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

Offering resources to help streamline your home based graphic design and web design business so you can get back to what you do best… Designing!
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Resourceful Designer - Resources to help streamline your graphic design and web design business.
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Feb 22, 2018

How much thought do you give client loyalty?

When it comes to your business, everything you do and everything you don’t do tells your clients how they should feel about you and your business. Being a great designer isn’t enough to garner client loyalty. There are plenty of great designers out there. So why should someone choose you over any of them?

It’s even more difficult in today's market with all the inexpensive crowdsourced or contest oriented design options available to clients these days. Not only do you need to prove you’re a good designer, but you also need to show you are worth the money you're charging for your services. You need to do everything you can to prove to your clients that their money is better spent with you.

When you achieve that, you’ll be rewarded with a client that is loyal to you and your design business. So how do you accomplish this?

Here are seven tips to help you build client loyalty.

1) Do What You Say You’ll Do

The ability to follow through on your commitments is extremely valuable when it comes to client loyalty. When you tell a client you’re going to do something, follow through and do it. Clients hear your comments as promises. So if you don’t do what you said you would do, it’s like you broke a promise with them and they will lose trust in you.

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been working with a client, or how much trust you’ve built up. Failing to follow through on something you said you would, will ruin all the goodwill and client loyalty you’ve been building up. It’s very hard to recover once someone loses trust in you.

If for some reason you are not able to follow through on something you told your client you would do, give your clients ample notice. Most clients will understand if you let them know in advance that you can't hold to your word. Apologizing after the fact is too late.

Remember, actions speak louder than words. Follow through on what you say you’ll do.

2) Share your discoveries.

In your line of work, you get to talk to a lot of different people in various fields. Some of the conversations you have or the news you hear may not be of interest to you, but it may be of interest to your clients.

Whenever you hear something you think one of your clients might be interested in, pass it along. Merely passing on information is a great way to stay in touch with your clients and it shows them that you care about them. This will go a long way towards building client loyalty.

3) Get to know your clients

Building client loyalty is all about building relationships, the cornerstone of any great partnership. Designer and client included. It’s so important that I’ve talked about client relationships on over 25 episodes of the podcast.

To build a client relationship you need to learn things about your client. Find out when their birthday is. Learn who their family members are and what they do. Discover what hobbies and interests your client has.

Later, when talking to your client, bring up some of this information in the conversation. Ask about their daughter's recital. Inquire how a family member is doing since they had surgery. Find out how their son's team is doing.

Just by discussing things that are related to your client’s personal life, you too, become part of their personal life.

This shows your client that you care about them more than just on a working basis and it will make them think twice before every hiring a different designer.

4) Provide added Value

Go above and beyond if you can. Tip #1 I was about keeping promises. What if you promise to deliver something by Friday and you give it to your client two days early on Wednesday? To your clients, this is an added value they will appreciate, and it didn’t cost you anything.

Another thing you can do is provide little extras that other designers don’t.

Create short instruction videos using software like Screenflow to show your clients how to use their newly launched website. Teach them how to log in, how to create or edit posts, how to upload media files, etc. Not only does this go above and beyond to provide added value to your clients. It also lessens your workload because your client won't be contacting you asking “how do I do that again?”

If you design a logo for a client, include a PDF explaining all the different file formats you are providing them. List each one and explain when and why each format should be used. This could be the same PDF you share with all your clients. To them, it's an added value.

Anything you do to create added value goes a long way to strengthen client loyalty.

5) Engage your clients and give them a reason to come back

Once a project is over, it doesn’t mean your communications with your client should be over as well. Keep in touch with them. Let them know of new or improved services you offer. Are you getting into the Facebook advertising game? Let your clients know about it. Have you discovered a new supplier that provides some new and innovative marketing dohickey? Mention to your clients how they might benefit from using it in their promotional campaign. Did a client ask you to design something you’ve never done before? Show it off to your other clients and offer to do the same for them.

By letting your clients know about the new and exciting happenings with your company you build momentum with them, and it makes them somehow feel involved and builds loyalty towards you.

6) Get Feedback from your clients

A great way to build client loyalty is to ask them for their opinion on your business and services. Were they happy with their most recent dealings with you? Did the service you provide meet their expectations? Ask them if there is anything you could have done to make the experience better.

Asking your clients for their opinion is a great way to show you care about what they think and that you are listening to their concerns.

7) Show your appreciation.

As a child, your parents taught you to say Thank You whenever someone gives you something. Your clients are giving you work they could have taken elsewhere. Once a project is over show your client you're grateful for it by saying thank you for the business.

This simple gesture is something rarely seen in the service industry, and your clients will take note and remember you for it, increasing their loyalty towards you.

If you follow these seven tips to increase client loyalty towards you and your business, not only will you be ensuring a long-lasting relationship with your clients, but you will be growing your business as well. Because loyal clients are more apt to talk about you and spread the word about the great work and excellent service you provide.

What do you do to build client loyalty?

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 Miranda

Hi Mark, I was wondering if you ever worked in a small design agency, and if you had any tips for a Graphic Designer with about a year of professional experience. I’ve worked in a big agency and small design businesses. I’d love your feedback on how to get a small design agency better quality work.

My boss is kind of old school so some of the work is not branding our clients it’s more production work. We have branded clients and have some great clients we’ve branded. But I wanted your take on how to get better clients and how to navigate them to understanding how important their brand is.

Thanks so much! Would love to hear from you!

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

Resource of the week Running SEO

This week's resource is Running SEO, a website that offers free instant website reviews and SEO audits. With their in-depth website analysis, you can learn how to improve your website rankings & online visibility through SEO, social media, usability and much more. Running SEO doesn't just tell you what's wrong with your site, it says you how to fix it. Their competitive analysis function gives you a side-by-side comparison between your site and your competitor. Find out what they are doing better on their site and implement it on your site. Running SEO is also great for landing new clients. Run an analysis before meeting a new client to show them what needs improving on their website.

Subscribe to the podcast

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Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram

I want to help you.

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

Feb 15, 2018

Are you looking to become a freelance designer?

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

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

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

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

Why do you want to become a freelance designer?

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

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

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

Here are five things to consider before deciding to become a freelance designer.

1) How will you deal with the isolation of working from home?

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

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

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

2) How good are you at time management?

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

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

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

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

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

3) Can you plan for the future?

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

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

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

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

4) Can you be your own boss?

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

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

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

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

5) How good are you at finances?

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

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

Is the freelance life for you?

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

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

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Shenai

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

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

Resource of the week Coolors.co

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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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.

Feb 8, 2018

If you want more design clients you need to follow-up.

It requires many hats to run a successful home-based design business. Beyond being a designer, you need to wear the hat of a bookkeeper, a receptionist, a marketer, a salesperson and many more. Often it's the salesperson hat that scares people away, but it's one of the most important ones you will have to wear.

To have a successful design business, you need to be a competent salesperson. You don’t have to be great. You don't even have to be that good at it. Just being competent is all you need to succeed.

I know that being a salesperson has a certain stigma to it. Salespeople are often depicted on TV and the big screen as annoying, slimy people. But the fact of the matter is, everyone is a salesperson in one way or another. If you've ever convinced your spouse to go out for Italian food when they were in the mood for Mexican, you're a salesperson. If you've ever told your kids they can get a dessert if they eat all their vegetables, you're a salesperson. If you've ever sold your design services to a client, you're a salesperson.

Being a salesperson

One thing all good salespeople have in common is persistence. Without persistence, they would never make a sale. As the salesperson for your design business, you have to be persistent when searching for new clients. That persistence requires you to follow-up with someone after your first contact with them.

All salespeople know that the majority of successful sales happen during the follow-up. The same applies when you are pitching new clients. Rarely will a potential client hire you the first time you meet them. But if you are persistent and follow-up with them, you drastically improve your chances of winning them over.

When to follow-up

You need to follow up any time you meet a potential client for the first time. Some of these situations may include;

  • Cold calling (email, phone or in person)
  • Client presentations (When a client ask you to meet them for the first time)
  • Pitches (When you are one of many designers pitching a proposal to a client)
  • Request For Proposals (Either RFPs you've been asked to submit or those you've discovered yourself)

If you don’t follow up, you are leaving things open for someone else to sweep in and use your initial effort as traction to win over your potential client.

Your follow-ups should continue until you establish a conversation with the client or they decline your requests for further communication. More on that last part later.

How to follow-up

There are many ways to follow-up with someone, and there are different stages to the follow-up to which you should adhere. Work your way through the follow-up stages until you establish a communication with the client. Here are a few things you can try.

