful Designer is one of the 12 best graphic design podcasts!

Resourceful Designer is #2 on a list of the 12 best graphic design podcasts put out by Creative Bloq. Here's what the article had to say.

Want to nail the business side of design? Hit up Mark Des Cotes for top advice

If you're interested in the business side of graphic design, Mark Des Cotes' Resourceful Designer is a must. With 48 episodes recorded so far, it's aimed at helping home based graphic designers and web designers streamline their business, with plenty of advice, tips and resources to help you get things right.

Each episode covers a specific theme, such as how to save money, dealing with deadlines and what to do when you mess up a a project and much more. And as well as the podcast, Resourceful Designer also has an in-depth blog plus a useful list of design resources.

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 Stacie

Why do we need a Pantone color book and which one should we buy? What's the difference between printing in 4 color and spot colors? And is it affordable for a client to print in more than 4 colors?

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

Resources of the week

iloveimg.com offers an array of tools for compressing, resizing, cropping, and converting image files from other formats to JPG, or from JPG to png or gif. Modify all your images en masse in one place. It takes just a few clicks with their easy-to-use tools.
Everything your clients need for their image work is there, and it’s all free!

iloveimg not great for compressing images since they don’t give you much control over the quality of their compression. Instead, I suggest optimizilla.com. This online image optimizer uses a smart combination of the best optimization and lossy compression algorithms to shrink JPEG and PNG images to the minimum possible size while keeping the required level of quality. Again, completely free.

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 18, 2016
Things To Do Before Starting A Home Based Graphic Design Business - RD048

Before starting your home based graphic design business.

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

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

Required research before starting your business.

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

Choose your type of business

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

Study up on tax laws

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

Be aware of zoning laws

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

Size up your competitions

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

What you need to get before starting your business.

Write a business plan

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

Register your business name

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

Obtain a business permit

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

Get business insurance

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

Get help before starting your business.

Where to look

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

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

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

Find professional help

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

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

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

Additional help

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

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

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

 

Are you ready to start your graphic design business?

What research and prep work are you doing before starting your business? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Daniele

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

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

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

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

Resource of the week is Have i been pwned?

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

Subscribe to the podcast

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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

 

Oct 11, 2016
Bartering Your Graphic Design Services - RD047

Have you ever considered bartering your design skills?

Like it or not, money rules our world. Without it, businesses fail, economies collapse and people suffer. However, money isn't the only commodity when it comes to doing business. Thousands of years ago, long before currencies were introduced, people relied on bartering in order to survive. If you had a field of wheat but no meat and your neighbour had a herd of cattle but no grain, the two of you would barter the goods you had in exchange for those you required. Everybody was happy in the end.

Bartering still remains a viable way of conducting business and there's no reason why it wouldn't work for your graphic design business.

In this week's Resourceful Designer podcast I share examples of how bartering can help your business. Be sure to have a listen, or better yet, subscribe to the podcast so you never miss an episode.

What is bartering?

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Barter means to trade or exchange commodities (such as products or services) for other things instead of for money.

Have you ever seen a classified ad where someone has a boat and is looking to trade it for a car? That's bartering. It's a trade in which both involved parties feel like they are getting a good deal. Maybe even the better deal.

The idea behind bartering is for you to trade something, such as your graphic design services for something you find more valuable in return.

The power of bartering

Have you ever heard of Kyle MacDonald? He's a Canadian blogger who in 2005 started with one red paperclip and over the course of one year, bartered 14 different trades with the final trade making him the owner of a two-story farmhouse in Saskatchewan Canada. All without any money ever exchanging hands. This story alone should prove to you the value of bartering.

Bartering and your graphic design business

So how does bartering relate to your business? Simple, trade your time and skills for goods and services in return.

When I first started my home based graphic design business I had an old used desk I purchased off my old employer. It was wobbly and didn't look very nice, but it did the job it was required to do. Then one day I was asked to quote on a new website for a master woodworker. The price I quoted was too expensive for him but he asked if I would be willing to build it for him in exchange for a custom made wood desk. We agreed that I would purchase the required wood, and he would build the desk at no charge to me. In exchange, I would build a custom website for him. All he would have to pay was the hosting fee.

In both our minds we were getting the better deal. He was getting a new website, something he couldn't afford and was incapable of doing himself. I was getting a solid wood desk, built to my specifications, that I would never have spent the money on otherwise.

Perceived value.

The appeal of bartering all comes down to perceived value. Both parties involved perceive the value of the goods or service they are receiving as more valuable than those they are providing.

You design for a living so spending a few hours in front of your computer creating comes naturally to you. But to someone else, the idea of doing that seems daunting and beyond their capabilities. The same goes for you. Your client may have a skill or product that you can't produce on your own. So to you, it's perceived as more valuable than your few hours in front of your computer.

Bartering is truly a win-win scenario.

Bartering ideas

  • Are you a parent with active kids? You could barter your services in exchange for your child's membership in a club, group or organisation.
  • Do you have a hobby? Barter your skills with other enthusiasts in exchange for whatever you need to grow in your hobby.
  • Do you need anything for your home or office? Barter with clients for the things you need.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to what you can get through bartering. Why don't you give it a try?

Have you bartered your services before?

I would love to know how you bartered your design services. Please leave 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 Tyler

I live in an area that has a deeply rooted DIY mentality. As a result, I am struggling to sell local businesses on the value of my marketing and design abilities. Do you have any recommendations to break businesses out of this mentality, and show them the value of professional services?

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

Resource of the week ScreenFlow

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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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 30, 2016
Take Care Of Yourself Not Just Your Business - RD046

What happens to your business if you don't take care of yourself?

Running a home based graphic design business offers you the freedom and flexibility to work when you want and the way you want. But what if you don't take care of yourself and you get sick? What becomes of your business?

In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcasts, I discuss how you need to take care of yourself if you want your graphic design business to prosper.

As designers, our clients rely on us to give their projects our undivided attention. But how are we suppose to do that if we're dashing to the washroom every few minutes or if we have a headache so bad that we can't look at our computer screens? The answer is we can't.

Face it, when we're under the weather our business suffers.

So what can you do about it?

Have you ever heard the term "prevention is the best form of medication"? It holds true for us designers. If we take care of ourselves both physically and mentally we won't have to face this dilemma that often.

Although there is no guaranteed way to keep you from getting sick. There are things you can do to help minimise the occurrences. Try to eat healthier meals and snacks. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated. Exercise to keep your body fit. Make sure you get enough rest. Wash your hands!

It's not rocket science. We've heard all these tips many times before. But if we don't follow them, they won't help.

We graphic designers often feel that so much depends on us that we neglect our own needs. Don't' make yourself sick because you're trying to please everyone else.

Working too much can make you sick.

There's nothing wrong with working long hours or working all hours of the day. Setting your own hours is actually one of the benefits of running a home-based graphic design business. However, problems start when you do it every day and all the time without setting time aside to take care of yourself.

Set time aside during your busy workday for yourself. Get up and stretch. Look out the window. Go for a walk. If you can afford it, be a bit more creative and go for a massage or get a manicure. The point is to rejuvenate and refresh yourself. Because if you run yourself into the ground you won't be able to accomplish anything and your business will suffer.

If you find it too hard to make time throughout your day, try setting larger periods of time aside each week. Take Friday afternoons off or break up your week with a Wednesday morning sabbatical.

But I don't have time to take time off.

