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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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Dec 14, 2017

Celebrating 100 episodes of Resourceful Designer.

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

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

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

My life as a graphic designer

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

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

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

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

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

So many opportunities to learn

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

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

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

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

There are some drawbacks to being a designer

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

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

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

How many other professions experience any of these?

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

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

We're lucky to be designers

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

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

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

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

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

And as always, reminding you to Stay Creative.

What does being a graphic designer mean to you?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

100th episode contest.

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

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

 
Dec 7, 2017

Does your community promote "Shop Local"?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Elly

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

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

Resource of the week WhatTheFont Mobile App

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

Episode Sponsors

Thank you to this week's sponsors.

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

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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 30, 2017

How good are your Touchpoints?

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

What is a touchpoint?

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

Take inventory of your touchpoints.

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

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

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

All touchpoints matter.

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

  1. List
  2. Evaluate
  3. Take Action

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

Step 1) List your touchpoints

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

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

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

Step 2) Evaluate your touchpoints

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

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

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

Step 3) Take Action

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

Evaluating touchpoints is an ongoing task

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

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

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

When was the last time you evaluated your touchpoints?

Let me know your thoughts on this subject by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Summer

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

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

Resource of the week Peek by UserTesting

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

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

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

Episode Sponsors

Thank you to this week's sponsors.

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

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

Subscribe to the podcast

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

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

 
Nov 24, 2017

Do your clients understand who their target markets are?

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

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

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

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

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

Some clients don't understand the difference.

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

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

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

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

Changing the message but keeping the meaning.

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

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

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

Explaining it to your clients.

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

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

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

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

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Elly

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

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

Tip of the week Sales

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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, 2017

Are you leveraging trade shows to your advantage?

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

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

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

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

Attending Trade Shows

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

Attending as an Exhibitor

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

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

Drawbacks of being an exhibitor at trade shows

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

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

Attending as a guest

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

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

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

Drawbacks of being a guest at a trade show

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

Etiquette when attending trade shows

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

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

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

What's your experience with Trade Shows?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Andrea

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

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

Resource of the week Pretty Links Pro

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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, 2017

NDA and how it affects your design business

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

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

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

When should you agree to sign an NDA?

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

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

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

Mutual and Non-Mutual NDAs

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

What are the key elements of an NDA?

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

Identification of all parties involved.

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

Definition of what is deemed to be confidential.

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

Stating your obligations are after signing the NDA.

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

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

What is excluded from the NDA

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

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

Terms of the agreement.

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

An NDA is a contract

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

Consequences of breaking an NDA

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

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

Issuing your own NDA

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

Protect yourself

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

Sample NDA

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

Have you ever had to sign an NDA?

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Emma

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

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

Resource of the week A Mailbox

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

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

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

Episode Sponsor

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

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Send me feedback

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I want to help you.

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

Nov 2, 2017

Do you practice Just In Time Learning?

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

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

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

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

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

Learning can be done in many ways.

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

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

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

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

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

That’s where Just In Time Learning comes in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learning what instead of how

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

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

Just In Time Learning, it’s that simple.

A library of future knowledge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picking and choosing from within

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

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

You get the idea

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

Do you follow the Just In Time Learning method?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Randy

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

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

Resource of the week Evernote

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

Episode Sponsor

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

Oct 27, 2017

Do you service a design niche?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So how do you choose a design niche to target?

Determining your niche.

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

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

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

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

Marketing to your niche.

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

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

Present relevant work in your portfolio.

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

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

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

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

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

Start promoting yourself.

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

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

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

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

Start hunting for clients.

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

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

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

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

Show your interest in your chosen design niche.

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

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

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

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

Be patient but persistent.

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

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

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

Niche marketing is a constant flux.

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

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

One last thing...

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

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

How do you market to your design niche?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Florida-Boy

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

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

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

Thank you so much for your response!

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

Resource of the week Four Week Marketing Boost.

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

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

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

Oct 19, 2017

Is your design life and personal life balanced?

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

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

It’challengingng to say the least.

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

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

Set Boundaries between your personal and design life.

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

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

Divide your living space and workspace

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

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

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

This is especially important if you have children.

Having a dedicated workspace will accomplish two things:

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

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

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

Take Breaks

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

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

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

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

Enjoy family time outside your design life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you balance your personal and design life?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

Tip of the week Two Factor Authentication

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

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

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

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

Subscribe to the podcast

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Contact me

Send me feedback

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I want to help you.

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

Oct 13, 2017

Have you heard of the Zeigarnik Effect?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get started on that design

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

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

Tension accumulates

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

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

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

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

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

Eliminate tension

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

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

Did you know about the Zeigarnik Effect?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Sunil

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

Here’s my question.