After your first in-person meeting or phone conversation.

  1. Within two days of the meeting, you should thank them for taking the time to talk to you. Nothing more.
  2. One to two weeks after the meeting, Send them a message asking if they have had a chance to think about what you had discussed.
  3. If you do not get a response after your second follow-up, you could send them a message saying you understand they may not be ready to proceed with anything now, but you can follow up again with you in a few months.
  4. Mark your calendar and follow-up again after the time you specified in step 3.

After sending a first contact email or voicemail.

Usually, this falls under the scope of cold calling. You send a potential client an email or leave them a voicemail message introducing yourself. Don't worry if you don't immediately hear back from them. Follow these steps for more engagement.

  1. After a few days, call or email them again and ask if they received your first message.
  2. After one or two weeks contact them again and politely tell them you have not heard back from them and you were just wondering if your messages were getting to them.
  3. If they still don’t respond, you can follow-up by saying you understand they are busy so you will reach out to them again in a few months.
  4. Mark your calendar and follow-up again after the time you specified in step 3.

Keep following up until you hear "no."

Remember that the trick to being a good salesperson is to remain persistent until you either get the sale, or you're offer is rejected. Most people, even if they are interested in your services, won't respond to the first contact. It takes several tries before they are ready to commit. If you are not following up you are missing out on a lot of opportunities in gaining new clients.

That’s why following up is essential. You will get a higher number of people responding to your second and third contact request. By showing them your persistence, you are proving your value and dedication, both useful traits in someone worth hiring.

Keep trying until they tell you they are not interested or have no need for your services. Until they decline, you should continue to treat them as potential clients.

Pick another fish

If you are trying to land a large corporation as a client and you don't hear back from the person you are trying to reach. Try reaching out to somebody else in the company. Sometimes someone won't respond to you because what you are offering isn't part of their job description. After several failed attempts try moving on to someone else in the company.

It's a waiting game

To many people, this tactic feels intrusive and bothersome but’s it’s all part of the selling game. Since the dawn of time salespeople have been earning a living through persistence and following up. The tactics are no different for your design business. Keep at it, and you will land those clients you thought were out of reach.

You can be the best designer in the world, but if you don’t practice your skills as a salesperson, you’re going to have a tough time growing your design business.

How often do you follow-up with potential clients?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

I don't have a question this week, but I look forward to answering yours in the future.

Clarification of the week.

This week instead of a resource or tip I want to clarify something I've been noticing lately. Many people have been messaging me about episode 11 of the podcast about pricing strategies. These people are confused between Project-Based Pricing and Fixed/Flat Rate Pricing.

Project Based Pricing is when you look at the scope of a project and give the client a quote based on the work involved to complete that project. With Project-Based Pricing, every job is priced according to its scope. For example; You might quote $150 for a logo for a local charity run and $800 for a logo for a new law firm. Both are logos, but one will probably require more work.

Fixed/Flat Rate Pricing is when you advertise a certain price to do a specific task regardless of the scope of the job. For example; you promote that you design logos for $250. It doesn't matter if it's for a charity run or a law firm. All logos are $250.

I did not talk about Fixed/Flat Rate Pricing in episode 11 because I don't feel it's a viable method of pricing. Unless your fixed prices are very high, there's a good chance you will lose money on the majority projectsn.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on Android
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Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

Feb 2, 2018

Make a little progress every day to reach the next level.

Building a successful design business isn’t easy. It takes skill, it takes time, and it takes effort, a lot of effort. Think of your design business’s success as a journey. One where you strive every day to make progress towards that next level of success.

Every business starts off new, with all the potential in the world. To grow your business, you need to have a destination in mind of what next level you want to reach. Then you get to work and make progress towards that goal.

Maybe that destination is to land that first paying design client. Maybe it’s to see something you designed in print. Maybe it’s hearing from your client that they’ve made their first sale on a website you built for them. Whatever your destination is, you need to work hard until you reach it.

Of course, reaching that destination is not the end. It's a new beginning. Once you've reached that destination and achieved that goal, the next step is to progress to the next level. You do that by setting a new destination for yourself and setting off on that path.

Maybe your new destination is to get your second client. Maybe it's to design something portfolio worthy. Maybe it's to see your design on store shelves.

Whatever your goals are, or whatever path you take, you get there by putting one foot in front of the other until your next destination is reached.

Overcoming doubt.

Like any journey, there will be bumps along the way that may cause you to doubt yourself.

Am I a good enough a designer to be doing this?

Why would someone hire me instead of one of the other talented and more experienced designers offering similar work?

Can I create a design that truly reflects who the client is?

Am I charging too much or too little for my work?

These are all normal questions to be thinking. Some designers don’t even realize they doubt themselves by asking them. But it's ok; all designers do it. And you know what? Doubting yourself is healthy. If you didn't doubt yourself, there would be nothing to keep you in check. Nothing to cause you to stop and think is this the best idea or direction. Nothing stopping you from taking a wrong path that leads you away from the destination you set for yourself.

The trick is to use that doubt to help you navigate to that next level. This goes for whether you’re just starting out in your design business or you’ve been doing this for many years. The next level is still the next level. It’s the place you haven’t been before with your business. Another step on the road to success.

One of the big challenges of reaching those next levels is self-doubt, the uncertainty and the lack of clarity about how to get there.

We all experience it. There have been several times over the years when I wasn’t sure about what I should do next, or how I should proceed with my business either. I doubted myself.

When I switched from hourly billing to fixed and value-based billing, I wondered if it was the right move. When I went from charging hundreds of dollars for a website to charging thousands of dollars I was worried that nobody would hire me anymore. When I decided to give up hand coding websites and focus solely on building Wordpress websites I was worried that I wasn't being true to my design roots.

Heck, when I was thinking of starting the Resourceful Designer podcast I had doubts. I didn’t know how the show would be received. Would people like you enjoy it? Would you find the topics I talk about interesting and informative? Would you even bother listening to someone like me who isn't a big name in the design world?

All of these were next levels in my design career that I chose as destinations to reach. And I reached them by getting over my self-doubt.

Maybe you don’t have your own design business yet. Maybe you’ve recently started one and are in the process of growing it. Maybe you are running a part-time freelance business while working a full-time job. Or Maybe you’ve been at this a long time and already feel successful.

Regardless of where you are in your career, there will always be a next level to reach.

Reaching the next level.

If you want your design business to progress towards a next level, you have to be clear on what that next level is. Then do whatever you can to avoid distractions as you work towards it. Remember, How you get to the next level isn’t as important as what that next level is.

If your goal is to build $20k websites, maybe you decide to give up everything besides designing websites. You give up designing logos, posters, brochures, trade show booths, mobile apps, etc. and focus just on websites. You spend all your time working on one website after another, going from one client to another building up your skill and reputation until you land that big fish, the $20k website.

Or, maybe you decide to take it in smaller steps by building long-term relationships with your clients. You spend time helping them develop their brand and grow their business over months and years until they are big enough to pay you $20k for their next website.

There’s no right or wrong way to do it because how you get there isn’t as important as what your next level is.

Making progress

Once you know your destination, that next level, the trick is to make consistent incremental progress towards reaching it and being completely dissatisfied when you’re not making progress.

In other words, make progress every day. It should be your standard method of operation. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a little progress, like learning a new trick or shortcut to make something easier for you. As long as you make progress every day.

Can a brand new unproven web design business charge $20k for a website? There's nothing stopping them. However, they may find it difficult without any experience to show potential clients. Especially clients with deep pockets.

But a new unproven web design business with a focused goal in mind of one day designing $20k website, which spends its time working towards that goal every day. Month after month, year after year. There's nothing stopping them from eventually reaching that goal.

Remember that progress builds up over time. If you make a little progress every day, with a clear idea of where you’re going, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to stay focused and reach your goal.

Don't quit.

The final thing I want to say is, never quit.

Most designers, whether they are running their business as a side gig or as a full-time business, most of the ones that end up failing, they do so because they quit too soon. They set up their business thinking they would simply run it one day at a time and see what happens.

Those designers didn’t have a clear vision of what they wanted to achieve, and they didn’t know how to progress towards those next levels to reach their goals.

Yes, times may get tough. You may decide that putting food on the table is more important than trying to land that big fish client. Sometimes life’s situations may force you to seek other forms of income. And that’s OK. But that’s not a reason to give up on your goals.

Remember, a successful design business is a journey. And journeys take time and patience.

