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: 2023
Dec 18, 2023

A look back at 2023 and a look ahead to 2024.

Thank you for your continued interest in what I do at Resourceful Designer. I appreciate you more than you know. Many great resources are available for learning and growing as a designer, and I’m humbled that you chose to spend a bit of your valuable time with me.

I am continuing my annual tradition. This last podcast episode of the year is my Look Back, Look Ahead edition. It’s where I reflect and share my year as a design business owner. Then, I’ll look ahead at what I want to accomplish in 2024.

Dec 4, 2023

In this episode of Resourceful Designer, I explore the concept of pitch work as a powerful tool for growing your design business.

I explain the difference between pitch work and spec work, detailing how pitch work involves presenting work to a client they didn't ask for, potentially for free or at a discount. 

Through personal experiences and anecdotes, I outline how pitch work has helped me grow my design businesses, including entering a new niche and building my portfolio. 

I present various scenarios where pitch work can be beneficial, from offering discounted services to approaching potential clients with innovative design ideas.

My practical insights and real-world examples make this episode a must-listen for designers looking to leverage pitch work for business growth.

Nov 20, 2023

Welcome back to Resourceful Designer!

In today's episode, titled "10 Steps Toward Design Business Success," I have an incredible lineup of tips and strategies to share with you.

Whether you're just starting in the design industry or looking to take your established business to new heights, there are ten critical factors you need to consider. I will dive into each step.

These steps are crucial in ensuring the growth and success of your design business. So, grab your notebook and get ready to take your business to the next level!

Let's dive right in.

Nov 13, 2023

Welcome to episode 326 of Resourceful Designer. In this episode, I highlight the importance of informing your clients about your full range of services.

Drawing from my own experiences, I emphasize how clients may not be fully aware of everything you are capable of. By sharing my own revelations and successful strategies for informing clients, I shed light on opportunities for designers to expand their businesses and nurture existing client relationships.

Join me as I revisit the valuable insights from episode 2 and explore the impact of effectively communicating your capabilities to your clients.

Nov 6, 2023

Welcome back to another episode of Resourceful Designer!

In today's episode, I welcomes a special guest, Michael Bruny-Groth, the creator of Logo Package Express, Logo Package Portal, and the newest addition to the Logo Package family, Logo Package Swatch.

We dive into the details of Logo Package Swatch, a powerful tool that helps designers organize and display color palettes for their clients.

We discuss its features, customization options, and how it can prevent mistakes in copying and typing color codes.

We also explore the benefits of Logo Package Swatch, including its integration with Adobe Illustrator and the ability to find the closest Pantone color matches.

Additionally, we discuss Logo Package Express and Logo Package Portal, two other products that streamline the logo export process and provide easy access for clients. 

So, whether you're a designer looking for better color organization or a client needing an efficient logo package management system, this episode has something for you.

Don't forget to use the exclusive discount code "RESOURCEFULDESIGNER" for a 20% discount on any Logo Package product (excluding Portal subscription)!

Sit back, relax, and enjoy this episode of Resourceful Designer. Let's dive in!

Oct 30, 2023

Welcome to episode 324 of Resourceful Designer, titled "You Are An Expert." In today's episode, I share a personal story that taught him a valuable lesson about business. It may not be a story about design or web development, but it's one that you should hear. Join me as I recounts being stopped at a police roadblock and the unexpected expert status I discovered. Stay tuned to learn how knowing just a little more than someone else can make you an expert in their eyes. Let's dive in!

Oct 23, 2023

Welcome back to Resourceful Designer! In today's episode titled "The Most Important Question You Can Ask Your Design Client," I reveal a simple question that can transform your design projects. The question that toddlers ask incessantly can unlock new possibilities and strengthen client relationships. Join me as I explain how asking "why" can clarify client needs, guide project direction, and save you time and money. Stay tuned to discover the power of this fundamental question in the design process. Let's dive in!

Oct 16, 2023

In this episode of Resourceful Designer, I delve into the world of modern marketing and share my insights from the influential book, Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing by Harry Beckwith.

Discover how the principles outlined in this book, originally written in 1997 but still applicable today, can revolutionize the way you run your graphic design business.

From the importance of showcasing your work and emphasizing value over features, to building trust and creating memorable experiences for your clients, I break down the key points in Beckwith's book and applies them specifically to the design industry. Tune in to this episode to gain valuable insights to help you succeed in your graphic design business.

