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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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Now displaying: January, 2016
Jan 28, 2016
Building Relationships With Your Graphic Design Clients - RD020

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? - RD019

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.

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 14, 2016
Tax Deductions For Home Based Graphic Designers - RD018

Tax Deductions For Home Based Graphic Designers

It's that time of the year again. The holiday season is behind you and the calendar has reset once again. Your New Year's resolutions are made, some of which you may have already broken. And you've gotten back to the grindstone running your graphic design business. It can only mean one thing. Tax season is almost upon you.

Running a home based graphic design business has many perks. You are your own boss. You make your own hours. You choose the clients you want to work with. You can work in your Pjs if you want to. But one of the often overlooked perks associated with running a home based graphic design business is all the tax deductions you can claim.

In this week's episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast I talk about various tax deductions for home based graphic designers. There are many things that designers don't realize are tax deductible. Such as house plants or your Netflix subscription (you did watch that design related documentary didn't you?)

You can find tax deductions all around your home if you know where to look. Here are just a few of the ones I share with you in the podcast.

Home Office

Your home office or design studio as I like to call mine is filled with tax deductions. Everything from your desk and chair, the carpet, filing cabinets and even the artwork and knick knacks that decorate the space. And don't forget to deduct any renovation or improvement costs you incur for your work space.

Home Expenses

Since you spend a good part of your day working from home it only makes sense that you can claim tax deductions for some of your home expenses. Include things like Mortgage/rent, utilities, insurance, phone service, cleaning service, and even your property tax, yes, you can claim a tax deduction on the tax you pay.

Office Supplies

Everything that fills up your graphic design studio and helps you work qualifies as tax deductions. Pens, pencils, paper, printer ink, white boards, recordable media such as blank DVDs are all deductible. If you can produce a receipt for it, you can claim it.

Office Equipment

Office equipment consists of the bigger, non consumable things such as computers, external storage devices, printers, cameras, scanners and the like.

Software Tools

As graphic designers we use a lot of different software tools. Some of them directly in our design work such as design or font management software and some in running our business like file transfer services. Don't forget mobile apps that you use in your business, they are tax deductions as well.

Personal Growth

Keep receipts for every conference, webinar, class, course or whatever you attend in order to become a better designer or business person. Make sure you include travel and meal expenses incurred in your pursuit of knowledge. You can also claim tax deductions for any book, magazine, membership site, or any clubs or organizations you belong to.

Branding and Self Promotion

All your marketing material from your business cards to Facebook ads are tax deductions. So are any thank you gifts or prizes you give away in the course of business. And don't forget your website, themes, plugins etc.

Production Costs

All costs incurred in the completion of a design project are tax deductions. Proofs, stock images, the fee paid to contractors or freelancers.

Auto Expenses

Beside the cost of purchasing or leasing a vehicle you can also claim tax deductions for roadside assistance, insurance, fuel, parking and so much more.

Household Supplies

It may sound crazy, but you can find tax deductions in many of your regular household supplies such as tissue paper, soap, vacuum bags. As long as you use them during working hours or as part of your office they can be deducted.

Other

There are so many other things you can claim as tax deductions as well. Such as physical therapy, headache pills, eye drops and counselling fees.

You really need to sit down with your accountant or whoever prepares your tax return and discuss all the things you can do to get the most return on your taxes.

I would love your comments

Do you have any fancy tax deductions you use? Leave a comment below.

Four Week Marketing Boost - FREE GUIDE

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on 
Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Design Resource

This week's resource is HostGator my go to source for website hosting. HostGator makes it so simple to install, manage and maintain any WordPress site. Resourceful Designer is hosted on HostGator. Save 25% when you sign up for one of their hosting plans by using the code RESOURCEFUL25

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 6, 2016
Being A Freelance Graphic Designer Could Hurt Your Business - RD017

Being A Freelance Graphic Designer Could Hurt Your Business

 

Do you call yourself a freelance graphic designer? Freelance web designer? Or freelance web developer? If you do I suggest you stop right now. I could be hurting your business.

Let me share an email conversation (names withheld) I had with a potential client before the holidays...

Mark,

As you may or may not know, (graphic designer's name) is undergoing surgery in January and will be off for 3 months. I would like to know if you are available to cover for him while he's away.

To wich I replied,

Thank you for thinking of me. I hope all goes well with (graphic designer)'s surgery. Due to the nature of my business and my commitment to my clients I wouldn't be able to take leave for 3 months.

I do however know a graphic designer that would be perfect for you to contact. She is from this area but has spent the last few years working in Montreal. She recently moved back to town and contacted me to let me know she was looking for work. Here is a link to her resume website with all her contact info.

To my surprise this is the reply I got.

Thank you Mark for your prompt reply. I fully understand that you could not abandon your business for 3 months.

Thank you for the tip on (designer's name). I looked over her resume, and although she looks to have the qualifications we need, she calls herself a freelance graphic designer. I'm looking for someone who takes the job more seriously than that.

Regards,

I couldn't believe what I read. This woman was perfect for the job but he wouldn't consider her because she called herself a freelance graphic designer.

What is a freelance graphic designer?

According to Merriam-Webster the definition of a freelancer is: A person who acts independently without being affiliated with or authorized by an organization. This person pursues a profession without a long-term commitment to any one employer.

Isn't that what we are? The answer is yes. Unfortunately the word freelance has a stigma to that makes it an unfavourable word for potential graphic design clients to accept. Some businesses even have a not freelancer policy when it comes to hiring contractors.

Freelancers are often seen as being rebels, risky, lazy, overly proud and hard to get along with. Some potential clients even associate the term freelancer with amateur. Something you don't want associated with your business.

Being a freelance graphic designer means you are replaceable. You are one in a long list of graphic designers a company could turn to in a pinch for a quick one time job.

Why do we burden ourselves with this title?

There was a time when being a freelancer was something exotic, mysterious even. When working for yourself was something that set you apart from the masses. But nowadays, more and more people are going into business for themselves and the novelty has worn off.

There are many professions that follow the same format that we graphic designers do but don't use the term freelancer. Can you imagine trusting your money to a freelance financial planner? Would you trust your locks to a freelance hair stylist? I didn't think so.

What should you call yourself?

When someone asks you what you do, just tell them. You are a graphic designer, a web designer, a web developer or whatever it may be. If they are interested they will ask who you work for. At which time you can explain that you run your own design business. As a graphic design business owner you can explain how you help your clients find solutions to problems they face, which justifies the amount you charge.

By stating you are a business owner you are giving yourself instant credibility and proof that you take what you do seriously. It also establishes you as a professional.

No matter how you refer to yourself, your livelihood doesn’t depend on how you see yourself, but on how your graphic design clients see you and your work. So don't be afraid to tell people you are a graphic designer and a business owner.

Just leave the "freelance" part out of it.

I would love your comments

How do you refer to yourself? Leave a comment on the show notes page.

Four Week Marketing Boost - FREE GUIDE

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on 
Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Design Resource

This week's resources is GrapicStock.com my suggestion to anyone looking for low cost stock images. Use my link and get you code for a one year subscription for only $99.

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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