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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: Page 14
Mar 17, 2016
Taking Time Off From Your Graphic Design Business - RD027

The best remedy for stress is taking time off.

Being a graphic designer can be a very stressful profession. Especially if you run your own home based graphic design business. Not only do you have the demands of being creative, you also have to deal with the day to day tasks involved with running a successful business. There will inevitably come a time when the stress will start getting to you and the best thing you can do it take some time off. Luckily, if you run your own graphic design business it means you are your own boss and you can take time off whenever you want.

When I say take some time off from your graphic design business I'm not talking about vacation. Yes, we all need vacation time in order to relax and unwind, but what I mean by "time off" is simply stepping away from your daily routine for a while. Be it a day or just a few hours. It's amazing how taking a little time off, some "me" time if you will, can recharge your mental and creative batteries and allow you to dive right back into work at 100% efficiency.

How do you take time off from graphic design?

Get out of the office.

There are various ways for you to take time off from designing. The simplest way is to get out of your office. Find some chores or house work that needs to be done and go do it. If that's not good enough for you, try getting out of the house. Go for a walk, run some errands, go visit a museum. This last one is especially good at getting your creative juices flowing.

Tackle often neglected office tasks.

If you can only take a couple of hours off and don't feel like leaving the house, consider tackling those often neglected tasks around your office. Clean your desk and your drawers. Update your computer's OS, software, RAM, hard drive. Run some maintenance programs to help speed up your computer.

You could also take some time to purge unwanted files and applications, or archive old client files that don't need to be taking space on your computer. Clean out your e-mail inbox or organize your fonts. My software of choice for this last task is Suitcase Fusion by Extensis.

Find other ways to be productive.

If you are feeling too guilty to take time off but are still feeling the stress, take some time for self improvement. Try experimenting with some of the less used applications on your computer. You know, the applications you purchased as part of some graphic design bundle. You may of bought the bundle for one or two specific programs but that's not to say the others couldn't be put to good use if you knew what they did. Destress by taking the time to learn those applications.

You could also improve yourself by watching webinars or taking courses. A great place to learn about design and business is through Lynda.com. Lynda offers a wide variety of professionally produced courses that could really help you and your graphic design business.

A way to get out of the office and still be productive is to go visit some clients. Just stop in to say hi and see how they're doing. What's great about this idea is sometimes by seeing you, the client will remember some project they were thinking of and ask you to take it on. I've walked away from several surprise client visits with new projects to add to my schedule.

Taking time off is all about improving your work.

I'm always dumbfounded when someone thinks graphic designers sit around all day drawing pretty things. People don't realize how stressful our lives can be. We potentially hold the success or failure of companies in our hands depending on the branding we create for them. That's a lot to place on an individual. It's no wonder the pressure sometimes gets to us. Luckily, graphic designers tend to have short reset times and simply taking some time off is all we need. Even if that time off is a single day, an afternoon, or just an hour, when we finally get back to our work stations, we're eager to dive right back in and get creative.

What do you think?

What do you do when you take some time off from your graphic design business? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

I have another Question Of The Week to answer. If you would like me to answer your question in a future episode please visit my feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Sean,

Should you ask a client for their budget in the initial project questionnaire?

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

Resource of the week is Photos For Life

Photosfor.life is a “charity photo bank” where all the stock photos are created by cancer patients and survivors and for other cancer patients. Each of the models you see in the images was personally affected by cancer in their own lives. “They love their lives and want to show it to the world!” the website says.

Prices range from $8 for non-commercial use up to $850 for use in an advertising package.

What makes Photos for Life different from other stock photo services is that 100% of the proceeds from the photo sales are used to finance therapies for other cancer patients.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
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Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Mar 11, 2016
Raise Your Prices To Get Better Graphic Design Work - RD026

You need to to raise your prices if you want better work.

Sounds strange doesn’t it? The idea that if you raise your prices you'll get better graphic design work. It kind of goes agains the whole "undercut your competition" idea that is predominant in most industries. But when it comes to graphic design, charging more means better work for you.

I first covered this topic in a blog post titled It's Time To Raise Your Design Rates. In this episode of my graphic design podcast Resourceful Designer, I expand on the topic and tell you how I first discovered the connection between higher prices and better work and I explain how if you raise your prices you'll be better off as well. Make sure you listen to the podcast for the full story.

Pros and Cons if you raise your prices

Let's start off with the cons since there really aren't that many.

  • Con - Harder to land work.
  • Con - May loose clients

That's about it. These cons may be areas to concern yourself with but they are the only two cons, and chances are you won't have to worry about them. So let's move on to the pros.

  • Pro - More money for less work
  • Pro - Higher end clients with bigger budgets
  • Pro - Higher perceived value for your work
  • Pro - Clients who can afford your higher prices will probably have more work for you as well
  • Pro - You will be taken more seriously as a designer
  • Pro - The ability to compete with other high priced designers
  • Pro - More interesting projects to work on
  • Pro - Less one time clients and more recurring clients

As you can see, there are way more pros than there are cons, and I only listed some of the pros. As for cons, I Googled it and those were the only two I found.

The fact is, after your raise your prices you will be in a better position to attract higher end clients with bigger budgets and recurring work. It all comes down to perceived value and people taking you seriously. A large corporation looking to rebrand will have more confidence in a graphic designer that changes them $8,000 than one that charges them $800. It's perceived value. Both designers may have identical skills, but the higher priced designer will be taken more seriously.

It's just like layers. Would you prefer have a high priced attorney represent you or the appointed public defender? The high priced attorney of course. Why? Because of the perceived value. The public defender may be just as competent as the high priced attorney but he/she will never be taken as seriously as the high priced layer. The same theory applies to graphic designer.

Do pricing strategies matter?

No. It doesn’t matter if you charge by the hour, the project, or by value. If you raise your prices you will project an image of having more value to your clients. And if it looks like you offer more value for your clients you will attract bigger and better clients.

Why do you think companies like Pepsi Cola pay so much when they create a new brand? It's not because the designers or agencies they hire spend tens of thousands of hours on the project. Nor is it because the designers or agencies are more talented and more creative than you are. It's because the designers or agencies have created a higher perceived value for themselves that make large companies trust them more and take them more seriously and in return large companies like Pepsi Cola are willing to pay a premium price for them.

You can accomplish this as well. Maybe not land a client like Pepsi Cola, although never say never. But you could land some very lucrative accounts and get the ball rolling. Because once you land one large client more tend to follow suit.

Do you tell your clients when you raise your prices?

This is entirely up to you. The few times I've raised my own prices I didn't tell my clients and they didn't question it when I sent them an invoice billed at my new higher rate. People are used to prices going up and wont be as surprised by an increase as you think they will. Now if you feel this is a little back handed then go ahead and inform your clients when you raise your prices. Chances are you wont hear anything negative from them. And if you do end up loosing a client because of the increase, they were not loyal clients to begin with and you are better off without them.

What do you think?

When was the last time you raised your prices? How did it work out for you. Let me know in the comments section for this episode.

Questions of the Week

I have another Question Of The Week to answer. If you would like me to answer your question in a future episode please visit my feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Norman,

Hi Mark,
Hey Mark I'm loving the podcast since my discovering it a few weeks ago. I've learn a ton! My question for you is how did you find/get your first leads and clients, aside from the obvious strategy of working within your current social group or doing work for family/friends, but the first time you had your eyes set on a client that you wanted to work with and how did you go about approaching them? Thanks a ton Mark for all the knowledge and help!

To find out what I told Norman you’ll have to listen to the podcast. But I'll give you a hint. In my answer I refer to my blog post on attracting new clients.

Resource of the week is HostGator

HostGator in my opinion, is one of the best website hosting companies out there. I have several of my own as well as my client's websites at HostGator. They offer easy 1-clickWordPress installation and allow multiple domains and website on one hosting package. And if you are already hosting your site elsewhere you can take advantage of their free migration tool to have your site moved from your old host to HostGator. If you want to see what HostGator has to offer please visit http://resourcefuldesigner.com/hosting and use the coupon code RESOURCEFUL25 to receive a 25% discount on your hosting plan purchase.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on 
Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Mar 4, 2016
Selling Your Idea to Your Graphic Design Clients - RD025

The Client Isn't Always Right.

The idea for this episode's topic about selling your idea to your client came about because of a Facebook group I'm part of. Recently a graphic designer posted a logo she was working on for critique. The logo was an acronym, a single common word with each letter separated by a period. General consensus in the group was that she should loose the periods and the designer agreed. The hard part was convincing her client. After several days she posted a new refined logo saying she was able to convince her client that the periods were not working. Everybody loved the new logo.

A week or so later, the graphic designer let us know that the project was finished and the client had once again changed her mind and ignoring the designer's suggestion, decided to go with the period version as the final logo.

This is not an isolated case. Every graphic designer that has been around for a while has dealt with clients who wouldn't heed their advice. Unfortunately it's part of our profession. We may have the skills, the knowledge, the expertise and experience but convincing a client to go against their own vision is sometimes a loosing battle.

In this episode of my graphic design podcast Resourceful Designer, I share some past experiences of both failing and succeeding in selling my idea to my own clients. Make sure you listen to the podcast for the full story.

So what is the best way of selling your idea to your client?

It all comes down to confidence. The best way of selling your idea to your client is to show them how confident you are in those ideas.

You need to remember that your client hired you because you are an expert at design. You may not consider yourself and expert, but in their eyes you are, and  you need to live up to that mantle.

When selling your idea to your client you should present it in an affirming and non dismissive way. And word your proposal in a manner that makes the client think they're part of the idea.

Use phrases like "why don't we do this?" or "We should do this instead". Instead of phrases like "What do you think of this?" or "Maybe we should try this."

Don't make your idea proposal a question. If you say "Maybe we should try this" you are instilling some doubt about your idea and giving the client the opportunity to shoot it down.

By saying "We should do this" not only are you including your client in the process by saying "We" which makes them feel like they're part of the decision, you are also minimizing the chance of a negative response because it's not a question. You are the expert after all. If your client feels your confidence in the idea they may second guess any doubts they have with it and proceed with your vision.

