Info

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!
RSS Feed iOS App
Resourceful Designer: Strategies for running a graphic design business
2024
June
May
April
March
February
January


2023
December
November
October
September
July
May
April
March
February
January


2022
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2021
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2020
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2019
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2018
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2017
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2016
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2015
December
November
October
September


All Episodes
Archives
Now displaying: December, 2018
Dec 24, 2018

A look back at 2018 and a look ahead to 2019.

I want you to take a look back at what you accomplished and at what you failed to achieve in 2018. With that in mind, what are you going to do to make 2019 even better?

I don’t know your situation. I don’t know your family dynamics. I don’t know your level of education. I don’t know your current work situation. Maybe you’re a student still learning design. Perhaps you’re a new designer still getting your feet wet. Perhaps you’re a veteran designer like I am. Maybe you work for yourself, or maybe you work for someone else.

Whatever your situation, I want you to take some time to look back at 2018 and think about your accomplishments and your perceived failures. I say "perceived failures" because they are only failures if you've given up on them entirely.

Like most people, you probably had some goals for yourself and your design business. Perhaps it was to start your own design business or to land that first paying client. Maybe it was a financial goal you set for yourself — a specific dollar figure you wanted to reach in revenue.

Did you reach those goals?

For those goals you accomplished, where you satisfied with the outcome? Thinking back, are there ways you could have made reaching those goals easier for yourself?

If there are goals you didn't reach, what prevented you from reaching them? Have you given up on them or are you working even harder to achieve them in 2019?

My 2018

I want to share some of my accomplishments from 2018 with you.

Resourceful Designer

  • Released 46 podcast episodes
  • Over 200k episode downloads in 2018
  • New Amazon Alexa Skill for Resourceful Designer
  • New Resourceful Designer App for IOSand Android
  • Resourceful Designer released on Spotify.

My design business

My 2019 goals

I have big plans for 2019. First off, I’m thinking of narrowing down my niche. Or, at least concentrating more on a particular niche while continuing with what I’m doing now.

I want to speak at more conferences. In 2018 I had two public speaking engagements, and I would like to do more.

I want to grow the listenership of Resourceful Designer. I know there are many more designers out there searching for answers for their design business. I want to be the source of those answers if possible. You can help me achieve this goal by helping spread the word about the podcast. Let your fellow designers know they can listen on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple podcasts or download the App.

And of course. I’m looking forward to engaging with you in the new Resourceful Designer Community. 

So long 2018

As 2018 comes to an end. I encourage you to reflect on this past year. Think about everything you’ve accomplished and those things you fell short on. And come up with a plan to make 2019 even better. To help, I suggest you listen to episode 55 Setting Goals For Your Design Business.

I look forward to helping you in 2019.

What are your goals for 2019?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Listen to the podcast on the go.

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Spotify
Listen on Android
Listen on Stitcher
Listen on iHeartRadio

Contact me

I would love to hear from you. You can send me questions and feedback using my feedback form.

Follow me on TwitterFacebook and Instagram

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 17, 2018

Try this pricing strategy for your design business.

I learned of the three-tier pricing strategy many years ago, but I never gave it much thought in regards to the design industry. Until recently that is. A few months ago I came across it again while reading a business book. A day or two later I was watching a YouTube video, and a designer mentioned using a three-tier pricing strategy in his design proposals.

Maybe there's something to this I thought and I decided to give it a try. And you know what? It works. I’ve used it on several proposals recently with great results.

What is a three-tier pricing strategy?

A three-tier pricing strategy is when you offer three different pricing choices for essentially the same service or product but with different options which increases the value for each one. 

Look at this example of a fictional web hosting company using a three-tier pricing strategy.

A web host may offer three different hosting package.

A $4.99/mo package that is good for 1 site and offers basic security

A $9.99/mo package that is good for 3 sites, offers advanced security and monthly site backups and a free Basic SSL Certificate.

