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Resourceful Designer - Resources to help streamline your graphic design and web design business.

Offering resources to help streamline your home based graphic design and web design business so you can get back to what you do best… Designing!
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Resourceful Designer - Resources to help streamline your graphic design and web design business.
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Now displaying: April, 2017
Apr 27, 2017

Did you know your design business has a reputation?

Have you ever thought about your design business’s reputation? What both your clients and more importantly potential clients know about you?

Having a good reputation for your design business will not only enhance those important client relationships. But it can also increase your overall revenue and profit.

So it’s vital that you do everything to avoid a negative reputation and make sure everyone sees you in a positive way.

In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I share tips for improving your design business's reputation. Be sure to listen to the podcast for the full story.

Here are some tips to manage your design business’s reputation

Timely responses

Provide timely responses to all inquiries, comments, complaints or requests you receive. It doesn’t matter if it’s on social media, by email, a phone call, even an old fashion letter. Getting back to someone in a timely manner will help your reputation.

Handle criticism well

Negative feedback and criticism can be harsh. How you handle it will influence your reputation. Reply to these comments politely and constructively, and use this feedback as a way to improve yourself and your business. You are a designer after all. Hopefully, you’ve developed a thick skin in dealing with criticism.

Promote your clients

Promote customer testimonials, success stories, and customer references on your website and print promotional materials. Clients like thinking they’re special. Show them off and your work along with it to your other clients.

Create a client referral program

One thing you may want to try is creating a customer referral program. It could be a discount on future orders or a gift card to a popular store or restaurant. Doing so will encourage happy customers to spread the word about you and your services. In the process, your reputation will grow.

Ask clients for reviews and testimonials

Encourage happy clients to write reviews and testimonials about their experience dealing with you. Having a client say good things about you will go a long way to increasing your positive reputation. Be sure to share them as mentioned above.

Share with your clients

Create newsletters, blogs, and even vlogs to keep your clients informed about new products or services you offer as well as industry news, and other helpful tips or resources. If you show you care about your clients they will care about you.

Follow your clients

Show you care about your clients by following them on social media. If they mention an event or a milestone congratulate them and share their message. To make this easier Set up social management tools and Google alerts so you can track and respond to client mentions on the web. Don't forget things like birthdays, anniversaries, events, etc.

Better Business Bureau

Set up a BBB (Better Business Bureau) profile so consumers can check your credibility. This will go a long way in improving your reputation.

Customer appreciation

Create customer appreciation events that are focused on thanking your customers for their loyal business.

Community involvement

Nothing makes you or your business look better than showing that you care about your community. Sponsor local organizations and teams, or donate time, money, or services to a charity to show your community support.

Ask for advice

Create customer surveys and offer a valuable coupon in exchange for your customer's time and input. Letting them know you care about their opinion will go a long way to helping your reputation.

How do you manage your design business's reputation?

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 Jerome

I am a young student and I am into graphic design. I need help choosing a name for my business.

To find out what I told Jerome 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 20-30 minute of your time and focus on the parts of your marketing material that are often overlooked or neglected.  After completing this four-week plan you will be in a better position to present yourself to, and win over new clients.

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

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

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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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

Apr 20, 2017

Are you an expert graphic designer?

Have you ever felt uncomfortable being referred to as an expert graphic designer or expert web designer?

Can I ask you why you felt that way?

I’ve seen it over and over, designers cringing at the title of expert because they don’t feel they deserve it.

In this week's episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I share a little secret with you. You are an expert.

Don’t believe me?

The Webster Dictionary defines Expert as follows:

An Expert is someone having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience.

With this official definition in mind, let me ask you again. Are you an expert?

I hope you said yes.

I'm guilty myself.

I must admit. I used to be guilty of this as well. I felt uncomfortable when people would say something like...

“Hi Mark, so and so told me I should talk to you because you’re a web design expert”

or “Hi Mark, I need a logo for my business and I’m told you’re the expert”

It used to make me uncomfortable. But once I realized we're all experts in someone's eyes I started embracing it. Now if someone asks me if I’m an expert I proudly say yes, yes I am. Allow me to shower you with my expertise. OK, maybe I don't say that last part, but I don’t shy away from the title anymore.

