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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: March, 2021
Mar 22, 2021

Their competition might not be who they think it is.

Have you ever heard the term “The Curse Of Knowledge?” According to Wikipedia, The Curse Of Knowledge is a cognitive bias that occurs when an individual, communicating with other individuals, unknowingly assumes that the others have the background to understand.

Curse Of Knowledge: A cognitive bias that occurs when an individual, communicating with other individuals, unknowingly assumes that the others have the background to understand.

You see this a lot with instructors. The instructor is so familiar with a subject that they forget the person or people they are instructing don’t have the same background and therefore might not understand their teaching them.

Like a web designer giving a presentation to a group of fellow web designers and falsely assuming they all know CSS. Where in fact, some of the web designers may use Wix, Squarespace, GoDaddy Web Builder or Webflow. Platforms where knowledge of CSS is not necessary.

Why am I talking about the Curse of Knowledge? It’s because, as graphic and web designers, we sometimes take for granted that our clients know what we know. Especially when it comes to identifying the competition. But let me tell you. Many, if not the majority of clients, don’t have the background and knowledge that we do and therefore fail in their competition identification.

Case in point. I'm a member of a grant approval panel for my local Business Enterprise Centre. Every year, our BEC receives government funding and hands out grants to help new businesses start and get off the ground. The grant process requires each applicant to have a business plan, a three-year financial forecast, and a presentation to the grant approval panel saying why they believe they should receive a grant.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve seen dozens of these presentations. For my part, I read every applicant's business plan and follow up their presentation with questions to ascertain their merit regarding the grant. Part of their business plan requires a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Under the Threats part of the SWOT analysis, each applicant identifies their competition.

After sitting through dozens of these grant presentations, I've learned that most startups don’t know who their competition is. Some do a good job, but on average, the bulk of them don't realize who they are competing with. Most of them don’t realize that every business has two types of competition.

Direct Competition. Meaning those who sell or provide the same or very similar product or service that they do. And Indirect Competition. Those who might not sell or provide a similar product or service but are still competing for the same target market. It’s this second one where almost all of them fall short.

That’s why I brought up the curse of knowledge earlier. I’ve been in the design field long enough, and I’ve dealt with enough clients over the years that it’s become second nature for me to not just think of direct competitors but the indirect ones as well.

Let me give you an example.

One of the presentations I sat through was for a couple who were in the process of opening up an escape room business.

If you don’t know what an escape room is, it’s an entertainment venue where you and a group of friends are locked in a room or group of rooms and have a deadline to figure out puzzles to get out. So you’re up against the clock as you all work together to decipher the clues you find in your surroundings. If you’ve never tried an escape room before, you should really give it a shot. They’re a lot of fun.

Anyway. This couple was in the process of starting an escape room business. They leased a building, and construction had begun. They applied for the grant to help offset the cost of building supplies.

I noticed something while reading their business plan and hopped they would clarify it during their presentation. But instead, they excitedly said they were sure they were going to succeed because escape rooms are becoming more and more popular AND they have no local competition. The closest escape room is over 100 km away. They stressed this point.

After their presentation, I called them out. I pointed out their direct competition being over 100 km away. But then I asked about their indirect competition. The response I got was, “what do you mean?” I asked if they had conducted any analysis on their local indirect competition, such as the local movie cinemas or the theatres where they put on plays. I asked about the dance clubs, the bars with live entertainment, the local miniature golf course, etc. They looked at me confused and said, “We’re not competing with them.”

I asked the applicants how they can think they are not competing with them? They're starting an entertainment business. It offers a fun outing for groups of people that lasts 1-2 hours. So does every other venue I mentioned. When a group of friends figure out what to do on Friday night, they better believe they're competing with all of those other places and many more for that group's attention.

One person in the group might want to see a movie. Another might want to spend time outside at the mini-golf. Another might suggest they go to a club that offers a live band.

The couple opening the escape room business didn't realize they were competing with every option that might prevent someone from choosing their escape room for their fun.

And that was just one of the grant applicants.

