310 episodes

Wouldn't it be nice if you could spend more time designing and less time worrying about your design business? Resourceful Designer offers tips, tricks and resources for freelancers in order to help streamline your graphic design and web design business so you can get back to what you do best… Designing!
Let me know what topics you would like me to cover by emailing feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

Resourceful Designer: Strategies for running a graphic design business Mark Des Cotes

    • Arts
    • 4.9 • 100 Ratings

Wouldn't it be nice if you could spend more time designing and less time worrying about your design business? Resourceful Designer offers tips, tricks and resources for freelancers in order to help streamline your graphic design and web design business so you can get back to what you do best… Designing!
Let me know what topics you would like me to cover by emailing feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

    How To Notify Clients Of A Price Increase

    How To Notify Clients Of A Price Increase

    Scan the news these days, and you’d be hard-pressed not to come across a story about price increases. The price of gas has gone up. Rents are increasing, and groceries are at an all-time high. It’s depressing, I know. But that’s the world we live in. And your business should be no different. At some point, you’ll have to raise your rates if you want to remain solvent.
    The one benefit of inflation is that people are getting used to price increases. So it won’t be as much of a shock when you announce you’re raising your rates. Be that as it may, you still want to do it the best way possible to soften the blow for your clients.
    So what’s the best way to announce a price increase to your clients? Let me share some methods with you, along with some points that will make the task easier for you and make your clients more receptive to the news.
    Signs you should increase your prices. Before I get to how to increase prices, here are four signs indicating it’s time for you to increase your rates.
    1) Your operating costs are increasing. As the cost of subscriptions, software and other expenses go up. You need to raise your rates to offset the economy’s effect on your business.
    2) You’re consistently busy. Suppose you have an abundance of projects that never seems to end. Or you find yourself turning down work because you don’t have time for it. Raising your rates can help you offset things and enable you to engage the help of subcontractors to ease the burden.
    3) You’re prices are too low. Some clients won’t take you seriously if your prices are too low. If you want to attract a higher level of clientele, you need to raise your rates.
    4) You’ve increased your value. Over time, you’ll gain experience and knowledge. As the value you offer increases, so should your prices.
    So now that you’ve deiced to raise your rates. Here’s how to inform your clients of the price increase.
    Keep it short. Announcing a price increase is a serious matter, and you want to ensure your clients take notice.
    Keep it short and to the point, if you tell your clients via email. There’s no reason to include any fluff or to go into the philosophy behind the price increase.
    If possible, announce the increase alongside more pleasant news, such as new or improved services you’re offering. It will help soften the blow.
    And make sure you give the clients a way to contact you should they want to discuss your new rates.
    Tell only affected clients. Nobody likes to hear about price increases, even if they don’t affect you directly.
    You may not be in the market for a new car, but hearing about rising automobile prices still leaves a bad taste in your mouth and may even affect your perception of the various auto manufacturers.
    Don’t give your clients a reason to think negatively about you.
    If you’re increasing the price of a business startup package you offer, there’s no reason to notify already established businesses because it doesn’t affect them.
    Suppose the price of your website hosting and maintenance is going up. Notify the clients already paying for your plan. There’s no reason for you to tell clients whose websites you are not maintaining since it doesn’t affect them.
    If you’re raising your hourly rate, only notify those clients you charge by the hour.
    And there’s no reason to notify clients of a price increase if you’re not currently working on a project for them. They’ll find out the next time you give them a quote.
    Only notify affected clients of these price increases. And if this means advising different clients about price increases for various services, so be it. Send out one letter to your web maintenance clients. Another note to your retainer clients. Another to your hourly rate clients, and so forth. Ensure your clients are notified only about the price increases affecting them.
    Don’t give your clients a reason to think negatively about you if your price increase doesn’t