Why does being called an expert bother designers?

I’ll tell you why. Because as designers we’re creative people, and being creative people we’re constantly learning to improve our skills and knowledge. But if we’re constantly learning to improve our skills and knowledge, and there’s always so much new to learn. how can we be experts? It doesn't make sense.

The fact of the matter is, we are experts to everyone not in our industry.

  • To everyone who doesn’t understand the workings of a website. we are an expert.
  • To everyone who doesn’t understand the intricacies of proper branding, we are an expert.
  • To everyone who doesn’t understand the nuances of type manipulation and colour usage and page layout, we are an expert.

Because we have skills and knowledge they don’t possess we are experts in their eyes.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been a designer for many years like I have, or if you’re just getting into this profession.

To everyone who relies on our skills and design knowledge, we are experts. So embrace it.

Trust me, you want it this way. How do you think your business would be doing if your clients didn’t see you as an expert at what you do. I don’t think I have to tell you the answer to that one, do I?

How do you feel when someone calls you an expert?

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 Audrey

My name is Audrey and I'm from Sydney  I've been working as a graphic designer for 1 year. I'm an in house graphic designer for a fashion brand but I do freelance web design work outside of my daytime job. I have question about how you do web design. Do you show your client a wireframe or just a high fidelity mock up and do you code as well to build a website? Like html and css. Or do you work with a developer to build a website. Also lastly what's the difference between web design and UI&UX?

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

Resource of the week Espresso

This week's resource is a web editor called Espresso by MacRabbit. I've been using Espresso since it first came out for all my HTML, PHP and CSS coding. I've created over 50 websites using this application. It's very well laid out and very simple to use. Here's the description from their website.

Espresso is for people who make delightful, innovative and fast websites — in an app to match. Espresso helps you write, code, design, build and publish with flair and efficiency. Sophisticated text features, amazing Live Preview with Browser Xray, CSSEdit tools, the Navigator, Dynamo auto-building, and Server Sync. Whether you're starting from scratch or tweaking a live site, Espresso has you covered.

Subscribe to the podcast

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

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

Apr 14, 2017

Would clients stick with you if you take advantage of them?

I was thinking recently how our design clients rely on us when it comes to their branding and marketing material. How easy would it be to take advantage of that trust and make a few extra dollars on each project we bill them for.

This reminded me of a joke I heard not too long ago.

A young boy enters a barber shop and the barber whispers to his customer, "This is the dumbest kid in the world. Watch while I prove it to you."

The barber puts an old crumpled dollar bill in one hand and two brand new shiny quarters in the other, then calls the boy over and asks, "Which do you want, son?" The boy takes the quarters, thanks the barber and leaves.

"What did I tell you?" said the barber. "That kid never learns!"

Later, when the customer leaves, he sees the same young boy coming out of the ice cream store.

"Hey, son! May I ask you a question?

Why did you take the quarters instead of the dollar bill?"

The boy licked his cone and replied,

"Because the day I take the dollar, the game is over!"

The moral of this joke can apply to our design businesses just as easily.

I’ve talked before about pricing strategies for your design business, as well as how raising your prices can actually attract more design work. But one thing I haven’t talked about before is our ability to take advantage of our clients.

We work in an industry without standardized pricing. Someone could literally pay $5 for a logo or fifty thousand dollars. We’ve seen it happen both ways. And paying more doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting a better product for your money.

With this wide pricing range available to us, it could be tempting to take advantage of our clients for a few extra dollars here and there. it would be so easy to pad your time if you’re charging by the hour. After all, your client doesn’t know how long you actually spent on their project.

If you bill by the project you could easily pad that price as well in order to put some extra dough in your bank account.

I’ve seen it happen before. I’ve seen designers boast about it. They get greedy and if it works once they try upping it again next time.

But just like the kid in the joke, if you take more for your services than they merit, your game could soon be over.

I knew a designer who priced himself beyond what his market could afford and he suffered. In fact, a couple of my clients are with me for that exact reason, their previous designer got greedy and started charging too much.

I’m not saying you’re not worth your rates. In fact, most designers I talk to are not charging enough for the services they provide.