Show your graphic design client why they hired you.

As a graphic designer you have a vast knowledge stored in your head of design principles, colour theory, font usage, layout techniques and so much more. Use that knowledge to affirm your client's belief that you are the expert they see you as.

When a client comes to you with what they think is a great idea. but you know otherwise, use your knowledge to explain to them why their idea isn't as good as they think. Explain design principles to them. Explain why ten different fonts on a flyer isn't a good idea, explain why bevels, gradients, and drop shadows on a logo limit it's ability to be reproduced. Reming them that you are the expert and you know what you're talking about.

Clients get ideas from things they see around them and want you to incorporate them into their designs. I had a website client many years ago that insisted that every line of type on his site either flash, blink, scroll, flip, rotate, you name it. He had seen all these things on various websites and thought that including them all on his site would create more "action" and make it more memorable to visitors. It took a lot of convincing on my part, to the point of threatening to tear up the contract before I convinced him that just because it can be done, doesn't mean it should be done.

Sometimes a little shovelling is needed when selling your idea.

Clients often question decisions you make. It's not to second guess your work, it's to affirm their decision in hiring you. They know you are the expert and they want to know why you chose to do what you did. Unfortunately some of your decisions they question may not have a good answer.

Sometimes the decisions you make are done on a whim. You chose the colour blue for no other reason than it's what you felt at the time. You chose a san-serif font because you just finished a logo for another client that used a serif font and you wanted to try something different. These are good enough reasons for you, but not good enough for your client.

You need to be able to explain your decisions in a way that will convince your client of them. And if this requires a little BS on your part, so be it. Now I'm not telling you to lie to your clients, I wouldn't condone that. But you should have enough design background and experience to explain your decision in a logical way that makes sense. Even if that's not why you did it in the first place.

Why did you choose a san-serif font? Because of it's modern look. Because of it's uniform line width. Because you liked the shape of the letter "e". All of these reason could be true and your client will understand them better than telling them you were tired of working with serif fonts. Remember, selling your idea means convincing your client, not yourself.

In the end, it's the client who pays the bill.

No matter how experienced you are, or how much design knowledge you've accumulated, sometimes there's just no way of selling your idea to your client. You shouldn't view this as a failure. Some clients have an idea in their head and there's nothing you can do to change it. All they want from you is someone with the skills to transfer their idea to paper or pixels. In cases like this you need to bite your tongue and do what the client wants. It may not end up in your portfolio but it will help pay the bills.

What do you think?

Do you have any stories of clients who's minds you've changed. Or stories of clients you just couldn't convince to go along with your ideas? I would love to hear them. Please leave your story in the comments section for this episode.

Resource of the week is BackupBuddy

BackupBuddy lets you move a WordPress site to another domain or host easily. This is a very popular feature for WordPress developers who build a custom site for a client on a temporary domain or locally (like a sandbox or playground site) and then want to move (or migrate the entire site with themes, plugins, content, styles and widgets over to a live client domain.

With Deployment, you can set up a staging site and connect it with your existing site using BackupBuddy so you can push or pull changes in as few as two clicks.

The restore function in BackupBuddy is quick and simple. Upload the ImportBuddy file and your backup zip, and it walks you through the steps to restore your site: your themes, plugins, widgets and everything else.

In your WordPress dashboard, you can also restore individual files from a backup instead of having to replace everything together. This is great for replacing an old stylesheet or a couple templates that you want to revert back to.

To learn more about BackupBuddy visit http://resourcefuldesigner.com/backupbuddy

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on 
Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Feb 25, 2016
Benefits of a Home Based Graphic Design Business - RD024

I will never work for someone else again.

That's how I feel each and every day that I sit down in my home office and get to work. I spent over 15 years working as a graphic designer at a commercial printer. It was a wonderful place to work. The people I worked with were great, even my bosses. I wouldn't be the graphic designer I am today if not for my time spent there, but I wanted more.

In the summer of 2007, after a year of running a part time web design business in the evenings, I handed in my notice and took the plunge into full time entrepreneurship and never looked back.

Running a graphic design business, especially a home based graphic design business has offered me freedoms I couldn't imagine before. When people ask me if I ever miss working for someone else I can honestly say no. After being on my own for so long I don't think I could ever go back to being someone's employee.

But running a home based graphic design business isn't for everyone. In the previous episode of Resourceful Designer I talked about the dangers of running a home based graphic design business. And although I used the word "Danger" in jest, it is true that this work environment isn't for every designer. However, if you don't have a problem being all alone every day, then the benefits of running a home based graphic design business greatly outweigh the isolation you'll need to put up with.

In this episode of Resourceful Designer, my graphic design podcast to help you run your own business, I cover the benefits that anyone thinking of running a home based graphic design business can embrace. Listen to the podcast for the full discussion.

Business Benefits

Choosing your clients: One of the first benefits you'll discover after starting your own graphic design business is the level of clients you get to work with. Being in charge means you can turn down the clients and jobs that don't suit your needs, leaving you with quality clients to create relationships with. I realized myself that after 15 years at a printing company, designing things for people who were there to have something printed, I was finally dealing with clients who truly know the benefits of working with a graphic designer.

Clients seeking your services will respect your skills and abilities much more and listen to what you have to say. Being a business owner puts you at their level and allows them to view you as an equal.

Work hours and money: One of the fears designers have about starting a graphic design business is the lack of a steady paycheque. Working at an agency or as an in-house designer guarantees you a weekly salary. Whereas working from home means your income is dependent on the clients you engage and the work you produce.

What these fearful designers sometimes fail to recognize is that the rates they can charge are much higher than the hourly salary they earn as an employee. When I started my own business I made the calculations and realized that I only needed to work 12 billable hours per week to bring in the same salary I was earning working 40 hours at the printing company. That freedom allows a home based designer to spend part of their week working on self promotion and attracting new clients.

Overhead and Write Offs: The benefits of working from home create so many tax breaks and write offs that drastically help your bottom line. I already covered tax deduction you can claim as a home based graphic designer back in episode 18 so I won't go over them again. But I can tell you that they make a huge difference. Fuel savings alone for not having to drive to and from work each day is a huge benefit in itself.

Home Benefits

There are many benefits to working from home that don't have to do with your business. The fact that you spend your days in the place you live, gives you the opportunity to do things you couldn't do if you were working somewhere else.

Doing chores: Taking a few minutes during the day to do a few chores can free up time later to spend with your family. There are many times when I knew the weather was going to turn bad that I decided to mow my lawn during the day and make up for it by putting in a few hours of work in the evening. This is something I couldn’t do if I didn’t work from home.

Meals: Not only do you have access to your entire kitchen during the day to prepare yourself some nice healthy lunches, but also being able to get dinner started for the family is another huge time saver. Sometimes all it takes is turning on the oven and putting in a casserole. Your family will appreciate it.

Sick days: If you work somewhere else and you wake up one day not feeling well you need to call in sick. Depending on your employer you may need to take it as a vacation day or a day without pay. But if you work from home chances are you can still put in a few hours of work without worrying about infecting anyone.

Family Benefits

Kids: One of the biggest benefits of working from home, at least for me, is being there for my kids. My wife and I saved several hundred dollars a month by not having to pay for after school or summer daycare. And being able to spend quality time with my kids between jobs means I've created precious memories that I never would have had otherwise.

Time off: Being your own boss means you don't have to ask permission when you want to take a vacation or simply take some time off for an appointment. If you do have children you know how doctor appointments, dentist appointments, eye appointments all add up. Because you run your own business you can go to these appointments and make up for lost time later.

Pets: Working form home also benefits your pets, letting them keep you company while you're working instead of waiting all day for you to come home.

Mental Benefits

Satisfaction: Running a home based graphic design business gives you a sense of satisfaction knowing this is your company, you are in charge. It makes you proud for what you do. When a client appreciates what you do they share it with others, and they're talking about you, not some agency or printing company, you. When this happens you can't help but be overcome with a feeling of "I did it" I'm an entrepreneur, I'm a business owner, I'm a graphic designer and people know about me.

Wardrobe: I don't know about you, but I'm most comfortable in jeans and a T-shirt. Running a home based graphic design business means you don't have to worry about what you wear unless you are going out to meet a client. You can even work in you pajamas if you want. You don't even have to shave on the days you're staying home if you don't want to.

Laziness: Laziness was covered in last week's "danger" episode, but it can be put to good use. There will be days that you just don't feel like working. Being your own boss means you can take a lazy day and not have to answer to anyone. Just don't make a habit out of it.

What are your benefits?

What do you think are the best benefits of running your own home based graphic design business? There are hundreds of benefits I didn't cover and I would love to know what you think. Please leave a comment and let others and me know.

Resource of the week is Evernote

Evernote is, in my opinion, one of the best organization and note taking applications there is. I use it on a daily basis to keep track of everything from podcast and blog topics, to business contacts, websites I need to revisit, and so much more. Evernote's ability to sync across all my devices means I can access it no matter where I am. It's become one of the most invaluable tools in my arsenal. If you are interested in giving it a try visit evernote.com

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on 
Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Feb 19, 2016
Dangers of a Home Based Graphic Design Business - RD023

Running a home based graphic design business isn't all fun and games. There are some dangers involved.

There have been many times when I've told someone what I do for a living, and they've replied that they could never do what I do. I'm not talking about being a graphic designer, although for some people that would be an acceptable reply. What they mean is they could never work from home like I do. Now being the person that I am, I have a hard time imagining how anyone wouldn't want to be their own boss, work their own hours and create their own rules. But the fact is, there are many people who just can't handle the dangers of running a home based graphic design business.

Dangers you ask? Well perhaps "dangers" is a bit too harsh a word. But there are certain aspects of running a home based graphic design business that are too frightening for some.

In this episode of Resourceful Designer, my graphic design podcast to help you run your own business, I cover five "dangers" that anyone thinking of running a home based graphic design business should consider before taking the plunge. Listen to the podcast for the full discussion.