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

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

Resource of the week Paparazzi!

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

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I want to help you.

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

Oct 6, 2017

What peripherals do you use for your design business?

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

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

UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply)

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

Surge Protector

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

Pantone Color System

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

External Hard Drives

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

Tablets

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

Webcam

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

Powered USB Hub

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

Line Gage

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

CD/DVD Burner

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

Dedicated Phone Number

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

Extra Cables

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

Computer Glasses

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

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

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

What peripherals do you use?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Joseph

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

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

Resource of the week Grammarly

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

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

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

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

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

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Contact me

Send me feedback

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I want to help you.

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

 

Sep 29, 2017

Do you use checklists in your design business?

What does your morning routine look like?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things like

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

These are all areas that could benefit from checklists.

Web Design Checklists

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

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

Click here to download my checklist

Client Questions

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

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

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

 Proofing Jobs

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

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

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

Invoicing clients

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

Contracts

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

Getting files ready for Print

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

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

Handing over completed projects

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

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

Checklists for everything

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

What checklists do you use in your design business?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Nayda

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your time!

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

Resource of the week Bonus content for Patrons of Resourceful Designer

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

Sep 14, 2017

What's in your home office?

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

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

Essentials for your home office space

A dedicated room

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

A door

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

A good environment

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

Essential equipment for your home office

A good computer

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

A desk

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

An office chair

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

A desk lamp

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

Printer/Scanner

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

Filing cabinet

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

A paper shredder

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

Essential home office supplies

File Storage

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

Spill proof mug

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

Wire organizers

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

Miscellaneous essentials

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

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

What essentials do you have in your home office?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Lora

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

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

Here is My Question:

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

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

Resources of the week: Two Design Podcasts

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

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

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

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

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

Sep 8, 2017

What is Emotional Intelligence?

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

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

Emotional Intelligence and your design business.

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

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

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

Here are a few tips for improving your emotional intelligence:

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

Practice makes perfect

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

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

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

Do you struggle with your Emotional Intelligence?

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Travis

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

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

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

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

Tip of the week Hand Written Thank You Cards.

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

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

Aug 31, 2017

How do you handle criticism?

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

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

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

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

Perfection is unattainable

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

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

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

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

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

What's your experience with handling criticism?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Antony

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

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

Resource of the week Backblaze

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

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

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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

Aug 24, 2017

Turn all clients into repeat clients.

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

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

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

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

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

What's the big deal about repeat clients?

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

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

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

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

What are the benefits of repeat clients?

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

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

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

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

How do you turn clients into repeat clients?

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

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

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

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

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

What's your strategy for getting repeat clients?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Barbie

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

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

Resource of the week: Coming Soon Page & Maintenance Mode

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

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

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I want to help you.

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

Aug 17, 2017

Have you ever heard the term "Yes Man" or "Yes Woman"?

A Yes Man or Woman is someone who follows orders without questioning them. Whatever is asked of them is what they do. A good designer can't be a Yes Man or Woman.

As a designer, you are also a problem solver. Your job is not to do what the client asks without question, but to question what the client asks.

Your job is not to do what the client asks without question, but to question what the client asks.

When a client presents you with a brief for a new project you need to be able to examine the outline and explain to them why something will or won't work. And if something won't work, you need to be able to provide alternative solutions. You need to solve the problem.

Some clients have no idea what it is they want or need. That's why they come to you. As the problem solver, they are trusting you to have the solutions.

If you can provide those solutions you become much more than just their designer. You become a valuable asset to their business. And that translates into a loyal client for life.

For a more in depth discussion on this topic please listen to episode 84 of the podcast.

How have you been a problem solver for your clients?

Let me know what problems you have solved for your clients be leaving me a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Joseph

How do I introduce a design that I feel like a company really needs?

Details

I went to a vegan restaurant and noticed their menus are homemade or crafted by Fiverr’s finest. I really want to give them the menu they deserve and maybe need. I’m a designer who’s still in college pursing my design degree. The problem is this will be my first time pitching. I usually just get a referral for work so this is new to me. I'm not shy or nervous with people but some tips for the approach would be great.

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

Resource of the week 21 Stock Image Sites Every Designer Should Know About

Love 'em or hate 'em, stock image sites are the backbone of any graphic design business. As such, every graphic designer should have a repertoire of good quality stock image sites in their toolbox for when the need arises. I've gathered 21 such stock image sites that I believe every designer should know about. Some are premium sites, some offer inexpensive stock photos and images and some are completely free. All offer quality stock images that can be used for commercial use by your graphic design business.

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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

Aug 10, 2017

What's your hourly design rate?