Oct 9, 2023

On today's episode of Resourceful Designer, I discuss the pitfalls of hourly rates for designers. Inspired by a conversation in a design-related Facebook group, I explore the common practice of billing by the hour and the negative impact it can have on a designer's income.

Using personal anecdotes and insights, I explains how charging by the project or value-based pricing can lead to more successful and lucrative design work.

So, if you're a designer who is tired of being stuck in the hourly rate trap, or if you're curious about alternative pricing strategies, then this episode is a must-listen.

Get ready to go beyond the clock and discover a new way to earn what you're truly worth. Welcome to Resourceful Designer!

Oct 2, 2023

Hey, design enthusiasts! In this episode, we're diving into the world of pro bono design work for nonprofits and charities. We'll demystify the differences between nonprofits and charities, debunk the budget myth, and explore the pros and cons of offering your design skills for a good cause. I'll also share my personal criteria for selecting projects, including the "Three's the Magic Number" rule. Plus, I'll spill the beans on a clever tax receipt strategy that benefits you and the organization. Tune in for tips on making your pro bono endeavors a win-win for everyone involved!

Sep 25, 2023

In this episode, I'm diving deep into a topic that hits close to home for many of us in the design world: the Curse of Knowledge. I'm sharing personal experiences, like insider knowledge and navigating design jargon, to shed light on how it can lead to misunderstandings with clients. But don't worry, I've got your back! I'll be dishing out practical tips to help bridge that gap, ensuring every conversation is crystal clear. So, join me on this journey as we master the art of transparent communication and strengthen those all-important client relationships. You won't want to miss it!

Full show notes and a transcription of this episode can be found at

Sep 18, 2023

Welcome to Resourceful Designer, the podcast that helps designers thrive in their creative careers. In today's episode, titled "You Can't Read The Label From Inside The Jar," host Mark delves into the importance of seeking feedback and involving others in your design process. Mark reflects on the metaphor of not being able to see the bigger picture when you're too close to something and how this applies to our work as designers. He emphasizes the need for honest feedback from individuals with our best interests at heart to grow and improve as designers. Mark also shares his philosophy of learning something new with each design project and discusses the value of having a community or team to bounce ideas off of and receive critiques. So, if you're ready to step outside your perspective and take your design work to the next level, stick around for this insightful episode of Resourceful Designer.

Jul 10, 2023

In this episode of Resourceful Designer, I'm joined by special guest Ian Paget of LogoGeek, author of the new book Make A Living Designing Logos. Ian shares the story behind writing his book and how it can benefit anyone in the design space, even if you don't design logos. I was granted a sneak peek of the book, and I can assure you that it's as good, if not better than we make it out to be during the interview.

Ian also shares a heartwarming story of wanting to teach his four-year-old daughter what he does and how this led to a second book for toddlers, My First Little Logo Book.

Enjoy the interview. And be sure to back Ian's Kickstarter campaign and get a special edition of his book, only available for backers.

Links that are mentioned in the episode.

Ian's Blog Post: How I Wrote My First Logo Design Book.

Kickstarter Campaign for Make A Living Designing Logos

Children's Book: My First Little Logo Book

Logo Geek Podcast Episode 100

Ian's Twitter Account

Transcript of the episode audio.

Transcription will be available soon on the website at

May 8, 2023

Resourceful Designer is going on a short hiatus. Please stay subscribed for when I return with more great tips, advice and resources for starting and growing your design business.

Stay Creative

Apr 10, 2023

It’s the beginning of spring here in Canada. And with spring comes a desire to put all the messes of winter behind us and clean things up as we prepare for summer. That’s where the term Spring Cleaning comes from.

However, today, I’m not talking about packing away your sweaters and pulling out your shorts. Nor am I referring to cleaning the yard or washing the grime off the windows. Although, it is time to do all of those things. No. I’m talking about doing some spring cleaning of your design business. More specifically:

  • Cleaning Your Computer
  • Cleaning Your Office
  • Cleaning Your Business
  • Cleaning Your Branding

Cleaning Up Your Computer.

Spring is an excellent time to review your computer and see what you can clean up.

Clean up your Backups.

The first thing I suggest is examining your backup strategy. Are you doing everything possible to ensure your important files are adequately backed up? Do you have a good in-house as well as an online backup strategy? The price of hard drives is one thing that doesn’t seem to be affected by inflation. You can get large-capacity hard drives for great prices these days. Paired with Time Machine on Mac or an equivalent solution for Windows or Linux can ensure you always have your backups on hand.

