Most designers, regardless of whether you are self employed or an employee, have a to-do list full of all kinds of different tasks that are fighting for attention. It may include finalizing a project for one client, working on an estimate for another client, responding to emails, recording payments and working on financials, etc. With […]
Articles tagged as ‘Business’
As you’re running your own freelance design business, you require knowledge to improve your craft.
You most likely follow along with email design newsletters to find hot tips from places like Smashing Magazine and Design Shack. But who do you think makes those emails?
It seems like every single company in the world has an email list nowadays, but you can’t seriously think that the CEOs are creating content and shooting those emails out every week.
That’s right, companies hire people for email design, just as much as they do for web design. In fact, web design is often a one-off job if the client doesn’t sign up for a maintenance plan. Whereas an email design gig could last for years…
Freelance designers, as well as those who work for small design studios, often face the challenge of getting the most productivity out of their time and achieving maximum efficiency. While this can be a struggle for anyone in a more “typical” job, freelancers have added distractions, unique challenges, and no one to hold them accountable. To be a successful freelancer you’ll have to place a priority on productivity and find ways that work for you.
Each of us is unique and no process will work for everyone, but all of us have plenty of things that we can do to improve our workflow. In this article I’ll cover some of the lessons that I have learned through my own experience. For me, productivity is a constant goal, and always interested in finding new ways to get more out of my time. I’m far from perfect in these areas, but making consistent improvements. Hopefully some of these things will help you in your own work.
In this era of smartphones, mobile applications have become quite popular. In fact, every major service or tool on the internet, be it a social network or an email service provider, cannot survive without a mobile app. As such, it is natural to see application markets and stores grow at an exponential rate, and new […]
Do you often find yourself frustrated at the lack of sign ups on your blog? Perhaps you’re receiving traffic, but nobody is sticking. You then find writing content a laborious task, that ultimately won’t bring you the results you need to further your business.
However, if executed correctly blogging is a fantastic way of generating leads through email signups, encouraging downloads, increasing your social media following and inviting people to register for events you might be running…
In our economy there are a lot of designers and developers looking for work, whether it is full-time employment, contract work, or freelance opportunities. Fortunately, there are a number of great places to find these types of positions. In this post we’ll look at several sites that include specialized job boards that include web/graphic design and web development opportunities…
Being a freelancer is hard work. Not only do you have to keep up with work projects but you also have to keep track of invoicing, communicating with clients, marketing yourself, and even making sure you have enough work for upcoming months to keep bills paid. This can make freelancing quite time consuming and exhausting. Thankfully, there are solutions to keep clients flowing in without taking away from the actual money-making tasks.
Bringing in new clients can be less of a pain and time suck with the right methods, and seasoned freelancers are just the ones to ask. The following 11 freelancer designers are experts in the field and have a lot of experience in client acquisition. So, we asked these experts the same question:
What advice can you give on finding new clients and/or making yourself visible enough that your work queue remains full?
While their answers vary slightly, most of them show that gaining new clients can become almost automated, if you put in the right leg work in the beginning. As you read through the advice below, you may want to think about which fits you the best. Every freelancer varies in their gifts and skills, so pick the method that will be easiest for you to keep up with until the time comes to let your efforts bring the clients to you…
Over the years, I’ve seen freelancers who I never thought would make it, succeed. I’ve watched other freelancers, who seemed extremely gifted to me, fail.
What was the difference? Why did some freelancers succeed while other, more talented freelancers failed?
Was my judgment of talent that bad? I don’t think so.
I’m convinced the real reason that some freelancers succeed while others fail is because many failed freelancers panic and give up on their freelancing business too soon. In other words, they panic…
“How is that even possible?!” – asks you.
What I mean here is quite straightforward. Reading every web design article, gallery, tutorial, blog post, and etc. can be very enticing, but does it really make you better at your craft?
And this is not necessarily about the quality of that content, but more about your ability to take action on it.
In other words, the problem of wasting time when reading about web design is the problem of information overload, and it has a weird tendency to strike you whenever you’re trying to get some actual design work done…
I run a company called Envato. There are two hundred and fifty people who work here, and every month our sites notch up thirty five million visits. It’s a pretty successful business and one I’m very proud of. When we started, I never dreamed we’d get to this level.