    • 15 min
    Outsourcing: Hiring Subcontractors

    Outsourcing: Hiring Subcontractors

    One of the perks of running your own design business is the freedom it provides. You have nobody to answer to but yourself. Ok, sure, there are the clients. You do have to answer to them, to a degree. But it’s your business, so you can dictate how you respond to them.
    If you don’t want to work Friday afternoons, you can take them off. Nobody is stopping you if you want to try a new design technique or different software. And you get to decide how much you charge for your services and can change your rate any time you like.
    The freedom of working for yourself is one of, if not the main reason people choose the life of, and I’m going to say it, even though I disagree with the term, the life of a freelancer. It felt dirty just writing that. Want to know why? Listen to episode 17 of the podcast titled “Being a Freelance Graphic Designer Could Hurt Your Business.” It will make you rethink calling yourself a freelancer.
    But where was I? Ah, yes, the freedom of running your own design business. For many of us, it’s the ultimate dream. I will never work for an employer again. And I know many who feel the same. But, just because you’re working for yourself, running your own business, doesn’t mean you’ve made it.
    I hate to burst your bubble, but the purpose of every business is to grow. A business that doesn’t grow will eventually fail. Many business studies have proven this. And your business will never grow to its full potential because of one thing holding it back. And that one thing is you.
    Yes, without you, there wouldn’t be a business. However, you are also one of your business’s most significant liabilities. How can that be? It’s because of your limitations.
    Your limitations may include skills you lack. It may be a lack of time, the time to do things or learn things. Your knowledge may be limiting you. You can’t expect to know everything. Or it could be any number of things.
    Don’t feel bad. I’m not singling you out. Everyone has limitations.
    What will help your business grow is knowing your limitations and finding a way to overcome them. And one of the best ways for business owners to overcome their limitations is by working with people who offset those limitations.
    In other words. Your business will grow when you learn to outsource and hire subcontractors to do what you can’t or shouldn’t do.
    I know this may seem like a foreign concept. The whole point of going at it alone is just that, to be alone. But being alone will only get you so far. You need a team if you want to grow beyond your limited capabilities.
    I speak from experience. I ran my design business for several years, all by myself. In my mind, it was my business. Therefore I had to do everything myself. My clients were hiring me, after all.
    I didn’t take on the project if a client asked for something I couldn’t do. I was limiting my growth. I once turned down a $50,000 website project because I wasn’t confident in my skills with PHP and MySQL. I kick myself to this day for that one. But I couldn’t do it, so I said no.
    And I kept at it, Trudging away, taking on only the projects I could do and passing on the ones I couldn’t.
    At the time, I was making decent money and thought I was doing well. But my business wasn’t growing. Year after year, my income was pretty much the same. It wasn’t going up as needed for growth. I had reached what I like to call now, my solo limit. I could only take my business so far on my own.
    I didn’t know it then, but I was holding my business back. It wasn’t until I started reading more business books and listening to business-related podcasts that I realized that most successful entrepreneurs don’t work alone. They have a team that works with them to accomplish their business goals and help them grow. If I wanted my business to grow, I would have to build a team.
    Now I didn’t jump in with both feet and hire a bunch of people. I took it slow.
    The first job I outsource

    • 26 min
    Throwback - Ep. 11 - Pricing Strategies For Your Graphic Design Business

    Throwback - Ep. 11 - Pricing Strategies For Your Graphic Design Business

    This is a throwback episode, replaying episode 11, Pricing Strategies For Your Graphic Design Business. For any links or to leave comments, please visit https://resourcefuldesigner.com/episode11

    • 35 min
    9 Ways to Keep Clients Coming Back Again and Again

    9 Ways to Keep Clients Coming Back Again and Again

    This episode is sponsored by Sticker Mule. Get 10 Custom Stickers for $1, plus free shipping. Visit stickermule.com/resourcefuldesigner

    It’s well-established that it’s easier to get a new design project from a past client than to land a project from a new client.
    You can run a successful design business with only a few good recurring clients. It’s the 80/20 rule. 80% of your business will come from 20% of your clients. Therefore you must keep as many clients as you can.
    For the first few years of my design business, I had less than a dozen clients, and less than a handful of those clients kept me busy on an ongoing basis.
    According to Invesp, the probability of existing clients giving you work in the future is 60-70%, while the likelihood of getting work from new clients is 5-20%. So it’s easy to see why client retention is so necessary.
    Clients know a talented graphic or web designer when they find one. But it takes more than being an excellent designer to keep them returning. I’ve said this many times on the podcast before. Clients prefer to work with a good designer they like rather than an amazing designer they don’t like.
    The best way to keep your clients happy and coming back is to ensure they like you. And you do that by providing excellent service and building relationships with them.
    It’s best to do everything possible to ensure your clients feel valued, appreciated, and satisfied with your services. Here are nine tips for doing just that and keeping your clients returning. And you’ll notice repetition as I go through them, as many of these tips play off each other.
    Here are nine ways to make clients love working with you again and again. 1) Be Proactive Make sure your clients understand what they should expect from working with you. Be proactive and set expectations upfront, so there aren’t any surprises down the road.
    Being proactive shows your professionalism and positions you as a leader instead of an order-taker. Clients will appreciate this and quickly learn to trust you.
    Think about the entire relationship—you’re trying to land a client, not just a design project. And if you can change your mentality and think of them as partners instead of clients, you’ll find the relationship even easier to build.
    Don’t fall into the trap of viewing client projects as transactional, one-off projects. Instead, think of them as long-term relationships.
    Being proactive may also mean learning about your client and their industry. Do some homework and learn a little about them and their industry before meeting with them. Clients will appreciate your effort and are more likely to trust you with their project.
    Don’t forget to keep in touch after the current project ends, as I discussed a couple of weeks ago in episode 303 about following up with dormant clients.
    If you do a good job setting expectations at the start, many clients will return to you for future projects.
    2) Be Honest It’s easy to tell clients what they want to hear, but delivering on those promises is much more challenging.
    A good designer is honest with clients about their limitations and how they plan to work within those constraints. It’s ok to tell a client you don’t know something. It’s even better to show the client how you’ll overcome those shortcomings.
    A good designer should be reliable enough to stick to their commitments. However, If you encounter any issues or setbacks during a project, be honest and let the client know. Clients want to work with someone they can trust and who will be truthful with them. If you are not honest with your clients, they will not return.
    So be honest with them from the start. This means being upfront about your prices, services, policies, limitations and timelines. You should also be honest about any problems or concerns your clients may have.
    If you are honest with your clients, they will appreciate it and will be more likely to come back to you. After all, h