I recommend Backblaze, a much more reliable backup system for online backups than Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive. And priced as low as $65US per year makes peace of mind very affordable.

Speaking of backups. When was the last time you double-checked to ensure your backup files were backing up? You’d hate to have something happen only to discover your most recent backup is months old. Whatever backup strategy you’re using, take a few minutes to ensure the backups are functioning and are current.

Clean up client files.

Clients come and go. So do design projects. After a while, you tend to accumulate a lot of outdated and even redundant files on your computer. Take some time to review your client files and see if you can get rid of anything.

Delete or move files off your computer for any client who isn’t in business anymore. If you want to keep something for nostalgia, keep the finished files which are often smaller. There’s no reason to keep large working files for something you’ll never use again. The same is true for old projects from active clients. If you don’t think you’ll ever need them again, get them off your computer.

And all those stock images files you accumulate. Did you know that once you acquire them from a stock image site, you can re-download them anytime without paying again? So there’s no reason to keep them on your computer.

Clean up your Client List.

One thing that can get out of hand in our business is our client list, especially if you do a lot of one-off projects.

Depending on the system you use to keep track of your clients, you may want to divide them into Active and Inactive categories. It makes managing it much easier if you don’t have to scroll through dozens or hundreds of inactive clients to find the one you’re looking for.

Clean up your email mailboxes.

You may not realize how much hard drive space email takes up, especially in our field, where attachments weigh in at multiple megabytes.

Chances are you save any attachments you receive to their respective client folder. It’s the smart thing to do. But that means you have two copies of that attachment on your computer. One is stored in the client folder, and one is still attached to the email message.

The same goes for attachments you send to clients. On a Mac, a duplicate copy is stored in the Library folder for your mail client. You can easily clean this up by highlighting a group of emails and telling your email client to delete the attachments.

Clean up your Mail Lists.

Another thing you may want to clean up is the email lists you’re subscribed to. It’s gotten to the point where you can’t enter your email anywhere online without being subscribed to some email list. Take a few minutes to see what’s in your inbox that you don’t need, and unsubscribe from them.

If you want to make it easy, look at Sign up to quickly unsubscribe from email lists you’re no longer interested in. And get an easily consumed digest of the ones you want to keep.

Clean up your Fonts.

The next thing you may want to do is clean up your fonts. As of last year, Adobe software no longer supports PostScript version fonts.

If you’ve been in this business for a while, you’ve probably accumulated many PostScript fonts. Since they’re no longer usable, either get rid of them or convert your old PostScript version fonts to OpenType fonts using TransType 4 from FontLab.

Clean up the rest.

You can clean so many other things this spring on your computer. Take a few minutes to review your applications folder and delete any you don’t use. Remove seldom-used icons from your Dock. Cull down your bookmarks. And update any passwords that need updating.

And although it’s not your computer. When did you last take inventory of the apps on your phone? If you’re anything like me, there are probably a few you can eliminate.

Cleaning up your Office.

This one is probably the easiest since it’s mostly visible. Although, in my case, not necessarily the quickest. Look around your office space and see what you can clean.

What do you have on your desk, shelves, and other exposed surfaces? Do you need all of it? There’s a fine line between well-decorated and cluttered. I know. I cross it all the time. That’s why one of my biggest spring cleaning projects this year is cleaning my office.

But it’s not just about what you can see. How well organized are your closets, cabinets and drawers? Do you toss things into them to get them out of sight? If so, now may be the time to go through and organize what you need to keep and get rid of what you don’t.

And, of course, once the clutter is taken care of. A good dusting and maybe washing of windows can help keep your office space as a place you enjoy being in.

Man o man, just looking around my office. I have a lot of work to do this spring.

Cleaning up your Business.

There’s no time like spring to look at your business and see where you can tidy up.

Clean up your Resume.

If working for yourself isn’t your goal, then refreshing your resume is something you may want to look at.

Clean up your Portfolio.

What about your Portfolio? The one on your website, or perhaps Behance or some other online platform? Are the projects you’re showcasing up to your current design skills? If not, take them out and replace them with newer work.

Clean up your expenses.

Is there anything you’re paying for that you don’t use? Now is a great time to look at your expenses and see if you can cut back on unneeded expenditures.

Do you need to pay for all of Adobe Creative Suite if Photoshop is the only application you use? What about your web hosting? Are there better options out there you can move to? BTW, feel free to use my SiteGround affiliate link if you decide to move there. It’s where I host mine and all my clients’ websites.

Look at what you’re paying monthly or yearly and see where you can save money.