Mental State

One of the biggest dangers faced by home based graphic designers is isolation. We live a life of solitude. Designers working at an agency or in a design department at some company have the benefit of social interaction with the people around them. Home based graphic designers on the other hand spend most of their time alone. You need a strong mental state to combat the stress of isolation, of boredom and possibly fight off the laziness that can manifest itself due to the lack of accountability and supervision.

Home based graphic designers require a willpower to persevere in the absence of social companionship and the ability to self motivate in the absence of others. Not everyone is capable of doing this.

By the way, if you do experience boredom while waiting for more work to come in, you may want to give my FREE Four Week Marketing Boost a try. Use it to create the best first impression you can and attract more design clients.

Environmental Dangers

In this case dangers is synonymous with distractions. When running a home based graphic design business you are surrounded by distractions that agency designers don't face. I'm talking about your TV, Your video game console, your fridge and pantry, even unfinished chores from around your home. All these "dangers" can taunt you and lure you away from your work. With nobody watching over you, it would be so easy to turn on Netflix and finish that show you started binge watching on the weekend or go mow the lawn so you wont have to do it on Saturday. Everything that pulls you away from work are environmental dangers.

Once again willpower comes into play. Home based graphic designers must learn how to ignore these distractions or they can lead to the demise of your business.

Work Strategies

One of the benefits of running a home based graphic design business is we get to decide how and when we work. If we don't feel like starting until noon we have that option. As long as we're aware of what we're doing it's ok. The dangers however is that without the supervision that agency designers have we can sometimes find ourselves overtaxing ourselves which could lead to burnout. It's not unheard of for a home based graphic designer to get into a "creative zone" and loose track of time. Concentrating so much on the work at hand that he forgets to take breaks, forgets to eat and drink and even forgets to stop at the end of the day.

On the flip side, another danger involving work strategies is the use of social media. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are great for social interaction but if not used correctly during working hours they can turn into huge time drains that suck the productivity right out of you. Youtube is especially bad for this. You may have a legitimate reason for watching a video during working hours. Perhaps it's a Photoshop tutorial or you're watching review videos for software your thinking of buying. The problem is all the extra content that YouTube throws at you, taunting you to watch "just one more video" until suddenly you realize that a couple of hours has gone by.

Agency designers have people watching over them and don't have to worry about these issues.

Security

Let's get a bit more serious here. Security can be a real danger if you're not careful. You're working from home so it's possible your clients will know where you live. Hopefully this will never become an issue but it is something to keep in mind. I myself have a mailbox at my local UPS Store I use for work and it's that address on my business cards. If a client wants to meet with me I try to do it at their place or I meet them at a local coffee shop. I rarely share my home address with a client and when I do it's with clients I really trust.

I know a woman that lived by herself and ran a home based graphic design business. One of her clients mistook her kindness and easy going personality as flirtatious and started stalking her, showing up at her home at all hours of the day. She had to file a restraining order to get him to stop. Now this case was a bit extreme but it just goes to show you that there could be some dangers with working from home.

If you do allow clients into your home be sure your insurance covers any liability should they injure themselves on your property. Some home policies wont cover work related incidents so check with your insurance agent.

Well Being

The last topic I want to discuss is your personal well being. Dangers you may want consider before starting a home based graphic design business are the possibilities of you getting hurt while you're home alone. What happens if you fall and hit your head? Or you choke while eating something, or even suffer a stroke or heart attack? For some people, these dangers are the deciding factor preventing them from starting a home based business. At an agency there are people around that could help. But at home they may not be so lucky.

Sorry for finishing on a down note. I started with the word "dangers" more out of jest but I wanted to show to you that there really are some dangers to consider when working from home.

Did I miss anything? I would love to hear your thoughts. Leave me a comment and let me know what dangers you considered.

Resource of the week is Audible

I recently published a blog post where I shared non design books every graphic designer should read. If you found some of those books intriguing but don't really have the time to sit down and read, you may want to consider an audiobook. Audible offers over 180,000 books in their library including almost all of the titles in my blog post. You can download a free audiobook when you sign up for a free 30 day Audible trial. If you decide before the 30 days are up that Audible is not for you, you can cancel your membership and still keep the free book. Simply visit resourcefuldesigner.com/audible to try it out.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on 
Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Feb 11, 2016

The Amazing Task of File Management!

A little to enthusiastic? Oh well, can't blame a guy for trying. The fact is file management is probably one of the most boring tasks we do as graphic designers. Boring, but necessary if we want to run an efficient and streamlined business. After all, the less time we have to spend searching for some file we haven't touched in several years the better. A good file management system will make your life as a designer so much easier.

So although file management isn't the most glamorous topic to cover in a graphic design podcast, it is what I choose to cover In this week's Resourceful Designer.

Different areas of file management

In order to try and make this week's podcast episode a little more interesting I decided to break it into seven different sections of file management

  1. Resources
  2. Client Files
  3. Logos
  4. Fonts
  5. Training/Education Material
  6. Bookkeeping
  7. Backups

Resources

Resources cover everything you may use that helps you be the wonderful graphic designer that you are. I'm talking, image libraries, application plugins, Photoshop actions and styles, website themes, Wordpress plugins etc. Anything that you can use in the design process.

If you're like me you've probably purchased a few design bundles at some point (or many, don't judge). Design bundles are a great way of acquiring resources for your work. The thing with design bundles is they often come with way more than what you're actually interested in at the time. However, some of those pieces are worth saving for that "someday" you may need them.

Having a Resources folder makes it easy to find all those often used or seldom used pieces to help you in your designing.

My Resources folder contains many different folders for all of the above. For example; we all know that sometimes a good background can complete a design project. In my Resources folder I have a Backgrounds folder that contains every image file I own that can be used as a background. The folder is divided into sub-categories to make it easier to find what I want. Metal, stone, leather, paper, wood are a few of those sub-categories. If I'm ever working on a project and I think a nice wood background is needed I know exactly where to look for one. That's good file management.

Also in my Resources folder is a Stock Images folder. In it I have the original copy of ever single stock photo and image I've ever purchased. I have this folder subdivided as well into Photos, Vectors, and Illustrations and each of these is also subdivided. For example, my Photos folder is divided into People, Landscapes, Vehicles, Interiors, etc. and each of those is subdivided further. People is divided into Women, Men, Couples, Seniors, Families etc. Every time I purchase a new stock image I make sure to put it in the right category. If it could go into multiple categories I make aliases of the file (Shortcuts in Windows) and put them in each category they fit into. This makes it extremely easy for me to search through specific categories and quickly find what I'm looking for.

There are other ideas for the Resources folder I talk about on the podcast.

Client Files

File management of client files is a must. Otherwise you could spend hours searching for things when an old client contacts you down the road. On my computer I have my client files organized like this. I have one main folder that I call "Jobs In Progress". The title is a bit misleading since not everything in the folder is "in progress" but that's the name I gave the folder over 10 years ago and I just never bothered changing it.

Inside my Jobs in Progress folder I have a separate folder for each client I have. There are two special folders in there as well called "Old Clients" and "Inactive Clients". Old Clients is for any client I know will never come back. Businesses that have closed or have been bought out. That sort of thing. From time to time when I need to clear up HD space I will move these clients to an external device but for the most part I leave them there. Why? I've learnt over the past 25 years that just because a client doesn’t exist anymore doesn't mean you wont need their files anymore. It's happened more than once that someone came looking for something and I was glad I has saved them.

My Inactive Clients folder is for any client that I haven't heard from in over 2 years. They're still around but either they've found someone else to design for them or they haven't had need of me.

That leaves the rest of my Jobs In Progress folder that contains a folder for every client I've worked with over the past two years. Opening any one of the client folders shows folders for each project I've done for them. Stationary, Flyers, Billboards, Website etc. Now what's found in each of these changes depending on the client. Clients that I do a lot of work for I may divide their folders by year, month and date if need be, others just by year. Regardless of that hierarchy, once I get down to it, every single client project folder I have is built the same way.

Inside the project folder is the actual layout file (QuarkXpress or InDesign), or the website files. There are also four folders in every project folder.

  • Working; for all the .psd and .ai files pertaining to the project.
  • Images; for all the completed images that are actually used on the project.
  • Supplied; for all file that the client has supplied me.
  • Final; The final approved file to be sent to the client, printer, etc.

If there are common elements such as graphics or photos that are used across all marketing material I store these in a special "Images" folder at the root level of the client folder.

Logos

Now you may be wondering why logos don't fall under the images folder for the individual clients? I discovered many years ago that it's much easier to save each and every logo I have on my computer in one centralized location. In my case I have a Logos folder in my Resources folder. In it I have all my clients logos as well as every single logos I've accumulated over the years.

The reason i do this is for those time when you need to include "sponsor" logos on some poster or website for a client. Trying to remember if, or on what project you may have used some obscure logo a few years ago isn't fun. Since I started keeping all my logos in one place I've never had this issue.

Listen to the podcast for a fun story about my logo storing method.

Two Tricks For Acquiring Logos

Sometimes it's a real pain to get good, usable logos from a client. Especially if they don't understand what it is you need. I have two tried and true methods of acquiring good quality logos quickly and easily. But you'll have to listen to the podcast to hear them (hint, it's at the 27 minute mark)

Font Management

Fonts are another thing we graphic designer tend to amass over time and it can be a real pain to sort through them to find just the right one. That's why I think everyone should have some kind of font management software to help organize the chaos. I can't speak for all the various options but I can tell you about Suitcase Fusion by Extensis. I've been using Suitcase Fusion since before they added the Fusion to it. This font management software integrates with all the design software we use to turn fonts on and off as we need them. This way you don't bog down your system with unnecessary fonts.

Suitcase Fusion is a great way to organize your fonts and make it easier to find that perfect one for the project you're working on. In the application you can create sets to organize your fonts. I have mine set up alphabetically as A, B, C, D etc with each font in it's appropriate folder. I also have special folders for Celtic Fonts, Script Fonts, Hand Drawn Fonts etc.