    • 18 min
    Find It Faster - Google Search Hacks You May Not Know About

    Find It Faster - Google Search Hacks You May Not Know About

    Google. Very few brands have transitioned beyond their original intent. But Google is one of them. What started in 1998 as a small company launched by two Stanford U students to promote their new search engine has grown to become one of the world’s largest conglomerates.
    Not only that, but the name Google has evolved to become a noun, an adjective and a verb. Don’t believe me? Google it for yourself.
    And even though Google now offers a wide gambit of technological solutions to improve people’s life. At their core remains the search engine.
    Did you know that there are over two trillion Google searches every year? It’s hard to fathom how big two trillion is, so let me put it in perspective. There are over 5 billion searches on Google every day. That’s 228 million every hour, almost 4 million searches every minute. That’s a lot of searching.
    With an entire planet using them to satisfy their curious minds, Google must ensure its platform is easy to use. Easy enough for young children and seniors alike. You type in what you’re looking for in the search bar, and Google provides you with possible answers. It’s that easy.
    Of course, Google’s results aren’t always what you’re looking for. But they make it very easy to try again with another search.
    But what if I told you some simple tricks could help you get better results on the first try?
    Here are 16 search hacks to help you find things faster on Google. 1) Use quotation marks (“”) in your search. Enclosing your search term in quotation marks will return results with that exact phrase.
    For example, searching for “How to start a graphic design business” will only show results with those words in that exact order. Using quotation marks in your search makes it easy to find precisely what you’re looking for.
    NOTE: Using double quotations (“““") tells Google what’s inside them MUST be in the search results.
    2) Use a minus sign (-) to exclude words from your search. If your search produced nonrelevant results, try eliminating words by placing a minus sign in front of them.
    For example, if you want to know the top speed of a Jaguar, the cat, not the car. You could search for “jaguar speed -car” This will eliminate searches about the jaguar motor vehicle.
    3) Use Site: only to show results from a specific website. Not every website has a search bar. But that doesn’t matter if you know Google’s site search function. Adding Site: followed by the website you want to search, along with your search term, will return results only from that website.
    For example, to find out how many computers you can install Photoshop on, you could search for “Site:adobe.com how many computers can I install Photoshop on?” The results will only give you answer from the Adobe website.
    4) Use an Asterisk (*) as a wildcard in your search. An Asterisk is a star-looking character you get by pressing Shift-8 on your keyboard (*). Replace a word in your search with an Asterisk to see results with multiple possibilities.
    For example, if you’re planning a trip to Disney land. Searching for “best * at Disney Land” will return results for the best food at Disney Land, the best rides at Disney Land, the best hotels at Disney Land, the best shows at Disney Land, etc. You get the idea.
    The Asterisk is very useful when combined with the Site: operator. For example, if you want to find results only from government websites, include site:*.gov in your search string, and you’ll only get results from websites with a .gov extension.
    5) use OR or AND in all-caps to find multiple results. Using OR or AND returns results from both sides of the operator.
    OR can be used to find multiple results. For example, you could search for “Christmas decorating ideas in blue OR Green.” You’ll get results showing blue ideas and results showing green ideas.
    AND can be similarly used to combine results. Searching for “Christmas decorating ideas in blue AND green