Trust me, it's more important to take care of yourself than it is to check things off your to-do list.

Your health forms the base of your business. If you're not healthy it suffers. And when you are suffering nothing gets done on your to-do list. Even if you don't have the time you can still take care of yourself by starting your day with a good breakfast.

Why not schedule a workout or meditate before starting work? Not a morning person? lunch time is a perfect time to exercise. Not only will it help you stay fit, but it will also give your brain time to process what you did that morning and prepare it for the afternoon tasks to come. When you're healthier and stronger, you'll be able to better serve your clients and family.

And don't forget what I talked about in episode 42. It's OK to say no to things that take up all your time. You don't need to do every little task that family and friends ask of you. Determine what really needs to be done and say no to the rest.

How do you take care of yourself?

What do you do to stay healthy and ensure that your business isn't interrupted by sickness? Leave 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 Sara

My pricing packages state that printing or other vendor expenses are charged separately. How do you best charge for those items after the hours have been used? Do you also give a list of hours to the client of how they were used? When you give estimates, just give them in hours?

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

Resource of the week the Resourceful Designer podcast

To celebrate the one year anniversary of the Resourceful Designer podcast on September 30th, which is also International Podcast Day, this week's resource is the podcast itself. If you know any designers that could benefit from the show please share it with them. Simply send them to resourcefuldesigner.com/subscribe where they can subscribe via their favourite platform.

If they ask you what a podcast is, take the opportunity to introduce them to this wonderful medium of podcasts by showing them how to subscribe and listen to the show. And make sure you tell them to leave a review for the show in iTunes once they've listened to it.

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 16, 2016
It's OK for Graphic Designers To Ask For Help - RD045

It's OK for Graphic Designers To Ask For Help

What's the one thing every business person struggles with, regardless of their occupation? The answer is time. No matter how hard you work there just never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done. So what's the solution? Ask for help.

You see, the problem is time is finite. Once it's gone, it's gone. So you have to make the best use of the time you have.

This applies to life in general but in this week's Resourceful Designer podcast, I'm talking about how it applies to your graphic design business. About all the time you spend struggling or fiddling with client projects as well as other aspects of your business. You'll never get that time back. So why waste it in the first place when all you have to do is ask for help with it.?

I said I was going to talk about your business, however, there are things you could ask for help with that are not necessarily related to your business, but can still help benefit your business. Consider getting help with things like housekeeping, childcare and yard maintenance. Even having your groceries delivered to you. By hiring someone else to complete these tasks, you are freeing up your time for more productive things.

Why would you hire someone to do all these simple things you could easily do yourself? Efficiency, that's why. Think about it. A housekeeper or yard worker may charge you $10-$20/hr. You, on the other hand, make up to 5 times that amount when designing. So why not use your time to do the work you get paid higher for, and hire someone else to use their time to do the other work.

Ask For Help For Your Graphic Design Business

One of the easiest ways to ask for help is to outsource the things you are not capable of or the things you really shouldn't be doing. This will free up your time to do the things only you can and should be doing.

There are certain parts of your business you can't or shouldn't outsource. When it comes to promoting your business, designing for your clients or networking you need to be front and centre. But things like invoicing, bookkeeping and banking can all be handled by someone else. Ask for help in these areas.

Spend money to save money.

An old adage in business is that you need to spend money in order to make money. Don't be afraid to spend money to hire people to help you. It may cut into your profits on that job. But it will free up your time to work on other projects. Meaning you'll be increasing your overall profit because your business will be completing two projects at the same time.

Where To Ask For Help.

Build a community.

The best place to ask for help is in a community you've built for yourself. Collect a list of Writers, developers, illustrators, proofreaders, UI experts, social media experts etc. that you can call upon whenever you have need of them. You can find these people locally, at meetups, in Facebook Groups, on sites like UpWork, or ask fellow designers for recommendations.

Don't feel guilty if you ask for help

Nobody can do everything. We're not expected to. That's why agencies are made up of teams. If there's a task that one person can't do, then another team member is called in to handle it.

Just because you work by yourself doesn't mean you have to suffer. There's no reason to feel guilty if you ask for help. Any good business owner, even those running fortune 500 companies will tell you that to run a highly profitable business you need to surround yourself with competent people. People who support you in the areas you're not proficient in. You may not be running an agency, but there's no reason you can't have your own team.

Be confident in the skills and abilities you bring to the table and focus on them. Ask for help from others and let them focus on the skills and abilities they bring to the table. Together you have a much higher chance of succeeding.

Don't fall into the procrastination rut

If you find yourself procrastinating on certain jobs, it may be a sign that you should ask for help. Procrastination is often a sign of not having confidence in your own abilities. It can occur because you are seeking perfection that you don't know if you're capable of, or you simply have a fear of failure. Asking for help can overcome these hurdles.

Look at your past accomplishments to build your confidence in what you’re capable of and focus on that. Take stock of your unique abilities, whatever it is you bring to the table. And then seek unique abilities in others to help you accomplish your goals.

Remember, you are the only you there is. Nobody else can be you. So Be you and do the things you are good at. Then ask for help and let others do what they're good at in order to help you.

Do you ask for help when it's needed?

There are many tasks in a graphic design business where a designer can ask for help. What are some of the ones you've reached out for? Leave a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Sorry, no question this week. Submit your own question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting feedback page.

Resource of the week 10% Off The Ultimate Divi Bundle

If you use the Divi theme by Elegant Themes, you're going to want to check out The Ultimate Divi Bundle. It consists of 5 of the best Divi plugins there are. These plugins were developed specifically to enhance the already amazing Divi theme.

The 5 plugins included are:
Divi Booster: With a really easy to use interface, Divi Booster accelerates your Divi development by allowing you to make powerful changes to your Divi website. edit footer info, change the look of a sidebar, alter some of the module features, and more. All the little things that you wish you could do with Divi are now possible.

Divi Switch: Adds over 50 toggle switches to your WordPress Dashboard to quickly and easily turn certain Divi features on or off without having to go searching through Options.

Aspen Footer Editor: The one part of Divi that lacks the finesse of the rest of the theme is the Footer. This plugin opens that up and allows you to easily change the look and style of any Divi footer.

Divi Dashboard Welcome: Allows you to customise the Welcome screen whenever you or your client logs into WordPress. Add a contact form, leave a special note for your client. Write custom instructions. It's all possible with this plugin.

Divi Ghoster: Allows you to white label your Divi site. Allowing you to hide the fact that you used Divi to build the site from your clients, theme detectors, and everyone.

This bundle normally sells for $60, but if you use my link you'll receive an additional 10% off your purchase.

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

Sep 9, 2016
Overcoming Hurdles In Your Graphic Design Business - RD044

From time to time, every business will have hurdles to overcome.

Have you ever had one of those weeks that you just want to sweep under the rug and forget ever happened? Me too. In fact, that's how last week went for me. But instead of letting it go, I've decided to share my hurdles with you in this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast.

My week from hell

My week started off like any other until I received a phone call from a website client. There was a problem with their site. Members couldn't log out. I had recently migrated their website from a Windows server to a Linux server and thought perhaps something had happened in the move. I told them I'd look into it and got to work.

This should have been a warning sign but it took me roughly 5 hours to find and fix the problem. A problem that should have only taken me two minutes if I had just looked. I spent hours combing through code trying to find the issue when it turns out the Logout button had the wrong URL associated with it.