The best thing about Suitcase Fusion is the ability to assign styles and/or keywords to fonts. This makes it so easy to narrow down your choices. Looking for a slab serif font? Eliminate all fonts that don't fit that category and your search just became that much easier.

Training/Education

Perhaps not file management in the technical sense, but I've found that keeping all your training material in one place is a big help. Any eBook, video, guide, manual, web clip etc. should be in easy access for when you do need it. I have my Training folder divided into Web, Photoshop, Illustrator, (plus other applications) etc. Any time I download a guide or manual I store it in the appropriate place. Any time I stumble upon a good tutorial page or video I I grab the URL, label it as what it is, and put it in my Training folder for later access.

Having this resource has saved me many hours searching online for something that I remember seeing some time in the past.

Bookkeping

This is a simple one that I use. The numbers on every invoice I send out begin with the current year. This January I opened my invoicing program, I use Billings Pro by Marketcircle, and I changed the numbering to start with 16-xxxxx. This makes it easer down the road to know exactly when a certain job was done.

Backups

Now backing up really has nothing to do with file management. But, what's the point of implementing a great file management strategy if you end up loosing all your files due to some unforeseen circumstance? There are things in this world beyond our control. Fire, flood, tornadoes, theft are just a few.

On-site backup via Apple Time Machine or some other external device is a must for all graphic designers. But off-site backup is something we should all be using as well. For this I use a company called Backblaze. Backblaze is a set it and forget it solution. It works in the background backing up your files so you never have to worry should a natural disaster ever happen. There are other solutions available but Backblaze is the one I'm familiar with.

Another form of backup you should look into is website backup. Most hosting providers offer site backup but they don't say how often. Some are every 30 days, 60 days, even 90 days. That's fine for a static website. But for any site that is updated on a regular basis it wont do. My preference for website backup is BackupBuddy by iThemes. BackupBuddy offers real time backups of your site. As soon as something is changed on the site it gets backed up. I have all my and my clients' sites backed up this way.

So there you have it. File Management in a nutshell. I hope that wasn’t too hard to get through. I would love to hear your comments. Share your strategies by leaving me a comment.

In next week's episode of Resourceful Designer I'm going to talk about the dangers of working from home.

Questions of the Week

I have another Question Of The Week to answer. If you would like me to answer your question in a future episode please visit my feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Teri,

Hi Mark,
I have just started listening to your podcast in the past month and am really enjoying it! Thanks for all the fantastic advice! I have been working in the industry for about 7 years now here in Atlanta, Georgia. After the birth of my daughter a year and half ago I have started working from home part-time (which I love) and it has been keeping my quite busy! I was wondering if you had any advice on passing off work to other designers? Is there a good network you use or how do you build that network? I also feel that part of my value as a designer is that I know the clients and what they are looking for, thus it is difficult to explain that to another designer, especially with a super fast turn around.

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

Resource of the week is BackBlaze

One of the scariest things you can think of as a designer is what would happen if disaster strikes and you loose all your computer files. What would it mean for your business? Backblaze offers a simple unlimited online backup solution for your design business for less than $5/month. And it’s so easy. You just set it up and forget about it. Backblaze works in the background automatically backing up your files. And if you ever loose your data for whatever reason, you wont have to worry because you’ll know everything can be restored from Backblaze.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Backblaze’s online backup solution and trying a 15 day free trial, visit resourcefuldesigner.com/backup

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on 
Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

 

Feb 4, 2016
Ending Relationships With Your Graphic Design Clients - RD021

It was fun while it lasted. Or, maybe it wasn't. Either way, ending relationships with your graphic design clients is part of the job.

If you've been at this long enough you've probably come across a client or two that just rubbed you the wrong way. Maybe they were too demanding. Maybe their personality clashed with yours. Maybe they took forever to pay their bills. Or maybe they wanted you to do something you weren't comfortable with. Any number of these or more can lead you to ending relationships with said clients.

Although you should try everything you can to nurture and continue your dealings, sometimes ending relationships is what's best for everyone involved.

In this episode of Resourceful Designer, my graphic design podcast. I touch on various reasons why ending relationships with clients is the best option for your business. Here's a summary of what I talk about.

Ending relationships before they start.

Sometimes, when you meet a new potential client for the first time, you get a certain feeling in your gut that tells you this isn't for you. Maybe the client is giving you bad vibes or has a way about them that grates on you. No matter the reason, there's something about the situation that's telling you not to proceed any further.

You need to remember, this is your business. You are in charge and you get to decide who you want to work with. There is no shame in politely telling a potential client that the project they're describing isn't for you. Or that their budget is too small for you to consider the project.

Turning down work is not the same as ending your relationship.

Keep in mind that you can turn down work from new or existing clients without ending your relationship with them. Being too busy, leaving on holiday, too small a budget, and conflict of interests are just a few viable reasons for turning down work. As long as you do it diplomatically your relationship with the client should remain intact.

Ending existing relationships

This one is obviously harder. After all the time and effort put into building a relationship with a client it seems a shame to part ways. You should do your best to save the relationship. Unfortunately it's sometimes best for both of you to walk away.

Money is often the number one reason for ending relationships with clients. Face it, you're running a business. If a client isn't paying their bills there's no reason to keep them around. But there are many other reasons for ending relationships as well. Only you can be the judge on wether or not the situation has escalated to that point.

Bowing out gracefully

Regardless if it's a new client or an existing one, you should never burn any bridges when parting ways. You never know when things may change in the future and your paths may cross again. Not to mention that we often deal with one contact person when designing for a company. You may have issues with that contact, but they may not always be the face of that company. Don't give the company a reason to not want to work with you when it's the individual who is the problem.

How have you dealt with ending relationships with your clients?

Leave a comment and let me know how you handled this situation when you encountered it.

Questions of the Week

I'm introducing a Question Of The Week section to the podcast. If you would like me to answer your question in a future episode please visit my feedback page.

This week's question comes from Jessica,

I currently do in-house print design work for an insurance company. I am approaching the idea of starting my own business, and I'd like to offer web design. However, I've never done any web design in the past. I'm wondering if you could advise where to start in the learning process? I'm looking at Lynda videos, but I don't even know what I should focus on- Wordpress, HTML, CSS? Or should I work on the front-end design of a webpage and partner with a web developer to handle the coding and backend design? I have never grasped writing code and am not sure if it's necessary to do myself.

To find out what I told Jessica you'll have to listen to the podcast.

Links mentioned in my answer.

Linda.com
Elegant Themes

Resource of the week is TextExpander

TextExpander is a huge timesaver in allowing you to create text shortcuts for longer pieces of type you use on a regular basis. I've created shortcuts for all my email addresses to save me time when typing them out and to make sure I don't make any errors. TextExpander is also a huge help for web designers. I've used it to store often used bits of HTML and CSS that I can call up with just a few keystrokes.

At the time i'm releasing this podcast episode, TextExpander is on sale through MightyDeals for $22. That's half off! The sale only lasts a few days so get it now.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on 
Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Jan 28, 2016
Building Relationships With Your Graphic Design Clients - RD020

Building Relationships With Your Graphic Design Clients.

How do you define your relationships with your clients?

I'm not talking about the graphic design work you do for them or their promptness to pay their bills. I'm talking about a true relationship. Outside of the actual projects you work on together, what sort of relationship do you have? Do you know anything personal about them? Could you hold a meaningful conversation with them that didn't involve work?

Building relationships with your graphic design clients is a key element in running a successful graphic design business.

I'm not suggesting you take them out to a movie or a weekend at the beach. But taking the time and getting to know them beyond your professional relationship will go a long way in establishing your future with a client.

Why? Because having a relationship instills trust, loyalty, understanding and so much more.

Now I know It's not possible to build a relationship with each and every client. Some of them come to you for a one time jobs and then you never hear from them again. Others have no interest in building relationships and only want you for your skills. But regardless of the client, it's your obligation to at least make an effort in building a relationship with them. Because when you do, it pays off a hundred fold.

In this week's episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast I discuss this topic in length. Here is a brief description covering some of what I talked about in this episode.

Benefits of building relationships

Having a good relationship with your client means you've gone beyond just being their graphic designer. It means you've become the person they can go to for advice, get ideas from, or just vent. And when you've become that person chances are they wont look elsewhere when it comes to a service you can offer them.

When you have a relationship with a client both of you benefit. Not only do you gain an understanding of their business and how they work but they also learn how you do things which can help you in future projects. You each gain a comprehension of the strategies and methods you use that will help you when brainstorming ideas. And most importantly, when you have a relationship with a client, you build trust and loyalty towards each other that goes beyond the projects you work on together.

Remember, people use people they like. So if your client likes you, there's no reason for them to shop around elsewhere.

How do you build relationships?

Building relationships with clients isn't that different than dating.

Imagine your going on a blind date with someone you don't know much about. What do you do to get them to like you?

The key component is communication. You need to have an open dialogue that goes both ways. If you were on a blind date and they did nothing but talk about themselves you would be put off. Same goes for clients. Give them the opportunity to talk and express themselves.

Show Respect. Let your client explain things, even if you already know what they're talking about. If your blind date starts telling you all about a movie you've already seen you wouldn't tell them to stop because you already know the movie. You would let them talk. Give the client the same opportunity.

Be Honest. If a client ask you something that you don't know or are unsure of, don't be afraid to tell them so. Honesty can go a long way in building relationships. Tell the client you don't know, but follow up that you are eager to learn or discover the answer. Show interest and they will appreciate you for it.

Be Patient. Some clients have a hard time getting their ideas across. Especially if they are unsure of the direction they want to take. Be patient and let them gather their thoughts as they try to explain things to you. Offer your advice and opinions only once they're done.

The following two are the most important factors in building relationships with clients.

Listen. Listen to EVERYTHING the client has to say. Not just about the project you are discussing but everything they talk about. The parts of the conversation not related to the design project are sometimes more valuable to building relationships than the project talk.

Learn what you can about your client during these conversations. If they talk about their children or mention an upcoming vacation, take note and bring up the topics in future conversations. Asking a client the next time you talk how his weekend at the cottage went shows him that you cared enough to remember that detail and ask about it.

