Design

Resourceful Designer - Resources to help streamline your graphic design and web design business.

Mark Des Cotes - Graphic Designer - Web Designer

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!

Episodes

Checklists And Your Design Business - RD089
34:57
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 34:57
Checklists And Your Design Business - RD089

Do you use checklists in your design business?

What does your morning routine look like?

Do you follow mental checklists to prepare yourself for the day? Do you get out of bed and immediately take a shower? Do you head to the kitchen for your morning coffee? Do you turn on the TV or pull out your phone, tablet or computer to get caught up on the news from around the world? Whatever your morning routine is, chances are you do just about the same thing every day.

Without even thinking about it, you’ve created a mental checklist for yourself which you subconsciously check off items as you progress through your morning routine.

The same goes for your design business. We all use mental checklists to keep on top of what we have to do so things don’t get out of hand.

You probably have a mental checklist for the first contact with a new client, a different one for putting a website together, another before submitting a proof to a client, and a very important one before sending a job to be printed.

Checklists are a must for running an efficient design business. If you can manage your checklists all in your head than kudos to you.

But let me get back to your morning routine and ask you a question. Have you ever left the house and later realized you forgot to brush your teeth?

How could that have happened? You followed the same mental checklists you do every day. And yet you somehow forgot to brush your teeth.

It’s not that big a deal; you can always rub your teeth with your finger or tissue. Maybe chew a stick of gum. It’s not the same as brushing your teeth, but you can still make it through the day.

But what happens if you forget something from one of your businesses mental checklists?

What if you forgot to spell check a document before sending it to be printed? Or you launch a website without verifying all the links are working?

These kinds of mistakes can hurt you financially, as well as hurt your reputation.

That’s why I’m a strong believer in physical checklists.

If you had a piece of paper with your morning routine on it, you would never forget to brush your teeth because you would see it was still unchecked.

Now I’m not suggesting you create checklists for your daily life. But some parts of your design business could benefit from a digital or physical checklist.

Things like

  • Web Design
  • Client questions
  • Proofing jobs
  • Invoicing clients
  • Contracts
  • Getting files ready for Print
  • Handing over completed projects

These are all areas that could benefit from checklists.

Web Design Checklists

Let’s take web design for example. I have a checklist I use each and every time I begin a new web design project. It includes all the steps I do when I install Wordpress. The settings I change, including deleting the default Admin user and creating a more secure one. It also includes all the default plugins I install. I have a list of certain plugins that I install on every single website I design.

Every time I start a new web design project I pull out my checklist and go through it one by one, so I make sure nothing is overlooked. Once my list is completed I can then start designing the site.

Click here to download my checklist

Client Questions

Back in episode 15 of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I went over 50 questions to ask before every new design project. In it, I covered categories like...

  • Questions about the company hiring you for a design project
  • Questions about the company's target audience
  • Questions about the company's brand
  • Questions about the company's design preferences
  • Questions about the design project's scale, timeframe and budget

All of these questions could be made into checklists to ask clients when discussing a new design project.

 Proofing Jobs

I mentioned spell checking earlier, but there are many other things to look out for when proofing a job. You should be looking out for things like...

  • Orphans
  • Widows
  • Rivers in your text.
  • Line spacing
  • Font Styling
  • Colour spaces

These are just some of the things that need to be checked. Creating checklists for these things ensures you never forget an important step.

Invoicing clients

Keep an itemized list of everything you do on a client project and check them off as you add them to the final invoice.

Contracts

Have a checklist of all the sections in your contract that need to be updated before sending it to a client. You don't want to be embarrassed by sending a contract that still has placeholder text on it.

Getting files ready for Print

Before sending any print project to the printer, you need to verify that everything is in order. Create a checklist to make sure nothing costly is overlooked. Things like...

  • Trapping if needed
  • Rich black RGB-CMYK, Low Res images
  • RGB converted to CMYK
  • Low-Res images replaced Hi-Res versions.
Handing over completed projects

Once a project is completed, and it's time to hand everything over to your client. Have checklists on hand to ensure nothing is forgotten. Some items to include are...

  • Signed copies of rights ownership transfer sheets.
  • Digital files are provided in the right formats
  • Assets such as photos and fonts are included if need be.
Checklists for everything

When it comes to your design business, you shouldn't take any chances. Any project or task that could potentially have something go wrong with it can benefit from having checklists to go over.

What checklists do you use in your design business?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Nayda

¡Hola Mark! I'm Nayda from Puerto Rico. I've been listening to your podcast since this summer. It's been super helpful, so thank you.

I have been working for around 10 years as a Graphic Designer. As a freelancer and as, right now, an employee with a Government agency.

I wonder about you opinion in a matter that always worries me. For my freelance clients I work from my 27" iMac and I love it. As for right now It's my only device aside from my iPad. I constantly worry that I have no extra computer in case something happens to mine.

Do you happen to have a spare computer in case your principal broke down? Or you prefer to have just one and have money saved up in case you need to buy one in a emergency.

In other words, how do you handle a situation in which you computer broke down but it can be fixed? Because sometimes there's no need to buy a new one. Although it may take time to repair.

Thank you for your time!

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

Resource of the week Bonus content for Patrons of Resourceful Designer

I have decided to thank everyone who is supporting Resourceful Designer through Patreon by creating bonus episodes just for them. These bonus episodes will be in the form of 30-minute consulting calls with fellow Patrons of the show. Twice a month I will randomly select a Patron for a 30-minute call to discuss their design business. With their permission, I will record these calls and make them available only to Patreon members. These episodes will be great learning experiences as we discuss ways to grow and improve real-life design businesses. For as little as $1 per month, you will have a chance to talk to me directly about your business and to learn from others like you. Become a Patron today.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe on Stitcher Subscribe on Android Subscribe on Google Play Music

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

A Designer's Home Office Essentials - RD088
48:08
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 48:08
A Designer's Home Office Essentials - RD088

What's in your home office?

A home office is essential if you plan on running your graphic design business for any length of time. Sure the kitchen table can make due in a pinch, but if you're serious about your business, you will want to carve out a bit of that home real estate and claim it as your own.

But once you've planted your flag and claimed the space in the name of your graphic design business what do you do with it? In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I go over some essentials to make your home office reflect you and your business. Be sure to listen to the episode for the full story. Better yet, subscribe and never miss an episode.

Essentials for your home office space A dedicated room

A dedicated room in your home devoted solely to your home office will solidify the feeling of running a business. Not to mention that having a dedicated home office makes it much easier come tax time for calculating deductions you can claim as a home based graphic design business.

A door

Sounds crazy but being able to close a door while you are working can establish not only your working space but your working hours. The rest of your family will quickly learn not to disturb you when the door is closed. A door also helps you focus by cutting you off from the rest of the household.

A good environment

Make sure the room you choose has proper ventilation and good lighting. You will be spending a lot of time in your home office, so it's essential to make it as comfortable as possible.

Essential equipment for your home office A good computer

This one is a given. As a graphic designer, your computer is your main tool when it comes to earning your living. Whether you choose a laptop or desktop, Mac or PC, be sure to choose a computer that will be powerful enough for the projects you will be working on and one durable enough, so you don't have to replace it too often.

A desk

Unless you're a fly-by-night freelancer who likes to sprawl out on the living room couch with your laptop, you're going to need a desk. A desk is a long term purchase so choose one that will fit your needs. Keep storage space in mind when shopping for your desk. There are some beautiful minimalistic styles out there, but they are not very practical for someone who will be using it every day.

An office chair

Do not skimp on your chair! Your chair could be one of the most important investments you make in your business. You will be sitting in your chair for hours on end, day after day so choose one that is comfortable for you. Spend some time trying out different styles and find the one that fits your body type.

A desk lamp

Face it, as a home-based designer you will probably find yourself working at all hours of the day. A good desk lamp is essential when burning the midnight oil. Choose one that is not too harsh, and that won't affect the way you see colours in your room.

Printer/Scanner

A printer/scanner is something every office should have. Depending on your needs, you may be able to get away with one of the less expensive models available.

Filing cabinet

I mentioned storage space earlier. A filing cabinet is a great way to keep track of papers and remove clutter from your room.

A paper shredder

Depending on your clients, you may come into possession of some sensitive documents. When it comes time to discard of them, a shredder is the only way short of burning them.

Essential home office supplies File Storage

Every office should have disposable storage devices such as DVDs or flash drives for giving files to clients. Do not always count on cloud based storage systems. Some clients will want something physical they can hold.

Spill proof mug

Staying hydrated is important for your health so expect to drink throughout the day. However, liquids and computer equipment don't get along very well. Invest in a spill proof mug or bottle and never worry about knocking it over.

Wire organizers

Face it, between your computer, external drives, phone wires, charging cables and who knows what other wires. The space behind your computer probably looks like a spider's web. Purchase inexpensive wire organizers and keep your wires nice and tidy.

Miscellaneous essentials

If you're like most home-based designers, you will spend more time in your home office than any other room in your house (awake that is). So it's essential that you make this space your own. Decorate it with things that inspire your creativity such as books, artwork, knick knacks, plants, etc. Anything and everything that makes you feel good. Having a happy environment will make you a more productive designer.

If you share your home with little ones, either children or pets, be sure to include a space for them so they can be close to you without getting in your way. A pet bed or a bean bag chair can go a long way to satisfy young hearts.

What essentials do you have in your home office?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Lora

I'm new to your podcasts and was introduced to you from the Print Brokering one. I look forward to listening again--interesting and rich in information. I am a graphic designer and design instructor. After teaching graphic design full-time for 15 years, I started Orangish design last year, and teaching design again, part time. It's proving to be a great balance, business is slowly picking up and could use the bonus cash from print brokering you talked about!

I've always thought about print brokering but was concerned, if I'm honest, afraid, of paying the printer up front. Your explanation makes perfect sense and you make it sound so easy--invoice the client, they pay you, then place the print order.

Here is My Question:

I use an online printer, Moo.com, and now plan to work with them as a print broker. When you say: "You can make a good income by adding a hefty markup to their prices.", how do you add that markup to online printer invoices, yet present the marked-up invoice legitimately to your clients? My clients always want to see quotes 1, 2 and 3. Clients are pretty darn savvy these days.

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

Resources of the week: Two Design Podcasts

This week I share two resources in the form of podcasts. I listen and enjoy both these shows, and I think you will too.

Logo Geek is a podcast produced by Ian Paget. Ian interviews influential designers to discuss all things logo related. If designing logos is part of your business this podcast is a must listen.

This Design Life is produced by Chris Green. Chris also interviews designers, but he focuses more on the life they live. Asking them questions like what inspires them and why they choose to become designers.

It's always fun to hear how other designers live and produce the wonderful works they do. Both of these podcasts offer small glimpses into the lives of talented people just like you. I encourage you to give them a try.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe on Stitcher Subscribe on Android Subscribe on Google Play Music

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

Mastering Your Emotional Intelligence - RD087
34:23
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 34:23
Mastering Your Emotional Intelligence - RD087

What is Emotional Intelligence?

According to Psychology Today; Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It’s the capacity to be aware of, control, and express your emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.

In other words, Emotional intelligence impacts your thinking and behaviour when dealing with your clients and is a crucial part of building client relationships. In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I discuss how to be aware of your emotional intelligence and use it to grow your design business. Be sure to listen to the podcast for the full story.

Emotional Intelligence and your design business.

It’s a given that client satisfaction and their repeated business is based on their emotional connection to you the designer. If a client likes you, they are more likely to hire you again for future projects. That’s why Emotional Intelligence is something you should be aware of at all times.

There are many different aspects involved when building relationships with your graphic design clients. Emotional Intelligence plays a major role in that process. Being aware of your Emotional Intelligence means being aware that emotions can impact your behaviour and can impact other people’s behaviour, both positively and negatively.

Learning how to manage those emotions, both your own and those of other people, is a key part of building relationships with your design clients.

Here are a few tips for improving your emotional intelligence:
  • Learn to be self-aware of your own emotions. Think about how your emotions have affected the way you react in various situations. If you are the type of person who is always on the defensive you need to learn to recognize and control these emotions.
  • Take responsibility for your feelings and behaviour. When criticized or challenged, rather than taking offence ask yourself, “What can I learn from this situation?” If you lash out it will affect your client’s emotions. Likewise, if you hurt someone’s feelings, offer a sincere apology.
  • Learn how to respond to a situation rather than react to it. Reacting typically involves an emotional behaviour, whereas, responding involves deciding how you want to behave.
  • All client interactions should be conducted in a technology-free environment. Avoid distractions from text messages, emails, and voicemails, and give customers your undivided attention. Distractions create negative emotions in your clients.
  • Take a moment to consider your actions before speaking or acting. This can help you manage your emotions and help you be more thoughtful and less emotional when responding to a situation. It also makes you look more impressive when your client sees you take the time to ponder their questions and comments.
  • Increasing your empathy can go a long way in relationship building. Practice understanding why someone feels or behaves in a certain way and communicate that understanding to them.
Practice makes perfect

If the above is something you struggle with, try scheduling a couple of minutes at the end of the day to reflect on your daily actions and how you handled yourself. We all learn through actions. Think back on your client interactions and try to identify areas you could have done better. The relationships you build with your clients are the most important part of your design business.

As I said in episode 85 of the podcast which was titled Reel in Repeat Clients, a client would much rather work with a good designer they like, than work with a great designer they don’t like.

If you learn to identify and master your Emotional Intelligence you will become the designer your clients like.

Do you struggle with your Emotional Intelligence?

Let me know your goals by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Travis

I just finished the episode on hourly rates, and you brought up the niche topic. I target the church/ministry niche, personally, and have several years' experience in this niche. However, it's a niche that typically is not willing to pay standard rates (because they are usually non-profit). The idea of charging more in this niche seems impossible.

Do you have any experience with working for non-profit clients, or any feedback on how to develop good quotes for those in the non-profit sector?

Recently I've been asking them first to let me know what they have budgeted, but they often have no idea what to expect, or simply don't know what to budget. I try to help them come up with a good number, and then I adjust how much time I spend on the project accordingly.

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

Tip of the week Hand Written Thank You Cards.

A great way to solidify your client relationships is by sending them a hand written thank you card after a project is completed. Not only are hand written cards a great way to stand out and be remembered, but they offer another opportunity for you to show off your design skills to your client.

Most people are not used to receiving personal correspondence through the mail anymore. This simple tip will go a long way to establishing your business as one that goes that extra step.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe on Stitcher Subscribe on Android Subscribe on Google Play Music

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

Handling Criticism - RD086
40:50
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 40:50
Handling Criticism - RD086

How do you handle criticism?

As a designer, you will receive criticism on your work. How you deal with that criticism will determine what kind of designer you are.

In this episode of Resourceful Designer, I discuss why criticism is essential to your growth as a designer. Listen to the podcast for the full story.

One of the advantages of attending a design school is the opportunity to experience criticism from your teachers and classmates. It's not fun, but it does prepare you for the real world where clients don't hold back their feelings about your work.

We all have blind spots we can't see. Through criticism, you learn to identify those blind spots and improve on them, which moulds you into a better designer.

Perfection is unattainable

My brother was an artist. After watching him sign his name to a painting he just completed I asked him how he knew it was done? He replied to me that it wasn't done and it never would be done. He signed his name to it not because the painting was done, but because he was done with the painting.

The same goes for design. At some point, you simply have to say the design is complete and move on.

Remember, the design you create is not for yourself, it's for your client. They are the ones that will see and use it on a regular basis. They are the ones that have to be happy with the design. So listen to the criticism they give you. Impart your design knowledge upon them if you find their suggestions don't align with your idea but ultimately, they must be satisfied with what you give them.

After a time, you will come to know your client's likes and dislikes. As your relationship grows, you will receive less and less criticism from them. When that happens, you will know you have become a better designer.

In the meantime, embrace all the criticism directed your way and use it to grow as a designer and as a person.

What's your experience with handling criticism?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Antony

I am just starting off graphic and web design here in Kenya and have been thinking of doing this as a business. Most of my questions have been addressed in the podcasts I have listened to but there is one area on which I would like advice on. What are the best terms of payment when doing graphic design work? What works for many service businesses over here is asking for a deposit and the rest paid after the work is delivered. What is your take on this and what has worked for you?

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

Resource of the week Backblaze

Never Lose a File Again with the World's Easiest Cloud Backup. Backblaze gives you peace of mind knowing your files are backed up securely in the cloud. Simply set it up and forget about it. Backblaze works in the background and automatically backs up new and modified files.

Hard drive crashes are only one thing you need to worry about. Your files are also vulnerable to hardware theft and natural disasters such as floods, fires, earthquakes etc. With Backblaze you can rest at ease knowing your business files are safe no matter what happens. Backblaze works on Mac or PC and is just $50/year.

If you are currently using CrashPlan as your backup solution you may want to consider switching to Backblaze. CrashPlan announced that they will no longer provide consumer backup services.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe on Stitcher Subscribe on Android Subscribe on Google Play Music

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

Reel In Repeat Clients - RD085
34:06
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 34:06
Reel In Repeat Clients - RD085

Turn all clients into repeat clients.

Your goal as a designer is to turn all your clients into repeat clients. But you can't do that unless you build a relationship with them.

Many new designers worry too much about the designs they create than they do about the relationships they build with their clients.

Don't get me wrong, good design skills are a key element in building a strong graphic design business. But they're only one part of the equation. You could even say that your ability to build client relationships is more important than being a great designer.

After all, clients would much rather deal with a good designer they like, than a great designer they don't like.

I cover this topic in greater detail in the podcast so be sure to listen. Here is some of what I talked about.

What's the big deal about repeat clients?

You may be thinking "what's the big deal? If a client likes what I do they'll come back." Unfortunately, that isn't always the case.

Clients don't want to work with someone they don’t like no matter how talented you are. And if they do end up working with you and discovering they don't like you, the chances of them becoming repeat clients once that first project is done are very slim.

However, if they enjoyed working with you, they are much more likely to come back to you instead of looking for a new designer. After all, time is money and if they don't have to spend time looking for a new designer then you saved them money.

After all, time is money and if they don't have to spend time looking for a new designer then you saved them money.

What are the benefits of repeat clients?

Once you build relationships with your clients it becomes much easier to pitch new ideas to them. They become much more receptive to your ideas and directions.

Trust is another key factor. If your clients don't have to explain their business to you before every job, they are more likely to give you more freedom in your design choices.

Not to mention the money. Would you prefer work on a $5k job for a one-time client, or on a $1k job for a client that comes back with more work every few months?

In the long run, you’d be better off with the second client. That’s why you should be trying to get repeat clients. Your business success depends on it.

How do you turn clients into repeat clients?

The formula is quite simple really. If you do good design work and treat your clients well, there’s a very good chance they become repeat clients. It's that simple.

Think about any restaurant you've visited. If you enjoyed the food and had great service, wouldn’t you go back? On the other hand, if either the food or the service was subpar there's a good chance you would avoid that restaurant in the future.

But treating your clients well goes beyond simply doing what they ask of you. In episode 84 of the podcast, I talked about being more than a "Yes Man or Woman" and becoming a problem solver for your clients.

You need to become more than just someone your clients like. You need to become someone they value. If you do it right, you may even become someone they can’t imagine not working with.

The best way to turn clients into repeat clients is to let them know what other services you can offer them. You need to make suggestions for things they haven’t thought about. Be a Problem Solver. The best problem solvers find solutions to problems the clients didn’t know they had. If you can do that, you’ve won yourself a repeat client for life.

What's your strategy for getting repeat clients?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Barbie

When is the best time to ask your clients for testimonials and what is the best way to ask them?

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

Resource of the week: Coming Soon Page & Maintenance Mode

This week's resource is a Wordpress plugin I install on each and every website I build. It's called Coming Soon Page & Maintenance Mode by SeedProd. This plugin has two functions. The first allows you to display a customized "Coming Soon" page on a domain while the site is being built. The second allows you to create a custom "Maintenance Mode" page to display any time you are doing work on a live site.

I always design these custom pages with the site company's logo and contact information so that even with the website down visitors are still able to get a hold of the company. It's also very handy for blocking out curious eyes while a site is under construction. When it's time to show your client something you simply turn it off and allow them to look. You can then turn it back on again to continue working in private.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe on Stitcher Subscribe on Android Subscribe on Google Play Music

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

You're More Than A Designer, You're A Problem Solver - RD084
18:59
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 18:59
You're More Than A Designer, You're A Problem Solver - RD084

Have you ever heard the term "Yes Man" or "Yes Woman"?

A Yes Man or Woman is someone who follows orders without questioning them. Whatever is asked of them is what they do. A good designer can't be a Yes Man or Woman.

As a designer, you are also a problem solver. Your job is not to do what the client asks without question, but to question what the client asks.

Your job is not to do what the client asks without question, but to question what the client asks.

When a client presents you with a brief for a new project you need to be able to examine the outline and explain to them why something will or won't work. And if something won't work, you need to be able to provide alternative solutions. You need to solve the problem.

Some clients have no idea what it is they want or need. That's why they come to you. As the problem solver, they are trusting you to have the solutions.

If you can provide those solutions you become much more than just their designer. You become a valuable asset to their business. And that translates into a loyal client for life.

For a more in depth discussion on this topic please listen to episode 84 of the podcast.

How have you been a problem solver for your clients?

Let me know what problems you have solved for your clients be leaving me a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Joseph

How do I introduce a design that I feel like a company really needs?

Details

I went to a vegan restaurant and noticed their menus are homemade or crafted by Fiverr’s finest. I really want to give them the menu they deserve and maybe need. I’m a designer who’s still in college pursing my design degree. The problem is this will be my first time pitching. I usually just get a referral for work so this is new to me. I'm not shy or nervous with people but some tips for the approach would be great.

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

Resource of the week 21 Stock Image Sites Every Designer Should Know About

Love 'em or hate 'em, stock image sites are the backbone of any graphic design business. As such, every graphic designer should have a repertoire of good quality stock image sites in their toolbox for when the need arises. I've gathered 21 such stock image sites that I believe every designer should know about. Some are premium sites, some offer inexpensive stock photos and images and some are completely free. All offer quality stock images that can be used for commercial use by your graphic design business.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe on Stitcher Subscribe on Android Subscribe on Google Play Music

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

Setting Your Hourly Design Rate - RD083
49:27
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 49:27
Setting Your Hourly Design Rate - RD083

What's your hourly design rate?

What you should charge as your hourly design rate is an often debated topic amongst designers. Everybody seems to have their own opinion as to how to calculate what you should charge. I guess I'm no different because on this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast I do just that. I give you my opinion of how you may want to choose your hourly design rate.

One of the biggest issues I see is designers undercharging for their services. They're either not confident enough in their skills and abilities and are afraid to charge a high enough fee. Or they feel they can't charge higher fees because they're only designing part time.

Regardless of how long you've been designing or the amount of time you currently spend designing you're probably not charging enough for your services, but that's the topic for another day.

Today I want to share why you need an hourly design rate and ways to determine the rate that's best for you.

Why you need an hourly design rate.

Even if you normally use project based or value based pricing you still need to know how much you are worth per hour. Even if it's just to know whether or not you are under or over charging on your projects.

You also need to know how much you're worth if someone asks you for your time. Perhaps as a design consultant. Without knowing your hourly rate how will you know what to charge for your time?

What determines your hourly design rate.

Your hourly design rate depends on many factors and differs for each designer. Where you live, what sort of clients you're going after, your experience, your skill all play factors in determining what you should charge.

Specializing in a niche can also play a factor. A designer who specializes in a certain industry should command higher prices than a designer not familiar with it.

All of these things should be taken into considering when determining what your hourly design rate will be.

Determining your hourly design rate.

Ok, here's the nitty gritty of it. Ways for you to determine exactly what you should charge per hour. You will need to decide which method, if any, is best suited to your situation.

Guess

It sounds crazy but guessing is actually a pretty popular method used by many designers. I'm not saying it's a good method, just that it's a popular one. Some designers simply pick a number out of thin air and use it as their hourly design rate. Most of the time the number they choose is much lower than they should be charging but guessing is a viable option for choosing.

Spy on your competition

Tried and true for generations, spying on your competition is an easy way to judge what the going market is for designers in your area. Simply call them up, or have a friend do it for you, and request quotes. Use those quotes to determine what they are charging and to set a baseline for your own pricing. Adjust as needed for experience and skill and then start hunting for clients.

Research industry averages

There are many organizations that compile design salaries around the globe. The AIGA and RGD are great resources in North America. Research what designer in your area are making and base your hourly rate to match.

Calculate your hourly rate

Probably the most accurate way to determine your hourly design rate is to calculate it yourself.

Add up all your expenses including general expenses and labour expenses, savings, etc.. Then estimate the number of billable hours you expect to work each week. Divide the first number by the second number to determine your hourly design rate.

For example:

Your monthly expenses including mortgage, utilities, car payment, fuel, groceries, medication, etc. = $4000/month A spending allowance for things like movies, restaurants, treats, etc. = $400/month Money you put aside in savings = $400/month Total $4800/month

Billable hours you want to charge per month = 80 (20/week) Remember that billable hours and working hours are two different things. You will only be able to bill for some of the hours you spend working each month.

Divide your monthly expenses by the number of billable hours to determine your hourly design rate.

$4800 ÷ 80 hours = $60 per hour.

In this example, the designer needs to charge $60 per hour and work a minimum of 20 billable hours per week in order to cover their expenses and savings.

Keep in mind that this is just a base and is intended to give you an idea of where to start. You do not need to use this number as your hourly design rate.

Your personal situation will also factor into this equation. If you're a student living with your parents you may not have as many expenses as someone renting or paying a mortgage.

What should you do?

I can't tell you which method is best for you. Only you can decide that. I can tell you that establishing an hourly design rate will help you regardless of whether or not you bill by the hour.

If you don't have one yet, I highly encourage you to determine your hourly rate as soon as possible.

How did you determine your hourly design rate?

Let me know your goals by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Jonathan

I am looking to start a web design business while I am a full time employee. I've been doing a lot of research and wondering your thoughts on a sole proprietorship vs. llc. I feel like the business side of the business is preventing me from starting the business before it's even been made. I'm not completely sure its worth setting up an llc if I am starting a business on my free time. (ex: quarterly taxes) Any help you may have is greatly appreciated.

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

Resource of the week Screenflow

This week’s resource is something I've shared before, ScreenFlow screen recording software. It has helped me streamline my graphic design business so much that I have to share it again. Using ScreenFlow has saved me so much time and headaches. 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 alone I highly recommend ScreenFlow.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe on Stitcher Subscribe on Android Subscribe on Google Play Music

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

Building Client Loyalty Through Legacy Plans - RD082
34:34
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 34:34
Building Client Loyalty Through Legacy Plans - RD082

Legacy Plans help build client loyalty

What are Legacy Plans you ask? Legacy Plans are when someone continues to pay a certain price when everyone else is paying more for the same service.

Physical fitness gyms do this best. When you join a gym chances are your monthly fee is fixed for life. As long as you remain a member your fee will never go up. But if you let your membership expire and then decide to come back, you will be forced to pay the same higher fee newer members are paying.

In this week's episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I discuss ways to use legacy plans with your design business. Be sure to listen to the episode for the full story.

How to use legacy plans with your design business When you raise your design rates.

The best time to introduce legacy plans in your design business is any time you raise your design rates. Every time you raise your rates you have an opportunity to lock in your current clients at your old rate. I don't suggest you do this with every client. But good recurring clients who would benefit from the discount are perfect candidates for legacy plans.

By placing good clients on legacy plans you send them a message that you care for them. This builds loyalty and trust which translates into more business and referrals from your clients.

Maintenance plans

Maintenance plans are another opportunity to introduce legacy plans. Informing your clients that you've raised your monthly maintenance fee for managing their website is never fun. But if you tell them you've raised your rates but they're locked in at the old rate they'll appreciate your services that much more.

Retainer agreements

Legacy plans and retainer agreements go hand in hand. Informing a client that your retainer rates are going up but it doesn't affect theirs for as long as they keep paying is a great way to build client loyalty and guarantee your steady retainer income. Knowing their retainer rate will go up if they stop paying it is a great incentive for clients to keep sending you money month after month. Even if they don't have work for you.

Things to keep in mind with legacy plans Make them feel special

When informing your clients about their legacy plans be sure to make them feel special. Tell them not all your clients are being offered this special deal. By showing the scarcity of the plan you show your clients how important they are to you.

Have an escape clause.

You can set an expiry date for any legacy plan, telling your client it will expire in one, two or three years at which point they will be billed your going rate.

You could also leave the end date open. Let your clients know that you don't know how long you will keep these legacy plans going but you will let them know well in advance should you decide to do away with them. The last thing you want is to start resenting a client years from now because they're only paying you $20 per hour when everyone else is paying you $100. So make sure you leave yourself a way to end the plan on your terms.

Do you use legacy plans with your design business?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

There's no question to answer this week but I would love to answer one of yours. Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

Tip of the week Outlining Text in Adobe Acrobat

This week's tip was shared by Dana in the Facebook Group. If you've ever had to extract some design element from a PDF file you've probably encountered the dreaded "font missing" message. Your choices are to accept a substitute font or try to match the original with the closest font you have available. Neither is the best scenario. This week's tip offers another work around. By following the steps mentioned on this page you can create a new PDF file with the fonts outlined, making it possible to extract your needed elements the way they are meant to look. Give it a try.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe on Stitcher Subscribe on Android Subscribe on Google Play Music

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

Protecting Yourself From Proofing Errors - RD081
29:03
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 29:03
Protecting Yourself From Proofing Errors - RD081

Have you ever been burned due to proofing errors?

Proofing errors are the bane of all graphic designers. Anyone who has been in this business long enough knows that clients will almost always try to blame you when they find errors on their project.

You can’t really blame them, it’s human instinct to try and pass the blame. We’ve been doing it since we were young. Even a toddler who sneaks a cookie might try to blame it on one of his siblings or maybe even on the family dog.

It’s because of this instinct that we need to protect ourselves. Because when it comes to proofing errors on graphic design jobs, especially when printing is involved, there’s a lot more at stake than a simple reprimand for eating a cookie.

It’s not as big a deal when it’s a website or some other digital piece. Those errors can easily be fixed. But fixing an error on a printed job could cost thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. And you don’t want that on you.

On this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I discuss ways to protect yourself from proofing errors. Be sure to listen to the episode for the full story.

How do you protect yourself from proofing errors?

You can't. Proofing errors are going to happen. It’s the blame you need to protect yourself from and it all starts with your contract.

Your contract may be full of unintelligible legalese but all that bloated wording is there for a reason, to protect you. On your contract, you must include a clause absolving you of any blame once the client approves and signs off on a job. Once they sign off, it’s in their hands and you are clear of any blame.

For this reason, you should NEVER ACCEPT an approval from your client that says something like “we approve this job with this one small change”. No matter how trivial the change is, you need to have it viewed and approved by the client.

You may think to yourself "that paragraph that's missing a period at the end isn’t a big deal. I’ll just add the period and send the file to print."

Don’t do it.

Every time you touch a project there’s a possibility of something going wrong, something shifting, something changing. So don’t take any chances. Get the client to approve every change they ask for. Even if it means delaying a deadline to get that approval.

Here's an example of how a simple revision could go wrong.

A client tells you the job is approved once you change "S. Thompson" to "Steve Thompson" on page 3. You go to page 3, find "S. Thompson" and charge it, as requested to "Steve Thompson" and send the job to print.

But unknown to you, "S. Thompson" appears 2 times on the third page. The client wasn't specific and you didn't realize there were multiple occurrences and only changed the first one.

What started out as a simple change turns into a costly error that could have been avoided if only the client had seen the revision before it went to print.

Regarding your contract.

Your contract should state that the client is fully responsible for making sure every aspect of the job is satisfactory to their liking. This includes layout, text, copy, images, colours, folding, etc.

Your contract should also state that the client is ultimately responsible for any errors, EVEN IF THE COPY THEY SUPPLIED YOU WAS CORRECT.

This is a very important one. Clients will often proofread their copy before providing it to you and think they don't have to proofread it afterwards. You need to make sure the client still proofreads it to make sure nothing has changed between the time they supplied it and the time they approve it.

Remind your client that you are not responsible for any errors should the client not proof the job carefully.

Beyond the contract

Even with a clause in your contract absolving you of any errors due to improper proofing, you should take it upon yourself to remind the client with every proof you supply them. A simple statement told to them or a small paragraph in an email stating once again that you are not responsible for any errors or omissions once they sign off on the job.

The more you remind them, the less chance they come after you should an error be found afterwards.

Things that could help prevent errors.

Don't forget to use your computer's Spell Check/Grammar Check features. It's such an easy thing to forget to do but it could save you many headaches down the road.

Proofread your work. You are not responsible for spelling errors but they still look bad on a piece you designed. Read everything yourself to see if you can spot any problems. Tip, read from right to left, one word at a time. This will force you to read each word individually and you’ll catch more spelling errors that way.

The mind is a wonderful but weird tool. You can easily overlook misspelt words that are right in front of you as you are reading. Have you ever seen this paragraph before? Every word is misspelt. The first and last letters are correct but the middle letters are mixed up. And yet you can still read the paragraph easily enough. This goes to show you just how hard it is to spot spelling error while reading.

I cnduo't bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghhuot slelinpg was ipmorantt! See if yuor fdreins can raed tihs too.

What's the takeaway?