Other than some wasted time that issue wasn't so bad.

Then on Wednesday I received an email from a client asking me when their new website would be launched. This one took me by surprise because I thought I had already launched it two weeks prior. But then I remembered that I had encountered a database error while migrating their site from my staging server to its permanent home, and had decided to put off the launch until the next day.

Somehow it slipped my mind the following morning, and two weeks later I'm being asked by the client for an ETA.

I quickly launched their site, but in the process, I forgot that this particular client runs their own internal email server and I didn't update the proper MX records to account for it.

To make a long story short (I go into all the details in the podcast), I broke their email and it took several hours the next day to get it working again. Unfortunately, this client relies heavily on email for their business and having it down for several hours cost them thousands of dollars in revenue. All because of my mistake.

Needless to day, I felt terrible. Sick to my stomach in fact. But what could I do? The damage was done and I had to move on.

Overcoming Hurdles

Sometimes in business things will derail you. It's up to you to decide how you'll proceed. Will you stop? Or will you overcome those hurdles?

You have to realise that these hurdles are only a drop in the pond when you look at your business as a whole. They may seem scary when they happen but in the long run they won't affect your business as much as you initially think they will.

What Hurdles Have You Overcome?

What hurdles have you encountered in your business? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Resource of the week the Divi 3.0

The new Divi 3.0 theme by Elegant Themes is a real game changer when it comes to website design. The new Visual Builder allows you to create and make changes to your website… on your actual website! Meaning you actually get to manipulate the website as you see it! Want to change some text, simply highlight it and type in the new text. Highlight and adjust the font and style as well. Don’t like where an element of the site is? Simply drag it to a new location. There’s no need to preview or refresh the page because all your changes happen in real time right on your page.

You can try out the new Divi 3.0 theme but visiting resourcefuldesigner.com/trydivi and for a limited time get 20% off any membership at Elegant Themes.

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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 26, 2016
A Don't Do List For Your Graphic Design Business - RD043

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

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

Let me ask you a question.

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

Create a Don't Do List

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

My Don't Do List

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

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

What's on your Don't Do List?

Is there anything you would include on your Don't Do List that I don't have on mine? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Norman

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resource of the week is DepositPhotos

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

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

If this is something that interests you please check out DepositPhotos

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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 12, 2016

If you don't want to do it, just say no.

As human beings, it's in our nature to want to please others. So when a client comes to us with a new graphic design project we have a desire to take it on even if it's not in our best interest. As a graphic designer, you have to determine if the project affects you in any negative way. If it does, just say no to it.

In this episode of Resourceful Designer, I discuss the various reason, implications, and outcomes when you say no to graphic design work. Pless play on the podcast player to listen to the episode.

No is a complete sentence.

Why do we insist on coming up with excuses or feel the need to apologise when we say no? Saying no in itself is a complete sentence. There's no need to follow it with any form of reasoning to justify it.

"I'm too busy", "there isn't enough time", "I'm already committed to something else". These are some of the excuses we use when we say no. Why do we insist on justifying ourselves?

How do you say no?

It's harder to say no to existing clients for fear of losing them. However, if you've built a good relationship with your client like I discussed in episode 20, you have nothing to fear. In fact, your client will probably be the one afraid of losing you as their designer.

So saying no to an existing client is as simple as saying "thanks for thinking of me but I'm going to have to pass on this job". If they question you, be honest as to why. They'll appreciate you more for it.

When it comes to new clients, especially those that give you a bad vibe, simply say "Thank you for considering me but I won't be able to take on your project" and leave it at that. It's a polite way to just say no without any other explanation is required.

Say no to compromises.

At some point in your graphic design career, someone will ask you for discounts or possibly free work. In some cases, you'll agree but in most, you'll just say no.

  • Say no to discounted rates
  • Say no to haggling over prices
  • Say no to promised publicity for your business
  • Say no to promises of future work.

Just like a fancy restaurant won't serve you a $28 steak for half price just because you asked for it, or because you promise to recommend them to your friends. You shouldn't offer discounted prices for any promises from clients.

Family and Friends

I go into more detail in the podcast about family and friends, but keep in mind that just because you are close or related doesn't mean you can't say no to them as well.

Charities and Non-Profits

I share some tips and tricks for dealing with charities and non-profits you'll want to listen to but the main point to remember is most of these groups do have the budget to pay for your work. So don't feel bad when you say no to working for them for free.

Do you have any instances when you said no to a client?

I would love to hear your stories. Please leave 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 Deana

My question is about clients you don't want to work for. Lets say you know a client is difficult to work with, and they have come to you with a job request. How do you NOT take on that work? Do you tell them you are too busy? Refer them elsewhere?

This entire episode was devoted to answering questions like this one from Deana. Please listen to hear what I had to say.

Resource of the week Pencil and Paper

I know. A bit lame. But I'm always amazed by how many people don't use these simple instruments in their business. There's nothing like the feel of pencil on paper to get the creative juices flowing. Whether you are doodling, drawing out ideas, jotting down notes and reminders there are no easier tools to use.

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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 29, 2016
Naming Your Graphic Design Business - RD041

Trouble naming your graphic design business?

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

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

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

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

Here are a few of the things I covered in the podcast.

Naming your graphic design business with your own name

PROs

  • It makes you look more affordable
  • It makes you feel more transparent and approachable
  • People remember you and not a business
  • Your name is recognisable to people who know you
  • No worries about trademarks

CONs

  • Makes you seem less experienced
  • Can make you seem too approachable
  • Companies may treat you like an employee instead of a business contractor
  • Harder to grow or sell your business.

Naming your graphic design business with a business name

PROs

  • People are willing to accept higher prices from a business
  • It makes you seem more established
  • Allows for easier future growth
  • Easier to sell your business.

CONs

  • Less personal than using your own name
  • People automatically think you're more expensive
  • People don't remember your name
  • Can run into trademark or other legal issues.

Problems that could arise

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

  • Names that are hard to spell or pronounce
  • Common names; if they're too common you may get lost in the crowd.
  • Famous names; people may not take you seriously
  • Maiden names; may confuse people
  • Names with alternate meanings such as Wood, Steel, Silk.
  • Be wary of abbreviations and confusing acronyms

Inventing words when naming your graphic design business

  • Invented names don't mean anything so they are harder to remember.
  • Combining partner names may cause problems should the partnership ever end.

Other considerations when naming your graphic design business

  • Are there multiple ways to spell the name which could confuse people?
  • Are there silent letters that people might not notice?
  • Does the name or pronunciation have other meanings internationally?
  • Is the name future proof? (will it still be a good name 20 years from now?)
  • Is the name regional and will it impact clients decisions?

More things to consider

  • Is the name available? Do a registry and trademark search.
  • Are domain names and social media names available to match the business name?

Finally...

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

Don't forget...

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

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

Did I anything?

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

Questions of the Week

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

Resource of the week namechk.com

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

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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 23, 2016
Showing Courtesy Between Graphic Designers - RD040

Do you show courtesy for whoever will work on your files once you're done?

Chances are while you're busy working away on your client's latest design project the last thing on your mind is who might one day be working on your files. Or what will happen when you need to open these same files a year or two from now.

Don't worry, I don't think about it either. However, I do take it into consideration the convenience of properly organised files and how much easier they are to work with. So should you.

