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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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Aug 26, 2016

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

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

Let me ask you a question.

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

Create a Don't Do List

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

My Don't Do List

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

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

What's on your Don't Do List?

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Norman

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resource of the week is DepositPhotos

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

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

If this is something that interests you please check out DepositPhotos

Subscribe to the podcast

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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 12, 2016

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

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

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

No is a complete sentence.

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

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

How do you say no?

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

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

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

Say no to compromises.

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

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

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

Family and Friends

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

Charities and Non-Profits

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

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

I would love to hear your stories. Please leave a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Deana

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

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

Resource of the week Pencil and Paper

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

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

Jul 29, 2016

Trouble naming your graphic design business?

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

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

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

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

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

Naming your graphic design business with your own name

PROs

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

CONs

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

Naming your graphic design business with a business name

PROs

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

CONs

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

Problems that could arise

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

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

Inventing words when naming your graphic design business

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

Other considerations when naming your graphic design business

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

More things to consider

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

Finally...

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

Don't forget...

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

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

Did I anything?

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

Questions of the Week

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

Resource of the week namechk.com

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on 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

Jul 23, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Use the right tool

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

Courtesy when creating vector files

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

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

Courtesy when using Photoshop

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

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

Courtesy when using page layout programs

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

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

PDF Courtesy

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

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

File Management

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

Did I miss anything?

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Tyler

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

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

Resource of the week is Prisma

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

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

Jul 4, 2016

Are all your clients grouped into one basket?

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

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

What do you mean by basket?

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

You need to use more than one basket.

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

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

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

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

What do you think of my basket metaphor?

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Gabriel

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

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

Resource of the week LibreStock.com

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

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

Jun 24, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Many Hats of running a home based business

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

The Many Hats of procuring new clients and work

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

The Many Hats of dealing with clients

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

The Many Hats while working on design jobs

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

The Many Hats after completing a design job

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

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

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

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

Did I miss any hats?

Are there any hats you wear in your graphic design business that I didn't list? Let me know what they are by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Gretchen

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

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

Resource of the week the Four Week Marketing Boost

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

And yes, this guide is totally free!

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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

Jun 17, 2016

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

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

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

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

7 Ways for Graphic Designers to Save Money.

 

1- Hold Off Upgrading

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

2- Buy in Bulk

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

3- Pay More Now To Save Money Later

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

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

4- Find Ways To Cut Costs in your business

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

Examples of cutting costs to save money are...

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

5 Become an Early Adopter

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

6 Collect Points/Credits

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

7 Take Advantage of Freebies

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

Tip of The Iceberg

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Michael

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

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

Resource of the week is Creative Market

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

Subscribe to the podcast

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Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

Jun 3, 2016

Even graphic designers need to do some spring cleaning?

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

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

Spring Cleaning

Your Computer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Office

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

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

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

Your Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you think?

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Fredrik,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

May 27, 2016

How do you manage when you feel overwhelmed?

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

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

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

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

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?

Baby steps

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

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

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

How to prevent feeling overwhelmed.

Organization is key

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

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

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

Longer deadlines

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

Get help

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

Do something for yourself

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

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

You're not alone

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

What do you think?

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Haya,

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

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

Resource of the week is Google Alerts

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

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on 
Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

May 21, 2016

Dealing with deadlines, what type of designer are you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting interim deadlines.

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

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

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

Now what?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let me tell you why...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was Abraham Lincoln who said;

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

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

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

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

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

 

What do you think?

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Amie,

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

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

Resource of the week is Pretty Link Pro

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on 
Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

May 6, 2016

Be So Good... That Nothing Else Matters!

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

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

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

Be So Good...

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

In the eyes of your clients

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

In the eyes of your Competitors

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

In the eyes of your Critics

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

In conclusion

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

What do you think?

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Norman,

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

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

Resource of the week is CushyCMS

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

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

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on 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

Apr 29, 2016

Is a retainer agreement part of your pricing strategy?

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

What is a retainer agreement?

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

Why should you use a retainer agreement?

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

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

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

What are the Pros and Cons of a retainer agreement?

Pros

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

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

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

Cons

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

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

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

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

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

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

Type of retainer agreements.

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

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

Discussing a retainer agreement with your client.

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

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

What to include in a retainer agreement.

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

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

Don't get complacent

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

What do you think?

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Caitlin,

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

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

Resource of the week is WhatTheFont

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

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

Subscribe to the podcast

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Contact me

Send me feedback

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I want to help you.

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

Apr 22, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

How do become more than just a graphic designer?

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

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

Tell your clients what you can offer them.

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

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

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

Your ultimate goal is to become a strategic partner.

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

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

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

What do you think?

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Teri,

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

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

Resource of the week is Photos For Life

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

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

Subscribe to the podcast

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Contact me

Send me feedback

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I want to help you.

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

Apr 7, 2016

Whose fault is it when YOU mess up?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who is responsible for the mess up?

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

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

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

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

It's not worth it.

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

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

Do you disagree?

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Toby,

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

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

Resource of the week is Sync by iThemes

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

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

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

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

Mar 30, 2016

Proud of your graphic design awards? Great, pat yourself on the back and get back to work.

There's always a good feeling that comes with winning awards. Wether it's recognition from your peers at some formal gala, or a gold star from your third grade teacher. Awards represent achievement, prestige, and of course give you some bragging rights. But when it comes to our business, do graphic design awards translate to better and more work?

Now I realize that this is my own personal opinion. I didn't look up any studies, nor did I conduct any surveys. But if you ask me, I would have to say NO. Entering in graphic design competitions and winning graphic design awards don't really do anything for your graphic design business. Disagree? Have a story to prove me wrong? Leave your opinion in a comment below.

Types of Graphic Design Awards

There are a ton of graphic design competitions that offer a variety of graphic design awards. That's not what I want to talk about. I'm referring to the different "categories" of graphic design awards available to you.

Graphic Design Awards For Students.

There are probably more graphic design competitions aimed at students than there are aimed at professionals. And that's OK. In fact, graphic design students are the ones that can benefit the most form winning graphic design awards. They look great on resumes and could be the deciding factor in an employer choosing one young designer over another.

Unfortunately graphic design awards won while you're a student have short life spans. They look good for the first few years of your career but after a while the loose their wow factor. It's kind of like the local theatre awards some Hollywood A Lister won before they made it big. They were great at the time, and may have helped them land their first acting part, but nobody cares about those awards now.