A massage therapist failed to see she was competing against not only fellow massage therapists but also chiropractors, acupuncturists, and physiotherapists. Not to mention electric neck or back massagers you can buy at various stores.

The one that really got me was the craft brewer who thought his only competition was other craft brewers. He completely failed to realize that he’s making beer, and therefore he’s competing with all the big beer labels as well.

As a designer, a problem solver as we like to call ourselves, our job is to not only design amazing things for our clients. But to also help them identify their shortcomings. And that means making sure your client understands not only who their direct competition is, but even more importantly, who their indirect competition is.

You’re not just designing marketing material in the hopes that someone will pick your client’s escape room over another escape room. You’re designing marketing material trying to persuade people to chose your client’s escape room over any and every other entertainment they could choose.

The same principle applies to identifying target markets. There are direct target markets, and there are indirect target markets. Some clients don’t know who they are targetting.

Several years ago, I designed a logo for a client starting a science kit subscription box for kids ages 5-12. Each monthly box would contain fun science facts and a couple of experiments the kids could do around the house.

When I received the written copy for their brochure and website, I immediately questioned the material. When I asked the client who they were trying to target, they told me their target market is young boys and girls ages 5-12 who enjoy doing things like learning about bugs or digging through dirt.

The client completely missed the point. I explained that their box might be geared to 5-12 year-olds, but their actual target market was the parents who would subscribe for their kids, not the kids themselves. The wording they had provided me was written for the kids and not the parents.

There was also a secondary target market they could target in grandparents and aunts and uncles who may want to send a monthly subscription box as a gift to the young ones in their lives. This client had failed to identify their actual target market through all their research, just like my previous examples had failed to identify their competition.

What I’m trying to say is don’t become a victim of the curse of knowledge. Don’t assume your clients have done their homework and identified their competition. Or their proper target market, for that matter.

A few years ago, I thought only a small percentage of new businesses got it wrong. But my time sitting through dozens of grant presentations has taught me that what I take for granted is not something most people think about. I’d estimate less than 40% of the businesses I saw truly understood who they were competing with.

Take it upon yourself to educate your clients. It will show them your value, and they’ll appreciate you all the more for it. Help them in identifying the competition.

Resource of the week Gravity Forms

I’ve been using Gravity Forms for several years, and I love it. It’s the easiest, most trusted tool for creating advanced forms on your WordPress website. Packed full of time-saving tools and features, Gravity Forms is more than just a form creation tool; it’s a form management platform.

Build and publish simple or complex WordPress forms in minutes. No coding or guesswork required. Simply choose your desired fields, configure your options and embed the form on your website. It’s that easy. And with so many built-in integrations with some of the most popular partners on the internet, Gravity Forms makes it extremely easy to connect your website to platforms such as PayPal, MailChimp, Dropbox, Freshbooks and so many more.

I install Gravity Forms on every single website I build. What else can I say?

Mar 15, 2021

It's OK to have one of those days.

Wednesday this past week started like any other day. I got up around 7:45 to see my wife off to work, then went to the kitchen to feed our cat and dog before going to the living room and turning on the TV.

I fast-forwarded through SportsCentre, which I record every day at 4 am. I watch the hockey and soccer highlights and then usually skip through most of the other sports.

Once done with SportsCentre, I switched on a Canadian morning news show called Your Morning. As a designer, the show's logo drives me crazy, but I like the hosts, and they usually cover some interesting topics. It’s been part of my morning routine for years.

This takes me to 9 am when I normally start my day. But on Wednesday, when Your Morning wrapped up, instead of turning off the TV, I sat there as Live with Kelly and Ryan started. I don't usually watch this show, but I decided to sit through their opening dialogue. After 20 minutes of this, I realized why I rarely watch the show and turned it off.

I made my way to my office, which is only 10 steps away from where I was and sat down to begin my day.

I had an issue with a website the day before and had sent an email to the support team at SiteGround to see if they had any ideas.

I normally don’t look at my email first thing in the morning, preferring to wait until noon to read through them. But I checked it on Wednesday morning and found the anticipated reply email from Siteground waiting for me with the info I had been hoping for.

