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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: February, 2023
Feb 27, 2023

Are you running or considering starting a graphic or web design business? If so, let me tell you, you’re in for a wild ride! The graphic and web design industries are filled with opportunities and challenges, and understanding what to expect can be the difference between success and failure. In this Resourceful Designer episode, I’ll look at some common challenges you will surely encounter.

Here are four of the most common challenges you may face.

Finding Clients.

Finding clients is one of the most challenging aspects of running a graphic or web design business. You may be a very talented designer with the most fantastic portfolio in the world, but that doesn’t do you any good if you can’t get work from clients.

To find clients, you’ll need to focus on networking and marketing to increase your chances of success. Attend as many networking events as possible, especially when your business is young. Ask friends and family to refer you to people who can benefit from your services. Reach out to potential clients via email, social media, and other platforms. Whatever it takes.

Clients can’t hire you if they don’t know who you are. This industry is all about connections and relationships. It’s not who you know that will help you succeed. It’s who knows you.

Another great way to find clients is to build relationships with other designers or people in the industry. Working with other designers allows you to exchange ideas and resources and can lead to referrals and more business opportunities.

Designer groups like the Resourceful Designer Community can help with this.

A good client of mine reached out when his church was looking for a logo. I was in the middle of several large projects and couldn’t take this on. But I knew that Ciera, a member of the Resourceful Designer Community, had shared several church branding projects she had designed. Thinking it was a perfect fit, I introduced her to my client, and now his church has a new logo they can be proud of.

This is just one example from the Resourceful Designer Community of how connecting with other designers can benefit you. Finding clients is challenging, but you can make the task more manageable if you put in the effort.

Staying Up-to-Date on Trends.

The graphic and web design industries are constantly changing and evolving. What worked yesterday may not work today, or there may be a new and better way of doing it. You’ll need to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and techniques to stay ahead.

Devote time to reading graphic and web design blogs, articles and publications. Listen to podcasts and watch courses and videos. Try to attend conferences and workshops if you can afford them. Follow design influencers on social media to keep up with what’s new in our field.

You’ll also want to stay abreast of the latest software and hardware developments. Tools and technologies are constantly changing. Take time to learn what’s out there and how to use them effectively in your business.

Staying up-to-date on trends will help you stay ahead of the competition and make you a more efficient designer. And allows you to provide your clients with the best possible work.

Managing Time and Money.

Time and money management are essential in the graphic and web design industry. You’ll need to learn to manage your time to ensure you complete projects on time and within budget. This means setting realistic expectations and deadlines and charging enough for the work you produce. Don’t undervalue yourself to land a client. You’ll only regret it. Communicating realistic deadlines, schedules, and fair pricing with your clients will help things move smoothly.

You’ll also need to budget for overhead costs like software, hardware, and marketing. And don’t forget the fees for design resources and subscriptions you may require. Everything from stock imagery to website hosting costs money and will eat your profit. Your monthly credit card bill shows you how much you need to make to cover the various expenses associated with running your business. You must learn how to price jobs accordingly to cover these expenses.

You’ll also need to manage your finances, both personally and professionally. Create a budget for yourself and your business, and track your income and expenses. You need to know how things stand if your design business income supports your business and personal expenses.

Being organized and staying on top of your finances will help you remain profitable and ensure the success of your business.

Finding Balance.

Running a business can be incredibly rewarding, but it can also be stressful and time-consuming. To maintain a healthy work-life balance, you must be conscious of the time and energy you devote to each.

It’s so easy when working for yourself to lose track of time and put in 12 or more hours of work in a day. Yes, hustling is part of running a business, but doing it consistently will impede your health. Schedule regular breaks during the day and week. Take vacations. Making time for yourself will help you stay motivated and productive and can even help you think up new ideas and solutions. I can’t tell you how many times a winning idea came to me after stepping back from a project for a while.

You’ll also need to make sure you don’t neglect your personal relationships. Make time for family and friends, and continue to pursue your hobbies and interests. Your business will still be there when you get back.