Graphic designers are human. Just like everyone else, we make errors. And that’s OK. Things happen. fast typing fingers might miss a beat and type something wrong. Accidental mouse clicks can shift things on a page. Copy/paste might miss something that wasn't highlighted.

Face it. Errors will happen. there’s nothing you can do about it. So you might as well protect yourself as best you can so that the blame for those errors don't fall on you.

Do you have any stories about proofing errors you would like to share?

Let me know your goals by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

There's no question this week but i would love to get one from you. Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

 

Resource of the week Coolors.co

Coolors.co is a super fast and super easy way to create, save and share colour pallets for whatever job you’re working on. Choose from a gallery of ready made pallets or create your own from scratch or based on some pre-selected colours.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe on Stitcher Subscribe on Android Subscribe on Google Play Music

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

Explain Why, Not How - RD080
37:58
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 37:58
Explain Why, Not How - RD080

Do you explain why you took the direction you did when presenting designs to your clients?

If you belong to any graphic design groups on Facebook or Linkedin you've seen people post their work for critique. Why not, it's a great place to get the opinion of fellow designers. However, one problem that happens over and over when people explain their work is they usually explain how they designed it when what they should do is explain why they designed it.

That's the topic I cover in this week's Resourceful Designer podcast. Be sure to listen to the episode for the full story.

Explain why you designed it, not how you designed it.

Face it, clients hire you for one reason and one reason only. Your ability to get the job done. They don't care how you get it done. All they care about is the finished product. As long as you can produce good quality work in a timely fashion they will be happy.

Think of a carpenter hired to build a cabinet. The client doesn't care what tools the carpenter uses. Nor does he care what skills or techniques he employs. All the client cares about is having a well crafted and functional cabinet. The same goes for design work. It's the finished product that matters, not the journey you took to get there.

Explain why and avoid going back to the drawing board.

Client's don't reside in our world. They don't live and breath design the way we do. Because of this we sometimes forget that clients may not see our designs the same way we do.

If you take the time to enlighten the client and explain why you designed something a certain way, there's a good chance they will appreciate the design much more and you avoid having to go back to the drawing board to change a perfectly good design.

Present in a way that allows you to explain why.

Obviously, the best way to present your designs to a client is in person. Unfortunately, it's not always possible to meet face to face with them. Therefore it's up to you to present your designs in a way that allows you to talk to the client as they're seeing the design for the first time.

  • Set up a video or phone call and email or provide a link to your design for the client to see while you're talking to them.
  • Record a screen capture video explaining your design to the client and send it to them.

However you can manage it, try to be present when your client sees the design for the first time. Explain what they are seeing and explain why you chose to design it that way. Your explanation will go a long way in showing the client the value in the design.

How do you explain your designs to your clients?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Jordan

I was wondering what types of content I can post for my business on social media? I've started creating blog posts. But, I know brands are about 70% content 30% selling when it comes to social media. If you're a potato chip company for example... you can post a picture of your potato chips and say "Have a great summer with acme potato chips". If you're an music entertainment company you can post "It's Miley Cyrus' birthday today. #HappyBirthdayMiley". But, I'm at a loss for what content would be valuable to clients of a graphic design/web developing business and not just targeting other graphic designers, developers, and creatives who aren't my clientele.

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

Resource of the week; 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 15-30 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 Subscribe on Google Play Music

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

Word Of Mouth Referrals For Your Design Business - RD079
33:49
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 33:49
Word Of Mouth Referrals For Your Design Business - RD079

Do you get word of mouth referrals for your design business?

Growing your design business takes a lot of hard work. Especially when first starting out. Word of mouth referrals are and always will be the most effective way of achieving this growth.

Back in episode 67 of the podcast, I shared a proven strategy for getting design referrals. That episode was more geared to designers working in a specific niche. I received a lot of great feedback on that episode but one question kept coming up. How do I get design referrals if I don't have a niche? Hence this episode, be sure to listen to the podcast for all the details.

As designers, we work in a world of marketing, advertising, promoting, social sharing and so much more, but nothing beats an evangelist who spreads the word about you and your services by word of mouth.

When you break it down to its core elements, there are only two main ingredients to garner word of mouth referrals.

  • You need to offer great designs to your clients
  • You need to offer great service to your clients

That's it. If you can offer both of those you are on your way to getting word of mouth referrals.

It all comes down to client relationships. The better the relationship with your client the better the chance they will refer someone to you.

Why is word of mouth so important?

Here are some stats I came across while researching this episode.

92% of consumers are influenced by word of mouth.

This means 92% of potential clients will choose a designer based on what they are told over what they see or read in advertising.

76% of consumers refer a company they trust.

This means 76% of your clients will refer you to someone else providing they have a good relationship with you.

59% of business will ask their peers for advice before making a purchase

This means 59% of business owners, your potential clients, will ask other business owners their advice before choosing a designer.

With these numbers already in your favour, why not give them a little push. Don't sit back and wait to see what will happen. Be proactive and take charge of your own word of mouth campaign.

How you should promote word of mouth referrals Be proactive.

Don’t wait until after the project is done to ask for referrals. Ask for referrals up front. Tell your clients from the start what services you will be providing them and ask that they share what you’re doing with others. Tell them that if they’re happy working with you, you would be grateful if they would pass on your name to friends, family and colleagues who might require similar work.

Be sure to mention other services you do that they could refer you for. Who knows, you may even get more work from them.

Offer an expiring incentive for referrals.

Even with the best of intentions clients will probably forget to refer you when the chance arises. But if you offer them an incentive, especially one with an expiry date, they will be more inclined to think about who could use your services.

Offering a gift card for every referral they send your way is nice. However, offering a gift card for every referral they send your way within the next 30 days gives them a lot more incentive to talk about you.

Give them an easy way to make referrals.

The easier you make it for them the more chance they will refer you. Give them extra business cards to hand out. Provide them with your social media profiles to share. Create a referral form on your website they can use to introduce potential clients to you.

Thank them and keep on thanking them.

As soon as you hear from a referred client, even if they don't hire you, you should thank the person that referred them to you. Letting your client know how much you appreciate the referral will go a long way to garner even more referrals.

If the referred client does hire you, let the client that referred them know how the project turned out. You can even send them a thank you gift afterwards regardless if you gave them a referral incentive or not. The bigger the project the more personal the thank you should be.

It's all up to you.

By taking advantage of these simple tools you will become more visible, gain the trust of your clients, build better relationships with them, and increase your bottom line.

Start your word of mouth campaign today!

How have you promoted word of mouth referrals for your design business?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from James

Thank you for your article on retainer agreements. I had a question. How do you handle the assignment of rights for the artwork. What if it is likely that one will be designing logos or original characters under a retainer agreement?

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

Tip of the week The Golden Ratio

I'm not going to go into the mathematics of the Golden Ratio (or Golden Spiral). Simply put, it's a formula that appears in many places in nature. Many believe it's the formula that adds beauty to the things we see around us. By incorporating this formula into your design work you can create designs that are much more appealing to the eye. Have a look at these YouTube videos on how to incorporate the Golden Ratio into your design work.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe on Stitcher Subscribe on Android Subscribe on Google Play Music

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

Upselling To Increase Your Design Revenue - RD078
42:37
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 42:37
Upselling To Increase Your Design Revenue - RD078

Have you ever heard of upselling?

Upselling is the process of getting someone to upgrade their purchase or getting them to add things to their order at the time of sale. Most predominant in the fast food industry where you will often be asked if you would like to increase the size of your drink or if you would like fries with your order. Upselling is a great way for a business to increase revenue. 

Many people believe "upselling" is a dirty word. A way of manipulating clients into spending more money. But upselling can actually help clients get more value from their purchase and in turn, help your business get more loyalty and revenue from the client.

When done correctly, upselling can help build deeper client relationships. Don't view it as a sales tactic, view it as a client happiness tactic because of the extra value you are providing them.

In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I discuss ways you can use upselling to your advantage. Be sure to listen to the episode for the full story.

How upselling applies to your design business.

Every time a client discusses a new design project with you, it opens a window of opportunity for upselling other services and products you can offer them.

For example, while discussing a new web design project you can offer additional services such as hosting, website security, backup, upkeep and more. You could also offer to design their social media profiles so they match the new website.

These are things the client may not think of. By upselling them on these services you are providing them with added value while also increasing your revenue.

Designing a logo for a new company is the perfect time to upsell them on stationery, signage, vehicle wraps, social media branding and so much more.

Even something as simple as offering stickers with their logo on them is an added value for the client.

Do you offer print brokering?

Print brokering is a perfect opportunity for upselling. Clients often don't realize that printing costs decrease exponentially as quantities increase. So a print order that costs $200 for 1000 items might only cost $275 for 2000 items. Paying an extra $75 to double their order may be worth it for the client. You are providing them with an extra value while also increasing your profit margin on the print order.

Do you work on retainer?

Not only do retainer agreements provide you with a guaranteed steady income, they can provide immense value to your client. A retainer agreement in itself is a valuable upsell for your client that uses your services on a regular basis. Especially if you offer them a discount on your rates in exchange for the guaranteed income.

Give it a try

Upselling to design clients has been happening since the inception of the design industry so why not take advantage of it to provide extra value to your clients while also increasing your revenue?

It's very easy to do. Simply offer the client more than they expected while discussing design projects with them. Not only will they appreciate the added value, but it will make them more loyal to you and strengthen the important client relationship you are building. Both parties win and there's nothing dirty about that.

Upselling, give it a try.

What examples of upselling have you used?

I would love to know how you use upselling to increase your design revenue. Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Florida Boy

Hello Mark! I've listened to a lot of your podcasts, and while at this moment I'm not looking to make a leap just yet into becoming a solopreneur, I am very much inclined to doing so. In multiple podcasts, Mark, you mention that although we are alone, we do not need to go about conducting business alone; it's OKAY to have help. I have over a decade of experience with Print media, shirts, signs, etc., but what if, instead of only contracting out specific things, I contracted, say, ALL the work out and focused on maintaining relationships with the customers and designers and all the marketing aspects? Does it seem like too much to not have a handle on? I would really love to hear your thoughts on this. Thank you and keep up the great work on all your podcasts!

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

Resource of the week Missinglettr

Missinglettr creates strategic, automatic social media campaigns that drive traffic for an entire year. Leaving you to focus on writing your next blog post. I've been using Missinglettr for several months now and am very pleased with the results I'm getting. Missinglettr is a simple way to create social engagement without taking up too much of your time. If you have, or you know someone who has a blog, Missinglettr might be the solution to help spread it to the masses.

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Contact me

Send me feedback

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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

Being A Self-Employed Designer Requires A Team Effort - RD077
48:11
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 48:11
Being A Self-Employed Designer Requires A Team Effort - RD077

Who do you have on your Design Team?

Have you ever heard the term it takes a village to raise a child? Basically what it means is that a person is a sum of the people around them. Those people around them mould and form them into the person they become.

The same can be said of you as a designer. You are the child in the village. As such, you require a team to make you the most well-rounded designer your clients can hire. That team needs to be made up of people that can help your business succeed.

In this week's episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I discuss who should be on your team and how to find them. Be sure to listen to the episode for the full story. Here's a brief outline of what I talked about on the show.

Who should make up your team?

Your team should be made up of people with skills to complement the services you offer. People with skills you either don't have yourself, skills you are not that good at, or skills you simply don't want to do.

People to consider adding to your team.
  • Photographers
  • Illustrators
  • Copywriters
  • Programmers
  • Translators
  • Print designers
  • web designers
  • Developers
  • Facebook ad expert
  • Email marketing expert
  • Sales funnel specialists
  • SEO Experts
  • etc.

There are much more people you can have on your team but you get the idea.

Where do you find team members?

Good places to find team members are on websites like toptal.com, upwork.com or even fiverr.com. But don't limit yourself to these resources. People to include on your team can be found everywhere if you keep and eye out. Pick up business cards whenever you can. Write down names you hear on podcasts or read on blog posts. Take note of people mentioned in magazine articles, people you see on social media, people you meet at conventions and gatherings. People referred to you by family, friends and peers.

Basically, anyone with a skill you may end up needing some day should be added to your team.

They don't need to know they're on your team.

Building your team is mostly a one-way streak. It's great if you can get to know someone before adding them to your team but it's not necessary. All that is necessary is that you know what they can provide to you and your business. Team members don't even have to know they're on your team. In fact, they don't even have to know who you are to be part of your team!

If you hear of a great architectural photographer in your area you could add them to your team of photographers to call upon should the need arise. When the time comes and you need architectural photography you'll already know someone to contact. That's the reason to build a team.

Plus, when a client asks if you can take photos of their building you can say yes, knowing you have a great photographer you could hire for the job.

Team members to make your life easier.

Besides people with design related skills, you may need you should also have team members to help you run your business.

  • Bookkeeper
  • Lawyer
  • Accountant
  • Virtual Assistant
  • Business Coach
  • Mentor
  • Networking groups
  • Your Peers

And don't forget to include your family and friends. You need their support more than anyone's if you are going to succeed in your business.

Who do you have on your team?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Mrs. Flowerpot

How do you politely decline clients who requests part of your intellectual property. ie. suppliers details, how I created a particular graphic and more specific questions about my practice that has taken me years to gather the knowledge for. These incidences have happened to me in the past and in trying to be helpful, I have in fact allowed them to take work and fees from me. Am I holding my knowledge too tight? How much should we share? How do we decline their questions without the conversation becoming awkward?

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

Subscribe to the podcast

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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

Transitioning From Employee to Entrepreneur - RD076
54:26
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 54:26
Transitioning From Employee to Entrepreneur - RD076

Have you made the transition yet from employee to entrepreneur?

This week's podcast episode is a bit different. Instead of answering a listener's question at the end of the episode like I normally do, I chose to create an entire podcast episode to answer a great question I received.

Here is the question I received from Dave.

I work full-time as a graphic designer/prepress operator and have wanted to start my own freelance business for some time. I have also been learning web development to broaden my skills, which I usually try and work on at weekends along with juggling life as a new dad with a 5 month old son.

I am at the stage where I want to take on small design jobs to build my client base before eventually being a home based designer full-time.

So my question is how did you approach the transition of moving from the print shop to working for yourself? how long did it take? and do you have any insights for someone who is very time poor that wants to make the leap into self employment?

Thanks again for everything you do through the podcast, it has answered so many questions for me already. keep it up!!!

kindest regards,

Dave

I thought this question merited more than just a couple of minutes at the end of the show.

My Story

To fully answer Dave's question I need to tell my story of how I made the transition from employee to entrepreneur. I'm not going to go into everything here. If you want to know my full transition story you'll need to listen to the podcast.

The short version is when the print shop I worked at decided web site design was a service they no longer wanted to offer I took my skills and knowledge home with me and started a part-time business in the evenings.

It didn't take long for web clients to start asking me to design things that were a direct conflict of interest with my day job. After discussing it with my wife I made the decision to start working towards the day I could leave the print shop and work full-time for myself.

One year later I handed in my resignation and never regretted the decision.

Of course, there's a lot more to the story so be sure to listen to the podcast.

My advice for those getting ready to transition from employee to entrepreneur. Create a business

Freelancing on the side doing the odd job here and there is great. But if you are planning to someday work for yourself full-time you should start a business now. By registering an official business you will have a much easier time in setting things up when it comes to dealing with banks, credit, suppliers, and so on. Not to mention all the tax write-offs you can claim through a business.

Create a buffer

Unfortunately, some people are thrust into the transition situation without warning through business closures, downsizing or any other number of reasons. But if you have the time to set things up I suggest you create a cash buffer to get you buy the slow times, because there will be slow times, especially at the beginning. Saving up six months worth of salary is usually a good buffer.

Build up a client list

If at all possible, try to form relationships with the clients you work with at your present job before transitioning. If you're lucky they may follow you when you leave. Or they may refer new clients your way if they know you're a trustworthy and skilful person.

Tell your employer

The first thing you should do is make sure you don't have any agreements with your current employer saying you cannot start a business on the side. If no such agreements are in place then you should let your employer know what you are doing. They don't need to know you eventually want to leave, but they should be aware of what type of business you are running after hours. They may even encourage and help you out. The last thing you want is for your employer to discover your side business through some third party.

Don't burn bridges

When the time finally comes to part ways from your current job, do so in an amicable way. No matter what you thought of your boss or the company you should part on good terms. You never know when you might require their services in the future or whether or not they may refer clients your way.

Being an entrepreneur is a wonderful thing

I love working for myself from home. I could never see myself working for someone else again. However, self-employment isn't for everyone. It takes a certain type of individual to have the drive and discipline to make it work. If you think running your own graphic design business is something you want to do I highly encourage you to start setting the pieces in place today for your transition. Mark your calendar and get working towards the day you make the leap from employee to entrepreneur.

Best of luck on your transition.

How did your transition go?

I would love to hear how your transition from employee to entrepreneur went. Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Resource of the week Udemy

As graphic designers, we need to keep our skills and knowledge in peak form. Udemy is one of the best places to learn new skills or brush up on rusty ones. Udemy offers a wide variety of courses for all stages of your career. I've personally bought courses on SEO, Google Analytics, Facebook Ads and more. Have a look today and see what you're going to learn next.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

How To Use Landing Pages To Attract New Design Clients - RD075
42:15
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 42:15
How To Use Landing Pages To Attract New Design Clients - RD075

Does your design website have dedicated landing pages?

One of the most asked questions I get is how do I attract new design clients? I wrote a blog post a while back sharing 10 proven ways to do just that but today I decided to do a podcast episode on another way, landing pages.

Be warned, this isn't a quick way to attract new design clients. Landing pages are a slow burn meant to work over time but they do work. Below are some of the points I cover in the podcast. Be sure to listen to the episode for the full discussion.

What is a landing page?

Technically speaking, any web page someone lands on after clicking a link is a landing page. But when it comes to marketing the term "landing page" has taken on a new meaning.

A landing page is a webpage with only one marketing purpose in mind, to generate leads and sales for your business.

What makes a good landing page?

A good landing page should be a standalone page without any distractions except for its primary goal, getting visitors to click on your call-to-action.

The best landing pages have no sidebar, no footer and possibly no header or menu. The whole purpose of the page is to relay your message and allow your visitors only one option, to follow through on your CTA.

A good landing page should have a pleasant, flowing design including compelling copy, appropriate imagery and a very easy way for visitors to interact with it, either a button or simple form allowing them to contact you for more information.

At the bottom fo the landing page, almost as an afterthought, you should include a single line of text and a text link inviting visitors back to your website to learn more about you.

How to use landing pages for your design website.

Way back in episode 2 of the podcast I talked about how your design clients may not know everything you are capable of doing and how you should be informing them every chance you get. I also talk about this and how to get new work from existing clients in episode 72.

But when using landing pages to attract new design clients you need to flip that concept around and concentrate on only one service at a time.

I presume you already have a website for your design business and on that website you list all the services you offer. Things like logo design, business cards, trade show displays, posters, t-shirts, websites, social media profiles and so much more.

It's great that you list all those services but the problem is, so does ever other designer in your area.

That's where landing pages come in. You should be creating a landing page for every service you offer.

Logo design should have its own landing page, website design should have its own landing page, wedding invitations should have its own landing page, you get the idea.

Every one of those landing pages will focus on that specific service and nothing more. Not only that, but they should be composed in a way to entice visitors to want to work with you.

Think about it from a potential client's point of view. When they google "poster design [add city name]" the search results will display a bunch of designers in your area capable of designing posters. But what will be more impressive to the potential client, a design site simply mentioning they design posters, or a dedicated landing page specifically talking about posters?

Imagine them landing on a page with text something like this...

Are you in the [city name] area and looking to have a poster designed for your business or upcoming event? If so, you've come to the right place. Here at [company name], we've been designing business and event posters for over xx years and we would love the opportunity to design your next poster."

Again, what would be more impressive to the potential client looking for a poster design, a design site that mentions poster design amongst many other services or a simple landing page dedicated solely to poster design?

Now, imagine if your site had landing pages for poster design, T-shirt design, ticket-design, etc. etc. You get the idea.

Landing pages improve your design site's SEO

I've talked about the benefit of landing pages from a potential client's point of view, but don't overlook the benefits to your website's findability.

Adding dedicated landing pages to your site will improve its SEO ranking in Google, especially when it comes to Google's local search results. Google is much more likely to rank a page completely dedicated to logo design higher than a page that simply mentions logo design once on the page.

I just mentioned Google's local search which allows local pages to rank higher than non-local pages. Take advantage of this by specifically mentioning your city or area on your landing page.

You can also take advantage of other areas by creating multiple landing pages for each service by targeting different cities or areas. For example; build landing pages for wedding invitations in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, etc. Each landing page is a potential gateway to attract new clients.

Build it and they will come

As I mentioned at the beginning. This isn’t a strategy for getting new clients fast. It’s a long-term strategy. It may take months or maybe even years before it pays off.

But all it takes is one person to one day Google something like "event poster design" and your hometown and the effort will have paid off.

And you know what? As the concept of landing pages for online marketing becomes more and more popular others will be looking for landing pages for their own websites. So you can even build a landing page advertising that you build landing pages. How meta is that?

So go get building your own landing pages.

have you ever used landing pages before?

Let me if you've used landing pages before or if it's something you plan on implementing. Leave me a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Chloe

At what point should you start charging a client you started off doing volunteer work for. I offered to do a bunch of smaller design jobs for them to help out as my values and interests aligned with theirs. They are a smaller organisation without much money I wanted to offer some services for free as I really like their brand and would value having them as a client/for my portfolio. How do you bring this up without damaging the relationship and then how do you go about increasing your hourly rate over time as the workload increases and becomes more regular?

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

Resource of the week: LeadPages

Leadpages integrates with many popular platforms and services to give you the best landing pages and lead generation tools available. Their very simple creation tools have allowed everyone from Fortune 500 companies to first-time entrepreneurs, people in every industry to take control of their marketing and get better results.

Leadpages is what I use here on Resourceful Designer to deliver all my special content including my free 4 Week Marketing Boost guide.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

Overcoming The Afternoon Crash - RD074
27:20
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 27:20
Overcoming The Afternoon Crash - RD074

How often do you feel that afternoon crash?

You know what I’m talking about don’t you? That crash you feel somewhere around 3 pm? You were productive all morning, you had a good lunch and came back revigorated but somewhere mid-afternoon it hits you. The Afternoon Crash. 

Some say it’s caused by low blood sugar, some say it’s your body’s natural sleep cycle, others blame diet or being mostly inactive during the day.

Although I can’t make you suppress those afternoon yawns, I can offer some tips and advice on how to avoid the dreaded afternoon crash and remain productive until the end of the day. For full details be sure to listen to the podcast but here is a brief rundown of what I talk about in this episode.

Tip #1, Take Short Breaks

You’ve heard how sitting for too long isn’t good for you? Well, One of the best suggestions I have for you is to incorporate short breaks into your workday to get up and walk around.

Getting up and walking around will help clear up your mind so you can remain focused when you return to whatever task you were working on. Not only that but it’s also good for your long-term health.

Just like your body gets tired and needs rest to recuperate, your brain gets tired as well. All it takes is a couple of minutes of getting up and walking around and you’ll be surprised how much better you’ll feel.

Tip #2, Eat Well

One of the perks of being a home-based designer is that we have the entire kitchen at our disposal when it comes to snack and meal time.

One of the cons of being a home-based designer is that we have the entire kitchen at our disposal when it comes to snack and meal time.

What you choose to eat during the day plays a big part in how productive you’ll remain.

Having the whole kitchen at our disposal makes it very easy to grab the wrong things when we’re “in the groove” and don't want to take too much time away from our desk. It’s a lot easier to grab a few cookies and get back to work than it is to peel and cut up a carrot.

Last night’s leftovers make a great lunch, providing you eat a lunch size portion. If you pack on your lunch plate like it’s dinner time you’ll only be contributing to that afternoon crash as your body uses up energy to digest the large meal.

Eating healthy and in proper portions will help you remain productive when you really need it.

Tip #3, Get Organized

Every designer has their own way of handling tasks and projects. To learn more about how to do this listen to episode 66 of the podcast Tackle Your To-Do List With Tasks and Projects.

Keeping your to-do list organized and up to date helps you organize your time and balance your workload. And when you have a balanced workload it makes it easier to focus on the tasks at hand, even when your brain starts to feel that afternoon crash coming on.

When you feel that fog approaching, turn to your to-do list to keep you on track. If you’ve organized it well, you’ll know exactly what it is you have to do next.

Tip #4, Limit Distractions

In order to work most effectively, you need to limit the number of distractions around you. This will allow you to remain focused on the task at hand.

Studies prove that it takes roughly 15-20 minutes to recover from a small distraction and get fully back into the task they were doing before being distracted. Every one of those distractions saps away at your energy and contributes to that afternoon crash.

Email is the biggest culprit. I talked about how to handle email in episode 43, A Don’t Do List For Your Graphic Design Business.

Emails distract you with every new email notification. If you stop what you’re doing to check your email every time you hear the new email chime go off, you’re going to find it hard to keep your concentration up for the entire day. Instead, you should set aside certain times of the day for checking and replying to emails. Or at least wait until you complete your current task to check them.

Better yet, turn off your email when you are not using it and you’ll notice a big difference in your work habits and energy.

Email isn’t the only distraction. Social media, internet browsing and many other things can distract you and sap the energy you need to get through your afternoon without experiencing a crash.

It's up to you

Everyone has a different working style and what may work for one person might not work for another. But if you follow these simple tips you’ll find yourself with enough energy to avoid that afternoon crash and overall you’ll be more productive.

What do you do to avoid that afternoon crash?

Let me know your strategy by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Andrew

I know you are wildly successful, so I'm surprised when I hear you talking about smaller jobs that you take on here and there. Do you take on everything that comes your way no matter how small? Do you have guidelines about what you will and won't take on?

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

Support The Podcast

If you've been enjoying the Resourceful Designer podcast and are looking for a way to give back, you can now become a Patron of the show. For as little as $1 per month, you can show your support. There are also several perks for those who wish to donate more. Visit http://resourcefuldesigner.com/patreon for more details and to start supporting the show.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

Pricing Design Jobs with Undefined Time Lines - RD073
46:14
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 46:14
Pricing Design Jobs with Undefined Time Lines - RD073

Do you dread pricing design jobs when you don't know how long they'll take?

Have you ever had to quote on a design job but you have no idea how long it will take to complete it? If you're familiar with Project Based Pricing or Value Based Pricing then it isn't really an issue. But if you're one of the many designers who bill by the hour you may dread this scenario. 

In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I talk about what you can do when you have no idea how long a project will take. Be sure to listen to the episode for the full story.

Pricing design jobs by the hour.

It takes a lot of practice to correctly guess how long a design job will take to complete. Notice I used the word "guess"? Because that's what it is, a guess. If you guess wrong you could loose a lot of money on the job. The only way to protect yourself if to pad your guess by overestimating which isn't good for your client.

But what if there's another way that works for both you and your clients?

Actual time billing.

When the scope of a design project is such that there's no way to determine how long it will take, offer to bill for the actual time you spend on the job.

Many clients will accept a contract stating you will bill them your hourly rate for the total time you spend working on their project. This is the easiest method and it benefits both you and your client. You know you won't loose any money on the design project, and your client knows they won't overpay on the job.

But what if the client is worried you'll take too long?

If your client is hesitant to sign your contract, you could offer a maximum price for the project. You bill them by the hour for the time you spend working on the project up to the maximum price, providing the scope of the job hasn't changed.

This option should satisfy worried clients and make you look good when you come in under the maximum price. Just be sure the maximum price you set is enough to cover any unforeseen complications that may arise during the project.

How do you handle pricing design jobs with undefined time lines?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Tim

How many works/projects/clients do you normally allow yourself to take in simultaneously within a week?

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

Tip of the week Get your Clients to pay for it.

When it comes to hardware, software, plugins, fonts etc., If you need to purchase something for a specific project then you should be charging the client for it. Even if it's something you will be able to use in the future for other clients. There is nothing wrong with telling a client you require something to complete their project and including it on your invoice. You can then use that item as a selling feature or service you offer for future clients.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

Getting New Work From Existing Clients - RD072
38:22
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 38:22
Getting New Work From Existing Clients - RD072

Where do you look for new work?

One of the most asked questions I’ve heard over the years is “how do I get new design clients?” It’s a valid question. But let me turn it around and ask you, why do you need new design clients when your existing clients have plenty of new work you could do for them?

In this week's episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I discuss how you can leverage your existing clients to get new work. Be sure to listen for the full story.

Your clients already know you.

Wouldn’t it be easier for both you and your client to work on new projects together since you already have a relationship started? It would be so much easier than starting from scratch with a new client.

"But if my clients had new work for me they would surely let me know."

Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. In fact, your clients may be coming up with all sorts of great design projects and not thinking about you at all. There are so many jobs and projects that go on in a business that would be perfect for you but for some reason your name never comes to mind. Things like display and presentation boards, facebook ads, internal handouts and so much more.

It’s not because the client doesn't want to spend the money, it’s simply a case of them not realizing it’s a job for a skilled designer.

Why don't they ask me to do it?

The answer may be as simple as your client not knowing the full scope of what you are capable of. To learn more, listen to episode 2 of the podcast.

If your client hired you for web design they may not know you also do print design or vice versa. Just because you designed a logo for a company don't presume they know you can also design their business cards and stationary unless you've told them. A lot of clients don't think that way.

Telling a client you can design everything for them isn’t enough. Because your client may not know what “everything” entails.

How do I get new work from existing clients?

The answer is simple, make sure they don't forget about you. In other words, make sure you have a good relationship with them. Because people don't forget those they have good relationships with. And if they have a good relationship with you, they will think of you when new work comes up.

How do you build a good client relationship?

The trick is to keep in constant contact. No, I don't mean you should stalk your client. Just make sure they don’t forget about you. You have plenty of tools at your disposal you could use without seeming overbearing.

Email or e-newsletter.

Email or E-newsletters are great ways to stay in contact with your clients. Use them to let your client know what you've been up to.

  • Let them know what interesting projects you've done for other clients.
  • Let them know what new skills you've acquired.
  • Let them know what new products or suppliers you've started using.
  • Let them know what new services you're offering.
  • Let them know anything and everything that may peak their curiosity.

Your clients may find something you write about interesting and ask you to do a similar project for them.

Don't forget to send personal emails to congratulate your clients on anniversaries, events, new products, accomplishments, and anything else of interest. Congratulating them via email is much more personal than doing so over social media.

Any reason you can find to reach out to your clients and remind them you are there is a good thing.

Who knows, they may just reply to your email with some nice new work for you to do.

Phone

Email is good, but hearing your voice is so much better. Follow the same examples as above but do so over the phone. They will appreciate it more and remember it longer.

Not to mention that having you on the phone makes it much easier for them to ask your advice and possibly send some new work your way.

Social Media

Follow your clients on social media and interact with them. Comment on, like, and share your client’s posts. They take notice of who is following them and will remember you for it when they have new work that requires a designer.

Visit them in person

The above methods are a great way to improve client relations. But nothing beats a face to face meeting to drum up new work. Even if it's just popping in unannounced to say hello while you're in the neighbourhood. The fact that you took the time to stop in shows that you are serious about your relationship with them. Plus, there’s something about having you right there in front of them that can spark a client’s memory which can easily lead to you leaving with new work to do.

A wealth of opportunities exist.

We spend so much time worrying about attracting new clients that we sometimes overlook the wealth of opportunities available from our existing clients

Reach out to them. The worst that can happen is you build a better relationship with them which could lead to new work in the future. And that’s never a bad thing.

How have you leveraged your existing clients for new work?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Ruel

I'm starting to offer design services for payment. In the past I didn't charge. I'm at a point where I utilized a stock image from a service called Shutterstock.com. Since the service charges for license, how would you go about charging for a design project that uses licensed material like a photograph?

Would you pay for the photograph license and include that cost for the overall job?

Would you have the client pay for the photograph license separately and charge for the design job without it?

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

Tip of the week Payment Fees

This week's tip is more of a warning. If you are charging your clients an additional fee when they pay by credit card or through services like PayPal you are probably breaking the law. According to the terms of agreement with these companies, you are not allowed to pass the service fee you pay on to your clients. If you are caught doing so you could loose the privilege of accepting payments that way.

Subscribe to the podcast

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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

Good Design, Quick Design, Cheap Design. Pick two! - RD071
28:13
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 28:13
Good Design, Quick Design, Cheap Design. Pick two! - RD071

Have you heard the concept of Good, Quick, Cheap?

I first heard the concept of Good, Quick, Cheap on The Real Brian Show podcast. I was so fascinated with the concept that I decided to explore how it affects the graphic design industry. In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I expand on the concept and talk about Good Design, Quick Design and Cheap Design.

To get the full story you'll need to listen to the podcast but here's a breakdown of what I discuss in the episode.

The dream client

Wouldn't it be nice if our clients had unlimited budgets, gave us all the time in the world to work on their projects, and allowed us to design it any way we wanted?

We can dream, can't we?

The truth of the matter is, there are very few clients that have both the budget and the time we would like to have on a project. If you manage to find one of these elusive clients, latch on to them for dear life and don’t do anything to compromise that relationship.

The realistic client

More realistically clients want you to design something good, quick and cheap. But therein lies a problem. You see, good, quick and cheap are all possible but only two at a time.