Ask Questions. You should be asking questions about the project you are working on, but there is nothing wrong with asking questions not related to the project in order to build your relationship. If you're at a client's office and see a photo of kids, a dog or a vacation spot on their desk, ask about them. If you also have a dog talk about it. Knowing you're a fellow dog lover can help solidify the relationship you are building.

If you work on these skills you are on your way to building a relationship.

The results

Building relationships take time. But the time invested is more than worth it in the long run. Building relationships with clients is one of the best things you can do for your graphic design business. It's a wonderful feeling knowing a client relies on you so much that they couldn't fathom going to anyone else.

I would love to know what you though of this episode. Please leave a comment below.

Resource of the week is Lynda

As graphic designers we need to stay on top of things and keep on learning and building our skills. One of the best resources for continuing our education is Lynda. Lynda offers over 3000 professionally produced courses to teach you many of the skills required to run a successful graphic design business. For a 10 day free trial to access to each and every course. visit http://resourcefuldesigner.com/lynda

Four Week Marketing Boost

I put this guide together in the hopes to encourage you to look at your own brand and image. The daily tasks in my guide require only 20-30 minute of your time and focus on the parts of your marketing material that are often overlooked or neglected.  After completing this four week plan you will be in a better position to present yourself to, and win over new clients.

You can download the Four Week Marketing Boost by visiting marketingboost.net. Or, if you are in the U.S.A. you can text the word MARKETINGBOOST to 44222.

Improve your business' image and create the best first impression possible to attract more clients.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on 
Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Jan 21, 2016
Are Your Communication Skills Scaring Away Design Clients? - RD019

Are Your Communication Skills Scaring Away Design Clients?

When it comes to running a graphic design business, It's not just your creativity or your design skills that determine if you succeed or not. Your communications skills play a major role in the outcome of your business. Communications skills that are required when dealing with potential design clients.

The fact is, without good communications skills, you'll have a hard time finding and retaining graphic design clients.

I recently read a blog post by Felipe Mandujano titled Finding clients may not be your biggest problem. In it Felipe tells us how, by looking closely at himself, he was able to discover the flaws in his communication skills and address them over time. Felipe's article gave me the inspiration for the podcast episode. Please listen to the episode as I dive much deeper into the subject than I do in this post.

Why is it that finding new design clients comes easier to some designer than others?

Let me ask you a question. Do you consider yourself an Introvert or and Extrovert?

If you said Introvert, you're not alone. Did you know that the majority of graphic designers are introverts? Remember, being an introvert doesn't necessarily mean that you're shy, just that you're more comfortable being along. Because of that desire to be alone, you may not have developed the communication skills necessary to really succeed as a home based graphic designer. That's what I discuss in this podcast episode.

If you replied Extrovert to the above question I encourage you I stick around and listen to the podcast anyway. You may gain some insight that will help you in your business as well.

Being an introvert.

One of the issues with being an introvert is that you don't like to venture too far out of your comfort zone. You can easily immerse yourself at your computer, your sketchpad or easel. but when it comes to dealing with clients you're not that comfortable.

That's why you see many design teams, where one team member designs while the other has the communication skills to deal with the clients. Each member has their own skill sets and works within them.

But not ever designer has the benefit of working with a business partner who can handle the clients for them. Most home based graphic designers are like me, running the business all alone.

And that is where the problem lies if you're an introvert. If you have trouble expressing yourself and communicating with clients it can come across as a lack of confidence. If a client ask you a question and you hesitate or hum and haw about the answer, they may think you don't know what you're doing and decide to look elsewhere for answers.

It doesn't matter how good a designer you are. Clients don't want to deal with someone who appears to lacks self confidence and doesn't have the communication skills to talk to them.

If you ever feel this way yourself I have some good news for you. You can overcome this and develop the communication skills necessary to succeed. It does require you to step out of your comfort zone but it is doable.

Here's some homework to improve your communication skills.

I want you to play a little game. The next time you find yourself at a checkout counter, I want you to say hi to the cashier before they say it to you. That's all there is to it. Beat them to the greeting. Cashiers have been trained to greet each customer they see so you know as you approach them that a "hello" is coming. So why not initiate it yourself? Believe it or not, but taking the leap and saying "hi" first will boost your confidence the more you do it.

If you want to take this game to the next level continue the conversation with what comes naturally after the greeting. Ask the cashier about their day before they ask you. It's an insignificant conversation but doing this over and over will boost your communication skills.

For an even bigger challenge, say hi to people in line with you, or in the elevator with you. Anytime you find yourself next to someone with a few seconds to spare say hi to them instead of just standing there in silence. You don't even have to go beyond the greeting and converse with them. The process of greeting someone is a great way to over come the fear and self doubt when dealing with strangers. And the more you do this, the more comfortable you'll be the next time you talk to a potential client.

Other things you can try.

Participate in design groups like the ones on Facebook or Linkedin. Talking with other designers online may be more comfortable for you and will help build your communication skills.

Find yourself a colleague or mentor you can talk to. Someone you can share your fears and insecurities with. Talking about them will go a long way in overcoming them. Old design school classmates make great sounding boards for this.

Read books to develop your communication skills. It may sound funny that reading will help you better talk to people but the authors of these books know what they're teaching. Put their works to the test and see what happens. Keep an eye out on my blog post as I'll be releasing a list of non-design books for graphic designers very soon.

Remember, when clients are looking for a designer they are looking for more than just creative design skills. They are looking for someone to create a relationship with. Someone they can have confidence in and someone they can trust to understand them and get the job done.

If you work on and develop good communication skills you'll be much closer to running a successive design business.

Resource of the week is my Free Four Week Marketing Boost

I put this guide together in the hopes to encourage you to look at your own brand and image. The daily tasks in my guide require only 20-30 minute of your time and focus on the parts of your marketing material that are often overlooked or neglected.  After completing this four week plan you will be in a better position to present yourself to, and win over new clients.

You can download the Four Week Marketing Boost by visiting marketingboost.net. Or, if you are in the U.S.A. you can text the word MARKETINGBOOST to 44222.

Improve your business' image and create the best first impression possible to attract more clients.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
Subscribe on 
Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Jan 14, 2016
Tax Deductions For Home Based Graphic Designers - RD018

Tax Deductions For Home Based Graphic Designers

It's that time of the year again. The holiday season is behind you and the calendar has reset once again. Your New Year's resolutions are made, some of which you may have already broken. And you've gotten back to the grindstone running your graphic design business. It can only mean one thing. Tax season is almost upon you.

Running a home based graphic design business has many perks. You are your own boss. You make your own hours. You choose the clients you want to work with. You can work in your Pjs if you want to. But one of the often overlooked perks associated with running a home based graphic design business is all the tax deductions you can claim.

In this week's episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast I talk about various tax deductions for home based graphic designers. There are many things that designers don't realize are tax deductible. Such as house plants or your Netflix subscription (you did watch that design related documentary didn't you?)

You can find tax deductions all around your home if you know where to look. Here are just a few of the ones I share with you in the podcast.

Home Office

Your home office or design studio as I like to call mine is filled with tax deductions. Everything from your desk and chair, the carpet, filing cabinets and even the artwork and knick knacks that decorate the space. And don't forget to deduct any renovation or improvement costs you incur for your work space.

Home Expenses

Since you spend a good part of your day working from home it only makes sense that you can claim tax deductions for some of your home expenses. Include things like Mortgage/rent, utilities, insurance, phone service, cleaning service, and even your property tax, yes, you can claim a tax deduction on the tax you pay.

Office Supplies

Everything that fills up your graphic design studio and helps you work qualifies as tax deductions. Pens, pencils, paper, printer ink, white boards, recordable media such as blank DVDs are all deductible. If you can produce a receipt for it, you can claim it.

Office Equipment

Office equipment consists of the bigger, non consumable things such as computers, external storage devices, printers, cameras, scanners and the like.

Software Tools

As graphic designers we use a lot of different software tools. Some of them directly in our design work such as design or font management software and some in running our business like file transfer services. Don't forget mobile apps that you use in your business, they are tax deductions as well.

Personal Growth

Keep receipts for every conference, webinar, class, course or whatever you attend in order to become a better designer or business person. Make sure you include travel and meal expenses incurred in your pursuit of knowledge. You can also claim tax deductions for any book, magazine, membership site, or any clubs or organizations you belong to.

Branding and Self Promotion

All your marketing material from your business cards to Facebook ads are tax deductions. So are any thank you gifts or prizes you give away in the course of business. And don't forget your website, themes, plugins etc.

Production Costs

All costs incurred in the completion of a design project are tax deductions. Proofs, stock images, the fee paid to contractors or freelancers.

Auto Expenses

Beside the cost of purchasing or leasing a vehicle you can also claim tax deductions for roadside assistance, insurance, fuel, parking and so much more.

Household Supplies

It may sound crazy, but you can find tax deductions in many of your regular household supplies such as tissue paper, soap, vacuum bags. As long as you use them during working hours or as part of your office they can be deducted.

Other

There are so many other things you can claim as tax deductions as well. Such as physical therapy, headache pills, eye drops and counselling fees.

You really need to sit down with your accountant or whoever prepares your tax return and discuss all the things you can do to get the most return on your taxes.

I would love your comments

Do you have any fancy tax deductions you use? Leave a comment below.

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Design Resource

This week's resource is HostGator my go to source for website hosting. HostGator makes it so simple to install, manage and maintain any WordPress site. Resourceful Designer is hosted on HostGator. Save 25% when you sign up for one of their hosting plans by using the code RESOURCEFUL25

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Jan 6, 2016
Being A Freelance Graphic Designer Could Hurt Your Business - RD017

Being A Freelance Graphic Designer Could Hurt Your Business

 

Do you call yourself a freelance graphic designer? Freelance web designer? Or freelance web developer? If you do I suggest you stop right now. I could be hurting your business.

Let me share an email conversation (names withheld) I had with a potential client before the holidays...