In fact, I used to imagine that successful companies were started by people in suits. People who reviewed spreadsheets of business opportunities, had been trained in what to do, and then, perhaps while smoking a cigar, selected one to dominate. But that’s not how we looked when we started Envato at all, and fortunately we didn’t let that stop us from giving it a go…
Do you network with local businesses face-to-face?
Good for you. Building a strong foundation of local businesses who use your freelance web design services can only help you grow. Even getting together for a simple cup of coffee can be a good way to grow your business.
But did you know that there’s a wrong way and a right way to go about scheduling meetings?
The wrong way will take tons of time and yield practically no paying clients. The right way will help you promote your design services for a steady flow of new clients. Do you know the difference?
In this post, I’ll explain why bad networking practices can hurt your freelance business. I’ll also give you four tips to help you keep in person meetings from draining your pocketbook and sucking away your time…
Back in 2008 I was a freelance web designer just starting out, exploring WordPress for the first time and all the wonders of web development. It seemed – at the time – like there was just so much to learn. Far too much for any one person to be able to master. Now I look back on those as “the good old days” – when I could open my RSS reader and go through just about every great web design blog out there, including Vandelay Design.
Today, I run one of the web’s newest and most shiny publishing platforms, called Ghost. We launched 2 years ago and currently turn over $411,000 in annual revenue (you can watch this live on our public revenue dashboard and have just under 300,000 users. It’s been quite the roller-coaster ride! But I’m getting ahead of myself: Let me tell you how this whole thing got started…
The age-old battle between designers and their clients rages on. Your client expects a certain type of design from you. They give you examples of what they want. Then they share their goal for this design, and your heart sinks. You know that they need something entirely different than what they expect to accomplish this goal.
Steve Jobs said something very wise about designing a product for a customer: “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” And the same is true of design clients.
Now, of course, some clients are the perfect client. They tell you their needs, their goals, and may even give you a couple of examples, but they leave the whole of the project up to you. When you present your design, they are in love and can’t wait to hire you for their next project.
But many times, designers have to be prepared to either sell their soul (i.e. creative pride) to get paid or be prepared to walk away from a project into which they have already put too much time. Any time you cross a client, you will probably need to be prepared for one of these worst possible outcomes. Remember the saying, “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best”?
Very often, you may only have to compromise a little on your design pride to get to the invoicing part of the job. But disagreeing with a client’s opinion is no light matter, which is why you need to know exactly why you should not always design to client expectations…
So you have been shortlisted for that project that you are desperate to win. All that stands between you and your dream project is a presentation followed by a question and answer time. How do you ensure you give the best pitch of your life?
There is no single approach to giving a successful pitch. It depends on the client, the project and your own personality. But there are some things you can bear in mind. These presentation tips are about more than what goes on your slides and how to make them look pretty.
When a client asks you to attend a pitch they want to know two things: can they work with you and can you deliver. This means any pitch is about making a connection and instilling confidence…
After the holidays and welcoming the New Year we feel elated and inspired to start the year off right. Soon, after a few days or weeks, we get caught up in the routine again and lose focus on all the opportunities and positive changes we had envisioned. In this post, I’ll discuss some of the biggest internet trends to embrace in 2015…
If you are a blogger, designer, or budding online entrepreneur, you probably have something to sell. And you might not even know it.
In this age, digital content is all around us. From eBooks to graphic designs to articles, the market for digital content is booming and becoming larger by the minute. Yes, you read that correctly: market. More and more consumers are looking online to purchase everything from self-help ebooks to images for their blogs. With one-click downloads, the gratification is instant for the purchaser. And from the perspective of you, the seller, selling eBooks or digital content is a great opportunity to make passive income – once you create it, all you have to do is put it out there and let it run (OK you’ll need a bit of marketing too).
So how can you take this into the market? Well, it’s fairly simple. All you really need is a digital product, a website, and a top-notch ecommerce platform. Once you have that, the rest is plug-and-play. However, choosing the right ecommerce platform can be challenging, depending on your business needs. But you’re in luck…
There are a number of different ways to earn a living as a designer or developer. Of course, you could work as an employee for a design studio, you could work as an in-house designer for a company, you could freelance, or you could start your own studio or agency. While those are the most common approaches, they are not the only options. With loads of competition for client work, a growing number of designers are actually using a combination of a few different sources of income in order to earn a living.