I made the necessary adjustments to the website and then sent an email to my client saying the problem was fixed.

With that out of the way, it was time to look at my To-Do list. I had seven things on my list,

  1. Design podcast cover artworks for client A.
  2. Design podcast cover artworks for client B.
  3. Start a new website for client C.
  4. Finish website for Client D.
  5. Create social media header images for Client E.
  6. Perform a podcast brand audit for Client F
  7. Read and reply to an RFP (Request For Proposal.)

None of them had a pressing deadline, and none seemed very appealing at the time. I couldn’t decide which one to tackle first. Instead, I decided to have a shower.

45 minutes later (I lost track of time standing under the showerhead,) I was back at my computer.

I saw my email program was still open and decided what the heck, and went through my inbox, which killed about 30 minutes and brought me to 11:30 am.

Looking again at my to-do list, there was nothing there that would only take the 30 minutes I had until lunch.

Let me interject here. I’ve been doing IF, Intermittent Fasting for the past couple of years. It’s a way of managing my weight without actually dieting.

The way I do it is to only eat between the hours of 12 noon and 6 pm. I can eat anything I want, within reason, of course, as long as it falls within that window of time. From 6 pm until noon the next day, all I have is water.

That means that by noon each day, I’m hungry. And the idea of starting a new project 30 minutes before my eating window opened was not very appealing to me. So instead, I decided to go for a walk.

We’ve had an unusually mild week this past week, and I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and get some exercise.

I walked around the block, a 2.5 KM loop or 1.55 miles for you Americans, before arriving back home in time for lunch.

During lunch, I turned on the TV again and switched to Netflix. I’ve been watching Suits lately and am really enjoying it. I was halfway through season 2, so I put on an episode while I ate.

This episode had a guest character that I recognized but couldn’t remember where I had seen before. You know how it is. You know the person but can't place them. It keeps nagging at you.

So when the episode was over, and I went back to my office, I opened up the trusty IMDB and looked up that episode instead of getting to work. The actor was Scott Grimes, and the show I recognized him from was The Orville, where he plays ship pilot Gordon.

That was one nagging thing satisfied. But now I was wondering when The Orville would return. So I searched for that. I couldn’t find any definitive answer as to when The Orville will return, but in my search, a couple of the websites I visited had sidebar mentions of the new Disney plus show WandaVision, which I had watched the first 4 episodes on the weekend.

The links were talking about all the Marvel Easter eggs in the series. Curiosity peaked, I clicked through to a YouTube video that went over episode one.

Now I’m not going to go over all the videos I ended up watching, but needless to say, YouTube is a rabbit trail, and I was there for much longer than I planned on.

Luckily, I had set myself a 10-minute reminder for a video chat I had scheduled at 2 pm with a new podcast artwork client.

After refilling my water bottle, I set up my equipment and launched Zoom. The guy showed up right on time, which was nice. Plenty of them schedule a meeting and then show up several minutes late.

Anyway. These meetings normally last between 15-20 minutes, where we discuss things about the podcast they’re starting. Things such as what their topic will be? What makes them qualified to talk on this topic? What is the purpose of starting a podcast? Who is it for? What format are they going to do (Solo, interview, mixed)? And so on.

As I said, these meetings normally last between 15-20 minutes, but this guy seemed very eager but also very naive to all things podcasting. So I started asking him questions that had nothing to do with the artwork he was hiring me to design. We ended up talking for 45 minutes before ending the call.

It was now 2:45 pm, and I decided it was time for a snack. I stuck my AirPods in my ears, started up a podcast and when to the kitchen to find something to stuff my face with.

I chose a 30-minute podcast and decided to finish it before getting back to work. When I finally did, the first thing I did was open up Facebook and check in on the Resourceful Designer group.

I read through the various posts, leaving comments whenever I deemed them. Then I checked a few other groups I belong to before saying enough is enough and shut it down.

Then it was back to checking my email and replying to a few. Then checking in on the Resourceful Designer Community on Slack.