Mark,

As you may or may not know, (graphic designer's name) is undergoing surgery in January and will be off for 3 months. I would like to know if you are available to cover for him while he's away.

To wich I replied,

Thank you for thinking of me. I hope all goes well with (graphic designer)'s surgery. Due to the nature of my business and my commitment to my clients I wouldn't be able to take leave for 3 months.

I do however know a graphic designer that would be perfect for you to contact. She is from this area but has spent the last few years working in Montreal. She recently moved back to town and contacted me to let me know she was looking for work. Here is a link to her resume website with all her contact info.

To my surprise this is the reply I got.

Thank you Mark for your prompt reply. I fully understand that you could not abandon your business for 3 months.

Thank you for the tip on (designer's name). I looked over her resume, and although she looks to have the qualifications we need, she calls herself a freelance graphic designer. I'm looking for someone who takes the job more seriously than that.

Regards,

I couldn't believe what I read. This woman was perfect for the job but he wouldn't consider her because she called herself a freelance graphic designer.

What is a freelance graphic designer?

According to Merriam-Webster the definition of a freelancer is: A person who acts independently without being affiliated with or authorized by an organization. This person pursues a profession without a long-term commitment to any one employer.

Isn't that what we are? The answer is yes. Unfortunately the word freelance has a stigma to that makes it an unfavourable word for potential graphic design clients to accept. Some businesses even have a not freelancer policy when it comes to hiring contractors.

Freelancers are often seen as being rebels, risky, lazy, overly proud and hard to get along with. Some potential clients even associate the term freelancer with amateur. Something you don't want associated with your business.

Being a freelance graphic designer means you are replaceable. You are one in a long list of graphic designers a company could turn to in a pinch for a quick one time job.

Why do we burden ourselves with this title?

There was a time when being a freelancer was something exotic, mysterious even. When working for yourself was something that set you apart from the masses. But nowadays, more and more people are going into business for themselves and the novelty has worn off.

There are many professions that follow the same format that we graphic designers do but don't use the term freelancer. Can you imagine trusting your money to a freelance financial planner? Would you trust your locks to a freelance hair stylist? I didn't think so.

What should you call yourself?

When someone asks you what you do, just tell them. You are a graphic designer, a web designer, a web developer or whatever it may be. If they are interested they will ask who you work for. At which time you can explain that you run your own design business. As a graphic design business owner you can explain how you help your clients find solutions to problems they face, which justifies the amount you charge.

By stating you are a business owner you are giving yourself instant credibility and proof that you take what you do seriously. It also establishes you as a professional.

No matter how you refer to yourself, your livelihood doesn’t depend on how you see yourself, but on how your graphic design clients see you and your work. So don't be afraid to tell people you are a graphic designer and a business owner.

Just leave the "freelance" part out of it.

I would love your comments

How do you refer to yourself? Leave a comment on the show notes page.

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Design Resource

This week's resources is GrapicStock.com my suggestion to anyone looking for low cost stock images. Use my link and get you code for a one year subscription for only $99.

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

 

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'http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/freelance

Dec 24, 2015
20 Questions Your Design Clients Should Be Asking You - RD016

20 Questions Your Design Clients Should Be Asking You

Choosing a graphic designer can seem like a scary task for some design clients. Some are approaching you with a clear vision of what they want, hoping you can deliver on their vision. While others are contacting you because they don't have any idea of what they want. Regardless of why they're reaching out to you, the graphic designer, they need to make sure that you're not only someone with design skills, but someone they can trust with the reputation of their company.

They only way they can gain that trust is by getting to know you. And to do that, they ask questions. And if you're not prepared for those questions it can mean the difference between getting the job or getting a "don't call us, we'll call you" answer at the end of your conversation.

Here are some questions you can expect.

1. Will you tell me a bit about yourself?

This is probably the first question they will ask. Be precise and short in your answer. Sell yourself without bragging. If you've done any work for big name companies or people now's a good time to mention them. If at any time the client looks lost, wrap up your answer. You don't want to scare them away.

2. How long have you been in business?

Easy answer, mention how long you've been a graphic designer.

3. Do you have an office or are you home based?

I get asked this one a lot because of my mailbox at the UPS Store. Be honest, Mention that working at home let's you keep your costs down and pass that on to your clients. Offer to go meet them at their location if you can.

4. How many people work with you?

Best answer is that you have a number of people you can call upon for various tasks involving a design project but you don't have any employees, another way you keep the cost down.

5. What is your specialty?

If you have one mention it. Hint, if you do websites, mention that you're a graphic designer not a computer coder. Your job is to make the site look good not the code. This has helped me land many website jobs over the years.

6. Have you worked on this kind of design project before?

Again, be honest. If you haven't but have done something similar mention it. If not, tell them that you've always wanted to and you would love the opportunity.

7. How much do you charge?

If you work by the hour feel free to tell them your rate. If you work by the project you can tell them you'll work out a price after discussing the job with them.

8. Can you give me a ball park figure.

If you do, be broad and make sure you tell them that you can be more precise once you know the scope of the work.

9. How long will the job take.

In my experience, estimate longer and see what they say. If you can get it done sooner it will make you look good. If it takes longer than you thought they won't know.

10. What do you need from me?

This is where you ask for things like their files, Pantone colours, previously used photos. As well as their commitment to following your schedule for proof returns etc.

11. Who will work on my project?

Assure your design clients that you will work on their project but you may need to use the help of other, more experienced people for the parts you don't excel at. Such as copywriting, photography, illustration etc.

12. What is included in my completed project?

This is where you negotiate with your design client about rights to use your final design, layered PS files, etc.

13. What if I'm not happy with the design.

This is a tough one. Sometimes a client just can't be pleased. Make sure you have something in your contract stating the terms should one party of the other walk away.

14. What services do you offer after the project is done?

Here you discuss website maintenance, SEO services etc. for websites, and other design related projects for print designs and logos you create

15. Do you have any references?

You should have a list of previous design clients you've already asked permission of, should your new design client ask for references.

16. What happens if you go out of business?

It's a scary thought to design clients. Assure them that should something happen to you, all files, images, etc. pertaining to their design project will be turned over to them. Give them piece of mind.

17. Can you send me samples?

Send them previous samples that you don't already have displayed on your website. Curate them to match the kind of design project you are bidding on.

18. Can I see a sample of your idea for my job before I sign the contract?

NO! They can decide by viewing your portfolio and samples if you are right for their job. Don't do any work for free.

19. Why should I hire you?

This one is up to you. I wish I could give you the perfect answer to tell your design client, but at this point they've probably already decided if they're going to hire you or not. Use this question to put a bow and make yourself irresistible to them.

As you can see I only have 19 questions. I made a mistake when numbering and somehow skipped the number 13. This is what happens when you don't have your work proofread carefully.

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Design Resource

This week's resources are whatthefont.com (part of myfonts.com)& Identifont.com. I use both these resources any time I need to figure out what a particular font is. Whatthefont.com allows you to upload and image of the font in question and uses it to guess what font it is. Identifont.com lets you Search by name, similarity, picture or designer/publisher or my favourite, by appearance where it asks you a bunch of questions about the font to narrow down the possibilities. Check them out.

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

 

Dec 17, 2015

50 Questions To Ask Before Every New Design Project

What makes you stand out as a graphic designer amongst the many "contest" sites that are springing up, is your ability to converse in detail and ask questions of your clients before every new design project. By asking questions you not only show that you are a professional, you also inspire confidence in your client. Questions put them at ease and let them know that you are viewing their design project seriously. By putting your clients at ease and bestowing the confidence in them that they've chosen the right person for the job, you also show them that you are worth every cent you are charging them.

In this week's Resourceful Designer I'm covering 50 questions you can ask whenever you're faced with a new design project.

I don't expect you to ask all of these questions. But pick and choose the ones right for your design project, and in the process come up with questions of your own.

Remember, no design project ever failed because the designer knew too much about the company that's hiring them.

I've decided the questions into five sections.

  1. Questions about the company hiring you for a design project
  2. Questions about the company's target audience
  3. Questions about the company's brand
  4. Questions about the company's design preferences
  5. Questions about the design project's scale, timeframe and budget

To facilitate the conversation I'm using "company" as a global replacement for the client. The same questions can be asked of individuals, service clubs, organizations, charities, events, etc.

Questions about the company hiring you for a design project.

  1. What is the name of your company?
  2. Can you describe what your company does?
  3. What services or products do your company produce?
  4. How long have you been in business?
  5. Why was this company started?
  6. How big is the company?
  7. Are you a local, national or international company?
  8. Who is your competition?
  9. How are you different from your competition?
  10. How are your competitors marketing themselves?
  11. What are the long term goals of your company?
  12. Can you describe your company's strengths?
  13. Can you describe your company's weaknesses?

Questions about the company's target audience

  1. Can you identify and describe your target audience? (Age, gender, social class, location)
  2. Are you focusing just on this market or are you trying to hit other markets as well?
  3. How do you think your target audience describes your company?
  4. How does your target audience currently discover your company?
  5. How do you connect with your target audience?

Questions about the company's brand

  1. Does your company use a specific colour palette?
  2. Are there any design elements associated with your company? (fonts, icons, images, etc.)
  3. Does your company have a mission statement?
  4. What current and pass marketing material have you used?
  5. What did you like or dislike about your past marketing material?
  6. Why are you looking for something new?
  7. Do you have a company slogan?
  8. What feedback have you received on your past marketing material?
  9. Do you consider your brand material to be more traditional or modern?
  10. Is your brand associated with high end or cost-effective products and services?
  11. What would you like your target audience to think of when they see your marketing material?

Questions about the company's design preferences

  1. What colour palettes do you prefer?
  2. Will this project be used in print, on the web, etc.
  3. Is there anything from your past marketing material that you want incorporated into the new project?
  4. Are there any restrictions or limitations to consider when designing this project?
  5. Are there any new design elements you would like to try in this project?
  6. Are there any design styles you do not like?