Doing things besides design work will help you stay inspired and energized and can help you avoid burnout.

The Rewards Outweigh the Challenges.

Starting a graphic design business can be an exciting and rewarding experience but also challenging. Starting my design business is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Many designers have told me the same thing.

To increase your chances of success, you must be prepared for the hurdles you will encounter. Finding clients, staying up-to-date on trends, managing your time and money, and finding balance are all critical aspects of running a successful graphic or web design business. Being aware of these will help make your journey easier. If you’re prepared for the challenges of running your own business, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Feb 20, 2023

Page Redirects. I know. Sound boring, right? I mean, how much can one talk about page redirects? After all, as the name implies, they redirect one web page to another—end of the story.

Not so fast.

Yes, Page redirects do redirect one web page to another. But there’s a lot more power to them that you may not have thought of.

When used correctly, page redirects can help attract clients. They can show authority. They can strengthen a website. They can even steal visitors from the competition.

Yes, there’s much more to the lowly page redirect than what it lets on. And maybe you can use one of these ideas for yourself.

1) Redirect alternate domain extensions.

A page redirect is used to redirect one web page to another. Those two pages don’t have to be on the same domain. Page redirects can be used to redirect one domain to another. The best use of this is with domain extensions.

For example. I live in Canada, and many businesses use the .ca extension for their domain. It’s highly encouraged, especially for companies that deal exclusively in Canada.

But we all know that .com is the most popular domain extension. When in doubt, most people try the .com first. That’s why I always recommend my clients purchase multiple domains, including the .ca and .com.

Then, using a redirect, they can send people who type in the .com domain to the website with the .ca extension. Or vice-versa, depending on which extension they want to use.

This also prevents someone else from registering and competing with the other domain extensions.

2) Redirect alternate spellings or misspellings.

Alternate spellings or misspellings are also excellent for page or site redirects.

For example, a food truck business called 2 Brothers In A Food Truck wants a website. Due to the possibility of mistyping their name, they may want to register multiple domains,

  • 2brothersinafoodtruck.com
  • twobrothersinafoodtruck.com
  • toobrothersinafoodtruck.com

They can then pick the one they want to use and redirect the others.

Here’s another example. Let’s say your name is Shawn Johnston. And you start a business called Shawn Johnston Consulting. While talking to people, you tell people to visit your website at shawnjohnstonconsulting.com.

But how do you spell that? Is Shawn spelled S-H-A-W-N, or is it S-E-A-N? What about Johnston, is that Johnson without a T or Johnston with a T?

You can spell it out every time you say it. But there’s no guarantee that someone else will spell it out when referring to you. A better option is to register the multiple spellings and redirect them to the correctly spelled domain.

  • shawnjohnsonconsulting.com > shawnjohnstonconsulting.com
  • seanjohnsonconsulting.com > shawnjohnstonconsulting.com
  • seanjohnstonconsulting.com > shawnjohnstonconsulting.com

3) Redirect an old site to a new site.

Redirects are extremely useful when building a new website either under the same or a different domain.

Every website will accumulate what we in the industry call “Google Juice” over time. Google Juice is a way to measure the SEO power of a webpage.

When building a new website or changing a website’s domain, you don’t want to lose that accumulated Google Juice and start from scratch.

If you’re changing a page’s URL, you want to create a 301 redirect that tells the search engines that the old page is no more, and they should now assign its Google Juice to this new page.

For example, Franklin & Barton Law office may have the URL franklinandbartonlaw.com.

Beth Barton gets married and changes her name to Beth Jackson. She wants to change the company’s name to Franklin & Jackson Law office and the URL to franklinandjacksonlaw.com.

Changing the domain on a website is fairly easy. But if they don’t want to lose their current search engine rankings, they need to redirect every page URL from the old site to the new one.

  • franklinandbartonlaw.com redirects to franklinandjacksonlaw.com
  • franklinandbartonlaw.com/about redirects to franklinandjacksonlaw.com/about
  • franklinandbartonlaw.com/service redirects to franklinandjacksonlaw.com/service
  • franklinandbartonlaw.com/contact redirects to franklinandjacksonlaw.com/contact

And so on for every page on the original website. This ensures the new domain retains the power of the old domain.