I know it’s easy to become discouraged when things are not working out. But you need to look beyond that. Maybe that discouragement you may be feeling can be overcome with some good advice about how to tweak what you’re doing and get back on track.

Maybe that discouragement is coming from your self-doubt of what you are capable of doing.

Find a business coach or mentor program to help guide you. Find places like the Facebook groups with people willing to listen and help. The answers are out there if you take the time to look for them. We all have these doubts from time to time that we need to overcome before progressing along our journey.

If you’re feeling discouraged or you doubt yourself, you need to figure out why that is and address it.

There are limitless opportunities out there for you to grow a successful design business. Don't let anything stop you.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Anees

Hi Mark!

I hope you are doing well preparing more content for us :). Well my question may be not new but I want to hear from you.

What's the difference between good and great design.

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

Resource of the week Front-End Checklist

This week's resource is a website called frontendchecklist.io. Front-End Checklist is perfect for modern websites and meticulous developers! This site shows you all the different aspects of a website build with items divided into low, medium and high priority and allows you to check them off as you complete them. Filter the checklist into sections such as SEO, security, accessibility, performance, CSS, Javascript and more. If you develop websites, I think you will like this resource.

Subscribe to the podcast

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

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

Jan 26, 2018

Do you worry about isolation while working from home?

Isolation is one of the major concerns when running a home-based design business. Spending day after day, week after week having minimal contact with other people can take its toll on some people. That's why working from home is not for everyone.

When asked about working from home most people will give one of two responses.

  1. I wish I could do that. Be my own boss, work my own hours with nobody looking over your shoulder.
  2. I don't think I could do that. It would drive me crazy being by myself all the time.

The type of person you are will determine if isolating yourself to run a home-based design business is right for you. After all, to live a healthy and fulfilling life you need to have close, interpersonal relationships. Which isn't always easy for home-based designers.

Before I go any further, let me just state that I am not a qualified therapist or health professional. If you are feeling the effects of isolation to the point where you are feeling lonely or depressed, please seek professional help.

Ways to cope with isolation when working from home.

Create a happy work environment

A key factor to a pleasant work at home experience is working in a space you enjoy. If at all possible, have a dedicated room in your home for your workspace. If your living arrangements don't allow for this try dedicating a corner of a room with a desk and other things you need to run your business.

Liven up your workspace with artwork and mementoes that make you feel good. Work with music if that's something you like, or if you find music too distracting you can try soothing sounds of nature. And make sure you have good lighting. Natural light from a window is best, but a good daylight lamp will suffice if need be.

If you like your working environment, chances are you will feel less isolated when you spend time in it.

Get out for a bit

Whenever you start to feel isolated, it may be a good time to take a break and get out. Go for a walk in a park or spend some time at a mall. Just being around other people, even if you don't interact with them will help alleviate some of your feelings of isolation.

Move your workspace

If you work on a laptop or tablet why not take it to a coffee shop or some other place with wifi. You could also try a shared workspace. Many cities now offer short-term office space rentals. Think about renting a space for a couple of hours once per week. Shared office paces give you the opportunity to work on your business while still being around others. Simply being around other people can have a therapeutic effect when you're struggling with isolation.

Become part of a community

Try joining groups or clubs in your area. Joining a group or club is a great way to meet new people and give you a chance to interact outside of a work environment. Check your local community centre for recreational sports leagues or other social gatherings.

For a quick fix from feeling isolated don't discount the power of social media. Being part of an online community can help take the stress out of your busy work life.

Mastermind and networking groups are another great way to interact with like-minded people. See if there are any in your area you could join.

Sometimes, all it takes to get over that feeling of isolation is to share your thoughts and experiences with other people.

Get a pet

This might not be for everyone, but having a pet in your house can help you feel less alone. Pets are very therapeutic and have been proven to reduce stress and anxiety. Dogs are great listeners and give you their undivided attention when you need it, and cats have a way of knowing when you need a little affection.

If cats or dogs are not an option, perhaps you may want to try a fish or some other less demanding animal. Simply having another living being in your house can help curb that feeling of isolation.

Talk to yourself

I know, it sounds crazy. But when you're in a pinch talking to yourself can be a way of feeling less alone. Simply hearing a voice, even if it's your own can relieve stress and soothe you. After all, who better to discuss your design and business issues with than the person who knows you best, you.

There are far worse things you can do than have a conversation with yourself when you are feeling isolated.

Working from home can be a wonderful experience. It does take discipline and willpower, but if you can get over the isolation, you shouldn't have any problems.

How do you cope with isolation?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Shenai

I'm listening to episode 93 and you just hit on a problem that I've been struggling with. Having a main business and then a separate brand for a niche.

I have been struggling back and forth with the idea of using my own name or a business name that I already have picked out. I would like to keep it personal with my local clients but also have my own designs and plans of printed materials that I would rather have a business name attached to. (for marketing and also privacy) Should I do both? Or just pick a route and stick to it? How would you recommend setting up banking and such for these different brands to keep it less confusing?

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

Resource of the week Fontreach.com

This week's resource is fontreach.com. A fun site that shows the popularity of various fonts being used by the top one million websites. Want to know how many of them use Arial, or Helvetica Neue? Simply type in a font, and the site will tell you. Or you can view a list of the top fonts being used. As I said, this is a fun site that you may want to check out the next time you're deciding on fonts for a web project.

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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

Jan 19, 2018

Are you failing on your To-Do list?

One of the biggest mistakes people make on To-Do lists is mixing projects with tasks. A To-Do list should only contain tasks, items that require you to do only one thing to complete them. Projects, on the other hand, should be on a completely separate list. By separating the tasks from the projects, you make it much easier to organize, and your To-Do list will seem much less daunting.

I talked about To-Do Lists, Tasks and Projects in episode 66 of the podcast titled "Tackle Your To-Do List With Tasks and Projects". If you haven't listened to that episode yet, I suggest you do before continuing with this one.

The Project List

Your project list is where you keep track of the various routines, responsibilities and of course, projects on your schedule. These items may be one time projects or recurring routines and responsibilities you don't want to forget about.

Example of Projects

  • Design new website for Good Sole Shoe Company
  • Create a Facebook Ad campaign for Pump-R-Up Fitness and Spa.
  • Update brochure for Sullivan and Sullivan Law Office with the new location and new partner bios.
  • Design T-Shirt for the Heart & Stroke Foundation charity marathon.

Examples of Routines and Responsibilities

  • Send out weekly invoices and statements
  • Check client websites and update themes and plugins
  • Write weekly blog post for website
  • Attend bi-weekly networking meeting

The purpose of a Project List is to have one place that lists everything you need to do or work on. As new projects, routines and responsibilities arrive you add them to the list.

The Project list should be checked at least once per day if only so you can decide what tasks to add from it to your To-Do list.

The To-Do List

Your to-do list is where you keep track of the individual tasks that need to be done to wrap up the items on your Project List. You should be referring to this list every time you complete a task to know what needs to be done next. Each task on the list should require only one action to complete. That action may take only a couple of minutes or it could take several hours to complete but it is still only one action.

Examples of a Task on a To-Do list.

  • Chose possible fonts for Heart & Stroke Foundation T-Shirt
  • Choose number of colours for the T-Shirt design
  • Decide what type of image to use in the T-Shirt design
  • Decide size of design to go on T-Shirt
  • Iron clothes for networking meeting
  • Choose topic for blog post
  • Touch up and crop photos of Sullivan and Sullivan Law Office new partners.

Each one of these items requires only one thing to do on your part before you can check them off the list.

To help prioritize, you can divide your To-Do list into things that need to be done today, tomorrow, this week, or whenever.

Having a well-organized system composed of a Project List and a To-Do list will make you a more productive designer as well as a more productive business person.

As a more productive person, you will find that you waste less time trying to figure out what needs to be done next. Which translates into more tasks being completed, which means more projects finished, which means more money coming in for you.

So take control of your Project list and To-Do list and get back to work.

How do you organize and keep track of your workload?

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 Jax

I’m considering an occupation change to graphic design. But I’m a beginner. Like just leaning the basics on Adobe Illustarator beginner. I’ve always been very artistic and I love creating so I think over time I’ll be able to make the occupational transition. My question is, what steps should I take and what suggestions do you have for a newbie? What are things I should be working on and how to I start building a portfolio?

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

Tip of the week Highlight sections that need editing?

This week I want to share a tip. This is something I've been doing for years that has helped me get jobs done more quickly and make sure I don't miss anything. Whenever I create a template for a job, or I use a previous version of a project for a job, the first thing I do is change the colour of the text in all the sections that will need editing. In my case, I usually change the colour to magenta. This way, whenever I open the document, I can immediately see what parts of it require new information and what parts I don't have to bother with.