A $49.99/mo package that is good for unlimited sites, offers Super advanced security including daily malware monitoring, plus daily backups and the free Wildcard SSL Certificate.

I know you’ve seen this type of pricing strategy before. You’ve probably also noticed that companies usually highlight the middle price as the “recommended” or “most popular” one according to the seller. That’s because it’s the option they are hoping you will choose. The other two are there to help you come to that decision.

Why a three-tier pricing strategy works

There are two main reasons why this type of pricing strategy works.

  1. It gives the purchaser options to choose from, which makes them feel more in control of what they are buying.
  2. It showcases the value of what the purchaser is buying making their choice easier.

In the above web host example, the buyer sees three options.

One that’s good for one website, another for three websites and a third for unlimited sites.

It also shows escalating value options at each tier. Tier 2 offers more advanced security plus backups and an SSL Certificate where Tier 1 doesn’t. Tier 3 offers super advanced security PLUS daily malware monitoring. It also provides daily backups instead of only monthly and a Wildcard SSL Certificate over a standard SSL Certificate.

By offering these three options to a potential client, the hosting company is altering the purchaser's mindset. Instead of giving the client one option and having them ponder “is this a good value for me?” they are given three options and instead ask themselves “which one of these is the best value for me?”

A single pricing option requires a yes or no decision. But by introducing the variables in three-tier pricing, you force the client to contemplate their decision making them feel more in control of their buying choice. And when a client feels in control of their buying choice there's less chance of them deciding to shop elsewhere.

The other benefit of the three-tier pricing strategy is how it educates the client on the value of what it is they are buying. They see what their money is getting them.

The client came to the website looking for web hosting for their one site. But now they are shown that there are different values available to choose from when it comes to hosting a website. Even though tier 2 allows up to three websites, the added value included with that option may persuade the client to choose it even though they only have one site to host.

You can almost predict the outcome

The great thing about a three-tier tier pricing strategy is that you can practically guarantee what option a client will choose. Why do you think so many sites highlight the “recommended” or “Best Value” option? It's because they made it the most tempting of the three. Some people call that middle tier the "anchor price" or the "pillar price". You base your entire strategy on that price.

How a three-tier pricing strategy works

This pricing strategydoesn’t work very well if you charge an hourly rate based on your time. For it to work, you should be using fixed, project-based or value-based pricing.

You start by figuring out a price for your ideal proposal and what benefits/value to offer with it. That's your anchor price. It should be the best value for the price.

Once you’ve determined your anchor price, you create a lower priced option with fewer benefits/value. Make this more economical option close in price to your anchor price. You wan the client to look at the first two options and come to the conclusion that tier 2 is the better deal even though it costs more. For Tier 3, you set the price significantly higher and offer a lot more value with it. But most clients can usually do without the added benefit offered in Tier 3.

When a client looks at the three tiers, there’s a  good chance they choose Tier 2, your anchor price. Most people will see the cost vs value of Tier 2 as the better bang for their buck.

Most will skip over Tier 1 because they don’t want to be the person who chose the cheap route. It’s a prestige thing. Tier 3 is there to show the client there are more expensive options, making them feel like they are getting a bargain by choosing Tier 2.

Automobile manufacturers embrace this strategy. Most cars are available in three models. A base model, a deluxe model, and a Luxury model. Which model do you think sells the most? It's the deluxe model — the one in the middle.

There's nothing wrong with the base model vehicle. It will get you from point A to B just fine. But even though the deluxe model cost more, it comes with extra options. All those bells and whistlesare usually enough to get people to choose the deluxe model. 

That’s three-tier pricing at it’s best.

Not many people will choose tier 3, The luxury option, but embrace those who do, they really want to work with you.

Also, keep in mind, you do not want to underprice Tier 1. Make sure that if a client does choose that first option, you are not losing money on it. Trust me; those car manufacturers are still making good money any time they sell a base model vehicle.

Implementing a three-tier pricing strategy for your design business

So how does this apply to your design business? Let’s look at two examples using website and logo design. Keep in mind that you can apply this same principle to any design project.