You may have heard or read about earn passive income as a designer. In this article we’ll take a detailed look at the opportunities to use your design skills for passive or recurring income…
Telework teams are becoming very common these days, especially with the growing amount of tools available to help companies keep remote employees accountable. In fact, an article on telecommuting in the NYTimes.com mentions that “those who work at home tend to put in longer hours and are often more productive.” Small business owners and freelancers can certainly vouch for this and know just how beneficial building a team remotely can be, even if only for single projects…if you have the right team building techniques in place, that is.
The entire process can be a bit intimidating if you have never used a virtual team before now. Hire the wrong members, and you could get burned pretty badly and may even lose valuable clients. Without the right processes, possibly even training, and of course the right technology, building effective teams is nearly impossible.
On the other hand, using team building techniques that have been tested by those who have forged the road before you can make your experience a very positive one. A telework team can save you money, time, and energy, providing you with a much better outcome for your clients than you could have produced on your own.
So, where to start? With the hiring, right? Wrong. Before you ever start looking for your team members, you first need to come up with a plan. The same NYTimes.com article from above points out that telecommuting “works best when a company has developed a plan, including the best technology to use.” The following will take you from the very beginning, your plan of action, to the actual management of your team using the right resources. Of course, you have to decide what works best for you, but these tips should give you a great starting point for the best possible results in building a team no matter the length of your project…
There is a lot more to being a successful designer or developer than having creative and coding skills. While those skills are a great start, freelancers also need to work on developing other skills, and some of them may not come as naturally to you as others.
In some cases you’ll need these related skills to do a great job for your clients, and in other cases you’ll need these skills to run a successful business or to offer additional services to clients.
In this article we’ll take a look at 10 related skills that designers and developers should not overlook. Chances are you are already pretty good in many of these areas, but some others may present opportunities for you to improve what you have to offer…
It’s that time of year again when nearly every business is offering holiday sales and specials as consumer activity increases by leaps and bounds. You may even know of fellow freelancers who offer discounts for the holidays, but is this something that you should do as a freelance designer? Do holiday sales hurt or help graphic design freelancers?
The first thing to realize in order to answer the above questions and ultimately decide whether or not to extend discounts is that every freelancer is different. You have different goals than the freelancer just down the street from you. And not just because you are a graphic or web designer. Discounts may work for the web designer across town but not for you – it all depends on your unique situation…
What defines success and “making it”? Not everyone has the same definition for successful freelancers. For some, it could be to become wildly famous in the industry. For others success may come when they can pay their bills as their own boss. For still more, a successful freelancer may be one who works with lucrative or infamous clients.
The freelance graphic and web designers and developers below fall into at least one of these above categories for freelance success. Some of them were formally trained and some self-taught. A few of them worked for agencies before going freelance. Others have been freelancing from the beginning. They all seem to specialize in more than one skill set, even if they have one niche that seems to draw them most of the time. One thing is for sure, though: each of the following stories are quite inspiring…
You’ve undergone the army training on Codecademy, you’ve read every possible article there is on A List Apart, and there isn’t a single Photoshop brush that you haven’t tried already. You’ve excelled in graphic design, and you’re ready to take on some new clientele, possibly your first ever.
We read and we learn that selling something is as easy as sending out an email to multiple companies at the same time, or we get told that websites like 99designs is where the elite is residing and that, if we would like to make a lot of money and have great reviews, we should apply for every single job, because working hard is what it is all about.
In my experience, it has been more than sending out emails or reading blog posts on how to become a sales expert. It has been hard work combined with dedication and ultimately, the craving for achieving my goals as well as having fun while doing it. Lets dive into some starting points for designers who are looking to expand their horizon.
With the huge amount of freelance designers, small studios, and agencies out there offering web and graphic design services it can be difficult to maintain a steady flow of new clients.
While it would be nice to have all the clients you need coming to you for work, the reality for most designers is that some type of promotion, marketing, or networking needs to take place in order to maintain a full work load.
The good news is that there are plenty of different ways you can go about promoting your own design services. Some are more aggressive than others. Some will require only a small amount of your time, and others will require more time and/or money.
In this article we’ll look at more than 65 different things you can do to promote your services. Of course, this is not a suggestion that you need to do all of these things, but if you are looking to pick up more client work browse through the list and find some options that are a good fit for you.
Good stories leave a lasting impression. Even if the audience can’t remember exact details, years down the road, they will still remember if it was “awesome,” “horrible,” “sad,” “funny,” and even to what degree of emotion the story evoked. Brands who have a strong story provide the same long term results as a movie or story. And just as with a poor or boring story that is easily forgotten, a brand without a stand out story is quickly forgotten and replaced.