This method works great with my design contact. There are parts of the contract that remain the same regardless of who the client is or what the project is. Not having to read or verify those sections is a time saver when writing a contract for a new project. All I have to do is make changes to the sections where the font is magenta, and I know it's done.

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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

Jan 11, 2018

Are you looking for opportunities to grow your business?

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

5 Overlooked Opportunities To Grow Your Design Business

1) Your Email Signature

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

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

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

2) Your About Page

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

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

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

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

3) The Back Of Your Business Cards

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

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

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

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

 4) Your Social Media Profiles

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

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

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

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

5) Your Out Of Office Reply

A typical out of office reply looks something like this;

Hi, thank you for your message.

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

Thanks,

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

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

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

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

Thanks,

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

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

What overlooked opportunities to grow are you using?

Let us know what small and simple things are growing your business by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Ismael

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

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

Resource of the week Battery Life App

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

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

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

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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

Jan 4, 2018

How do you retain your design clients?

As a designer, you know how much work goes into acquiring new design clients. However, you also need to put some effort into retaining your existing design clients, or they may be taken away from you.

The design industry is not like the retail market where people walk into a store, browse around and then decide if they want to make a purchase.

Nor are we like other service businesses such as plumbers or auto mechanics. In those businesses, their clients call upon them whenever they have a problem that needs fixing like a leaky toilet or a car that won't start.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the design industry, things are not so cut and dry. There are many businesses that would benefit from working with a designer, but they don’t because they don’t see the value in hiring a professional like you. They don't understand how a professional designer can help boost their business.

Even worse, they do know the value of good design, but they are either misled to believe that cheep crowd designed alternatives are just as good as working one on one with a professional designer. Or they think their branding and marketing material is something they can handle themselves.

I wish there was an easy way to show these businesses the benefits professional designers bring to the table and how hiring you could help their bottom line. But, there isn’t.

That’s why it’s so important that when you start working with a new client, you do everything you can to retain that client once the project is over.

In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I share tips and tricks to increase your chances of retaining those design clients. Here's an overview of what I talk about but for the full story be sure to listen to the episode. Better yet, subscribe to the podcast and never miss a single episode.

Retaining your design clients requires effort.

Just like any business It takes a bit of marketing to ensure your existing clients remain your clients. In essence, you need to stay in contact with your clients even when you are not working on projects for them. Because if you are not staying in touch, you are opening the door for someone else to step in and sway those design clients away from you.

Think of it this way… Do you always bring your car to the same place for service? Most people do. They find a service shop they like, and they stick with it. They go there for minor things like oil changes and tire rotations as well as bigger things like transmission problems and engine issues.

But what if another shop offers you a more convenient option for oil changes? Maybe they are less expensive. Maybe they offer a faster turnaround; Maybe they don't require an appointment so you can go whenever you have 30 minutes to spare as opposed to your current garage that tells you when it's convenient for them to take you. Would any of these options entice you to go to this new place? It's only an oil change after all. You can still get your other services done at your normal garage.

What has your garage done AFTER you've left their establishment to maintain your loyalty? Chances are they haven't done anything. They just expect you to keep coming back time after time because you always have. But without their even realizing it, you've found a new place to have your car's oil changed. And now that you've made that first step it will be much easier for you to go elsewhere when another shop offers you a convenient option for a different service.

The same can happen with your design business. Just because you’ve done multiple jobs for a client doesn’t necessarily mean they will bring their next job to you. You have to stay in touch and keep working on retaining those clients if you want them to keep coming back to you.

How to retain your existing design clients.

Open communication

Encourage open communication with your clients by requesting feedback and suggestions from them. Reach out to them after each project and ask them what they thought. Ask them if there were any steps in the process that could have been handled better?

Establishing a communication like this will make the client feel closer to you and make it harder for them to leave you for someone new.

Send follow-up notes

Shortly after a project is finished you should reach out to your client with an email or better yet, a handwritten thank you note thanking them for allowing you to work on their job.

Be sure to mention what you liked about working on that project and with them. If you learned a new skill along the way be sure to mention it. Clients love knowing how they helped contribute to you and your businesses growth.

Don't forget to take this opportunity to offer related services you could do for them. Mention a few other things they could get from you or services you offer that they might not know about. Trust me; most clients don't know all the services you can offer them.

Feature your clients

Did you design something really good for a client? Make sure you share it on your social media and be sure to tag your client in the post. There's a really good chance the client will see it and either respond and/or repost it themselves. This creates great social proof of what you are capable of doing and could lead to even more clients in the future.

You could also share any client testimonials you receive or any success stories your client has that comes from something you designed for them.

Reach out on special occasions.

If you know your clients birthday, their work anniversary or the month their business was established, send them a note or greeting card congratulating them. This is such a simple thing to do, but it is huge when it comes to building relationships with your clients.

Add any special dates to your calendar and set reminders a few weeks ahead of time, so you know when to mail things out.

Create a newsletter

You're probably thinking "who has time to send out newsletters?". The real question is who can afford not to send out newsletters. You, that's who. A newsletter is a very simple way to stay in contact with your clients. Even if they don't take the time to read it, the fact that you are reaching out to them will keep you front of mind when they next need a designer.

Newsletters don't have to be complicated. Yes, they are a great way to showcase your design skills, but even a plain and simple divided email will suffice.

In your newsletter, you should include a "useful news you can use" section with tips and tricks to make your client's life easier. Perhaps advice on how to create better social media posts or a unique way to promote their website.

You should also pick one or two recent projects to showcase. Talk about what you did for a client and the results. The client being showcased will appreciate the exposure and your other clients may get ideas from it and contact you with more work.

Don't forget also to mention services you offer such as trade show banners or Facebook ads. Remember what I said earlier, there's a good chance your clients have no idea what you do other than what they hired you for. So mention unique things that may interest them.

Start a retainer program

Working with a business on retainer is almost a guaranteed way of retaining them as a client. Why would they shop around for design services if they are already paying you up front?

A great way to get clients to sign up for a retainer is to offer them a discount on their first-time sign-up. You can then keep enticing them by offering a similar discount if they renew the agreement before the current one expires. I talk more about retainer agreements in episode 32 of the podcast.

Socialize with your clients

I'm not saying you should take your design clients out for drinks, although it wouldn't hurt. What I'm suggesting is for you to attend trade shows and events where your clients are, Just by being there you are showing your client that you care about them.

Follow and interact with your client on social media

Social media is a great way to build relationships with your clients. Commenting on and sharing their posts is sure to be noticed and appreciated by your client. They will be less likely to use someone else's design services if they see you interacting with them online.

It's all about the relationship

Retaining your design clients is all part of building relationships with them. The closer they feel to you, the less likely they are to wander off and find a new designer.

In my example above, the auto repair shop could have retained their client if they had just put a bit of effort to make that client feel important to them.

I want you to make an extra effort this year to keep in touch with your design clients and build relationships with them. They’ll thank you for it by remaining loyal to you.

What do you do to retain your design clients?

There are so many more ways to build client relationships and ensure client loyalty. What methods do you use? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

I don't have a question this week, but I would love to answer one of yours in an upcoming episode of the podcast. You can submit one by visiting the feedback page and then keeping an ear out for my answer.

Tip of the week Set a goal for your design business.

It's January as I write this, so it's the perfect time of the year to set goals. I'm not talking about losing those extra pounds you need to get rid of, I'm talking about goals for your design business. Ways to help you grow and prosper. Without goals, there's no way to measure your achievements. In episode 55 of the podcast I talked about setting goals for your design business, you may want to go back and listen to that one. But the simple matter is if you want to succeed you should be setting goals.

  • Are you in the "I'm thinking of it" stage of starting a design business? Set a goal to have something up and running by a certain date.
  • Are you a new and growing design business? Set a goal to gain X number of clients by a certain date.
  • Are you an established design business? Set a goal to expand into new markets and start working towards achieving it.
  • Are you losing focus? Fine a niche you are passionate about and focus on it.

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

Dec 22, 2017

Do you have the 3Cs required to run a successful design business?

There’s a lot more to running a successful design business than just being a good designer.

In fact, being a good designer may be the least important thing for your design business.

Don't get me wrong. If you're a bad designer chances are your business won't succeed. However, I know many great designers who don’t have what it takes to run a successful design business either.

There’s nothing wrong with working for an employer throughout your design career. Just like are some chefs are destined to run their own restaurants while other chefs are content working in someone else's kitchen.

