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
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: March, 2019
Mar 25, 2019

How much thought do you devote to protecting your WordPress website?

[sc name="pod_ad"]I want to share something that happened to me this week. I came home from a nice lunch with friends to both an email and urgent voicemail message from a client saying someone had hacked their website and their URL redirected to a porn site. This is a relatively large client of mine that gets a decent number of visitors to their website each day, so there was a good reason for the panic.

When I heard the message and the panic in my client’s voice, my only thought was to get this problem fixed ASAP. But I wasn’t worried because I know I have measures in place for exactly this sort of thing. But more on that later.

WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world. That popularity also makes it the most popular choice for hackers. Fortunately, WordPress is on the ball and releases regular updates to patch any new and existing security holes. But, security as a whole is a reactive process. Patches are only issued once a security vulnerability is known. At its core, WordPress is incredibly secure, but the massive ecosystem of plugins and WordPress themes makes it more vulnerable to security holes. That’s why you should have measures in place for protecting your WordPress Website and those of your client.

It’s not good enough to rely on what your web host provides as part of your hosting package. You need to have your own measures in place. Those measures need to include both a security plugin and a backup plugin.

Step 1: A WordPress security plugin

By installing a WordPress security plugin, you’ll get access to additional features that WordPress doesn’t have right out of the box, including things such as:

  • Site, file, and malware scanning
  • Protection from brute force attacks
  • Regular security scans, monitoring, notifications
  • Site firewalls
  • Overall security hardening

Sadly, a lot of site owners don’t think about security for their WordPress website until it’s too late. And once a WordPress site is compromised, there’s not a lot they can do besides notify visitors and try to clean up the mess if possible.

If only there were something they could’ve done to prevent the site from being hacked in the first place. Oh, there is. Installing a top-ranked WordPress security plugin is the first step in securing your WordPress website.

Top-ranked WordPress security plugins

Google Authenticator - Two Factor Authentication

Although not a security plugin, the Google Authenticator plugin is a great addition for protecting your WordPress website. It's something that should be installed on every website. Google Authenticator adds an extra level of security by adding Two Factor Authentication every time someone logs into the WordPress website. iTheme Security Pro, my security plugin of choice comes with Google Authenticator as part of the package. I'm unsure if the other security plugins mentioned above also include Google Authenticator.

Step 2: A WordPress backup plugin

Every WordPress installation should also have a backup solution. Not one provided by your web host, but one you implement and control yourself.

There are too many instances where web host provided backup solutions either take days to provide you with the backup of your website, the backup is outdated, or in some cases, it's corrupted. Don't take any chances with your WordPress backups and install a top-ranked WordPress backup plugin such as one of these.

Top-ranked WordPress backup plugins

So how did my story end?

First off, let me tell you that I wasn’t surprised that my client's site got hacked. I had seen increased login attempts on it lately numbering in the 10,000s. If a determined hacker wants into a website, there's only so much you can do to stop them. So I wasn’t surprised when it got hacked, but I also wasn’t worried.

The first thing I did was wipe the site. I logged into my cPannel, went to File Manager, found the directory for my client's website and deleted everything in the folder. That immediately solved the first issue of the site being redirected to the porn site since there wasn't a site anymore to do the redirection.

Then it was a simple matter of downloading the most recent backup from the cloud drive I send all my client site backups to and using BackupBuddy, reinstalled the entire site from the backup. In all, it took me less than 10 minutes to get the site back up and running.

After reinstalling the site, I changed the password for the database as well as all User passwords and made sure WordPress, the installed theme and all plugins were updated. Only then did I call my client. When he answered and immediately started asking what can we do about the problem, it felt so good being able to tell him that everything was already taken care of and his site was back up and running.

Please, don’t delay, and don’t rely on your web host's security and backups to handle this for you. If you are not already protecting your WordPress website with security and backup plugins get to it ASAP.

Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Are you protecting your WordPress website the way you should be?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

I didn't answer a question of the week in this episode, 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.

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

Mar 18, 2019

Building Client Loyalty = Repeat Business

I have to preface today’s topic of building client loyalty by saying everything I’m going to talk about here won’t help you if you are not a good designer. You don’t have to be an amazing designer, simply being a good one will do. As long as you know what you are doing, then you will benefit from today’s topic. Face it; if you are not a good designer, there’s not much you can do to get repeat business from clients. Other than practice and get better that is.

But I’m guessing by the fact that you are here right now, that you are serious about your design business and therefore must know what you are doing when it comes to design. So let’s move on.

The idea here is to build relationships with your clients. Building relationships is the main ingredient in building client loyalty. I’m not talking about designer/client relationships, but relationships on a more personal level. No, I’m not suggesting you start dating your clients to keep them coming back. Although that might work. I don’t personally have any experience on that front, but hey, if it worked for you drop me a line and let me know.

What I’m suggesting, is to get to know your client on a more personal level beyond the design projects you work on together.

