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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Many Hats of running a home based business

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

The Many Hats of procuring new clients and work

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

The Many Hats of dealing with clients

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

The Many Hats while working on design jobs

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

The Many Hats after completing a design job

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

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

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

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

Did I miss any hats?

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Gretchen

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

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

Resource of the week the Four Week Marketing Boost

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

And yes, this guide is totally free!

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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
7 Ways To Save Money As A Graphic Designer - RD037

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

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

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

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

7 Ways for Graphic Designers to Save Money.

 

1- Hold Off Upgrading

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

2- Buy in Bulk

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

3- Pay More Now To Save Money Later

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

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

4- Find Ways To Cut Costs in your business

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

Examples of cutting costs to save money are...

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

5 Become an Early Adopter

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

6 Collect Points/Credits

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

7 Take Advantage of Freebies

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

Tip of The Iceberg

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Michael

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

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

Resource of the week is Creative Market

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

Subscribe to the podcast

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 3, 2016
Spring Cleaning for Graphic Designers - RD036

Even graphic designers need to do some spring cleaning?

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

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

Spring Cleaning

Your Computer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Office

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

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

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

Your Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you think?

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Fredrik,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on 
Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

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