Right around this time, Andrew, one of the members, asked an innocent question. "How many browser tabs do you have open right now?" Of course, I had to check. The answer was 51.

I then decided to go through them all and see what I could do to lower that number. I read several articles I had been saving so I could close the tabs. I made bookmarks for a few of them and saved a few to Evernote for later review.

I managed to get it down to 37 open tabs before I heard the garage door open, indicating my wife was home and it was time for me to end my workday.

My to-do list still had seven unscratched items on it.

Why did I tell you all of this?

I shared this story to tell you that it’s ok. It’s your business, your entitled to do what you want with your time.

I didn’t realize it at the time. But when I left the TV on that morning, instead of turning it off at 9 am like I normally do. It was an indication that I was not in a creative mood.

The projects on my to-do list, projects I’m very enthusiastic about, I might add, didn’t appeal to me that day. I didn’t feel like working, and that’s OK.

Creativity is not something you can turn on or off at set times. If I was under a deadline, could I have created something for my clients in the state I was in? Absolutely. I’ve been under that crunch before and have always come through.

But knowing that none of the items on that list were pressing gave me the freedom to say, nope, not today. I’m just not feeling it. And that’s OK.

Looking back at that day, I managed to solve a client's web issue first thing in the morning. I build a great foundation for a client relationship by turning a 15-minute artwork meeting into a 45-minute strategy session. And I managed to catch up and read several articles I had wanted to get to. So the day was not a total loss.

Did I do any of the to-do items I had planned for the day? No. But once again, that’s ok. It’s your business. You’re entitled.

Don’t feel guilty when you have one of those days. We all do from time to time. Just don’t make a habit of it.

If you start feeling this way more often than naught, it might be a good idea to seek help. It may be a sign of mental health issues. And that’s not something you want to brush under the rug.

The stigma of mental health has come a long way in the past decade. There’s no shame in asking for help.

But if it’s something that happens once in a blue moon, don’t worry about it. As I said, it’s your business. You’re entitled.

Take a day to sack off, and then double down and get back to work the next day. You deserve it.

In case you’re wondering, today is Friday. Two days after this happened. And I’m happy to say all seven items on that list have been scratched off. I obviously haven’t finished the new website in two days, but my list only said to start it, which I now have.

Even the most disciplined of us are entitled to a personal slack off day from time to time, including you.

Mar 8, 2021

Where would you spend your extra money?

In the Resourceful Designer Community, we recently discussed the question, "what would you do if you had extra money to invest in yourself and your business?" There were many great ideas on how to use the extra money and, just as importantly, how not to use it. It was such a great conversation that I thought I would share my thoughts here on Resourceful Designer.

Before I go any further, I must state that I am not a financial planner or financial advisor, nor do I play one on TV. In fact, I have absolutely no expertise when it comes to this stuff. As far as I know, experts who see this may tell you what I'm saying is completely the wrong approach. These are my thoughts on what I would do if I had extra money to invest in myself or my business. So here goes.

Imagine you had extra money sitting around. Anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. I know, it’s a nice thought. But you never know. Maybe you had a favourable tax return. Or you inherit a sum of money. Maybe you won a cash prize in some lottery or draw. Perhaps you had an outstanding quarter and have money left over once all your monthly bills and expenses are paid off.

Whatever the reason, you have extra money and try to figure something practical to do with it other than blowing it on a vacation or other luxury. No, you want to use that money as an investment of some sort. But what?

This is the order of preference for how I would invest the money.

Investing in your future.

I believe the most important thing any business owner can do is invest in their future. That future could mean next year, or it could mean retirement in many years. The idea is to use the money to help you down the road.

As a solopreneur, your income relies on your ability to work. In most cases, if you are unable to work, you don’t make any money. That’s why I believe padding your future is one of the most important investments you can make.

This may mean putting money into a savings account to act as a three to six-month buffer in case things get tough and business slows down. Work in our field is never guaranteed, and even the best of us experiences lulls from time to time. This buffer can help tide you over and help cover your expenses until work picks up again.