When quoting on a website design, you may want to offer something like this.

Tier 1) $1,500 
Design a website based on the content and material provided by the client and install it on the server of their choosing. The client will be responsible for all maintenance and upkeep of website after launch.

Tier 2) $3,000 + $600/year for maintenance
Design a website. Provided content will be edited by a professional copywriter ensuring maximum SEO impact. Submit website to Google and other directories for faster indexing. Provide site security and manage monthly updates, maintenance and backups.

Tier 3) $9,000 +$2,400/year
Everything from Tier 2 plus Keyword monitoring and SEO rank tracking.

The idea here is to show the client how much value you bring when you partner with them.

If all they want is a website, you’re happy to design one for them and be done with it. However, if the client wants a partner that has their best interest in mind, someone who will make sure their website keeps performing optimally and help their business grow, they can have that for nominal extra investment.

When quoting on a logo design, you may want to offer something like this.

Tier 1) $750
Design a logo and provide it in colour and B&W in the necessary file formats.

Tier 2) $1,500
Everything from Tier 1 plus a style guide showing how to strategically use the logo to build a cohesive brand across the entire company.  This style guide will help the company create a positive brand recognition strategy as a foundation upon which to build their business.

Tier 3) $5,000
Everything from Tier 2 plus a full day strategy workshop presented at the client's place of employment. This workshop will explain the new brand to the company’s staff, teaching them the proper use of the new brand to achieve brand synergy throughout all levels, from part-time employees all the way up to top management.

When you look at all three tiers, you can see that the best value is Tier 2. A Logo and Style guide. The idea here is to illustrate the value the client receives by working with you. They should be hiring you for more than just a logo design. But if a logo is all they want, you’re happy to design one for them.

Give it a try.

I hope you can see the value in implementing a three-tier pricing strategy. I can tell you that of the last dozen proposals I sent out using this strategy, three clients decided not to hire me. From the nine who did, one chose my Tier 1 and eight chose my Tier 2.

One was ready to choose Tier 3 for their website design, but I convinced them after further review that Tier 2 was a better choice for them, I don’t believe they need the service I was offering in Tier 3. But I did tell them we can review it again in the future. They appreciated my honesty very much.

Are you using a three-tier pricing strategy?

Let me know if you plan on implementing a three-tier pricing strategy. If you already use this strategy, I would love to know how it's working for you. 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 Christopher

On several episodes, you mention the "discovery phase" where you ask questions and do research on your potential client.

Can you elaborate on what kinds of research and the types of questions to ask? As I only do web design and not logo/graphical design, I would appreciate a focus on web sites.

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

Tip of the week Ask cold calling clients if you can add them to your email list.

Sometimes cold calling doesn’t work because the client doesn’t need your services at that time. But there's no way to know for sure. One thing that may help is by asking the prospect if you can add them to your email list to keep them informed of exciting projects you're working on.

If the prospect agrees you'll know they have an interest in you and could become a client in the future.

Listen to the podcast on the go.

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Spotify
Listen on Android
Listen on Stitcher
Listen on iHeartRadio

Contact me

I would love to hear from you. You can send me questions and feedback using my feedback form.

Follow me on TwitterFacebookand Instagram

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 10, 2018

Avoid these common mistakes freelancers make.

To the uninitiated, running a design business sounds easy. You find clients, create designs for them, they pay you, repeat. Freelancers, however, know there is so much more to it than merely designing. And yet, even armed with that knowledge there are still several mistakes freelancers make when it comes to running their business.

1) Not using downtime productively 

One mistake freelancers make is not taking advantage of downtime. When things are slow, you should be using any spare time you have on something productive to advance your design business. 

Use downtime to:

  • Update your website
  • Attend networking events
  • Take a course/tutorial to learn a new skill
  • Experiment with your software

Use the time to grow your business and to make yourself a better designer. Just because you are not at a 9-5 job doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be putting in a full day worth of hours into your business.