But if you are a designer who wants to run your own design business, it will take skill, determination and perseverance. Plus a little thing I like to call the 3 Cs. Be sure to listen to the podcast where I go into more detail on each of the following.

Curiosity.

As a designer, you need to be curious.

Curiosity is what will keep you growing as designers.

Curiosity is what helps you to keep up with trends or learn from the past.

Curiosity is what keeps you in the know on new software, apps and gadgets to help you in your work.

It’s your curiosity that ensures you don’t get left behind.

Competence.

You have to have a level of competence if you want to succeed as a designer and as a business person. It's not necessary that you be a great designer to run a successful design business, but it sure helps.

Competence is what helps you grow and master your craft. You may be good at what you do, but imagine how much better you can be if you continue to pursue it and get better at it. That takes competence.

Confidence.

If you have unwavering confidence in yourself, chances are you are going to succeed.

Having confidence means that even when you fail you succeed because you have the confidence to learn from your failure and become better for it.

Look at Thomas Edison, the man who said he failed himself to success. In his quest to invent the light bulb he had many failures before succeeding. In fact, there’s a famous quote by Edison that goes.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work."

Seeing failure as an opportunity to learn takes confidence.

The same goes if you want to run a successful design business. When a client doesn’t like a design or a direction you are taking. Don’t see it as a failure. See it as a learning opportunity and grow from it.

Even the greatest designers in the world get it wrong more often than they get it right. But when they do get it right, it’s great.

It’s all part of the process. Having confidence in yourself and your abilities will go a long way in ensuring your business’s success.

The 3Cs

There you have it. The 3 Cs to a successful design business.

  • Curiosity
  • Competence
  • Confidence

When you have all three, your road to success will be almost guaranteed.

How are you with the 3Cs?

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 Rich

I am starting a website design and media company and I want to offer reseller hosting. It seems like I have heard you say that you offer hosting to your clients but I haven't heard any specifics. Do you have any specific/detailed advice for getting started with reseller hosting?

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

Resource of the week BackupBuddy

I've shared BackupBuddy as a resource before. The reason I'm doing so again is that iThemes just released an update to this great WordPress plugin that makes it even easier for web designers to work between staging sites and live sites.

The new and improved Push & Pull features means never having to make changes on a live site again, potentially breaking it. With BackupBuddy you simply pull the most recent live site to your testing server. Make and test the changes, and then push them out to the live site. It's that easy.

Episode Sponsors

Thank you to this week's sponsors.

Save on Millions of stock photos, vectors and more with an exclusive deal for Resourceful Designer listeners by visiting http://storyblocks.com/resourcefuldesigner.

Take control of your band with Brandfolder, the solution for digital brand assets. Get a 90-day free trial by visiting http://brandfolder.com/resourcefuldesigner

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

 
Dec 14, 2017

Celebrating 100 episodes of Resourceful Designer.

[sc name="pod_ad"]To celebrate this 100 episodes milestone, I want to do something a bit different and share with you what being a graphic designer means to me. Please listen to the episode to get the full story.

But before I do that, I want to take a quick moment to thank everyone who has helped Resourceful Designer become what it is. Wayne Henderson for his great podcast intro clips. Justin for the amazing job he does editing my shows. And of course, you, for being a loyal listener. Without you, there would be no Resourceful Designer.

In case you don't know my history you can read it here. But the short version is, I didn't always want to be a graphic designer. I fell into this profession by accident and never looked back.

My life as a graphic designer

Graphic designers look at the world differently than everyone else. Most people see a billboard on the side of the road and either acknowledge the message or don't. However, being a graphic designer allows me to look at the world differently. Whenever I see a billboard, I examine the font to see if it's easy to read. I do a word count to see if I can get the full message in the short time the billboard is visible to me. I look at the overall message being presented and try to determine if it's effective. And so much more. Who else but a graphic designer would look at a billboard that way?

The same goes for junk mail. Most people simply throw it out. I do the same, but not before examining the layouts, colour usage, font choices, etc. It's still junk mail, but even junk mail has a design beauty worth admiring.

Whenever I go to a restaurant, I can't help but examine the menu. Not just for the food choices, but for the design choices. A well-designed menu can tell you a lot about a restaurant.

Chalk sidewalk signs are another thing. I don't have the skill to create those beautiful attractions myself, but as a designer, I can appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into each stroke of a letter, the precision layout to make everything fit on the board and the creativity involved.

Everywhere I look my designer's eye sees things to admire, examine, break apart and learn from.

So many opportunities to learn

As a designer, there are so many opportunities to learn new skills, techniques and ideas all around me. From examining ads in old waiting room magazines to the window dressings in shopping malls. Everywhere I look there is something to admire and learn from. Things that non-designers don't appreciate.

I look at these things with a distinctive designer's eye. I examine layouts and learn from them. I examine font usage and pick up tricks. I examine background imagery and wonder how the designer made it and try to figure out how I would go about recreating it.

Walking through a bookstore opens up a cornucopia of designs for me to look at. I love browsing the aisles at a bookstore examining the different cover designs, title treatments, colour choices and type pairings.

Almost everywhere I look there is something that was thought up by a designer. Magazines on the rack, graphic t-shirts on the people around me, greeting cards handed out on special occasions, the products on grocery store shelves. All of these can be admired and learned from.

There are some drawbacks to being a designer

Of course being a designer isn't all unicorns and rainbows. There's the frustration when a client doesn't see the vision in an amazing design I create for them.

There's also the way seeing a bad design choice can affect me more than it does non-designers. Something like bad kerning will stand out like a sore thumb to me when others won't even notice it.

There are the time losses I experience while emersed in a design project. Before I know it it's dinner time, and I realize that I never even had lunch.

How many other professions experience any of these?

There are other drawbacks, but never enough to unbalance my love of being a graphic designer.

I share even more reason of why I love being a designer on the podcast so be sure to listen to this episode.

We're lucky to be designers

We’re lucky. There are not a lot of professions out there that allow someone to make a living from their creativity. Whether it’s designing for clients or doing something like designing and selling T-Shirts to make money on the side.

We have options. And no matter how advanced technology becomes and how easy it is to push pixels across a screen. There will always be a need for designers to make things look good.

It takes more than just talent to succeed in this business. It takes a passion for design which I know you have. Because you’re taking the time to read this, and hopefully to listen to the podcast as well. Why else would you be doing that unless you too are passionate about your career path?

So once again thank you for being part of Resourceful Designer, Thank you for reaching out and sharing your journey with me. And thank you for giving me the motivation to continue with mine.

Until next time, I’m Mark Des Cotes wishing you all the best with your design business.

And as always, reminding you to Stay Creative.

What does being a graphic designer mean to you?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

100th episode contest.

I shared a contest in episode 100 of the podcast. If you think you know the answer please leave a comment for this episode with your guess. I will announce it here as soon as a winner is determined. Good luck.

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Send me feedback

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I want to help you.

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

 
Dec 7, 2017

Does your community promote "Shop Local"?

A "Shop Local" campaign is quite common in smaller communities. Especially those near large metropolitan areas. The purpose of these campaigns is to encourage people to support local businesses by shopping in their hometown.

The city of Cornwall Ontario where I’m from is 1 hour from Ottawa Ontario, Canada’s capital, and 1 hour from Montreal Quebec, one of the largest cities in North America.

With both of these metropolises so close, Cornwall is constantly encouraging its citizens to "Shop Local". Their marketing campaigns explain things like:

  • The convenience shopping locally offers.
  • Getting to know the people you deal with on a first name basis.
  • Developing a sense of pride in supporting your community.

Sure, these "Shop Local" campaigns are more geared towards retail stores, encouraging people to buy their groceries, clothing, and household items nearby.

But these same principles are also adopted by many local businesses.

It’s inevitable that as a designer, whether you do print design, web design or any other type of design, you will be approached by local people wanting to hire you because they want to shop locally.

This creates a great opportunity for you if you live in a small community where you don’t have a lot of competition. You can become the go-to person for anything design related.

However, there is a problem when a client takes the whole shop local thing a bit too far. That's when they want you to deal locally as well.

That’s what I really wanted to talk about today. When "Shop Local" tethers your ability to do your job. I’m talking about clients that insist any help you get or any products you source are acquired locally.

Maybe you offer print brokering as part of your business. In my business, I have a few local printers available to me. However, I get much better prices from printers that are not in my local area. The same goes for things like T-Shirts. Sure I can get them printed locally but at almost double the cost of my non-local supplier.

