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 email@example.com
The Psychology Of Pricing: Part 1
Use these psychological tactics to change how people see prices. I recently read a very in-depth article by Nick Kolenda on the psychology of pricing. I was so fascinated by what he revealed that I immediately changed some of the ways I display prices for myself and the things I design for my clients.
I thought I would save you time by summarizing the 42 research-proven psychological tactics in Nick's article in a podcast series. I’m sure you’ll find it very useful in your design business. All studies I reference are linked to in Nick's article, in case you're interested.
As Nick puts it, At the end of the day, price is merely a perception. Nothing more. Nothing less. In fact, you can change that perception of how people interpret a price simply by changing the visual traits of the numeral.
It’s a given. The number 5 is greater than 4. And 6 is greater than 5. But using these psychological pricing techniques, you can actually make prices seem lower - without reducing the actual price.
According to a 2002 study, most people don’t remember exact prices. Rather, they remember general prices.
Have you ever looked at a price, and later when asked about it, only have a general idea of how much it was?
When I get home from the grocery store and my wife asked me how much it cost. I don’t always remember the exact price. Was it $131 and change, or was it $138 and change? So I might tell her it cost "$130 something dollars."
Because humans have such a hazy memory regarding prices, we can use certain psychological tactics to influence people into seeing smaller prices than they realize. Let me get right down to the actual tactics.
Tactic 1: Reduce the Left Digit By One You’re probably already familiar with this tactic. Reducing the left digit by one creates a perception of a lower price. $199 is viewed as a much better deal than paying $200.
Gumroad's conversion rates study shows that pricing things at $0.99 instead of $1 or $2.99 instead of $3, or $5.99 instead of $6 conversion rates increase by 2-3%.
According to a 2005 study. Our brains encode numbers so quickly that we register the size of the number before we finish reading the entire number. When reading $1.99, our brain registers it as a dollar something which is lower than $2 something making it more desirable.
Nick offered a bonus tip to this tactic. Superscripting or minimizing the digits after the decimal places more emphasis on the number before the decimal. So $1 with a small 99 next to it appears smaller than $1.99 all the same size.
Tactic 2: Use Prices With Fewer Syllables I'm a bit skeptical about this tactic. But according to a 2012 study, the more syllables there are, the more mental resources we need to process the information.
The same principle applies to numbers. If we spend more mental energy reading a number or price, we falsely perceive that price as larger. The fewer syllables involved, and we perceive that price as smaller. It doesn’t matter that you are not saying the number out loud. Your brain does it for you.
This same study found that a slightly higher price with fewer syllables was more favourable to people than a lower price with more syllables.
For example. $27.82 has 7 syllables. $28.16 has only 5 syllables. There’s only $0.34 between the two prices. But people were more inclined to spend the higher amount.
As I said, I’m skeptical about this one, but the studies do show it to be true.
Tactic 3: Display Prices In A Small Font Size. This one applies to what we do as designers.
According to a 2005 study. Human brains conceptualize size with value. If you display the price in a smaller font size, people will perceive the price to be smaller.
Another trick is to position larger elements around the price to create a visual hierarchy. The larger elements will make the price visually smaller, which in turn makes the
The Secret To A Happy and Satisfying Design Career
Do you want to know the secret to a satisfying design career? Let’s face it; it’s impossible to be completely happy and satisfied with whatever career choice you choose. I mean, even being a professional chocolate taster has its drawbacks.
But out of all the gazillion different things you can do with your life. Being a graphic or web designer, at least in my opinion, is one of the more satisfying options out there. Then again, I may be a bit biased.
But just like every other career choice out there, being a designer has its ups and downs. You get to make money using your creativity. You get to design things that change peoples’ lives. Your creations are displayed for everyone to see and admire.
But there’s the flipside. Clients don’t always have the same vision as you. Some people are demanding to work with. And don’t get me started on taxes and all the administrative work involved with being a designer.
As I said, ups and downs. Luckily, and I’m sure you’ll agree, the life of a designer is filled with more ups than there are downs. That’s what keeps us going.
But what if I told you that you could increase the number of ups you experience? What if I told you there’s a very simple secret that will allow you to have a happier and more satisfying design career? That secret boils down to four words.
But hold on, before I tell you those four words, I want to share a scenario with you. Something you’ve probably experienced yourself at some point in your design career. And if you haven’t, give it time. I’m sure you will.
Let me know if this sounds familiar.