Professional Graphic Design Awards

If you do covet graphic design awards these are the ones to go after. I wont name any names here but there are some very prestigious graphic design competitions in our industry. Unfortunately most of these competitions require you to pay a fee in order to submit a piece of work. Some of those fees can be expensive. Without a guarantee that your piece will make it on the final ballot the price involved with these graphic design competitions is just too much for most graphic designers, especially those running their own business.

Don't get me wrong. I fully understand why these graphic design competitions charge hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars just to submit your work for consideration. If they didn't they would be flooded with thousands of submissions from every wannabe designer looking for a leg up. The problem however is that only those who can afford the entry fee are recognized. Meaning they may not necessarily be the best graphic designers, they are simply the ones with money to spend.

Niche Graphic Design Awards.

Niche graphic design awards are fun to win, but don't really mean much. A niche design award is usually offered by some industry or group to recognize achievement within their ranks. For example, a fire department my win an award for having the best department crest out of all fire departments in the state. Or a book publisher may offer an award for the best book cover design out of all the books they published in the past year.

Most of the time it's your client that is the one being recognized and not you the designer. In the examples above, the fire department and the book author would win the award. However, by proxy you can claim some recognition for having designed the winning piece and have every right to brag about it any way you like.

Graphic Design Inclusions.

Not so much an award since there are no graphic design competitions involved. Inclusions is when your work is recognized in some compilation of work. This is when a logo you designed appears in a book of "Best Logo Designs" or if a website you built appears in a list of the "top 100 websites". You haven't actually won any awards for your design but you can still brag about it's inclusion nonetheless.

Do Graphic Design Awards help your business?

My short answer is NO. Graphic design awards look great on a resume when you're applying for a job. But as far as your own business goes, they're nothing but fluff.

Continuing with comparisons to the film industry, a film director or producer my benefit from having an Oscar winner starring in their movie, but how that translates to the viewing audience depends on how good the movie is. After all there have been many box office bombs that starred previous Oscar winners.

The same goes for the graphic design industry. Having an award on your resume may be coveted by the employers you're interviewing with. But when it comes to running your own business, your clients are much more concerned with what you can provide them, not some award you won for something you did for someone else.

Should You Bother Listing Your Graphic Design Awards?

Of course you should. You won them after all so why not brag about them. Just don't expect your list of awards to translate into more business or better clients. Unless you payed some big bucks to enter your project in some prestigious graphic design contest that is. In that case let me know how it goes for you because I have absolutely no experience with that.

One Last Thing About Your Graphic Design Awards.

If you do decide to list your awards somewhere, like I just told you you should. I have one suggestion for you. Leave off the dates. If you won the "John Smith Award For Outstanding Achievement In Graphic Design" back in 2012. Don't list that you won it in 2012. You're only opening it up for the question "what happened since then? Why haven't you won anything since?".

Simply list that you are the "Winner of..." or "Recipient of.." and then list the award. Nobody needs to know when you won it. Same goes if you won multiple awards. Instead of saying you won the award in 2010, 2011 and 2012, simply say "Three Time Winner of..."

In conclusion, don't let the success of winning a graphic design award define you. Concentrate on your portfolio. Strive to do your best on every project regardless on it's worthiness for graphic design competitions. After all, the loyalty of a good client is worth way more than any award.

What do you think?

Do you agree with my take on graphic design competitions and graphic design awards? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Norman,

Hey Mark, hope all is well, I had another quick question for you. Now you mentioned in a previous podcast episode that you were lucky enough to have a majority of your previous clients from referrals from another local designer so you may not have much hands on with this topic, But my question is about cold calling potential clients, and if you have any experience with this over the years how did you over come the potential anxiety associated with picking up the phone and calling these people? Thanks again Mark! Keep up the awesome work.

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

Resource of the week is Evernote Essentials

You've heard me talk before about the application Evernote. I use Evernote to organize my business, my podcasts and my daily life. I started using Evernote a few years ago but didn't become serious about it until I discovered Evernote Essentials, the guide written by Brett Kelly. Evernote Essentials is the user's guide that should come with Evernote.

When I first started using Evernote I found it a bit complicated and only used it for a few basic functions. Evernote Essentials taught me how to use this robust program to it's full potential and now I rely on it daily to keep by business, and life running smoothly.

Wether you already use Evernote or are thinking of trying it out. I highly recommend getting this guide. You wont regret it.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

Mar 24, 2016

Shhh, They're secrets. Don't tell your clients.

Every good business person knows that there are certain things you share with your clients and others that are secrets. As a graphic designer running your own home based graphic design business you should be no different. There are some things you should share and others that should be secrets you keep from your design clients.

What kind of things merit being secrets?

There are many things you may not want to divulge to your clients. The fact that you sometimes design in your underwear, or that you spend time each day looking at cat videos. Just like the parts of your personal life that you don't share with others, your graphic design business has it's share of secrets you don't want known as well. But that's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about secrets that help you run your business and that could harm it if they became known.

9 Secrets you should keep from your graphic design clients.

1) Your Home Phone Number: I believe your home phone number is one of the secrets you should keep from your clients. If you are running a serious business you should have a special phone number associated with it. Why? To keep your personal and business life separate. It may not be that big a deal if you live alone but if you have a family, the last thing you want is your four year old answering the phone when a potential client calls.

Contact your phone company to see what options they offer, or use a service like eVoice.com, the service Wes McDowell of The Deep End Design recommended when I interviewed him in episode 14 of the podcast. Regardless of what method you choose your home phone number is a secret you should only share with friends and family.

2) Your Home Address: Running your business from home offers a lot of freedom. But one of those freedoms shouldn't be clients coming and going as they please. Your home address is another one of the secrets I strongly recommend you keep from your clients. In this day and age it's possible to never meet a client face to face. And if you do need to, you could always meet them at their office or at some other meeting place such as a coffee shop.

I personally have a mailbox at my local UPS Store that I use as by business address. This not only allows me to ship and receive mail there, but it gives my clients a place to drop things off for me without me needing to be there. Not to mention the anonymity of my clients not knowing where I work from. Why is this important? Maybe you live in an area with a bylaw preventing you from running a business from home. These bylaws don't prevent you from working from home, they just prevent you from seeing clients at your home. There's also your insurance. It may not cover any liabilities should a client be injured on your property if they were there on business purposes.

And don't forget security. If you are single and living alone you may not want your clients to know where you live. Especially if a client mistakes your friendly nature as flirtatious. If at all possible, keep your home address a secret from your clients.

3) Vacation Time: We all need to take vacations to unwind, destress, and recharge our creative juices. I look forward every year to the time I take off with my family. Although you may be tempted to spread the word about the amazing trip you are about to take. Your vacation time is one of the secrets that is a good idea to keep from your clients. Why? Because when you run a home based graphic design business and you announce that you will be away on vacation, You are telling everyone that your house will be vacant with all your expensive equipment ripe for the picking.