Graphic designers, web designers, web developers, illustrators, design agencies, and others in the graphic design field have to stand out from the competition. If you have a unique skill set, then you probably won’t have trouble finding work or clients. But web designers and graphic designers seem to be found in abundance these days, so creating a brand that prospects and clients remember long after an encounter with you is vital.
Turning your graphic design brand into a memorable story is one powerful way to stand out from the online sea of designers. With a strong story, you make yourself more personal and, therefore, easy to approach. You make yourself real, and clients want to connect with real people, not a company. A story told well also evokes strong emotions, which last longer than a plot line, making it that much more likely that customers will remember you years down the road…
You know that popular story? The one about the brilliant creative genius who lives in a run-down one room apartment because he or she can’t afford anything more. That artist is starving, but never fear, the story always has a happy ending right? Once the artist dies, their work will be appreciated and they will become a household name and live forever in the art history books!
But wait a minute. There’s something very wrong with this scenario.
First of all, it’s not a happy ending if the artist has to die to succeed. Secondly, I don’t want to live like that. Do you? The story makes a good plot for a novel or a movie, but it’s not something any of us want to live. And we shouldn’t have to. Don’t live this stereotype!
When it comes to working as a designer or developer the options that come to mind are typically 1) work as an employee for a design studio or agency, 2) work as employee as an in-house designer or developer, or 3) work as freelancer.
While all of those are perfectly legitimate options, there are thousands of designers and developers who are earning a living in the industry with less traditional approaches. In this article we’ll look at some of the ways that you can use design and coding skills, aside from the 3 approaches mentioned above.
Working as a freelancer is something that many designers aspire to do. In reality, most freelancers struggle to find enough client work to make the income that they need. A growing number of designers and developers are taking alternative approaches as a result. One of the great benefits is that many of these things can be done part-time or full-time, which also means that you can combine one or more of these approaches with client work.
So let’s take a look at some of the options for designers and developers. We’ll also see some examples of people who taking these alternative approaches, and you’ll find links to some excellent learning and training resources that can help you in your own pursuit.
1. Designing and Selling Stock Graphics
A common approach to making money as a designer is to sell stock graphics (PSD files, logo templates, Photoshop brushes, vectors, icons, etc). Marketplaces like GraphicRiver, Creative Market, and major stock photo sites like iStock allow designers to sell their own creations to a large existing audience. The down side of selling at these types of marketplace sites is that you will need to share the revenue with the marketplace, and in many cases you’ll also face restrictions related to pricing, the types of products you can sell, and exclusivity.
Of the major marketplaces, Creative Market provides the most flexibility and fewest restrictions for designers. They don’t require exclusivity (you can sell your products at your own site or at other sites), you can set your own prices, and they offer 70% of each sale to the designer.
Does your freelancing web design future include other freelancers?
Many freelancers think dealing with coworkers became a thing of the past once they left traditional employment. But a new breed of freelancer is choosing to work closely with others, often in an office environment. And they’re thriving.
I’m talking about the new trends towards coworking and freelancing hives. As freelancers, it’s important to take note of new trends. It’s especially important when such trends seem to be working.
This article from Karsten Strauss on Forbes, Why Coworking Spaces Are Here To Stay, examines the popularity of coworking.
In this post, we’ll take an even closer look at coworking and the latest freelancing trend, hives. We’ll examine some of the benefits (and drawbacks) of each.
If you liked this post, you may also like How to Transition from a Freelance Web Designer to a Lucrative Consulting Business.
You know you’re good at web design, but your freelance business just barely gets by. What could be wrong?
It could be that your freelance business is a hot mess, and you don’t even realize it.
In slang terms, a hot mess is an attractive person whose appearance is messy despite their underlying good looks. The term is often used to refer to stars and other celebrities who are spotted wearing ill-fitting clothes or who make questionable hair, makeup, and fashion choices.
Your freelancing business a hot mess if you are so disorganized that your business is failing despite your underlying design talent.
The thing about a hot mess is that they usually can’t see it in themselves. It takes someone else to point out their questionable choices and bad habits.
Likewise, if your freelance web design business is a hot mess, you probably don’t even realize what’s wrong.
In this post, I’ll point out five questionable “hot mess” business practices that are keeping your design business from succeeding. These bad practices represent some of the worst business choices a freelancer can make. I’ll also explain how to stop being such a hot mess and get your web design business back on track.