Clean up your Branding.

It’s pretty standard for designers to neglect their branding. After all, you spend all day working on other people’s projects. You don’t always have the energy or desire to work on yours. But if you neglect your branding, you may lose out on potential clients.

Take time to review things like your website. Besides the ordinary things like updating themes and plugins, you may want to check for broken links and ensure you’ve done everything you can for SEO.

It’s also an excellent time to review your content. Does the wording need refreshing? Read Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller. It’s a great book to help you compose your brand story.

Is your about page giving the proper impression? For more on creating a great about page, listen to episode 52 of the podcast.

What about your social media profiles or profiles on Upwork, Fiverr or any other platform? Does your profile photo need updating? What about your description? Sometimes a minor tweak can make all the difference.

You’ll feel better after you clean.

So there you have it—Spring Cleaning for Your Computer, Office, Business, and Branding. Of course, there are many more things you can clean. And everyone’s environment is different. But you get the idea. Spring is in the air, and the desire for freshness comes with it. And that can start with a little bit of cleaning on your part.

Ensuring your workspace is a clean and enjoyable place to work and go a long way in helping you succeed. So get cleaning.

Apr 3, 2023

Have you ever thought of turning your design style into a niche? You’re lying to yourself if you say you don’t have one. Every designer has a design style. Even if your design style resembles many other designers, I bet something unique makes you different.

Have you ever thought of how you came by your design style? Did you go to school for design and develop your style from what your teachers taught you? Did you learn your style by following design influencers? There are tons of great designers out there you could follow and learn from. Have you studied the history of design? You know, the Industrial Revolution, Art Nouveau, Bauhaus, Art Deco, Postmodernism, etc., have these periods in design history influenced your style?

Did you come by your style from another artistic endeavour? I know of graphic and web designers who have fine art degrees. I bet that influences how they think about design. Do you sculpt, make pottery, paint, sew, craft or express yourself in any other creative outlet that may appear in your design style? Or maybe something else from your life is reflected in the projects you produce.

There are so many things that can influence your graphic design style. And since no two people are the same, it is understandable that no two designers design the same way. And if you can figure out what makes your style unique, you can carve out a very lucrative business based on it.

What is a design style niche?

I got the idea for this podcast episode after Lauren joined the Resourceful Designer Community. Whenever someone joins my Community, I look at their website and portfolio. It helps me learn where they are in their design journey and how the Community can help them.

Lauren told us when she joined the Community that she has a background as a creative director. So it’s no surprise that her portfolio is top-notch. But what I loved most about perusing through her work is how different it is from mine.

Reading Lauren’s About Me page, I learned that she grew up on the streets of New York City and loves punk, emo and metal music. And I could see that influence in her design style. There’s something edgy and wild about her compositions. And I found myself not just admiring them but studying them, trying to figure out how she did certain things. And trying to imagine her thought process as she worked on each design.

You see, Her design style is foreign to me. It’s not a direction I would ever take on a project. It’s not that it’s wrong, far from it. There’s nothing wrong with her creations. It’s just not in my design repertoire to do something similar.

Sure, I could probably copy it if I needed to. But even though I consider myself an excellent designer. If you gave me a blank canvas, I couldn’t develop something in that style without reference material. At least nowhere near as well as Lauren can. Lauren’s design style is unique to her. And that individual style is something she could niche into.

Creating a design style niche.

I’ve talked about niches on the podcast, but mainly from the point of the clients you target or the work you produce, such as targeting the school branding niche with Craig Burton, where he shared how he’s built a very lucrative business designing logos and other branding material for schools in New Zealand and beyond.

Or how some people, such as Ian Paget of Logo Geek, specialize in designing logos. That’s his niche, and he’s widely known for it in the UK.

I’ve shared how I knew a designer who designed websites exclusively for dentists and was killing it. I know another designer who only designs rock and metal band T-Shirts, and he’s in high demand. These are all niches. And as the saying goes, the riches are in the niches.

When you niche down, people automatically start viewing you as an expert in your niche and are willing to pay more for that expertise. That’s precisely what I’m doing with my Podcast Branding business. I specialize in the podcast niche, and people recognize me.

But what if you turn your design style into a niche instead of going after a specific target market or focusing on a particular design project? Lauren could easily promote herself as a designer specializing in punk/grunge-style design. I don’t know if that’s the right word for her style, but you get the idea.