You may be thinking "I trust my clients so I'm not worried" and that's great. But you have no control over who your clients may inadvertently inform of your departure. So don't take the chance. If you are taking a vacation inform your clients that your office will be closed but don't give them reasons why. Saying the office will be closed leaves the possibility that you are home but just not working. It's much better than saying I'm away for a few days, come on in.

4) Your Political or Religious standing: What are the two most common catalysts for conflict? You guessed it, politics and religion. Unless your are designing for a political candidate or are working on a project for a church group, there is no reason for your clients to know how you stand politically or your religious beliefs. Who you voted for in the last ballot has absolutely no bering on your abilities as a graphic designer. Nor does your faith. In fact you could potentially loose more business by divulging how you stand, than by keeping these two secrets. Don't give a potential client a reason to not work with you before they know what you can do for them.

5) Your Working Schedule: Being a home based graphic designer means you have the freedom to work any hour of the day you choose. If you have young children, being able to put in a few hours after they go to bed may be the only way to keep your business afloat. However, regardless of what time of day you work, you should still keep regular business hours for your clients and keep your actual working hours a secret. Why? Design agencies and marketing firms operate under standard business hours. Most commonly 9am - 5pm. You should run your graphic design business the same way. Correspond with your clients during this time regardless of when you actually work. If your client finds out that you worked on their job at 10pm on night, they may expect it from you the next time they have a rush job for you. As long as you get the job done, it's no business of your client what time of day you worked on it.

6) Your Associates: Every good designer has a team of associate they call on for special tasks. Be it illustrators, developers, copywriters, etc. Who you get to help you on a project should not be important where your client is concerned. They are hiring you to get their project done and as long as you complete it they should be happy. How you complete it isn't important.

You may be wondering why your associates should be secrets to keep from your clients? In some cases a client may hire you because they have a strong tie to the community and you are a local business. Knowing that some of their project may be worked on by someone outside the community may cause them to hire someone else. In other cases, a client may decide to bypass you, whom they see as the middle man, and deal directly with your associates on future projects. So unless absolutely necessary, keep your associates secret.

7) Your Suppliers: Similar to your associates, your suppliers are more secrets to keep from your clients. If you find a really good supplier for printing, web hosting, specialty products, or whatever, you want to keep that to yourself. As long as you can supply good quality products at a good price to your clients, it doesn’t matter where you get them from. Plus, if you don't divulge these secrets, there's no chance your competition can get wind of it and start using the same supplier.

8) Your markup and costs: This one should be a no brainer. There is no reason for you to share these secrets with your clients. How much you are marking up a job or what something costs you is none of their business. Nor should you tell them if you are getting a discount somewhere. I use various printers depending on what the project is. Take business cards for example. The printer I use for business cards will sometimes have a sale. Since I charge a standard fee to my clients for business card printing, I don't tell them when there is a sale on. The discounted price works to increase my profit on the job.

9) Your Other Clients: This one is a bit different. After all most of us proudly display our work in our portfolio so who we work for are not necessarily secrets. However, there are some circumstances where you don't want one client to know you're working for another client. There is nothing wrong with working for two competing clients. A good designer will find a way to create compelling material for each of them. However if your clients knew it could cause some tension. Especially if they thought you were devoting more time and energy to the other one. This could lead to one or possibly both clients taking their work elsewhere. So in situations like this it's best to keep who you work for a secret.

What do you think?

So there you have it. 9 secrets you should keep from your graphic design clients. Is there anything I forgot? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Resource of the week is Adobe Color CC.

Adobe Color CC offers an easy way to make custom pallets to keep track of the colours you use on client projects. Every new project I begin starts with a visit to this site where I choose the colours I will use on the project.

Adobe Color CC offers several colour rules to choose from. Analogous, monochromatic, triad, complementary, compound and shades. Each colour rule allows you to select the perfect colours that work together. Once you have your colours selected the page gives you the values in CMYK, RGB, LAB, HSB, or HEX.

If you have a Creative Cloud account you can save the template for future reference, making it easy to keep track of a client's colours for all future projects.

If you are not already using Adobe Color CC I highly recommend you give it a try.

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I want to help you.

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

Mar 17, 2016

The best remedy for stress is taking time off.

Being a graphic designer can be a very stressful profession. Especially if you run your own home based graphic design business. Not only do you have the demands of being creative, you also have to deal with the day to day tasks involved with running a successful business. There will inevitably come a time when the stress will start getting to you and the best thing you can do it take some time off. Luckily, if you run your own graphic design business it means you are your own boss and you can take time off whenever you want.

When I say take some time off from your graphic design business I'm not talking about vacation. Yes, we all need vacation time in order to relax and unwind, but what I mean by "time off" is simply stepping away from your daily routine for a while. Be it a day or just a few hours. It's amazing how taking a little time off, some "me" time if you will, can recharge your mental and creative batteries and allow you to dive right back into work at 100% efficiency.

How do you take time off from graphic design?

Get out of the office.

There are various ways for you to take time off from designing. The simplest way is to get out of your office. Find some chores or house work that needs to be done and go do it. If that's not good enough for you, try getting out of the house. Go for a walk, run some errands, go visit a museum. This last one is especially good at getting your creative juices flowing.

Tackle often neglected office tasks.

If you can only take a couple of hours off and don't feel like leaving the house, consider tackling those often neglected tasks around your office. Clean your desk and your drawers. Update your computer's OS, software, RAM, hard drive. Run some maintenance programs to help speed up your computer.

You could also take some time to purge unwanted files and applications, or archive old client files that don't need to be taking space on your computer. Clean out your e-mail inbox or organize your fonts. My software of choice for this last task is Suitcase Fusion by Extensis.

Find other ways to be productive.

If you are feeling too guilty to take time off but are still feeling the stress, take some time for self improvement. Try experimenting with some of the less used applications on your computer. You know, the applications you purchased as part of some graphic design bundle. You may of bought the bundle for one or two specific programs but that's not to say the others couldn't be put to good use if you knew what they did. Destress by taking the time to learn those applications.

You could also improve yourself by watching webinars or taking courses. A great place to learn about design and business is through Lynda.com. Lynda offers a wide variety of professionally produced courses that could really help you and your graphic design business.

A way to get out of the office and still be productive is to go visit some clients. Just stop in to say hi and see how they're doing. What's great about this idea is sometimes by seeing you, the client will remember some project they were thinking of and ask you to take it on. I've walked away from several surprise client visits with new projects to add to my schedule.