What you should charge as your hourly design rate is an often debated topic amongst designers. Everybody seems to have their own opinion as to how to calculate what you should charge. I guess I'm no different because on this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast I do just that. I give you my opinion of how you may want to choose your hourly design rate.

One of the biggest issues I see is designers undercharging for their services. They're either not confident enough in their skills and abilities and are afraid to charge a high enough fee. Or they feel they can't charge higher fees because they're only designing part time.

Regardless of how long you've been designing or the amount of time you currently spend designing you're probably not charging enough for your services, but that's the topic for another day.

Today I want to share why you need an hourly design rate and ways to determine the rate that's best for you.

Why you need an hourly design rate.

Even if you normally use project based or value based pricing you still need to know how much you are worth per hour. Even if it's just to know whether or not you are under or over charging on your projects.

You also need to know how much you're worth if someone asks you for your time. Perhaps as a design consultant. Without knowing your hourly rate how will you know what to charge for your time?

What determines your hourly design rate.

Your hourly design rate depends on many factors and differs for each designer. Where you live, what sort of clients you're going after, your experience, your skill all play factors in determining what you should charge.

Specializing in a niche can also play a factor. A designer who specializes in a certain industry should command higher prices than a designer not familiar with it.

All of these things should be taken into considering when determining what your hourly design rate will be.

Determining your hourly design rate.

Ok, here's the nitty gritty of it. Ways for you to determine exactly what you should charge per hour. You will need to decide which method, if any, is best suited to your situation.

Guess

It sounds crazy but guessing is actually a pretty popular method used by many designers. I'm not saying it's a good method, just that it's a popular one. Some designers simply pick a number out of thin air and use it as their hourly design rate. Most of the time the number they choose is much lower than they should be charging but guessing is a viable option for choosing.

Spy on your competition

Tried and true for generations, spying on your competition is an easy way to judge what the going market is for designers in your area. Simply call them up, or have a friend do it for you, and request quotes. Use those quotes to determine what they are charging and to set a baseline for your own pricing. Adjust as needed for experience and skill and then start hunting for clients.

Research industry averages

There are many organizations that compile design salaries around the globe. The AIGA and RGD are great resources in North America. Research what designer in your area are making and base your hourly rate to match.

Calculate your hourly rate

Probably the most accurate way to determine your hourly design rate is to calculate it yourself.

Add up all your expenses including general expenses and labour expenses, savings, etc.. Then estimate the number of billable hours you expect to work each week. Divide the first number by the second number to determine your hourly design rate.

For example:

Your monthly expenses including mortgage, utilities, car payment, fuel, groceries, medication, etc. = $4000/month
A spending allowance for things like movies, restaurants, treats, etc. = $400/month
Money you put aside in savings = $400/month
Total $4800/month

Billable hours you want to charge per month = 80 (20/week)
Remember that billable hours and working hours are two different things. You will only be able to bill for some of the hours you spend working each month.

Divide your monthly expenses by the number of billable hours to determine your hourly design rate.

$4800 ÷ 80 hours = $60 per hour.

In this example, the designer needs to charge $60 per hour and work a minimum of 20 billable hours per week in order to cover their expenses and savings.

Keep in mind that this is just a base and is intended to give you an idea of where to start. You do not need to use this number as your hourly design rate.

Your personal situation will also factor into this equation. If you're a student living with your parents you may not have as many expenses as someone renting or paying a mortgage.

What should you do?

I can't tell you which method is best for you. Only you can decide that. I can tell you that establishing an hourly design rate will help you regardless of whether or not you bill by the hour.

If you don't have one yet, I highly encourage you to determine your hourly rate as soon as possible.

How did you determine your hourly design rate?

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

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Jonathan

I am looking to start a web design business while I am a full time employee. I've been doing a lot of research and wondering your thoughts on a sole proprietorship vs. llc. I feel like the business side of the business is preventing me from starting the business before it's even been made. I'm not completely sure its worth setting up an llc if I am starting a business on my free time. (ex: quarterly taxes) Any help you may have is greatly appreciated.

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

Resource of the week Screenflow

This week’s resource is something I've shared before, ScreenFlow screen recording software. It has helped me streamline my graphic design business so much that I have to share it again. Using ScreenFlow has saved me so much time and headaches. Instead of teaching clients how to use their new websites and then helping them again a month or so later when they’ve forgotten, now I just record a short instructions video showing them what to do. If they need a refresher or need to train someone new, they have access to the video and they don’t have to interrupt me for help. For that reason alone I highly recommend ScreenFlow.

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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

Jul 27, 2017

Legacy Plans help build client loyalty

What are Legacy Plans you ask? Legacy Plans are when someone continues to pay a certain price when everyone else is paying more for the same service.