4) Redirect to shorten a URL.

We all know that the shorter something is, the easier it is to remember. Let alone tell someone else about it.

The show notes for this podcast episode can be found at the difficult-to-remember URL https://resourcefuldesigner.com/8-Uses-For-Page-Redirects-rd312. That’s why I use a redirect and tell you the show notes can be found at https://resourcefuldesigner.com/episode312. Which one do you think is easier? Easier for me to say and easier for you to remember.

And it’s not only for super long URLs. The URL for the Design Resources page on Resourceful Designer is https://resourcefuldesigner.com/design_resources. But I also have a redirect so that I can say https://resourcefuldesigner.com/resources. It’s only one word shorter, but it’s still easier to say and remember.

BTW, that page is where I list various design-related tools and resources you can use for your business. Check it out.

5) Use redirects when sending someone off-site.

Instead of giving someone a different external URL, redirect them from your website. It gets them where they want to go while strengthening your brand.

For example. Are you interested in joining the Resourceful Designer Facebook Group? I could tell you to visit facebook.com/groups/resourcefuldesigner, but that’s wordy, and it’s sending you away from my website. Instead, I have a redirect set up. If you want to join the group, visit https://resourcefuldesigner.com/group.

The destination is the same. But in the second one, you subconsciously associate the destination with my domain, which is never bad.

6) Use redirects for affiliate links.

An affiliate link is a unique URL that, when used, informs the destination where you came from for them to pay a commission.

For example, I’m an affiliate of Logo Package Express. An amazing Adobe Illustrator plugin that makes it highly efficient to package up logos to hand off to clients. If you haven’t tried version 3, what are you waiting for? It’s much better than version 2, which was already a great product.

The link you need to use for me to receive a commission on the sale is long and complicated. It’s full of numbers and symbols, making it too easy to get wrong.

That’s why I created a redirect of https://resourcefuldesigner.com/lpe20. Not only does that take you to the Logo Package Express purchase page, but that link also gives you 20% off the purchase price.

You should do this for all your affiliate links.

Want another one? Try using https://resourcefuldesigner.com/amazon. It redirects you to Amazon’s website, and if you make a qualifying purchase, I earn a commission on the sale.

7) Redirect the competition.

At the beginning of this episode, I mentioned how you could use redirects to steal clients from the competition.

Back in tip #1, I talked about redirecting different domain extensions. In tip #2, I spoke about redirecting different spellings. And in tip #3, I talked about redirecting old sites to new ones. You can combine these three methods to steal clients from the competition. I’ve helped several clients do this with great success.

For example. Let’s say you are creating a website for a new local Mexican restaurant. There are two other Mexican restaurants in town your client is directly competing with.

Check if these competing Mexican restaurants registered all the possible domain extensions. Or check if there are domains with alternative spellings available. You could help your client register and redirect them to their website if you find any.

This way, should someone looking for a competitor’s website type the URL wrong, there’s a chance they end up on your client’s website instead and decide to give them a try.

I’ve done this for several clients over the years and have tracked hundreds of visitors landing on my client’s website using these “wrong links.”

As for old websites. If a competitor closes for whatever reason, you could ask to purchase their domain name or wait for it to expire and register it yourself. Then redirect it to your or your client’s website and take advantage of the competitor’s Google Juice by adding it to your own.

8) Create authority using redirects.

Redirects are a great help when it comes to networking. Imagine these two scenarios.

Scenario 1:

You’re at a networking event, and a new entrepreneur asks if you know of a business lawyer. You mention Beth Jackson from Franklin and Jackson Law Office. You even give them the domain franklinandjacksonlaw.com for them to contact her.

Scenario 2:

You’re at a networking event, and a new entrepreneur asks if you know of a business lawyer. You mention Beth Jackson from Franklin and Jackson Law Office. Then you hand them your business card and point out your web address. You tell them to visit yourdomain.com/lawyer, which will redirect them to Beth’s website.