Pick two

The concept behind Good, Quick, Cheap is that not all three are available at the same time. Your client can only choose two of them.

  • If they want a Good and Cheap Design, they won't get it quickly.
  • If they want a Cheap and Quick Design, it won't be any good.
  • If they want a Good and Quick design it won't be cheap.

It all comes down to perception, need and value. Your client needs to decide which one they can do without, Good, Quick or Cheap.

Be sure to listen to the podcast episode for the full story.

Have you ever thought of the Good, Quick, Cheap concept before?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Michael

Do you turn down work that does not align with your personal values and morals? If so, how do you "let them down gently"

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

Resource of the week iThemes Sync

It's important to update WordPress, both for the security of your site and to take advantage of the latest features and improvements. But updates to WordPress core and any plugins or themes installed on your sites can happen pretty frequently. If you're managing multiple WordPress sites, keeping them all updated can take up a lot of your valuable time.

iThemes Sync is an easy way to manage updates for all your WordPress sites from one place. Instead of logging in to each site individually, you have one place to view and install available updates, making WordPress maintenance easy.

Subscribe to the podcast

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Contact me

Send me feedback

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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

Tips To Manage Your Design Business's Reputation - RD070
34:54
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 34:54
Tips To Manage Your Design Business's Reputation - RD070

Did you know your design business has a reputation?

Have you ever thought about your design business’s reputation? What both your clients and more importantly potential clients know about you?

Having a good reputation for your design business will not only enhance those important client relationships. But it can also increase your overall revenue and profit.

So it’s vital that you do everything to avoid a negative reputation and make sure everyone sees you in a positive way.

In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I share tips for improving your design business's reputation. Be sure to listen to the podcast for the full story.

Here are some tips to manage your design business’s reputation Timely responses

Provide timely responses to all inquiries, comments, complaints or requests you receive. It doesn’t matter if it’s on social media, by email, a phone call, even an old fashion letter. Getting back to someone in a timely manner will help your reputation.

Handle criticism well

Negative feedback and criticism can be harsh. How you handle it will influence your reputation. Reply to these comments politely and constructively, and use this feedback as a way to improve yourself and your business. You are a designer after all. Hopefully, you’ve developed a thick skin in dealing with criticism.

Promote your clients

Promote customer testimonials, success stories, and customer references on your website and print promotional materials. Clients like thinking they’re special. Show them off and your work along with it to your other clients.

Create a client referral program

One thing you may want to try is creating a customer referral program. It could be a discount on future orders or a gift card to a popular store or restaurant. Doing so will encourage happy customers to spread the word about you and your services. In the process, your reputation will grow.

Ask clients for reviews and testimonials

Encourage happy clients to write reviews and testimonials about their experience dealing with you. Having a client say good things about you will go a long way to increasing your positive reputation. Be sure to share them as mentioned above.

Share with your clients

Create newsletters, blogs, and even vlogs to keep your clients informed about new products or services you offer as well as industry news, and other helpful tips or resources. If you show you care about your clients they will care about you.

Follow your clients

Show you care about your clients by following them on social media. If they mention an event or a milestone congratulate them and share their message. To make this easier Set up social management tools and Google alerts so you can track and respond to client mentions on the web. Don't forget things like birthdays, anniversaries, events, etc.

Better Business Bureau

Set up a BBB (Better Business Bureau) profile so consumers can check your credibility. This will go a long way in improving your reputation.

Customer appreciation

Create customer appreciation events that are focused on thanking your customers for their loyal business.

Community involvement

Nothing makes you or your business look better than showing that you care about your community. Sponsor local organizations and teams, or donate time, money, or services to a charity to show your community support.

Ask for advice

Create customer surveys and offer a valuable coupon in exchange for your customer's time and input. Letting them know you care about their opinion will go a long way to helping your reputation.

How do you manage your design business's reputation?

Let me know your goals by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Jerome

I am a young student and I am into graphic design. I need help choosing a name for my business.

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

Resource of the week 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

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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

Be The Expert Designer Everyone Thinks You Are - RD069
27:18
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 27:18
Be The Expert Designer Everyone Thinks You Are - RD069

Are you an expert graphic designer?

Have you ever felt uncomfortable being referred to as an expert graphic designer or expert web designer?

Can I ask you why you felt that way?

I’ve seen it over and over, designers cringing at the title of expert because they don’t feel they deserve it.

In this week's episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I share a little secret with you. You are an expert.

Don’t believe me?

The Webster Dictionary defines Expert as follows:

An Expert is someone having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience.

With this official definition in mind, let me ask you again. Are you an expert?

I hope you said yes.

I'm guilty myself.

I must admit. I used to be guilty of this as well. I felt uncomfortable when people would say something like...

“Hi Mark, so and so told me I should talk to you because you’re a web design expert”

or “Hi Mark, I need a logo for my business and I’m told you’re the expert”

It used to make me uncomfortable. But once I realized we're all experts in someone's eyes I started embracing it. Now if someone asks me if I’m an expert I proudly say yes, yes I am. Allow me to shower you with my expertise. OK, maybe I don't say that last part, but I don’t shy away from the title anymore.

Why does being called an expert bother designers?

I’ll tell you why. Because as designers we’re creative people, and being creative people we’re constantly learning to improve our skills and knowledge. But if we’re constantly learning to improve our skills and knowledge, and there’s always so much new to learn. how can we be experts? It doesn't make sense.

The fact of the matter is, we are experts to everyone not in our industry.

  • To everyone who doesn’t understand the workings of a website. we are an expert.
  • To everyone who doesn’t understand the intricacies of proper branding, we are an expert.
  • To everyone who doesn’t understand the nuances of type manipulation and colour usage and page layout, we are an expert.

Because we have skills and knowledge they don’t possess we are experts in their eyes.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been a designer for many years like I have, or if you’re just getting into this profession.

To everyone who relies on our skills and design knowledge, we are experts. So embrace it.

Trust me, you want it this way. How do you think your business would be doing if your clients didn’t see you as an expert at what you do. I don’t think I have to tell you the answer to that one, do I?

How do you feel when someone calls you an expert?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Audrey

My name is Audrey and I'm from Sydney  I've been working as a graphic designer for 1 year. I'm an in house graphic designer for a fashion brand but I do freelance web design work outside of my daytime job. I have question about how you do web design. Do you show your client a wireframe or just a high fidelity mock up and do you code as well to build a website? Like html and css. Or do you work with a developer to build a website. Also lastly what's the difference between web design and UI&UX?

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

Resource of the week Espresso

This week's resource is a web editor called Espresso by MacRabbit. I've been using Espresso since it first came out for all my HTML, PHP and CSS coding. I've created over 50 websites using this application. It's very well laid out and very simple to use. Here's the description from their website.

Espresso is for people who make delightful, innovative and fast websites — in an app to match. Espresso helps you write, code, design, build and publish with flair and efficiency. Sophisticated text features, amazing Live Preview with Browser Xray, CSSEdit tools, the Navigator, Dynamo auto-building, and Server Sync. Whether you're starting from scratch or tweaking a live site, Espresso has you covered.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

Contact me

Send me feedback

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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

Don't Take Advantage Of Your Design Clients - RD068
21:17
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 21:17
Don't Take Advantage Of Your Design Clients - RD068

Would clients stick with you if you take advantage of them?

I was thinking recently how our design clients rely on us when it comes to their branding and marketing material. How easy would it be to take advantage of that trust and make a few extra dollars on each project we bill them for.

This reminded me of a joke I heard not too long ago.

A young boy enters a barber shop and the barber whispers to his customer, "This is the dumbest kid in the world. Watch while I prove it to you."

The barber puts an old crumpled dollar bill in one hand and two brand new shiny quarters in the other, then calls the boy over and asks, "Which do you want, son?" The boy takes the quarters, thanks the barber and leaves.

"What did I tell you?" said the barber. "That kid never learns!"

Later, when the customer leaves, he sees the same young boy coming out of the ice cream store.

"Hey, son! May I ask you a question?

Why did you take the quarters instead of the dollar bill?"

The boy licked his cone and replied,

"Because the day I take the dollar, the game is over!"

The moral of this joke can apply to our design businesses just as easily.

I’ve talked before about pricing strategies for your design business, as well as how raising your prices can actually attract more design work. But one thing I haven’t talked about before is our ability to take advantage of our clients.

We work in an industry without standardized pricing. Someone could literally pay $5 for a logo or fifty thousand dollars. We’ve seen it happen both ways. And paying more doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting a better product for your money.

With this wide pricing range available to us, it could be tempting to take advantage of our clients for a few extra dollars here and there. it would be so easy to pad your time if you’re charging by the hour. After all, your client doesn’t know how long you actually spent on their project.

If you bill by the project you could easily pad that price as well in order to put some extra dough in your bank account.

I’ve seen it happen before. I’ve seen designers boast about it. They get greedy and if it works once they try upping it again next time.

But just like the kid in the joke, if you take more for your services than they merit, your game could soon be over.

I knew a designer who priced himself beyond what his market could afford and he suffered. In fact, a couple of my clients are with me for that exact reason, their previous designer got greedy and started charging too much.

I’m not saying you’re not worth your rates. In fact, most designers I talk to are not charging enough for the services they provide.

What I’m saying is know what your rates are and stick to them.

This applies to all levels of business. I know some designers who won't take on projects under $5000, and that’s fine. There is a market at that level of work. But the same rules apply to them as to those who do less expensive work.

If they charge $10,000 for a corporate website that’s only worth $7,000 it could come back and bite them.

This doesn’t only apply to cost. The same goes for services and features. There’s a term that started in the restaurant industry but has migrated across all business. It’s called the upsell. If you’ve ever been asked if you would like to turn your meal order into a combo, that’s an upsell. They are trying to persuade you to purchase something that sounds like a great deal. A fry and a drink for an extra $1? What a bargain. You'd be crazy not to take it.

What they did was get you to spend an extra dollar, money you weren’t planning on spending to begin with, on something that cost them only $0.30. They didn't have your best interest in mind. They were simply trying to make an extra $.070 off you.

The same applies to your business.

If all a client needs is a very simple $500 website don’t try to sell them a $1000 website full of features they don’t need.

Again, I’m not saying upselling is wrong, providing what you add is of value to the client and isn't just there to increase your bottom line.

There are times that the client won't think of everything. In fact, most times the client doesn’t think of everything. That’s part of what we do as designers, offer solutions to their problems, even if they don’t see the problem yet. But again, don’t sell them on something they don’t need just to make a buck.

There’s a local web design company in my area that doesn’t like me because I’ve stollen so many of their clients away from them. I didn’t seek out to steal them. Those clients came to me when they found out they were being charged for services they didn't need and were not even using. That web design company was taking the dollar bill instead of the two quarters.

There’s a big difference between being greedy and charging an honest price no matter how expensive it is. And clients are not that dumb not to realize it. They may be fooled for a bit, but not forever.

If you get greedy and start charging more for your services than what they are worth, the game will be over for you as well.

Have you ever been taken advantage of?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Michael

I've been a professional graphic designer for 8 years this August, but I'm just now transitioning from general graphic design to doing mostly web design. What are some resources you can recommend for an easier wire-framing and design mockup process.

I'm aware of a couple applications like Sketch, and Adobe XD. Have you had any experience with either of those and if so what has your experience been thus far?

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

Tip of the week; prevent wrist pain

Many designers suffer from wrist pain. Sometimes it can get so bad that surgery is the only solution. This week I would like to share a tip that a doctor gave me many years ago when I was suffering from chronic wrist pain. Tilt your keyboard backwards. Positioning your keyboard so that the number keys at the top are lower than the spacebar at the bottom forces your wrists into a more natural position and removes the strain that often is the cause of wrist pain. Since I changed the angle of my keyboard my wrist pain has gone away completely. That was over ten years ago. Invest in a [easyazon_link keywords="keyboard tray" locale="US" tag="resourcefuldesigner-20"]keyboard tray[/easyazon_link] that allows you to tilt your keyboard backwards. Your wrists will thank you.

Subscribe to the podcast

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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

A Proven Strategy For Getting Design Referrals - RD067
58:43
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 58:43
A Proven Strategy For Getting Design Referrals - RD067

Can you use more design referrals?

We are graphic designers. We have the know-how and creative ability to promote our own business like no other businesses can. We can tweak our websites to get the absolute most out of them. We can go out and network until the cows come home, (whatever that means).

And yet, even with all of our know-how and ability to promote ourselves, nothing feels better than getting a call from someone looking for a designer and hearing that you were referred to them by a satisfied client.

I don’t know the actual statistics, but I can almost guarantee that when it comes to freelance and home-based designers acquiring new work, referrals is the number one way by far.

Maybe you’ve been in business for several years like I have and have an established client base. Or maybe you're just starting your graphic design business. You chose the perfect name for it. You’ve designed a bunch of marketing material to help you promote it, including a stunning website with a great About Page. You’ve even figured out what your pricing strategy will be. Then you go out into the world, or more likely your local area and land yourself those first few elusive clients. 

After creating some stunning designs for them you sit back and keep your fingers crossed that they'll spread the word about your amazing talents and start sending referrals your way.

In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I discuss one strategy to get people referring you. A strategy that I’ve used recently for getting design referrals with great success.

How to improve your chances of getting design referrals.

This strategy works best if you are part a niche you want to work in. Preferably something you know a lot about. A hobby, group or interest of yours. It’s not absolutely necessary. However, it will work better if you are.

Go to where like-minded people in your niche hang out. It may be in person or it could be online like in Facebook Groups or on Reddit.

The first thing you want to do is make friends and start creating relationships with them. Then offer help the people in that space by sharing your knowledge. Try to solve people's problems by answering questions about design and websites you come across.

Over time this will create social proof that you are an expert in your field and people will start to recognize you. Then, when they require someone with your skills they’ll know who to turn to.

What I did to expedite this strategy.

Here’s the strategy that has been a game changer for me and the reason I’m getting so much work in the podcasting space, my niche of choice.

Offer design work at no charge.

No, I am not suggesting you should work for free. If someone contacts you asking for free work turn them away quickly unless there’s a very valid reason why you should work for free.

What I’m saying is offer a completed design to someone who could use it even though they never asked for it.

Let me explain. As graphic designers, we are constantly learning new things, expanding our skills, and exploring our creativity. Whenever you decide to test out some new technique or tutorial, try out some new Photoshop plugins or actions you just acquired or play around with a new font. Instead of just fooling around with them, try designing something for someone who needs it and offer it to them at no obligation to use it.

Don’t tell them their current design is bad. Simply tell them you were trying out a new technique or such and decided to use their “brand” as a gunnie pig. Since you can't use the design for anything yourself, they might as well have it.

Here’s the payback. The person you offer it to will either love it and tell everyone about it. Or they will thank you but decide not to use it, but they will still be grateful nonetheless that you thought of them and tell everyone about it. The next time they hear of someone who is looking for a designer you can almost guarantee they will mention you.

The bonus thing is you didn't waste your time designing the artwork since you used that time to learn a new skill or technique.

Keep in mind. Do good work

Face it, If your work isn’t good you won't get any referrals from it.

Create a relationship

This strategy works best if the person you offer the free artwork to already knows you. That's where offering help and advice to those in the niche pays off. The more you participate the more your name will spread amongst the community and become better known which is another benefit that will help garner referrals.

Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals.

Once you finish a project for a client and you know they’re satisfied, ask them to refer you to anyone else they think could use your services.

If you’re not comfortable asking them outright here’s something you can do. Set yourself a reminder for two weeks after you either finish the project or two weeks after the event the artwork was designed for took place. When that time arrives, send your client an email asking them either how the event went, or how the project you did for them is working out. Mention that you enjoyed working on the project with them and ask them to contact you when (not if) they have more projects for you. Then tell them, in the meantime, to please feel free to refer you to anyone they think could use your services.

What this does is put you fresh in their mind again. If they do know someone that could use your services they will let them know. Plus it has the added benefit of building that relationship with them. You didn’t forget about them or their event once the project was done. The next time they have a project they’ll remember your effort and contact you.

If you do all of these things an amazing thing can happen. People will start referring you. What’s even more amazing is some of those referrals may come from people you didn’t even work with. Especially if you’re focusing on a niche where people like to share and help each other.

So whatever your hobby or passion is, be it motorcycles, line dancing, butterfly collecting or basket weaving, connect with other like-minded people online or in person and offer design-related advice whenever you can. Build those all important relationships.

If you follow this strategy the time will come when you will be rewarded with all the referrals you could dream of.

What strategies do you use to get design referrals?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Sulley

Sulley has a question about working online as a freelancer. I easily get overwhelmed when presented with a job offer such as designing a logo for a company. Mainly because I try to take the professional approach and I don't know where to begin. When is the right time to give a questionnaire? When do I create a mood board? How does a proposal come to play and how do I submit finished works?

I'm still learning to be a good designer. I started working for people sometime in the last year and I don't feel like I'm taking a professional approach which might hurt my design works in the future. Any advice from you will be of great help to me. Thanks for taking time to read all these. Hope you have a wonderful day.

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

Tip of the week: Update your email signature.

I mentioned back in episode 2 of the podcast how it's possible that your existing clients don't know everything you can do for them. Help ease that confusion by including bullet points or a short sentence in your email signature briefly explaining what services you offer. If you're lucky you may just pick up some new projects because of it.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

Tackle Your To-Do List With Tasks and Projects - RD066
40:49
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 40:49
Tackle Your To-Do List With Tasks and Projects - RD066

How Productive is your to-do list?

Do you ever look at your to-do list and feel overwhelmed?

Do you ever find yourself procrastinating on certain jobs on your to-do list because you’re not sure where to start?

Do you ever look at your to-do list at the end of the day and feel like you haven’t really accomplished anything?

If you answered yes to any of these questions there’s a good chance you’re not using your to-do list correctly.

Have no fear, on this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast I share with you the proper way to use a to-do list. Or more accurately to-do lists.

Projects and Tasks

If you’re having problems tackling your to-do list it could be because you’re putting projects on the list instead of tasks. There is a difference. When you start looking at each one separately you will see just how easy it is to get things done.

The basics behind the projects and tasks to-do list method
  • A task is something that can be accomplished in one session.
  • A project is made up of multiple tasks.

It’s really that simple. If what you want to accomplish requires you to do more than one thing it’s a project. If it only required you to do a single thing it’s a task. The trick to being productive is to know which is which and only put tasks on your to-do list.

What do you do with projects?

Keep a separate list for projects so you can keep track of what you’re working on. But it’s your to-do list of tasks that you will keep referring to on a regular basis.

To start off, look at the list of projects you are currently working on. They may be for clients or they could be for yourself. Now identify all the tasks that make up that project and write them down on your to-do list.

Remember, a project can be divided up into either smaller projects or into individual tasks. But tasks cannot be divided.

A task can take as little as a couple of minutes or it can take several hours. But to accomplish it you should only have to do one thing. I give examples of this in the podcast.

Here's an example of dividing a large project into smaller projects and tasks.

A branding project could be divided into these smaller projects.

  • Logo design
  • Business cards and Stationery
  • Flyers
  • Posters
  • Signage and banners
  • Website
  • Social media identity
  • Other marketing material

Each one of these sub-projects can then be divided into even smaller projects or into tasks. Take Logo Design for example. It could be divided into the following tasks.

  • Choose fonts
  • Choose colours
  • Choose a design style
  • Design the iconography
  • Etc.

Designing a website can be broken down into these tasks.

  • Register a domain name
  • Choose and set up hosting
  • Instal a CMS such as Wordpress
  • Choose and install a theme
  • Instal basic plug-ins
  • Choose a colour scheme
  • Choose fonts for the site.

These individual tasks are what should be on your to-do list. They are simple and only require one action on your part. As you complete each of them check it off your to-do list. This will make you feel like you’re accomplishing things and making progress.

If all you have on your to-do list is design a website you would be seeing it day after day and you might not feel like you’re getting anywhere even though you've accomplished several tasks.

Accomplish more with simple tasks

Make tasks as simple as possible in order to accomplish them. Especially tasks that you're not too keen on doing. Such as those you keep putting off or finding excuses not to do.

Preparing your taxes is a prime example of an undesirable project that really needs to be broken down into smaller tasks. Gather receipts, gather income reports, gather expenses. All of these can be done individually as tasks and checked off the to-do list one at a time.

The hardest part of any project is just getting started.

You’ve heard the saying “every journey begins with a single step”? That’s what this idea of projects and tasks is all about. Taking that single step. Once you get used to this method you'll find that it’s really not that hard.

The objective here is productivity. But productivity can be a tricky concept. You can spend an entire day working and feel like you haven’t accomplished anything. That’s why, by creating a to-do list of tasks instead of projects. You'll feel satisfaction with every item you scratch off your list. So make as many tasks as possible. Break them down into their smallest possible components and then tackle them one by one.

If you try this method I guarantee at the end of the day, instead of feeling like you haven’t accomplished anything. You’ll look at your to-do list and think to yourself “I rocked it today! Look at everything I got done". Projects and Tasks, it’s how we do it.

Do you break your projects down into their individual tasks?

Let me know how you manage your to-do list by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Hannah

I am currently working for a real estate company in the USA as their marketer/graphic designer. I began working for them fresh out of college and have been with them for 3 years now, learning a lot in the process but would like to start the transition to a home based designer at some point. However, leaving the consistency of the corporate world and into freelancing will be a major hurdle. Do you have any tips on establishing a relatively steady income without the help of a spouse/family member's income?

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

Resource of the week: Udemy 

Udemy is a great online source of courses related to the graphic design industry. They offer everything from basic to advance instructions in popular topics such as logo design, typography, colour theory, plus courses on all the popular software we use. Sign up for their email list to receive special discounts and to be notified when their courses go on sale. I recommend Udemy to everyone who wants to learn to be or to better themselves as a graphic designer.

Subscribe to the podcast

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Contact me

Send me feedback

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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

Evaluating Your Graphic Design Business - RD065
01:04:23
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 01:04:23
Evaluating Your Graphic Design Business - RD065

When was the last time you evaluated your graphic design business?

You know the phrase, stop and smell the roses? It means that sometimes we’re so busy and focused that we don’t take the time to notice the little things around us.

This is a great philosophy for life but it's also a great lesson for business.

In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I discuss various ways you can evaluate your graphic design business. Be sure to listen to the episode for the full content. Here's a bit of what I talked about.

When to evaluate your graphic design business.

Whether you're just starting out or you’ve been in business for several years. Now is a great time to evaluate your graphic design business.

Evaluating your graphic design business will help you focus on your strengths, identify your weaknesses and streamline your workflow and make you a more efficient graphic designer.

How to evaluate your graphic design business.

What sort of things do you look for when evaluating your graphic design business? It differs with each person and each business so you’ll have to develop your own evaluation but here's a good starting list for you to consider. I've also listed past podcast episodes covering each topic in case you want to learn more about them.

We only have a fixed number of hours in our lives. By evaluating your graphic design business you can identify the areas that are working and those that need to change and free up some of those wasted hours.

By evaluating your business, you will become a much better business person as well as a better graphic designer.

Have you ever ran an evaluation on your graphic design business?

Let me know how it worked out for you by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Sarah

Hi. For the last 10 years, I've worked for myself as a freelance writer and communications consultant, usually with a basic design work thrown in the mix. In the last couple years, I've started to do a lot more document layout, which definitely incorporates design, and I want to get more into the design side of things. I'm trained in indesign although I've never had any formal graphic design training. I plan to take some courses in the next year to improve my skills.

I live in a small town so there are only a few people here who have these types of skills. But it's been a very natural progression for me to do writing, editing and design.

I'm just wondering how common you think this situation is. Are there other designers out there who also do writing and other communications services. And vice versa? Also, where does document layout fit into the graphic design world? Any info would be much appreciated Thank you! Really love the show.

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

Tip of the week: Compare multiple stock image sites

This week's tip is more of a warning when dealing with some of the more expensive stock image sites that offer "exclusive" images. If you find that "perfect image" on a premium stock image site, take a bit of time to search less expensive sites for almost exact or very similar images. You could save yourself a lot of money. I recently found the perfect stock photo for a project I was working on. The photo would have cost me roughly $40 but I was able to find an almost identical photo on another image site for $1. The photos were taken by the same photographer at the exact same location. The only difference between the $40 photo and the $1 photo was that a single item in the photo was moved. This allowed the premium site to offer their version as "exclusive" since it was different than the much less expensive shot.

Subscribe to the podcast

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Send me feedback

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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

Make Time For Personal Projects - RD064
39:29
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 39:29
Make Time For Personal Projects - RD064

Fuel your creative juices with personal projects.

We graphic designers are creative people. It's in our blood, it's who we are. And as creative people, we need an outlet for our creativity. We get some of it through client work but limitations and restrictions hold our full potential back. The only way for us to truly unleash our creativity is by working on personal projects for ourselves. 

I talk in length on this topic in this episode of the podcast so please listen for the full story. Below are some takeaways from the episode.

Make time for yourself and your personal projects.

Just like the mechanic that never has the time to work on his own car, most designers don't take the time to work on the projects we want to work on. We spend our time every day (and some nights) fulfilling our clients wishes so why don't we do the same for the things we want to work on?

You need to learn how to set time aside for your own personal projects.

Set goals for yourself and make deadlines.

The only way to ensure you have the time to work on personal projects is to set goals for yourself and make deadlines. For example, if you like to paint, set yourself a goal to complete one painting by the end of the month and then make the time to work on it.

Instead of setting deadline you could also set a time commitment such as committing five hours per week to painting. Simply set aside a certain time period every week to work on your personal projects. It's no different than the time you schedule for your clients.

If need be, delegate or delete things from your calendar to make room for your personal projects. After all, we are trustworthy to our clients. Why not be trustworthy ourselves as well?

Personal projects help your creativity.

Working on personal projects allows you to stretch your creativity much more than you can on client work. It allows you to experiment, it gives you release and creates a sense of peace within you that will show through in your client work. Take it one step at a time. Pick one project you would like to start and commit to it. you'll be better off for it.

What personal projects do you work on?

Let me know what personal projects you work on by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Liz

I have a question regarding volunteering time and work. I am a home-based designer who lives in a smaller community in Vermont where everyone is somehow connected to everyone. Word of mouth has been great, but once you are "discovered" you continuously get hit up for volunteer projects or asked to join various committees and boards. I certainly want to give back to the community but I fear I am often asked because they want free design work out of the deal.

Do you have any advice on how to go about this whole can of worms?

I wouldn't object to offering up some knowledge or volunteering some unrelated skills or tasks, but at this point I really can't do all my design work for free.

I have an instance in particular right now where a client I did some fundraising event marketing material work for last year is asking me to join the planning committee this year. I would consider but only if I could still get paid for the work. However, I fear that might be a conflict of interest.

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

Tip of the week.

This week's tip of the week is to get yourself a mailbox that is not at your place of residence. If you are a home-based designer you may want to consider renting a mailbox locally for your business. Your clients don't need to know where you live or work. There are several safety reasons for this. Especially if you are a female working alone from home. But also in the case of a disgruntled client. Plus if you have a family, you probably don't want your children dealing with strangers ringing the doorbell if you're out.

There are other benefits to having a rented mailbox. It's a convenient place for your clients to drop things off for you. You can have things shipped there and know there's someone there to sign for the package. Not to mention it adds a bit of legitimacy to your business.

And don't forget, a rented mailbox is tax deductible.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

Winning Over Design Clients - RD063
41:48
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 41:48
Winning Over Design Clients - RD063

8 Simple steps to winning over design clients

ace it, we live in a dog eat dog world. Not only are we competing with other designers in our local area, we’re also competing with design contest sites, crowdsourced design as well as very cheap alternatives where people are offering design services for as little as $5.

What are we to do?

Don’t fret, there’s still plenty of work to go around and there are lots of people and businesses out there looking for a designer just like you.

But how do they know you’re the right designer for the job? Simple, you show them.

It all comes down to "subliminal warfare". Subconsciously whenever you meet someone there’s an internal battle that goes on between you and the person you are meeting. Each of you sizes up the other in order to form a first impression of them.

  • What does the person look like?
  • How do they act?
  • How do they compose themselves?
  • What do I like about them?
  • What don’t I like about them?
  • Is this someone I can get along with?

All these questions and more go through both your heads while you are conversing.

So while you are weighing up your “opponent”, it’s up to you to provide favourable answers to their similar questions about you.

Winning over clients

I’ve put together a few tips to help stack the odds in your favour and improve your chances of winning over design clients whether you are talking to them over the phone, through video or meeting them face to face.

Tip 1: Dress for success

Dress professionally but appropriately. this does not mean wearing a suit to every client meeting. In fact, dressing too nice could loose you some points.

Have you ever felt intimidated by someone dressed better than you? You don’t want the client to feel that way. Research your client if you can and coordinate your attire to match their preferences. Are you meeting the CEO of an investment firm, wear a suit. Are you meeting the inventor of a new electric skateboard? Dress casual but still professional.

If you dress appropriately you've already won half the battle.

Tip 2: Call them by their first name

I know, I know, we're taught to respect our elders and call them Mr. or Mrs. But I want you to remember, you are both business people, and as such, you are on eaqual ground. The goal is for the two of you to work together, not for you to work for them. Using their first name puts you on even ground.

Tip 3: Learn the names of the people the client works with.

Using someone’s name can be very powerful. It shows you made the effort to remember them. It makes that person feel good about themselves and it makes them take notice of you. Always try to learn the names of the client's support staff. Their receptionist, their doorman, their delivery driver. You never know when the boss might ask one of them what they think of you.

Tip 4: Put your hand out first

Shaking someone’s hand is an age old tradition when greeting someone. (depending on where you live of course). Don’t wait for them to offer. Put your hand out first. It shows a sign of confidence and authority. And it shows that you’re serious about meeting them.

A lot can be learned by a handshake. So learn how to shake hands properly. This goes for both men and women. Remember when I mentioned "social warfare"? Having a week handshake can harm you more than you think.

Tip 5: Anticipate questions and answer them before they are asked

When preparing for your meeting try to think of any questions the client may have and answer them during your presentation before they come up. It shows that you are knowledgable and a thinker.

Have answers ready for questions you don’t address as well, If you don’t know an answer, offer to find out and get back to them. There is no shame in saying I don’t know.

Tip 6: Use "we" instead of "you" and "I"

Talk to the client as if they've already hired you. Never say "if you hire me" or "if I get this job", instead use something like "once we're working on this" or "when we're working together". If you demonstrate from the start that you already view the relationship as a partnership, you will have much more success with the client.

Tip 7: Use "will" or "would" instead of "can" or "could"

I learned this trick from a parenting book. Trust me it works great on teenagers and equally well on clients and suppliers. I don't remember if it was [easyazon_link identifier="0060930993" locale="US" tag="resourcefuldesigner-20"]John Gray - Children are from heaven[/easyazon_link] or [easyazon_link identifier="0060014318" locale="US" tag="resourcefuldesigner-20"]Barbara Coloroso - Kids Are Worth it.[/easyazon_link] Regardless, the trick is when requesting things use "will" or "would" instead of "can" or "could". The latter questions their ability and has the potential for a negative response. Using "will" or "would" doesn't invoke that same response and is much more accepting in the recipient's view.

Would you send me the files is much more inviting than could you send me the files. Don't you agree?

Tip 8: Smile

No explanation required. A smile can go a very long way.

What tips do you have for winning over design clients?

Let me know your tips by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Suvi

Does it matter where I buy my domain names from? I live in Australia and some Australian domain name sellers are very expensive, and sometimes I feel tempted to go the cheaper route, for example Go Daddy.

Does it make a difference where I buy the name from, if I already have hosting elsewhere? I am especially talking about those extra domains with similar spelling to my domain, that I would like to register.

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

Resource of the week Website Grader

Website Grader is a simple but effective tool to see how a website stacks up performance wise. It measures the overall performance, mobile performance, SEO and security of a site and gives you advice on how to improve them.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

How To Use A Virtual Assistant for Your Graphic Design Business - RD062
50:24
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 50:24
How To Use A Virtual Assistant for Your Graphic Design Business - RD062

Have you ever thought of hiring a Virtual Assistant?

Back in episode 45 of the podcast, I talked about how it’s OK for graphic designers to ask for help. After all, there’s only so many minutes in a day, and once they’re gone, they’re gone. So why not use them as wisely as you can?

I covered things like finding help with house and yard work, so you have more time to devote to your business and family.

I also talked about hiring someone to take on mundane non-design tasks for your business. Pay them a small fee and use the time they save you for designing and earn a larger fee.

If you haven’t heard that episode or if you think you need a refresher, you should go back and listen to it.

Today I want to talk about one aspect of hiring help. And that is a Virtual Assistant or a VA.

What is a virtual assistant?

Simply put, it’s someone that assists you from a remote location. Be it at another business location or from their home. Someone next door or half way around the world. They work with you virtually.

If you’re running your own business and you’ve ever hired another designer, a coder, a web developer, a copywriter, an illustrator or any other such person, you have in effect hired a virtual assistant although we don’t usually refer to these people as such.

These people are great. And they form a solid foundation for your “design team”, but that’s not what I’m talking about today.

The Virtual Assistants I’m referring to are the ones that may not be in the design space. Instead, they help you with the mundane tasks of running a business so that you can free up your time.

How could you use a virtual assistant?

Think of a typical week and all the small tasks you do that don’t fall under the umbrella of designing. Many of those could easily be delegated to someone else.