Physical fitness gyms do this best. When you join a gym chances are your monthly fee is fixed for life. As long as you remain a member your fee will never go up. But if you let your membership expire and then decide to come back, you will be forced to pay the same higher fee newer members are paying.

In this week's episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I discuss ways to use legacy plans with your design business. Be sure to listen to the episode for the full story.

How to use legacy plans with your design business

When you raise your design rates.

The best time to introduce legacy plans in your design business is any time you raise your design rates. Every time you raise your rates you have an opportunity to lock in your current clients at your old rate. I don't suggest you do this with every client. But good recurring clients who would benefit from the discount are perfect candidates for legacy plans.

By placing good clients on legacy plans you send them a message that you care for them. This builds loyalty and trust which translates into more business and referrals from your clients.

Maintenance plans

Maintenance plans are another opportunity to introduce legacy plans. Informing your clients that you've raised your monthly maintenance fee for managing their website is never fun. But if you tell them you've raised your rates but they're locked in at the old rate they'll appreciate your services that much more.

Retainer agreements

Legacy plans and retainer agreements go hand in hand. Informing a client that your retainer rates are going up but it doesn't affect theirs for as long as they keep paying is a great way to build client loyalty and guarantee your steady retainer income. Knowing their retainer rate will go up if they stop paying it is a great incentive for clients to keep sending you money month after month. Even if they don't have work for you.

Things to keep in mind with legacy plans

Make them feel special

When informing your clients about their legacy plans be sure to make them feel special. Tell them not all your clients are being offered this special deal. By showing the scarcity of the plan you show your clients how important they are to you.

Have an escape clause.

You can set an expiry date for any legacy plan, telling your client it will expire in one, two or three years at which point they will be billed your going rate.

You could also leave the end date open. Let your clients know that you don't know how long you will keep these legacy plans going but you will let them know well in advance should you decide to do away with them. The last thing you want is to start resenting a client years from now because they're only paying you $20 per hour when everyone else is paying you $100. So make sure you leave yourself a way to end the plan on your terms.

Do you use legacy plans with your design business?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

There's no question to answer this week but I would love to answer one of yours. Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

Tip of the week Outlining Text in Adobe Acrobat

This week's tip was shared by Dana in the Facebook Group. If you've ever had to extract some design element from a PDF file you've probably encountered the dreaded "font missing" message. Your choices are to accept a substitute font or try to match the original with the closest font you have available. Neither is the best scenario. This week's tip offers another work around. By following the steps mentioned on this page you can create a new PDF file with the fonts outlined, making it possible to extract your needed elements the way they are meant to look. Give it a try.

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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

Jul 21, 2017

Have you ever been burned due to proofing errors?

Proofing errors are the bane of all graphic designers. Anyone who has been in this business long enough knows that clients will almost always try to blame you when they find errors on their project.

You can’t really blame them, it’s human instinct to try and pass the blame. We’ve been doing it since we were young. Even a toddler who sneaks a cookie might try to blame it on one of his siblings or maybe even on the family dog.

It’s because of this instinct that we need to protect ourselves. Because when it comes to proofing errors on graphic design jobs, especially when printing is involved, there’s a lot more at stake than a simple reprimand for eating a cookie.

It’s not as big a deal when it’s a website or some other digital piece. Those errors can easily be fixed. But fixing an error on a printed job could cost thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. And you don’t want that on you.

On this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I discuss ways to protect yourself from proofing errors. Be sure to listen to the episode for the full story.

How do you protect yourself from proofing errors?

You can't. Proofing errors are going to happen. It’s the blame you need to protect yourself from and it all starts with your contract.

Your contract may be full of unintelligible legalese but all that bloated wording is there for a reason, to protect you. On your contract, you must include a clause absolving you of any blame once the client approves and signs off on a job. Once they sign off, it’s in their hands and you are clear of any blame.

For this reason, you should NEVER ACCEPT an approval from your client that says something like “we approve this job with this one small change”. No matter how trivial the change is, you need to have it viewed and approved by the client.

You may think to yourself "that paragraph that's missing a period at the end isn’t a big deal. I’ll just add the period and send the file to print."

Don’t do it.

Every time you touch a project there’s a possibility of something going wrong, something shifting, something changing. So don’t take any chances. Get the client to approve every change they ask for. Even if it means delaying a deadline to get that approval.

Here's an example of how a simple revision could go wrong.

A client tells you the job is approved once you change "S. Thompson" to "Steve Thompson" on page 3. You go to page 3, find "S. Thompson" and charge it, as requested to "Steve Thompson" and send the job to print.

But unknown to you, "S. Thompson" appears 2 times on the third page. The client wasn't specific and you didn't realize there were multiple occurrences and only changed the first one.