Taking time off is all about improving your work.

I'm always dumbfounded when someone thinks graphic designers sit around all day drawing pretty things. People don't realize how stressful our lives can be. We potentially hold the success or failure of companies in our hands depending on the branding we create for them. That's a lot to place on an individual. It's no wonder the pressure sometimes gets to us. Luckily, graphic designers tend to have short reset times and simply taking some time off is all we need. Even if that time off is a single day, an afternoon, or just an hour, when we finally get back to our work stations, we're eager to dive right back in and get creative.

What do you think?

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Sean,

Should you ask a client for their budget in the initial project questionnaire?

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

Resource of the week is Photos For Life

Photosfor.life is a “charity photo bank” where all the stock photos are created by cancer patients and survivors and for other cancer patients. Each of the models you see in the images was personally affected by cancer in their own lives. “They love their lives and want to show it to the world!” the website says.

Prices range from $8 for non-commercial use up to $850 for use in an advertising package.

What makes Photos for Life different from other stock photo services is that 100% of the proceeds from the photo sales are used to finance therapies for other cancer patients.

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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

Mar 11, 2016

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

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

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

Pros and Cons if you raise your prices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do pricing strategies matter?

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

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

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

Do you tell your clients when you raise your prices?

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

What do you think?

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Norman,

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

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

Resource of the week is HostGator

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on 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

Mar 4, 2016

The Client Isn't Always Right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Show your graphic design client why they hired you.

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

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

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

Sometimes a little shovelling is needed when selling your idea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you think?

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

Resource of the week is BackupBuddy

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

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

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

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

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on 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 25, 2016

I will never work for someone else again.

That's how I feel each and every day that I sit down in my home office and get to work. I spent over 15 years working as a graphic designer at a commercial printer. It was a wonderful place to work. The people I worked with were great, even my bosses. I wouldn't be the graphic designer I am today if not for my time spent there, but I wanted more.

In the summer of 2007, after a year of running a part time web design business in the evenings, I handed in my notice and took the plunge into full time entrepreneurship and never looked back.

Running a graphic design business, especially a home based graphic design business has offered me freedoms I couldn't imagine before. When people ask me if I ever miss working for someone else I can honestly say no. After being on my own for so long I don't think I could ever go back to being someone's employee.

But running a home based graphic design business isn't for everyone. In the previous episode of Resourceful Designer I talked about the dangers of running a home based graphic design business. And although I used the word "Danger" in jest, it is true that this work environment isn't for every designer. However, if you don't have a problem being all alone every day, then the benefits of running a home based graphic design business greatly outweigh the isolation you'll need to put up with.

In this episode of Resourceful Designer, my graphic design podcast to help you run your own business, I cover the benefits that anyone thinking of running a home based graphic design business can embrace. Listen to the podcast for the full discussion.

Business Benefits

Choosing your clients: One of the first benefits you'll discover after starting your own graphic design business is the level of clients you get to work with. Being in charge means you can turn down the clients and jobs that don't suit your needs, leaving you with quality clients to create relationships with. I realized myself that after 15 years at a printing company, designing things for people who were there to have something printed, I was finally dealing with clients who truly know the benefits of working with a graphic designer.

Clients seeking your services will respect your skills and abilities much more and listen to what you have to say. Being a business owner puts you at their level and allows them to view you as an equal.

Work hours and money: One of the fears designers have about starting a graphic design business is the lack of a steady paycheque. Working at an agency or as an in-house designer guarantees you a weekly salary. Whereas working from home means your income is dependent on the clients you engage and the work you produce.

What these fearful designers sometimes fail to recognize is that the rates they can charge are much higher than the hourly salary they earn as an employee. When I started my own business I made the calculations and realized that I only needed to work 12 billable hours per week to bring in the same salary I was earning working 40 hours at the printing company. That freedom allows a home based designer to spend part of their week working on self promotion and attracting new clients.

Overhead and Write Offs: The benefits of working from home create so many tax breaks and write offs that drastically help your bottom line. I already covered tax deduction you can claim as a home based graphic designer back in episode 18 so I won't go over them again. But I can tell you that they make a huge difference. Fuel savings alone for not having to drive to and from work each day is a huge benefit in itself.

Home Benefits

There are many benefits to working from home that don't have to do with your business. The fact that you spend your days in the place you live, gives you the opportunity to do things you couldn't do if you were working somewhere else.

Doing chores: Taking a few minutes during the day to do a few chores can free up time later to spend with your family. There are many times when I knew the weather was going to turn bad that I decided to mow my lawn during the day and make up for it by putting in a few hours of work in the evening. This is something I couldn’t do if I didn’t work from home.

Meals: Not only do you have access to your entire kitchen during the day to prepare yourself some nice healthy lunches, but also being able to get dinner started for the family is another huge time saver. Sometimes all it takes is turning on the oven and putting in a casserole. Your family will appreciate it.

Sick days: If you work somewhere else and you wake up one day not feeling well you need to call in sick. Depending on your employer you may need to take it as a vacation day or a day without pay. But if you work from home chances are you can still put in a few hours of work without worrying about infecting anyone.

Family Benefits

Kids: One of the biggest benefits of working from home, at least for me, is being there for my kids. My wife and I saved several hundred dollars a month by not having to pay for after school or summer daycare. And being able to spend quality time with my kids between jobs means I've created precious memories that I never would have had otherwise.

Time off: Being your own boss means you don't have to ask permission when you want to take a vacation or simply take some time off for an appointment. If you do have children you know how doctor appointments, dentist appointments, eye appointments all add up. Because you run your own business you can go to these appointments and make up for lost time later.

Pets: Working form home also benefits your pets, letting them keep you company while you're working instead of waiting all day for you to come home.

Mental Benefits

Satisfaction: Running a home based graphic design business gives you a sense of satisfaction knowing this is your company, you are in charge. It makes you proud for what you do. When a client appreciates what you do they share it with others, and they're talking about you, not some agency or printing company, you. When this happens you can't help but be overcome with a feeling of "I did it" I'm an entrepreneur, I'm a business owner, I'm a graphic designer and people know about me.

Wardrobe: I don't know about you, but I'm most comfortable in jeans and a T-shirt. Running a home based graphic design business means you don't have to worry about what you wear unless you are going out to meet a client. You can even work in you pajamas if you want. You don't even have to shave on the days you're staying home if you don't want to.

Laziness: Laziness was covered in last week's "danger" episode, but it can be put to good use. There will be days that you just don't feel like working. Being your own boss means you can take a lazy day and not have to answer to anyone. Just don't make a habit out of it.