Design related
  • Update plugins
  • Online research
  • Review/test a website
  • Writing/Editing/Proofreading
  • Translations
  • Text/Database entries
  • Project Management
Business-related
  • Invoicing/bookkeeping
  • Cold calling
  • Late payment follow up
  • Organizing client meetings
Marketing
  • Manage social media for you and your clients.
  • Managing feedback forms inquiries
What does my Virtual Assistant currently do for me?
  • Plugin management
  • Blog/podcast research
  • Discovery research
  • Website testing
I’ve also used VAs in the past for
  • Database entries
  • Photo manipulation
  • Proofreading
  • Typing
What if you can’t afford a virtual assistant.

It’s a valid concern. But look at it this way. Time is finite; you need to use it wisely. Only you can make your business grow. Even if money is tight, you are much better off paying someone to do your simple tasks and use that time to work and grow your business.

Hiring a virtual assistant isn't as expensive as it sounds. If you can scrape together $10, you could gain an hour of time to invest back into your business. After all, wouldn’t you be better off attending networking events, meeting with clients, even working on your own promotional material? It’s worth considering don't you think?

I’ve never heard anyone who has hired a virtual assistant say it was a mistake to do so. Perhaps the person they hired didn’t work out, but the position itself wasn’t a mistake. In fact, most people say afterwards that they wish they had done it sooner.

"But I like doing those tasks."

Even if the tasks are something you LIKE to do, it might be better to delegate them and us the time for something you NEED to do.

In episode 4 of the podcast, I talked about Superhero Syndrome. It's what happens when we feel the need to do absolutely everything ourselves. The problem is, we can't do everything well. We should concentrate our time on the things we do best and leave the rest to people more qualified.

In episode 38 of the podcast, The Many Hats of a home-based graphic designer, I go over the many parts of running a graphic design business there are beside designing. Many of those tasks can be delegated to a virtual assistant.

There’s an awful lot involved with running a successful design business beyond designing. If you try to do it all it could lead to burnout and then where will you be?

Where can I find a virtual assistant?

The easiest thing to do is hire friends and family, but that could potentially lead to problems. You'd be better off paying someone else. Look for people to hire on.

And don’t forget, hiring a virtual assistant is tax deductable.

Have you ever used a virtual assistant for your graphic design business?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Sean

If a prospect wants to change your contract, should you be open to it?

If a prospect asks to up-price your quote, does this mean that they are trying to use your quote to show a competitor for a cheaper price?

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

Tip of the week

Any time you put up a temporary website for yourself or a client, be it a "Coming Soon", "Under Construction" or "Undergoing Maintenance" page, be sure to include a short description of the site as well as contact information for anyone who lands on the page. It would be a shame to loose a potential client because they couldn't figure out how to get a hold of you or your client.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

12 Random Graphic Design Tips - RD061
01:06:02
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 01:06:02
12 Random Graphic Design Tips - RD061

Here are 12 random graphic design tips to improve your business.

I'm trying a different approach to this week's podcast. Instead of talking about a single subject related to running your home-based graphic design business, I'm going to share 12 random graphic design tips with you. Even if you already know these tips, I'm hoping that talking about them will jog your memory and get you thinking about them again.

Here is an outline of the graphic design tips I cover on this episode. For the full discussion be sure to listen to the podcast.

Tip 1: Find the real deadline

When a client tells you there's a deadline to submit artwork to a third party, you should contact that third party to find out how strict their deadline is. In most cases, those deadlines have been padded to accommodate potential problems with artwork submitted by non-designers. Since you are a professional designer they may allow you to submit the artwork at a later date.

Tip 2: Get the proper file you need

In last week's podcast episode I mentioned how to find and extract logos from PDF files from specific websites using Google's Advanced Search. This tip is simply to contact a company's head office for the files you need. It's much faster for you to talk to them than getting your client to do it.

If your client doesn't have a head office you could instead contact the sign company they used to make their storefront or to put their logo on their vehicle.

Tip 3: Get a client's honest opinion of a design

If you want a client's honest opinion on a design, show it to them in black and white. Showing it to them in colour could influence their opinion one way or another. Showing the design in black and while will allow them to look at the design itself. Once they are satisfied with the design you can move on to colourizing it.

Tip 4: Stop explaining things over and over

If you find yourself having to explain to clients over and over how to do things on their website's CMS you should think about recording short videos of the tasks. This way you only have to do it once and if the client forgets they can simply re-watch the video. To do this I use software on my Mac called ScreenFlow.

Tip 5: Deal with only one contact person

Keep a strict chain of command. When dealing with clients that are made up of a committee or a board, insist you deal with only one person from the group. If anyone else contacts you for any reason simply redirect them back to the contact person.

Tip 6: Set your own meeting schedule

Don't allow your clients to set the times for meetings. Instead, you should give them a few time options to choose from. A client will be less likely to cancel a meeting if it was set to your schedule. Plus, by setting the schedule you are letting your client know that you are in charge of this project, not them.

Tip 7: Get a leg up when meeting a new client

If you ever meet a client at a bar or restaurant to discuss work, insist on buying their drink and food. This will subconsciously put them in your debt and could help in their decision making regarding you and their project.

Tip 8: Quickly remove formatting from text

Sometimes when you copy text from a word processor into another program you may end up with some strange characters or coding. To eliminate this problem, open a plain-text email, paste the copied text into the email, then select and copy it again. All the strange characters or coding will now be removed.

Tip 9: Use Find/Replace to your full advantage

Find and Replace is an often overlooked powerhouse when it comes to formatting text. Learn the advanced techniques for this tool and you could save hours of mundane text formatting on future page layout projects.

Tip 10: Cover all bases with domain names

Suggest to clients that they register multiple variations of their domain name as well as multiple domain extensions and redirect them all to the one main domain they plan on using. For example; The Ant & Aardvark Club may use the domain antandaardvarkclub.com as their primary domain. But they should also register variations such as theantandaardvarkclub.com, antaardvarkclub.com, antandaardvark.com, antaardvark.com, etc. Good practice would be to also register the .net, .org. .ca and any other pertinent extensions for all variations of the domain.

Tip 11: Hijack competitors with variations of their domain names.

Similar to Tip 10: Look at competitor's domain names and register the variations yourself and point them towards your own website. If anyone types in one of the variations they end up on your site instead of your competition. Do the same for your client's sites.

Tip 12: Order extras or tag on orders for yourself.

If you are ordering anything for your client that you may find useful, order extra for yourself. For example, if your client ordered t-shirts printed ask the company to send you a couple of extra shirts without any printing.

You could also tag on personal orders with client orders to save yourself some money. If you design a postcard for a client, design a second one for yourself and order them together. Some printers will charge less when multiple orders are combined. Charge your client the regular price and use the discount for yourself.

Do you have any tips you would like to share?

Let me know your tips by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Crystal

How do you schedule clients who are in different time zones? I have clients all over the United States and Canada, and none of them are in the same time zone as me. I find myself working late just to accommodate my clients who are 4.5 hours behind me. Is there a functional way that I can schedule my clients so I don't have to work until midnight?

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

Resource of the week Awwwards.com

Awwwards.com is an inspirational site I use to see what innovations people are doing in web design. Awwwards.com states they're a meeting point, where digital design professionals from across the globe find inspiration, impart knowledge and experience, connect, and share constructive, respectful critiques. Give them a look the next time you want ideas for your next web project.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

Building The Perfect Design Portfolio - RD060
34:16
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 34:16
Building The Perfect Design Portfolio - RD060

What exactly is a design portfolio?

If you want to get super technical, a design portfolio is a flat case, preferably made of leather, that is used for carrying, drawings, artwork, photographs and other designs.

At some point in history, the paper contents of these flat cases took on the verbiage of the container and they too became know as an artist’s portfolio.

Nowadays, with the advent of online galleries and such, a design portfolio is simply a collection or a sampling of an artist’s work, regardless of the means or medium used to present them.

What is the purpose of a design portfolio?

Taking it down to it’s most fundamental level, a design portfolio is simply a way to say “look at me, see how great I am, you should hire me”.

A design portfolio is a way to showcase what you are capable of doing in the hopes of impressing potential clients to want to work with you.

Let’s face it. You may want to deny it, but deep down we all know, we designers are a conceded bunch. And that’s OK. If we didn’t think we were good enough we wouldn’t be in this profession. Nobody says “I don’t think I’m a good designer but I’m going to start a design business anyway” No! We’re all doing this because we believe we’re good at what we do, and we like having people confirm that assumption. Why else would we showcase our work for everyone to see? And what better confirmation than having a client hire us for a job.

We’re no different than the proud peacock displaying his plumage in the hopes of attracting a mate. We just do it to attract work.

That’s it, really, there are no other reasons to have a portfolio.

Do you need a design portfolio to be successful?

The short answer is no, you don’t. I use myself as an example. My own business website has been “Coming Soon” for several years now. During all that time I have not had a visible portfolio, and yet I’m running a very busy and successful design business mostly through word of mouth referrals.

In fact, during the past year, I can count on one hand how many times I was asked to provide samples of my work before a client hired me.

Could I attract more work with a visible portfolio? I’m sure I could. But I just want to point out that a design portfolio is not the be all and end all of your marketing efforts. It’s a great tool to have, but it’s only one of the many in your toolbox.

What goes into the perfect design portfolio?

I hear this question a lot. Especially from newer designers just entering the field. And it’s a valid question. Even if a portfolio isn’t a requirement to be successful, it sure does help to establish yourself, especially at the start of your career. And it can help you attract clients.

Whether you have a physical or a digital portfolio, and if you want my recommendation you should have both, the contents within should represent your best work. The culmination of your skills and talents.

But where does that work come from if you're new and don’t have any clients yet?

This answer is simple. It comes from anywhere and everywhere you can get it.

Remember when I said that a portfolio is a way of saying “look at me, see how great I am, you should hire me”? That means your design portfolio should contain things that showcase how good you are.

A portfolio shouldn’t be a showcase of “look who I’ve done work for”. Although there’s nothing wrong with name dropping well-known clients, providing the work is actually worth showcasing.

What potential clients are looking for when they look at your portfolio is whether or not you have the ability to help them. They’ll be able to judge that regardless if the samples you show are for real or fictional companies.

You see, the work within your design portfolio should display your diversity as a designer. It should demonstrate the skills you possess. It should show your knowledge of good layout, colour theory, and design technique.

It doesn’t matter if the work you’re showing was something you did for a client, something you made in school, something you did for fun for yourself, or something you designed specifically to go into your portfolio. As long as it demonstrates what you have to offer, it’s good.

And yes, you can showcase work you did while working for a previous employer as long as you don't have an agreement with them stating otherwise.

Showcase what you have, when you have it.

As your career progresses and you design newer and better things, you simply replace the older pieces in your portfolio with new ones. or in some cases age isn’t what matters, you replace your previous good designs with your newer great designs. It’s as easy as that.

Don’t go overboard with your design portfolio

The best design portfolios I see are the ones that are sparse in what they show.

When building your portfolio. Show only a handful of your best work in each category. Be confident in the few you display and keep a few more aside in case a client asks for them.

The worse thing you could do is to show too many samples. Showing a few samples invites the viewer to admire what you have to offer. Showing a large number of samples invites the viewer to criticise your work and find flaws in what you have to offer.

Keep it simple. I the client wants to see more let them ask for it and then tailor the extra samples specifically to their needs.

What to leave out of your design portfolio

Simply, don’t display anything you don’t want to do! If you don’t enjoy designing logos, then don’t include logos in your portfolio. If you’re not into web design then don’t display any websites you’ve created.

This should go without saying, but unfortunately, I see this all the time with new designers who include almost every school project in their portfolio regardless of their lack of desire to do many of them.

If you’re an artist who draws robots and science fiction scenes.  Don’t include the cutesy teddy bear drawing your mother guilted you into doing for your cousin Millie’s baby announcement. Because if you do, it’s almost guaranteed that’s the kind of work you’ll be asked to do.

What’s in your portfolio?

When was the last time you looked at your portfolio? Could it use updating? Have you designed anything really good lately that should be included? Why not take some time this week to go over it? It might just help land the next client that looks at it.

What are your thoughts on design portfolios? I’d love to hear about it. Leave me a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Marselo

Can I Buy Adobe Photoshop outright? I want the Adobe software but honestly I am a bit lost with all the monthly payment options and extras that are offered. So what is the "common practice"? or what are most freelancers doing in general?

At the moment I am using Photoshop, Illustrator and Premier Pro but I ideally would like to buy all of them as you know we are continuously expanding and experimenting with new things as we never know what the future holds.

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

Tip of the week Google Advance Search

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

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

Subscribe to the podcast

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Contact me

Send me feedback

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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

Using Holidays to Build Your Graphic Design Business - RD059
34:45
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 34:45
Using Holidays to Build Your Graphic Design Business - RD059

Have you thought of using holidays to build your graphic design business?

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Using Holidays to Build Your Graphic Design Business. But bare with me. I’m not talking about drumming up business while on your family vacation. Although if you can, more power to you.

I once gained a client while on vacation. The owner of the campground where my family and I were staying mentioned how he wanted to increase his marketing. I offered my design services and I ended up doing work for him for a couple of years until he sold the campground.

But I digress,

When I say you should use holidays to build your graphic design business, what I’m talking about is promoting the actual holidays themselves.

You see, holidays are a great way to promote your business and excite your clients. And it’s not that hard to do.

Christmas is obviously an ideal holiday. Most people and businesses send out greeting cards and have special promotions around that time of year. If you can get in on the action you can make yourself a nice little income around just that one season.

Then there’s Valentine's day. Mother’s and Father’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day. Think about it. Is there an Irish Pub in your area? Why not see if they would be interested in a direct mail campaign to send out Happy St. Patrick’s Day cards to everyone in their area? Include some coupons and their business could be booming.

But there are many other holidays throughout the year that get overlooked. And if you are creative enough in your pitch, it’s not that hard to convince new or existing clients to try something a bit different.

For example. President’s Day in the USA or Victoria Day celebrating the British Queen. Businesses sometimes do special promotions around these days and they all need material designed.

What about Remembrance or Memorial Day depending on where you are in the world. It's a special day to remember fallen soldiers and to honour all who serve. Maybe you could design a poster for your clients so they can thank soldiers for shopping at their establishment.

Now maybe your thinking, Mark, that’s crazy, I’ve been designing for years and none of my clients have ever done anything for Memorial Day, or Family Day, or Labour Day, or whatever day.

That may be true. But here’s the trick. You need to remind them to do it. Most businesses are not thinking that far ahead. By the time Halloween, or Easter or Independence Day rolls around it’s too late for them to do anything. So it’s your job to remind them in advance.

Create a calendar or spreadsheet listing all the holidays and send out notices 6-8 weeks before any given one to remind your client of the upcoming day. Make sure you ask them if they need your help getting their material ready.

Don’t forget to contact other businesses as well, ones that are not already your clients.

If you contact someone asking if they need anything designed for, let's say, Dia de los Muertos the Day of the Dead. First off, you are reminding them of the upcoming holiday. And second, you are introducing yourself and letting them know about your services.

Even if they already do work with a designer, there’s a chance they may agree to work with you because you brought the idea to them.

Sometimes, the best way to attract new clients, or get work from existing clients, is to tell them they need work from you. It can be that simple.

Time to get creative

Now, this isn’t really a new idea. Special promotions and handouts around popular holidays have been done for years.

This is why you need to get creative. You see, there are A LOT more holidays or special days than just the main ones I’ve been talking about. In fact, there isn’t a single day that goes buy that doesn’t have some significance to it.

Don’t believe me, visit  Days Of The Year and spend a few minutes looking through their calendar.

For example. Thursday, February 9th, the day I’m releasing this episode is considered, Pizza Day, Toothache Day, Read in the Bathtub Day and Safer Internet Day.

Take a second to ponder those occasions… Do you have a client that could have done something for Pizza Day? Any dentists in the area that might have sent out a special promotion on Toothache Day?

There are literally hundreds of interesting, innovative and crazy days you could promote.

Here are just a few.
  • World Smile Day in October.
  • Hot Dog Day in July
  • Talk Like A Pirate Day in September
  • Star Wars Day in May
  • Pina Colada Day in July
  • New Home Owners Day in May
The riches are in the niches

If you or one of your clients works in a special niche, you can probably find a bunch of days suited specifically to that market. Take for example anyone working in the dog niche. Such a person may be interested in.

  • Dog Day
  • International Guide Dogs Day
  • Bulldogs are Beautiful Day
  • Purebred Dog Day
  • Sled Dog Day
  • Pet Obesity Awareness Day
  • Assistance Dob Day
  • Lost Dog Awareness Day
  • International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day
  • Walking the dog day
  • Puppy Day
  • Take your dog to work day
  • Hug Your Hound Day

I have a client that runs a hearing aid clinic. I’ll be sure to let them know about May 31st which is Save Your Hearing Day. Maybe I can design a newspaper ad, or a window poster, or a mailer helping them promote it. Can you see the possibilities?

Don’t forget the longer stretches like Credit Education Month, Hobby Month, Get a balanced life month. Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Native American Heritage Month or Human-Animal Relationship Awareness Week.

As you look through the Days of the Year calendar you’ll see many weird and fun days to take advantage of in order to build your graphic design business.

So look at the calendar and pick a few fun occasions. Then contact both new and existing clients and let them know about the special days coming up and offer them your design services for...

  • Posters
  • Post Cards
  • Stickers
  • Landing Pages
  • Social Media images
  • Or anything else they may need

This year, why not use holidays to build your graphic design business?

Have you ever designed something for one of these fun and crazy days?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Andrew

Mark, you're very knowledgeable about so many aspects of being a home-based graphic designer and obviously very good at running your own business (not to mention the podcast). Tell us what you're not good at? ;)

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

Resource of the week Brand Colors

Brand Colors offers the official Hex Code colours for the world’s biggest brands. Companies like Amazon, Android, British Airways, Dribbble, PayPal and so many more. So the next time you are looking for colour inspiration of are in need of matching a top brand, have a look at what Brand Colors has to offer.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

Talking To Clients - Choose Your Words Carefully - RD058
19:34
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 19:34
Talking To Clients - Choose Your Words Carefully - RD058

When talking to clients, be careful what words you use.

Every industry has its own language, design is no different. When talking to clients we have to remember that they’re not part of our industry and if we’re not careful we may scare them away.

I remember the first time I realized this. A potential client called to discuss a possible job. We spent about 30 minutes on the phone talking about the project and figuring out the best way to go about it designing it. I gave him some ideas and he pitched in his thoughts. At the end of the conversation, the client said he wanted to move forward with me and we made an appointment to meet in person to iron out the details.

Before hanging up, the client told me how different it was talking to me compared to the other designers he had contacted. He told me the other designers made him feel dumb because he didn’t understand half of what they said. But with me, it was like having a conversation with a friend. He understood everything I said and could picture exactly what I meant. In the end, it wasn’t the price that made him choose me, in fact, I wasn’t the cheapest bid, it was the way I talked to him that was the foundation for our new relationship.

We completed that project and that client is still with me today.

There’s a valuable lessen there. If you try to make yourself sound important by using industry jargon all you’ll end up doing is alienating your client, making them feel dumb and they may not want to work with you.

Let me tell you a story.

Our washing machine recently went on the fritz. It would go through the wash and rinse no problem but when it came to the spin cycle it just stopped. After a while, the washer would say the load was done but the clothes were still dripping wet.

I called a repair guy, someone I’ve used successfully several times in the past. He came in, diagnosed that it was some actuator or something or other that was causing the problem and ran some diagnostic tests. He replaced a part that I couldn’t even pronounce and said a bunch of mumbo jumbo that left my head spinning. The part didn’t fix the issue so he put mine back in and told me I needed a new motherboard (finally a word I understood), and that it wasn’t worth replacing, I would be better off purchasing a new washing machine.

The repair guy left and I had no idea what the issue was other than it was going to cost me a lot of money. The guy made me feel dumb which I didn’t appreciate. And I didn’t know if he had spouted all of that jargon specifically to confuse me or not. Either way, I lost my confidence in him and called a second repair guy to come have a look.

The second guy came in and had a look. He pointed out the same suspected faulty part but he told me it’s a sensor that reads the rotations of the washer drum. Every time the drum spins that part registers how fast the turn took and relays that information to the computer. Once a certain number of rotations have completed it tells the computer to stop spinning to complete the cycle. He then proceeded to explain to me, in words I understood, the processes involved to complete the wash cycle. He replaced the same part the first repair guy did and explained that in order to make sure it worked properly he had to run it through several cycles first, something the first guy hadn’t done. After a calibration and a few successful cycles he told me to test out the machine for a few days and if it continued to work he would bill me for the part and his labour. If the machine failed, he would remove the part and not charge me for it.

Long story short, the machine is now working fine and I understand exactly what the second repair man did because of the way he explained it to me.

As for the first repair guy, he may have thrown a lot of big words at me which made him sound like he knew what he was doing but it also caused me to second guess him and seek out a different opinion.

The same thing can happen to us if we’re not careful when talking to clients.

Take a minute to think of all the design related words we use in our business. Words we take for granted because we use them on a regular basis.

If a client contacts you for a 64-page booklet you may want to ask him the following questions.

  • Will it be perfect bound or saddle stiched?
  • Is it self cover?
  • 4 /4? 4/1? Something else?
  • Will there be spot colours?
  • Matte, Satin, Semi, or Gloss stock?
  • Lamination, Varnish, Aqueous or UV coating?
  • Will it bleed?
  • What’s the gutter size?
  • What about creep? Do we worry about it or does the printer?
  • What about pagenation?
  • Is the printer setting up the signatures or are we responsible for that?

If you design for print, you probably understood all of that. But to a client, it’s a foreign language. You need to learn how to say all of this in a way they will understand but also without sounding condesending.

  • Do you want the book to be folded and held together with staples or do you want it to have a flat spine with the pages glued in?
  • Do you want the cover to be a thicker stock than the inside pages?
  • Will there be colour photos or images inside. If so, will they be on all pages?
  • Do you want the images or photos to run off the edges of the paper or should there be a white border around the page?

Clients will be much more appreciative if you use a language they understand. It’s the concept they need to know, not the industrie’s terminology.

If a client contacts you for a new website you may want to ask him the following questions.

  • I presume you want it responsive?
  • Static is no longer recommended so is it ok if we go with a Dynamic site?
  • Do you require multiple landing pages?
  • Do you have your domain already? What’s the URL?
  • What you’re asking will require some custom JavaScript.
  • Will you be doing any eCommerce?
  • Now let’s talk about SEO, have you given any thought to your backlink strategy to increase your page juice?

Again, this could leave a client’s head spinning.

It might give them the impression that you know what you’re doing, but it won't give them the confidence to hire you.

I’m an advocate for builing relationships with your clients. It’s the best way create loyalty which in return brings recurring work and referrals. Now think about your every day life. Do you have any meaningful relationships with people who make you feel dumb because you don’t understand half the things they say? Of course you don’t.

Your business shouldn’t be any different!

The next time you find yourself talking to a potential new client, be conscious of the words you use, or if you do use industry jargon, make sure you follow it up with an explination, not talking down like you’re explaining something to a child, but simply explaining a concept to a collegue.

If you use the right vocabulary when talking to clients you may find a lot more bids and proposals ending in your favour.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you didn’t understand what was being said to you?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Tyler

In high school I combined graphic design and videography to discover the wonderful world of motion graphics. I then moved away to go to school to learn as much as I could about the industry. 4 years of tutoruals, playing in programs, and going to classes where I was ahead of the curve and I find myself in a unique situation. At the beginning of last year I felt ready to dive into the industry, I found a paid internship working for a government agency doing all of their media, design, photo and video work. After a year of interning they hired me on a 1 year contract. I have found that where I live, there is a market for what I've been doing for this government agency and I think it would be a viable business. My biggest concern is simple, I am afraid I don't have enough experience to start an undertaking like this. I know that I have the grit, and I would like to think I have the skill, but I am fairly young and I know that could scare business away. What do you think?

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

Resource of the week: Think With Google's Test My Site

Test how mobile-friendly your site is with Test My Site by Think with Google. Find out how well it works across both mobile and desktop devices. The site provides you with three basic scores out of 100. Mobile Friendliness, Mobile Speed and Desktop Speed. You can then request a free detailed report by email or you can click the provided links to get a basic idea of what needs to be looked at in order to improve your site’s speed.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

"We" or "I" Choosing A Voice For Your Design Business - RD057
26:31
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 26:31
"We" or "I" Choosing A Voice For Your Design Business - RD057

Do you use "We" or "I" in your marketing material?

In this week's episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I tackle the longtime debate on whether or not you should use the pronoun "We" or "I" on your marketing material.

For the full discussion be sure to listen to the podcast.

I don’t know if you’re like me, but ever time I come across a URL for a graphic designer I just have to check it out. We’re such a creative bunch and I love seeing the wide variety of approaches when it comes to our business, our skills and our communications.

Besides looking at the structure of the site, reading the about page and looking at the portfolio one, of the main things I look at is the voice that was chosen for the page.

When I say voice, I’m talking about whether the site uses “We” or “I” in the copy. I then play a little game, if the site uses the pronoun “we”, I try to figure out if the site really is a “we” or if it’s in fact, an “I”.

I recently came across a designer's website that used the pronoun "we". My first thought was that he had decided to go the plural route to make himself seem bigger. However, upon reading the About page, I saw that there was, in fact, a business partner that occupied the role of Project Manager. So in this case, using the “We” pronoun was the right choice.

But I’m not talking about businesses like this one. In most cases, as a home-based graphic designer, you’re running your business all by yourself. And choosing “We” as your pronoun doesn’t necessarily reflect the business it’s trying to describe. But does that mean it’s wrong?

What is the best pronoun for a graphic design business?

First, let’s look at the hard decisions between choosing “We” or “I”. Some people believe that If you’re all by yourself and you choose “We”, you are misrepresenting yourself. But will it make a difference to your potential clients? What are they expecting of you and your business? Will they be willing to spend more money on a “We” as opposed to an “I”?

Let’s look at both individually.

Choosing “We” for your business.

What does using the pronoun “we” do for your business?

First off, if you ever work with partners or subcontractors then you aren’t really misrepresenting your business by using “We”. You could simply explain that you have a team of professionals at your disposal to handle the various portions of a design project. Hense the “We”

  • “We” also give your business a more established feel.
  • “We” makes you sound more corporate.
  • “We” may help you land clients who prefer working with companies over an individual person.

Keep in mind that If you use “We” a client may ask to speak with someone on your team which could cause problems for you.

Choosing “I” for your business.

What does using the pronoun “I” do for your business?

The biggest return for using “I” is that it focuses more on you instead of your business. This makes you sound more personable and accessible.

If the client is happy with the work, you and not the company gets the credit for it.

You’ve heard me talk many times about creating relationships with clients. Using “I” in your marketing copy is the first step in building that relationship since viewers establish a connection with you from the start.

  • Using “I” creates a sense of flexibility, giving a sense of ease to clients who may believe that as an individual, you will be more open to listening to what they have to say instead of dictating like a company might do.
  • Using “I” will attract clients who want to deal with a person rather than a company. They know the money they spend is benefiting you, someone they have a relationship with, and not a company where it will be distributed who knows how.
  • People who are not familiar with graphic design might also feel an individual will be more affordable than hiring a design firm.
  • Your clients will also be more flexible to your personal needs. In last week’s Question of the Week, I mentioned how clients can be very accommodating in times of family emergencies, whereas if they hire a company they would still expect the work to get done even if you’re not available.
Other things to consider.

The name of your company could play a part in the pronoun you choose. If you use your own name for your business, like Mark Des Cotes Design, it only makes sense to use “I” in your marketing material.

If the word Agency is part of your business name it would make more sense to use “We”.

In some cases, such as when you have a business partner, using “We” is the right choice. But there are still ways to make you sound more personable. Instead of always using “We” or “us” use your names. Instead of saying something like “give us a call” say “give Ben and Nick a call”. Or instead of “We look forward to working with you” you could say “Ben and Nick look forward to working with you. You may need to change from first to third person to pull this off.

Another way is to assign someone as the face of your marketing. For instance, make either Ben or Nick the spokesperson and say something like “Nick and I look forward to working with you”. This method covers both bases as it establishes you as more than just an individual but it also paints you as individual people.

What do I use?

I personally use the pronoun “I”. Yes, I operate under a business name but call me selfish, when all is said and done I want people to remember me for the work, not my company. Plus, as you know, I’m all about building relationships and that’s definitely all about Me. There’s no We involved.

What pronoun do you use for your graphic design business?

Let me know your goals by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

I didn't have time to answer a question this week. But I would love to answer yours. Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

Resource of the week Fontpair.co

This week's resource is a fun site to help designers pair Google Fonts together. Fontpair.co offers a gallery of Google font combinations for you to look at. You can narrow down your search by clicking on one of the menus to view just Sans-Serif/Serif combos, Serif/Sans-Serif, Cursive/Serif, Cursive/Sans-Serif and many other combinations. Not every Google font is listed but there's enough of a variety to give you a good starting point for your next project.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

How To Get Out Of A Productivity Slump - RD056
36:30
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 36:30
How To Get Out Of A Productivity Slump - RD056

Have you ever been in a productivity slump?

It’s nice to think we’ve got everything under control. That we’re on top of our game. That our business is running like a well-oiled machine.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

There will be times when everything just piles up. You feel tired, overwhelmed and have no idea how you got to that point, or how to get out of the hole you're in. You feel stuck with no obvious path out. You’ve found yourself in a productivity slump.

You see, the problem with running a business is you want it to succeed. I know that sounds strange. If only we all had the problem of a successful business. Right?

But success is addictive. The more we succeed the more we crave it. To the point where we take on so much work that it tips the balance and all of a sudden, success is no longer an option.

It’s at that point that things fall in on us and we experience that feeling of being overwhelmed and we're unsure what to do next. Oftentimes that feeling of not knowing what to do next leads to a productivity slump and you end up not doing anything at all.

Perhaps you can’t relate to that scenario. Perhaps your business is doing well, but you haven’t yet reached that level of success I’m talking about. That doesn’t mean your immune.

Sometimes a productivity slump hits us for no particular reason. You sit down at your computer, or tablet or easel, but you just don’t feel motivated enough to actually work. Instead, you doddle around for a bit, look to see what’s happening on Facebook, watch a few Youtube videos, you use every excuse you can to avoid work. This is also a productivity slump.

Maybe you're taking on too many projects all at once, causing some of them to fall behind or take longer than you originally anticipated. This can also lead to a productivity slump.

Regardless of the path that led you there, being in a slump is no fun. And if you don’t find a way out of it the problem could compound.

So what do you do? Here are my suggestions.

First off, in order to get out of a productivity slump, you need to know exactly what got you there in the first place.

Take out a pencil and paper and write down everything that is contributing to the problem. Every project that feels out fo control, every task that needs doing, absolutely everything, including other parts of your business other than working on client projects. Don't forget to write down priorities from your personal life as well that may be adding to the issue.

Are there bills that need to be paid? Do the kids have medical appointments you need to make? Does the car need an oil change?

The more you write down, the easier it will be to sort through everything.

Now look at your list and categorize it.

  • Is there anything on the list that you can simply forget about? If so delete it.
  • Is there anything on the list that can be put off until a later time? If so reschedule it.
  • Is there anything on the list that someone else could do instead of you? If so delegate it.

Don’t forget, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it. Find someone equally as good, or perhaps even better than you and have them do the task for you. Back in episode 45 titled "It’s OK for Graphic Designers To Ask For Help" I discussed this exact scenario of finding help.

I myself have a virtual assistant that helps me with simple things like making sure all the plugins and themes of my clients' WordPress websites are kept up to date. Passing this task on to her has freed up so much of my time to do other things.

Once you've completed your list and narrowed it down. All you should be left with are the things that you need to concentrate on. Prioritize them from most to least important.

Now, look at each item on your list, and break it down into smaller tasks. Things that can be done in one sitting. If you can’t complete it in one sitting then it’s not a task, it’s a project. Big projects can be broken down into smaller projects, and those smaller projects can be broken down into individual tasks. The trick is to break them down and make them more manageable.

You need to realize that most of the time, a productivity slump happens when we’re feeling overwhelmed. Which happens because we’re thinking too big. We’re looking at projects as a whole instead of their smaller tasks.

Once you start looking at the individual pieces it becomes much easier to knock them off your list one by one.

Say for example you’ve been hired to brand a new startup company. The client wants a logo, stationery, marketing material, a website, and a whole bunch of other things. That’s a big project. Thinking of it as a whole can feel overwhelming. But each part of it is a smaller project within the larger project. If you look at them that way, they suddenly seem more manageable.

Now, let’s look at the logo design as it’s probably the first one you’ll work on. How can you break the logo design project into smaller tasks? You need to choose a font. You need to decide how to use that font in the design. You could design an icon or symbol to go with the logo. There are colours to consider. And so on and so on.

When I design a logo, I almost always start by determining the font. I’ll spend an hour or more sifting through my font library, writing down the ones I think would best fit the logo. Once I have the fonts chosen I type out the logo's text in Adobe Illustrator, duplicate it, and apply each font to one of them for me to compare. This allows me to view all the fonts I chose in one document and helps me narrow down my selection until I'm left with just two or three fonts to use in the logo design. That’s one task I can scratch off my list. Choosing the font. I’m now one step closer to completing the logo.