2) Not building a team (copywriter, illustrator, VA)

In episode 77of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I talked about the importance of assembling a team around your business. To serve your clients, you should align yourself with people who have skills you don't or are more suited to performing specific skills than you are.

Your team can consist of:

  • Copywriters
  • Illustrators
  • Programmers
  • Developers
  • Translators
  • Social Media Experts
  • Photographers
  • Virtual Assistants
  • more

I made a mistake when I first started my business in thinking I needed to do everything myself. If I couldn’t do it, then I didn’t take on the project. I missed out on some great jobs and clients because the projects they presented me with were beyond my ability.

Then I learned that it’s ok to ask for help. Since then I’ve expanded my circle to include many talented people that allow me to offer services I couldn't provide if I were doing everything myself.

3) Not taking advantage of extra income opportunities

The bulk of a designers income should come from client design work. But many peripherals can earn you money as well. Things like:

  • Print brokering
  • Web hosting/maintenance
  • Selling design resources (Photoshop/Illustrator brushes, patterns, fonts, other design resources)
  • Merchandising (T-shirts, posters, etc.)
  • more

You’re a creative person. Put that creativity to work by looking around and finding innovative ways to supplement your income.

4) Not spending time working on your outreach when you're busy.

There are hills and valleys when it comes to running a design business. Some weeks you have barely anything to do, while other weeks you can’t believe how much work you have. To minimise this up, down, up, down effect you need to figure out how to fill in those valleys.

The problem is, most people wait until things start to get slow before trying to drum up new work. But the time to promote yourself is when you’re busy. When you're at the top of a "hill". If you do it right, you’ll drum up work while you’re busy that will fill in those valleys and even out the terrain for you, creating a much more balanced working life.

5) Not saving money

As a home-based designer, you probably don’t have a steady paycheque. Nor do you have any guarantees of how or when money will come in. If you do a good job on point number 4 and work on your outreach when you're busy you’ll minimise those slow times when money isn’t coming in, but that’s not a guarantee of income.

That’s why you should be putting aside a fixed percentage of all your income for those “just in case” or “What if” situation. You should be saving for those unexpected times when a "valley" stretches out longer than expected.

Start putting money aside for:

  • Slow Periods
  • Emergencies
  • Unexpected expenses
  • Known expenses (taxes, licences, etc.)
  • Time off (vacation, medical, etc.)
  • Retirement

There will come a time some day when you decide to stop, or you’re forced to stop working and then how will you provide for yourself?

6) Calling themselves Freelancer 

Long time listeners of the Resourceful Designer podcast know that I don't like the term Freelancer. Back in episode 17, I shared a story of a designer I know who missed out on a  job opportunity because she called herself a freelancer. The potential employer told me he was looking for someone who took the job more seriously than that.

He’s not alone. People often associate the term freelancer with temporary or in transition designers. Designers who are willing to work with you until something better comes along. You and I know that’s not the case. But that’s how many people in the business world, people who are your potential clients think about freelancers.

Consider this before deciding what to call yourself. A freelancer is a designer looking for a boss. If you imagine yourself working FOR your clients, then feel free to call yourself a freelancer. However, if you imagine yourself working WITH your clients, partnering with them to solve their design problems, then you are not a freelancer, you are a designer who runs your own design business. Don't sell yourself short.

Avoid these mistakes freelancers make

You already have enough on your plate. There's no need to cause yourself more stress. If you avoid these common mistakes freelancers make, and you'll be on your way to having a successful and fulfilling design business.

Are you guilty of making any of these mistakes?

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 Chris

Do you have any advice for those who are starting a business focused on 3D? Have you done much work with 3D artists? Do you know of any niches that a 3D graphic designer might pursue?

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

Link to the article I mentioned in my answer.

Resource of the week iThemes

iThemes makes some of my favourite WordPress plugins and add-ons. Including BackupBuddy for managing site migration and backups. iThemes Security for keeping nefarious individuals out of your website. And iThemes Sync for managing multiple WordPress websites from one easy dashboard.