In this week's podcast episode, I talk about simple things you can do while creating your files that will make it easier for yourself or perhaps another designer to someday down the road work with your files.

I go in depth on this topic but here are some of the points I cover.

Use the right tool

Take into consideration what kind of project you're working on and what application you will design it in. Adobe Photoshop is great for manipulating images but not so good at laying out type. Look at your design toolbox and choose the right tool for the job.

Courtesy when creating vector files

When creating vector files, be it in Adobe Illustrator or some similar software, learn to use groups and layers properly and make sure you label them for easy referencing. Nothing is more frustrating than opening a file with hundreds of layers named "layer 1, layer 2, etc." or finding similar or related objects in the file that are not grouped.

Don't forget to outline the fonts before passing the file on to the printer or another designer.

Courtesy when using Photoshop

Unless it's absolutely necessary, whenever giving a Photoshop file to someone, flatten the layers so you are assured that the file will remain exactly the way you designed it.

If you do need to provide layered Photoshop files you may want to rasterize the fonts and combine any layers that can be combined. And please, delete any unused or unnecessary layers from the file. It's frustrating opening a file and wondering if the hidden layers are important or not.

Courtesy when using page layout programs

A pet peeve of many designers is opening an InDesign or Quark Xpress file only to find the creator used their return key several times to create spaces between text or their space bar to indent type. Learn to use the tab key and the various options built into these programs to manipulate and position your text. It's what they were designed for.

And please, don't use multiple text boxes when one single box will do.

PDF Courtesy

I only have two points of courtesy when creating PDF files for others. One, embed the full font, not a subset. Embedding a subset means any type character that isn't in your document doesn't get included. So if someone ever needs to make a change to the document like adding the word WOW, and the original document didn't have a letter "W" in it, the new designer is out of luck.

My second point is simply, make sure your images are in the proper colour space before creating the PDF. For example, if the PDF will be used for print, ensure the image files are CMYK.

File Management

Finally, learn to use an organised file/folder structure so that nothing gets lost and it's easy to figure out what file does what. Label the client approved file as the final file. Separate working files/images from those used in the final file. And when sending files to a printer use the collect for output option to make sure nothing is missed.

Did I miss anything?

Have some courtesy for those handling your files after you. Did I miss anything in the podcast that I should have mentioned? Let me know what they are 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 Tyler

I was listening to one of the recent podcast episodes. You mentioned that you are building websites for two direct competitors. How do you handle ethical dilemmas like, for example, working for competitors?

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

Resource of the week is Prisma

Prisma transforms your photos into artworks using the styles of famous artists: Van Gogh, Picasso, Levitan, as well as world famous ornaments and patterns. A unique combination of neural networks and artificial intelligence helps you turn memorable moments into timeless art.

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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 4, 2016

Are all your clients grouped into one basket?

This week's podcast episode comes after a conversation I had with an old classmate from college. For the purpose of this episode let's call him "Bob". During my conversation with Bob, he made mention of his boss. I immediately took note and asked him about it because I knew that Bob ran his own design business. It turns out that when Bob's three major clients all left him within a few month period he found himself unable to sustain his business. He enjoyed designing so much that he neglected the marketing and salesmanship side of the business and didn't have enough clients to fall back on. Bob had kept his design work in one basket and it came back to bite him.

That conversation led me to record this episode about diversifying your client base so that what happened to Bob doesn't happen to you.

What do you mean by basket?

In the context of this podcast, a basket is a metaphor for a demographic, industry, market segment or anywhere a client may fall into. For example, if all you do is create websites for dentists what happens when you run out of dentists in your area to design websites for. Or what happens if the dental industry creates a centralised website hub for all its dentists to use? If dentists are your only basket, then your business is in trouble.

You need to use more than one basket.

If you want to run a sustainable graphic design business you need to have a diverse client base so that if something happens to one group of clients you can continue with the rest. Hense the "more than one basket"

The way to accomplish this is to never stop selling yourself. Just because you have a few well paying clients is not an excuse to relax on your self-promotion. In fact, the opposite it true. When you're doing well is the best time to attract new work. Trust me, when you sitting in front of your computer twiddling your thumbs because you have nothing to do and no money coming in is not the time to start thinking of your marketing.

The best thing is, if you do this right, you'll never encounter any downtime at all in your business because you'll have so many clients that all you need to do is find a project from a different basket.

The trick is to find clients in different industries, different market segments and different demographics. Spreading your clients so that some are in one basket and others are in a different basket helps ease the burden should one industry collapse and you loose its business. It may hurt you financially but it won't break you.

What do you think of my basket metaphor?

Do you agree? Disagree? Leave a comment for this episode and let me know what you think.

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 Gabriel

There are many tips already given for someone wanting to break into the freelance design industry when going the self taught route such as creating self initiated design work and using that in a portfolio while continuing to learn. What about finding a design mentor when going the self taught route? Is it possible to find one and manage that relationship online or is it only possible in person? How would a self taught beginning designer persuade a mentor to teach them?

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

Resource of the week LibreStock.com

LibreStock is a meta search engine that scans and indexes the stock photos from 40+ different websites. They provide the biggest searchable database of free high-quality stock photos on the internet. All the photos indexed on LibreStock are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. this means you can use these pictures freely for any legal purpose.
Free for commercial & personal use, You can modify copy and distribute, No attribution required

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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 24, 2016
The Many Hats Of A Home Based Graphic Designer - RD038

How many hats do you wear in your graphic design business?

If you run a home-based graphic design business, the title of this podcast episode, "The Many Hats Of A Home Based Graphic Designer", shouldn't be much of a mystery.  However, if you are not running your own business yet, the many hats I talk about may come as a surprise.

Let me ask you a question. When did you decide to become a graphic designer?

Did you know from a young age? Did you know another graphic designer and aspired to follow in their footsteps? Did you enjoy art class in high school so much that you decided to pursue a career in the arts and chose graphic design?

Maybe this is your second career. Maybe you got tired of the mundane job you were doing or maybe your company got downsized and you decided to look for something different.

Maybe you didn't even go to school for graphic design. Maybe you or a friend had some event to organize and you decided to make the poster or flyer for it yourself. After doing so you thought "I like doing this" and decided to have a go at it on a permanent basis.

Regardless of how you got here, you are a graphic designer. And if you are also running your own design business you know that you are also so much more.

The story of how I became a graphic designer, even though I had no intention of becoming one, is on the About Page so I won't retell it here. What I will tell you is that after graduating I worked for 15 years at a local commercial printer in their design department. While there the bulk of my job was, you guessed it, designing.

It wasn't until I left there and started my own graphic design studio that I realized just how many hats one has to wear to run a successful business.

When I was at the printing company there were people there to answer the phones, collect payments from clients, pay bills, make sure the delivery van was serviced, make sure supply levels were always up to stock and so on.

My role was to sometimes talk to clients about their jobs, and to design them. In an 8 hour day, I could potentially spend 6-7 hours of it designing.

You probably know where I'm going with this. When I finally started my own graphic design business there was nobody but me to do all those extra tasks.

All of a sudden all those many hats were on my head and it was a little overwhelming. So for the benefit of those who haven't started a business yet, I'm going to list a few, but definitely not all, of the many hats we home based graphic designers have to wear. For a more in-depth description of the following list please listen to the podcast.