Or maybe an accident or illness will force you to take a medical leave. Having a buffer to get you through that period may mean the difference between staying afloat and being forced to close your business.

And then there’s retirement to think of. Saving for retirement is something you should start doing as soon as possible, especially if you want to continue living the good life in your later years. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to save up.

I don’t know about you, but as a creative person, it’s hard to think I’ll ever retire. I believe I will be creating and designing things until the day I die.

But the fact is, one day I may not want to spend 8-10 hours a day in front of my computer anymore. And that means less money will be coming in.

Not to mention that even though designers are like a good wine, we get better with age; some people may not want to hire a 65-year-old to design the brand for their hip new startup.

These two reasons alone. For short absences such as dips in work or medical leave and retirement are why I believe investing in your future is the first thing you should do with your money. I know it’s hard when you have bills and debts to pay. But even a few dollars here and there will add up over time.

If you do come into some extra money, this is where I suggest you invest it. In your future.

Investing in your present.

Next on my list is investing in your present. Investing in your present means putting money to use towards immediate self-improvement.

Learn a new skill.

Invest in is things such as tutorials, courses and programs to learn new skills or improve your existing skills. These may be design-related, or they may be business-related.

There are many great places to learn new skills, such as

Let's say you design Wix websites and have had to turn down several clients because they wanted a WordPress site. You may put your extra money to good use by learning WordPress and expanding your service offerings.

Or you may want to take a course or webinar on growing your business through social media. Or learn more about SEO or Google Analytics. The possibilities are endless when it comes to learning new things.

Not only can you learn something to grow your business, but you may learn a skill you can offer to your clients to make more money.

Invest in yourself by reading books.

Invest in business and self-improvement books that will help you grow.

I prefer listening to self-improvement audiobooks. I just recently finished listening to The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and next up I have Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck.

But if you don’t have time to sit and read a book. Audiobooks are a great way to still learn from the experts while out and about.

If you’ve never tried an audiobook, you can get one free book of your choice when you sign up for a trial Audible account. If you decide it’s not for you, cancel without paying anything, and they let you keep the free book you downloaded.

Join Networks.

Join networking groups or communities such as the Resourceful Designer Community to grow as a designer and business person. Or join a group such as Toastmasters who can help you fine-tune your presentation style when pitching to clients.

If you have extra money, after you’ve invested in your future, that is, I suggest using it to improve your current situation. The little bit you spend now can bring exponential growth for you and your business. Your future self will thank you for it.

Side note: I know I just said you should invest extra money in tutorials and courses and such. But don’t go looking for things to learn just because you have money to spend. It’s never a good idea to spend money on courses and such just for the sake of learning something. Only invest in things you want or need to know. Otherwise, invest the money in your future instead, as I mentioned earlier.

If you’re unsure if it’s important enough to learn now, go back and listen to episode 8 and episode 94 of the podcast. In both of those episodes, I talked about Just In Time Learning which plays right into what I’m talking about today.

Investing in your business.

The final category on my list is investing in your business. This means putting your extra money to use by improving the infrastructure that helps you perform your job.

  • Update your computer and equipment.
  • Purchase software and design resources.
  • Update your brand
  • Update your website and marketing materials.
  • Update your working environment

However, just like with investing in your present, there’s no point in spending money on a new computer or equipment unless you actually need it. You are better off saving the money for when you do.

Invest in growth.

There are more ways you can invest in your business. Use the extra money to hire outside help, such as photographers, copywriters, developers, etc., to help with your own promotional materials.

Hire a virtual assistant to help you with certain tasks and activities. I speak from experience that hiring my VA is one of the best investments I’ve made for my business.

If you haven’t done so already, use the extra money to register a trademark for your business name and visual assets. It’s always good to protect yourself.

And finally, Spend the money on growing your business through marketing, advertising, sponsorships and networking. Remember, the more people who know about your business, the faster you will grow.

When in-person conferences were cancelled in 2020 due to COVID, many of them went the virtual route. I took the money I would have spent on travel, hotel and expenses to attend PodFest Multimedia Expo and instead invested that money to become a sponsor for their online event.