Questions about the design project's scale, timeframe and budget

  1. Do you have a budget for this project?
  2. How many different concepts would you like to see?
  3. What material will you be providing me for this project?
  4. Are there any deadlines associated with this design project? (Are these preferable or firm deadlines?)
  5. Who will be my primary contact on this project?
  6. Who is involved in the approval process?
  7. Are there any third parties involved in this design project?
  8. Who will be dealing with involved third parties?
  9. What services are you expecting from me?
  10. What do you expect from me regarding this design project?
  11. What material do you require from me at the completion of this design project?
  12. Is there anything else you would like to discuss that we haven't already covered?

Bonus Questions

  1. Are there any other design projects I can help you with?
  2. Is there anything I asked you about that you need help with?
  3. Do you know anyone else that may require my services?

And finally...

The last questions you should always ask, When do you want me to get started on this design project?

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Design Resource

This week's resource is PDFpen. A Mac only software used to sign, fill out, correct, complete, edit and alter PDF files. I've been using PDFPen for several months now and it has quickly become my go to software whenever I need to work with PDFs. Keep and eye out as PDFpen is often included in software bundles or at a reduced price on it's own.

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Dec 9, 2015
Moving Your Graphic Design Business - RD014

Moving Your Graphic Design Business

Life is unpredictable. At some point in your career you may find yourself moving your graphic design business for one reason or another. Moving across town isn't that bad. You're still local and can continue meeting face to face with your clients if you need to. But what if you end up moving your graphic design business across the country?

I've never had to move my own graphic design business, so on this episode of Resourceful Designer I invited special guest Wes McDowell of The Deep End Design and one of the hosts of the popular The Deeply Graphic DesignCast to join me. Wes recently moved his graphic design business from Las Angeles, California to Chicago Illinois. He shares how he's continuing to serve his L.A. client while he works on his SEO to try to crack the Chicago market.

I'm hoping you will learn valuable information that can help if you ever end up moving your graphic design business.

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Design Resource

This week's resource was brought up by Wes McDowell during his interview. If you want to look more professional by having a business phone number but you don't want to use your home or cellular phone. Check out eVoice.com. You save time and money when you let their system answer, route, and manage your business calls.

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I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Moving Your Graphic Design Business

Dec 3, 2015

Graphic Design Gift Ideas For Your Office

It’s that time of year again, when everyone is touched by the festive spirit. I can’t help think back to when I was a young lad and I would write out long lists of gifts I would like to find under the tree. Now that I’m much older I no longer write out lists, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a secret wish list of graphic design gift ideas I wouldn’t mind unwrapping.

In honour of the season I posted a question to various graphic design groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. In it I asked “Other than a new computer or software, If you could ask for one thing this season to improve or enhance your graphic design office what would you want?”

I received some great answers to my question, and in today’s episode of Resourceful Designer I’m going to share them with you.

In no particular order, here are the Graphic Design Gift Ideas I received.

Wacom Cintiq.

This was the most submitted graphic design gift idea I received. Not just the Wacom Cintiq but Wacom tables in general. It seams that many graphic designers are itching get their hands on one of these this holiday season.

White Boards / Cork Boards

Another popular graphic design gift idea was white boards and cork boards. These are staples in many design studios. White boards are great for quickly working out problems, writing down reminders, or just recording important notes. Similarly, cork boards are a great way to organize notes, bills, photos and inspirational items.

Graphic Design Books

You can’t go wrong giving a graphic designer a book about design. It’s like a badge of honour to show off your collection whenever another designer pays your studio a visit. A few books that are on my list are…

Organizers

It seams most graphic designers are more organized than I am. Or at least they aspire to be. That’s probably why office organizers were a very popular answer to my graphic designer gift idea question. Most notably shelves and drawers. I myself really like the Ladder Style Book Shelves and the Winsome Halifax 7 drawer cabinet.

Ergonomic Chair

Every graphic designer needs a good chair. And from the answers I received a few are looking to upgrade theres. I’m kind of partial to the Viva Office, High Back Bonded Leather Office Chair although I wouldn’t turn down a Herman Miller chair if it was offered to me.

Standing Desk

Standing desks are a great way to relieve the pressure on your back while still working. Varidesk have some great options to choose from. If you’re on a tighter budget you can always opt for an sit/stand adjustable keyboard tray that allows you to use it standing up.

Heater / Fan

I never would have thought of these but they are graphic designer gift idea. If your office is in the basement or a cool place a heater would be a big help. And in those hot summer months a fan in the corner could help ease your day.

Studio Photography Lighting

For the photographers amongst us, good lighting is a huge help. There are many affordable lighting optionsthat will allow you to take great photos.

Learning Courses

Some say there’s nothing better than the gift of knowledge. If you are one of them you may be interested in what Lynda.com has to offer. Thousands of great courses with many of them geared to the graphic design industry. If you use this link you can Try Lynda.com For Free For 10 Days.

Drafting Table / Light Pad

These are two items that bring back fond memories of when I first started off as a graphic designer. I started by doing pasteup and used light pads and drafting tables on a daily basis. Not as popular as they once were but some designers still have uses for them.

Pantone Color Guide

This one’s a must. If you don’t already have a Pantone Color Guide it should be at the top of your graphic designer gift idea list.  They are pricy but they make our jobs so much easier.

Other items mentioned

  • Better office lighting
  • Second monitor
  • Apple Pencil
  • Advance Keyboard
  • Electronic Cutting Plotter
  • New Camera
  • 3D Printer
  • Digital Laser Cutter
  • Plants
  • Action Figures
  • Inspirational Posters

Honourable Mentions

  • An Assistant to help with the work burden
  • A door to keep the kids out of the studio.

What would I want for myself?

  • More action figures and knick knacks to show off the geek that I am
  • More Swords to add to my collection
  • More practically, a second monitor and a new chair.

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I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn’t easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I’ll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

 

Nov 25, 2015

6 Ways To Boost Your Creativity.

Are you looking for ways to boost your creativity? If you're anything like me you sometimes suffer from a lack of creativity. Sometimes it's just a slump and sometimes it's a full on block. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a way to boost your creativity during these times? Unfortunately there is no magical on/off switch or throttle we can use to increase our creative output. There are however, ways you can help boost your creativity. In today's podcast I share six ways that I use to help me when I'm in a slump.

Here is my list of ways to boost your creativity

  1. Put it down on paper or screen
  2. Step back and have a look
  3. Occupy your mind with something menial
  4. Change your perspective, literally
  5. Change your diet
  6. Ask for help

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Design Resource

This week's resource may not sound at first like something you would use in your graphic design business. But it has helped me streamline my graphic design business so much that I have to share it. It's ScreenFlow by Telestream. Using ScreenFlow I've saves so much time. Instead of teaching clients how to use their new websites and then helping them again a month or so later when they've forgotten, now I just record a short instructions video showing them what to do. If they need a refresher or need to train someone new, they have access to the video and they don't have to interrupt me for help. For that reason along I highly recommend ScreenFlow.

And if you decide to purchase it before November 30, 2015 you can save 30% during their Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale.

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Nov 19, 2015

Pricing Strategies For Your Graphic Design Business.

One of the hardest things to figure out when starting your graphic design business is what pricing strategies to use. There are so many options to consider; your location, your skill level, your reputation, your competition and many more. Hopefully after todays episode of Resourceful Designer you'll have a better understanding of the various pricing strategies you can use to run your business.

Here are the 5 Pricing Strategies Discussed

1) Hourly Rate Pricing

Hourly Rate Pricing is the easiest pricing strategy to implement. You simply determine your rate and then charge it to your client for each hour or part thereof spent on their job.

 

2) Cost Plus Pricing

Cost Plus Pricing isn't as popular in the graphic design industry as it is in others but it does prove useful if you're also acting as a broker for printing or other services. In Cost Plus Pricing you determine the full cost of a job and then mark up that cost by a certain dollar amount or percentage in order to make a profit.

3) Competitor Bases Pricing

Competitor Based Pricing is great for new and inexperienced graphic designers when they first start their business. You determine your competitions' pricing strategies and then base your price on theirs. Either matching or beating their price. Once your business is established you should abandon Competitor Based Pricing for one of the other methods.

4) Project Based Pricing

Next to Hourly Rate Pricing, Project Based Pricing is the most common in the Graphic Design profession. With Project Based Pricing you determine through experience and guessing what a job will cost. It is suggested you pad your estimates in case you encounter unforeseen hurdles along the way. If you complete the project faster than you had estimated you make a bigger profit.

5) Value Based Pricing

Value Based Pricing is the Holy Grail of the pricing strategies. With Value Based Pricing you ignore the actual cost of the job and instead determine a price based on the perceived value your client will get from he project. Some clients will are willing to pay premium prices for that perceived value. Value Based Pricing is the most advanced of the pricing strategies and should be approached with care. However, when done right, Value Based Pricing will produce your highest profit.

When you succeed with your chosen pricing strategies you'll...

Attract better design clients
Have a better return on your time
Be able to devote more time per project
Have less trouble dealing with your clients

If I missed any pricing strategies please leave a comment at resourcefuldesigner.com/episode11

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Design Resource

This week's resource is the font management software Suitcase Fusion from Extensis. I've been using Suitcase Fusion to manage my fonts for over 15 years and I have never thought about switching to another option. Suitcase Fusion allows you to organize your fonts and activate/deactivate them as you need them. You can tag your fonts with provided styles or create your own allowing you to easily search through and find the font you need amongst the thousands on your computer.

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Nov 11, 2015

How To Deal With Design Clients Who Have Tunnel Vision

It's happened to all graphic designers. A client asks you to create some wonderful design but when you're given the information you realize that your client is designing this piece for their own needs and not the needs of their clients. I call this tunnel vision. When the client isn't looking beyond themselves.

Tunnel Vision can also occur when a client has a design idea in their head, and wants you to create it exactly how they picture it. They are not open to other, often better ways to communicate their idea.

Regardless of what type of tunnel vision they have, our job as graphic designers is to educate our clients on what is good design. We need to be able to give them what they need and not necessarily what they want. If you nurture this sort of association with your clients you can look forward to a long and prosperous relationship. 