The Many Hats of running a home based business

  • General Manager
  • Accountant
  • Secretary/Receptionist
  • Logistics
  • Cleaning

The Many Hats of procuring new clients and work

  • Sales person
  • Public speaking
  • Marketing
  • Estimator
  • Interviewer
  • Human resource
  • Sounding board

The Many Hats of dealing with clients

  • Art director
  • Presenting
  • IT Support
  • Customer Support
  • Troubleshooter
  • Delivery man

The Many Hats while working on design jobs

  • Graphic designer
  • Web Designer
  • Researcher
  • Page Layout
  • Code Writer
  • Search Engine Optimizer
  • Copywriter
  • Editor/Proofreader
  • Time Tracker

The Many Hats after completing a design job

  • Bookkeeper
  • Archivist
  • Customer Support
  • Networking and Follow-up

These are just a few of the many hats we home based graphic designers have to wear.

Running a home-based business is not for everyone. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to make it succeed. But the rewards are tremendous. And, in the end wearing the many hats involved justifies itself. When I was working at the printing company I was making an hourly wage working 8 hours a day.

When I started my own business and charged my own rates all it took was 3-4 billable hours per day to exceed the salary I was previously getting. And that left me lots of extra time to try on all those many hats.

Did I miss any hats?

Are there any hats you wear in your graphic design business that I didn't list? Let me know what they are 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 Gretchen

A question that's been bouncing around in my head for quite some time now, is how can I determine the results of my work aside from being a 'nice design.' It's a little easier to quantify when creating things such as websites, but I mainly do print design. It seems like there are just far too many variables. I would like to add something more concrete to my portfolio descriptions.

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

Resource of the week the Four Week Marketing Boost

The Four Week Marketing Boost offers quick and simple tasks focused on improving often overlooked or neglected parts of your marketing material. After completing this four-week plan you will be in a better position to win over new clients.

And yes, this guide is totally free!

This is another way Resourceful Designer helps you streamline your graphic design business and allows you to get back to what you do best, designing.

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 17, 2016
7 Ways To Save Money As A Graphic Designer - RD037

Did you ever think you would be pinching pennies in order to save money?

Some people view the life of a graphic designer as exotic and full of creative wonder. They see us portrayed on TV and in movies as smart, responsible people who, although not necessarily wealthy, do manage a pretty good living. For some reason, those fictional graphic designers are rarely shown struggling to make a living and trying to save money on every purchase they make.

Truth be told, graphic design is not a profession you get into if you have aspirations of being rich. Don't get me wrong, there are some very wealthy designers out there, and the average designer can make a very good living. But for some of us, especially those working from home, living a simple but comfortable life through careful spending and creative ways to save money is what we can expect.

With that said, I thought I'd share the knowledge I've gained over more than 25 years as a graphic designer of various ways for us to save money. Be sure to listen to the podcast for full details and much more than what's writing in this post.

7 Ways for Graphic Designers to Save Money.

 

1- Hold Off Upgrading

We all want the newest gadgets, the newest toys, the newest fads, but when it comes down to it, there's probably nothing wrong with what we currently have. Save money by keeping your current computer, software and services a bit longer until there's a reason to justify the upgrade expense.

2- Buy in Bulk

Buying in bulk is a great way to save money. Whether it's ink for your printer, ordering new business cards, or purchasing credits at your favourite stock photo site. The more you buy, the less expensive they'll be. The same goes for bundles such as software bundles or font bundles. Save money by purchasing the software you need as part of a bundle and you also gain access to other great programs in the process.

3- Pay More Now To Save Money Later

It sounds crazy that I'm telling you to pay more for something in a podcast about ways to save money. But sometimes in order to save money, paying more up front is the best option. Look for things like developer licenses, or lifetime access where you pay a bit more but never have to pay again.

You can also use this strategy when purchasing hardware. Spend a bit more on your new computer today, and chances are it will last you longer.

4- Find Ways To Cut Costs in your business

This one's a no-brainer. If you want to save money, find creative ways to spend less whenever you make a purchase.

Examples of cutting costs to save money are...

  • Shop around for best prices. Don't assume the last place you made a purchase still has the best price. Shop around each time you need to make a purchase.
  • Buy refurbished. When you buy refurbished you get the same great item including a full warranty at a discounted price.
  • Take advantage of student discounts if you can. Many hardware and software companies offer special student prices.
  • Buy old versions of software and then upgrade. It's usually cheaper than buying the newest version outright.
  • Hire cheap help. Foreign developers, artists, programmers etc. are just as good as local talent but at a fraction of the price.
  • Wait for special days to make your purchases. You can save money by waiting for Black Friday, Boxing Week and even Mother's & Father's day to make your purchase.
  • Use less expensive alternatives. Serif DrawPlus & Serif PhotoPlus or Affinity Designer & Affinity Photo are affordable alternatives to Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.

5 Become an Early Adopter

For many things, the earlier you get in the less expensive it is. Membership groups, associations, beta versions, conference tickets, even Kickstarter campaigns all offer discounts for those who show an early interest. Take advantage of the low prices by purchasing early.

6 Collect Points/Credits

Many companies offer points to loyal customers. Save money by using these points to pay for things. Collect travel rewards on your credit card to pay for trips. Refer people to the software or stock image sites you use and collect credits towards future purchases/upgrades.

7 Take Advantage of Freebies

There are so many companies and services vying for your hard earned money that offer freebies as incentives. Look for free fonts, images, software betas, and trial versions. Sign up for newsletters that send you easy links to weekly free downloads. You could also use free software such as GIMP instead of paying for Photoshop.

Tip of The Iceberg

These are just some of the ways you can save money as a graphic designer. The tip of the iceberg if you will. I'd love to know how you manage. Be sure to leave a comment below with your creative ways to save money.

Questions of the Week

Visit my feedback page and submit your question if you would like it answered on a future episode of the podcast.

This week’s question comes from Michael

I'd love to hear your thoughts on creative placement agencies and if it would be a good idea to work with one to find jobs or would I be better served flying solo and try marketing myself as a freelancer or potential employee. I'm sure there are pros and cons to both sides. Thanks in advance.

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

Resource of the week is Creative Market

Creative Market is a platform for handcrafted, mousemade design content from independent creatives around the world.
They''re passionate about making beautiful design simple and accessible to everyone. Visit Creative Market to purchase and sell great designs. And be sure to sign up for their newsletter with weekly freebies.

Subscribe to the podcast

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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 3, 2016
Spring Cleaning for Graphic Designers - RD036

Even graphic designers need to do some spring cleaning?

Just like everything else in life, things seem to pile up in our graphic design business. That's why I recommend taking a little time to do some spring cleaning. I know, not a fun thought but trust me, it will make you more efficient. So let's get started with three spring cleaning sections. Your computer, your office and finally your business.

By the way, I go over most of what I talked about in the podcast right here on this page, but if you don't listen you're missing some great additional content, such as my tighty-whity story in this episode. Not to mention that it's so much easier to consume a podcast than it is to read a blog post. Click one of the subscribe buttons above to get started.

Spring Cleaning

Your Computer

Old client files: Do some spring cleaning on your client files. Get rid or archive anything that you don't anticipate needing in the foreseeable future. Get yourself an external hard drive or some cloud service and free up some valuable space on your computer.

Mail Mailboxes: Your mail program can use some spring cleaning as well. Get rid of unused mailboxes and clear out old emails from mailboxes you keep.