So what can you do when your client insists you shop locally?

You have two options. Use the local talent and charge your clients accordingly. Or, you can explain to your clients that they have nothing to worry about because by dealing with you, they are shopping locally.

Just like a local caterer is not required to source their food locally, you shouldn't be required to source your products locally either. Where the people on your team are located or where you get your supplies from shouldn’t matter to your client.

Simply by dealing with you, they are shopping locally and reinvesting in their community. After all, your business is part of their community.

If you explain it to your clients this way and show them how you can possibly save them money along the way, you should be able to convince them that hiring your local business is in their best interest.

Have you ever had issues with clients wanting you to shop locally?

Let me know how it worked out for you by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Elly

I've been having some problems with meeting new design clients in a neutral location. If we've only spoken on the phone or by email, they don't recognise me and walk right past! I often intercept clients speaking to other people in a café asking if they're me, and it's embarassing, let alone not creating a proffessional first impression to the client. I'm young and prehaps I don't look like the clients' idea of a graphic designer. How can I get clients to recognise me when I'm meeting them?

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

Resource of the week WhatTheFont Mobile App

The new WhatTheFont Mobile App version 2.0 is a game changer in font identification. Made by myfonts.com and available on both IOS and Android, this new version of the app makes identifying fonts as easy as point and click. To know more about this new App you can read the article I wrote about it.

Episode Sponsors

Thank you to this week's sponsors.

Save on Millions of stock photos, vectors and more with an exclusive deal for Resourceful Designer listeners by visiting http://storyblocks.com/resourcefuldesigner.

Take control of your band with Brandfolder, the solution for digital brand assets. Get a 90-day free trial by visiting http://brandfolder.com/resourcefuldesigner

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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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

 
Nov 30, 2017

How good are your Touchpoints?

You know the saying you’re only as strong as your weakest link? When it comes to the success of your design business, you’re only As Strong As Your Weakest Touchpoint.

What is a touchpoint?

Touchpoints happen every time someone interacts directly with your brand. Touchpoints are the pivotal gateways when a potential client decides whether they want to take the next step towards working with you or to back away and look elsewhere. It doesn't matter how good a designer you are, if you have touchpoints that fail, you may be losing potential clients before they even get a chance to discover how great you are.

Take inventory of your touchpoints.

There are many touchpoints to ever business. They include everything from your website to business cards, flyers, any blog posts you write, and any advertising you do. They also include your voicemail message, your tradeshow presence, and the clothing you wear. Touchpoints include anything a potential client comes in “touch” with before, during and after they meet you.

Simply having touchpoints is not good enough. Each one of them must properly represent your brand because they are where potential clients will form opinions of you and your business.

In order to evaluate your touchpoints, it may help if you take a step back and look at your brand from an unbiased perspective. You are used to seeing your business from your side. But how does the world see you and your business?

All touchpoints matter.

When it comes to your business, every touchpoint matters. But if every touchpoint matters, then how do you manage each touchpoint so that it properly reflects your brand? The answer can be found in a three-step process.

  1. List
  2. Evaluate
  3. Take Action

Managing your touchpoints through this formula will make sure each touchpoint is optimized, satisfies its need, and is inviting to clients.

Step 1) List your touchpoints

Start off by listing all of the current touchpoints you can think of. The key word here is "all." Include things like;

  • your website
  • your emails address and email signatures
  • your marketing material including business cards and stationery
  • Any advertising you do
  • your voicemail and phone greeting
  • your vehicle
  • your office space
  • your personal appearance
  • any others you can think of

Once you’ve listed all your touchpoints, you then need to evaluate each one based on your brand.

Step 2) Evaluate your touchpoints

Once you have your list, you need to evaluate each touchpoint individually.

It might be easier if you have someone else do this for you because the goal is to find the weaknesses in your touchpoints. If you do it yourself you may tend to overlook any failures. The purpose of this discovery phase is to help you to find the opportunities so you can make improvements.

Remember, a touchpoint may not be bad, but it may have room to improve.

Step 3) Take Action

Once you've discovered which touchpoints are your weakest links, you can now take the necessary steps to improve them. Keep in mind that any deficits you found are actually opportunities to better your brand image. The smallest details can influence someone’s decision on whether or not they want to work with you.

Evaluating touchpoints is an ongoing task

Now that you have your list of touchpoints, set yourself reminders to revisit them on a regular basis to see if there are new ways to improve them. As technology changes, so will the effectiveness of each touchpoint.

Some helpful, powerful tools you can use are customer evaluations and site surveys. Ask your current clients for help evaluating your touchpoints. Remember that this is not about a single touchpoint, but about all of them. Take the time to evaluate them individually and as a group.

When it comes to marketing yourself and your design business, every touchpoint is an opportunity to attract new clients and grow your business.

When was the last time you evaluated your touchpoints?

Let me know your thoughts on this subject 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 Summer

When I am designing logos and need to purchase a font for it, do I buy the license for myself or do I buy it for the client the logo is for? I would not be giving the font to the client, only an outlined vector file of the final logo (plus jpeg, png and so forth). In these situations, who should own the license?

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

Resource of the week Peek by UserTesting

UserTesting.com provides qualitative research by real people when testing your website, app, prototypes, wireframes, email campaigns and more. You can even test your competitors’ sites.

Tests are performed by real people in the right target market and provide valuable insights on how people interact with your products. After the test, you get video, audio and written feedback that can help you spot inadequacies you wouldn't otherwise know about.

UserTesting has a free service called Peek that gives you a short 5 minutes sample of the power of UserTesting. Get your free 5-minute evaluation at peek.usertesting.com

Episode Sponsors

Thank you to this week's sponsors.

Save on Millions of stock photos, vectors and more with an exclusive deal for Resourceful Designer listeners by visiting http://storyblocks.com/resourcefuldesigner.

Take control of your band with Brandfolder, the solution for digital brand assets. Get a 90-day free trial by visiting http://brandfolder.com/resourcefuldesigner

Subscribe to the podcast

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

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

 
Nov 24, 2017

Do your clients understand who their target markets are?

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

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

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

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

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

Some clients don't understand the difference.

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

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

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

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

Changing the message but keeping the meaning.

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

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

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

Explaining it to your clients.

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

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

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

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

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Elly

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

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

Tip of the week Sales

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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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

 
Nov 17, 2017

Are you leveraging trade shows to your advantage?

One of the most asked questions I receive here at Resourceful Designer is "how do I find design clients?" I want to share one way with you today and that's trade shows. Below is the general outline of the episode but I go into greater details in the podcast so be sure to listen.

For the purpose of this topic, I'm using "Trade Shows" as an all-encompassing term meaning any organized gathering where businesses get to showcase themselves to the masses, such as network events or convention. These gatherings may be niche specific or they may be more general, such as a spring or fall show. What they all have in common is a gathering of interested people looking for information.

Trade shows happen just about everywhere, small cities have them and so do large metropolises. If you're lucky there may be a venue close to where you live that specializes in trade shows and offers them on a regular basis.

Trade shows are a great place to drum up new clients. Those attending are there to either discover something new or to find ways to improve something to do with their current situation. That something could be you.

Attending Trade Shows

There are two ways you can leverage trade shows for your business. By attending as an exhibitor or by attending as a guest.

Attending as an Exhibitor

One of the bests things about exhibiting at a trade show is potential clients come to you. If someone is in need of your services they will stop by your booth and talk to you. Anyone who does is genuinely curious about your business and are good targets to become clients.

When someone stops by your booth you only have a minute or two to explain your value and why they should work with you. To make the most of this sparse time, pay attention to what they say and compose your comments and question towards them. If you show them you have answers to their problems It will go a long way to winning them over.

Drawbacks of being an exhibitor at trade shows

Trade shows are a great place to meet new clients. Unfortunately, having a booth at a trade show costs money, sometimes a lot of money. You need to make sure the cost justifies the results and that you can attract enough new clients to cover that cost.

One option is to share booth space with someone else to cut down costs. Reach out to peers in a related field and split the booth with them.

Attending as a guest

Attending trade shows as a guest gives you more freedom to come and go as you please and move around freely talking to whoever you want. Conversations can go longer since there are no pressures to move on to the next person in line.

Find booths of companies you would like to work with and make your pitch to the owner or manager. If the owner or manager isn't there ask for their name and contact information and then take some time to learn a bit about the business. This knowledge will be valuable when you do talk to them. Be sure to leave your business card for them.

Another option is to talk to fellow attendees. If you can, listen to the conversations they have with exhibitors to learn a bit about them and then approach them if you think they may be a good fit as a client.