What I’m saying is know what your rates are and stick to them.

This applies to all levels of business. I know some designers who won't take on projects under $5000, and that’s fine. There is a market at that level of work. But the same rules apply to them as to those who do less expensive work.

If they charge $10,000 for a corporate website that’s only worth $7,000 it could come back and bite them.

This doesn’t only apply to cost. The same goes for services and features. There’s a term that started in the restaurant industry but has migrated across all business. It’s called the upsell. If you’ve ever been asked if you would like to turn your meal order into a combo, that’s an upsell. They are trying to persuade you to purchase something that sounds like a great deal. A fry and a drink for an extra $1? What a bargain. You'd be crazy not to take it.

What they did was get you to spend an extra dollar, money you weren’t planning on spending to begin with, on something that cost them only $0.30. They didn't have your best interest in mind. They were simply trying to make an extra $.070 off you.

The same applies to your business.

If all a client needs is a very simple $500 website don’t try to sell them a $1000 website full of features they don’t need.

Again, I’m not saying upselling is wrong, providing what you add is of value to the client and isn't just there to increase your bottom line.

There are times that the client won't think of everything. In fact, most times the client doesn’t think of everything. That’s part of what we do as designers, offer solutions to their problems, even if they don’t see the problem yet. But again, don’t sell them on something they don’t need just to make a buck.

There’s a local web design company in my area that doesn’t like me because I’ve stollen so many of their clients away from them. I didn’t seek out to steal them. Those clients came to me when they found out they were being charged for services they didn't need and were not even using. That web design company was taking the dollar bill instead of the two quarters.

There’s a big difference between being greedy and charging an honest price no matter how expensive it is. And clients are not that dumb not to realize it. They may be fooled for a bit, but not forever.

If you get greedy and start charging more for your services than what they are worth, the game will be over for you as well.

Have you ever been taken advantage of?

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 Michael

I've been a professional graphic designer for 8 years this August, but I'm just now transitioning from general graphic design to doing mostly web design. What are some resources you can recommend for an easier wire-framing and design mockup process.

I'm aware of a couple applications like Sketch, and Adobe XD. Have you had any experience with either of those and if so what has your experience been thus far?

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

Tip of the week; prevent wrist pain

Many designers suffer from wrist pain. Sometimes it can get so bad that surgery is the only solution. This week I would like to share a tip that a doctor gave me many years ago when I was suffering from chronic wrist pain. Tilt your keyboard backwards. Positioning your keyboard so that the number keys at the top are lower than the spacebar at the bottom forces your wrists into a more natural position and removes the strain that often is the cause of wrist pain. Since I changed the angle of my keyboard my wrist pain has gone away completely. That was over ten years ago. Invest in a [easyazon_link keywords="keyboard tray" locale="US" tag="resourcefuldesigner-20"]keyboard tray[/easyazon_link] that allows you to tilt your keyboard backwards. Your wrists will thank you.

Subscribe to the podcast

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

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

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

Apr 6, 2017

Can you use more design referrals?

We are graphic designers. We have the know-how and creative ability to promote our own business like no other businesses can. We can tweak our websites to get the absolute most out of them. We can go out and network until the cows come home, (whatever that means).

And yet, even with all of our know-how and ability to promote ourselves, nothing feels better than getting a call from someone looking for a designer and hearing that you were referred to them by a satisfied client.

I don’t know the actual statistics, but I can almost guarantee that when it comes to freelance and home-based designers acquiring new work, referrals is the number one way by far.

Maybe you’ve been in business for several years like I have and have an established client base. Or maybe you're just starting your graphic design business. You chose the perfect name for it. You’ve designed a bunch of marketing material to help you promote it, including a stunning website with a great About Page. You’ve even figured out what your pricing strategy will be. Then you go out into the world, or more likely your local area and land yourself those first few elusive clients. 

After creating some stunning designs for them you sit back and keep your fingers crossed that they'll spread the word about your amazing talents and start sending referrals your way.

In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I discuss one strategy to get people referring you. A strategy that I’ve used recently for getting design referrals with great success.

How to improve your chances of getting design referrals.