I’ve been following this principle since I got into the industry 30 years ago. Even more so since I started my own design business in 2005, and I must say, my track record is pretty darn good. The majority of my clients become repeat clients, and the majority of those repeat clients, keep coming back over and over again with more design jobs for me.

I have a special mailbox in my mail app where I keep “praise” messages that clients have sent me over the years. Let me share a few lines from some of them.

“There's nobody else I'd rather work with.” 

“I can't imagine working with anyone else.”

“I feel like you're a part of our company.”

“You get me, I don’t know how, but you get me.”

So how did I end up building client loyalty like this? Is it because I’m a world-class designer? Because I'm not. I consider myself very good at what I do, but I'm nowhere near world-class status. The reason I receive this sort of praise from clients is because of the relationships I’ve built with them over the years.

Think about it. Relationships are built on two principles. Trust and how much you like someone. If you don’t trust someone, chances are you won’t have a relationship with them. Same if you don’t like someone, chances are you won’t have a relationship with them.

Now the trust part is easy. Create good design work and deliver that work on time and chances are your clients will trust you. The other half of the equation is getting them to like you.

Think about this: Clients would prefer to work with a good designer they like, than work with an amazing designer they don’t like.

My strategy for building client loyalty

Here’s my strategy for building relationships with my clients and getting them to like me. Are you ready for it? I listen, AND I take notes. That's all there is to it. No, seriously, that’s the magic of it. Listening and taking notes.

The goal is to get clients to like you. The more you know about your clients, AND the more your clients realise that you know about them, the better the likelihood of those clients liking you.

Let me elaborate, whenever a client comes to me, for whatever project. Not only do I want to know about their organisation and how the particular design project fits in, but I want to know about the client themself, their personal life, their family, etc.. And I build up this knowledge over time through conversations.

How? Through idle conversations and chit chat and by asking the right questions when the opportunity arises. Don't be too forward by directly asking personal questions. Instead, ask indirect questions that will allow you to gain knowledge about your clients.

Let me give you an example. Let's say a client I'm working with calls me on the phone.

Me: Hello?
Client: Hi, it's Mike, I need to talk to you about the project."

Now's the perfect time for me to gain some personal information about Mike, my client. Instead of getting right into it, I might try stalling for some chit chat. One method I like to use is telling the client I need to save what I'm currently working on before talking to them. In doing so, I might respond with something like this.

Me: "Hi Mike, just give me a couple of seconds to save this file I'm working on." During the pause, I'll add"Do you have any plans for the weekend?"

While Mike is waiting for me to save my file so we can begin our conversation about his project he'll probably answer my question.

Mike: "My wife and I are going to our daughter's piano recital this weekend."

Knowledge bomb! I now know that Mike is married and has a daughter who plays the piano. This opens me up to asking followup questions such as asking how old his daughter is, how long has she been playing the piano, does she get her musical talent from him or his wife?.

This is information I can use in the future to help build my relationship with Mike. The next time I talk to him, I can ask how his daughter's piano recital went. That's the sort of question that makes the client think "wow, this person cares enough to inquire about my personal life. I like that about them."

Building a client information database

The first part of my strategy for building client loyalty is to gather as much personal information about them as I can (without getting creepy and stalking them). The second part of my strategy is to organise that information so I can easily access it in the future. To do this, I use my Contacts App since it syncs between my computer and mobile devices, so I always have it at hand.

Most Contacts Apps allow you to enter information such as the name of their spouse, children, birthdays and more. Any information that doesn't have a dedicated field goes into the Notes filed.

I also have a dedicated calendar on my Calendar App specifically for client information — things like birthdays, anniversaries and all other occasions I might want to remember. I do the same with their business information by keeping track of trade shows, launch dates, special events their business is holding.

I try to gather as much information about my clients as I can.

What do you do with this information?

I use the information I've gathered through various conversations to build relationships with my clients. If I know their birthday is soon, I might bring it up in conversation "Isn't your birthday coming up?". If they told me they were going to Paris for vacation, I might ask them about their trip afterwards. If I know their son plays baseball I might inquire about the upcoming baseball season. Anything that helps connect on a personal level builds the relationship and forms a bond with the client. This bond will increase the likelihood of the client liking you, and as I stated earlier, loyalty is based on trust and how much someone likes you.

Get to know your clients.

I go into much more detail on the podcast so please listen to this episode for more examples if you want to know more about building client loyalty.

Make sure you take the time to get to know your clients. Learn about their business and the work they do, but also learn about them, their personal lives, their family, etc. The more you know about your clients, the closer of a connection you can have with them. And when that connection becomes solid, the client won't imagine working with anyone else but you. Building client loyalty makes clients for life.

Do you learn everything you can about 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 Scott

I love the idea that a design should not be quoted based on time but how do you come up with a price ? And what can you answer when a client asks you for justification for a price?

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

Resource of the week abc.useallfive.com

abc.useallfive.com is an online tool that shows you how ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant your colours are in relation to each other. By adding your colours on the right, you can generate a chart to see how they can be used together for accessibility, and find similar colours that work better.