I can then move on to the next task in that same project or move on to a completely different task from a different project.

Simply work at each task one by one until you climb out of your productivity slump.

"That’s great Mark, but what if looking at all those smaller tasks still leaves you feeing overwhelmed?"

I’m glad you asked. Here are some tips for you.

Change your environment: If you work on a laptop, try a different location to work for a while. Maybe play some music or try a different style of music. If you don't use a laptop you could still try completing tasks away from your computer. Searching for stock images for a client job is just as easy on an iPad as it is on your computer and you can do it anywhere.

Change your routine: Do you do the same thing every day? Get up, have breakfast, catch up on some news and social media, then get to work? Try changing it up a bit. Go out for a walk before work. Do some chores around the house. Heck, watch a movie before getting to work.

That’s the great thing about being a home-based designer. If your routine is part of the problem, simply change it up. We have that privilege.

Simply remember that where or when you finally sit down to work, choose one task to work on and don’t get up until you’ve completed it.

Once it’s done, scratch it off your list and move on to the next one. I promise you, you’ll feel both physically and mentally lighter with each task you scratch off.

Just like any good battle plan, the simplest strategy is to divide and conquer. So go divide your projects into manageable tasks and start conquering them one by one.

What's your way of getting out of a productivity slump?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from an anonymous designer, they ask...

My business has come to a stop because of my mothers health issues and I have found myself having less and less time to attend to my business. This is really out of my control and once I was self sufficient financially , now I am finding there is no income coming in. I really do not have much options as far as having someone help with my mothers illness, currently into my 4th month visiting her in the hospital in a different town.

I can go on and on, but what do you think one can do to pickup business or return to what it was. My friends tell me nothing is forever

I know many business owners do not talk about their weaknesses but possibly this topic is something that many people are facing and your opinion would be valiable.

To find out how I answered this question you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week The Productive Woman podcast

This week's resource is The Productive Woman podcast. A podcast intended to help busy women find the tools and encouragement they need to better manage their lives, their time, their stress and their stuff, so they can accomplish the things that matter to them.

However, don't be fooled by the title guys. Laura McClellan, host of The Productive Woman offers great advice that we can learn from as well. In fact, it's one of my most anticipated podcasts to listen to each week. Check it out by visiting theproductivewoman.com

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

Setting Goals For Your Design Business - RD055
40:09
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 40:09
Setting Goals For Your Design Business - RD055

Do you set goals for your design business?

[sc name="pod_ad"]In this week's episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I'm talking about setting goals for your graphic design business. I'm not talking about resolutions. I know it’s January when I'm releasing this episode, the time of year for setting resolutions, and that’s all fine. But what I’m talking about are goals. Whereas resolutions are more ongoing, like becoming a better illustrator or improving your coding skills. Goals, on the other hand, have a set target to achieve.

When is a good time for setting goals?

How about right now? I'm not saying this because it's January, the time of year many people are setting goals. What I'm saying is now, no matter when now happens to be, is a great time for setting goals. In fact, you should be setting goals for your business on a regular basis. How else are you going to measure your progress going forward?

Why is setting goals important?

Setting goals is one of the most important things you can do to stay on track and prosper. Goals keep you motivated, they give you focus, they give you direction, and they hold you accountable. Without goals, it's much harder to measure progress.

How to go about setting goals.

Have you heard the term S.M.A.R.T. goals? Much of what I'm discussing here is based on that concept. However, I'm taking it one step further and making it S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals. Which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Related, Evaluate, and Reward (or Repeat if you like that one better.) Here's how it works.

SPECIFIC

Your goals need to be precise, if not you won't be able to focus your efforts to achieve the goal. When making your goal, try to answer these questions:

  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why is this goal important?
  • Who if anyone is involved?
  • Which resources are required to complete the goal?

Example of a Specific goal: I want to complete three new website redesign projects over the next three months. This goal is very specific. You know exactly what needs to be accomplished in order to reach it.

MEASURABLE

If your goal isn’t measurable how are you going to track your progress? Knowing your progress is essential in motivating you to do well. It can also set a fire under you if you realize you're not doing well. Assessing your progress helps you to stay focused, meet your deadlines, and in the process, you’ll feel the excitement as you get closer to achieving your goal. A measurable goal should address questions such as:

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • How Long?
  • How will I know when it's accomplished?

Example of a Measurable goal: I want to design15 brand new websites this year. This goal is measurable. you simply need to count the number of websites completed to know how you're doing.

ACHIEVABLE

The goal you set for yourself needs to be realistic and attainable in order to be successful. In other words, it should be something that makes you stretch your abilities but still remains possible.

An achievable goal will usually answer questions such as:

  • How can I accomplish this goal?
  • How realistic is the goal?

Example of an Achievable goal: I want to help create brands for three new startups this year. Over the course of 12 months, it's not inconceivable that you could brand three new startups. It's an achievable goal. Wanting to brand 50 new startups would be very difficult to achieve and therefore isn't a good goal.

RELEVANT

This step is all about making sure your goal matters to you, and that it also aligns with other relevant goals you’ve set for your design business. It's important that your goal strengthens your business.

A relevant goal can answer "yes" to these questions:

  • Does this seem worthwhile?
  • Is this the right time?
  • Does this match my other needs?
  • Am I the right person to reach this goal?
  • Is it applicable to my current business?

Example of a Relevant goal: I want to master the newest features in Photoshop. This is a relevant goal for a graphic designer who works a lot in Photoshop. On the other hand, learning a new coding language such as PHP might not be a relevant goal if you're business doesn't focus on web design.

TIME-RELATED

All goals need some sort of targeted end time. Without one, you have no deadline to keep you focused and something to work toward. This is the most important part of setting S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals. Without and end time to keep you in check, you may come down with the “I’ll do it tomorrow” syndrome. Wether you’re a procrastinator or not, you need a way to track your goals against a deadline if you want to achieve them.

A time-related goal will usually answer these questions:

  • When do I need to work on things to achieve this goal?
  • What do I need to do now, six weeks from now, six months from now?
  • What can I do today?

Example of a Time-Related goal: I want to create a new marketing brochure to hand out at the upcoming Trade show. This is a time-related goal because there is a fixed time you need to complete it by.

EVALUATE

This is where we add on to S.M.A.R.T. goals. As you progress towards accomplishing your goals, you need to stop from time to time to evaluate the progress you've made so far. Evaluating where you stand in relation to your goals reveals whether or not you’re still on track to achieve them.

While evaluating your goals you should ask these questions:

  • Do I need to adjust anything about my goal to ensure success?
  • Is there anything I can change or do differently to reach my goal?

Example of Evaluating your goal: You forgot when you set your two-month goal that you would be taking a vacation during that time. Can you adjust to goal to accommodate your time away? Or is there anything you can do differently to achieve your goal knowing you have two fewer weeks to work on it? Evaluating your goals on a regular basis is crucial to ensuring their success.

REWARD YOURSELF

Achieving or completing your goal should be a reward in itself. However, depending on the scope of the goal it may help motivate you if you set a special reward for getting there. After all, don’t you deserve something more than a simple pat on the back for your hard effort? A special reward can be a great motivator in helping you achieve your goal.

Ask yourself these questions while choosing a suitable reward.

  • Is the reward realistic if I accomplish my goal?
  • Is the reward enough of a motivator to help me achieve my goal?

Example of a motivating reward: If I increase my profits by 15% this year I will take my family on a tropical vacation. This is a very motivating reward. Especially if you share it with your family. Afterall, you don't want to let them down, do you?

REPEAT (instead of, or on top of a Reward)

If you succeeded in reaching your goal, why not try again with either the same goal or a harder one? Did you succeed in gaining three new clients this month? Then why not try for four next month?

If you failed to achieve your goal, reassess, regroup and restart. There is no shame in not reaching your goal. Only in giving up on it. Reassess your S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals and make any needed adjustments to help you succeed the second time around.

After all, as Henry Ford said, "Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently."

What goals have you set for your graphic design business?

Let me know your goals by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Jordan

Should I charge a different rate for my web design compared to my graphic design?

Resource of the week Free, Fee or Flee?

This week's resource is a website put out by RGD called Free, Fee or Flee? http://freefeeflee.ca This is a website to help you decide whenever you are asked to do some work for free. Should you agree? Should you be charging? Or should you be walking, or even running away? This fun website will guide you through various questions to help you make a decision. They also provide you with suggestions of how to respond to help explain where you stand.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

Should you find a Graphic Design Niche?
35:30
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 35:30
Should you find a Graphic Design Niche?

Have you ever considered a niche for your graphic design business?

Working in a design niche can be very rewarding as well as very profitable. Many graphic designers make a very good living by only servicing a very small demographic of clients.

In this week's episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast ,I discuss various niches, the benefits of working in one, and how not to limit yourself to just one market. I go into much more depth in the podcast but if you want to know some of what I talked about read on.

What is a niche?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a niche is A distinct segment of a market. A place, employment, status, or activity for which a person or thing is best fitted.

So what does that mean for us as graphic designers? A niche in the graphic design industry can be defined in three different ways.

Design Niche

A design niche is when you specialize in a particular section of the design industry. Like a designer who only designs logos, or one who specialises in direct mail campaigns, or one who only designs trade show booths. All of these specialize in their respective design niches.

Client Niche

A client niche is when you specialize in a certain demographic pertaining to the sector you serve. Examples are designers who only design for restaurants or those who specialize in designing for medical clinics, or musicians, or sports teams. The demographic you serve makes up the niche.

Location Niche

A location niche is the most common and many designers fall into this category without even thinking of it. A location niche is when you promote your services in a defined geographic location. A designer who promotes websites for Chicago-based businesses is in a location niche.

Benefits of working in a graphic design niche

You become the expert: The main benefit of working in a graphic design niche is how you are perceived. If you service a particular niche, you are automatically viewed as being an expert in that niche.

Knowledge gained: By servicing a niche you gain valuable knowledge about the topic it covers. This knowledge can greatly help you and your clients when working on design projects.

Better referrals: Clients often talk to colleagues in their niche and referrals passed between them carry a lot more weight than normal.

You could charge more: As an expert in your niche, you can charge premium prices for the value you bring to your clients.

Imagine a dentist who wants a website for the new dental clinic she is opening. She looks for a web designer by asking her friends, family and peers for referrals. A friend recommends a great designer who created his music store website, while at the same time a fellow dentist recommends a designer who specializes in creating websites for dentists. Which one do you think would pique her curiosity more?

Now let's say the dentist decides to interview the two designers. The first designer listens to what the dentist needs and makes a few suggestions based on his knowledge and experience designing websites. The second designer listens to what the dentist needs but then uses her knowledge and experience dealing with the dental industry to suggest things the dentist hadn't even considered. Which one do you think would impress the dentist more?

When reviewing the two submitted quotes, the dentist takes into consideration her impression of the two designers and the value each can bring to her new dental clinic. Even if the second designer's quote is more expensive, there's a very good chance the dentist will still pick her because of her expertise in her niche.

So you see how choosing to work in a niche can be beneficial?

What if you don't' want to limit yourself?

Let me tell you a secret... are you ready for it? Keep this to yourself mind you. You can work in more than one niche.

WOW, Mindblowing isn't it?

There is nothing stopping you from specializing in more than one niche. Perhaps you specialize in creating websites for dentists. Maybe you can use that knowledge to also specialize in websites for chiropractors, or hearing clinics. Much of the knowledge is interchangeable considering they are all medical clinics of some sort.

You could also specialize in completely different niches. Like designing for dog breeders as well as designing for motorcycle racers. There's nothing stopping you from having more than one speciality.

Break one niche into multiple niches for more exposure.

Sometimes, the farther you niche down the more of an expert you appear to be and the more you can charge for your service.

Perhaps your niche is designing T-shirts for sports teams. You could break that down into several smaller niches by marketing yourself as a designer who designs T-shirts for hockey teams, a designer who designs T-shirts for football teams, basketball teams, soccer teams.

Each one of these niches could have its own landing page on your website. Or better yet, have their own website.

Think about it. If someone with a football team wants a T-shirt and does an online search for suppliers. Chances are your football T-Shirt website will be much more appealing to them than a general sports T-shirt website.

So there you have it.

Choosing to work in a specific niche can be a great choice for a graphic designer. Just make sure you are passionate enough about the niche to make the most of it. If so, you could make a killing by servicing a small portion of the market.

After all, as the old saying goes, the riches are in the niches.

Do you work in a particular niche?

Let me know your thoughts? Please leave a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

This week's question came from Don;

Do you work with dual monitors? At what point does multiple screens become nonsense.

To hear what I told Don, you'll need to listen to the episode.

I would love to answer yours in a future episode of the podcast. Submit your question by visiting the feedback page.

Resource of the week CreativeLive

CreativeLive is a great resource for expanding your design knowledge. They offer a wide selection courses and classes at reasonable prices related to graphic design. CreativeLive also offers FREE Live and On Air classes on a regular basis. Simply register for the class you want and watch it for free when it's offered.

At the time I'm writing this they have upcoming free classes on Designing a Proposal, Hand Lettering, Graphic Design Fundamentals, Building Infographics, as well as courses for many of the Adobe Creative Cloud programs.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

Easy Gifts For Graphic Designers - RD053
21:01
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 21:01
Easy Gifts For Graphic Designers - RD053

What gifts do you get a graphic designer?

Have you ever been asked the question "what gifts do you want for the holidays?" and you couldn't think of any ideas to say? In last year's holiday edition of the podcast I talked about graphic design gifts for your office. This time around I share gift ideas you can share when that ever so popular questions comes up. 

Software/Apps Gift Cards

Face it, we live in a computerized world and as designers, we spend a great deal of our time in front of one screen or another. So why not take advantage of it and ask for gift cards that will allow you to buy software and apps. AppleMicrosoftGoogle all have app stores with great software for graphic designers.

Education Gift Cards

As graphic designers, we need to stay up to date on the latest software and design trends. What better way to do so than by taking courses. Places like Lynda.comCreativeLiveUdemy are great places to learn. You could ask for gifts of knowledge via a gift cards.

Gift Cards for "the other stuff"

Face it, running a graphic design business costs money. Wouldn't it be nice to cover some of your expenses with gift cards from places like AmazonBestBuy, or Walmart?

Notebooks/Sketchbooks

Creative people need an outlet. Most of us, regardless of our skills, like putting pencil to paper for all kinds of inspirational reasons. A nice notebook or sketchbook can help keep those creative sparks alive by organizing them all in one space. Ask for your favourite notebooks or sketchbooks as gifts.

Magazine Subscriptions

I mentioned in episode 50 of the podcast how one of the perks of running a graphic design business is the free magazine subscriptions you can get. However, there are some great design related magazines that you can't get for free. Why not ask for subscriptions as gifts that keep on giving the whole year long.

Creative Cloud

Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign are staples in the design industry. They are also an expense graphic design business owners have to deal with. Ask for a Creative Cloud gift card to help cover the costs.

Graphic Design Books

There are hundreds of great graphic design related books out there. If you're like me there are a few you would love to have but don't want to spend the money on. Now's the time to ask for them as gifts, or put a bookstore or Amazon gift card to good use and finally get the one you've been eyeing.

Coffee Shop Cards

If you're a home-based graphic designer you've probably opted at one time or another to meet a client at a coffee shop instead of at your house. Coffee shops are also a great change of scenery when you need to think through projects through. If someone doesn't know what to get you as a gift, suggest a coffee shop gift card to them.

  What gifts do you think are good for a graphic designer?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

There is no question this week. You can submit yours by visiting the feedback page.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

How A Great About Page Can Attract Design Clients - RD052
34:59
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 34:59
How A Great About Page Can Attract Design Clients - RD052

How Good Is Your About Page?

The About Page or About Me page on your website is arguably the most important page on your site. And yet, it's so often neglected when people create a website in order to concentrate more on the "meat pages" of the site. Pages like their portfolio, or the services they offer. The About Page is often just an afterthought. You know you need one, so you whip one up quickly and move on.

But if you look at the analytics for your site you will probably see that your About Page is one of your most visited pages. Chances are you have a link to your About Page in your menu bar, and when someone lands on your site, regardless of the page they land on, they will probably click on that link to learn more about you. If you don't have a well-crafted About Page you could be turning visitors off and leaving potential business on the table.

What makes a great About Page?

People often fail in their About Page because frankly, they're talking about themselves. You would think that's what an About Page is for. But in truth, visitors really visit an About Page not to learn who a person or company is, but to find out why they should care. What's in it for them? they're there to determine if they should be interested in you and to figure out if you can help them. If not then why bother looking at the rest of the website.

How do you make a great About Page?

How long should an About Page be? There is no right answer to this. The length of your About Page should be long enough to get your message across and nothing else.

Every business's About Page will be different so it's imperative that you test different things to see what works for you. You've heard about A/B testing? The About Page is a great candidate for such testing.

Parts of a great About Page.

Part 1: Your About Page should have a hook. Something that immediately grabs the attention of visitors and lets them know they've found the right person or business for them.

Here's an example of a good hook.

"Welcome to my site. Are you wondering how to promote your business? Do you have a great idea but don't know how to present it to the world? Are you tired of your current brand and want something more exciting? If you're asking yourself any of these questions, then you've come to the right place.

The hook gets into the head of your potential clients. The hook tells them that you know what they need help with and that you have the solution to their problem. Trust me, if they think you have the solution to their problem, they'll be begging to work with you.

It's a very basic concept but it's super effective. Figure out what questions your potential clients have and list the most popular ones. How do you figure this out? By asking your clients questions. Over time you will learn what common questions come up, what problems they're seeking help with, and you'll be able to address them here on your About Page.

If you open with a great hook, your visitors will want to keep reading.

Part 2: Share the benefits people get by working with you. Not the services you offer, but the benefits they get. What will they get if they decide to work with you?

An example can be something like this.

"Allow me to use my vast skills and experience as a graphic designer to create something amazing, something that is truly unique to you. I have a knack for capturing the personality of a company and creating designs that will reflect not only who you are, but designs that lets you connect with your target market on a personal level. In other words, I create designs you can be proud of.

You see? This second part kind of describes you a bit, but in a way that benefits the viewer.

Part 3: Share social proof. This is a great place to display an image of yourself so your clients have a face to associate you with. Share your accomplishments, not to gloat, but to prove you're the right person for the job. In my case, this is where I would mention being in the design industry since 1989. That I've helped brand 100s of successful companies. Where I've had my designs featured and what awards I've won. A little name dropping also adds social proof as to why someone should hire you so list any well

A little name dropping also adds social proof for why someone should hire you. List any well well-known companies you've worked with. They may be local, national or global companies. If you think it will help, mention them here.

Another great way to share social proof is to include one or two testimonials from clients praising your skills and partnership with them. People visit your About Page to learn about you. What better way to learn, than by hearing what others have to say about working with you?

Be cautious in part 3. Don't include too much in this section or you might come off as too overbearing and smug. Don't talk about awards you won 10 years ago. They have no meaning to today. You only want to share enough to assure people that you are capable of helping them.

Part 4: This is where you finally get to talk about yourself. You could mention where you went to school and how you got into the business. Limit it to just a couple of paragraphs. Enough for people to get to know you a bit better. Imagine you are meeting someone face to face for the first time and they ask you why you became a designer. Part 4 of your About Page is the answer you would give them.

In my case I would tell them I had no intention of becoming a graphic designer. I only enrolled in the course as a stepping stone to something else I wanted to take in university. But once I started, I fell in love with graphic design and immersed myself fully in the program, graduating at the top of my class.

If you want, you can include a few fun facts here about yourself in this section. Hobbies, likes & dislikes, family information you don't mind sharing. Stay away from controversial subjects like religion and politics.

Myself I would mention my love of podcasting. That I'm a dog owner. I might also mention how I'm not a coffee drinker, which goes against the typical stereotype of the graphic designer. Use this section to really show off your personality. Remember, your About Page can also weed out people who wouldn't work well with you. If they don't care for your personality, chances are you wouldn't work well together.

Part 5: This is probably the most important section and yet it's also the most overlooked. Include a direct link for visitors to contact you. A contact form works best, but any method that allows them to contact you is imperative. Include some sort of call to action letting them know you're anxious to hear from them. They just spent the time learning who you are and how you can help them, so make it easy for them to get a hold of you to start a working relationship.

There you have it. A great About Page. Will following these steps guarantee new clients? Of course not. But every bit helps. And there's no reason your About Page shouldn't be given as much, if not more, attention than the other pages on your website. Don't leave potential business on the table because you have a weak About Page.

What does your About Page look like?

Leave a comment for this episode telling me your formula for a great About Page and I'll make sure to link back to it.

Questions of the Week

This week's question came from Michael. He asked...

I'm a staff designer at an established agency. The leadership here does allow us to take side (for lack of a better word) freelancing jobs to help us grow our skills and creativity. As long as it's not a direct conflict of interest with the company.

I'm struggling to gain traction in finding work. I have good set of personal clients that I work with already but nothing to add any substantial amount to mine and my wife's income. Just odd jobs now and then when my skills are needed.

What is your method to finding new work/clients? Which ones have you found most effective and which methods would you recommend I stay away from.

To hear how I answered Michael's question you'll have to listen to the podcast. I did however share this link with him. 10 Proven Ways To Attract Design Clients

I would love to answer your question on a future episode of the podcast. Submit your question by visiting the feedback page.

Resource of the week Who Stole My Images FaceBook Group

This is not a resource I'm familiar with myself but when I heard about it I thought it would be great for my audience. It was shared by Molly in the Resourceful Designer FaceBook Group. Who Stole My Images is a group that helps creative people when their intellectual property has been stolen for illicit gains. If you sell your designs anywhere on the internet there's a good chance that someone copied your artwork and is selling it as their own. It's not always easy to stop these people and that's where this FaceBook group comes in. The members have experience and are willing to share their tips and tricks to help you target the thieves. If you find yourself in such a situation simply ask to join the group.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

12 Steps To Great Design Presentations - RD051
40:23
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 40:23
12 Steps To Great Design Presentations - RD051

Are your design presentations great?

Whether it's in front of just one person or in front of a board of directors, giving design presentations to your clients can be scary, even for the most seasoned graphic designer. In this episode of Resourceful Designer, I share 12 steps you can use to make your design presentations great.

Please listen to the podcast to hear me act out two fictional presentations to show you the difference these 12 steps can make.

The 12 Steps To Great Design Presentations. 1 Practice your presentation

It doesn't look good if you stumble on your words, or you don't come across as knowing what you're talking about. It doesn't matter if you're presenting in person or via video, you need to come across like you know what you're talking about. After all, you should know what you're talking about. If you need to, write out your presentation in full or point form and study it. It will help you know your material inside and out. Plus, should your client interrupt you with questions, you'll know your presentation well enough not to be thrown off track.

2 Be punctual

This one should be obvious. Make sure you show up for your design presentations on time. If you don't show up on time you already have a strike against you regardless of what you present. The client may love your design, but as far as future projects are concerned, designers are replaceable and they may not consider you if they think you are not punctual.

3 Dress for success

I'm a T-Shirt and Jeans kind of guy. But I would never go into a meeting dressed that way. when you're doing your research for your design (you are doing research aren’t you?), also find out what type of client you have. If they all wear suits and ties to work, you should do the same. If they wear khakis and Hawaiian shirts, dress better than them. Don't be afraid to be overdressed. It's better than looking underdressed.

4 Have handouts

People like holding things, but don't give them out before the meeting. You want their eyes on you as you lay out the story of the design. If you give them handouts they will be more focused on what's in their hands and not on you. By the time you reach the grand finale of your presentation, they will have already seen it in the handout.

5 Show Confidence

If you show confidence people will be more inclined to trust you and engage with you. You've been hired to do a project, so don't act as if you're applying for the position. Act like someone who is already familiar with the position. You also show confidence with the words you choose. Never use words like "I think you'll like this" or "Maybe we could do this". Instead show your confidence in your abilities by using decisive words like "You'll like this" or "We should do this". Don't give your client a chance to consider if you are right or not. Use your words with confidence and they'll know you are right.

6 Use keywords

Work recognisable keywords into your presentation. Use keywords like brand recognition, brand awareness, customer loyalty, increased sales, better exposure, growth. Terms that will leave a positive impression on your client and make them more inclined to go along with what you say.

7 Refer to the brief

Whether you were provided with a formal brief for the project or it was just a casual email conversation, make reference to it. Not only does this show that you were paying attention but it shows that you take what the client has to say seriously.

8 Talk about the research you did

Your client doesn't know what goes into designing something. All they know is what they are paying you. Give them some peace of mind by explaining the type of research you did. Give details so they know the money they are paying you is worth it. Plus, talking about your research gives them insight into the type of person you are and they will appreciate you that much more.

9 Explain before showing anything

The best presenters use a system. They tell the audience what they are going to see, then they show the audience, and finally they tell the audience what they saw. Your presentation should be done the same way. This three step approach will help you client retain the information you are giving them and they will feel you've given a very good presentation.

10 Anticipate questions and answers them before they are asked

This one is tricky. When preparing your presentation try to think like your client and anticipate any questions they might have. Then address them in your presentation. You'll come across as someone very knowledgeable and help put them at ease.

11 Plant seeds for future work you can do for them

This might be just one project. But there's no harm in planting the seeds for future work. Try to work into the presentation other things you could do for them. Mention other services you offer. Things they may not have even thought about. The best thing to do is include them in the process. Don't say things like "This new design will help you grow your business" instead say "Together, with this new design we can grow this business"

12 Follow up after the meeting

Don't wait too long. Call or send an email the next morning asking if there are any new questions that came up that you could answer. In fact, let them know during your presentation that you will be following up the next day in case they think of any new questions. This way they know to expect your call. A few days later follow-up if you haven't heard from them to inquire if they've reached a decision.

Do you follow these steps?

Let me know what you do for your presentations? Please leave a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Due to time constraints, I didn't answer a question this week. But I would love to answer yours in a future episode of the podcast. Submit your question by visiting the feedback page.

Resource of the week Selling The Invisible by Harry Beckwith

SELLING THE INVISIBLE: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing is a succinct and often entertaining look at the unique characteristics of services and their prospects, and how any service, from a home-based consultancy to a multinational brokerage, can turn more prospects into clients and keep them. SELLING THE INVISIBLE covers service marketing from start to finish. Filled with wonderful insights and written in a roll-up-your-sleeves, jargon-free, accessible style.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

Perks To Running A Graphic Design Business - RD050
40:35
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 40:35
Perks To Running A Graphic Design Business - RD050

There are some great perks to running a graphic design business.

There are many benefits to running your own home-based graphic design business. In episode 24 I covered some of them, including getting to choose who you work with. Making your own hours. Deciding how much you want to charge and other things like the tax breaks you get and being able to work in your bathrobe if you want to.

All of these are great reasons to want to run a graphic design business, especially from home. But in this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I'm talking about perks. The little things that go a bit beyond the benefits.

7 Perks to running your business. Free Stuff

When you register your business you are put on a list that becomes available to anyone who wants to purchase it. I know that sounds scary, but in fact, it's a good thing. Because many of the people who purchase that list want to send you FREE STUFF! Mostly promotional items like pens, mugs, keychains etc. usually with your company name on them. They hope that you like their stuff enough to either buy them in bulk to hand out yourself or to become a reseller for them.

Another perk is free magazine subscriptions. There are many graphic design related magazines that offer free subscriptions to businesses in the industry. Visit your favourite magazine's website to see if they offer this.

Credit Card Points

When you run a business you need to buy things. You might as well get some extra perks in the process. Use a credit card that offers some sort of reward. It could be travel, goods and services, or simply cash back. Make all your purchases using this card and watch how quickly your points accumulate. Just make sure to pay off your card each month. The extra perk isn't worth it if you pay interest on your balance.

Access To Credit

Owning a business allows for easier access to credit. Many banks and financial institutions are much more willing to lend money to businesses than they are to individuals. If you're in a bind and you need some extra cash, this is one perk you'll be glad your business provides you.

Networking

Face it, it's much more impressing to say you own your own business than it is to say you work for someone else. Not only will it open more doors for you, but the quality of the interactions will be better as well. Not only that but the knowledge you gain from these interactions can greatly benefit your business.

Education

Another perk of running your own graphic design business is the chance to learn new things when you want to learn new things. If you want to take a course or watch a tutorial you have the option to do so. There's nobody to stop or hold you back. The same goes for things you're not interested in. If it's not something you want to learn you don't have to. You have the option of hiring someone to do it for you instead.

Work/Life Balance

Creating your own work hours is a perk in itself. But the big bonus when you run your own business, is the ability to step away from your business whenever you want to. There's no need to schedule personal appointments around work hours. Instead, you can schedule your work hours around your personal appointments. If your doctor only has an opening at 10am it's not a problem for you. If your child has some special event you want to attend, there's no one you need to ask permission of for you to go.

Your Businesses' Personality

One of the biggest perks of running your own graphic design business is your ability to personalise it however you want. If you want it to have a formal corporate look, do it. If you prefer a fun joyful look, then do that.

Your business has a personality that reflects who is behind it, you. The freedom to mould that personality into anything you want is probably one of the most powerful perks you have. Express yourself, there's nobody holding you back.

What perks do you enjoy from your business?

I would love to know what perks your business allows you. Let me know what they are by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Sean

I have a few questions about budget and pricing. Your pricing podcast was amazing. Here are some questions you can include in a future podcast.

1) How to ask a client for a budget? 2) Should it be in the project questionnaire 3) Should it be in the contact form 4) How about a pull down menu of price ranges 5) Would it be better to allow prospect to enter their own amount rather than selecting a price range? 6) How about showing prospects minimum project price for any given job. This is the starting price and the quote would reflect the price quote from thereon. 7) How about showing three price ranges after questions are all asked. 8) Majority of designers do not negotiate or wish to discuss pricing if it does not agree to the prospects budget. Should we be open to that considering this is a business first then design?

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

Resource of the week is TopTracker

This resource was shared by Dan in the Resourceful Designer FaceBook Group. Here's what he had to say about TopTracker.

I know Mark uses Billings Pro, but I don't use a Mac currently so I searched around for an alternate. I checked out a few and decided that there's a better one for me. I've been using TopTracker to track my time. It's excellent, easy, flexible and can spit out a tonne of different reports for you to prove your time if you need it. And best of all, it's free forever for freelancers.

According to the website TopTracker offers;

  • Effortless Time Tracking From Any Device
  • Centralized View Of All Projects
  • Full Privacy Control For Freelancers
  • Detailed Productivity Reports
  • 100% Free and No Limits

There are no superficial limits on the number of projects or users you can configure.

Available on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

Print Brokering To Supplement Your Graphic Design Business - RD049
01:12:04
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 01:12:04
Print Brokering To Supplement Your Graphic Design Business - RD049

Print Brokering, it's easy money.

Is print brokering part of your graphic design business strategy? If not, it should be. We spend hours upon hours putting our creative skills to use for our clients. But if at the end of a design project we simply hand the printer files over to our client then we're leaving money on the table. With the addition of print brokering to your services you not only increase your value to your clients, but you can also drastically increase your income.

It's not as scary as it sounds

Getting into print brokering isn't that daunting a task. You don't even need to know anything about the print industry. You only need to know how to set up a proper print file, which you should be doing already. Then, instead of handing those files over to your client, you send them to the printer on your client's behalf.

So what's the point?

Let me illustrate it for you with an example.

Let's say you design a 4-colour tri-fold brochure for your client. You spend several hours creating it until it's exactly what your client wanted. You send your client the final file along with your invoice, and you get paid a few hundred dollars. Good job!

Now let's say you've added print brokering to your services. Instead of sending the final file to your client, you contact two or three printers for quotes on printing the brochure. You then show those quotes to your client, decide together which is the best one, and send the file to the selected printer. Once the job is printed and delivered to your client, you send them an invoice for both the design and the printing. In return, you receive an invoice from the printer MINUS your commission for bringing them the job. Did you catch the keyword in that last sentence? Commission. That's right; you receive a commission for sending the job to the printer. Depending on the cost of the printing job that commission could be several hundred, or perhaps even thousands of dollars.

That's the point!

So, how do you start print brokering? Contact local commercial printers.

The easiest thing to do is contact your local commercial printers and ask them if they have special deals for graphic designs which bring them work? Chances are they already do. If that's the case, you simply have to let them know who you are and start earning income from print jobs you send them.

If they don't have some plan already in place here's one you could suggest to them. Ask if they are willing to give you a flat discount on all print jobs you bring to them. 15% is a good place to start. Whenever you have a print job to broker, the printer would supply you a quote for the full printing price. This quote is what you share with your client. Then, once the print job is finished, the printer invoices you, including your 15% discount. Your client pays you the full price of the quote, and you, in turn, pay the printer the discounted invoice, keeping 15% of the printing price as your commission.

This way, your client is not being taken advantage of since they are paying the same price they would have if they went directly to the printer themselves. The benefit to them is you now handle that part of the job for them. The benefit to the printer is unlike their regular customers who doesn't understand printing files or printing, once they train you how to supply files to them the way they want them, they never have to worry about your jobs again. This means faster turnaround through their pre-press department which translates to more profit for them. Of course, the benefit to you is the added income you get from the print brokering.