Maybe you like creating futuristic-looking designs, something very robotic or technical. You could embrace that style and promote it. Or what if you have a very illustrative style? Andrew, another member of the Resourceful Designer Community, is a great illustrator, and it’s reflected in his portfolio.

These days, strong yet feminine styles are in high demand. And although I’ve created some strong feminine pieces before, I’m probably not the first designer people think of for that design style. What about specializing in a country-western design style? There’s a big call for that in certain areas.

I mentioned Craig Burton earlier of School Branding Matters, he’s based in New Zealand, and the New Zealand culture surrounding him heavily influences his design style.

How about retro? There are always people wanting a 50s, 60s or 70s style look.

And sure, clients could always ask their regular designer to design something in one of these styles. I’ve done country-western, robotic-tech, 1960s and 70s looks, and even strong feminine designs. But none of them are a specialty of mine, and I don’t feel natural designing in these styles. If a designer isn’t comfortable with a style, they won’t produce work as good as someone specializing in it.

But what if the client doesn’t have a regular designer and is looking for one online? Imagine someone typing “country-style graphic designer” into Google. Or “Retro vintage designer.” If that’s your niche style, there’s a good chance you can rank for that term, and that client will find you. And when they realize you specialize in exactly what they’re looking for, they have no reason to continue their search.

What I’m saying is if you can figure out your unique style and it’s something you want to lean into. You could start marketing yourself as a specialist in that design style. It’s another way of niching.

Combining Niches.

What if you combine some of my previously discussed niche ideas with this one? Imagine setting yourself up as a logo designer specializing in retro-style logos. Or a web designer who specializes in punk or grunge-style websites? What about a poster designer who specializes in a country western look?

If you can corner a particular niche, you can find yourself in high demand and could charge prices reflecting your specialty. By segmenting yourself, you automatically become an expert in your niche to those seeking your skills.

You may be saying, but Mark, I don’t want to be pigeonholed into one niche. I want to be able to work on different types of projects. To that, I say nothing is stopping you from doing that.

If a non-school related client approached Craig Burton saying they admire his style and want to hire him, he wouldn’t say, “you’re not a school, so I can’t work with you.” Of course not. I know Craig, and I’ve seen him create some amazing non-school-related pieces.

Just because you target a niche doesn’t mean you are stuck doing only that type of work. Look at me. I started Podcast Branding in 2019 as a side gig to go after the podcast niche. However, I’m still running my other business, Marksman Design which isn’t niched.

And even within the Podcast Branding side of my business, I’ve done non-podcast-related projects. One of my biggest Podcast Branding clients is a podcaster. That’s how they heard about me. But he didn’t need anything regarding his podcast. Instead, he hired me to design a website for his company that is entirely separate. In this case, a client heard of me through the podcast space. He liked what I did and trusted me enough to work on something non-podcast-related.

So you can always create a second company for a particular niche. Or start a second brand and work as a DBA as I do. I run Podcast Branding as a division of my other design business Marksman Design.

How to attract clients in a niche.

So let’s say you decide to pursue this option of entering a niche. Be it a target market, particular design pieces like logos, posters or t-shirts, or a niche using your design style. How do you go about attracting clients? It all comes down to portfolio 101. Showcase the type of work you want to work on.

If you claim to be in the country-western niche, you’ll confuse clients if your portfolio contains high-tech and art deco-looking projects. No matter how well those projects turned out, they have no space in your portfolio.

I mentioned how my work for my biggest Podcast Branding client isn’t about podcasting. That’s why you won’t find any of it on my website because it’s irrelevant to clients looking for someone to help with their podcast’s visual needs. If you want to start a niche in the retro logo design space, all your portfolio pieces should be logos with a retro look.

The next thing to do to attract clients is to network within your niche. Let people in that niche know who you are and what you do.

I go to podcast conferences because that’s where my target market is. I talk and hand out business cards to as many people as possible. The more people in my niche who know what I do, the better my chances of getting clients.

On my order form, I ask clients how they heard about Podcast Branding and me. On an order I received this week, the client mentioned hearing about me from someone I’ve never heard of. That can only happen because of networking.

Remember, it’s not who you know that will help grow your business. It’s who knows you. And in this case, someone out there knew enough about me to pass my name on to someone who needed my services.

So if you’ve ever considered niching but didn’t know what direction to take, you may want to consider looking at your design style. Embrace whatever makes your design style unique. You may be sitting on a great niche idea people seek.

