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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: September, 2017
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
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

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

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

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
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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