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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: November, 2016
Nov 23, 2016
Easy Gifts For Graphic Designers - RD053

What gifts do you get a graphic designer?

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

Software/Apps Gift Cards

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

Education Gift Cards

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

Gift Cards for "the other stuff"

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

Notebooks/Sketchbooks

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

Magazine Subscriptions

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

Creative Cloud

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

Graphic Design Books

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

Coffee Shop Cards

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

 

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

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

Subscribe to the podcast

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

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

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

How Good Is Your About Page?

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

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

What makes a great About Page?

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

How do you make a great About Page?

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

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

Parts of a great About Page.

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

Here's an example of a good hook.

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

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

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

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

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

An example can be something like this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does your About Page look like?

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

Questions of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resource of the week Who Stole My Images FaceBook Group

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

Subscribe to the podcast

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

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

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

Are your design presentations great?

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

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

The 12 Steps To Great Design Presentations.

1 Practice your presentation

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

2 Be punctual

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

3 Dress for success

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

4 Have handouts

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

5 Show Confidence

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

6 Use keywords

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

7 Refer to the brief

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

8 Talk about the research you did

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

9 Explain before showing anything

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

10 Anticipate questions and answers them before they are asked

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

11 Plant seeds for future work you can do for them

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

12 Follow up after the meeting

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

Do you follow these steps?

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

Questions of the Week

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

Resource of the week Selling The Invisible by Harry Beckwith

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

Subscribe to the podcast

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

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

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

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

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

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

7 Perks to running your business.

Free Stuff

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

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

Credit Card Points

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

Access To Credit

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

Networking

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

Education

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

Work/Life Balance

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

Your Businesses' Personality

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

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

What perks do you enjoy from your business?

I would love to know what perks your business allows you. Let me know what they are by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Sean

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

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

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

Resource of the week is TopTracker

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

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

According to the website TopTracker offers;

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

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

Available on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

Subscribe to the podcast

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

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

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