What started out as a simple change turns into a costly error that could have been avoided if only the client had seen the revision before it went to print.

Regarding your contract.

Your contract should state that the client is fully responsible for making sure every aspect of the job is satisfactory to their liking. This includes layout, text, copy, images, colours, folding, etc.

Your contract should also state that the client is ultimately responsible for any errors, EVEN IF THE COPY THEY SUPPLIED YOU WAS CORRECT.

This is a very important one. Clients will often proofread their copy before providing it to you and think they don't have to proofread it afterwards. You need to make sure the client still proofreads it to make sure nothing has changed between the time they supplied it and the time they approve it.

Remind your client that you are not responsible for any errors should the client not proof the job carefully.

Beyond the contract

Even with a clause in your contract absolving you of any errors due to improper proofing, you should take it upon yourself to remind the client with every proof you supply them. A simple statement told to them or a small paragraph in an email stating once again that you are not responsible for any errors or omissions once they sign off on the job.

The more you remind them, the less chance they come after you should an error be found afterwards.

Things that could help prevent errors.

Don't forget to use your computer's Spell Check/Grammar Check features. It's such an easy thing to forget to do but it could save you many headaches down the road.

Proofread your work. You are not responsible for spelling errors but they still look bad on a piece you designed. Read everything yourself to see if you can spot any problems. Tip, read from right to left, one word at a time. This will force you to read each word individually and you’ll catch more spelling errors that way.

The mind is a wonderful but weird tool. You can easily overlook misspelt words that are right in front of you as you are reading. Have you ever seen this paragraph before? Every word is misspelt. The first and last letters are correct but the middle letters are mixed up. And yet you can still read the paragraph easily enough. This goes to show you just how hard it is to spot spelling error while reading.

I cnduo't bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghhuot slelinpg was ipmorantt! See if yuor fdreins can raed tihs too.

What's the takeaway?

Graphic designers are human. Just like everyone else, we make errors. And that’s OK. Things happen. fast typing fingers might miss a beat and type something wrong. Accidental mouse clicks can shift things on a page. Copy/paste might miss something that wasn't highlighted.

Face it. Errors will happen. there’s nothing you can do about it. So you might as well protect yourself as best you can so that the blame for those errors don't fall on you.

Do you have any stories about proofing errors you would like to share?

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

Questions of the Week

There's no question this week but i would love to get one from you. Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

 

Resource of the week Coolors.co

Coolors.co is a super fast and super easy way to create, save and share colour pallets for whatever job you’re working on. Choose from a gallery of ready made pallets or create your own from scratch or based on some pre-selected colours.

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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

Jul 14, 2017

Do you explain why you took the direction you did when presenting designs to your clients?

If you belong to any graphic design groups on Facebook or Linkedin you've seen people post their work for critique. Why not, it's a great place to get the opinion of fellow designers. However, one problem that happens over and over when people explain their work is they usually explain how they designed it when what they should do is explain why they designed it.

That's the topic I cover in this week's Resourceful Designer podcast. Be sure to listen to the episode for the full story.

Explain why you designed it, not how you designed it.

Face it, clients hire you for one reason and one reason only. Your ability to get the job done. They don't care how you get it done. All they care about is the finished product. As long as you can produce good quality work in a timely fashion they will be happy.

Think of a carpenter hired to build a cabinet. The client doesn't care what tools the carpenter uses. Nor does he care what skills or techniques he employs. All the client cares about is having a well crafted and functional cabinet. The same goes for design work. It's the finished product that matters, not the journey you took to get there.

Explain why and avoid going back to the drawing board.

Client's don't reside in our world. They don't live and breath design the way we do. Because of this we sometimes forget that clients may not see our designs the same way we do.

If you take the time to enlighten the client and explain why you designed something a certain way, there's a good chance they will appreciate the design much more and you avoid having to go back to the drawing board to change a perfectly good design.

Present in a way that allows you to explain why.

Obviously, the best way to present your designs to a client is in person. Unfortunately, it's not always possible to meet face to face with them. Therefore it's up to you to present your designs in a way that allows you to talk to the client as they're seeing the design for the first time.

  • Set up a video or phone call and email or provide a link to your design for the client to see while you're talking to them.
  • Record a screen capture video explaining your design to the client and send it to them.

However you can manage it, try to be present when your client sees the design for the first time. Explain what they are seeing and explain why you chose to design it that way. Your explanation will go a long way in showing the client the value in the design.

How do you explain your designs to your clients?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Jordan

I was wondering what types of content I can post for my business on social media? I've started creating blog posts. But, I know brands are about 70% content 30% selling when it comes to social media. If you're a potato chip company for example... you can post a picture of your potato chips and say "Have a great summer with acme potato chips". If you're an music entertainment company you can post "It's Miley Cyrus' birthday today. #HappyBirthdayMiley". But, I'm at a loss for what content would be valuable to clients of a graphic design/web developing business and not just targeting other graphic designers, developers, and creatives who aren't my clientele.