Copy shops

Copy shops are a bit different. They don't have the same profit margins as print shops and can't offer the same discounts. However, most copy shops offer tiered pricing. Meaning the price per copy drops with the more copies ordered. A deal you could offer them is to pay a certain amount in advance. Like a retainer of $500 or $1000 for example, in exchange, they would charge you their lowest rate for copies you order regardless of the quantity. They simply deduct your copies from the "retainer" you've provided them.

Trade Printers

Trade printers are similar to commercial printers except they only deal with clients "in the trade" which includes graphic designers. Trade printers offer wholesale like pricing, so unlike the commercial printers mentioned above, you simply mark up their quotes by whatever margin you want to make before giving the price to your client.

Online Printers

Online printers such as ePrintFast offer low prices because they bulk print their jobs. Your business card order is printed on the same sheet as many other business card orders, lowering the cost for each of you. Even with shipping costs, the prices are great. That's how they offer prices that your local commercial printers can't compete with. You can make a good income by adding a hefty markup to their prices. Search online for similar printers near you.

Print brokering isn't just for paper

You can take your print brokering service beyond the printed page. Screen printed t-shirts, ball caps, coffee mugs, pens, pins, etc. You name it. If it can be printed on, you can make a profit from it.

Do you use print brokering to supplement your business?

I would love to know if you offer print brokering as part of your business. Let me know what they are by leaving a comment for this episode.

Resourceful Designer is one of the 12 best graphic design podcasts!

Resourceful Designer is #2 on a list of the 12 best graphic design podcasts put out by Creative Bloq. Here's what the article had to say.

Want to nail the business side of design? Hit up Mark Des Cotes for top advice

If you're interested in the business side of graphic design, Mark Des Cotes' Resourceful Designer is a must. With 48 episodes recorded so far, it's aimed at helping home based graphic designers and web designers streamline their business, with plenty of advice, tips and resources to help you get things right.

Each episode covers a specific theme, such as how to save money, dealing with deadlines and what to do when you mess up a a project and much more. And as well as the podcast, Resourceful Designer also has an in-depth blog plus a useful list of design resources.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Stacie

Why do we need a Pantone color book and which one should we buy? What's the difference between printing in 4 color and spot colors? And is it affordable for a client to print in more than 4 colors?

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

Resources of the week

iloveimg.com offers an array of tools for compressing, resizing, cropping, and converting image files from other formats to JPG, or from JPG to png or gif. Modify all your images en masse in one place. It takes just a few clicks with their easy-to-use tools. Everything your clients need for their image work is there, and it’s all free!

iloveimg not great for compressing images since they don’t give you much control over the quality of their compression. Instead, I suggest optimizilla.com. This online image optimizer uses a smart combination of the best optimization and lossy compression algorithms to shrink JPEG and PNG images to the minimum possible size while keeping the required level of quality. Again, completely free.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

Things To Do Before Starting A Home Based Graphic Design Business - RD048
46:46
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 46:46
Things To Do Before Starting A Home Based Graphic Design Business - RD048

Before starting your home based graphic design business.

It sounds easy, doesn't it? You have your skills and a computer, so why not start a graphic design business from your home? Go for it I say. However, there are certain things you need to do before starting on your new journey.

In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I go into detail on what you should do before starting your own home based graphic design business. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast so you never miss an episode.

Required research before starting your business.

The first thing you need to do before starting your home based graphic design business is research. Being prepared for what's to come is the key to success. Here are a few things you should look into.

Choose your type of business

You have the options of operating as a sole proprietor, a partnership with someone, or one of the many forms of corporations. Choosing your business structure lays the groundwork for what you will do next.

Study up on tax laws

It's a good idea to learn what you can about the tax laws where you live. What can or can't you claim as business expenses? What tax loopholes can you take advantage of? Do you need to collect taxes from your clients when you invoice them?

Be aware of zoning laws

Zoning laws differ depending on where you live. Check with your city or county to see what affects you. Depending on where you live you may be limited to how you can run your graphic design business.

Size up your competitions

It's always a good idea to know who you're up against. Find out who is offering similar services in your area and figure out how you plan on carving out your own corner of the market.

What you need to get before starting your business. Write a business plan

A business plan will help you stay focused and keep you on track to succeeding as a business owner. Not to mention they are a requirement if you plan on incorporating your business.

Register your business name

Find out the requirements in your area and register your business name. This will protect you in the future should someone else try to operate under the same name as you.

Obtain a business permit

Even home-based businesses require a business permit to operate legally. Contact your municipal government for instructions on obtaining your business permit.

Get business insurance

Just because you're working from home doesn't mean you're covered. Homeowner's insurance doesn't cover your business. Contact your insurance company to find out what options are available to you.

Get help before starting your business. Where to look

Search your local or nearby communities and contact the Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Board and the Business Education Centre. These organisations often offer free advice to help you start your business.

Look for business incubators in your area. They may offer classes and/or resources to help start your business.

Visit your local library. Most libraries offer resources to help small business owners.

Find professional help

Hire a business lawyer to help with things like contracts and incorporating your business.

Hire an accountant for financial advice and to help with your bookkeeping and tax returns.

Visit your bank manager to discuss your best options for a business account and other ways the bank can help you.

Additional help

Take business courses or workshops at a local college to improve your business knowledge.

Contact your local college or university for interns to assist you with writing your business plan.

Visit the US Small Business Administration website for podcasts, webinars, and basic information about starting and growing a business.

 

Are you ready to start your graphic design business?

What research and prep work are you doing before starting your business? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Daniele

I have a recurring issue that I need to solve as I do not want to face it anymore.

The issue is how to properly store bookmarks of helpful websites, web aps, articles and so on. We spend most of our time online and we use some great resources. We need to keep a track of them and store safely for a later use. I have hundreds of bookmarks on Google chrome divided in folders, whilst Chrome does a good job on offering a search bar for a quick lookup, I have found myself looking for an extended length of time as I would not remember how I called that folder or link.

So, I wonder if there is a better way than just saving bookmarks on Chrome?

To find out what I told Daniele you’ll have to listen to the podcast. But I'll give you a hint. I recommended she get the book Evernote Essentials.

Resource of the week is Have i been pwned?

Have i been pwned? is a free resource for anyone to quickly assess if they may have been put at risk due to an online account of theirs having been compromised or "pwned" in a data breach. A "breach" is an incident where a hacker illegally obtains data from a vulnerable system, usually by exploiting weaknesses in the software. All the data in the site comes from website breaches which have been made publicly available.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

 

Bartering Your Graphic Design Services - RD047
56:58
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 56:58
Bartering Your Graphic Design Services - RD047

Have you ever considered bartering your design skills?

Like it or not, money rules our world. Without it, businesses fail, economies collapse and people suffer. However, money isn't the only commodity when it comes to doing business. Thousands of years ago, long before currencies were introduced, people relied on bartering in order to survive. If you had a field of wheat but no meat and your neighbour had a herd of cattle but no grain, the two of you would barter the goods you had in exchange for those you required. Everybody was happy in the end.

Bartering still remains a viable way of conducting business and there's no reason why it wouldn't work for your graphic design business.

In this week's Resourceful Designer podcast I share examples of how bartering can help your business. Be sure to have a listen, or better yet, subscribe to the podcast so you never miss an episode.

What is bartering?

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Barter means to trade or exchange commodities (such as products or services) for other things instead of for money.

Have you ever seen a classified ad where someone has a boat and is looking to trade it for a car? That's bartering. It's a trade in which both involved parties feel like they are getting a good deal. Maybe even the better deal.

The idea behind bartering is for you to trade something, such as your graphic design services for something you find more valuable in return.

The power of bartering

Have you ever heard of Kyle MacDonald? He's a Canadian blogger who in 2005 started with one red paperclip and over the course of one year, bartered 14 different trades with the final trade making him the owner of a two-story farmhouse in Saskatchewan Canada. All without any money ever exchanging hands. This story alone should prove to you the value of bartering.

Bartering and your graphic design business

So how does bartering relate to your business? Simple, trade your time and skills for goods and services in return.

When I first started my home based graphic design business I had an old used desk I purchased off my old employer. It was wobbly and didn't look very nice, but it did the job it was required to do. Then one day I was asked to quote on a new website for a master woodworker. The price I quoted was too expensive for him but he asked if I would be willing to build it for him in exchange for a custom made wood desk. We agreed that I would purchase the required wood, and he would build the desk at no charge to me. In exchange, I would build a custom website for him. All he would have to pay was the hosting fee.

In both our minds we were getting the better deal. He was getting a new website, something he couldn't afford and was incapable of doing himself. I was getting a solid wood desk, built to my specifications, that I would never have spent the money on otherwise.

Perceived value.

The appeal of bartering all comes down to perceived value. Both parties involved perceive the value of the goods or service they are receiving as more valuable than those they are providing.

You design for a living so spending a few hours in front of your computer creating comes naturally to you. But to someone else, the idea of doing that seems daunting and beyond their capabilities. The same goes for you. Your client may have a skill or product that you can't produce on your own. So to you, it's perceived as more valuable than your few hours in front of your computer.

Bartering is truly a win-win scenario.

Bartering ideas
  • Are you a parent with active kids? You could barter your services in exchange for your child's membership in a club, group or organisation.
  • Do you have a hobby? Barter your skills with other enthusiasts in exchange for whatever you need to grow in your hobby.
  • Do you need anything for your home or office? Barter with clients for the things you need.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to what you can get through bartering. Why don't you give it a try?

Have you bartered your services before?

I would love to know how you bartered your design services. Please leave comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Tyler

I live in an area that has a deeply rooted DIY mentality. As a result, I am struggling to sell local businesses on the value of my marketing and design abilities. Do you have any recommendations to break businesses out of this mentality, and show them the value of professional services?

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

Resource of the week ScreenFlow

This week’s resource is something I've shared before, ScreenFlow screen recording software. It has helped me streamline my graphic design business so much that I have to share it again. Using ScreenFlow has saved me so much time and headaches. 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 alone I highly recommend ScreenFlow.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

Take Care Of Yourself Not Just Your Business - RD046
32:25
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 32:25
Take Care Of Yourself Not Just Your Business - RD046

What happens to your business if you don't take care of yourself?

Running a home based graphic design business offers you the freedom and flexibility to work when you want and the way you want. But what if you don't take care of yourself and you get sick? What becomes of your business?

In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcasts, I discuss how you need to take care of yourself if you want your graphic design business to prosper.

As designers, our clients rely on us to give their projects our undivided attention. But how are we suppose to do that if we're dashing to the washroom every few minutes or if we have a headache so bad that we can't look at our computer screens? The answer is we can't.

Face it, when we're under the weather our business suffers.

So what can you do about it?

Have you ever heard the term "prevention is the best form of medication"? It holds true for us designers. If we take care of ourselves both physically and mentally we won't have to face this dilemma that often.

Although there is no guaranteed way to keep you from getting sick. There are things you can do to help minimise the occurrences. Try to eat healthier meals and snacks. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated. Exercise to keep your body fit. Make sure you get enough rest. Wash your hands!

It's not rocket science. We've heard all these tips many times before. But if we don't follow them, they won't help.

We graphic designers often feel that so much depends on us that we neglect our own needs. Don't' make yourself sick because you're trying to please everyone else.

Working too much can make you sick.

There's nothing wrong with working long hours or working all hours of the day. Setting your own hours is actually one of the benefits of running a home-based graphic design business. However, problems start when you do it every day and all the time without setting time aside to take care of yourself.

Set time aside during your busy workday for yourself. Get up and stretch. Look out the window. Go for a walk. If you can afford it, be a bit more creative and go for a massage or get a manicure. The point is to rejuvenate and refresh yourself. Because if you run yourself into the ground you won't be able to accomplish anything and your business will suffer.

If you find it too hard to make time throughout your day, try setting larger periods of time aside each week. Take Friday afternoons off or break up your week with a Wednesday morning sabbatical.

But I don't have time to take time off.

Trust me, it's more important to take care of yourself than it is to check things off your to-do list.

Your health forms the base of your business. If you're not healthy it suffers. And when you are suffering nothing gets done on your to-do list. Even if you don't have the time you can still take care of yourself by starting your day with a good breakfast.

Why not schedule a workout or meditate before starting work? Not a morning person? lunch time is a perfect time to exercise. Not only will it help you stay fit, but it will also give your brain time to process what you did that morning and prepare it for the afternoon tasks to come. When you're healthier and stronger, you'll be able to better serve your clients and family.

And don't forget what I talked about in episode 42. It's OK to say no to things that take up all your time. You don't need to do every little task that family and friends ask of you. Determine what really needs to be done and say no to the rest.

How do you take care of yourself?

What do you do to stay healthy and ensure that your business isn't interrupted by sickness? Leave a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Sara

My pricing packages state that printing or other vendor expenses are charged separately. How do you best charge for those items after the hours have been used? Do you also give a list of hours to the client of how they were used? When you give estimates, just give them in hours?

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

Resource of the week the Resourceful Designer podcast

To celebrate the one year anniversary of the Resourceful Designer podcast on September 30th, which is also International Podcast Day, this week's resource is the podcast itself. If you know any designers that could benefit from the show please share it with them. Simply send them to resourcefuldesigner.com/subscribe where they can subscribe via their favourite platform.

If they ask you what a podcast is, take the opportunity to introduce them to this wonderful medium of podcasts by showing them how to subscribe and listen to the show. And make sure you tell them to leave a review for the show in iTunes once they've listened to it.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

It's OK for Graphic Designers To Ask For Help - RD045
40:14
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 40:14
It's OK for Graphic Designers To Ask For Help - RD045

It's OK for Graphic Designers To Ask For Help

What's the one thing every business person struggles with, regardless of their occupation? The answer is time. No matter how hard you work there just never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done. So what's the solution? Ask for help.

You see, the problem is time is finite. Once it's gone, it's gone. So you have to make the best use of the time you have.

This applies to life in general but in this week's Resourceful Designer podcast, I'm talking about how it applies to your graphic design business. About all the time you spend struggling or fiddling with client projects as well as other aspects of your business. You'll never get that time back. So why waste it in the first place when all you have to do is ask for help with it.?

I said I was going to talk about your business, however, there are things you could ask for help with that are not necessarily related to your business, but can still help benefit your business. Consider getting help with things like housekeeping, childcare and yard maintenance. Even having your groceries delivered to you. By hiring someone else to complete these tasks, you are freeing up your time for more productive things.

Why would you hire someone to do all these simple things you could easily do yourself? Efficiency, that's why. Think about it. A housekeeper or yard worker may charge you $10-$20/hr. You, on the other hand, make up to 5 times that amount when designing. So why not use your time to do the work you get paid higher for, and hire someone else to use their time to do the other work.

Ask For Help For Your Graphic Design Business

One of the easiest ways to ask for help is to outsource the things you are not capable of or the things you really shouldn't be doing. This will free up your time to do the things only you can and should be doing.

There are certain parts of your business you can't or shouldn't outsource. When it comes to promoting your business, designing for your clients or networking you need to be front and centre. But things like invoicing, bookkeeping and banking can all be handled by someone else. Ask for help in these areas.

Spend money to save money.

An old adage in business is that you need to spend money in order to make money. Don't be afraid to spend money to hire people to help you. It may cut into your profits on that job. But it will free up your time to work on other projects. Meaning you'll be increasing your overall profit because your business will be completing two projects at the same time.

Where To Ask For Help. Build a community.

The best place to ask for help is in a community you've built for yourself. Collect a list of Writers, developers, illustrators, proofreaders, UI experts, social media experts etc. that you can call upon whenever you have need of them. You can find these people locally, at meetups, in Facebook Groups, on sites like UpWork, or ask fellow designers for recommendations.

Don't feel guilty if you ask for help

Nobody can do everything. We're not expected to. That's why agencies are made up of teams. If there's a task that one person can't do, then another team member is called in to handle it.

Just because you work by yourself doesn't mean you have to suffer. There's no reason to feel guilty if you ask for help. Any good business owner, even those running fortune 500 companies will tell you that to run a highly profitable business you need to surround yourself with competent people. People who support you in the areas you're not proficient in. You may not be running an agency, but there's no reason you can't have your own team.

Be confident in the skills and abilities you bring to the table and focus on them. Ask for help from others and let them focus on the skills and abilities they bring to the table. Together you have a much higher chance of succeeding.

Don't fall into the procrastination rut

If you find yourself procrastinating on certain jobs, it may be a sign that you should ask for help. Procrastination is often a sign of not having confidence in your own abilities. It can occur because you are seeking perfection that you don't know if you're capable of, or you simply have a fear of failure. Asking for help can overcome these hurdles.

Look at your past accomplishments to build your confidence in what you’re capable of and focus on that. Take stock of your unique abilities, whatever it is you bring to the table. And then seek unique abilities in others to help you accomplish your goals.

Remember, you are the only you there is. Nobody else can be you. So Be you and do the things you are good at. Then ask for help and let others do what they're good at in order to help you.

Do you ask for help when it's needed?

There are many tasks in a graphic design business where a designer can ask for help. What are some of the ones you've reached out for? Leave a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Sorry, no question this week. Submit your own question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting feedback page.

Resource of the week 10% Off The Ultimate Divi Bundle

If you use the Divi theme by Elegant Themes, you're going to want to check out The Ultimate Divi Bundle. It consists of 5 of the best Divi plugins there are. These plugins were developed specifically to enhance the already amazing Divi theme.

The 5 plugins included are: Divi Booster: With a really easy to use interface, Divi Booster accelerates your Divi development by allowing you to make powerful changes to your Divi website. edit footer info, change the look of a sidebar, alter some of the module features, and more. All the little things that you wish you could do with Divi are now possible.

Divi Switch: Adds over 50 toggle switches to your WordPress Dashboard to quickly and easily turn certain Divi features on or off without having to go searching through Options.

Aspen Footer Editor: The one part of Divi that lacks the finesse of the rest of the theme is the Footer. This plugin opens that up and allows you to easily change the look and style of any Divi footer.

Divi Dashboard Welcome: Allows you to customise the Welcome screen whenever you or your client logs into WordPress. Add a contact form, leave a special note for your client. Write custom instructions. It's all possible with this plugin.

Divi Ghoster: Allows you to white label your Divi site. Allowing you to hide the fact that you used Divi to build the site from your clients, theme detectors, and everyone.

This bundle normally sells for $60, but if you use my link you'll receive an additional 10% off your purchase.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

Overcoming Hurdles In Your Graphic Design Business - RD044
40:07
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 40:07
Overcoming Hurdles In Your Graphic Design Business - RD044

From time to time, every business will have hurdles to overcome.

Have you ever had one of those weeks that you just want to sweep under the rug and forget ever happened? Me too. In fact, that's how last week went for me. But instead of letting it go, I've decided to share my hurdles with you in this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast.

My week from hell

My week started off like any other until I received a phone call from a website client. There was a problem with their site. Members couldn't log out. I had recently migrated their website from a Windows server to a Linux server and thought perhaps something had happened in the move. I told them I'd look into it and got to work.

This should have been a warning sign but it took me roughly 5 hours to find and fix the problem. A problem that should have only taken me two minutes if I had just looked. I spent hours combing through code trying to find the issue when it turns out the Logout button had the wrong URL associated with it.

Other than some wasted time that issue wasn't so bad.

Then on Wednesday I received an email from a client asking me when their new website would be launched. This one took me by surprise because I thought I had already launched it two weeks prior. But then I remembered that I had encountered a database error while migrating their site from my staging server to its permanent home, and had decided to put off the launch until the next day.

Somehow it slipped my mind the following morning, and two weeks later I'm being asked by the client for an ETA.

I quickly launched their site, but in the process, I forgot that this particular client runs their own internal email server and I didn't update the proper MX records to account for it.

To make a long story short (I go into all the details in the podcast), I broke their email and it took several hours the next day to get it working again. Unfortunately, this client relies heavily on email for their business and having it down for several hours cost them thousands of dollars in revenue. All because of my mistake.

Needless to day, I felt terrible. Sick to my stomach in fact. But what could I do? The damage was done and I had to move on.

Overcoming Hurdles

Sometimes in business things will derail you. It's up to you to decide how you'll proceed. Will you stop? Or will you overcome those hurdles?

You have to realise that these hurdles are only a drop in the pond when you look at your business as a whole. They may seem scary when they happen but in the long run they won't affect your business as much as you initially think they will.

What Hurdles Have You Overcome?

What hurdles have you encountered in your business? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Resource of the week the Divi 3.0

The new Divi 3.0 theme by Elegant Themes is a real game changer when it comes to website design. The new Visual Builder allows you to create and make changes to your website… on your actual website! Meaning you actually get to manipulate the website as you see it! Want to change some text, simply highlight it and type in the new text. Highlight and adjust the font and style as well. Don’t like where an element of the site is? Simply drag it to a new location. There’s no need to preview or refresh the page because all your changes happen in real time right on your page.

You can try out the new Divi 3.0 theme but visiting resourcefuldesigner.com/trydivi and for a limited time get 20% off any membership at Elegant Themes.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

A Don't Do List For Your Graphic Design Business - RD043
39:58
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 39:58
A Don't Do List For Your Graphic Design Business - RD043

Regain valuable time by creating a Don't Do List.

Every day we spend needless time on tasks, routines and distractions just because they've become habits. We also spend valuable time doing things just to please others. Even if it doesn't benefit us at all. If you take back some of that wasted time you'd be amazed at how much more efficient your business can be. That's where a Don't Do list comes in.

Let me ask you a question.

Imagine this fictional scenario; you are a busy graphic designer with multiple client projects on the go. You win a great proposal and are  awarded a new 40-hour project to complete within a tight deadline. Unfortunately, due to personal issues, you are only able to devote 4 hours per day to your business for the foreseeable future. What would you eliminate from your daily tasks and routines to make your life easier? What would you include on your Don't Do List?

Create a Don't Do List

By creating a Don't Do List for your graphic design business you are able to hold yourself accountable and take back some of your wasted time and put it to better use. In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I share 10 items that are on my own Don't Do List. Your list may look different and that's OK. Please share in the comments below what you would include on your Don't Do List.

My Don't Do List

For more details on each item in my list please listen to the podcast.

  1. Don't schedule client meetings in the morning.
  2. Don't look at email until I've done at least an hour of work in the morning.
  3. Don't treat emails from people I don't know as if they're urgent.
  4. Don't answer the phone or reply to text messages in the morning.
  5. Don't check my social media in the morning.
  6. Don't listen to music with words which could interfere with my creativity.
  7. Don't eat a sugary breakfast in the morning.
  8. Don't turn on the TV in the morning before work. (I'm bad at this one)
  9. Don't start my morning without already knowing what I'll be working on.
  10. Don't leave my email or social media programs open all day. Turn off Email and social media notifications. Set my mobile phone's do not disturb to end later in the morning.
What's on your Don't Do List?

Is there anything you would include on your Don't Do List that I don't have on mine? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Norman

I have a question about dealing with clients that refuse to pay, or extremely drag there feet. I Recently had a client who asked for a 3 page list of changes to her website, I believed there would be no issues as I had no issues with this client not paying in the past, however this list turned out to be an 11+ hr job which was the biggest bill I ever sent her. She received the invoice and said she mailed my check, So after hearing that, and in good faith based on our relationship thus far, I committed a cardinal web design sin, I uploaded the site changes BEFORE I actually received the check.

To make a long story short, the check never arrived, 1 week later, when asked about it she told me to meet her at her studio to pick up a new check and she would cancel the missing one. I showed up but she was nowere to be found, when I finally heard from her she gave me some lame excuse that she was in a meeting running late. So I sent her a digital invoice via PayPal that she could pay. She never replied so I sent her this message:

"Considering you told me that you would be able to meet me at 2 I expect the invoice to be paid by 2 or you can meet me somewhere closer in town with a check, either way if payment is not received by 2:30 today I will unfortunately have no choice but to take down the updates made to the site until payment has been received. Thank you for understanding"

She immediately wrote back a very long message filled with excuses and finger pointing, also saying that she would pay the invoice within a few minutes. 2:30 comes around and still no payment, I wait another hour to give her the benefit of the doubt, until at 3:30. When I still did not receive payment I removed the updates. It is now the following day and still no payment.

Did I do that right thing by following up and taking down the updates until I received payment or should I have given her more time or approached it differently?

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

Resource of the week is DepositPhotos

DepositPhotos is a great stock photography site that now offers reverse image search. No more struggles finding words to describe the right stock image; now you can show DepositPhotos what you want. Upload your photo to reverse image search, and get lots of similar high-res images to choose from.

You can either upload a picture from your computer or copy/paste the URL of a photo you saw online into the search bar. Reverse image search uses image recognition to analyse all components of the photo and provide similar image options in just a few seconds.

If this is something that interests you please check out DepositPhotos

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

It's OK To Say NO To Graphic Design Work - RD042
50:51
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 50:51
It's OK To Say NO To Graphic Design Work - RD042

If you don't want to do it, just say no.

As human beings, it's in our nature to want to please others. So when a client comes to us with a new graphic design project we have a desire to take it on even if it's not in our best interest. As a graphic designer, you have to determine if the project affects you in any negative way. If it does, just say no to it.

In this episode of Resourceful Designer, I discuss the various reason, implications, and outcomes when you say no to graphic design work. Pless play on the podcast player to listen to the episode.

No is a complete sentence.

Why do we insist on coming up with excuses or feel the need to apologise when we say no? Saying no in itself is a complete sentence. There's no need to follow it with any form of reasoning to justify it.

"I'm too busy", "there isn't enough time", "I'm already committed to something else". These are some of the excuses we use when we say no. Why do we insist on justifying ourselves?

How do you say no?

It's harder to say no to existing clients for fear of losing them. However, if you've built a good relationship with your client like I discussed in episode 20, you have nothing to fear. In fact, your client will probably be the one afraid of losing you as their designer.

So saying no to an existing client is as simple as saying "thanks for thinking of me but I'm going to have to pass on this job". If they question you, be honest as to why. They'll appreciate you more for it.

When it comes to new clients, especially those that give you a bad vibe, simply say "Thank you for considering me but I won't be able to take on your project" and leave it at that. It's a polite way to just say no without any other explanation is required.

Say no to compromises.

At some point in your graphic design career, someone will ask you for discounts or possibly free work. In some cases, you'll agree but in most, you'll just say no.

  • Say no to discounted rates
  • Say no to haggling over prices
  • Say no to promised publicity for your business
  • Say no to promises of future work.

Just like a fancy restaurant won't serve you a $28 steak for half price just because you asked for it, or because you promise to recommend them to your friends. You shouldn't offer discounted prices for any promises from clients.

Family and Friends

I go into more detail in the podcast about family and friends, but keep in mind that just because you are close or related doesn't mean you can't say no to them as well.

Charities and Non-Profits

I share some tips and tricks for dealing with charities and non-profits you'll want to listen to but the main point to remember is most of these groups do have the budget to pay for your work. So don't feel bad when you say no to working for them for free.

Do you have any instances when you said no to a client?

I would love to hear your stories. Please leave a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Deana

My question is about clients you don't want to work for. Lets say you know a client is difficult to work with, and they have come to you with a job request. How do you NOT take on that work? Do you tell them you are too busy? Refer them elsewhere?

This entire episode was devoted to answering questions like this one from Deana. Please listen to hear what I had to say.

Resource of the week Pencil and Paper

I know. A bit lame. But I'm always amazed by how many people don't use these simple instruments in their business. There's nothing like the feel of pencil on paper to get the creative juices flowing. Whether you are doodling, drawing out ideas, jotting down notes and reminders there are no easier tools to use.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

Naming Your Graphic Design Business - RD041
54:10
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 54:10
Naming Your Graphic Design Business - RD041

Trouble naming your graphic design business?

Forget colours, forget logos, forget layouts, one of the hardest things you will face when starting out on your own, is naming your graphic design business.

Colours can be changed, logos can be updated, layouts can be tweaked, but your business name is something that will endure for the life of your business.

That's why it's so important to get it right the first time.

In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast I go over the PROs and CONs of working under your own name vs. coming up with a unique business name. I talk about a lot of different considerations and problems that could arise when naming your graphic design business. I hope you find this episode helpful.

Here are a few of the things I covered in the podcast. Naming your graphic design business with your own name PROs
  • It makes you look more affordable
  • It makes you feel more transparent and approachable
  • People remember you and not a business
  • Your name is recognisable to people who know you
  • No worries about trademarks
CONs
  • Makes you seem less experienced
  • Can make you seem too approachable
  • Companies may treat you like an employee instead of a business contractor
  • Harder to grow or sell your business.
Naming your graphic design business with a business name PROs
  • People are willing to accept higher prices from a business
  • It makes you seem more established
  • Allows for easier future growth
  • Easier to sell your business.
CONs
  • Less personal than using your own name
  • People automatically think you're more expensive
  • People don't remember your name
  • Can run into trademark or other legal issues.
Problems that could arise

Besides the PROs and CONs of naming your graphic design business with your name or a business name, there are other problems to consider.

  • Names that are hard to spell or pronounce
  • Common names; if they're too common you may get lost in the crowd.
  • Famous names; people may not take you seriously
  • Maiden names; may confuse people
  • Names with alternate meanings such as Wood, Steel, Silk.
  • Be wary of abbreviations and confusing acronyms
Inventing words when naming your graphic design business
  • Invented names don't mean anything so they are harder to remember.
  • Combining partner names may cause problems should the partnership ever end.
Other considerations when naming your graphic design business
  • Are there multiple ways to spell the name which could confuse people?
  • Are there silent letters that people might not notice?
  • Does the name or pronunciation have other meanings internationally?
  • Is the name future proof? (will it still be a good name 20 years from now?)
  • Is the name regional and will it impact clients decisions?
More things to consider
  • Is the name available? Do a registry and trademark search.
  • Are domain names and social media names available to match the business name?
Finally...

This is more my personal preference so take it as you will. But trying to get cute by changing the spelling of real words isn't always a good idea. Adding "Grafix" or something similar to your business name will just confuse people.

Don't forget...

There's nothing wrong with having a business registered under a business name and also running a side business under your own name. Some designers create multiple businesses in various niches to target certain clients.

Flaunt My Design has a fun questionnaire to help you determine what type of name to choose when naming your graphic design business.

Did I anything?

Did I miss anything when it comes to naming your graphic design business? If so please leave me a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

The podcast was a bit long this week so I didn't answer any questions. If you have something you would like to ask please submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

Resource of the week namechk.com

Use Namechk.com to see if your desired username or vanity url is still available at dozens of popular Social Networking and Social Bookmarking websites. Promote your brand consistently by registering a username that is still available on the majority of the most popular sites. Find the best username with Namechk.

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Send me feedback

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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

Showing Courtesy Between Graphic Designers - RD040
57:47
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 57:47
Showing Courtesy Between Graphic Designers - RD040

Do you show courtesy for whoever will work on your files once you're done?

Chances are while you're busy working away on your client's latest design project the last thing on your mind is who might one day be working on your files. Or what will happen when you need to open these same files a year or two from now.

Don't worry, I don't think about it either. However, I do take it into consideration the convenience of properly organised files and how much easier they are to work with. So should you.

In this week's podcast episode, I talk about simple things you can do while creating your files that will make it easier for yourself or perhaps another designer to someday down the road work with your files.

I go in depth on this topic but here are some of the points I cover.

Use the right tool

Take into consideration what kind of project you're working on and what application you will design it in. Adobe Photoshop is great for manipulating images but not so good at laying out type. Look at your design toolbox and choose the right tool for the job.

Courtesy when creating vector files

When creating vector files, be it in Adobe Illustrator or some similar software, learn to use groups and layers properly and make sure you label them for easy referencing. Nothing is more frustrating than opening a file with hundreds of layers named "layer 1, layer 2, etc." or finding similar or related objects in the file that are not grouped.

Don't forget to outline the fonts before passing the file on to the printer or another designer.

Courtesy when using Photoshop

Unless it's absolutely necessary, whenever giving a Photoshop file to someone, flatten the layers so you are assured that the file will remain exactly the way you designed it.

If you do need to provide layered Photoshop files you may want to rasterize the fonts and combine any layers that can be combined. And please, delete any unused or unnecessary layers from the file. It's frustrating opening a file and wondering if the hidden layers are important or not.

Courtesy when using page layout programs

A pet peeve of many designers is opening an InDesign or Quark Xpress file only to find the creator used their return key several times to create spaces between text or their space bar to indent type. Learn to use the tab key and the various options built into these programs to manipulate and position your text. It's what they were designed for.

And please, don't use multiple text boxes when one single box will do.

PDF Courtesy

I only have two points of courtesy when creating PDF files for others. One, embed the full font, not a subset. Embedding a subset means any type character that isn't in your document doesn't get included. So if someone ever needs to make a change to the document like adding the word WOW, and the original document didn't have a letter "W" in it, the new designer is out of luck.

My second point is simply, make sure your images are in the proper colour space before creating the PDF. For example, if the PDF will be used for print, ensure the image files are CMYK.

File Management

Finally, learn to use an organised file/folder structure so that nothing gets lost and it's easy to figure out what file does what. Label the client approved file as the final file. Separate working files/images from those used in the final file. And when sending files to a printer use the collect for output option to make sure nothing is missed.

Did I miss anything?

Have some courtesy for those handling your files after you. Did I miss anything in the podcast that I should have mentioned? Let me know what they are by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Tyler

I was listening to one of the recent podcast episodes. You mentioned that you are building websites for two direct competitors. How do you handle ethical dilemmas like, for example, working for competitors?