Mar 27, 2023

This is a throwback episode, replaying episode 17, Being A Freelance Graphic Designer Could Hurt Your Business. For any links or to leave comments, please visit

Mar 20, 2023

This is a throwback episode, replaying episode 195, Design Hacks To increase Productivity. For any links or to leave comments, please visit

Mar 13, 2023

The second most common question among graphic and web designers, after how to attract clients, is how much to charge for our services. No matter what price we settle on, we’re never sure it’s right.

Could you have gotten more for that job the client so readily agreed to? Probably. Is price the reason another client isn’t replying to the proposal you sent? It could be. No matter how long we work in this industry. I don’t think we will ever figure out the “right price.” But that’s ok if you feel adequately compensated for your work.

Getting paid $200 for a logo design is a great accomplishment for some designers. In contrast, other designers won’t consider a logo design project for under $2000. It all comes down to the value you feel you bring and the impression you give your clients.

But let’s look at this from the client’s point of view. From their perspective, what’s the difference between a $200 logo and a $2000 logo?

You may say it’s the value. It’s the experience of the designer, their skills and their knowledge. And I can’t argue with you there. More experienced designers do tend to charge more. But does that mean the experienced designer’s $2000 logo is ten times better than the $200 logo from a less experienced designer? Maybe, and maybe not. The less experienced designer may end up creating a better logo.

So why would a client hire a $2000 designer over a $200 designer? It can be summed up in one phrase. Price equals expectations.

Let’s look at another industry.

Say you’re going on vacation and need a place to stay. Your destination has two options (It’s not a popular vacationing spot.) Those two options are a $49 per night motel and a $200 per night hotel. Not knowing anything about or seeing photos of either of these two places beforehand, what do you think your expectations are?

Both the motel and hotel offer a bed for sleeping. Both include a TV and free Wifi. Both have breakfast included. They even both have positive online reviews. So you would expect the same experience at both places, right? Wrong!

The fact that one of the places charges four times the price of the other creates a higher expectation. For $200 per night, you expect the beds to be more comfortable. You expect more offerings on TV and faster Wifi. You expect a more inclusive breakfast.

You expect more from the hotel because they’re charging a higher price. Even though, in the end, both places give you precisely what you need, a place to sleep at night.

The same goes for graphic design services. The more you charge, the more clients expect from you. And I don’t mean deliverables. However, that may be part of it. What I mean is your clients expect better communication from you. More professionalism. More attention to detail. And a more take-charge attitude.

The more you charge, the more the client expects that you can get the job done with minimal involvement on their part. These expectations breed trust. And when you’re clients trust you. They give you the freedom to do your work in the manner that suits you best.

The less you charge, the fewer expectations they have. Which means lower trust.

I speak from experience, and many designers can attest that the less you charge for your services, the more clients want to dictate exactly what you do. They don’t want your knowledge or your experience. They only want to fork over a few dollars for your skills. It’s almost like you’re a rental designer. These are the type of clients who say, “I have an idea. I need you to create it for me.” They expect less from you because it’s what your prices tell them.

Would a client hire a $2000 logo designer and say, “Here, I drew up this rough sketch of an idea. Can you clean it up for me?” No. That’s because price equals expectations. Clients will treat you differently depending on how much you charge.

Clients willing to pay more for design services expect higher service, expertise, and attention to detail. They expect you to understand design principles and are current on design trends and technologies. These clients will likely have more complex and demanding design needs and want to work with a designer who can deliver exceptional results.

Designers who charge higher rates can expect to be treated more respectfully and professionally. They will also need to deliver a higher level of service to justify those rates. The more you charge, the more your clients expect. Price equals expectations.

On the other hand, clients looking for more affordable design services are usually willing to sacrifice some level of expertise and customization in favour of a lower price point.

It’s up to you to decide whether to be a higher-rate designer or an affordable designer. But remember that setting too low rates can harm your business in the long run.

While clients may be attracted to lower prices initially, they may also be wary of working with a designer who charges significantly less than their competitors. That trust between you and your clients never reaches the level it does with higher-priced designers and their clients.

Setting your rates too low can make investing in your business and growing your skills and expertise challenging over time. Because the lower you charge, the more clients you need to make ends meet.

In the scenario presented above. The lower-priced logo designer must find ten clients to make the same amount of money the higher-priced designer earns from just one. This means the higher priced designer can focus more of their thoughts and energy on one client instead of dividing it among many, which helps them meet and exceed their client’s expectations.

How to justify higher prices.

One of the first things clients do when considering a graphic or web designer is looking at your portfolio. They want to understand your style, capabilities, and the types of projects and clients you’ve worked with.