Which of these two scenarios sounds more genuine? Which one comes off as the better referral? I hope you’re thinking of the second one.

In the first scenario, the new entrepreneur has no idea about your relationship with this lawyer. For all they know, you’ve never dealt with them. You’ve only heard about them but don’t know if they’re good. You should be sharing their name so as not to sound naive.

In the second scenario, having a link on your website redirecting to this lawyer’s website shows the entrepreneur you’re confident in Beth’s skills. They’re much more likely to trust your opinion of her.

You can do this with lawyers, accountants, or any professional or service you may recommend. You establish yourself as an authority by sharing a redirect link from your website.

Other benefits of using redirects.

There are several benefits to using redirects beyond what I’ve shared with you today.

Redirects are easy to track. If I shared Logo Package Express’s URL, I could not know how many people use it. By sharing https://resourcefuldesigner.com/lpe20, I can see that over 500 people have used my link.

I do the same for internal website links. Any time I share a past podcast episode with you and tell you to visit https://resourcefuldesigner.com/episode#, that’s a trackable link, I get to see how many people use it.

Another good thing about redirects is that you can change them should the need arise. If, for some reason, you want to start referring a different lawyer, change the redirect destination of the URL you share. So where yourdomain.com/lawyer used to point to Beth Jackson, it now points to whatever new lawyer you want.

This is what I do with Resourceful Designer. Suppose you ask for my recommendation on web hosting. I’ll tell you to visit https://resourcefuldesigner.com/hosting, which redirects you to SiteGround’s website, the web host I currently recommend.

Before I started using SiteGround, that URL pointed to HostGator. But I started having issues with HostGator and decided to switch to SiteGround, and I couldn’t be happier. And now https://resourcefuldesigner.com/hosting redirects to SiteGround because I trust and stand behind their service.

How to set up a redirect.

There are several ways to create redirects. My preferred method is the PrettyLinks WordPress plugin.

And to show you once again the power of the redirect. Since you use Pretty Links to create a pretty link, I set up links using both the singular and plural versions. So both https://resourcefuldesigner.com/prettylinks with an S at the end and https://resourcefuldesigner.com/prettylink without the S redirect you to the same page.

Pretty Links does have a free version. But I use the premium version for the extra feature.

There are other redirect plugins, but I have no experience with them.

You can also create redirects by adding them to the .htaccess file of your website. However, I don’t recommend doing this unless you’re sure of what you’re doing. It’s easy to break a website when messing with the .htaccess file.

If you know how to code, there are ways to create redirects using PHP or JavaScritp, but those methods are beyond my abilities.

For domain redirects, most domain registrars offer free redirects. I use this to redirect different domain extensions to the one I want to use, in most cases, the .com extension.

Different types of redirects.

There are various types of page redirects, but you should concern yourself with only two for what I’m talking about today. 301 and 302 redirects.

301 redirects are permanent. This indicates that the URL has been moved permanently from its original URL to a different URL. You use these when redirecting a page from an old website to a new one because the old page will never be used again.

302 redirects are temporary. This indicates that the URL has temporarily moved to a different page, and the original URL may be used again later.

Temporary redirects are suitable for affiliate links that may change, such as my hosting link that switched from HostGator to SiteGround. It’s temporary since someday I may change it to something else.

Conclusion

These are just some uses for page redirects. I’m sure there are many more reasons I did not cover today. I wanted to discuss this topic to get you thinking about what you could do with redirects. I hope you’ll continue to ponder this when the podcast is over.

And please, let me know in the comments for this episode if you have different uses for page redirects. I would love to hear them.

Feb 13, 2023

This is a throwback episode, replaying episode 52, How A Great About Page Can Attract Design Clients. For any links or to leave comments, please visit https://resourcefuldesigner.com/episode52

Feb 6, 2023

This is a throwback episode, replaying episode 202, S.W.A.T. Analysis For Designers. For any links or to leave comments, please visit https://resourcefuldesigner.com/episode202

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