What are your benefits?

What do you think are the best benefits of running your own home based graphic design business? There are hundreds of benefits I didn't cover and I would love to know what you think. Please leave a comment and let others and me know.

Resource of the week is 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 you are interested in giving it a try visit evernote.com

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on 
Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

Feb 19, 2016

Running a home based graphic design business isn't all fun and games. There are some dangers involved.

There have been many times when I've told someone what I do for a living, and they've replied that they could never do what I do. I'm not talking about being a graphic designer, although for some people that would be an acceptable reply. What they mean is they could never work from home like I do. Now being the person that I am, I have a hard time imagining how anyone wouldn't want to be their own boss, work their own hours and create their own rules. But the fact is, there are many people who just can't handle the dangers of running a home based graphic design business.

Dangers you ask? Well perhaps "dangers" is a bit too harsh a word. But there are certain aspects of running a home based graphic design business that are too frightening for some.

In this episode of Resourceful Designer, my graphic design podcast to help you run your own business, I cover five "dangers" that anyone thinking of running a home based graphic design business should consider before taking the plunge. Listen to the podcast for the full discussion.

Mental State

One of the biggest dangers faced by home based graphic designers is isolation. We live a life of solitude. Designers working at an agency or in a design department at some company have the benefit of social interaction with the people around them. Home based graphic designers on the other hand spend most of their time alone. You need a strong mental state to combat the stress of isolation, of boredom and possibly fight off the laziness that can manifest itself due to the lack of accountability and supervision.

Home based graphic designers require a willpower to persevere in the absence of social companionship and the ability to self motivate in the absence of others. Not everyone is capable of doing this.

By the way, if you do experience boredom while waiting for more work to come in, you may want to give my FREE Four Week Marketing Boost a try. Use it to create the best first impression you can and attract more design clients.

Environmental Dangers

In this case dangers is synonymous with distractions. When running a home based graphic design business you are surrounded by distractions that agency designers don't face. I'm talking about your TV, Your video game console, your fridge and pantry, even unfinished chores from around your home. All these "dangers" can taunt you and lure you away from your work. With nobody watching over you, it would be so easy to turn on Netflix and finish that show you started binge watching on the weekend or go mow the lawn so you wont have to do it on Saturday. Everything that pulls you away from work are environmental dangers.

Once again willpower comes into play. Home based graphic designers must learn how to ignore these distractions or they can lead to the demise of your business.

Work Strategies

One of the benefits of running a home based graphic design business is we get to decide how and when we work. If we don't feel like starting until noon we have that option. As long as we're aware of what we're doing it's ok. The dangers however is that without the supervision that agency designers have we can sometimes find ourselves overtaxing ourselves which could lead to burnout. It's not unheard of for a home based graphic designer to get into a "creative zone" and loose track of time. Concentrating so much on the work at hand that he forgets to take breaks, forgets to eat and drink and even forgets to stop at the end of the day.

On the flip side, another danger involving work strategies is the use of social media. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are great for social interaction but if not used correctly during working hours they can turn into huge time drains that suck the productivity right out of you. Youtube is especially bad for this. You may have a legitimate reason for watching a video during working hours. Perhaps it's a Photoshop tutorial or you're watching review videos for software your thinking of buying. The problem is all the extra content that YouTube throws at you, taunting you to watch "just one more video" until suddenly you realize that a couple of hours has gone by.

Agency designers have people watching over them and don't have to worry about these issues.

Security

Let's get a bit more serious here. Security can be a real danger if you're not careful. You're working from home so it's possible your clients will know where you live. Hopefully this will never become an issue but it is something to keep in mind. I myself have a mailbox at my local UPS Store I use for work and it's that address on my business cards. If a client wants to meet with me I try to do it at their place or I meet them at a local coffee shop. I rarely share my home address with a client and when I do it's with clients I really trust.

I know a woman that lived by herself and ran a home based graphic design business. One of her clients mistook her kindness and easy going personality as flirtatious and started stalking her, showing up at her home at all hours of the day. She had to file a restraining order to get him to stop. Now this case was a bit extreme but it just goes to show you that there could be some dangers with working from home.

If you do allow clients into your home be sure your insurance covers any liability should they injure themselves on your property. Some home policies wont cover work related incidents so check with your insurance agent.

Well Being

The last topic I want to discuss is your personal well being. Dangers you may want consider before starting a home based graphic design business are the possibilities of you getting hurt while you're home alone. What happens if you fall and hit your head? Or you choke while eating something, or even suffer a stroke or heart attack? For some people, these dangers are the deciding factor preventing them from starting a home based business. At an agency there are people around that could help. But at home they may not be so lucky.

Sorry for finishing on a down note. I started with the word "dangers" more out of jest but I wanted to show to you that there really are some dangers to consider when working from home.

Did I miss anything? I would love to hear your thoughts. Leave me a comment and let me know what dangers you considered.

Resource of the week is Audible

I recently published a blog post where I shared non design books every graphic designer should read. If you found some of those books intriguing but don't really have the time to sit down and read, you may want to consider an audiobook. Audible offers over 180,000 books in their library including almost all of the titles in my blog post. You can download a free audiobook when you sign up for a free 30 day Audible trial. If you decide before the 30 days are up that Audible is not for you, you can cancel your membership and still keep the free book. Simply visit resourcefuldesigner.com/audible to try it out.

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

Feb 11, 2016

The Amazing Task of File Management!

A little to enthusiastic? Oh well, can't blame a guy for trying. The fact is file management is probably one of the most boring tasks we do as graphic designers. Boring, but necessary if we want to run an efficient and streamlined business. After all, the less time we have to spend searching for some file we haven't touched in several years the better. A good file management system will make your life as a designer so much easier.

So although file management isn't the most glamorous topic to cover in a graphic design podcast, it is what I choose to cover In this week's Resourceful Designer.

Different areas of file management

In order to try and make this week's podcast episode a little more interesting I decided to break it into seven different sections of file management

  1. Resources
  2. Client Files
  3. Logos
  4. Fonts
  5. Training/Education Material
  6. Bookkeeping
  7. Backups

Resources

Resources cover everything you may use that helps you be the wonderful graphic designer that you are. I'm talking, image libraries, application plugins, Photoshop actions and styles, website themes, Wordpress plugins etc. Anything that you can use in the design process.

If you're like me you've probably purchased a few design bundles at some point (or many, don't judge). Design bundles are a great way of acquiring resources for your work. The thing with design bundles is they often come with way more than what you're actually interested in at the time. However, some of those pieces are worth saving for that "someday" you may need them.