You’re hired to design a logo for a client. Being the good designer, you are you hunker down and get to work sketching out dozens, if not hundreds, of different ideas for the logo.
Most of these will be dismissed almost as soon as you make them. Some of them you know even before you make them that you won’t use them, but you have to get the idea out of your head. Or am I the only one who does that?
After a while, you are drawn back to a handful of your ideas that show merit. Some of them you play and tweak, trying this and that until you realize they won't work and discard them. But there are a few that are promising. So you concentrate all your talent and design skills on making them just right.
In the end, you are left with two or three logos ideas. You then create a nice presentation, including various mockups to showing how each one would look in real-world situations. Then it's off to present to the client.
Even though all three ideas are good, you secretly have your favourite from the bunch. You know, The one you’re already picturing in your portfolio. The one you can’t wait to show off and let everyone know, “Hey, I designed this logo.” Yes, you always have your favourite.
Then, of course, there’s your second favourite. You don’t like it as much as the first one, but still, it’s a damn nice logo. Not that there’s anything wrong with the third logo. After all, you wouldn't present a logo to a client that you didn’t think was good enough, would you? I didn’t think so. But logo number three, even though good, doesn’t compare to logo one or even logo two.
You present your three designs to the client. You may even try to upsell your favourite logo a bit more than the other two. There’s no harm in doing that. And then you sit back and wait for the client’s decision.
You know where I’m going with this, don’t you?
Regardless of your effort and your desires, the client chooses the third logo.
You put on your happy face as you pretend to share in the client’s enthusiasm, but in your gut, you feel let down.
How could they choose logo number three? Can’t they see how great the first logo is? Or even logo number two would have been fine. But no, they chose logo number three.
I’m sure this exact
There's No Such Thing As A Bad Client
Have you ever worked with a bad client? Ok, I have a confession to make. Obviously, bad clients are a thing. I chose this title to get your attention. And it worked. You’re here, aren’t you? The title I should have chosen is If you do your job right, you should never have to deal with bad clients. But it just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
I bet if I asked you to recount an experience with a bad client, it wouldn’t take you long to think of one. Heck, there are entire websites dedicated to stories of bad clients designers have had to endure. Be warned. Once you start reading the stories, it’s hard to stop.
What is a bad client? Every designer has their own definition of what makes a bad client.
To some, it’s their personality. They’re demanding or obnoxious. “This is how I want you to do it” or “That’s not what I asked for. What’s wrong with you?” Or they’re too timid and uncommitting, never able to give a firm opinion. “I can’t decide. What do you think?”
Maybe it’s their inability to visualize. For example, “I have no idea what I want, but I’ll know it when I see it.” or “can you try it like this, and like this, and like this and perhaps like this so I can see what each way looks like?”
Bad clients also come in the form of people who reluctantly or flat out don’t pay. They don’t realize, or they don’t care, that as a freelancer or small business, you rely on every bit of income to make a living, and their refusal or tardiness in paying can drastically affect your way of life.
Then some clients want something for nothing. They assure you that the exposure you’ll get from working on their project will be more valuable than any sum of money you would charge them.
The list of bad clients continues with clients who change scope midway through a project. Some do it innocently, asking you to add on small extras, not thinking anything of it. “Can we add an extra page to the website that talks about all the philanthropic work we do?” And some do it not so innocently, trying to squeeze in extras without paying for them. "While you’re making the header for our website, can you also supply us copies to fit our Facebook Page, LinkedIn Profile, Twitter and YouTube headers? It’s a simple matter of resizing what you already have. It shouldn’t take you any time at all."
Don’t forget the clients who make strange demands. You know the “can you make the logo bigger?” type clients. Or those who expect too much “I searched for ‘car dealership’ and our brand new website isn’t showing up on the first page of Google, what are you going to do about it?”
Some clients think they know more about design than you do. Some clients wait until the last possible minute to supply the content you've been waiting months for and still expect the project to be delivered on time. And some clients are so disorganized that you don’t know how they’re still in business.
I could go on and on. There are no shortages of “bad clients.” However, there are ways you can minimize, if not eliminate, your interaction with this less than desirable clientele. It all comes down to experience.
Minimizing bad clients requires experience. When you first start in the design field, you will encounter bad clients. It’s inevitable. Call it an initiation or rite of passage.
Treat these bad clients as a learning experience. You have to experience bad clients to be able to spot bad clients.