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

Mar 11, 2019

Have you ever considered selling digital products?

Selling digital products is a great way to put your design skills to the test. Not only will you challenge yourself to come up with great ideas, but if you're successful, you can make excellent money doing it.

I've never tried selling digital products myself so on this episode of Resourceful Designer; I'm happy to be joined by Tom Ross, the founder of Design Cuts, one of if not the best place for acquiring and selling digital products online. Listen in as Tom, and I discuss everything there is to know about selling digital products so you can hit the ground running and do it right.

In this episode you'll hear us discuss:

  • How to determine what product you want to create
  • Choosing quality over quantity
  • Ways to promote your digital product
  • Creating sample and preview images for your digital product
  • The difference between designing for clients and designing for a marketplace
  • Income possibilities
  • And more

Whether you are contemplating selling digital products or you are an old pro at it, you're sure to gain some valuable knowledge from this episode. Be sure to share it with all your design friends.

What's your experience with selling digital products?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

There's no QotW 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 The Honest Entrepreneur Show

The Honest Entrepreneur Show is a new podcast and YouTube channel by Tom Ross, founder of Design Cuts. Each episode is 10-20 minutes long and contains zero fluff and zero B.S. Just real, candid insight into modern entrepreneurship. Tom covers topics such as dealing with mental health, to burnout, to behind authentic.

You can watch The Honest Entrepreneur Show on YouTube, or listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts on Google Podcasts or Spotify.

Be sure to follow Tom on Instagram at instagram.com/tomrossmedia

Mar 4, 2019

Do you have an organization strategy?

I was recently leafing through an old business magazine from the early 2000s, and I came across an article on organization skills. Specifically, organization skills to help you regain control over your schedule, your environment and your life. Although this article wasn’t about design, I found a lot of what it said still applies to today’s businesses and us as designers.

Here's my spin on the article with some of my knowledge to bring you four basic organization principles to help you as a designer.

Clear out the clutter

In today's society, it's not uncommon to feel overloaded. We deal with too much stuff. Too many obligations, too many tools and resources, too much information. Clearing out the clutter means doing away with anything that is unnecessary. Clutter takes up time, space, energy and money.

Make yourself a plan to clear out as much clutter from these areas as you can. Tackle them one at a time and free yourself.

A place for everything

The number one reason for clutter is not having a set place for stuff. In order to be organized, you need to have a system in place to organize your things. That may be hanging file folders in a drawer, a file cabinet or even a cardboard storage box.

It also means having an organization strategy for your client files and folders on your computer. Whatever it is, having a clearly designated area for your “stuff” will make it more likely that your “stuff” will end up where it belongs. And when stuff is where it belongs, it will make it much easier and faster to find it in the future. That’s the time-saving part of an organization strategy.

Develop systems

I talked about organizing your “stuff” but what about your time? You can go about your daily activities in one of two ways. You can either do things randomly, meaning you have to figure out how to do things each and every time you do them. Or, you can work systematically, where you have a set way of doing those things each time you need to do them.

Systems can apply to any activity you do, from designing logos or websites to invoicing clients, to collecting your tax information at the end of the year. When you have systems in place, you end up spending less energy figuring out how to do things. Instead, it becomes automatic.

I have a system I follow for building websites. It’s a step by step list of everything I need to do in order to set things up to get started, such as installing Wordpress and plugins. Laying out the structure of the website. Figuring out the content of each page, putting those pages together, and finally testing the site to make sure everything is hunky dory.

When you have systems in place, you can spend your time and effort focused on completing the task instead of figuring out how to do the task. Which in turn allows you to finish it much more quickly.

Review and revise your systems

Having systems in place is wonderful. They definitely help you become more organized. Providing they are still effective.

If you are using the same organization systems you put in place 5 years ago there’s a good chance they are not as effective as they were and they could actually be impeding you.

Don’t fall in the rut of doing things only out of habit just because it’s how you’ve been doing them for so long. Every once in a while you should ask yourself these three questions about your familiar routines.

1) Does it even need to be done? Don’t let “busywork” dictate your time just because it’s a habit.

2) Is this something that needs to be done by you? Can it be deligated?

3) Is this the most efficient way to do this? Is there an easier or quicker way?

Get your life in order and you’ll not only be happier, but you’ll be more productive. And if you’re more productive, there’s a good chance your business will grow.

Develop good organization strategies.

What's your organization strategy?

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 Antonio

Hi Mark, I’m studying graphic and web design. I’m from Spain and I start to listen your podcast for homework. After so many years in the business, what advice would you give to someone who is just starting in the industry?

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

Resource of the week Securitycheckli.st

Securitycheckli.stis an open source checklist of resources designed to improve your online privacy and security. Check things off to keep track as you go.

It covers interesting things such as how to encrypt your text messages — reviewing your social media privacy settings — reviewing permissions such as location services and even your camera setting.

1