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

Resource of the week; Four Week Marketing Boost.

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

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

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

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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

Jul 7, 2017

Do you get word of mouth referrals for your design business?

Growing your design business takes a lot of hard work. Especially when first starting out. Word of mouth referrals are and always will be the most effective way of achieving this growth.

Back in episode 67 of the podcast, I shared a proven strategy for getting design referrals. That episode was more geared to designers working in a specific niche. I received a lot of great feedback on that episode but one question kept coming up. How do I get design referrals if I don't have a niche? Hence this episode, be sure to listen to the podcast for all the details.

As designers, we work in a world of marketing, advertising, promoting, social sharing and so much more, but nothing beats an evangelist who spreads the word about you and your services by word of mouth.

When you break it down to its core elements, there are only two main ingredients to garner word of mouth referrals.

  • You need to offer great designs to your clients
  • You need to offer great service to your clients

That's it. If you can offer both of those you are on your way to getting word of mouth referrals.

It all comes down to client relationships. The better the relationship with your client the better the chance they will refer someone to you.

Why is word of mouth so important?

Here are some stats I came across while researching this episode.

92% of consumers are influenced by word of mouth.

This means 92% of potential clients will choose a designer based on what they are told over what they see or read in advertising.

76% of consumers refer a company they trust.

This means 76% of your clients will refer you to someone else providing they have a good relationship with you.

59% of business will ask their peers for advice before making a purchase

This means 59% of business owners, your potential clients, will ask other business owners their advice before choosing a designer.

With these numbers already in your favour, why not give them a little push. Don't sit back and wait to see what will happen. Be proactive and take charge of your own word of mouth campaign.

How you should promote word of mouth referrals

Be proactive.

Don’t wait until after the project is done to ask for referrals. Ask for referrals up front. Tell your clients from the start what services you will be providing them and ask that they share what you’re doing with others. Tell them that if they’re happy working with you, you would be grateful if they would pass on your name to friends, family and colleagues who might require similar work.

Be sure to mention other services you do that they could refer you for. Who knows, you may even get more work from them.

Offer an expiring incentive for referrals.

Even with the best of intentions clients will probably forget to refer you when the chance arises. But if you offer them an incentive, especially one with an expiry date, they will be more inclined to think about who could use your services.

Offering a gift card for every referral they send your way is nice. However, offering a gift card for every referral they send your way within the next 30 days gives them a lot more incentive to talk about you.

Give them an easy way to make referrals.

The easier you make it for them the more chance they will refer you. Give them extra business cards to hand out. Provide them with your social media profiles to share. Create a referral form on your website they can use to introduce potential clients to you.

Thank them and keep on thanking them.

As soon as you hear from a referred client, even if they don't hire you, you should thank the person that referred them to you. Letting your client know how much you appreciate the referral will go a long way to garner even more referrals.

If the referred client does hire you, let the client that referred them know how the project turned out. You can even send them a thank you gift afterwards regardless if you gave them a referral incentive or not. The bigger the project the more personal the thank you should be.

It's all up to you.

By taking advantage of these simple tools you will become more visible, gain the trust of your clients, build better relationships with them, and increase your bottom line.

Start your word of mouth campaign today!

How have you promoted word of mouth referrals for your design business?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from James

Thank you for your article on retainer agreements. I had a question. How do you handle the assignment of rights for the artwork. What if it is likely that one will be designing logos or original characters under a retainer agreement?

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

Tip of the week The Golden Ratio

I'm not going to go into the mathematics of the Golden Ratio (or Golden Spiral). Simply put, it's a formula that appears in many places in nature. Many believe it's the formula that adds beauty to the things we see around us. By incorporating this formula into your design work you can create designs that are much more appealing to the eye. Have a look at these YouTube videos on how to incorporate the Golden Ratio into your design work.

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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

Jun 30, 2017

Have you ever heard of upselling?

Upselling is the process of getting someone to upgrade their purchase or getting them to add things to their order at the time of sale. Most predominant in the fast food industry where you will often be asked if you would like to increase the size of your drink or if you would like fries with your order. Upselling is a great way for a business to increase revenue. 

Many people believe "upselling" is a dirty word. A way of manipulating clients into spending more money. But upselling can actually help clients get more value from their purchase and in turn, help your business get more loyalty and revenue from the client.

When done correctly, upselling can help build deeper client relationships. Don't view it as a sales tactic, view it as a client happiness tactic because of the extra value you are providing them.