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Design Resource

One of the scariest things you can think of as a designer is what would happen if disaster strikes and you loose all your computer files. What would it mean for your business? Backblaze offers a simple unlimited online backup solution for your design business for only $5/month. And it's so easy. You just set it up and forget about it. Backblaze works in the background automatically backing up your files. And if you ever loose your data for whatever reason, you wont have to worry because you'll know everything can be restored from Backblaze.

If you're interested in finding out more about Backblaze's online backup solution and trying a 15 day free trial, visit resourcefuldesigner.com/backup

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Nov 4, 2015

12 Ways To Earn Extra Income As A Graphic Designer.

No matter how good a graphic designer you are there will be times when work is slow and you find yourself with some extra time on your hands. These times are perfect opportunities to put your design skills to work and earn extra income.

Methods to earn extra income discussed in this episode

  1. Become a print broker
  2. Become a media host
  3. Create designs to sell on merchandise
  4. Create and sell website themes.
  5. Sell your design leftovers.
  6. Create and sell designs to stock image sites.
  7. Design a font/typeface.
  8. Create and sell a Photoshop action or Illustrator Style.
  9. Manage a client's social media accounts
  10. Teach a workshop/course locally or online
  11. Build and monetize a niche website
  12. Write a book/ebook

There are many more ways for a graphic designer to use their skills to earn extra income. Those I talk about in this episode are the ones I have experience with and am comfortable talking about.

Links mentioned in this episode.

List of sites you can use to earn extra income as a graphic designer.

 

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Design Resource

If you are looking for a web host for yourself or your clients I suggest you visit resourcefuldesigner.com/hosting and check out Hostgator. I've been using them for several years now and have been very pleased with their service. If you decide to sign up you can use the discount code "RESOURCEFUL25" to get a 25% discount on your purchase of a hosting package.

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Oct 28, 2015

Just In Time Learning And Your Ongoing Design Education!

We work in a profession that is constantly changing. If we don't keep up with our ongoing design education we can quickly fall behind and become obsolete. In this episode of Resourceful Designer I talk about the concept of Just In Time Learning.

Just In Time Learning is something I first heard about a couple of years ago and it drastically changed the way I look at courses, tutorials, guides and everything else involved in my ongoing design education as both a graphic designer and web designer.

The principal behind Just In Time Learning is to only learn what you need to know for the next task you are undertaking.

We all suffer from F.O.M.O. or the Fear Of Missing Out. Whenever we come across a new feature is something or a new tutorial on how to do something we immediately want to dive right into it and expand our knowledge. The problem is, many of these things we spend time learning are not, and may never be important or useful to us. So why are we waisting our time learning them?

In this week's episode I give some examples of how Just In Time Learning has helped me and I share ways to create a learning toolbox where you can save all the tutorials and courses for future reference should you ever need them.

Links mentioned in this episode.

Evernote Essentials, The only Evernote guide you'll need.

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Design Resource

This week's Design Resource is Lynda.com. This is a great resource to learn software, skills and techniques to better yourself. I learned HTML and CSS by taking courses at Lynda.com. I wouldn't be the web designer I am today if not for them. You can try Lynda.com free for 10 days with access to every one of their courses.

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Oct 21, 2015

Considerations When Starting A Graphic Design Business.

Starting a graphic design business is a big step in your design career and not one to take lightly. There are many things to consider before jumping in with both feet. In this episode of Resourceful Designer I go over several topics that you may want to consider before, during and after you've started your graphic design business.

Things to Consider...

Before Starting A Graphic Design Business

  1. Do you want to work in a specific niche of graphic design?
  2. Do you want to work from home or have an office away from the house?
  3. What type of business do you want to start (Incorporated, Sole proprietor)?
  4. Do you have enough savings to invest in a new business?
  5. How will you deal with friends and family looking for designs from you?
  6. How will you name your business?

While Starting A Graphic Design Business

  1. What type of computer will you use?
  2. Will you use your home address for your business?
  3. What will your working hours be?
  4. What will your rates be?
  5. What phone number will you use for your business?
  6. How will you communicate with your graphic design clients?
  7. How will you accept payment from your graphic design clients?
  8. You need to acquaint yourself with your bank, accountant and layer.
  9. How will you handle requests for pro-bono work?

After Starting A Graphic Design Business

  1. You will need to market your business any way you can.
  2. You must join clubs and business groups in your area. Including your Chamber of Commerce.
  3. Contact other local designers for possible partnerships and work trade.
  4. Contact local printers and suppliers and try to work out discounts for bringing them work.
  5. You must continue your education and grow as a graphic designer.
  6. You must take care of yourself both physically and mentally so you don't burn out.

There are many more aspects involved when starting a graphic design business. These are just a few that I came up with that I thought I would share with you. If you can think of more that I missed, add them to the comment section at resourcefuldesigner.com/episode7

 

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Design Resource

This week I shared three great resources for selecting and managing colours for your clients. I've only recently discovered them but have found them a big help already.

ColorSnapper 2

Spectrum

Colors Pallete Generator

 

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Oct 14, 2015

8 Myths About Starting A Home Based Design Business.

If doesn't matter if you're a graphic designer or a web designer, it's all the same when it comes to starting a home based design business. To some, the thought of starting their own home based design business can seem quite daunting. In this episode of Resourceful Designer I cover 8 myths that often holds people back from taking the leap in their entrepreneurial journey.

The 8 Myths

  1. You need a lot of clients to make your home based design business viable.
  2. It's hard to give up a steady pay cheque. How will I make ends meat with a home based design business?
  3. It's complicated to set up a home based design business.
  4. It's expensive to purchase the hardware required to run a home based design business.
  5. I can't afford all the software needed to successfully run a home based design business.
  6. I'll be able to work on whatever projects I want once I'm running my own home based design business.
  7. I'll make a tone of money running my own home based design business.
  8. Once I'm running my own home based design business I'll have plenty of time to relax and enjoy life.

I'm sure there are many other myths I could have covered but these are the ones I hear most often.

Links mentioned in this episode.

Adobe Creative Cloud
QuarkXpress

Adobe Photoshop Alternatives

Gimp (Free, Windows, Linux, Mac)
Affinity Photo ($57.99, Mac)
Sketch ($99, Mac)
Pixelmator ($29.99, Mac, IOS)
Acorn ($29.99, Mac)
Corel PaintShop Pro ($79.99, Windows)

Adobe Illustrator Alternatives

Affinity Designer ($45.99, Mac)
SVG-Edit (Free, web browser)
Inkscape (Free, Windows, Linux, Mac)
Serif DrawPlus (Free, or £39.99 paid version, Windows)
Sketch ($99, Mac)

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Download my FREE guide, the Four Week Marketing Boost to help improve your business' image and create the best first impression possible to attract more clients.

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Contact me

Send me feedback

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Design Resource

If you are involved in Wordpress web design in any way you need to check out Elegant Themes. With 87 themes plus 6 very useful Wordpress plugins all for a low price. You can't go wrong. I've been using Elegant Themes for a few years now and can't say enough good things about their products and Customer service. Don't forget to sign up for their newsletter to receive 10% off your order.

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Oct 7, 2015

Don't Compromise Your Principles For Your Design Business.

We've all experienced it. That little voice in our head telling us that what our client is asking us to do may not be a good idea. In this episode of Resourceful Designer I talk about how compromising your principles, either moral, ethical, or design can affect your graphic design or web design business.

Subjects covered

  • When a client asks you to do something against your moral principles.
  • When a client asks you to do something you are not comfortable with.
  • When a client asks you to do something against your design principles.
  • How turning down work will benefit your design business in the long run.

I share some experiences from my business where I had to make these decisions, followed my principles and how it affected me.

Links mentioned in this episode.

Subscribe on iTunes

Subscribe on Stitcher

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Design Resource

The program I've used for the past 10 years to keep track of my clients, my time spent on each project and all my estimates, invoices and collections is Billings Pro by Marketcircle. Try it FREE for 30 days.

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Oct 1, 2015

Superhero Syndrome and Your Design Business.

Wouldn't it be cool if we had super powers? The ability to fly, teleport or turn invisible. Unfortunately none of these are possible. However, some entrepreneurs, creatives in particular are often affected with something called Superhero Syndrome. It's when we want to wear all the hats in our business which could lead to burn out.

Symptoms of Superhero Syndrome include 

  • Trying to save money by doing everything yourself
  • If something needs doing and you don't know how, you teach yourself.
  • You think your ideas and concepts are far better than anyone else's

Sound familiar? Don't worry, there are ways to deal with Superhero Syndrome and I discuss them in this episode of Resourceful Designer. So enjoy and try not to fret to much about your design business.

Linda mentioned in this episode.

fiverr.com

Upwork.com

virtualstafffinder.com

Virtual Freedom by Chris Ducker

Four Week Marketing Boost

Design Resource

If you are a web designer check out DomainBrain the easy application for managing website, mail and database access.

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Oct 1, 2015

Dealing With Photographers
Interview with Brett Gilmour

In this episode of Resourceful Designer I'm joined by award winning photographer Brett Gilmour as we discuss things to help designers when dealing with photographers.

Brett specializes in location photography of architecture, people and places. His images have been featured in advertising campaigns and magazines around the world and he’s been honoured with three Gold Nugget Awards for Arcitectural Photography, the highest honour in North America. He’s shot photos for General Electric, Shell, Estee Lauder and Chevron just to name a few.

In the interview we discuss questions to ask when hiring a photographer, specifically what are the responsibilities of the designer and what are the responsibilities of the photographer. How to deal with contracts. What equipment the photographer needs. What the designer should expect before, during, and after the photo shoot.

If you enjoy the interview and want to learn more about Brett, please visit his site Gilmour Photography

Photographer Cheat Sheet

I put together a simple one page cheat sheet of questions you should ask when dealing with photographers based on what Brett talked about in the interview. You can download it at http://resourcefuldesigner.com/photographercheatsheet

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

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