loader from loading.io

Pivot Your Design Business To Survive - RD209

Resourceful Designer

Release Date: 03/30/2020

Standing Out From Your Competition - RD234 show art Standing Out From Your Competition - RD234

Resourceful Designer

How are you standing out from your competition What do you think of when you hear the word “pencil”? I bet that one of the images that flashed through your head is of a yellow-painted piece of wood with a graphite center. The quintessential yellow pencil found the world over. A Medium article by Melissa Gouty titled “Why Pencils Are Painted Yellow" got me thinking about the parallels between a yellow pencil and your design business. I'm going to paraphrase Melissa's article for the sake of my comparison. The common yellow pencil that we take for granted helped spark the renaissance....

3 Things To Do Today For A More Productive Tomorrow - RD233 show art 3 Things To Do Today For A More Productive Tomorrow - RD233

Resourceful Designer

Being diligent today will make you more productive tomorrow. I talked about dividing your to-do list into three sections, non-negotiables, procratinatables and optionables, and how doing so will help you organize your day. I also discussed listening to your body's clock to determine the best time of day to tackle certain projects and tasks. Today's post is all about setting up for a more productive tomorrow. And to do that, you need to start today. For as long as I can remember, my nightly routine before bed has included looking and preparing for the next morning. Call it my shutdown...

Writing The Perfect To-Do List - RD232 show art Writing The Perfect To-Do List - RD232

Resourceful Designer

The Perfect To-Do List + Time Management = Success. If you search through the Apple or Google app directories, you will find dozens, if not hundreds, of options for creating so-called perfect to-do lists. I like for grocery lists and shopping lists or keep track of the unending chores and tasks I need to do around the house. For work-related lists, my go-to is  (get a free month with this link). I have Evernote fine-tuned with different notebooks for every part of my work life. But it doesn’t matter if you use a digital tool or pencil and paper if you don’t understand the...

Producing In-House - RD231 show art Producing In-House - RD231

Resourceful Designer

Are you producing any of your design projects in-house? I got the idea for this episode of the podcast when a member of the shared her new toy with us in our Slack group. Laura bought a . It’s an eco-solvent printer she plans on using to produce stickers, vehicle graphics and apparel graphics, among other things. This new piece of equipment will allow her to produce materials for her clients in-house. She also plans on using it to make pieces to sell through her Etsy shop. This got me thinking about different ways designers can produce things in-house. Now for the record, I...

Farming Out Design Work - RD230 show art Farming Out Design Work - RD230

Resourceful Designer

Do you farm out design projects? Finding yourself overwhelmed with too many design projects is a sure sign that you are not charging enough for your design services. Don’t turn clients away. Instead, raise your prices and start farming out design work. The following is a post from the . Hi guys So I'm turning away a lot of work at the moment, as I have my day job, and seem to have very little energy in the evenings and weekends to take on many freelance jobs. Seriously, I'm feeling so burned out, have been for a while now. I do the odd freelance jobs here and there for previous clients that...

Invest In Yourself - RD229 show art Invest In Yourself - RD229

Resourceful Designer

If you want to succeed as a designer, you must invest in yourself. Have you heard the quote, “it takes money to make money?” The same concept applies to growing your design business as well as improving yourself as a designer. If you don’t invest in yourself, you’ll become stagnant, outdated, and eventually overlooked. Clients hire graphic and web designers because they want fresh ideas and skillsets to implement them. These clients will quickly tire of someone if all they ever produce are the same old things. No business or person, for that matter, can do the same thing over and over...

Print Is Not Dead - RD228 show art Print Is Not Dead - RD228

Resourceful Designer

Contrary to popular belief, print is not dead. There was a time, not long ago, when graphic designers designed almost entirely for print. Sure there were trade show booths and vehicle graphics, but in their way, those are print as well. As the internet became more and more popular, started to encroach on a turf that was mostly populated by computer programmers. And before you knew it, a whole new industry was born–Web design. design allowed graphic designers to help clients on two fronts—both digital design and print design. But as time moved along and the world moved closer to being a...

First Contact: Interviewing New Design Clients - RD227 show art First Contact: Interviewing New Design Clients - RD227

Resourceful Designer

Do you vet potential new design clients? How do you know that you’re the right designer for a project? Or maybe the question should be, how do you know a potential new design client is right for you? In the past, I’ve covered what to ask during a , and to ask your design clients about their projects. Almost all of the questions covered in those episodes are for building relationships with your clients after you’ve decided to work with them. But I don’t think I’ve ever talked about that first contact with a potential new client before. First contact. The first contact refers to those...

What Got You Here Won't Get You There - RD226 show art What Got You Here Won't Get You There - RD226

Resourceful Designer

How are you going to take your design business to the next level? “What got you here won’t get you there.” I’ve heard this phrase a few times over the past couple of weeks, and it got me thinking about my life, my design career and my business. This is not about Marshall Goldsmith’s book of the same title. Although I hear it’s a great book. It’s about the phrase itself and how it applies to you and your design business. At its core, “What got you here won’t get you there” is such a simple statement, and yet it holds so much truth. You can only get so far in life...

Creating Systems - RD225 show art Creating Systems - RD225

Resourceful Designer

Are you creating systems to help your design business? Mike, a member of the , posted in the Community Slack group his frustrations with one of his clients. Mike built, manages and updates an eCommerce website for a client of his. His frustration is that every time his client wants a new product added to the site, he fails to provide Mike with all the necessary information, requiring Mike to contact the client, sometimes more than once, for the rest of the info. Mike’s situation reminded me of a similar one I had with a client several years ago. And how my frustrations forced me into...