It’s essential to have a portfolio that showcases your best work. One that highlights your strengths. Something that shows you’re worth the prices you charge.

Case Studies can help justify higher prices. Where a portfolio piece shows what you’re capable of designing. Case studies illustrate the who, what, and why of the designs you created.

A case study that shows how you think and approach design problems can demonstrate why you’re worth your higher rates.

But besides portfolios and case studies, it all comes down to confidence. You need to feel confident in the prices you charge. And that’s something that can take time. However, you can get there if you slowly build up to it. The next time someone asks for a price, quote them a bit higher than the last similar project you did. And keep doing this until you reach a price point you’re happy with.

I charged $500 for the first website I designed. The next one was $700, then $900 and so on. Nowadays, I rarely do a custom website for under $5,000. And the clients I have respect my abilities and trust me to provide them with attention to detail that befits my professionalism. I meet the expectations of clients looking for a $5,000 and more website designer.

Whether you charge higher rates or more affordable prices, the most important thing you can offer your clients is high-quality work that meets their needs and builds strong relationships. Although, if you deliver high-quality work to your clients, you might as well make a bunch of money doing it. After all, price equals expectations.

Mar 6, 2023

This isn't a standard episode of Resourceful Designer. Instead, I want to share two tips with you.

Tip #1

Set up your Google Analytics 4 account ASAP. Google is turning on Universal Analytics on July 1st, 2023. Google has said the data collected in your UA account will not be migrated to your GA4 account. Unless you want to start again from zero, you need to set up your GA4 account now and start collecting data while you still have access to your UA information.

Listen to the podcast episode to learn more.

Tip #2

Never tell a client that you "Should" something. "I should be able to start your project next week, " or "I should have something to show you by Friday." etc.

Instead, tell them you "plan." – "I plan to start your project next week." or "I plan on having something to show you by Friday."

Saying "Should" instills doubt. It tells the client you are unsure of your abilities. Using "plan" instills confidence while not guaranteeing anything in case you cannot fulfill what you say.

Using "plan" instead of "will" is also a good idea for the same reason. Planning on doing something but not succeeding is forgivable. Saying you will do something and not following through harms your reputation.

Semantics can go a long way in helping you become a better business person.

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,


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

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.

  • >
  • >
  • >

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

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

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.

  • redirects to
  • redirects to
  • redirects to
  • redirects to

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 That’s why I use a redirect and tell you the show notes can be found at 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 But I also have a redirect so that I can say 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, 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

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 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 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 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, 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, 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, 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 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, 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 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 with an S at the end and 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.


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

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

Jan 30, 2023

Monetizing Your Design Skills: Making money without clients.

Do you dread interacting with clients? Have you ever considered monetizing your design skills to make money without working for clients?

Since starting Resourceful Designer in 2015, I’ve received many emails from designers worldwide seeking advice. People have sought my opinion on everything from naming their design business to my thoughts on specific tools.

The most popular questions I’m asked are about working with clients. It turns out, which should be no surprise, that many designers are introverted. And in some cases, these introverted designers have anxiety when dealing with clients. I can’t tell you how many people say they want to start their own design business, but dealing with clients is holding them back.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it. Working for yourself as a home-based designer, or as some people call it, a freelance designer isn’t for everyone. It takes a particular ability, personality and willpower to run your own business. And not everyone has what it takes.

There’s no shame if you don’t fit that mould. You can have a long and prosperous career working for someone else. Besides, working for someone else is usually less stressful than working for yourself.

But what happens when a designer reluctant to interact with clients starts their own business? Maybe they do it willingly, knowing their shortcomings. Or perhaps they’re forced due to no fault of their own. Such as after a layoff? Either way, these designers need to make money now and working for themself is their only option.

These designers have three choices.

  1. Temporarily push through their anxiety while searching for a job working for someone else.
  2. Face their fears and learn to interact with clients.
  3. Monetize their design skills and find a way to make money without working with clients.

It’s the third way I want to discuss today. Putting your design skills to work for yourself instead of for clients.

Let me preface this by saying most of the things I will mention take time. Working on client projects is your best option if you need money soon. But let’s say you do have time. Or, you want a way to supplement the income you get working with clients. Perhaps in the hopes of one day being able to forgo client work. What can you do?

11 Ways to monetize your design skills and earn money without working for clients.

There are several ways you can monetize your graphic design skills and can make money without working for clients. Here are 11 I came up with that you could try:

1) Design premade layouts, templates and design assets.