Drawbacks of being a guest at a trade show

In order to pick up clients as a guest attendee, you have to be proactive. This may be difficult for introverted designers. As an exhibitor, you have the convenience of people coming to you asking about design. As a guest, you have to make the effort to put yourself out there to be noticed.

Etiquette when attending trade shows

Whether you are attending a trade show as an exhibitor or as a guest there are certain things to be aware of when presenting yourself to potential clients.

  • Use approachable body language by standing at your booth, never sit. Make sure you smile, and keep your hands at your sides, not in your pockets or folded at your chest.
  • Stay attentive. Don’t look at your phone or laptop.
  • Don’t solicit guests in the aisles. Let them show interest by arriving at your booth.
  • Be prepared to answer basic questions but make sure you listen and offer solutions to any problems you detect.  Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” and offer to get back to them.
  • Don’t eat or drink at the booth. Hide food, trash, and supplies behind a backdrop or under a skirted table.
  • Dress appropriately, and avoid wearing too much or too little. There is nothing worse than freezing or sweating at a trade show. Dress in comfortable layers that you can easily add or remove as needed.
  • Be aware of your personal hygiene. Use mints or gum to keep your breath fresh and avoid overpowering fragrances.
  • Avoid gaudy jewellery and flashy clothing. You want to be remembered for your personality and conversation, not what you're wearing.

Trade shows are a great place to meet new clients. If you approach the day with these things in mind you may come out of it new and exciting design work.

What's your experience with Trade Shows?

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 Andrea

In an effort to get more local clients, how do you approach businesses with no prior relationship? how do you word your introduction/pitch?  Even with a strong elevator pitch, I always feel overly sales-y approaching businesses and asking if they need graphic design.

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

Resource of the week Pretty Links Pro

Pretty Links 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
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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

 
Nov 10, 2017

NDA and how it affects your design business

NDA stands for non-disclosure agreement, a legal contract between at least two parties outlining information that is shared between the parties that must remain confidential.

A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) can also be called a confidentiality agreement (CA), confidential disclosure agreement (CDA), proprietary information agreement (PIA), or secrecy agreement (SA), Regardless of the term used, it is a contract through which parties agree not to disclose information covered by the agreement.

As a designer, you may be asked by your clients to sign an NDA before receiving information required to work on their design project. In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I discuss what goes into an NDA and how it affects your design business. I go into much more detail on the podcast so please listen to hear the full story.

When should you agree to sign an NDA?

There are many instances when you may be asked to sign an NDA, but the main one is when your client needs to share valuable information with you and wants to ensure you don't steal or use that information without their approval.

Here are some examples of when you may be asked to sign an NDA.

  • You are asked to design something that will be used to present to potential partners, investors or distributors.
  • You will be designing something that includes financial, marketing and other sensitive information that could hurt your client if that information got out.
  • You are asked to design something that is to be kept confidential until a certain date or a fixed amount of time passes.
  • You are asked to design something that will give you access to sensitive, confidential or proprietary information.

Mutual and Non-Mutual NDAs

There are two kinds of NDAs, mutual and non-mutual. As a designer, you will most likely be dealing with the non-mutual version. A Mutual NDA is used when both parties will be sharing confidential information with each other. A Non-Mutual NDA is used when only one of the parties will be sharing confidential information with the other party.

What are the key elements of an NDA?

An NDA doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, an NDA could be written in just a few paragraphs. Regardless of its length, an NDA should contain the following key elements.

Identification of all parties involved.

If you work with a team or any third parties will be involved with the project you will want to ensure that any NDA you sign allows for you to share the confidential information with them.

Definition of what is deemed to be confidential.

The NDA should state what information is deemed confidential. Your client may want all shared information to be included, but you should request clarification as to exactly what you are and are not allowed to divulge.

Stating your obligations are after signing the NDA.

You are responsible for making sure the information in your care doesn’t get out. This includes any information shared with your team since you are responsible for them under the NDA.

You are also obliged to refrain from using any information shared with you for your own ends.

What is excluded from the NDA

Information that is too broad or too burdensome for you to keep confidential should be excluded from the NDA. Also, any information that you already knew before taking on the project such as information that is public knowledge or information provided to you by a third party who is not under an NDA.

Any requests to obtain the confidential information presented to you through a legal process should supercede the NDA.

Terms of the agreement.

The terms of the agreement should state the duration of the NDA, and what you can do after the NDA ends. As a designer, this section is important as it should state if and when you may be able to use your designed pieces in your portfolio and whether or not you can claim a working relationship with the client.

An NDA is a contract

Since an NDA is a contract, it can be negotiated. Don't be afraid to question any parts of the NDA or to request changes if you find parts of the NDA are not in your best interest. An NDA offers protection for all involved parties so make sure your interests are covered.

Consequences of breaking an NDA

Because an NDA is a contract, breaking it can have severe consequences. Not only can you lose the project and the client if you break an NDA, but the damage to your reputation as a designer and business person could be irreparable.

More severe consequences can include a court-ordered cease and desist, being sued for damages by the client and even prosecution depending on the sensitivity of the information involved.

Issuing your own NDA

Up until this point, I've been talking about NDAs issued by your clients. However, as a designer and business owner you may find it necessary to issue your own NDA to contractors, team members, and third parties for certain projects you are working on. Everything discussed above still applies but from the point of view of the issuer instead of the recipient.

Protect yourself

An NDA is made to protect all parties involved. Signing one is not a scary ordeal. In fact, you should view it as an honour that your client trusts you enough to share sensitive information with you. It's one more step in building a solid client relationship.

Sample NDA

Want to see what an NDA looks like? You can download a sample NDA along with other business forms at https://www.allbusiness.com/forms-agreements

Have you ever had to sign an NDA?

Let me know your experiences with NDAs by leaving me a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Emma

Adobe has a lot of software available, including a lot of new ones like Dimensions, Spark and Muse, but which would you advise learning to boost your design capabilities above the usual Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign? Alternatively, is there a software outside Adobe that you would recommend learning?

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

Resource of the week A Mailbox

This week's resource is a bit different. It's not an App or software to even a tool to help you with your designing. But it is a valuable resource for your design business. If you are a home-based designer, you may be tempted to share your home address with your clients. Let me share with you a couple of reasons why this may be a bad idea.

  1. Sharing your home address may put your family and loved ones at risk.
  2. Informing your clients that you will be away on holiday also informs them that your home will be vacant.
  3. If you ever move, you will need to update your address everywhere which could be burdensome.

A better idea is to get a mailbox at a local postal outlet or UPS Store. This has the added benefit of ensuring your mail is taken care of regardless of whether you are home or not. The UPS Store has the added benefit of calling their boxes "suites" instead of Post Office Boxes. Many companies will not ship to a P.O. Box but will ship to a "suite" at a UPS Store. Plus, employees at The UPS Store are available to sign for packages on your behalf, so you never miss a shipment. And don't forget, you can write off a mailbox as a business expense.

Episode Sponsor

Thank you to this week's sponsor, Storyblocks. Save on Millions of stock photos, vectors and more at Storyblocks.

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Send me feedback

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I want to help you.

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

Nov 2, 2017

Do you practice Just In Time Learning?

I first talked about Just In Time Learning in episode 8 of the podcast. If you haven't heard that episode I suggest you listen to it before continuing with this one.

In case you’re not familiar with the term, Just In Time Learning essentially means you only learn things that you will need for your next task at hand. Learning things you don’t need right now is a waste of time.

There are only so many hours you can work in a day. No matter how good you are at time management, there will never be enough time to get everything done. That’s a fact.

In order to make the most of your time, you should be spending it on what makes you the most productive and what brings in money.

There are many things that take up your time during a typical workday. Things that are not considered productive or that don’t generate money for you. In this episode of the podcast, I talk about just one of them, learning. Whether you're learning something new or you're brushing up on a seldom used skill, learning can take up a lot of time. Often, it's time you don't need to spend learning. To get the full story from this episode I recommend you listen to the podcast where I go into more detail than what is written here.

Learning can be done in many ways.

  • You could read books, manuals and magazines
  • You could take a class at a learning institute
  • You could take a free or paid online course
  • You could watch a webinar
  • You could read blog posts
  • You could watch tutorial videos
  • You could learn from a mentor or peer.

And I’m sure there are many others I’m missing.

Learning can take up only a few minutes of your time, or it could take several hours, days even. The time you spend learning is time you are not spending running your design business and earning money.