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

Resource of the week is Prisma

Prisma transforms your photos into artworks using the styles of famous artists: Van Gogh, Picasso, Levitan, as well as world famous ornaments and patterns. A unique combination of neural networks and artificial intelligence helps you turn memorable moments into timeless art.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

Contact me

Send me feedbackFollow 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

Don't Put All Your Design Work In One Basket - RD039
25:38
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 25:38
Don't Put All Your Design Work In One Basket - RD039

Are all your clients grouped into one basket?

This week's podcast episode comes after a conversation I had with an old classmate from college. For the purpose of this episode let's call him "Bob". During my conversation with Bob, he made mention of his boss. I immediately took note and asked him about it because I knew that Bob ran his own design business. It turns out that when Bob's three major clients all left him within a few month period he found himself unable to sustain his business. He enjoyed designing so much that he neglected the marketing and salesmanship side of the business and didn't have enough clients to fall back on. Bob had kept his design work in one basket and it came back to bite him.

That conversation led me to record this episode about diversifying your client base so that what happened to Bob doesn't happen to you.

What do you mean by basket?

In the context of this podcast, a basket is a metaphor for a demographic, industry, market segment or anywhere a client may fall into. For example, if all you do is create websites for dentists what happens when you run out of dentists in your area to design websites for. Or what happens if the dental industry creates a centralised website hub for all its dentists to use? If dentists are your only basket, then your business is in trouble.

You need to use more than one basket.

If you want to run a sustainable graphic design business you need to have a diverse client base so that if something happens to one group of clients you can continue with the rest. Hense the "more than one basket"

The way to accomplish this is to never stop selling yourself. Just because you have a few well paying clients is not an excuse to relax on your self-promotion. In fact, the opposite it true. When you're doing well is the best time to attract new work. Trust me, when you sitting in front of your computer twiddling your thumbs because you have nothing to do and no money coming in is not the time to start thinking of your marketing.

The best thing is, if you do this right, you'll never encounter any downtime at all in your business because you'll have so many clients that all you need to do is find a project from a different basket.

The trick is to find clients in different industries, different market segments and different demographics. Spreading your clients so that some are in one basket and others are in a different basket helps ease the burden should one industry collapse and you loose its business. It may hurt you financially but it won't break you.

What do you think of my basket metaphor?

Do you agree? Disagree? Leave a comment for this episode and let me know what you think.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Gabriel

There are many tips already given for someone wanting to break into the freelance design industry when going the self taught route such as creating self initiated design work and using that in a portfolio while continuing to learn. What about finding a design mentor when going the self taught route? Is it possible to find one and manage that relationship online or is it only possible in person? How would a self taught beginning designer persuade a mentor to teach them?

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

Resource of the week LibreStock.com

LibreStock is a meta search engine that scans and indexes the stock photos from 40+ different websites. They provide the biggest searchable database of free high-quality stock photos on the internet. All the photos indexed on LibreStock are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. this means you can use these pictures freely for any legal purpose. Free for commercial & personal use, You can modify copy and distribute, No attribution required

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

The Many Hats Of A Home Based Graphic Designer - RD038
37:17
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 37:17
The Many Hats Of A Home Based Graphic Designer - RD038

How many hats do you wear in your graphic design business?

If you run a home-based graphic design business, the title of this podcast episode, "The Many Hats Of A Home Based Graphic Designer", shouldn't be much of a mystery.  However, if you are not running your own business yet, the many hats I talk about may come as a surprise.

Let me ask you a question. When did you decide to become a graphic designer?

Did you know from a young age? Did you know another graphic designer and aspired to follow in their footsteps? Did you enjoy art class in high school so much that you decided to pursue a career in the arts and chose graphic design?

Maybe this is your second career. Maybe you got tired of the mundane job you were doing or maybe your company got downsized and you decided to look for something different.

Maybe you didn't even go to school for graphic design. Maybe you or a friend had some event to organize and you decided to make the poster or flyer for it yourself. After doing so you thought "I like doing this" and decided to have a go at it on a permanent basis.

Regardless of how you got here, you are a graphic designer. And if you are also running your own design business you know that you are also so much more.

The story of how I became a graphic designer, even though I had no intention of becoming one, is on the About Page so I won't retell it here. What I will tell you is that after graduating I worked for 15 years at a local commercial printer in their design department. While there the bulk of my job was, you guessed it, designing.

It wasn't until I left there and started my own graphic design studio that I realized just how many hats one has to wear to run a successful business.

When I was at the printing company there were people there to answer the phones, collect payments from clients, pay bills, make sure the delivery van was serviced, make sure supply levels were always up to stock and so on.

My role was to sometimes talk to clients about their jobs, and to design them. In an 8 hour day, I could potentially spend 6-7 hours of it designing.

You probably know where I'm going with this. When I finally started my own graphic design business there was nobody but me to do all those extra tasks.

All of a sudden all those many hats were on my head and it was a little overwhelming. So for the benefit of those who haven't started a business yet, I'm going to list a few, but definitely not all, of the many hats we home based graphic designers have to wear. For a more in-depth description of the following list please listen to the podcast.

The Many Hats of running a home based business
  • General Manager
  • Accountant
  • Secretary/Receptionist
  • Logistics
  • Cleaning
The Many Hats of procuring new clients and work
  • Sales person
  • Public speaking
  • Marketing
  • Estimator
  • Interviewer
  • Human resource
  • Sounding board
The Many Hats of dealing with clients
  • Art director
  • Presenting
  • IT Support
  • Customer Support
  • Troubleshooter
  • Delivery man
The Many Hats while working on design jobs
  • Graphic designer
  • Web Designer
  • Researcher
  • Page Layout
  • Code Writer
  • Search Engine Optimizer
  • Copywriter
  • Editor/Proofreader
  • Time Tracker
The Many Hats after completing a design job
  • Bookkeeper
  • Archivist
  • Customer Support
  • Networking and Follow-up

These are just a few of the many hats we home based graphic designers have to wear.

Running a home-based business is not for everyone. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to make it succeed. But the rewards are tremendous. And, in the end wearing the many hats involved justifies itself. When I was working at the printing company I was making an hourly wage working 8 hours a day.

When I started my own business and charged my own rates all it took was 3-4 billable hours per day to exceed the salary I was previously getting. And that left me lots of extra time to try on all those many hats.

Did I miss any hats?

Are there any hats you wear in your graphic design business that I didn't list? Let me know what they are by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Gretchen

A question that's been bouncing around in my head for quite some time now, is how can I determine the results of my work aside from being a 'nice design.' It's a little easier to quantify when creating things such as websites, but I mainly do print design. It seems like there are just far too many variables. I would like to add something more concrete to my portfolio descriptions.

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

Resource of the week the Four Week Marketing Boost

The Four Week Marketing Boost offers quick and simple tasks focused on improving often overlooked or neglected parts of your marketing material. After completing this four-week plan you will be in a better position to win over new clients.

And yes, this guide is totally free!

This is another way Resourceful Designer helps you streamline your graphic design business and allows you to get back to what you do best, designing.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

7 Ways To Save Money As A Graphic Designer - RD037
49:38
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 49:38
7 Ways To Save Money As A Graphic Designer - RD037

Did you ever think you would be pinching pennies in order to save money?

Some people view the life of a graphic designer as exotic and full of creative wonder. They see us portrayed on TV and in movies as smart, responsible people who, although not necessarily wealthy, do manage a pretty good living. For some reason, those fictional graphic designers are rarely shown struggling to make a living and trying to save money on every purchase they make.

Truth be told, graphic design is not a profession you get into if you have aspirations of being rich. Don't get me wrong, there are some very wealthy designers out there, and the average designer can make a very good living. But for some of us, especially those working from home, living a simple but comfortable life through careful spending and creative ways to save money is what we can expect.

With that said, I thought I'd share the knowledge I've gained over more than 25 years as a graphic designer of various ways for us to save money. Be sure to listen to the podcast for full details and much more than what's writing in this post.

7 Ways for Graphic Designers to Save Money.   1- Hold Off Upgrading

We all want the newest gadgets, the newest toys, the newest fads, but when it comes down to it, there's probably nothing wrong with what we currently have. Save money by keeping your current computer, software and services a bit longer until there's a reason to justify the upgrade expense.

2- Buy in Bulk

Buying in bulk is a great way to save money. Whether it's ink for your printer, ordering new business cards, or purchasing credits at your favourite stock photo site. The more you buy, the less expensive they'll be. The same goes for bundles such as software bundles or font bundles. Save money by purchasing the software you need as part of a bundle and you also gain access to other great programs in the process.

3- Pay More Now To Save Money Later

It sounds crazy that I'm telling you to pay more for something in a podcast about ways to save money. But sometimes in order to save money, paying more up front is the best option. Look for things like developer licenses, or lifetime access where you pay a bit more but never have to pay again.

You can also use this strategy when purchasing hardware. Spend a bit more on your new computer today, and chances are it will last you longer.

4- Find Ways To Cut Costs in your business

This one's a no-brainer. If you want to save money, find creative ways to spend less whenever you make a purchase.

Examples of cutting costs to save money are...

  • Shop around for best prices. Don't assume the last place you made a purchase still has the best price. Shop around each time you need to make a purchase.
  • Buy refurbished. When you buy refurbished you get the same great item including a full warranty at a discounted price.
  • Take advantage of student discounts if you can. Many hardware and software companies offer special student prices.
  • Buy old versions of software and then upgrade. It's usually cheaper than buying the newest version outright.
  • Hire cheap help. Foreign developers, artists, programmers etc. are just as good as local talent but at a fraction of the price.
  • Wait for special days to make your purchases. You can save money by waiting for Black Friday, Boxing Week and even Mother's & Father's day to make your purchase.
  • Use less expensive alternatives. Serif DrawPlus & Serif PhotoPlus or Affinity Designer & Affinity Photo are affordable alternatives to Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.
5 Become an Early Adopter

For many things, the earlier you get in the less expensive it is. Membership groups, associations, beta versions, conference tickets, even Kickstarter campaigns all offer discounts for those who show an early interest. Take advantage of the low prices by purchasing early.

6 Collect Points/Credits

Many companies offer points to loyal customers. Save money by using these points to pay for things. Collect travel rewards on your credit card to pay for trips. Refer people to the software or stock image sites you use and collect credits towards future purchases/upgrades.

7 Take Advantage of Freebies

There are so many companies and services vying for your hard earned money that offer freebies as incentives. Look for free fonts, images, software betas, and trial versions. Sign up for newsletters that send you easy links to weekly free downloads. You could also use free software such as GIMP instead of paying for Photoshop.

Tip of The Iceberg

These are just some of the ways you can save money as a graphic designer. The tip of the iceberg if you will. I'd love to know how you manage. Be sure to leave a comment below with your creative ways to save money.

Questions of the Week

Visit my feedback page and submit your question if you would like it answered on a future episode of the podcast.

This week’s question comes from Michael

I'd love to hear your thoughts on creative placement agencies and if it would be a good idea to work with one to find jobs or would I be better served flying solo and try marketing myself as a freelancer or potential employee. I'm sure there are pros and cons to both sides. Thanks in advance.

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

Resource of the week is Creative Market

Creative Market is a platform for handcrafted, mousemade design content from independent creatives around the world. They''re passionate about making beautiful design simple and accessible to everyone. Visit Creative Market to purchase and sell great designs. And be sure to sign up for their newsletter with weekly freebies.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

Spring Cleaning for Graphic Designers - RD036
53:24
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 53:24
Spring Cleaning for Graphic Designers - RD036

Even graphic designers need to do some spring cleaning?

Just like everything else in life, things seem to pile up in our graphic design business. That's why I recommend taking a little time to do some spring cleaning. I know, not a fun thought but trust me, it will make you more efficient. So let's get started with three spring cleaning sections. Your computer, your office and finally your business.

By the way, I go over most of what I talked about in the podcast right here on this page, but if you don't listen you're missing some great additional content, such as my tighty-whity story in this episode. Not to mention that it's so much easier to consume a podcast than it is to read a blog post. Click one of the subscribe buttons above to get started.

Spring Cleaning Your Computer

Old client files: Do some spring cleaning on your client files. Get rid or archive anything that you don't anticipate needing in the foreseeable future. Get yourself an external hard drive or some cloud service and free up some valuable space on your computer.

Mail Mailboxes: Your mail program can use some spring cleaning as well. Get rid of unused mailboxes and clear out old emails from mailboxes you keep.

Mail Attachments: Mail attachments are usually duplicates of files you already have on your computer so why keep them. In Apple's Mail.app select everything in your Inbox or Sent Items mailbox, then go to the Messages menu and select Delete Attachments. They're just taking up HD space for nothing.

Did you know that if you double click on an attachment in Mail in order to open it, your computer makes a copy of the file first. That copy stays on your computer even after you delete the email or save the file to a different folder. To get rid of these duplicate files go to User>Library>Containers>com.apple.mail>Data>Library>Mail Downloads and delete it's contents. Every folder in there contains a duplicate file that was created when you opened something directly from within mail.

Mail Lists: We all receive emails from places that we somehow became subscribed to. Try unroll.me to manage all your email subscriptions. You can easily unsubscribe to those you don't want and request a digest email for those you keep.

Fonts: Your computer fonts are in desperate need of some spring cleaning. Try Font Doctor from Extensis to identify and fix corrupt and missing fonts.

Application Updates: Don't you find it annoying when you launch an application only to see a window asking if you want to update it? Spring cleaning is the perfect time to get all those updates done in one shot. Open each application in your Applications folder and check them for updates. Don't forget to update your OS while you're at it.

Dock & Dashboard: Get rid of any icons in your dock that you don't use. The applications will still be there when you need them but they don't need to be in your dock. Also, turn off any dashboard widget that you don't use. They're using valuable CPU resources for nothing.

Bookmarks & Apps: It wouldn't be spring cleaning if you didn't purge a bit. Look at your bookmarks, delete any you no longer need, and rearrange those you keep for easier access. Do the same with the Apps on your mobile devices. Get rid of any you don't need.

Update Passwords: It's not necessarily spring cleaning, but it's still a good time to update your passwords. Make sure to create good strong ones for security reasons. Use an app like 1Password to keep things organized.

Your Office

Clean Filing Cabinets/Drawers/Shelves: These things tend to attract clutter. Take some time to go through them and get rid of anything you no longer need. I'm notorious for keeping multiple samples of past client print jobs when all I really need is one.

Organize Your Wires: Untangle and gather all the wires in your office. Use elastics, paper clips or whatever to keep them all neatly together. Use tape or stickers to label your wires for easier access later.

Do a Traditional Spring Cleaning: It wouldn't be spring cleaning without a little elbow grease. Take some time to dust/polish/vacuum and everything else. You'll feel better after you do.

Your Business

Update Your Resume: If you're freelancing while looking for a full time gig at an agency, take some time to update your resume. Make sure to include any new software you're familiar with and any new course you've taken.

Update Your Portfolio: Spring Cleaning is a great time to swap out some of your portfolio pieces. Get rid of old, outdated stuff and add in your fresh new designs. Not only on your online portfolio, make sure you have printed pieces in case you're asked at an interview.

Clean Up Your Website: You should be on top of this one, but in case you're not, spring cleaning is a great time to not only update your themes and plugins but to also look at your website and see if it needs sprucing up.

Take special notice of your About Page. It's usually the most outdated page on your website. For a guile to all the things you need to change in order to put out the best possible first impression you can, get a copy of my Four Week Marketing Boost at marketingboost.net

Check Your Social Profiles: When was the last time you looked at your Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter profiles? Have a look and make the necessary changes. And if you're on job sites like Upwork.com or 99designs.com update your profile there as well.

Weed Out Bad Clients: Do some spring cleaning on your client list. Decide right now which clients you don't want to work with anymore and let them know the next time they contact you.

Freshen Your Goals: What are your goals for your business? Now is the perfect time to look over them and figure out the best way to achieve them.

What do you think?

Did I leave anything out that you do during your spring cleaning? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

If you would like me to answer your question in a future episode please visit my feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Fredrik,

A question that has come to my mind many time is the general design process and how to stick with it. When I'm in the flow of designing a website, I usually end up pushing things too fast and ultimately have to go back to the drawing board because I skipped some important steps along the way. I lack a proper structure when working, and I end up jumping between areas instead of completing one at a time.

How does your design process look like, from start to finish, and do you have any advice on how to be a more efficient designer?

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

Resource of the week is Pretty Much Everything by Aaron James Draplin

I just got my hands on Pretty Much Everything by Aaron James Draplin and I absolutely love it. I thing every graphic designer needs to own this book. Here's the description of it from Amazon.

Pretty Much Everything is a mid-career survey of work, case studies, inspiration, road stories, lists, maps, how-tos, and advice. It includes examples of his work—posters, record covers, logos—and presents the process behind his design with projects like Field Notes and the “Things We Love” State Posters. Draplin also offers valuable advice and hilarious commentary that illustrates how much more goes into design than just what appears on the page. With Draplin’s humor and pointed observations on the contemporary design scene, Draplin Design Co. is the complete package for the new generation of designers.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe 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

When Graphic Designers Feel Overwhelmed - RD035
37:24
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 37:24
When Graphic Designers Feel Overwhelmed - RD035

How do you manage when you feel overwhelmed?

Face it, we've all been there. Not knowing what to do next because there's just so much to do. Wanting to pull your hair out over the stress you feel. Feeling overwhelmed isn't fun but it is part of of the job. The trick is figuring out how to plough through it and move on.

I go into greater detail in the podcast. (click the orange button above and have a listen). But if you don't have time to listen, here's the gist of what I said.

The feeling of being overwhelmed can be caused by so many things. Maybe you have too much work on your plate, or too many deadlines approaching. Or maybe you don't have enough work coming in but you're overwhelmed with bills to pay. Perhaps you're feeling overwhelmed by all that is involved with growing a successful graphic design business. All of this doesn't take into account your life outside of being a graphic designer.

Everything just keeps piling up until the weight of it all overwhelms you.

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? Baby steps

The best way to get over the feeling is with baby steps. Like so many things in life you just need to clear your head and take it one thing at a time. So pick one task and complete it before moving on to the next.

If you start off in the morning with a dozen things on your to-do list and work a little bit on each one throughout the day, you will be making progress but at the end of your day you will still have 12 things that are not finished.

However, if you pick one item on your list and work on it until it's finished before moving on to the next, at the end of your day you may only have 7 or 8 things that still need finishing. You'll feel much better about your accomplishments that day and wont feel as overwhelmed with the work that wasn't done. Those remaining items can simply go to the top of your list for tomorrow.

How to prevent feeling overwhelmed. Organization is key

It's simple, make lists. Your mind already has enough to worry about. Don't add keeping track of everything to the burden. Write a list of what you need to accomplish each day and you will have a better understanding of how to divide your time.

I like to make my lists on paper. That way I can scratch items off when I finish them, which I find much more satisfying than simply pressing a checkbox in an app. Now if paper is not your thing, there are may great apps for managing your to-do lists. ClearDaylight and Evernote come immediately to mind. But I personally don't like it when the items I check off disappear from my list. I know it's to help you focus on what still needs to be done, but I like to see all the scratches on my paper showing me what I've accomplished already. It makes me feel good.

My strategy is every evening before gong to bed I come to my office and write a new to-do list for the following day. I take everything that wasn't scratched off today's list and put it at the top of the new list. I like doing this the night before because I can think about it while I'm in bed and plan my day. In the morning I can get straight to work because I already know what needs to be done.

Longer deadlines

If at all possible, assign longer deadlines for your projects. Instead of telling your clients that you will have something to show them tomorrow, tell them it will be in two days, or by the end of the week. If you get it to them sooner great, they'll be impressed, but if you don't manage it they wont be disappointed in you.

Get help

If you have repetitive or menial tasks that need doing, find someone to take on the task. Why should you spend hours copying and pasting hundreds of names and contact info onto that new business card you just designed for that big corporation? Hire someone (students are great for this) to do this for you. It will free up your time for other things and you wont feel so overwhelmed.

Do something for yourself

Sometimes it isn't your workload or the job at all. Sometimes it's you. Do yourself a favour and get some exercise. Do something creative that isn't for work. Go visit a museum, or simply go for a walk. 

Sometimes all it takes is stepping away for some "me time" in order to refocus yourself to overcome that feeling of being overwhelmed.

You're not alone

We all feel overwhelmed at times. It's human nature and it's part of being a graphic designer. Just know that you will get through it and it will make you a better person and designer when you do. And getting through it will help you the next time you feel overwhelmed.

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

If you would like me to answer your question in a future episode please visit my feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Haya,

I've been designing for a while for the company I work at. I took some classes in the beggining but I'm mostly self taught, I find that I am missing some basic rules in design what makes my work kind of amateurish. I really would like to take design to the next level, but the tutorials and content that I find on the internet are more how to use photoshop, or any program and less about concept and design. I cannot go back to school of design so I would love to hear your input on where can I learn more on my free time.?

To find out what I told Haya you’ll have to listen to the podcast. But I'll give you a hint. I mention Linda.comCreativelive.com and Udemy.com

Resource of the week is Google Alerts

Google Alerts, found at alerts.google.com, is the way I use to keep me up to speed on all sorts of topics. It's extremely easy to set up alerts. Simply enter the search terms on the page and Google will email you the results daily, weekly or as they come out. It's just like doing a search engine search but the results are delivered to your email inbox. You can filter the search by language, region, sources.

Google Alerts are an easy and free way to stay on top of things.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe 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

Dealing With Deadlines - What Type Of Designer Are You? - RD034
40:43
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 40:43
Dealing With Deadlines - What Type Of Designer Are You? - RD034

Dealing with deadlines, what type of designer are you?

Before I get into dealing with deadlines let me first define what a deadline is. According to Webster Dictionary a deadline is a date or time when something must be finished : the last day, hour, or minute that something will be accepted.

I know I didn’t really need to give you the definition of a deadline. You’re a graphic designer, you know all too well what a deadline is. But what I really wanted to touch on is not what a deadline is, but instead, how a deadline comes to be.

What I’m getting at is, who decided that the project you are working on needs to be done at a specific time?

Did your client tell you? Or, did you tell the client?

One of the biggest problems I’ve encountered, especially amongst newer or inexperienced graphic designers is their mistaking a client’s enthusiasm as a desire to have the job done quickly and then self impose a deadline.

When I worked in the design department at a commercial printer our Production Coordinator did this all the time. I would be discussing a new project with a client, getting all the specs and details, and at the end of the conversation the client would ask something like “how soon before I see a proof?”. My Production Coordinator automatically interpreted this as “the client needs this in a rush” and would tell him a proof would be ready within a day or two, forcing the design department to rush on the project. What was maddening is oftentimes the client would respond to this by saying something like “wow, I wasn’t expecting it that fast. I thought it would take at least two weeks but 2 days is great!” As I said maddening.

What’s even more maddening is that I’ve seen this happen over and over again. Just because a client asks when, or how soon they can see a proof doesn’t mean they are in a rush to get it. Let the client dictate the actual deadline if there is one instead of assigning one yourself.

Setting interim deadlines.

Once you have a true deadline assigned to the project. You’ll need to do some backtracking to figure out what YOUR actual deadline is. Let’s say you’re designing a brochure that your client needs for a trade show at the end of the month. There are several factors to keep in mind;

  • Where is the trade show? Will the client need time to ship the brochures?
  • How long will it take to print? Contact the printer as soon as you get the job. They'll give you a deadline to submit your files by in order to print, trim, fold, bind and package the brochures on time.
  • How long will revisions take after the client reviews the initial proof?
  • How long will the client require after receiving the proof before sending those revisions?
  • Finally, add in some padding for anything unforeseen that may delay the project.

By calculating all of these things you’ll be able to determine your own deadline for submitting a proof to the client.

Now what?

Now that you have your deadline, how will you go about working on the project?

Dealing with deadlines is all about balance. If you can't learn that balance you will forever struggle between doing the job well and getting it done on time.

Imagine you're sitting down for a holiday feast surrounded by friends and family. A very large plate of delicious looking food is placed in front of you. Maybe there's turkey, and ham, mashed potatoes, some stuffing, steamed vegetables, cranberry sauce, pasta salad, coleslaw and maybe even some home made meatballs, the ones that only grandma can make. Everything looks so good and you can't wait to dig in. But there's so much on your plate and you're not sure you can eat all of it.

So what do you do? Do you make your way around your plate sampling everything until you're full? Do you pick a little of this and a little of that, leaving your favourite part for last so you can eat it all and savour the taste? Or, do you immediately dive into your favourite just in case you run out of room? After all, you wouldn't want to leave that delicious morsel on the plate because you're too full.

How you decide to eat your meal all depends on what type of person you are.

The analogy may be a little slim, but dealing with deadlines isn't much different.

When it comes to dealing with deadlines there are really only three kinds of graphic designers.

  • The Racers: Designers who tackle the project right away and try to get it done as quick as possible with lots of time to spare, and then move on to the next one.
  • The Coasters: Designers who work on the project slowly but diligently, in little chunks from the time it's assigned until the deadline arrives.
  • The Slackers: Designers who wait until the deadline is almost upon them before finally starting. In this case, slacker doesn't mean lazy. More like someone who is often viewed as a procrastinator.

Now, there are many arguments as to which method is best, but what it really comes down to is you, the designer, and how you handle the pressure of dealing with deadlines.

Now I want to give you my own personal opinion on these three types of people. I know My opinion can be wrong, but this is the way I see it. The Racers, those who tackle the project as soon as they get it are doing themselves a disservice. First off, they are not spending enough time thinking about the project before starting their design. Because of this, I feel they are not putting out their best possible work. The design they come up with may be spectacular, but think of how much better they could have made it if they had spent more time on it. Now obviously with more time left before the deadline they could go back and revisit and expand on their design. But chances are they've already moved onto the next project and have put this one out mind.

The Coasters, those who deals with deadlines by working on the design steadily but in chunks. These designers are also doing themselves a disservice. Sure this method allows them to work diligently on the project and not feel the pressure of the deadline looming over them. But by breaking up their time this way they are constantly disconnecting themselves from the project, splitting their focus between different design projects which could hurt their overall vision and design.

By now I'm sure you've managed to guess what type of designer I am. I truely believe that The Slacker, the designer who waits until the deadline is almost upon them before starting is the one producing the best work.

Let me tell you why...

You're a creative person. Obviously, you wouldn't be in the graphic design profession if you weren't. That creativity means you are able to visualize things in your mind. Play with layouts, fonts, colours and everything else, all within the confines of your head long before putting those visions to paper or pixels.

You know what I mean. Just think of those phone calls you get from clients describing a project to you. If you're like me, you start visualizing in your head how the project will look even before the client finishes describing it. It may not be what the final design turns out to be, but there's definitely something brewing in your head. By the time you hang up the phone you already have a good idea of where you're going to start.

Of course all three types of designers start out this way which is to be expected. It's what they do afterwards that separates them.

The Racer starts right away developing that idea and doesn't alway explore other possibilities.

The Coaster starts developing their idea and then comes back to it later. They may have some revalations along the way, but they're mostly tackling the problem knowing they've already taken some steps along a certain path and their more inclined to remain upon it.

Finally the Slacker, the one who hasn't put anything to paper or pixels yet. His ideas have been brewing in his mind since he first received the project. Changing, evolving, ideas come and are dismissed, others are picked apart and rearranged into something different, better. New directions are explored, some working out and others not so much. All of this is happening in his head as the deadline is approaching.

When the time finally arrives to actually produce the design the Slacker has a very clear picture of what he wants to do and is able to spend a much smaller amount of time implementing it than the first two designer types spent on theirs. And chances are his design will be a much better thought out concept than theirs were.

It was Abraham Lincoln who said;

"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe"

That concept hold true in graphic design, especially when dealing with deadlines. The longer you spend thinking about your design before starting, the faster you'll be able to design it and the better the design will be.

I know it's not always easy to do. I've found myself hanging up the phone with a client and being so exited about their project that I've dropped everything to get started on it. I also know those are the projects that I've wasted the most time changing and revising before being satisfied enough to show it to the client. If I would have taken the time to reflect on my ideas I probably could have saved myself a lot of time and come up with the same design or maybe even something better.

So what I'm saying is give yourself time to think about your design before diving in. If you don't deal well with the pressure of deadlines then don't wait until the last minute. Give yourself enough time to get the job done but also give yourself enough time to know you're doing the job right, and to the best of your ability.

Dealing with deadlines is all about balance. Learn to master that and you're on your way to becoming a better and more proficient graphic designer.

  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

If you would like me to answer your question in a future episode please visit my feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Amie,

Hi Mark! My name is Amie. I am from Pensacola, Florida. I am opening a graphic design studio and I am so grateful to have found your podcast. Thank you for all of your invaluable content!!! I was wondering if you could share a little about profit margin. What is the typical profit margin for a small boutique graphic design studio? We won't be offering any web services at first, just traditional print design/branding stuff. Any insights you could share? Thanks so much!

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

Resource of the week is Pretty Link Pro

Pretty Link enables you to shorten links using your own domain name (as opposed to using tinyurl.com, bit.ly, or any other link shrinking service)! In addition to creating clean links, Pretty Link tracks each hit on your URL and provides a full, detailed report of where the hit came from, the browser, os and host. Pretty Link is a killer plugin for people who want to clean up their affiliate links, track clicks from emails, their links on Twitter to come from their own domain, or generally increase the reach of their website by spreading these links on forums or comments on other blogs.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe 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

Be So Good... A Graphic Designer's Guide to Success - RD033
25:03
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 25:03
Be So Good... A Graphic Designer's Guide to Success - RD033

Be So Good... That Nothing Else Matters!

Running a graphic design business isn't an easy task. There's a lot more than just being a good graphic designer involved. You need to build relationships with your clients, find the best suppliers for your business, seek out help for the tasks you can't handle. Not to mention the day to day tasks that go into running any business. Invoicing, bookkeeping, banking, paying bills etc.

So how is a single graphic designer, running his or her own business expected to compete with every other graphic design company out there? Simple, be so good that nothing else matters.

This week's podcast is a little different than my past episodes. It's more on the motivational side than the norman educational pieces I've put out. Leave me a comment letting me know what you think of this one.

Be So Good...

With everything required of you and your business, it's hard to be the best person out there for clients to choose from. But maybe being the best is aiming too high. I'm not saying you shouldn't strive to be the best. What I'm saying is whoever the "best" is can be subjective. How do you even determine who the best is? You can't really, and neither can your clients. So instead you should strive to be so good that it doesn't matter who is best.

In the eyes of your clients

Be so good... that they know you care about them and their business. Be so good... that they think of you as a friend and confidant. Be so good... that they trust your opinion and follow your lead. Be so good... that they measure other designers by you. Be so good... that they treasure your work, your experience and your expertise. Be so good... that they feel fortunate to have met you. Be so good... that they don't question your prices. Be so good... that they're willing to pay more, pay extra and in advance for your services. Be so good... that they're willing to wait for you when your busy. Be so good... that they seek your opinion in non graphic design matters. Be so good... that you are the first person they think of when needing business advice. Be so good... that they bring up your name in conversations with their collegues. Be so good... that they refer you, even when nobody asked them for a referral. Be so good... that they know you're there for them when they need you. Be so good... that they can't imagine running their business without you.

In the eyes of your Competitors

Be so good... that they try to copy or even steal what you do. Be so good... that they come to you seeking advice. Be so good... that they refer their clients to you when they can can't service them. Be so good... that they want to partner with you.

In the eyes of your Critics

Be so good... they criticize your work because they can't compete with it. Be so good... that your critics just strengthen your resolve and your drive to do even better. Be so good... that their criticism doesn't bother you. Be so good... that others come to your defence and stand up for you.

In conclusion

Be so good... that your customers revere you for making their lives so great, your competitors become your collaborators and your critics, well, who cares about the critics. You're so good that you don't need to worry about them.

What do you think?

I would love to know what you thought of this episode? Let me know by leaving me a comment.

Questions of the Week

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,

How do you handle working with clients from out of town or city? How often would you go to meet these clients in person, before or after the project has started?

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

Resource of the week is CushyCMS

CushyCMS is a truly simple content management system that allows your clients to safely edit their own website, and allows you to pick and choose what parts of the website that have access to. CushyCMS is extremely easy to use. There's no software to install and only takes a few minutes to setup. Simply add a special class tag to the sections of the website you want your clients to be able to edit and give them access. It's that easy. Your client makes their desired changes and CushyCMS updates the website. And it's all standards compliant and search engine friendly.

CushyCMS is free to use for up to 5 websites. You could also pay a monthly fee for additional sites and options, and for the ability to use your own branding on the site.

If you build websites and want to allow your clients to edit only certain areas of the site, CushyCMS is for you.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on AndroidSubscribe on Google Play Music

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

Graphic Designing With A Retainer Agreement - RD032
52:25
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 52:25
Graphic Designing With A Retainer Agreement - RD032

Is a retainer agreement part of your pricing strategy?

Back in episode 11 of Resourceful Designer I talked about pricing strategies for your graphic design business. In it I talked about how value based pricing is the Holy Grail of all the pricing methods. In that episode I didn't cover the retainer agreement because I don't really view it as a pricing strategy. It's more of a payment method. But if I was to include it in all the ways you can be paid I think it comes in a close second.

What is a retainer agreement?

Simply put, a retainer agreement is a way to be paid in advance for work you'll do in the future. It's an agreement between you and your client stating that for a fixed amount of money paid up front on a regular basis, you agree to provide a predetermined amount of work for that client.