In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I discuss ways you can use upselling to your advantage. Be sure to listen to the episode for the full story.

How upselling applies to your design business.

Every time a client discusses a new design project with you, it opens a window of opportunity for upselling other services and products you can offer them.

For example, while discussing a new web design project you can offer additional services such as hosting, website security, backup, upkeep and more. You could also offer to design their social media profiles so they match the new website.

These are things the client may not think of. By upselling them on these services you are providing them with added value while also increasing your revenue.

Designing a logo for a new company is the perfect time to upsell them on stationery, signage, vehicle wraps, social media branding and so much more.

Even something as simple as offering stickers with their logo on them is an added value for the client.

Do you offer print brokering?

Print brokering is a perfect opportunity for upselling. Clients often don't realize that printing costs decrease exponentially as quantities increase. So a print order that costs $200 for 1000 items might only cost $275 for 2000 items. Paying an extra $75 to double their order may be worth it for the client. You are providing them with an extra value while also increasing your profit margin on the print order.

Do you work on retainer?

Not only do retainer agreements provide you with a guaranteed steady income, they can provide immense value to your client. A retainer agreement in itself is a valuable upsell for your client that uses your services on a regular basis. Especially if you offer them a discount on your rates in exchange for the guaranteed income.

Give it a try

Upselling to design clients has been happening since the inception of the design industry so why not take advantage of it to provide extra value to your clients while also increasing your revenue?

It's very easy to do. Simply offer the client more than they expected while discussing design projects with them. Not only will they appreciate the added value, but it will make them more loyal to you and strengthen the important client relationship you are building. Both parties win and there's nothing dirty about that.

Upselling, give it a try.

What examples of upselling have you used?

I would love to know how you use upselling to increase your design revenue. Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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

This week’s question comes from Florida Boy

Hello Mark! I've listened to a lot of your podcasts, and while at this moment I'm not looking to make a leap just yet into becoming a solopreneur, I am very much inclined to doing so. In multiple podcasts, Mark, you mention that although we are alone, we do not need to go about conducting business alone; it's OKAY to have help. I have over a decade of experience with Print media, shirts, signs, etc., but what if, instead of only contracting out specific things, I contracted, say, ALL the work out and focused on maintaining relationships with the customers and designers and all the marketing aspects? Does it seem like too much to not have a handle on? I would really love to hear your thoughts on this. Thank you and keep up the great work on all your podcasts!

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

Resource of the week Missinglettr

Missinglettr creates strategic, automatic social media campaigns that drive traffic for an entire year. Leaving you to focus on writing your next blog post. I've been using Missinglettr for several months now and am very pleased with the results I'm getting. Missinglettr is a simple way to create social engagement without taking up too much of your time. If you have, or you know someone who has a blog, Missinglettr might be the solution to help spread it to the masses.

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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

Jun 22, 2017

Who do you have on your Design Team?

Have you ever heard the term it takes a village to raise a child? Basically what it means is that a person is a sum of the people around them. Those people around them mould and form them into the person they become.

The same can be said of you as a designer. You are the child in the village. As such, you require a team to make you the most well-rounded designer your clients can hire. That team needs to be made up of people that can help your business succeed.

In this week's episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I discuss who should be on your team and how to find them. Be sure to listen to the episode for the full story. Here's a brief outline of what I talked about on the show.

Who should make up your team?

Your team should be made up of people with skills to complement the services you offer. People with skills you either don't have yourself, skills you are not that good at, or skills you simply don't want to do.

People to consider adding to your team.

  • Photographers
  • Illustrators
  • Copywriters
  • Programmers
  • Translators
  • Print designers
  • web designers
  • Developers
  • Facebook ad expert
  • Email marketing expert
  • Sales funnel specialists
  • SEO Experts
  • etc.

There are much more people you can have on your team but you get the idea.

Where do you find team members?

Good places to find team members are on websites like toptal.com, upwork.com or even fiverr.com. But don't limit yourself to these resources. People to include on your team can be found everywhere if you keep and eye out. Pick up business cards whenever you can. Write down names you hear on podcasts or read on blog posts. Take note of people mentioned in magazine articles, people you see on social media, people you meet at conventions and gatherings. People referred to you by family, friends and peers.

Basically, anyone with a skill you may end up needing some day should be added to your team.

They don't need to know they're on your team.

Building your team is mostly a one-way streak. It's great if you can get to know someone before adding them to your team but it's not necessary. All that is necessary is that you know what they can provide to you and your business. Team members don't even have to know they're on your team. In fact, they don't even have to know who you are to be part of your team!

If you hear of a great architectural photographer in your area you could add them to your team of photographers to call upon should the need arise. When the time comes and you need architectural photography you'll already know someone to contact. That's the reason to build a team.