That opportunity put my brand, Podcast Branding, in front of thousands of people in my niche and helped boost my business in ways that attending the conference in person could have never done.

So after you’ve invested in your future and your present, it’s a good idea to invest in your business.

Bonus

Here’s a bonus afterthought. If you’re satisfied that you’ve covered the three categories above, you can always use the extra money to thank your clients.

Sending a gift basket or special gift to a client, or even sending a client something as simple as a coupon for a free pizza, can go a long way to strengthen your relationship.

Imagine creating a new logo for a client and then sending them a glass mug with their new logo etched on the side?  That sort of thing can go a long way.

You can never go wrong when you invest in your client relationships.

As I said at the start, I'm not a financial expert. However, I believe you can't go wrong if you use any extra money you have to invest in your future, your present and your business. It's how you grow.

Where would you spend any extra money?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Tip of the week Refine search results by excluding unwanted domains

If you're searching for something on Google or other search engines and are tire of unwanted results such as Pinterest pins or YouTube videos showing up, you can refine your search by adding "-Pinterest" or "-YouTube" to the end of it. Doing so tells the search engine to not display any search results pertaining to those platforms. Give it a try.

Mar 1, 2021

If you change the way you think, you'll win more clients.

Not long after I went full-time with my design business, I met with a fellow local designer for lunch. I was somewhere between six months to a year into my entrepreneurial journey, and my business was growing fast. My clientele was increasing, and most people who contacted me ended up hiring me as their designer. Fifteen years later and I still win more clients than I lose.

The guy I had lunch with was a very talented designer. I knew him through the print shop where I worked before going out on my own. He would bring in projects to be printed for his clients, and his work was always beautiful.

He started his design business several years before I began mine. And when I was at the print shop, I thought he was living the dream. He doesn't know this, but he was an inspiration in helping me make the leap to solopreneurship.

During our lunch, he mentioned how much he was struggling. He was finding it harder and harder to win over new clients. He said that no matter how hard he tried to convince clients to work with him. Only a small percentage ever did. In fact, I learned during that conversation that several of my clients had contacted him before eventually hiring me. I didn't tell him that.

What I also learned, which is the focus of this post, is that he and I had two completely different approaches to acquiring new clients. Where he was trying very hard to win each new client. I, on the other hand, was trying not to lose them. When you consider those two concepts, you'll realize that my way is much easier.

Let me ask you this. Which is easier. Acquiring $100 or holding onto the $100 you already have? I think you'll agree that it's much easier to hold onto $100 than it is to acquire $100. That's the mentality I take when dealing with new clients. And that's what made me different from that other designer. Where he was doing his best to win each new client. I was doing my best not to lose them. Because in my mind, I had already won them the moment they contacted me.

Let me tell you a secret. Are you ready? Clients don't enjoy looking for a designer. In fact, they would much rather be doing countless other things instead. So when a client emails, calls or meets you in person, they are hoping you are the right person for the job. They want you to be the solution to their problem.

Think about that. No client will ever contact you, hoping you're not a good fit for them. None of them are saying, "I'm going to contact so and so designer about this project. I really hope they're the wrong person and waste my time." No, every client who contacts you wants you to be the last designer they contact.

When you take that concept into consideration, it means you are starting off every new contact with a client in the position that the job is already yours. Your position from that point forward is not to convince them to hire you. But to convince them, there's no need to look for anyone else. And that completely changes the way you communicate with the client.

Does that make sense? Let me repeat it.

You are not trying to convince the client to hire you. You are trying to convince the client they've made the right choice in contacting you.

This is how I've started every new client relationship since I started my business. As soon as the client and I introduce ourselves, we are working together until one says otherwise. If you approach each new contact with that in mind, you'll find yourself winning more clients than you lose.

How does this work in practice?

It's simple. You have to have the mindset that every time you speak with a potential client, you are working with them. From the moment the conversation starts, you are working together until you or they decide otherwise.

Here are some pointers.