Mail Attachments: Mail attachments are usually duplicates of files you already have on your computer so why keep them. In Apple's Mail.app select everything in your Inbox or Sent Items mailbox, then go to the Messages menu and select Delete Attachments. They're just taking up HD space for nothing.

Did you know that if you double click on an attachment in Mail in order to open it, your computer makes a copy of the file first. That copy stays on your computer even after you delete the email or save the file to a different folder. To get rid of these duplicate files go to User>Library>Containers>com.apple.mail>Data>Library>Mail Downloads and delete it's contents. Every folder in there contains a duplicate file that was created when you opened something directly from within mail.

Mail Lists: We all receive emails from places that we somehow became subscribed to. Try unroll.me to manage all your email subscriptions. You can easily unsubscribe to those you don't want and request a digest email for those you keep.

Fonts: Your computer fonts are in desperate need of some spring cleaning. Try Font Doctor from Extensis to identify and fix corrupt and missing fonts.

Application Updates: Don't you find it annoying when you launch an application only to see a window asking if you want to update it? Spring cleaning is the perfect time to get all those updates done in one shot. Open each application in your Applications folder and check them for updates. Don't forget to update your OS while you're at it.

Dock & Dashboard: Get rid of any icons in your dock that you don't use. The applications will still be there when you need them but they don't need to be in your dock. Also, turn off any dashboard widget that you don't use. They're using valuable CPU resources for nothing.

Bookmarks & Apps: It wouldn't be spring cleaning if you didn't purge a bit. Look at your bookmarks, delete any you no longer need, and rearrange those you keep for easier access. Do the same with the Apps on your mobile devices. Get rid of any you don't need.

Update Passwords: It's not necessarily spring cleaning, but it's still a good time to update your passwords. Make sure to create good strong ones for security reasons. Use an app like 1Password to keep things organized.

Your Office

Clean Filing Cabinets/Drawers/Shelves: These things tend to attract clutter. Take some time to go through them and get rid of anything you no longer need. I'm notorious for keeping multiple samples of past client print jobs when all I really need is one.

Organize Your Wires: Untangle and gather all the wires in your office. Use elastics, paper clips or whatever to keep them all neatly together. Use tape or stickers to label your wires for easier access later.

Do a Traditional Spring Cleaning: It wouldn't be spring cleaning without a little elbow grease. Take some time to dust/polish/vacuum and everything else. You'll feel better after you do.

Your Business

Update Your Resume: If you're freelancing while looking for a full time gig at an agency, take some time to update your resume. Make sure to include any new software you're familiar with and any new course you've taken.

Update Your Portfolio: Spring Cleaning is a great time to swap out some of your portfolio pieces. Get rid of old, outdated stuff and add in your fresh new designs. Not only on your online portfolio, make sure you have printed pieces in case you're asked at an interview.

Clean Up Your Website: You should be on top of this one, but in case you're not, spring cleaning is a great time to not only update your themes and plugins but to also look at your website and see if it needs sprucing up.

Take special notice of your About Page. It's usually the most outdated page on your website. For a guile to all the things you need to change in order to put out the best possible first impression you can, get a copy of my Four Week Marketing Boost at marketingboost.net

Check Your Social Profiles: When was the last time you looked at your Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter profiles? Have a look and make the necessary changes. And if you're on job sites like Upwork.com or 99designs.com update your profile there as well.

Weed Out Bad Clients: Do some spring cleaning on your client list. Decide right now which clients you don't want to work with anymore and let them know the next time they contact you.

Freshen Your Goals: What are your goals for your business? Now is the perfect time to look over them and figure out the best way to achieve them.

What do you think?

Did I leave anything out that you do during your spring cleaning? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Fredrik,

A question that has come to my mind many time is the general design process and how to stick with it. When I'm in the flow of designing a website, I usually end up pushing things too fast and ultimately have to go back to the drawing board because I skipped some important steps along the way. I lack a proper structure when working, and I end up jumping between areas instead of completing one at a time.

How does your design process look like, from start to finish, and do you have any advice on how to be a more efficient designer?

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

Resource of the week is Pretty Much Everything by Aaron James Draplin

I just got my hands on Pretty Much Everything by Aaron James Draplin and I absolutely love it. I thing every graphic designer needs to own this book. Here's the description of it from Amazon.

Pretty Much Everything is a mid-career survey of work, case studies, inspiration, road stories, lists, maps, how-tos, and advice. It includes examples of his work—posters, record covers, logos—and presents the process behind his design with projects like Field Notes and the “Things We Love” State Posters. Draplin also offers valuable advice and hilarious commentary that illustrates how much more goes into design than just what appears on the page. With Draplin’s humor and pointed observations on the contemporary design scene, Draplin Design Co. is the complete package for the new generation of designers.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

May 27, 2016
When Graphic Designers Feel Overwhelmed - RD035

How do you manage when you feel overwhelmed?

Face it, we've all been there. Not knowing what to do next because there's just so much to do. Wanting to pull your hair out over the stress you feel. Feeling overwhelmed isn't fun but it is part of of the job. The trick is figuring out how to plough through it and move on.

I go into greater detail in the podcast. (click the orange button above and have a listen). But if you don't have time to listen, here's the gist of what I said.

The feeling of being overwhelmed can be caused by so many things. Maybe you have too much work on your plate, or too many deadlines approaching. Or maybe you don't have enough work coming in but you're overwhelmed with bills to pay. Perhaps you're feeling overwhelmed by all that is involved with growing a successful graphic design business. All of this doesn't take into account your life outside of being a graphic designer.

Everything just keeps piling up until the weight of it all overwhelms you.

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?

Baby steps

The best way to get over the feeling is with baby steps. Like so many things in life you just need to clear your head and take it one thing at a time. So pick one task and complete it before moving on to the next.

If you start off in the morning with a dozen things on your to-do list and work a little bit on each one throughout the day, you will be making progress but at the end of your day you will still have 12 things that are not finished.

However, if you pick one item on your list and work on it until it's finished before moving on to the next, at the end of your day you may only have 7 or 8 things that still need finishing. You'll feel much better about your accomplishments that day and wont feel as overwhelmed with the work that wasn't done. Those remaining items can simply go to the top of your list for tomorrow.

How to prevent feeling overwhelmed.

Organization is key

It's simple, make lists. Your mind already has enough to worry about. Don't add keeping track of everything to the burden. Write a list of what you need to accomplish each day and you will have a better understanding of how to divide your time.

I like to make my lists on paper. That way I can scratch items off when I finish them, which I find much more satisfying than simply pressing a checkbox in an app. Now if paper is not your thing, there are may great apps for managing your to-do lists. ClearDaylight and Evernote come immediately to mind. But I personally don't like it when the items I check off disappear from my list. I know it's to help you focus on what still needs to be done, but I like to see all the scratches on my paper showing me what I've accomplished already. It makes me feel good.

My strategy is every evening before gong to bed I come to my office and write a new to-do list for the following day. I take everything that wasn't scratched off today's list and put it at the top of the new list. I like doing this the night before because I can think about it while I'm in bed and plan my day. In the morning I can get straight to work because I already know what needs to be done.

Longer deadlines

If at all possible, assign longer deadlines for your projects. Instead of telling your clients that you will have something to show them tomorrow, tell them it will be in two days, or by the end of the week. If you get it to them sooner great, they'll be impressed, but if you don't manage it they wont be disappointed in you.