Whenever you work with a bad client, make a mental note of what was undesirable about working with them. Then use that knowledge to help your future self. This could simply be adding a new clause to your contract or starting to use a contract if you’re very new. Or you could use that knowledge to spot the red flags and weed out potential bad clients before you start working with them.
If you fi
Putting Yourself Out There With Presentations
Have you ever given a presentation? This Bootstrap Advertising series is to help give you ideas to use to gain exposure for your design business. Because after all, people won’t hire you if they don’t know about you.
So far in this series, I’ve covered Bartering Your Services For Exposure, Promoting Yourself On Client Projects and Getting Free Media Exposure With Press Releases. But in my opinion, one method trumps all of those, and that's making presentations.
Making presentations is one of the best ways to get exposure and actually land new design work. Almost every time I make a presentation, I end up with at least one new client.
I’m not talking about design pitches or presenting to your clients. I’m talking about getting up in front of a group of people and presenting on a topic that is beneficial to them, AND paints you as an expert when it comes to that area.
Did I lose you? I know that many designers are introverts, and the thought of getting up in front of a group of people sounds terrifying. However, if you can find it within yourself to conquer that fear, I can almost guarantee it will be worth it.
Save your trepidations for now and hear me out. Who knows, I may convert you.
Why Presentations? Presentations are a great way to educate people on the part of the business industry that you are familiar with—design. It may be branding, marketing, advertising, online presence through websites or social media, or any other design aspect that the average business owner might find useful.
Regardless of what aspect of design you decide to present, just the fact that you are presenting it gives you credibility in the eyes of those watching. The fact that you are presenting to them, that you are educating them, that you are bestowing valuable knowledge that will help improve their businesses elevates the way they see you.
They may have known you before as just another graphic designer, but you graduate to becoming an expert once you present. And as an expert, you become someone they admire and look up to. And when it comes to hiring a designer, who do you think they’ll consider? One of the many designers from your area? Or, the expert designer they admire because you gave them valuable advice during a presentation?
It sounds strange, but it’s true.
In March of 2020, I was at a podcast conference in Orlando, Florida. A few of us designers met up for an impromptu get-together in the hallway outside the conference rooms. We had a very in-depth conversation on the impact good design has on the success of a podcast.
As with any conference, several other attendees, non-designers migrated their way to our conversation. They were curious as to how design could help their shows.
My fellow designers were very knowledgeable, and we had a great discussion. It was obvious to anyone listening that each one of us knew what we were talking about.
During our conversation, I mentioned I was presenting the following day on the importance of good podcast cover artwork to help grow a show. When we were done, and we parted ways, several podcasters stopped me to ask questions. The other designers walked away unaccosted while I had a small gathering around me. These people chose me because I was a presenter at the conference. I hadn’t even presented yet, but the fact that I was, was enough to elevate my status above the other designers as far as these podcasters were concerned. The conference had chosen me to present; therefore, I must be someone worth listening to.
That’s the power of presenting. It elevates you in the eyes of those you talk to.
And you know what? A couple of those people hired me to help brand their podcast. And I gained several more new clients after my presentation. It works.
Where can you give presentations? You may be thinking, "That’s easy for you Mark, you started a podcast branding bu
Getting Free Media Exposure
Use Press Releases To Get Media Exposure. In parts one and two of this bootstrap advertising series, I talked about bartering your design services for exposure and promoting yourself on your client projects. Two great ways to get your name out there. After all, the more people there are who know about you and the services you offer, the more successful you will be.
Both bartering for exposure and putting your name on client projects are great methods of spreading your name. But that’s all they do. They don’t offer any form of credibility or positioning. Sure, people can’t hire you if they don’t know about you. But just knowing about you doesn’t guarantee they’ll contact you when they need a designer. Especially if all they know about you is your name.
Media coverage, on the other hand, gives you credibility. It means you’re “important” enough to merit mentioning. And that publicity can mean the difference between someone just knowing about you and someone hiring you.
When combined, these different forms of exposure leave a powerful impression that can lead to more business.
But how do you get media exposure?
Send out press releases. The easiest way to get media coverage is by submitting a press release for each of your accomplishments.
A press release is sometimes called a "press statement," a “news release," or a "media release,” which is an official way to inform the media about something you deem important.
Media could be newspapers, radio or tv stations. It might be blogs, magazines, podcasts, social media channels, YouTube channels or industry journals. Any platform people visit for current information is considered media. And most media outlets are constantly looking for new stories to cover, especially on slower news days.