Plus, when a client asks if you can take photos of their building you can say yes, knowing you have a great photographer you could hire for the job.

Team members to make your life easier.

Besides people with design related skills, you may need you should also have team members to help you run your business.

  • Bookkeeper
  • Lawyer
  • Accountant
  • Virtual Assistant
  • Business Coach
  • Mentor
  • Networking groups
  • Your Peers

And don't forget to include your family and friends. You need their support more than anyone's if you are going to succeed in your business.

Who do you have on your team?

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 Mrs. Flowerpot

How do you politely decline clients who requests part of your intellectual property. ie. suppliers details, how I created a particular graphic and more specific questions about my practice that has taken me years to gather the knowledge for. These incidences have happened to me in the past and in trying to be helpful, I have in fact allowed them to take work and fees from me. Am I holding my knowledge too tight? How much should we share? How do we decline their questions without the conversation becoming awkward?

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

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

Jun 15, 2017

Have you made the transition yet from employee to entrepreneur?

This week's podcast episode is a bit different. Instead of answering a listener's question at the end of the episode like I normally do, I chose to create an entire podcast episode to answer a great question I received.

Here is the question I received from Dave.

I work full-time as a graphic designer/prepress operator and have wanted to start my own freelance business for some time. I have also been learning web development to broaden my skills, which I usually try and work on at weekends along with juggling life as a new dad with a 5 month old son.

I am at the stage where I want to take on small design jobs to build my client base before eventually being a home based designer full-time.

So my question is how did you approach the transition of moving from the print shop to working for yourself? how long did it take? and do you have any insights for someone who is very time poor that wants to make the leap into self employment?

Thanks again for everything you do through the podcast, it has answered so many questions for me already. keep it up!!!

kindest regards,

Dave

I thought this question merited more than just a couple of minutes at the end of the show.

My Story

To fully answer Dave's question I need to tell my story of how I made the transition from employee to entrepreneur. I'm not going to go into everything here. If you want to know my full transition story you'll need to listen to the podcast.

The short version is when the print shop I worked at decided web site design was a service they no longer wanted to offer I took my skills and knowledge home with me and started a part-time business in the evenings.

It didn't take long for web clients to start asking me to design things that were a direct conflict of interest with my day job. After discussing it with my wife I made the decision to start working towards the day I could leave the print shop and work full-time for myself.

One year later I handed in my resignation and never regretted the decision.

Of course, there's a lot more to the story so be sure to listen to the podcast.

My advice for those getting ready to transition from employee to entrepreneur.

Create a business

Freelancing on the side doing the odd job here and there is great. But if you are planning to someday work for yourself full-time you should start a business now. By registering an official business you will have a much easier time in setting things up when it comes to dealing with banks, credit, suppliers, and so on. Not to mention all the tax write-offs you can claim through a business.

Create a buffer

Unfortunately, some people are thrust into the transition situation without warning through business closures, downsizing or any other number of reasons. But if you have the time to set things up I suggest you create a cash buffer to get you buy the slow times, because there will be slow times, especially at the beginning. Saving up six months worth of salary is usually a good buffer.

Build up a client list

If at all possible, try to form relationships with the clients you work with at your present job before transitioning. If you're lucky they may follow you when you leave. Or they may refer new clients your way if they know you're a trustworthy and skilful person.

Tell your employer

The first thing you should do is make sure you don't have any agreements with your current employer saying you cannot start a business on the side. If no such agreements are in place then you should let your employer know what you are doing. They don't need to know you eventually want to leave, but they should be aware of what type of business you are running after hours. They may even encourage and help you out. The last thing you want is for your employer to discover your side business through some third party.

Don't burn bridges

When the time finally comes to part ways from your current job, do so in an amicable way. No matter what you thought of your boss or the company you should part on good terms. You never know when you might require their services in the future or whether or not they may refer clients your way.

Being an entrepreneur is a wonderful thing

I love working for myself from home. I could never see myself working for someone else again. However, self-employment isn't for everyone. It takes a certain type of individual to have the drive and discipline to make it work. If you think running your own graphic design business is something you want to do I highly encourage you to start setting the pieces in place today for your transition. Mark your calendar and get working towards the day you make the leap from employee to entrepreneur.

Best of luck on your transition.

How did your transition go?

I would love to hear how your transition from employee to entrepreneur went. Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Resource of the week Udemy

As graphic designers, we need to keep our skills and knowledge in peak form. Udemy is one of the best places to learn new skills or brush up on rusty ones. Udemy offers a wide variety of courses for all stages of your career. I've personally bought courses on SEO, Google Analytics, Facebook Ads and more. Have a look today and see what you're going to learn next.

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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