As a freelance graphic designer I will tell you the secret to the success I've had so far: REPEAT BUSINESS AND REFERRALS.
Plain and simple.
I have been freelancing for almost three years and have not really spent money on marketing or even investing in much promotion because I have been blessed to get a steady flow of clients or at least enough to even call myself a designer.
Every project (with the exception of two) have been referrals and repeat business. I did a good job for someone and they told a friend or family member who called me. Or I did a good job for someone and the next time they had a project, they called me. I'm humbled by it and I really appreciate the business. For me it boils down to these simple principles when approaching a project for a client.
1. I put myself in their shoes. (How would I want someone to treat me. I'm patient, I listen and I offer solutions.)
2. I charge a fair and reasonable price. (I make money by offering discounts which leads to additional work. I once did a logo, stationery, business cards, flyers, and postcards for someone who initially only wanted a logo.)
3. I collaborate every step of the way. (Feedback is critical. It's THEIR brand!)
4. I guarantee their satisfaction. (The project isn't done until they like it and start using it.)
5. I keep in touch. (6 months later: How's that site/design working for you?)
In other words, I treat my clients as people, colleagues and some have even become friends. I look at the people and project first and the money always follows.
We all have expectations. No matter how hard we try not to, we can't help but to desire a particular outcome of a situation or want certain behavior from those we love. It's human nature.
I think it's okay to set a standard or communicate what you want and need but you also have to prepare yourself for disappointment if things don't go the way you expect. This is a critical tidbit if you are an entrepreneur. Because when things don't go as expected the first inclination is to throw in the towel. You start to rethink everything and question whether or not you even have what it takes to succeed. To avoid the negative self talk and feelings of inadequacy, I would suggest immediately letting go of the following expectations:
1. Family/friend support- Sad but true. Often those closest to us are the last to support us. They don't understand your business or your vision or they don't see it as something "real". Don't waste time trying to explain or convince them. There is an audience/consumer for your products/services and it's not your family or friends. Target your audience, build a community and engage with people who value what you have to offer.
2. You will make money- This is also a tough pill to swallow but the truth is you might not make money right away. Some entrepreneurs say it took them years to make a profit. So you have to determine whether or not you have what takes to stay the course- patience, passion and a back up financial plan! Don't assume just because you're good at something or because other people are making money doing something that it will work for you. Everyone's experience is different.
3. It will be fun- When you initially start a business around your passion it is all rainbows and unicorns. But once it truly becomes a business- taxes, deadlines, complaints, no sales, etc. It's not always fun. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing like getting paid for something you love however you've got to take the good with the bad. There won't always be positive outcomes. You will sometimes need a Plan B, C and D.
Parenting is a tough job. It's even tougher when you're an entrepreneur working from home.
Kids rely heavily on their parents. Depending on their ages you have to feed them, dress them, bathe them, take them to soccer practice or help them with their homework. All of this requires a very precious commodity for entrepreneurs: time.
It can seem as if you don't have enough time to dedicate to your business and if you spend more time on work than with your kids then you feel guilty. So you try to juggle both and end up with a string of sleepless nights, which affects not only your health but your creativity and productivity as well.
I've been there and sometimes still struggle with making it all work. But there are some sure fire things you can do to help things run a little smoother:
1. Schedule everything. I'm serious. I know spontaneity is fun and cool and the spice of life or whatever. . .but if you don't adhere to some form of time management you will fail miserably. You should schedule answering emails or phone calls early in the AM while your kids are sleep or at school. When the kids are awake schedule an activity with them from X time to Y time, and then get back to work during their nap. If you have a strict project or client deadline, you may have to put on a movie (gasp!) or call over a relative to babysit for a few hours.
2. Quit at quitting time. If you schedule everything you should be able to set a realistic time to stop working. If you were working outside of the home there would be a set time to turn off the computer and leave the building. Apply the same thought process when working from home. Log off and close the office door or put the laptop on the closet shelf out of view.
3. Examine your priorities. You are more than likely working from home because you crave work life balance. You want to be able to spend more time with your family. So do it. Don't spend all your time working and miss out on those special moments with your family because you can't ever get that time back.
I'm sure I will upset some people with this post but I'm only doing it because I love you. If you are a business owner or you are trying to build a business or brand, you have got to budget for some higher quality photos.
I'm not talking about your profile or personal picture. I'm referring to images of your products and images that you're sharing on your website and social media.
It really irritates me when I see awesome, inspiring quotes on a blurry or pixelated image. And then you have the nerve to put your website or logo on said image, really? Or someone who does hair, events or sells accessories using images taken with their camera phone in horrible light. It really makes the product/service look unappealing.
Here is a simple rule of thumb: If you are getting a photo printed it should be around 300dpi (dots per inch) if you are using it online it needs to be around 72dpi. Also make sure the orientation of the image works for the platform that you are using.
There are a TON of free, quality stock photography images that you can get online. And if you are using photo's of your own products/services then you need to either invest in a good camera or have a professional come out and take photo's for you. I love camera phones just as much as the next person but they are not all created equal and they could be hurting your brand more than helping it.
Writer. Reader. Designer. Creative Spirit.
“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.”