This strategy works best if you are part a niche you want to work in. Preferably something you know a lot about. A hobby, group or interest of yours. It’s not absolutely necessary. However, it will work better if you are.

Go to where like-minded people in your niche hang out. It may be in person or it could be online like in Facebook Groups or on Reddit.

The first thing you want to do is make friends and start creating relationships with them. Then offer help the people in that space by sharing your knowledge. Try to solve people's problems by answering questions about design and websites you come across.

Over time this will create social proof that you are an expert in your field and people will start to recognize you. Then, when they require someone with your skills they’ll know who to turn to.

What I did to expedite this strategy.

Here’s the strategy that has been a game changer for me and the reason I’m getting so much work in the podcasting space, my niche of choice.

Offer design work at no charge.

No, I am not suggesting you should work for free. If someone contacts you asking for free work turn them away quickly unless there’s a very valid reason why you should work for free.

What I’m saying is offer a completed design to someone who could use it even though they never asked for it.

Let me explain. As graphic designers, we are constantly learning new things, expanding our skills, and exploring our creativity. Whenever you decide to test out some new technique or tutorial, try out some new Photoshop plugins or actions you just acquired or play around with a new font. Instead of just fooling around with them, try designing something for someone who needs it and offer it to them at no obligation to use it.

Don’t tell them their current design is bad. Simply tell them you were trying out a new technique or such and decided to use their “brand” as a gunnie pig. Since you can't use the design for anything yourself, they might as well have it.

Here’s the payback. The person you offer it to will either love it and tell everyone about it. Or they will thank you but decide not to use it, but they will still be grateful nonetheless that you thought of them and tell everyone about it. The next time they hear of someone who is looking for a designer you can almost guarantee they will mention you.

The bonus thing is you didn't waste your time designing the artwork since you used that time to learn a new skill or technique.

Keep in mind.

Do good work

Face it, If your work isn’t good you won't get any referrals from it.

Create a relationship

This strategy works best if the person you offer the free artwork to already knows you. That's where offering help and advice to those in the niche pays off. The more you participate the more your name will spread amongst the community and become better known which is another benefit that will help garner referrals.

Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals.

Once you finish a project for a client and you know they’re satisfied, ask them to refer you to anyone else they think could use your services.

If you’re not comfortable asking them outright here’s something you can do. Set yourself a reminder for two weeks after you either finish the project or two weeks after the event the artwork was designed for took place. When that time arrives, send your client an email asking them either how the event went, or how the project you did for them is working out. Mention that you enjoyed working on the project with them and ask them to contact you when (not if) they have more projects for you. Then tell them, in the meantime, to please feel free to refer you to anyone they think could use your services.

What this does is put you fresh in their mind again. If they do know someone that could use your services they will let them know. Plus it has the added benefit of building that relationship with them. You didn’t forget about them or their event once the project was done. The next time they have a project they’ll remember your effort and contact you.

If you do all of these things an amazing thing can happen. People will start referring you. What’s even more amazing is some of those referrals may come from people you didn’t even work with. Especially if you’re focusing on a niche where people like to share and help each other.

So whatever your hobby or passion is, be it motorcycles, line dancing, butterfly collecting or basket weaving, connect with other like-minded people online or in person and offer design-related advice whenever you can. Build those all important relationships.

If you follow this strategy the time will come when you will be rewarded with all the referrals you could dream of.

What strategies do you use to get design referrals?

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 Sulley

Sulley has a question about working online as a freelancer. I easily get overwhelmed when presented with a job offer such as designing a logo for a company. Mainly because I try to take the professional approach and I don't know where to begin. When is the right time to give a questionnaire? When do I create a mood board? How does a proposal come to play and how do I submit finished works?

I'm still learning to be a good designer. I started working for people sometime in the last year and I don't feel like I'm taking a professional approach which might hurt my design works in the future. Any advice from you will be of great help to me. Thanks for taking time to read all these. Hope you have a wonderful day.

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

Tip of the week: Update your email signature.

I mentioned back in episode 2 of the podcast how it's possible that your existing clients don't know everything you can do for them. Help ease that confusion by including bullet points or a short sentence in your email signature briefly explaining what services you offer. If you're lucky you may just pick up some new projects because of it.

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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