Why should you use a retainer agreement?

There are several reasons why a retainer agreement will benefit your home based graphic design business. First and foremost it creates a steady stream of income. Anyone running a graphic design business knows that it's not a profession of absolutes. There are no steady paycheques to be collected every other week. Instead we live off the whim of our clients and their schedule for paying their bills. Having a client on retainer creates a small piece of dependability where you know for a fact that money is coming in. It's like receiving a paycheque on a regular basis.

Another benefit of using a retainer agreement is it allows you to plan your work in advance. Knowing that you have to work on a certain job every week, or that you have to devote a certain amount of time to a client each week allows you to set a schedule and be more productive with the remainder of your time.

Don't forget, when you have a client sign a retainer agreement with you, it's a guarantee that they will come to you for their work and not look elsewhere for a graphic designer.

What are the Pros and Cons of a retainer agreement? Pros

Steady Pay: As long as your client pays according to the agreement, you know when and how much income you can expect.

Better Clients: Entering into a retainer agreement is a big commitment. It takes a client with whom you have a good relationship with to agree to it. Since the relationship is already there, entering into a retainer agreement with them solidifies their loyalty to you.

Retainer Agreements Benefit the Client: There are many benefits to the client to sign with you. The client solidifies their relationship with a graphic designer and wont have to shop around each time they have a project to do. And the client knows in advance how much they are spending, allowing them to create more focused budgets.

Cons

Scheduling Conflicts: Although it's nice to know how much work you will be doing for the client each week. It may be hard to schedule other clients around this, especially if they have tight deadlines for their projects as well.

Dependence Issues: Relying solely on clients with retainer agreements may seem great as far as your income goes, but it can be dangerous if you don't diversify your work with non retainer clients. If a client with a retainer agreement decides to end the contract and leave you, there goes a good chunk of your income.

Potentially Less Pay: One of the things clients like about retainer agreements is the chance to acquire your services at a discounted rate. This, along with the scheduling conflicts I just mentioned could mean putting aside higher paid work in order to complete the work for the client under contract. You could potentially loose out on better paying jobs because your time is tied up due to the retainer agreement.

What type of work do you do under a retainer agreement?

The best type of work for a retainer agreement is anything that is done on a regular basis. Reoccurring work is perfectly suited for this scenario. Work such as website maintenance, newsletters, advertising, consulting, strategic planning.

Don't forget emergency issues. Some clients may want to pay you a small amount on a monthly basis just in case they need you for something.

Type of retainer agreements.

There are may ways you can set up your retainer agreement. This is something you and your client will need to work out. But here are some of the more popular options.

  • Paid to work a fixed amount of hours in a given time frame
  • Paid to work a fixed number of jobs in a given time frame
  • Paid a fixed amount of money you need to "work off". Usually within a given time frame.
  • Paid to be on call or to give the client preferential treatment.
Discussing a retainer agreement with your client.

When approaching a client about a potential retainer agreement you should keep the following in mind:

  • Remind the client how dependable you are.
  • Remind the client how much money they are regularly spending on you.
  • Discuss the benefits to BOTH of you if you enter a retainer agreement.
  • Discuss possible bonuses to the client.
What to include in a retainer agreement.
  • The amount of money you'll receive and the amount of work expected of you.
  • The date you are to be paid and how often
  • What type of work is expected of you.
  • How much notice will you be given for the work.
  • How much time will you have to complete the work.
  • What happens if you go beyond the agreed upon terms (do not offer discounts for additional work)
  • Who pays for expenses incurred while doing the work.
  • Specify that there is no carryover of unused time money at the end of the specified period.
  • What is required and how much time is required to end the retainer agreement.
  • Include an end date or a renegotiation date so you have a scheduled point when you can raise your rates if need be.

I want to include a special note about working beyond the specified time/amount of you retainer agreement. You may be inclined to offer a discount to your client should you go over the time/amount specified. I strongly advise against this. Consistently exceeding the agreement shows that the specifications were not realistic and gives you the opportunity to renegotiate the agreement. If you offer a discount for time spent beyond what is in the agreement the client will be less inclined to negotiate a new agreement.

Don't get complacent

It's nice to have a steady income you can rely on and that's exactly what a retainer agreement can offer you. But don't get complacent while working on retainer. You need to continue to grow your business and look for more work because you never know when or why a client will decide to end the agreement and leave you with a smaller income stream.

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

If you would like me to answer your question in a future episode please visit my feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Caitlin,

I've been lucky enough to gain my first handful of web design clients, which is extremely exciting. But as each contract comes to a close, I'm always flooded with a variety of other services I know I could offer the client, such as content marketing designs or eBook designs. How would you recommend turning web design clients into retainer clients? Even if the retainer is simply website maintenance. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject, how you've handled this issue in the past and what services you tend to offer your clients on a long standing basis after the website design is complete.

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

Resource of the week is WhatTheFont

Whatthefont.com is a website I've been using for many years to help me identify fonts used on designed pieces by simply uploading an image of the font. The site uses OCR to identify the characters, allowing you the option to fix the selected character if it chose wrong. Then the site uses it's vast library of fonts to try to identify or provide you with fonts that closely match the one you provided.

This site has saved me countless hours over the years I would have spent scrolling through my font library looking for that elusive font.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe 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

You Are More Than Just A Graphic Designer - RD031
26:41
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 26:41
You Are More Than Just A Graphic Designer - RD031

Nominate Resourceful Designer for The People's Choice Podcast Awards! Become a partner to your clients, not just a graphic designer.

Over the past 25 years I've seen many graphic designers start their own business and fail. In most cases it wasn't because they weren't good a graphic designer. It was because that's all they were. They were JUST a graphic designer.

If you want to succeed at running your own graphic design business you need to think bigger than being just a graphic designer. You need to establish yourself as a go-to person for all creative, marketing, promotional and branding ideas. You need to establish yourself as a business partner, a sounding board, a problem solver to your clients and not just a supplier of design.

If you fail to establish this sort of relationship with your design clients you are dooming yourself to an on call status. Becoming someone your clients call only once they have an established idea and need someone to execute it.

How do become more than just a graphic designer?

The answer is quite simple. Talk to your clients about their projects. Don't become yes men (or women), who simply do what the client asks of them. That's the easiest way to become just a graphic designer and doom your business. Instead, try to bounce ideas off you clients. Suggest alternatives to what they're asking. Think outside the box. Learn more about their business so that you can suggest things they may not think about.

In episode 20 of Resourceful Designer I talked about the importance of building relationships with your design clients and how doing so can propel you into becoming a strategic partner for them. Someone they come to when they need advice or want a second opinion on. That is exactly what I'm talking about when I say don't be just a graphic designer to them. Become someone important to them. If you do establish that kind of relationship, you can count on good quality projects from them for years to come.

Tell your clients what you can offer them.

One of the biggest problems when dealing with clients is their lack of knowledge of what exactly it is that we do. I discuss this in length in episode 2 of Resourceful Designer. The gist of it is, unless you tell your clients what you can do for them they may look for those services elsewhere.

My own brother-in-law took the logo I designed for him and had business cards designed elsewhere because he "didn't know I also designed business cards".

Have conversations with your clients about their business. These conversations are the perfect opportunity to suggest things or offer services to help them that they don't know you offer.

Your ultimate goal is to become a strategic partner.

You will know when you've succeeded with a client when you become a partner of theirs. When I say partner I don't mean in a sense that you own part of their business. What I mean it you become someone they rely on for more than just design.

You become a strategic partner when your client counts on you for ideas and advice in running and marketing their business. You become a strategic partner when your client stops giving you direction on the designs you create, and gives you free range to create as you see fit. You become a strategic partner when your name is the fist thing off their lips when your client meets someone else with a business problem.

Once you reach that level in the relationship you will be way more than just a graphic designer and your business will have nowhere to go but up.

What do you think?

Do you agree that building these relationships is vital to the success of your own business? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

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,

I have some vacation time coming up and I was wondering, how do you handle things while you are out? Inevitably it seems like a client will always have an unexpected revision they ask me to do or need a file from me out of the blue. Do you have any experience in this at all and if so, how do you handle such situations?

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

Resource of the week is Photos For Life

Wordmark.it is a wonderful new site I just discovered. It's used to sample all the fonts you have installed on your computer and makes it extremely easy to choose the perfect font for the project you are working on. Simply visit the site, type in a word or phrase of your choosing and click "load fonts". In no time flat you will see your word/phrase displayed in every font you have installed. You can use various filters to adjust the size, case, and readability of the fonts. Simply click the fonts you are interested in and then view only the ones you selected.

I only just discovered this site but I've already used it for a couple of projects and I expect it to become a regular part of my design resources.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe 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

What To Do When You Mess Up A Graphic Design Project - RD030
31:31
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 31:31
What To Do When You Mess Up A Graphic Design Project - RD030

Whose fault is it when YOU mess up?

Sounds like a silly question doesn't it? If YOU are the one to mess up, then shouldn't it be your fault? That's what I thought. However, after reading through the heated discussion in a Facebook group about graphic design, I realize that some people aren't so sure about what constitutes a mess up. I was so perturbed about what I read that I decided to devote this podcast episode to this one topic.

Here's a bit of context: In a graphic design Facebook group I came across a question posted by a designer seeking advice. The gist of his story when something like this. He designed a flyer for a client who then took the artwork to a printer to have the flyer printed. Towards the end of the design stage the designer had sent a proof for the client to sign off on. Instead of signing off on the job, the client told the designer that everything looked good, however they decided to change one word in a heading and would sign off on the job once the designer supplied them with a new proof with the requested change. The designer made the change, sent a new proof to the client for verification and promptly received their signed approval. The designer then produced the final PDF files for the client to supply to the printer. End of job. Or so the designer thought.

A couple of weeks later the client contacted the designer saying there was a mess up on the flyer and they couldn't use what they had. They needed the error fixed and they wanted the designer to pay for the reprint.

Now I know what you're thinking. The client signed off on the proof so it's their problem, not the designer's. The designer even had a clause in his contract stating that he wasn't responsible for any errors in the artwork once the client signs off on the job. So why the issue?

Here's where things get interesting. It turns out the proof the client did not sign off on when they asked for the word change in the heading was 100% ok everywhere else. They had had it proofread and verified by several people. Somehow, when the designer changed the word in the heading, something else must have happened to mess up a completely different section of the flyer and nobody noticed. When he sent the client the final proof they did not verify the entire flyer again, they only verified the word change and then signed off on the job.

So after this long explanation (which was even longer in the Facebook group) The designer asked the group whether or not he was at fault.

Who is responsible for the mess up?

Maybe it's my old fashion ways, but I was surprised at how divided the discussion was. Half the people said it was the designer's responsibility because he had messed up something unrelated to the one change the client requested. The client had no reason to look over the rest of the flyer again after determining that it was OK. The other half said it was the client's responsibility because they signed off on the proof with the mess up on it. They should have verified everything again before signing off on it. The discussion got pretty heated. Much more so than I thought the topic merited but everyone involved wanted to hold their ground.

I decided not to get involved in the discussion, and I don't know what the designer ultimately decided. I do know that he mentioned arguing with his client over the matter, which is why he was asking for advice.

When you mess up, you should man up to it (or woman up to it).

My stand on the topic is that the designer is ultimately responsible. Not only for the mess up, but for his integrity and his reputation. Should the client have rechecked the entire flyer? Perhaps, and they probably will on the next project. But ultimately they had no reason to. What would have happened if instead of asking for a new proof, the client had instead signed the first proof and told the designer the project was approved with one simple word change. I know this has happened to me many times. "Mark, here's the signed approval, just add a period to the end of the second paragraph and everything is good." If the client had done something like that instead, the mess up would clearly be on the designer. But because he showed them that he had changed that one word, the question of responsibility is now up in the air.

It's not worth it.

I don't know how many flyers were printed with the mess up. I have no idea if it was a $200 job or a $20,000 job. Regardless I hope the designer makes the right decision and takes responsibility for it. Not just because I believe he's at fault. But because of the possible repercussions for his business.

The designer mentioned that was was arguing with his client over the matter which is never a good thing. It's ok to have disagreements with clients, or difference of opinions. But arguments should never enter into the equation. I can almost guarantee that even if the designer takes responsibility for the mess up, the damage has been done and the client will be looking for another designer for any future projects. And what of the designer's reputation? When word gets out in the business community of how he handled the situation it wont look favourably for him and could make it harder for him to find future work.

Do you disagree?

Who do you think was ultimately responsible for the mess up? 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 Toby,

Hey there Mark I have a question for you that hopefully you may be able to shine some light on. I check up on my clients sites fairly often just to make sure everything is up and running and in working order, and just recently I noticed that a particular plugin that I have used for multiple clients pages is no longer functioning as the provider has changed their API, essentially breaking the plugin. I have said all that to get to my question which is how do I handle explaining to my client's (some of whom may not be understanding) that it is broken and is not my fault? I have not informed any of them yet as they are past clients I have not worked with in a few months, but seeing as when I handed the site over to them everything was working as it should and now it is not due to something out of my control, if they notice and then come to me for a fix would I be in the wrong to charge them to fix this? Thank you so much for the knowledge and help!

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

Resource of the week is Sync by iThemes

It's important to keep WordPress sites updated, both for the security and to take advantage of the latest features and improvements of themes and plugins.

Updates to WordPress core and any plugins or themes installed on sites can happen pretty frequently. And if you're managing multiple WordPress sites, keeping them all updated can take up a lot of your valuable time.

iThemes Sync is an easy way to manage updates for all your WordPress sites from one place. Instead of logging in to each site individually, you have one place to view and install available updates, making WordPress maintenance easy.

You can set up and manage up to 10 sites for free by visiting http://resourcefuldesigner.com/sync

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe 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

Are Graphic Design Awards Important For Your Business - RD029
35:37
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 35:37
Are Graphic Design Awards Important For Your Business - RD029

Proud of your graphic design awards? Great, pat yourself on the back and get back to work.

There's always a good feeling that comes with winning awards. Wether it's recognition from your peers at some formal gala, or a gold star from your third grade teacher. Awards represent achievement, prestige, and of course give you some bragging rights. But when it comes to our business, do graphic design awards translate to better and more work?

Now I realize that this is my own personal opinion. I didn't look up any studies, nor did I conduct any surveys. But if you ask me, I would have to say NO. Entering in graphic design competitions and winning graphic design awards don't really do anything for your graphic design business. Disagree? Have a story to prove me wrong? Leave your opinion in a comment below.

Types of Graphic Design Awards

There are a ton of graphic design competitions that offer a variety of graphic design awards. That's not what I want to talk about. I'm referring to the different "categories" of graphic design awards available to you.

Graphic Design Awards For Students.

There are probably more graphic design competitions aimed at students than there are aimed at professionals. And that's OK. In fact, graphic design students are the ones that can benefit the most form winning graphic design awards. They look great on resumes and could be the deciding factor in an employer choosing one young designer over another.

Unfortunately graphic design awards won while you're a student have short life spans. They look good for the first few years of your career but after a while the loose their wow factor. It's kind of like the local theatre awards some Hollywood A Lister won before they made it big. They were great at the time, and may have helped them land their first acting part, but nobody cares about those awards now.

Professional Graphic Design Awards

If you do covet graphic design awards these are the ones to go after. I wont name any names here but there are some very prestigious graphic design competitions in our industry. Unfortunately most of these competitions require you to pay a fee in order to submit a piece of work. Some of those fees can be expensive. Without a guarantee that your piece will make it on the final ballot the price involved with these graphic design competitions is just too much for most graphic designers, especially those running their own business.

Don't get me wrong. I fully understand why these graphic design competitions charge hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars just to submit your work for consideration. If they didn't they would be flooded with thousands of submissions from every wannabe designer looking for a leg up. The problem however is that only those who can afford the entry fee are recognized. Meaning they may not necessarily be the best graphic designers, they are simply the ones with money to spend.

Niche Graphic Design Awards.

Niche graphic design awards are fun to win, but don't really mean much. A niche design award is usually offered by some industry or group to recognize achievement within their ranks. For example, a fire department my win an award for having the best department crest out of all fire departments in the state. Or a book publisher may offer an award for the best book cover design out of all the books they published in the past year.

Most of the time it's your client that is the one being recognized and not you the designer. In the examples above, the fire department and the book author would win the award. However, by proxy you can claim some recognition for having designed the winning piece and have every right to brag about it any way you like.

Graphic Design Inclusions.

Not so much an award since there are no graphic design competitions involved. Inclusions is when your work is recognized in some compilation of work. This is when a logo you designed appears in a book of "Best Logo Designs" or if a website you built appears in a list of the "top 100 websites". You haven't actually won any awards for your design but you can still brag about it's inclusion nonetheless.

Do Graphic Design Awards help your business?

My short answer is NO. Graphic design awards look great on a resume when you're applying for a job. But as far as your own business goes, they're nothing but fluff.

Continuing with comparisons to the film industry, a film director or producer my benefit from having an Oscar winner starring in their movie, but how that translates to the viewing audience depends on how good the movie is. After all there have been many box office bombs that starred previous Oscar winners.

The same goes for the graphic design industry. Having an award on your resume may be coveted by the employers you're interviewing with. But when it comes to running your own business, your clients are much more concerned with what you can provide them, not some award you won for something you did for someone else.

Should You Bother Listing Your Graphic Design Awards?

Of course you should. You won them after all so why not brag about them. Just don't expect your list of awards to translate into more business or better clients. Unless you payed some big bucks to enter your project in some prestigious graphic design contest that is. In that case let me know how it goes for you because I have absolutely no experience with that.

One Last Thing About Your Graphic Design Awards.

If you do decide to list your awards somewhere, like I just told you you should. I have one suggestion for you. Leave off the dates. If you won the "John Smith Award For Outstanding Achievement In Graphic Design" back in 2012. Don't list that you won it in 2012. You're only opening it up for the question "what happened since then? Why haven't you won anything since?".

Simply list that you are the "Winner of..." or "Recipient of.." and then list the award. Nobody needs to know when you won it. Same goes if you won multiple awards. Instead of saying you won the award in 2010, 2011 and 2012, simply say "Three Time Winner of..."

In conclusion, don't let the success of winning a graphic design award define you. Concentrate on your portfolio. Strive to do your best on every project regardless on it's worthiness for graphic design competitions. After all, the loyalty of a good client is worth way more than any award.

What do you think?

Do you agree with my take on graphic design competitions and graphic design awards? 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 Norman,

Hey Mark, hope all is well, I had another quick question for you. Now you mentioned in a previous podcast episode that you were lucky enough to have a majority of your previous clients from referrals from another local designer so you may not have much hands on with this topic, But my question is about cold calling potential clients, and if you have any experience with this over the years how did you over come the potential anxiety associated with picking up the phone and calling these people? Thanks again Mark! Keep up the awesome work.

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

Resource of the week is Evernote Essentials

You've heard me talk before about the application Evernote. I use Evernote to organize my business, my podcasts and my daily life. I started using Evernote a few years ago but didn't become serious about it until I discovered Evernote Essentials, the guide written by Brett Kelly. Evernote Essentials is the user's guide that should come with Evernote.

When I first started using Evernote I found it a bit complicated and only used it for a few basic functions. Evernote Essentials taught me how to use this robust program to it's full potential and now I rely on it daily to keep by business, and life running smoothly.

Wether you already use Evernote or are thinking of trying it out. I highly recommend getting this guide. You wont regret it.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe 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

Secrets You Should Keep From Your Graphic Design Clients - RD028
36:51
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 36:51
Secrets You Should Keep From Your Graphic Design Clients - RD028

Shhh, They're secrets. Don't tell your clients.

Every good business person knows that there are certain things you share with your clients and others that are secrets. As a graphic designer running your own home based graphic design business you should be no different. There are some things you should share and others that should be secrets you keep from your design clients.

What kind of things merit being secrets?

There are many things you may not want to divulge to your clients. The fact that you sometimes design in your underwear, or that you spend time each day looking at cat videos. Just like the parts of your personal life that you don't share with others, your graphic design business has it's share of secrets you don't want known as well. But that's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about secrets that help you run your business and that could harm it if they became known.

9 Secrets you should keep from your graphic design clients.

1) Your Home Phone Number: I believe your home phone number is one of the secrets you should keep from your clients. If you are running a serious business you should have a special phone number associated with it. Why? To keep your personal and business life separate. It may not be that big a deal if you live alone but if you have a family, the last thing you want is your four year old answering the phone when a potential client calls.

Contact your phone company to see what options they offer, or use a service like eVoice.com, the service Wes McDowell of The Deep End Design recommended when I interviewed him in episode 14 of the podcast. Regardless of what method you choose your home phone number is a secret you should only share with friends and family.

2) Your Home Address: Running your business from home offers a lot of freedom. But one of those freedoms shouldn't be clients coming and going as they please. Your home address is another one of the secrets I strongly recommend you keep from your clients. In this day and age it's possible to never meet a client face to face. And if you do need to, you could always meet them at their office or at some other meeting place such as a coffee shop.

I personally have a mailbox at my local UPS Store that I use as by business address. This not only allows me to ship and receive mail there, but it gives my clients a place to drop things off for me without me needing to be there. Not to mention the anonymity of my clients not knowing where I work from. Why is this important? Maybe you live in an area with a bylaw preventing you from running a business from home. These bylaws don't prevent you from working from home, they just prevent you from seeing clients at your home. There's also your insurance. It may not cover any liabilities should a client be injured on your property if they were there on business purposes.

And don't forget security. If you are single and living alone you may not want your clients to know where you live. Especially if a client mistakes your friendly nature as flirtatious. If at all possible, keep your home address a secret from your clients.

3) Vacation Time: We all need to take vacations to unwind, destress, and recharge our creative juices. I look forward every year to the time I take off with my family. Although you may be tempted to spread the word about the amazing trip you are about to take. Your vacation time is one of the secrets that is a good idea to keep from your clients. Why? Because when you run a home based graphic design business and you announce that you will be away on vacation, You are telling everyone that your house will be vacant with all your expensive equipment ripe for the picking.

You may be thinking "I trust my clients so I'm not worried" and that's great. But you have no control over who your clients may inadvertently inform of your departure. So don't take the chance. If you are taking a vacation inform your clients that your office will be closed but don't give them reasons why. Saying the office will be closed leaves the possibility that you are home but just not working. It's much better than saying I'm away for a few days, come on in.

4) Your Political or Religious standing: What are the two most common catalysts for conflict? You guessed it, politics and religion. Unless your are designing for a political candidate or are working on a project for a church group, there is no reason for your clients to know how you stand politically or your religious beliefs. Who you voted for in the last ballot has absolutely no bering on your abilities as a graphic designer. Nor does your faith. In fact you could potentially loose more business by divulging how you stand, than by keeping these two secrets. Don't give a potential client a reason to not work with you before they know what you can do for them.

5) Your Working Schedule: Being a home based graphic designer means you have the freedom to work any hour of the day you choose. If you have young children, being able to put in a few hours after they go to bed may be the only way to keep your business afloat. However, regardless of what time of day you work, you should still keep regular business hours for your clients and keep your actual working hours a secret. Why? Design agencies and marketing firms operate under standard business hours. Most commonly 9am - 5pm. You should run your graphic design business the same way. Correspond with your clients during this time regardless of when you actually work. If your client finds out that you worked on their job at 10pm on night, they may expect it from you the next time they have a rush job for you. As long as you get the job done, it's no business of your client what time of day you worked on it.

6) Your Associates: Every good designer has a team of associate they call on for special tasks. Be it illustrators, developers, copywriters, etc. Who you get to help you on a project should not be important where your client is concerned. They are hiring you to get their project done and as long as you complete it they should be happy. How you complete it isn't important.

You may be wondering why your associates should be secrets to keep from your clients? In some cases a client may hire you because they have a strong tie to the community and you are a local business. Knowing that some of their project may be worked on by someone outside the community may cause them to hire someone else. In other cases, a client may decide to bypass you, whom they see as the middle man, and deal directly with your associates on future projects. So unless absolutely necessary, keep your associates secret.

7) Your Suppliers: Similar to your associates, your suppliers are more secrets to keep from your clients. If you find a really good supplier for printing, web hosting, specialty products, or whatever, you want to keep that to yourself. As long as you can supply good quality products at a good price to your clients, it doesn’t matter where you get them from. Plus, if you don't divulge these secrets, there's no chance your competition can get wind of it and start using the same supplier.

8) Your markup and costs: This one should be a no brainer. There is no reason for you to share these secrets with your clients. How much you are marking up a job or what something costs you is none of their business. Nor should you tell them if you are getting a discount somewhere. I use various printers depending on what the project is. Take business cards for example. The printer I use for business cards will sometimes have a sale. Since I charge a standard fee to my clients for business card printing, I don't tell them when there is a sale on. The discounted price works to increase my profit on the job.

9) Your Other Clients: This one is a bit different. After all most of us proudly display our work in our portfolio so who we work for are not necessarily secrets. However, there are some circumstances where you don't want one client to know you're working for another client. There is nothing wrong with working for two competing clients. A good designer will find a way to create compelling material for each of them. However if your clients knew it could cause some tension. Especially if they thought you were devoting more time and energy to the other one. This could lead to one or possibly both clients taking their work elsewhere. So in situations like this it's best to keep who you work for a secret.

What do you think?

So there you have it. 9 secrets you should keep from your graphic design clients. Is there anything I forgot? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Resource of the week is Adobe Color CC.

Adobe Color CC offers an easy way to make custom pallets to keep track of the colours you use on client projects. Every new project I begin starts with a visit to this site where I choose the colours I will use on the project.

Adobe Color CC offers several colour rules to choose from. Analogous, monochromatic, triad, complementary, compound and shades. Each colour rule allows you to select the perfect colours that work together. Once you have your colours selected the page gives you the values in CMYK, RGB, LAB, HSB, or HEX.

If you have a Creative Cloud account you can save the template for future reference, making it easy to keep track of a client's colours for all future projects.

If you are not already using Adobe Color CC I highly recommend you give it a try.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe 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

Taking Time Off From Your Graphic Design Business - RD027
31:48
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 31:48
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 iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe 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

Raise Your Prices To Get Better Graphic Design Work - RD026
45:45
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 45:45
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 iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe 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

Selling Your Idea to Your Graphic Design Clients - RD025
25:58
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 25:58
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 iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe 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

Benefits of a Home Based Graphic Design Business - RD024
33:23
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 33:23
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 iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe 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

Dangers of a Home Based Graphic Design Business - RD023
26:45
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 26:45
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 iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe 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

File Management For Graphic Designers - RD022
01:05:50
2017-09-30 00:18:02 UTC 01:05:50
File Management For Graphic Designers - RD022

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 iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe 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

 

Ending Relationships With Your Graphic Design Clients - RD021
36:37
2017-09-30 00:18:03 UTC 36:37
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.comElegant 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 iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe 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

Building Relationships With Your Graphic Design Clients - RD020
22:04
2017-09-30 00:18:03 UTC 22:04
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 iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe 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

Are Your Communication Skills Scaring Away Design Clients? - RD019
18:52
2017-09-30 00:18:03 UTC 18:52
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 iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe 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

Tax Deductions For Home Based Graphic Designers - RD018
29:33
2017-09-30 00:18:03 UTC 29:33
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.

Four Week Marketing Boost - FREE GUIDE

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.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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

Being A Freelance Graphic Designer Could Hurt Your Business - RD017
19:08
2017-09-30 00:18:03 UTC 19:08
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.

Four Week Marketing Boost - FREE GUIDE

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.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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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20 Questions Your Design Clients Should Be Asking You - RD016
35:50
2017-09-30 00:18:03 UTC 35:50
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

 

50 Questions To Ask Before Every New Design Project - RD015
51:17
2017-09-30 00:18:03 UTC 51:17
50 Questions To Ask Before Every New Design Project - RD015

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

Moving Your Graphic Design Business - RD014
31:33
2017-09-30 00:18:03 UTC 31:33
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

Graphic Design Gift Ideas For Your Office - RD013
25:40
2017-09-30 00:18:03 UTC 25:40
Graphic Design Gift Ideas For Your Office - RD013

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

 

6 Ways To Boost Your Creativity - RD012
28:53
2017-09-30 00:18:03 UTC 28:53
6 Ways To Boost Your Creativity - RD012

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

Pricing Strategies For Your Graphic Design Business-RD011
40:45
2017-09-30 00:18:03 UTC 40:45
Pricing Strategies For Your Graphic Design Business-RD011

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

How To Deal With Design Clients Who Have Tunnel Vision-RD010
17:31
2017-09-30 00:18:03 UTC 17:31
How To Deal With Design Clients Who Have Tunnel Vision-RD010

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

12 Ways To Earn Extra Income As A Graphic Designer-RD009
36:26
2017-09-30 00:18:03 UTC 36:26
12 Ways To Earn Extra Income As A Graphic Designer-RD009

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.

  Four Week Marketing Boost - FREE GUIDE

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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

Just In Time Learning And Your Ongoing Design Education-RD008
28:47
2017-09-30 00:18:03 UTC 28:47
Just In Time Learning And Your Ongoing Design Education-RD008

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.

Four Week Marketing Boost - FREE GUIDE

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.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherSubscribe on Android

Contact me

Send me feedback

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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

Considerations When Starting A Graphic Design Business-RD007
55:38
2017-09-30 00:18:03 UTC 55:38
Considerations When Starting A Graphic Design Business-RD007

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

  Four Week Marketing Boost - FREE GUIDE

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.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on Stitcher

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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

8 Myths About Starting A Home Based Design Business-RD006
34:46
2017-09-30 00:18:03 UTC 34:46
8 Myths About Starting A Home Based Design Business-RD006

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)

Four Week Marketing Boost - FREE GUIDE

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.

Subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on Stitcher

Contact me

Send me feedback

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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

Don't Compromise Your Principles For Your Design Business-RD005
21:53
2017-09-30 00:18:03 UTC 21:53
Don't Compromise Your Principles For Your Design Business-RD005

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

Superhero Syndrome and Your Design Business - RD004
30:09
2017-09-30 00:18:03 UTC 30:09
Superhero Syndrome and Your Design Business - RD004

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

Dealing With Photographers-Brett Gilmour Interview - RD003
36:40
2017-09-30 00:18:03 UTC 36:40
Dealing With Photographers-Brett Gilmour Interview - RD003

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

Do Your Design Clients Know What You Do? - RD002
15:30
2017-09-30 00:18:03 UTC 15:30
Do Your Design Clients Know What You Do? - RD002

Do Your Design Clients Know What You Do?

As graphic designers and/or web designers you're always looking for ways to find new clients. After all, they are your bread and butter. Without design clients you're out of a job. But finding new clients can be a challenge. I wrote a blog post that may help titled 10 Proven Ways To Attract Design Clients that goes over simple ways that I myself have used to get new clients.

But should all your focus be on attracting new design clients or on attracting new design work? Because there's a wealth of potential projects waiting for you with your existing clients if you just ask. Because the fact is, your design clients don't know what you do.

Sounds crazy I know. But the fact is, they became your client because they needed you for a specific project and you delivered. But when the next, slightly different project comes along will they think of you? The answer is not unless you tell them you can do it.

In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast I share a simple trick I use that keeps winning me more projects from my existing clients. Some of them projects my clients didn't even know they had until I told them.

Face it, as a designer you have a lot of skills. Some you use on a daily basis and others you don't get to stretch out as often as you'd like. But those skills are there when you need them. You need to inform your clients of those skills so that when the time comes they will know what you do as a designer.

Backblaze online backup solution

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, visit resourcefuldesigner.com/backup

Introduction to the Resourceful Designer podcast - RD001
14:12
2017-09-30 00:18:03 UTC 14:12
Introduction to the Resourceful Designer podcast - RD001

Welcome to the very first episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast.

I'm Mark Des Cotes, graphic designer, web designer and host of this podcast. I'm super excited that you decided to take the time to listen to my show. The fact that you are tells me a couple of things about you. 1) you're either a graphic designer or web designer (or perhaps both) and 2) you're passionate about your design business. Why else would you press play on a podcast about running a graphic/web design business? I think we'll get a long just fine.

My goal is to help you explore ways to streamline your graphic design and/or web design business so that you can get back to what you do best... designing.

In each episode Resourceful Designer I'll explore different aspects of what happens behind the scenes of a design studio. All the nitty gritty that your clients never see but are necessary to keeps your business not only running but competitive. From software and hardware, to dealing with clients and suppliers, to balancing home and business life and so much more. I'm stoked that you are joining me for this journey.

Who is this podcast for?

Resourceful Designer is aimed at solopreneurs, especially those of you running a design studio out of your home. But that's not to say that those of you not working from home won't benefit from the show. A lot of what I'll discuss can be used or modified for larger design studios and can be helpful to designers working at larger agencies. Just keep in mind that my main focus is helping the small one designer studios.

Who is this guy?

I've been in the industry for over 25 years, the last 10 of which have been spent running my own design studio out of my home. Before that I worked for 15 years in the design department at a commercial printer.

I'm also an experienced podcaster. I run Solo Talk Media where I host several TV Fan podcasts. I'm also one of the hosts for the Stuff I Learned Yesterday podcast by Golden Spiral Media.

I started Resourceful Designer to share my knowledge, and the knowledge of my guests with you. To help you streamline your design business.

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