Having a Resources folder makes it easy to find all those often used or seldom used pieces to help you in your designing.

My Resources folder contains many different folders for all of the above. For example; we all know that sometimes a good background can complete a design project. In my Resources folder I have a Backgrounds folder that contains every image file I own that can be used as a background. The folder is divided into sub-categories to make it easier to find what I want. Metal, stone, leather, paper, wood are a few of those sub-categories. If I'm ever working on a project and I think a nice wood background is needed I know exactly where to look for one. That's good file management.

Also in my Resources folder is a Stock Images folder. In it I have the original copy of ever single stock photo and image I've ever purchased. I have this folder subdivided as well into Photos, Vectors, and Illustrations and each of these is also subdivided. For example, my Photos folder is divided into People, Landscapes, Vehicles, Interiors, etc. and each of those is subdivided further. People is divided into Women, Men, Couples, Seniors, Families etc. Every time I purchase a new stock image I make sure to put it in the right category. If it could go into multiple categories I make aliases of the file (Shortcuts in Windows) and put them in each category they fit into. This makes it extremely easy for me to search through specific categories and quickly find what I'm looking for.

There are other ideas for the Resources folder I talk about on the podcast.

Client Files

File management of client files is a must. Otherwise you could spend hours searching for things when an old client contacts you down the road. On my computer I have my client files organized like this. I have one main folder that I call "Jobs In Progress". The title is a bit misleading since not everything in the folder is "in progress" but that's the name I gave the folder over 10 years ago and I just never bothered changing it.

Inside my Jobs in Progress folder I have a separate folder for each client I have. There are two special folders in there as well called "Old Clients" and "Inactive Clients". Old Clients is for any client I know will never come back. Businesses that have closed or have been bought out. That sort of thing. From time to time when I need to clear up HD space I will move these clients to an external device but for the most part I leave them there. Why? I've learnt over the past 25 years that just because a client doesn’t exist anymore doesn't mean you wont need their files anymore. It's happened more than once that someone came looking for something and I was glad I has saved them.

My Inactive Clients folder is for any client that I haven't heard from in over 2 years. They're still around but either they've found someone else to design for them or they haven't had need of me.

That leaves the rest of my Jobs In Progress folder that contains a folder for every client I've worked with over the past two years. Opening any one of the client folders shows folders for each project I've done for them. Stationary, Flyers, Billboards, Website etc. Now what's found in each of these changes depending on the client. Clients that I do a lot of work for I may divide their folders by year, month and date if need be, others just by year. Regardless of that hierarchy, once I get down to it, every single client project folder I have is built the same way.

Inside the project folder is the actual layout file (QuarkXpress or InDesign), or the website files. There are also four folders in every project folder.

  • Working; for all the .psd and .ai files pertaining to the project.
  • Images; for all the completed images that are actually used on the project.
  • Supplied; for all file that the client has supplied me.
  • Final; The final approved file to be sent to the client, printer, etc.

If there are common elements such as graphics or photos that are used across all marketing material I store these in a special "Images" folder at the root level of the client folder.

Logos

Now you may be wondering why logos don't fall under the images folder for the individual clients? I discovered many years ago that it's much easier to save each and every logo I have on my computer in one centralized location. In my case I have a Logos folder in my Resources folder. In it I have all my clients logos as well as every single logos I've accumulated over the years.

The reason i do this is for those time when you need to include "sponsor" logos on some poster or website for a client. Trying to remember if, or on what project you may have used some obscure logo a few years ago isn't fun. Since I started keeping all my logos in one place I've never had this issue.

Listen to the podcast for a fun story about my logo storing method.

Two Tricks For Acquiring Logos

Sometimes it's a real pain to get good, usable logos from a client. Especially if they don't understand what it is you need. I have two tried and true methods of acquiring good quality logos quickly and easily. But you'll have to listen to the podcast to hear them (hint, it's at the 27 minute mark)

Font Management

Fonts are another thing we graphic designer tend to amass over time and it can be a real pain to sort through them to find just the right one. That's why I think everyone should have some kind of font management software to help organize the chaos. I can't speak for all the various options but I can tell you about Suitcase Fusion by Extensis. I've been using Suitcase Fusion since before they added the Fusion to it. This font management software integrates with all the design software we use to turn fonts on and off as we need them. This way you don't bog down your system with unnecessary fonts.

Suitcase Fusion is a great way to organize your fonts and make it easier to find that perfect one for the project you're working on. In the application you can create sets to organize your fonts. I have mine set up alphabetically as A, B, C, D etc with each font in it's appropriate folder. I also have special folders for Celtic Fonts, Script Fonts, Hand Drawn Fonts etc.

The best thing about Suitcase Fusion is the ability to assign styles and/or keywords to fonts. This makes it so easy to narrow down your choices. Looking for a slab serif font? Eliminate all fonts that don't fit that category and your search just became that much easier.

Training/Education

Perhaps not file management in the technical sense, but I've found that keeping all your training material in one place is a big help. Any eBook, video, guide, manual, web clip etc. should be in easy access for when you do need it. I have my Training folder divided into Web, Photoshop, Illustrator, (plus other applications) etc. Any time I download a guide or manual I store it in the appropriate place. Any time I stumble upon a good tutorial page or video I I grab the URL, label it as what it is, and put it in my Training folder for later access.

Having this resource has saved me many hours searching online for something that I remember seeing some time in the past.

Bookkeping

This is a simple one that I use. The numbers on every invoice I send out begin with the current year. This January I opened my invoicing program, I use Billings Pro by Marketcircle, and I changed the numbering to start with 16-xxxxx. This makes it easer down the road to know exactly when a certain job was done.

Backups

Now backing up really has nothing to do with file management. But, what's the point of implementing a great file management strategy if you end up loosing all your files due to some unforeseen circumstance? There are things in this world beyond our control. Fire, flood, tornadoes, theft are just a few.

On-site backup via Apple Time Machine or some other external device is a must for all graphic designers. But off-site backup is something we should all be using as well. For this I use a company called Backblaze. Backblaze is a set it and forget it solution. It works in the background backing up your files so you never have to worry should a natural disaster ever happen. There are other solutions available but Backblaze is the one I'm familiar with.

Another form of backup you should look into is website backup. Most hosting providers offer site backup but they don't say how often. Some are every 30 days, 60 days, even 90 days. That's fine for a static website. But for any site that is updated on a regular basis it wont do. My preference for website backup is BackupBuddy by iThemes. BackupBuddy offers real time backups of your site. As soon as something is changed on the site it gets backed up. I have all my and my clients' sites backed up this way.