Suppose you like making logos, icons, and other graphics. Or you enjoy creating layouts for business cards, resumes, and social media posts but don’t like dealing with clients. Why not create and sell them on marketplaces such as Creative Market or Etsy? There’s a massive market out there for premade layouts and graphics.

What’s great about this is that once you create them, they can be sold multiple times, providing a passive income stream with little effort.

Are you familiar with Cricut machines? They’re becoming more and more popular. People use them for everything from creating custom birthday cards to printed t-shirts. Many Cricut owners rely on premade designs for their creations. I know one designer whose entire income is from selling Cricut designs on Etsy.

2) Selling merchandise via print-on-demand.

As a designer, you can create graphics for merchandise such as t-shirts, mugs, phone cases, tote bags, etc. You then sell them through online print-on-demand platforms such as Redbubble, Zazzle, Society6 or TeeSpring.

I have many designs across several P.O.D. platforms that earn me monthly money.

3) Create a course or write a book.

Are you particularly good with specific software programs, or perhaps there’s a particular design topic you know a lot about? Why not create and sell a course on platforms such as Udemy or Skillshare and teach others what you know?

The same goes for design-related books. It’s so easy these days to self-publish a book or ebook and sell it on platforms such as Amazon Kindle.

Put your skills and knowledge to use in helping others. Once the product is created and marketed, it can continue to sell for years to come, providing passive income.

4) Sell stock photography, illustrations, graphics, videos and more.

Have you considered selling stock Images? There’s a massive demand for stock photography, illustrations, graphics, video and more.

This is similar to the premade layouts and templates I mentioned earlier. Put your creative skills to use and come up with all sorts of designs and concepts you can sell online.

If you’re good at working with video, there are plenty of opportunities to earn income by creating YouTube intros and transitions where all someone has to do is add their logo to an existing file.

Once your creations are licensed, you can earn money from them without additional effort. Shutterstock, iStock, Envato and many other stock platforms are always looking for new items to add to their catalogue. Why can’t they be yours?

5) Create a typeface.

The funny thing about typefaces is that no matter how many are out there, there’s always room for one more.

Tools and resources are available to help you develop typefaces of your own. Then it’s just a matter of selling it on the many online font sources.

6) Sponsorships, Affiliates and Advertising.

Share your knowledge through a blog, podcast or YouTube channel. Then monetize it through sponsorships,  affiliates and advertising.

That’s what I do with this podcast. I’m an affiliate for many of the products I mention and make a small commission any time someone purchases one using my link. And I recently had a sponsorship deal with StickerMule where they paid me to talk about their product.

The more you put yourself out there, the more people trust you and your recommendations.

7) Create an authority website.

Are you a web designer with a passion for something other than design? Maybe it’s motorcycles, woodworking or field hockey? Why not use your web design skills by creating an authority site on that topic? Combined with affiliate links and advertising, you can earn a good income.

Check out sites like or to learn how.

8) Create and sell mobile apps or games.

If you know how to program, you could put your skills to work creating apps. Who knows, maybe you can create the next Angry Birds or Wordle and make a lot of money.

9) Develop a plugin or extension.

Put your coding skills to use and develop a website plugin or software extension people will use.

Look at Michael Bruny-Groth. He’s a designer who got tired of gathering all the logo variations to give to clients. He saw a problem and came up with Logo Package Express as a solution. Arguably one of the best Adobe Illustrator Extensions to come out in years. It’s now his primary source of income.

10) Website layouts and themes.

There’s a lucrative market for website layouts and themes. Whether they’re stand-alone or for use with page builders such as Divi or Elementor.

Marketplaces such as ThemeForest or TemplateMonster always look for new products to sell.

Not everyone that needs a website can hire a designer. Many of them rely on pre-built layouts and themes. If you have the skills, why not give it a try?

11) Offer your services in online design marketplaces:

Even though designers don’t like talking about them, there’s no arguing that people are making money on marketplaces such as Upwork, Fiverr or 99designs. You earn income from the design projects you complete.

This one is a bit on the fence since you are doing client work. But the interaction is very minimal, which even the most anxious introvert should be able to handle.

What are you waiting for?

So there you have it. Eleven ways you can monetize your design skills without working with clients.

It’s worth noting that while these methods can provide a passive income, they often require a significant amount of time and effort to establish. Still, once you have established a reputation or built an audience, they can generate passive income for years.

Do you have another way you’re using your design skills while not working for clients? I would love to hear about it. Leave a comment for this episode at

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