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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: December, 2017
Dec 22, 2017

Do you have the 3Cs required to run a successful design business?

There’s a lot more to running a successful design business than just being a good designer.

In fact, being a good designer may be the least important thing for your design business.

Don't get me wrong. If you're a bad designer chances are your business won't succeed. However, I know many great designers who don’t have what it takes to run a successful design business either.

There’s nothing wrong with working for an employer throughout your design career. Just like are some chefs are destined to run their own restaurants while other chefs are content working in someone else's kitchen.

But if you are a designer who wants to run your own design business, it will take skill, determination and perseverance. Plus a little thing I like to call the 3 Cs. Be sure to listen to the podcast where I go into more detail on each of the following.

Curiosity.

As a designer, you need to be curious.

Curiosity is what will keep you growing as designers.

Curiosity is what helps you to keep up with trends or learn from the past.

Curiosity is what keeps you in the know on new software, apps and gadgets to help you in your work.

It’s your curiosity that ensures you don’t get left behind.

Competence.

You have to have a level of competence if you want to succeed as a designer and as a business person. It's not necessary that you be a great designer to run a successful design business, but it sure helps.

Competence is what helps you grow and master your craft. You may be good at what you do, but imagine how much better you can be if you continue to pursue it and get better at it. That takes competence.

Confidence.

If you have unwavering confidence in yourself, chances are you are going to succeed.

Having confidence means that even when you fail you succeed because you have the confidence to learn from your failure and become better for it.

Look at Thomas Edison, the man who said he failed himself to success. In his quest to invent the light bulb he had many failures before succeeding. In fact, there’s a famous quote by Edison that goes.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work."

Seeing failure as an opportunity to learn takes confidence.

The same goes if you want to run a successful design business. When a client doesn’t like a design or a direction you are taking. Don’t see it as a failure. See it as a learning opportunity and grow from it.

Even the greatest designers in the world get it wrong more often than they get it right. But when they do get it right, it’s great.

It’s all part of the process. Having confidence in yourself and your abilities will go a long way in ensuring your business’s success.

The 3Cs

There you have it. The 3 Cs to a successful design business.

  • Curiosity
  • Competence
  • Confidence

When you have all three, your road to success will be almost guaranteed.

How are you with the 3Cs?

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 Rich

I am starting a website design and media company and I want to offer reseller hosting. It seems like I have heard you say that you offer hosting to your clients but I haven't heard any specifics. Do you have any specific/detailed advice for getting started with reseller hosting?

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

Resource of the week BackupBuddy

I've shared BackupBuddy as a resource before. The reason I'm doing so again is that iThemes just released an update to this great WordPress plugin that makes it even easier for web designers to work between staging sites and live sites.

The new and improved Push & Pull features means never having to make changes on a live site again, potentially breaking it. With BackupBuddy you simply pull the most recent live site to your testing server. Make and test the changes, and then push them out to the live site. It's that easy.

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

 
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
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

 
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

 
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