More Episodes

Will your design business survive the 2020 Pandemic?

Are you worried your graphic or web design business won’t survive this 2020 pandemic? With so many clients forced to temporarily close their doors due to social distancing, it’s no wonder designers around the globe are lacking for work.

We’re living in an unprecedented time, and people are reacting and being affected in different ways.

As a home-based designer, isolation is part of daily life. We chose this lifestyle for ourselves. And the longer this pandemic goes on, the more evident it becomes that this lifestyle isn’t for everyone.

Many people are not taking well to being cooped up. Others are embracing this new way of working and may decide it’s something you want to continue doing once life gets back to normal. Only time will tell, and only you can make that decision for yourself.

But there’s a difference between voluntarily working alone and being forced to stay at home day in, day out. For many, the isolation is too much. And unfortunately, the typical remedy for isolation of getting out and being amongst other people is not a solution right now. Even for someone like me, who is used to staying home, it feels strange.

But like all things in life, this too shall pass.

I heard a great quote today.

“In order to appreciate a beautiful sunrise, you first have to live through the darkness.”

Stay strong and stay the course. You’ll get through this.

But what about your design business?

Is your design business suffering right now because of the coronavirus? Are your clients and projects drying up?

Over the past week, I’ve seen designers at both ends of the spectrum. Some are busier now than ever, while others are desperate for work. How are you going to weather this storm?

State of the world today.

Around the globe, almost all businesses except for essential services are shut down. And with so many companies temporarily closed, it’s no wonder work is drying up for graphic and web designers.

Government aid packages created to help businesses affected by COVID-19 may not be enough. Many of the businesses forced to close due to the coronavirus will never reopen. Financially, this is the nail in their coffin. Without money coming in, there’s only so long a business can hang on. No matter how much aid is offered.

I know this sounds grim, but I assure you, there is a silver lining to this.

Back in 2008, when the last big recession hit, almost all businesses suffered. Many of them forced to close, except for designers. in 2008-09, design businesses saw a boom.

How can that be?

When businesses shut down, their employees start looking for jobs elsewhere. But when multiple companies in the same industry shut down, there are not enough available jobs for the number of people searching for work. This leads to a large number of those people deciding to start their own business.

I saw this myself in 2008, especially in the trades field. Layed off electricians, plumbers and construction workers started their own business. Other people started businesses based on their areas of expertise, their hobbies, or other skills they had.

All of these people needed a logo, a website, and other branded material to get their business started, and designers everywhere saw an increase in work. I anticipate the same thing will happen once this pandemic has passed.

With the inevitability of businesses closing, many of their employees will decide to start their own business, and they can use your help.

Pivot your design business.

To take advantage of this influx of new entrepreneurs, you may have to pivot the way you do things.

1) Forget about niching.

I’ve talked before about the importance of finding a niche for your design business but now is not the time. Right now, you should focus all your efforts on getting as many new clients as you can, regardless of niche.

2) Focus locally.

These new business people are not seasoned entrepreneurs. They don’t know about the various resources available to them online and abroad. They don’t know about Fiverr or 99designs. What they do know is they need help, and when someone needs help, the first place they look is close to home.

And that’s why you should be focusing all your marketing effort locally.

  • Create landing pages on your website to attract these new clients. Focus on local SEO and speak to them in a way that shows you understand what they’re going through.
  • Use locally targetted online ads to attract clients. Google AdWords, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn all offer the ability to create ads targeted to your local area.
  • Increase your social media presence and post local content. Use popular local hashtags in your posts.
  • Join your Chamber of Commerce and other local business groups. You may not be able to meet people in person right now, but there are still benefits and exposure to be gained by being a member.
  • List your design business in Google My Business.

You can also contact your local business center and let them know you’re available to help anyone who is starting a new business.

Do whatever it takes to get your name out in your local market.

3) Review your prices.

Raise your prices, raise your prices, raise your prices. So many people who talk in the design space are continually encouraging you to increase your rates. I usually agree with that 100%. I’m always saying that whatever you’re currently charging for your design services, you’re worth more than that.

However, now’s not a good time to raise your prices.

In fact, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, If your design business is suffering right now because of the pandemic, this may be a time to offer discounted pricing.

I usually discourage discounts because I believe that discounts lower the value of the service you provide. But these are not regular times.

Perhaps you could offer a discount to clients who are starting a new business.


I’m not a fan of design packages, but you may want to create special packages for new business owners. Try anything it takes to get clients on board. And once the world gets back to normal, your design business can get back to normal. Hopefully, with all the new clients you picked because of the crisis.

This will pass.

You will get through this. You may need to pivot your design business to weather the storm, but you will get through this. And if you’re lucky, you may look back and say, 2020 was your best year to date.

Remember that quote I said earlier.

“In order to appreciate a beautiful sunrise, you first have to live through the darkness.”

Good luck.

What are you doing for your business to survive the pandemic?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Resource of the week Your local library.

Have you checked what services your local library offers lately? Many libraries offer free subscriptions to learning platforms such as Lynda.com or Skillshare.com. You can also download audiobooks and eBooks free of charge.

Libraries have come a long way since the days of only carrying books. It might be time for you to get or renew your library card and check them out.