Always speak to the client as if you are already working together. "I understand your situation. Here's how we'll tackle it." "We'll look at what your competition is doing and figure out a way for you to stand out." "The new brand we'll create will be a strong foundation for you in your market."

Do you see the way I've structured those sentences? I'm not saying, "if you hire me, we'll look at your competition." or "I would love to create a new brand for you." No. I talk to the client as if they've already made the decision to hire me. "This is what we'll do." "I'm going to do this for you."

After all, as I said earlier, the client is hoping you're a good fit for them before they even contact you. So show them they were right.

When it comes to conversing with the client, you must take the initiative by leading the conversation. This proves to them that you know what you are doing.

Clients want a designer who shows initiative. Someone who can take the lead. Someone who can work independently and get the job done.

Clients have enough on their plates. They don't want to dictate or micromanage what you do. That's why they're looking for an expert to handle their project.

Now we all know those people who do try to micromanage or dictate things. My experience shows that once you take the initiative and prove you know what you're doing, most of them will be happy to hand you the reins and back off. Anyone who doesn't isn't worth working with.

When talking to the client:

  • Listen attentively to what they are saying. This shows you care.
  • Ask pertinent questions. This shows you're interested.
  • Show you understand the situation. This shows you're knowledgeable.
  • Show your willingness to help them. This proves you're a professional.
  • Try to identify their pain points, their problems as early as possible. This shows you're an expert.
  • Offer solutions. This shows you are confident with their project.

If you can do all of this, there's little chance the client will look elsewhere.

Create a sense of urgency.

Whenever possible, create a sense of urgency for the project. The more urgent the project is, the less time the client wants to spend finding a designer and the higher the chance they hire you. Plus, if you can show them you're on top of things, they'll trust you even more.

Ask the client if they have a deadline. Then backtrack from their deadline to now.

If a client needs a package design for their new product that launches in 60 days, work backwards.

  • Two preferably three weeks at the printer.
  • One week for prototyping.
  • Two weeks to develop concepts and get the designs approved.
  • Add one week as a buffer in case of emergencies.

That's seven weeks total. Since the deadline is 60 days (eight weeks), you must start the project within the next seven days to meet the deadline.

Showing this sort of initiative and expertise proves to the client they made the right choice.

Of course, you can't do this with every project. But the more you exhibit a confident "take charge" attitude. The more the client will appreciate you.

Set Expectations

Another way to ensure the client they're making the right choice in hiring you is by setting expectations from the start.

Let the client know how often you will be updating them on your progress. How will you be communicating with them? Will it be via weekly phone calls, emailed progress reports, a client portal using a CMS, or what?

Clients don't like to be kept in the dark. So if you show them from the start how interacting with you will be, they'll have more confidence in you.

Explain what the whole process looks like. Explain each stage from research, concept and designing, right through to final approval and production if needed.

Remember, a client contacts you because they are hoping you are the right person for the job. Don't give them a reason to think otherwise, and 9 times out of 10, the project is yours.

All of this to say, your attitude plays a massive role in whether or not a client decides to hire you. The client wants you to be the right person for the job. They don't want to be forced to contact someone else. They want their project off their plate and in the hands of an expert, like you, who will see it through.

Keep all of this in mind and stop trying to convince the client you're the person they should hire. Instead, start showing the client they made the right choice by contacting you, and there's no reason for them to look elsewhere.

Stop trying to convince them to hire you. That's how you win more clients.

Resource of the week Google Advance Search

This is a simple little trick that has helped me out of a jam many times over the years. If you find yourself in need of a certain company's logo and don't want to jump through hoops trying to get it. Use this trick. In the Google Search Bar type “site:companywebsite.com” followed by “filetype:pdf”. What this does is return search results displaying all PDF files at that particular domain. Open the PDFs one at a time until you find one with a good-looking logo (you can usually tell by zooming in). Download the PDF and open it in a program such as Adobe Illustrator. If you're lucky you will have a perfect vector logo you can use.

You can also accomplish this by visiting Google's Advance Search page, but I find simply typing the parameters into the regular search bar is much faster.

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