Until the end of 2018 iThemes is offering 40% off all of their products. Here's my affiliate link if you plan on purchasing.

Listen to the podcast on the go.

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Spotify
Listen on Android
Listen on Stitcher
Listen on iHeartRadio

Contact me

I would love to hear from you. You can send me questions and feedback using my feedback form.

Follow me on TwitterFacebook and Instagram

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 3, 2018

10 Money Saving Tips For Freelancers

Freelance designers rarely know when they'll get their next paycheque. That's why it's wise for us to hold on to the money we do have for those times when income slows down. To help you, I have 10 money saving tips for freelancers you should consider adopting.

Have you ever heard the saying a penny saved is a penny earned? It means that any money you save by not spending it is similar to the money you earn. I know there can be various debates about that, but you can't argue that any money you don’t spend on something is money in your pocket that you can put to use somewhere else.

Chances are you didn’t become a designer because you wanted to become rich. You chose to become a designer because of your creativity and a love of designing. 

Sure, there are designers out there living the good life racking in significant dollars for their services. But for the majority of us. We’re happy earning a decent, comfortable living doing something we love. If this latter one describes you, then money is probably not something you have to throw around. And since money is one of the gages used to determine success. It makes sense to avoid unnecessary spending and keep as much of your hard earned money for yourself.

And for the record. I use every one of these 10 money saving tips for freelancers in my business to keep as much of my own hard earned money as I can.

Freelancer money saving tips

1. Cancel recurring expenses you don't use

Take an audit of all your subscriptions, memberships, software, services, plug-ins, etc. that incur an ongoing regular monthly or yearly payment and cancel any that you seldom use or don't get your full money's worth.

2. Buy Refurbished

Save money by purchasing refurbished products whenever possible. Refurbished products are just as good as new ones, including coming with warranties. They can save you a lot of money on a product you were going to buy anyway.

3. Hire an accountant

Accountants are like magicians with numbers. They know all the tricks that can save you money during tax season. Letting an accountant handle your books and taxes can save you more money than the cost of hiring the accountant. Every freelancer should have one.

4. Ask for discounts from suppliers

You can't get something if you don't ask for it. Contact your internet, cable, phone, etc. suppliers and ask them if there's any way they can offer you a discount or do something to reduce your expense. You would be surprised how often they will compromise with you and save you money.

5. Use reward-based credit cards

You're probably using a credit card to pay for some of your business expenses. Take advantage of reward-based credit cards like those that offer cash back or those that let you collect points for travel or other rewards. 

6. Get a low-interest line of credit

Banks and credit unions provide lines of credit at much lower interest rates than credit cards. Use your line of credit to pay off high-interest credit cards whenever you can't pay them off that month. Don't be penalised by carrying over unpaid balances.

7. Save on heating/cooling

Stop heating/cooling your entire home while you're working. Adjust your thermostat to save you money and use a fan or heater to adjust the temperature in your office space. Warm sweaters can also help during the cold season.

8. Use coupons or discount codes

Before making an online purchase, do a quick Google search to see if there are any coupons or discount codes available for the product/service you're buying. Many companies will offer coupons or discount codes to certain groups which are also usable by the rest of us if we take the time to find them.

9. Shop around for better prices

When shopping for fonts, stock images or design resources be sure to check multiple websites before making your purchase. Prices on identical products can vary drastically depending on the source selling them.

10. Wait for sales

Whenever possible wait for a holiday or special deals to make your purchases. Black Friday, Boxing Day, Amazon Prime Day and similar occasions offer amazing discounts if you can wait for them.

A penny saved is a penny earned

You work hard for your money. Don't spend any of it unnecessarily if you can avoid it. Use these 10 money saving tips for freelancers to keep as much of your income in your pockets as you can.

Do you have any money saving tips for freelancers you would like to share?

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 Kevin

I've been running my web design business for almost half a year now. My current problem is reaching out to new potential clients. What is your take on cold emailing and how would you go about it?

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

1