So there you have it. File Management in a nutshell. I hope that wasn’t too hard to get through. I would love to hear your comments. Share your strategies by leaving me a comment.

In next week's episode of Resourceful Designer I'm going to talk about the dangers of working from home.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Teri,

Hi Mark,
I have just started listening to your podcast in the past month and am really enjoying it! Thanks for all the fantastic advice! I have been working in the industry for about 7 years now here in Atlanta, Georgia. After the birth of my daughter a year and half ago I have started working from home part-time (which I love) and it has been keeping my quite busy! I was wondering if you had any advice on passing off work to other designers? Is there a good network you use or how do you build that network? I also feel that part of my value as a designer is that I know the clients and what they are looking for, thus it is difficult to explain that to another designer, especially with a super fast turn around.

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

Resource of the week is BackBlaze

One of the scariest things you can think of as a designer is what would happen if disaster strikes and you loose all your computer files. What would it mean for your business? Backblaze offers a simple unlimited online backup solution for your design business for less than $5/month. And it’s so easy. You just set it up and forget about it. Backblaze works in the background automatically backing up your files. And if you ever loose your data for whatever reason, you wont have to worry because you’ll know everything can be restored from Backblaze.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Backblaze’s online backup solution and trying a 15 day free trial, visit resourcefuldesigner.com/backup

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on 
Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

 

Feb 4, 2016

It was fun while it lasted. Or, maybe it wasn't. Either way, ending relationships with your graphic design clients is part of the job.

If you've been at this long enough you've probably come across a client or two that just rubbed you the wrong way. Maybe they were too demanding. Maybe their personality clashed with yours. Maybe they took forever to pay their bills. Or maybe they wanted you to do something you weren't comfortable with. Any number of these or more can lead you to ending relationships with said clients.

Although you should try everything you can to nurture and continue your dealings, sometimes ending relationships is what's best for everyone involved.

In this episode of Resourceful Designer, my graphic design podcast. I touch on various reasons why ending relationships with clients is the best option for your business. Here's a summary of what I talk about.

Ending relationships before they start.

Sometimes, when you meet a new potential client for the first time, you get a certain feeling in your gut that tells you this isn't for you. Maybe the client is giving you bad vibes or has a way about them that grates on you. No matter the reason, there's something about the situation that's telling you not to proceed any further.

You need to remember, this is your business. You are in charge and you get to decide who you want to work with. There is no shame in politely telling a potential client that the project they're describing isn't for you. Or that their budget is too small for you to consider the project.

Turning down work is not the same as ending your relationship.

Keep in mind that you can turn down work from new or existing clients without ending your relationship with them. Being too busy, leaving on holiday, too small a budget, and conflict of interests are just a few viable reasons for turning down work. As long as you do it diplomatically your relationship with the client should remain intact.

Ending existing relationships

This one is obviously harder. After all the time and effort put into building a relationship with a client it seems a shame to part ways. You should do your best to save the relationship. Unfortunately it's sometimes best for both of you to walk away.

Money is often the number one reason for ending relationships with clients. Face it, you're running a business. If a client isn't paying their bills there's no reason to keep them around. But there are many other reasons for ending relationships as well. Only you can be the judge on wether or not the situation has escalated to that point.

Bowing out gracefully

Regardless if it's a new client or an existing one, you should never burn any bridges when parting ways. You never know when things may change in the future and your paths may cross again. Not to mention that we often deal with one contact person when designing for a company. You may have issues with that contact, but they may not always be the face of that company. Don't give the company a reason to not want to work with you when it's the individual who is the problem.

How have you dealt with ending relationships with your clients?

Leave a comment and let me know how you handled this situation when you encountered it.

Questions of the Week

I'm introducing a Question Of The Week section to the podcast. If you would like me to answer your question in a future episode please visit my feedback page.

This week's question comes from Jessica,

I currently do in-house print design work for an insurance company. I am approaching the idea of starting my own business, and I'd like to offer web design. However, I've never done any web design in the past. I'm wondering if you could advise where to start in the learning process? I'm looking at Lynda videos, but I don't even know what I should focus on- Wordpress, HTML, CSS? Or should I work on the front-end design of a webpage and partner with a web developer to handle the coding and backend design? I have never grasped writing code and am not sure if it's necessary to do myself.

To find out what I told Jessica you'll have to listen to the podcast.

Links mentioned in my answer.

Linda.com
Elegant Themes

Resource of the week is TextExpander

TextExpander is a huge timesaver in allowing you to create text shortcuts for longer pieces of type you use on a regular basis. I've created shortcuts for all my email addresses to save me time when typing them out and to make sure I don't make any errors. TextExpander is also a huge help for web designers. I've used it to store often used bits of HTML and CSS that I can call up with just a few keystrokes.

At the time i'm releasing this podcast episode, TextExpander is on sale through MightyDeals for $22. That's half off! The sale only lasts a few days so get it now.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on 
Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

Jan 28, 2016

Building Relationships With Your Graphic Design Clients.

How do you define your relationships with your clients?

I'm not talking about the graphic design work you do for them or their promptness to pay their bills. I'm talking about a true relationship. Outside of the actual projects you work on together, what sort of relationship do you have? Do you know anything personal about them? Could you hold a meaningful conversation with them that didn't involve work?

Building relationships with your graphic design clients is a key element in running a successful graphic design business.

I'm not suggesting you take them out to a movie or a weekend at the beach. But taking the time and getting to know them beyond your professional relationship will go a long way in establishing your future with a client.

Why? Because having a relationship instills trust, loyalty, understanding and so much more.

Now I know It's not possible to build a relationship with each and every client. Some of them come to you for a one time jobs and then you never hear from them again. Others have no interest in building relationships and only want you for your skills. But regardless of the client, it's your obligation to at least make an effort in building a relationship with them. Because when you do, it pays off a hundred fold.

In this week's episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast I discuss this topic in length. Here is a brief description covering some of what I talked about in this episode.

Benefits of building relationships

Having a good relationship with your client means you've gone beyond just being their graphic designer. It means you've become the person they can go to for advice, get ideas from, or just vent. And when you've become that person chances are they wont look elsewhere when it comes to a service you can offer them.

When you have a relationship with a client both of you benefit. Not only do you gain an understanding of their business and how they work but they also learn how you do things which can help you in future projects. You each gain a comprehension of the strategies and methods you use that will help you when brainstorming ideas. And most importantly, when you have a relationship with a client, you build trust and loyalty towards each other that goes beyond the projects you work on together.

Remember, people use people they like. So if your client likes you, there's no reason for them to shop around elsewhere.

How do you build relationships?