More and more people across the world are using their mobile devices to access digital content. According to eMarketer, mobile phone use will grow from 61.1% to 69.4% worldwide. The same article also claims that nearly one-fourth of the global population use a smartphone monthly, but by 2017, this number will increase to 50%.
American cell phone use has already surpassed the global numbers. The Pew Internet Research discovered that as of 2014, 90% of American adults own a cell phone, and 58% of those cell phone owners have a smartphone. Interestly enough, though, America only ranked number 13 in the 2013 list of countries with highest smartphone penetration. The top 5 in the list were United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Norway, respectively:
One of the best ways for freelance graphic designers and web developers to gain exposure online is with social media. Twitter is an especially successful avenue simply because it is such a common platform. Freelancers, big and small businesses, non-profit organizations, retailers, individuals – Twitter is full of world-wide activity, across every industry.
Getting a return client can seem somewhat like finding the Fountain of Youth for most freelancers. Every freelancer wants to have them, but most freelancers have trouble getting them.
Freelance web design clients are particularly fickle. Once you’ve finished your web design work, many clients see no further need for your services. If you don’t do anything about it, they promptly forget you. When it comes time to hire a web designer again, they’ll probably use someone else.
Fortunately, It doesn’t have to be this way. You can take some steps to improve your chances of getting repeat business.
In this post, I’ll share four steps that will keep your name in front of your clients and help them to remember you for their next web design project.
If you liked this post, you may also like 6 Very Effective Principles to Improve Your Customer Service & Make Your Clients Happy.
Are you thinking about quitting your job to become a freelance web designer?
Freelancers are in the news a lot lately. It’s tempting to think that freelancing is an easy way to make money. However, that’s not always the case.
Some people are just not ready to become freelancers. They may not have the right skills. They may be at a stage in their life where they would be better off doing something else. Or, they might not have the determination to succeed at freelancing.
It’s important to do some serious self-examination and soul-searching before you make the move to freelance web design. In this post I share a checklist of 44 questions to ask yourself before you decide to quit your day job.
If you liked this post, you may also like 10 Signs That You Are Ready for Full-Time Freelancing.
It’s no myth that programmers are a highly sought after group in companies all over the globe. In her Forbes article on the Top Jobs for 2014, Jacquelin Smith analyzes an EMSI job study, which found that software developer (applications and systems software) is "the higher-paying occupation that has produced the most jobs post-recession". She also points out that the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 30% increase in software developers between 2010 and 2020.
Joseph Mapua also points out in his article in SkilledUp that, according to the BLS, businesses are looking to hire IT and computer workers due to the high demand for implementing new technologies. Developing software, enhancing security, upgrading outdated systems are all areas for which organizations have a need for computer professionals.
US News Today came out with their list of top 100 jobs of 2014 recently as well. Software developer and computer systems analyst were the top two in the entire list! Within the list of tech jobs, the top 5 careers include these two plus web developer, information security analyst, and database administrator.
Do you feel like you are drowning in a sea of information?
Blog posts, articles, ebooks, videos, podcasts, images, and more.
Like most web designers and other freelancers, you’re probably flooded with information. You probably receive newsletters and blog posts in your email inbox every single day. You also check several important industry blogs and news sites daily. In addition, you have to keep up with what’s going on with your clients and in your personal sphere. Whew!
Don’t feel bad if you’re overwhelmed. That’s a natural response to information overload.
If you tried to absorb everything that was thrown at you, you probably wouldn’t be able to do it. Even if you spent the entire day reading and listening to podcasts.
In this post, I share a brief overview on information overload. I also share four tactics for overcoming it.
If you liked this post, you may also like 45 Design Blogs on Facebook.
And you just won…nothing.
That, right there, is the first truth that you need to know about design contests. Not everyone who enters a design contest will win.
Yet, it seems like contests are everywhere.
It’s easy to be enticed to enter contests with the shiny offers of exciting prizes and in some cases, cash. But if you do enter a design contest, don’t count on winning. Most entrants never place high enough to win a prize. And some contests are outright scams.
Is it worth it to enter a design contest? It depends. If you’re thinking about entering a contest, you should consider all the risks before you put serious effort into a contest entry.
In this post, I share four vital questions you should ask yourself before entering a design contest. If you liked this post, you’ll probably also like 7 Practical Ways to Gain Exposure as a Designer.
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