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Resourceful Designer: Strategies for running a graphic 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: Strategies for running a graphic design business
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Now displaying: July, 2017
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.

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

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.

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

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.

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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