    • 28 min
    Following Up With Dormant Clients

    Following Up With Dormant Clients

    Episode Sponsor: StickerMule

    How often do you follow up with dormant clients? I’m not talking dormant like they haven’t replied to an email in a few days. However, following up is always a good idea when you don’t receive an expected reply.
    I’m talking about following up with dormant clients months or even years after you’ve completed whatever project you did for them.
    In episode 72 of Resourceful Designer, I discussed getting new work from existing clients. It’s proven that getting new work from existing clients is much easier than landing new clients. After all, you don’t have to worry about the awkward introductory phase since you already know each other. You have a proven track record, so you and your client know what to expect.
    And yet, even though it’s much easier to get new work from existing clients. Many designers don’t actively seek out that work.
    Why is that? You may be thinking to yourself. “I don’t want to bother them. The clients know me. If they have more work for me, they’ll contact me.” But that’s not always the case.
    I’m not saying they won’t contact you when they have more work. They probably will. The problem is clients don’t always realize they have work for you.
    What? What are you talking about, Mark? No, it’s true. It’s a case of “out of sight, out of mind.” Your dormant client isn’t thinking about you; therefore, they aren’t thinking of the work they could be sending you.
    I want to run an experiment with you right now.
    Last week I went to the dentist for a routine checkup. I’m happy to say they found nothing wrong with my teeth. I take dental hygiene seriously, so I scheduled a new appointment for a cleaning in 9 months.
    Now, let me ask you this. Did you think about your dentist and your next appointment? Chances are you did. Maybe you thought about an upcoming appointment. Or perhaps it made you think you should make an appointment if you don’t already have one. Regardless, I’m pretty sure, even if only briefly, you thought about your teeth.
    Why is that? It’s because of triggers.
    Triggers. Triggers, the verb, not the thing you squeeze to fire a gun, are something that can connect one event to another. The mention of my dental appointment triggered your thoughts about your dental hygiene.
    If I say I recently changed the tires on my car because they had worn-out threads. You probably just started wondering about the tires on your vehicle.
    If I say, I have no idea what I’m having for dinner tonight. Now you’re probably thinking about your next meal.
    All of these are because of triggers. Our day is full of them. Most of the time, you don’t even realize they’re there. But triggers influence you in many ways. Triggers are often the correlation between one thing and another.
    Triggers and Dormant Clients. That brings me back to following up with dormant clients. Remember when I said the problem is clients don’t always realize they have work for you? It’s because they don’t have anything with which to correlate that work. And that’s very easy to fix.
    Just like me mentioning my dentist made you think of your dentist. Reconnecting with a client can trigger them to find new work for you.
    Remember, “out of sight, out of mind?” When the client isn’t thinking of you, they’re not thinking of projects you can do for them. The solution is to get them to think of you. You can do that by following up.
    Triggers in action. Resourceful Designer Community members are beta testing a weekly accountability group where we share long-term and short-term goals. We meet once per week for 10-15 minutes. Each person shares one thing they want to accomplish before our next meeting.
    This goal could be small, like adding a new case study to their website, creating social media posts, or getting organized for a presentation.
    The object is to share something to which you want to be held accountable. Because the following week,

    • 14 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
100 Ratings

100 Ratings

Gabe Urbina ,

A True Goldmine

I knew this was coming, but have not been looking forward to it.
I am the sole Graphic Designer at a printshop. I do not get the chance to do a whole lot of design, and have been more of a pixel pusher for the last 4.5 years. Since covid hit, we had to reduce staff. This put me running the production printer and bindery when I was not on the computer. At the end of July, I discovered this podcast. It has been an absolute goldmine of information for me! I have been binging every time I would go print or do bindery. Now I am all caught up, and am going to miss listening to the podcast every single day. Now I will have to be happy once a week.

If anyone is reading this and have not finished the podcast from beginning to end, keep going. I listened to every single minute. Even the episodes I thought did not pertain to me, because I always found hidden gems in each one. I have the Evernote app (tip from the show) and jotted down notes and resources everytime I thought it was helpful to me. This has given me the confidence to open my own business full time again. It won't be tomorrow, because I am taking the time to take the appropriate steps this time to ensure success. All the talent in the world will not guarantee a successful business if you don't know how to run it properly. This podcast has given me what I was missing the first time.

MissRgray ,

Like Having a Mentor!

Mark, thank you so much for this podcast. I just branched out on my own, full time, as a graphic designer. Your podcast has been invaluable in the information given, as well as being a motivating virtual “business meeting”! As a social person, getting motivated in the morning when I work for myself from home is difficult. Your podcast inspires me and gets me on the right track every day. I also love getting to learn from your experience so that I don’t have to learn as much from trial and error. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise!

Noking17 ,

Learning

I’ve started taking graphic design classes with my university after 20 years of service both to the county and to local governments as a deputy sheriff (getting ready to retire from both). I’ve decided to change my career. I absolutely love this podcast it inspires me to be better and to do better. Thank you for all the hard work you put into this podcast and keep it up. I hope to work as a graphic designer as a side gig, until I can work full time, or do it as a full time gig.

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