Get help

If you have repetitive or menial tasks that need doing, find someone to take on the task. Why should you spend hours copying and pasting hundreds of names and contact info onto that new business card you just designed for that big corporation? Hire someone (students are great for this) to do this for you. It will free up your time for other things and you wont feel so overwhelmed.

Do something for yourself

Sometimes it isn't your workload or the job at all. Sometimes it's you. Do yourself a favour and get some exercise. Do something creative that isn't for work. Go visit a museum, or simply go for a walk. 

Sometimes all it takes is stepping away for some "me time" in order to refocus yourself to overcome that feeling of being overwhelmed.

You're not alone

We all feel overwhelmed at times. It's human nature and it's part of being a graphic designer. Just know that you will get through it and it will make you a better person and designer when you do. And getting through it will help you the next time you feel overwhelmed.

What do you think?

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Haya,

I've been designing for a while for the company I work at. I took some classes in the beggining but I'm mostly self taught, I find that I am missing some basic rules in design what makes my work kind of amateurish. I really would like to take design to the next level, but the tutorials and content that I find on the internet are more how to use photoshop, or any program and less about concept and design.
I cannot go back to school of design so I would love to hear your input on where can I learn more on my free time.?

To find out what I told Haya you’ll have to listen to the podcast. But I'll give you a hint. I mention Linda.comCreativelive.com and Udemy.com

Resource of the week is Google Alerts

Google Alerts, found at alerts.google.com, is the way I use to keep me up to speed on all sorts of topics. It's extremely easy to set up alerts. Simply enter the search terms on the page and Google will email you the results daily, weekly or as they come out. It's just like doing a search engine search but the results are delivered to your email inbox. You can filter the search by language, region, sources.

Google Alerts are an easy and free way to stay on top of things.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on 
Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

May 21, 2016

Dealing with deadlines, what type of designer are you?

Before I get into dealing with deadlines let me first define what a deadline is. According to Webster Dictionary a deadline is a date or time when something must be finished : the last day, hour, or minute that something will be accepted.

I know I didn’t really need to give you the definition of a deadline. You’re a graphic designer, you know all too well what a deadline is. But what I really wanted to touch on is not what a deadline is, but instead, how a deadline comes to be.

What I’m getting at is, who decided that the project you are working on needs to be done at a specific time?

Did your client tell you? Or, did you tell the client?

One of the biggest problems I’ve encountered, especially amongst newer or inexperienced graphic designers is their mistaking a client’s enthusiasm as a desire to have the job done quickly and then self impose a deadline.

When I worked in the design department at a commercial printer our Production Coordinator did this all the time. I would be discussing a new project with a client, getting all the specs and details, and at the end of the conversation the client would ask something like “how soon before I see a proof?”. My Production Coordinator automatically interpreted this as “the client needs this in a rush” and would tell him a proof would be ready within a day or two, forcing the design department to rush on the project. What was maddening is oftentimes the client would respond to this by saying something like “wow, I wasn’t expecting it that fast. I thought it would take at least two weeks but 2 days is great!” As I said maddening.

What’s even more maddening is that I’ve seen this happen over and over again. Just because a client asks when, or how soon they can see a proof doesn’t mean they are in a rush to get it. Let the client dictate the actual deadline if there is one instead of assigning one yourself.

Setting interim deadlines.

Once you have a true deadline assigned to the project. You’ll need to do some backtracking to figure out what YOUR actual deadline is. Let’s say you’re designing a brochure that your client needs for a trade show at the end of the month. There are several factors to keep in mind;

  • Where is the trade show? Will the client need time to ship the brochures?
  • How long will it take to print? Contact the printer as soon as you get the job. They'll give you a deadline to submit your files by in order to print, trim, fold, bind and package the brochures on time.
  • How long will revisions take after the client reviews the initial proof?
  • How long will the client require after receiving the proof before sending those revisions?
  • Finally, add in some padding for anything unforeseen that may delay the project.

By calculating all of these things you’ll be able to determine your own deadline for submitting a proof to the client.

Now what?

Now that you have your deadline, how will you go about working on the project?

Dealing with deadlines is all about balance. If you can't learn that balance you will forever struggle between doing the job well and getting it done on time.

Imagine you're sitting down for a holiday feast surrounded by friends and family. A very large plate of delicious looking food is placed in front of you. Maybe there's turkey, and ham, mashed potatoes, some stuffing, steamed vegetables, cranberry sauce, pasta salad, coleslaw and maybe even some home made meatballs, the ones that only grandma can make. Everything looks so good and you can't wait to dig in. But there's so much on your plate and you're not sure you can eat all of it.

So what do you do? Do you make your way around your plate sampling everything until you're full? Do you pick a little of this and a little of that, leaving your favourite part for last so you can eat it all and savour the taste? Or, do you immediately dive into your favourite just in case you run out of room? After all, you wouldn't want to leave that delicious morsel on the plate because you're too full.

How you decide to eat your meal all depends on what type of person you are.

The analogy may be a little slim, but dealing with deadlines isn't much different.

When it comes to dealing with deadlines there are really only three kinds of graphic designers.

  • The Racers: Designers who tackle the project right away and try to get it done as quick as possible with lots of time to spare, and then move on to the next one.
  • The Coasters: Designers who work on the project slowly but diligently, in little chunks from the time it's assigned until the deadline arrives.
  • The Slackers: Designers who wait until the deadline is almost upon them before finally starting. In this case, slacker doesn't mean lazy. More like someone who is often viewed as a procrastinator.

Now, there are many arguments as to which method is best, but what it really comes down to is you, the designer, and how you handle the pressure of dealing with deadlines.

Now I want to give you my own personal opinion on these three types of people. I know My opinion can be wrong, but this is the way I see it. The Racers, those who tackle the project as soon as they get it are doing themselves a disservice. First off, they are not spending enough time thinking about the project before starting their design. Because of this, I feel they are not putting out their best possible work. The design they come up with may be spectacular, but think of how much better they could have made it if they had spent more time on it. Now obviously with more time left before the deadline they could go back and revisit and expand on their design. But chances are they've already moved onto the next project and have put this one out mind.

The Coasters, those who deals with deadlines by working on the design steadily but in chunks. These designers are also doing themselves a disservice. Sure this method allows them to work diligently on the project and not feel the pressure of the deadline looming over them. But by breaking up their time this way they are constantly disconnecting themselves from the project, splitting their focus between different design projects which could hurt their overall vision and design.

By now I'm sure you've managed to guess what type of designer I am. I truely believe that The Slacker, the designer who waits until the deadline is almost upon them before starting is the one producing the best work.

Let me tell you why...

You're a creative person. Obviously, you wouldn't be in the graphic design profession if you weren't. That creativity means you are able to visualize things in your mind. Play with layouts, fonts, colours and everything else, all within the confines of your head long before putting those visions to paper or pixels.

You know what I mean. Just think of those phone calls you get from clients describing a project to you. If you're like me, you start visualizing in your head how the project will look even before the client finishes describing it. It may not be what the final design turns out to be, but there's definitely something brewing in your head. By the time you hang up the phone you already have a good idea of where you're going to start.

Of course all three types of designers start out this way which is to be expected. It's what they do afterwards that separates them.

The Racer starts right away developing that idea and doesn't alway explore other possibilities.

The Coaster starts developing their idea and then comes back to it later. They may have some revalations along the way, but they're mostly tackling the problem knowing they've already taken some steps along a certain path and their more inclined to remain upon it.