Press releases are a great way for media outlets to add “filler content” to their platform. Then, if they deem the press release to be newsworthy, they’ll write or report on it. It’s that simple.
Don’t forget other places that may be interested in your special announcements. If you’re a member of your Chamber of Commerce or similar associations, send them your press release. They may publish it in their newsletter. If you attended design school, send your press release to the school. Most schools love hearing and sharing the good news about their alumni.
Lastly, reach out to any industry-specific platforms related to the announcement you are making. For example, if you designed new signage for a local law office, send your press release to any law-related publications or outlets that may cover your story.
The purpose of a press release isn’t just for recognition and publicity; although it is the principal reason, most media outlets that run your story will also include a link to your website. And every backlink to your website, especially from recognized news outlets or schools, helps to boost your position in the search rankings.
What merits a press release? Any time you do something somewhat “newsworthy,” you should send out a press release. This includes any time you...
Offer a new service Complete a big project Win an award You are recognized for an achievement You reach a milestone If you take on a partner Any exciting news you would share with family, friends and peers might be worthy of a press release.
When Resourceful Designer was a finalist for a People’s Choice Podcast Awards, I sent a press release to my local media. It must have been a very slow news day because my story appeared on the front page of my local newspaper. All because I sent a press release.
When my local Chamber of Commerce told me the cover I designed for their printed club directory won an award at a national Chamber of Commerce event, I sent a press release. The story was covered by two local newspapers and one of our radio stations.
When I was awarded the
Promoting Yourself On Client Projects
Get your name out there. In part one of this Bootstrap Advertising series, I discussed bartering your services to get exposure. This week I’m sharing more ways to get exposure by promoting yourself on client projects.
Exposure means making people aware of your design business. After all, People cannot hire you if they don’t know you exist. So the goal here is to get your name, business name, and logo in front of as many people as possible.
This form of promotion is called a shotgun approach. There’s nothing scientific or targeted about it. Instead, you hit the masses and hope that someone who sees it needs or knows someone in need of your services. This “spray and pray” approach doesn't cost you anything and is a great method of bootstrap advertising.
If you’re not familiar with the term bootstrap or bootstrapping, it means promoting or developing by initiative and effort with little or no assistance. In other words, bootstrap advertising is getting your name out there with minimal effort and practically zero expense on your part.
Let me share two methods you can promote yourself on client projects.
Put your name on everything project you design. My stance is if I design something, my name deserves to be on it, from websites to posters, brochures, car wraps, wedding invitations and more. If I can get away with it, I put my name on it.
I’ve learned over the years that, as the adage goes, “it’s better to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission?” If you ask a client if it’s ok to put your name on their project, there’s a 50/50 chance they’ll say no; they’d prefer you don’t. And many times, they’ll ask if they get a discount if your name appears on their project.
However, if you include your name on the initial project proof without asking, only one in twenty clients will ask you to remove it. That’s why I never ask a client if I can put my name on their project. Instead, I present the work with my name and sometimes logo already there. Should the client ask me to remove it, I’ll take it off without a fuss. But in my experience, there have been very few clients who have asked me to take it off.
My name or logo appears in small inconspicuous corners of the project for printed work—kind of like an artist's signature.
On a poster, I include it in the bottom corner. I try to include it on the back cover of a brochure, sometimes running vertically along the spine. If it’s a book or booklet, and I can’t put it on the back cover, I’ll try to include it on the inside front cover somewhere.
Over the years, I’ve included my name on
Posters brochures, flyers and rack cards books and booklets door hangers reports pocket folders event tickets invitations stickers and decals Vehicle wraps Window signage Banners and many more items I can’t think of right now. I’ve even included my name and logo on trade show booths. I’ve designed several pop-up or roll-up banners as well as many backdrop walls for trade shows, and I’ve included my name and logo on the bottom right corner of all of them.
For websites, the obvious place is the footer, or sometimes on a separate bar below the footer. Divi makes this really easy.
Sometimes, when I do T-Shirts, I’ll have my screen printer add my logo to the sleeve with my client's permission. My screen printer is a great guy, and depending on the size of the order, he'll add my logo to the sleeve at no extra cost. Think about it. Everyone walking around wearing one of these shirts has my name displayed on their sleeve.
So whenever possible, I try to include my name on every printed piece I design.
Showcasing yourself via an ad. I’m a bit surprised how well the following method works.
Have you ever designed something for a client that includes boxes for ads?
I've designed event programs, maps, placemats, pocket folders, magazine
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.
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!
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.