Building relationships with clients isn't that different than dating.

Imagine your going on a blind date with someone you don't know much about. What do you do to get them to like you?

The key component is communication. You need to have an open dialogue that goes both ways. If you were on a blind date and they did nothing but talk about themselves you would be put off. Same goes for clients. Give them the opportunity to talk and express themselves.

Show Respect. Let your client explain things, even if you already know what they're talking about. If your blind date starts telling you all about a movie you've already seen you wouldn't tell them to stop because you already know the movie. You would let them talk. Give the client the same opportunity.

Be Honest. If a client ask you something that you don't know or are unsure of, don't be afraid to tell them so. Honesty can go a long way in building relationships. Tell the client you don't know, but follow up that you are eager to learn or discover the answer. Show interest and they will appreciate you for it.

Be Patient. Some clients have a hard time getting their ideas across. Especially if they are unsure of the direction they want to take. Be patient and let them gather their thoughts as they try to explain things to you. Offer your advice and opinions only once they're done.

The following two are the most important factors in building relationships with clients.

Listen. Listen to EVERYTHING the client has to say. Not just about the project you are discussing but everything they talk about. The parts of the conversation not related to the design project are sometimes more valuable to building relationships than the project talk.

Learn what you can about your client during these conversations. If they talk about their children or mention an upcoming vacation, take note and bring up the topics in future conversations. Asking a client the next time you talk how his weekend at the cottage went shows him that you cared enough to remember that detail and ask about it.

Ask Questions. You should be asking questions about the project you are working on, but there is nothing wrong with asking questions not related to the project in order to build your relationship. If you're at a client's office and see a photo of kids, a dog or a vacation spot on their desk, ask about them. If you also have a dog talk about it. Knowing you're a fellow dog lover can help solidify the relationship you are building.

If you work on these skills you are on your way to building a relationship.

The results

Building relationships take time. But the time invested is more than worth it in the long run. Building relationships with clients is one of the best things you can do for your graphic design business. It's a wonderful feeling knowing a client relies on you so much that they couldn't fathom going to anyone else.

I would love to know what you though of this episode. Please leave a comment below.

Resource of the week is Lynda

As graphic designers we need to stay on top of things and keep on learning and building our skills. One of the best resources for continuing our education is Lynda. Lynda offers over 3000 professionally produced courses to teach you many of the skills required to run a successful graphic design business. For a 10 day free trial to access to each and every course. visit http://resourcefuldesigner.com/lynda

Four Week Marketing Boost

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

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

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on 
Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

Jan 21, 2016

Are Your Communication Skills Scaring Away Design Clients?

When it comes to running a graphic design business, It's not just your creativity or your design skills that determine if you succeed or not. Your communications skills play a major role in the outcome of your business. Communications skills that are required when dealing with potential design clients.

The fact is, without good communications skills, you'll have a hard time finding and retaining graphic design clients.

I recently read a blog post by Felipe Mandujano titled Finding clients may not be your biggest problem. In it Felipe tells us how, by looking closely at himself, he was able to discover the flaws in his communication skills and address them over time. Felipe's article gave me the inspiration for the podcast episode. Please listen to the episode as I dive much deeper into the subject than I do in this post.

Why is it that finding new design clients comes easier to some designer than others?

Let me ask you a question. Do you consider yourself an Introvert or and Extrovert?

If you said Introvert, you're not alone. Did you know that the majority of graphic designers are introverts? Remember, being an introvert doesn't necessarily mean that you're shy, just that you're more comfortable being along. Because of that desire to be alone, you may not have developed the communication skills necessary to really succeed as a home based graphic designer. That's what I discuss in this podcast episode.

If you replied Extrovert to the above question I encourage you I stick around and listen to the podcast anyway. You may gain some insight that will help you in your business as well.

Being an introvert.

One of the issues with being an introvert is that you don't like to venture too far out of your comfort zone. You can easily immerse yourself at your computer, your sketchpad or easel. but when it comes to dealing with clients you're not that comfortable.

That's why you see many design teams, where one team member designs while the other has the communication skills to deal with the clients. Each member has their own skill sets and works within them.

But not ever designer has the benefit of working with a business partner who can handle the clients for them. Most home based graphic designers are like me, running the business all alone.

And that is where the problem lies if you're an introvert. If you have trouble expressing yourself and communicating with clients it can come across as a lack of confidence. If a client ask you a question and you hesitate or hum and haw about the answer, they may think you don't know what you're doing and decide to look elsewhere for answers.

It doesn't matter how good a designer you are. Clients don't want to deal with someone who appears to lacks self confidence and doesn't have the communication skills to talk to them.

If you ever feel this way yourself I have some good news for you. You can overcome this and develop the communication skills necessary to succeed. It does require you to step out of your comfort zone but it is doable.

Here's some homework to improve your communication skills.

I want you to play a little game. The next time you find yourself at a checkout counter, I want you to say hi to the cashier before they say it to you. That's all there is to it. Beat them to the greeting. Cashiers have been trained to greet each customer they see so you know as you approach them that a "hello" is coming. So why not initiate it yourself? Believe it or not, but taking the leap and saying "hi" first will boost your confidence the more you do it.

If you want to take this game to the next level continue the conversation with what comes naturally after the greeting. Ask the cashier about their day before they ask you. It's an insignificant conversation but doing this over and over will boost your communication skills.

For an even bigger challenge, say hi to people in line with you, or in the elevator with you. Anytime you find yourself next to someone with a few seconds to spare say hi to them instead of just standing there in silence. You don't even have to go beyond the greeting and converse with them. The process of greeting someone is a great way to over come the fear and self doubt when dealing with strangers. And the more you do this, the more comfortable you'll be the next time you talk to a potential client.

Other things you can try.

Participate in design groups like the ones on Facebook or Linkedin. Talking with other designers online may be more comfortable for you and will help build your communication skills.

Find yourself a colleague or mentor you can talk to. Someone you can share your fears and insecurities with. Talking about them will go a long way in overcoming them. Old design school classmates make great sounding boards for this.

Read books to develop your communication skills. It may sound funny that reading will help you better talk to people but the authors of these books know what they're teaching. Put their works to the test and see what happens. Keep an eye out on my blog post as I'll be releasing a list of non-design books for graphic designers very soon.

Remember, when clients are looking for a designer they are looking for more than just creative design skills. They are looking for someone to create a relationship with. Someone they can have confidence in and someone they can trust to understand them and get the job done.

If you work on and develop good communication skills you'll be much closer to running a successive design business.

Resource of the week is my Free Four Week Marketing Boost

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

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

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

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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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