Finally the Slacker, the one who hasn't put anything to paper or pixels yet. His ideas have been brewing in his mind since he first received the project. Changing, evolving, ideas come and are dismissed, others are picked apart and rearranged into something different, better. New directions are explored, some working out and others not so much. All of this is happening in his head as the deadline is approaching.

When the time finally arrives to actually produce the design the Slacker has a very clear picture of what he wants to do and is able to spend a much smaller amount of time implementing it than the first two designer types spent on theirs. And chances are his design will be a much better thought out concept than theirs were.

It was Abraham Lincoln who said;

"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe"

That concept hold true in graphic design, especially when dealing with deadlines. The longer you spend thinking about your design before starting, the faster you'll be able to design it and the better the design will be.

I know it's not always easy to do. I've found myself hanging up the phone with a client and being so exited about their project that I've dropped everything to get started on it. I also know those are the projects that I've wasted the most time changing and revising before being satisfied enough to show it to the client. If I would have taken the time to reflect on my ideas I probably could have saved myself a lot of time and come up with the same design or maybe even something better.

So what I'm saying is give yourself time to think about your design before diving in. If you don't deal well with the pressure of deadlines then don't wait until the last minute. Give yourself enough time to get the job done but also give yourself enough time to know you're doing the job right, and to the best of your ability.

Dealing with deadlines is all about balance. Learn to master that and you're on your way to becoming a better and more proficient graphic designer.

 

What do you think?

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Amie,

Hi Mark!
My name is Amie. I am from Pensacola, Florida. I am opening a graphic design studio and I am so grateful to have found your podcast. Thank you for all of your invaluable content!!!
I was wondering if you could share a little about profit margin. What is the typical profit margin for a small boutique graphic design studio? We won't be offering any web services at first, just traditional print design/branding stuff.
Any insights you could share?
Thanks so much!

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

Resource of the week is Pretty Link Pro

Pretty Link enables you to shorten links using your own domain name (as opposed to using tinyurl.com, bit.ly, or any other link shrinking service)! In addition to creating clean links, Pretty Link tracks each hit on your URL and provides a full, detailed report of where the hit came from, the browser, os and host. Pretty Link is a killer plugin for people who want to clean up their affiliate links, track clicks from emails, their links on Twitter to come from their own domain, or generally increase the reach of their website by spreading these links on forums or comments on other blogs.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on 
Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

May 6, 2016
Be So Good... A Graphic Designer's Guide to Success - RD033

Be So Good... That Nothing Else Matters!

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

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

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

Be So Good...

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

In the eyes of your clients

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

In the eyes of your Competitors

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

In the eyes of your Critics

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

In conclusion

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

What do you think?

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Norman,

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

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

Resource of the week is CushyCMS

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

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

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

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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 29, 2016
Graphic Designing With A Retainer Agreement - RD032

Is a retainer agreement part of your pricing strategy?

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

What is a retainer agreement?

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

Why should you use a retainer agreement?

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

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

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

What are the Pros and Cons of a retainer agreement?

Pros

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

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

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

Cons

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

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

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

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

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

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

Type of retainer agreements.

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

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

Discussing a retainer agreement with your client.

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

  • Remind the client how dependable you are.
  • Remind the client how much money they are regularly spending on you.
  • Discuss the benefits to BOTH of you if you enter a retainer agreement.
  • Discuss possible bonuses to the client.

What to include in a retainer agreement.

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

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

Don't get complacent

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

What do you think?

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Caitlin,

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

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

Resource of the week is WhatTheFont

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

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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Subscribe on 
Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

Apr 22, 2016

Nominate Resourceful Designer for The People's Choice Podcast Awards!

Become a partner to your clients, not just a graphic designer.

Over the past 25 years I've seen many graphic designers start their own business and fail. In most cases it wasn't because they weren't good a graphic designer. It was because that's all they were. They were JUST a graphic designer.

If you want to succeed at running your own graphic design business you need to think bigger than being just a graphic designer. You need to establish yourself as a go-to person for all creative, marketing, promotional and branding ideas. You need to establish yourself as a business partner, a sounding board, a problem solver to your clients and not just a supplier of design.

If you fail to establish this sort of relationship with your design clients you are dooming yourself to an on call status. Becoming someone your clients call only once they have an established idea and need someone to execute it.

How do become more than just a graphic designer?

The answer is quite simple. Talk to your clients about their projects. Don't become yes men (or women), who simply do what the client asks of them. That's the easiest way to become just a graphic designer and doom your business. Instead, try to bounce ideas off you clients. Suggest alternatives to what they're asking. Think outside the box. Learn more about their business so that you can suggest things they may not think about.

In episode 20 of Resourceful Designer I talked about the importance of building relationships with your design clients and how doing so can propel you into becoming a strategic partner for them. Someone they come to when they need advice or want a second opinion on. That is exactly what I'm talking about when I say don't be just a graphic designer to them. Become someone important to them. If you do establish that kind of relationship, you can count on good quality projects from them for years to come.

Tell your clients what you can offer them.

One of the biggest problems when dealing with clients is their lack of knowledge of what exactly it is that we do. I discuss this in length in episode 2 of Resourceful Designer. The gist of it is, unless you tell your clients what you can do for them they may look for those services elsewhere.

My own brother-in-law took the logo I designed for him and had business cards designed elsewhere because he "didn't know I also designed business cards".

Have conversations with your clients about their business. These conversations are the perfect opportunity to suggest things or offer services to help them that they don't know you offer.

Your ultimate goal is to become a strategic partner.

You will know when you've succeeded with a client when you become a partner of theirs. When I say partner I don't mean in a sense that you own part of their business. What I mean it you become someone they rely on for more than just design.

You become a strategic partner when your client counts on you for ideas and advice in running and marketing their business. You become a strategic partner when your client stops giving you direction on the designs you create, and gives you free range to create as you see fit. You become a strategic partner when your name is the fist thing off their lips when your client meets someone else with a business problem.

Once you reach that level in the relationship you will be way more than just a graphic designer and your business will have nowhere to go but up.

What do you think?

Do you agree that building these relationships is vital to the success of your own business? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Teri,

I have some vacation time coming up and I was wondering, how do you handle things while you are out? Inevitably it seems like a client will always have an unexpected revision they ask me to do or need a file from me out of the blue. Do you have any experience in this at all and if so, how do you handle such situations?

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

Resource of the week is Photos For Life

Wordmark.it is a wonderful new site I just discovered. It's used to sample all the fonts you have installed on your computer and makes it extremely easy to choose the perfect font for the project you are working on. Simply visit the site, type in a word or phrase of your choosing and click "load fonts". In no time flat you will see your word/phrase displayed in every font you have installed. You can use various filters to adjust the size, case, and readability of the fonts. Simply click the fonts you are interested in and then view only the ones you selected.

I only just discovered this site but I've already used it for a couple of projects and I expect it to become a regular part of my design resources.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

Apr 7, 2016
What To Do When You Mess Up A Graphic Design Project - RD030

Whose fault is it when YOU mess up?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who is responsible for the mess up?

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

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

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

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

It's not worth it.

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

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

Do you disagree?

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Toby,

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

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

Resource of the week is Sync by iThemes

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

Updates to WordPress core and any plugins or themes installed on sites can happen pretty frequently. And if you're managing multiple WordPress sites, keeping them all updated can take up a lot of your valuable time.

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

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on 
Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

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