Don’t get me wrong. You need to learn. Learning is what keeps you current. Learning helps you develop your skills. Learning helps you broaden yourself as a designer and as a person.

I’m not at all saying you shouldn’t be spending your time learning. What I’m saying, is you should be spending your learning time wisely.

That’s where Just In Time Learning comes in.

As I stated earlier. Just In Time Learning means you only learn the things that you need when you need them.

Let me give you an example to put this in perspective. 

You stumble upon a YouTube video teaching how to create a wonderful effect in Photoshop. You think to yourself, that looks cool, I'd love to know how they did that. So you spend the time watching the 20-minute video teaching you how to create that effect. Great.

Now here’s the issue. You don’t have any projects you’re currently working on that require that effect. In fact, you may never have a need for that effect at all. But you spent 20 minutes learning it and you’re happy. Chalk up one more thing you know how to do in Photoshop.

A year later you find yourself working on a client project that could use some sort of effect on it. You remember that video you watched and think that effect would be perfect. The problem is, you don't remember how to do it. So you go back to YouTube and search for that video. If you’re lucky you’ll find the same one you watched, or perhaps another one teaching the same thing. You watch it again and complete the effect much to the delight of your client.

So in hindsight, what you did was spend 40 minutes learning something that should have only taken you 20 minutes to learn.

Learning what instead of how

The trick with Just In Time Learning is not to learn how to do things when you find the instructions, but to learn what can be done and file it away to learn when the time comes and you do need it.

In other words. You didn't need to learn how to create that effect in Photoshop a year ago. At the time all you needed to learn was that that effect is achievable in Photoshop. Then, if or when you ever need to achieve that effect that's when you learn how to do it.

Just In Time Learning, it’s that simple.

A library of future knowledge

What do you do when you come across an amazing course or tutorial for something you think may be useful but isn't something you need to know right now? You add it to your library of future knowledge.

A library of future knowledge is a place where you keep track of all the tutorials, manuals, courses, instructional videos and links to useful material that you may need to know someday.

I use Evernote for this but I'm sure there are other programs or Apps you could use. Every time I come across a blog post, an online course, a YouTube video or anything that I think contains useful knowledge, I tag it and add it to Evernote for the day I may need it. That day may never come, but if it does I'll be ready.

Evernote allows you to create Notebooks for storing information. I have Notebooks for Photoshop, Illustrator, WordPress, CSS, Divi and many other programs and areas I may need to learn more about.

Every time I come across an interesting link on how to do something I add it to the appropriate Notebook. I make sure to tag the link with any appropriate tags which will make it easier to search for in the future. Then, should the time ever come, I can quickly look in Evernote to find the tutorial or course I need for the task at hand.

There are other ways you could do this. Creating a bookmark hierarchy in your browser. That's how I used to do it before Evernote. You could also create a folder hierarchy on your computer and include links to all the sites you want to keep.

Whichever way you choose, you should have some way of organizing them for the future.

Picking and choosing from within

Not every tutorial or course needs to be put off for the day you may need it. Sometimes you simply want to take a course, watch a tutorial or read a book in order to learn something new so you can gain general knowledge or add a service to your business. Maybe you read books in your off hours in order to become a better business person or simply to be inspired. The information may not be immediately usable by you right now, but knowing it will improve your chances of getting better work in the future.

Even in these circumstances, you could take a hint from Just In Time Learning. A book on starting a business may be a great read if you are considering opening up your own design business. But if you plan on working by yourself from home, there's no need to read the chapter on hiring employees. Gain knowledge from the areas you need and skip those that don't apply to you. If one day your design business grows to the point where you need to hire people that will be the time to gain that knowledge, not now.

You get the idea

I hope you get the idea. There’s so much involved with running a successful design business, and there never seems to be enough time to do it all. So why waste your time on courses and tutorials that don’t help you right now. Instead, make note of them in something like Evernote and should the need ever arise for you to know those things, that's when you take the time to learn them.

Do you follow the Just In Time Learning method?

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 Randy

I have a question regarding opening up a personal or business account. As a sole proprietor, should I open a personal account or a business account (Backblaze, Paypal, CashApp, etc.)

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

Resource of the week Evernote

Evernote is, in my opinion, one of the best organization and note taking applications there is. I use it on a daily basis to keep track of everything from podcast and blog topics, to business contacts, websites I need to revisit, and so much more. Evernote's ability to sync across all my devices means I can access it no matter where I am. It's become one of the most invaluable tools in my arsenal. If Evernote sounds like something you could use sign up for their free plan and give it a try.

Episode Sponsor

Thank you to this week's sponsor, Storyblocks. Save on Millions of stock photos, vectors and more at Storyblocks.

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 27, 2017

Do you service a design niche?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So how do you choose a design niche to target?

Determining your niche.

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

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

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

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

Marketing to your niche.

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

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

Present relevant work in your portfolio.

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

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

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

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

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

Start promoting yourself.

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

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

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

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

Start hunting for clients.

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

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

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

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

Show your interest in your chosen design niche.

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

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

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

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

Be patient but persistent.

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

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

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

Niche marketing is a constant flux.

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

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

One last thing...

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

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

How do you market to your design niche?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Florida-Boy

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

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

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

Thank you so much for your response!

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

Resource of the week Four Week Marketing Boost.

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

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

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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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 19, 2017

Is your design life and personal life balanced?

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

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

It’challengingng to say the least.

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

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

Set Boundaries between your personal and design life.

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

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

Divide your living space and workspace

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

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

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

This is especially important if you have children.

Having a dedicated workspace will accomplish two things:

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

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

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

Take Breaks

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

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

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

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

Enjoy family time outside your design life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you balance your personal and design life?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

Tip of the week Two Factor Authentication

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

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

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

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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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 13, 2017

Have you heard of the Zeigarnik Effect?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get started on that design

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

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

Tension accumulates

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

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

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

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

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

Eliminate tension

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

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

Did you know about the Zeigarnik Effect?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Sunil

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

Here’s my question.

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

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

Resource of the week Paparazzi!

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

Oct 6, 2017

What peripherals do you use for your design business?

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

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

UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply)

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

Surge Protector

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

Pantone Color System

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

External Hard Drives

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

Tablets

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

Webcam

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

Powered USB Hub

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

Line Gage

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

CD/DVD Burner

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

Dedicated Phone Number

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

Extra Cables

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

Computer Glasses

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

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

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

What peripherals do you use?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Joseph

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

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

Resource of the week Grammarly

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

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

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

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

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

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Send me feedback

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I want to help you.

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

 

Sep 29, 2017

Do you use checklists in your design business?

What does your morning routine look like?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things like

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

These are all areas that could benefit from checklists.

Web Design Checklists

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

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

Click here to download my checklist

Client Questions

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

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

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

 Proofing Jobs

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

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

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

Invoicing clients

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

Contracts

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

Getting files ready for Print

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

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

Handing over completed projects

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

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

Checklists for everything

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

What checklists do you use in your design business?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Nayda

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your time!

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

Resource of the week Bonus content for Patrons of Resourceful Designer

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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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 14, 2017

What's in your home office?

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

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

Essentials for your home office space

A dedicated room

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

A door

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

A good environment

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

Essential equipment for your home office

A good computer

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

A desk

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

An office chair

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

A desk lamp

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

Printer/Scanner

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

Filing cabinet

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

A paper shredder

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

Essential home office supplies

File Storage

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

Spill proof mug

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

Wire organizers

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

Miscellaneous essentials

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

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

What essentials do you have in your home office?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Lora

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

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

Here is My Question:

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

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

Resources of the week: Two Design Podcasts

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

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

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

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

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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

Sep 8, 2017

What is Emotional Intelligence?

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

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

Emotional Intelligence and your design business.

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

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

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

Here are a few tips for improving your emotional intelligence:

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

Practice makes perfect

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

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

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

Do you struggle with your Emotional Intelligence?

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Travis

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

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

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

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

Tip of the week Hand Written Thank You Cards.

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

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

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

Aug 31, 2017

How do you handle criticism?

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

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

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

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

Perfection is unattainable

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

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

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

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

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

What's your experience with handling criticism?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Antony

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

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

Resource of the week Backblaze

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

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

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

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

Aug 24, 2017

Turn all clients into repeat clients.

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

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

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

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

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

What's the big deal about repeat clients?

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

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

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

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

What are the benefits of repeat clients?

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

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

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

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

How do you turn clients into repeat clients?

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

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

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

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

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

What's your strategy for getting repeat clients?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Barbie

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

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

Resource of the week: Coming Soon Page & Maintenance Mode

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

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

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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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