October 24, 2020
I’ve been an avid reader of Paige Brunton’s blog for a few years now. When I was just starting out as a web designer, her advice helped me so much. Now to be featured in her web designers speak out series is such an honour.
Paige posted 7 different articles in her speak out series. It covers topics from landing clients, managing finances and choosing a niche. Today, I’m reposting my thoughts as featured in her series. Read on for more about what I wish I knew starting out as a designer.
“I tried to niche right away but defining it has taken time.
I started with a foggy idea of my niche and tried to put out what I wanted to attract through my blog, portfolio & website.
At the beginning, I needed to land every job to pay the bills but over time I’ve been able to be more selective as I understand what projects I love doing and which ones I just can’t stand. I use this to narrow my niche over time.
Now, after about 2 years as a full-time designer, I finally have a clear understanding of my niche.
I tried to rush this process but it had to unfold naturally as I learned about myself as a designer and they type of people I loved to work with.”
To read what the other designers had to say about finding a niche, check out Paige’s post here.
It might be tempting to withdraw larger amounts when you land a big project, but you’ll be glad you have that money set aside if there are quiet seasons in your business.
I pay myself a set wage bimonthly, have 6 months of savings set aside and then pay myself a quarterly bonus if there’s any extra.
Things might be financially tight to do this right from the start, but start building up a reserve as soon as possible.
It makes it super easy to make sure you always have enough to make ends meet plus a little (or a lot extra!) for those big business investments like new tech or a nice bonus for you!.
The hardest thing for me is letting go and not trying to do it all – hiring out the tasks you don’t like, bringing on collaborators that have the skills you’re lacking, or paying extra for an expert that will get the results you need – these are all really good reasons to bring others into your business.
For more great advice about managing business & finance, check out Paige’s post here.
“Before I launched my business, I spent so much time planning the perfect packages.
I thought I knew who I wanted to work with and what they would need but in hindsight, it didn’t really work out this way.
In fact, I only sold one of my packages in the first year!
Instead, clients were looking for things that were bundled a little differently and so I was custom quoting projects based on their needs.
Over time, I’ve grown to better understand the clients I’m serving.
My advice, don’t worry about packaging your services from the start.
To read the great advice from the other designers, check out Paige’s post here.
“Present the work you’d like to get more of.
I’ve followed this mantra since the start and I continue to attract my ideal clients.
At the start, I used personal projects and free work I did for friends because the designs were more aligned with my niche.
Curate the work you show to target your dream client.
Also, I’ve started styling my portfolio as miniature case studies to put the reader in my client’s shoes.
Adding context to your work is so helpful and helps the reader understand the intention behind the design.
Use images and mockups of the design but also add copy to answer questions like:
‘Why did the client feel like they needed a brand & web design?’
‘What was the process like for them?’
‘How do they feel now that it’s completed?’
For more portfolio tips, check out Paige’s post here.
Yes, the entire process is important, but your onboarding is what seals the deal.
I use Dubsado to automate everything from the initial contact form and consult booking to the proposal, contract & invoicing.”
Need more onboarding & offboarding tips? Head to the post on Paige’s blog here.
I quit my corporate job on a Friday.
The following Monday I went to a conference for freelancers and sat at a round table hosted by someone I would later hire to be my business coach.
A few months later, she hired me to do her website.
A few months after that she recommended me to her friend who is one of my most prominent clients to date.
When I first started, I’d seek out others in related industries such as social media, PR, copywriting, photography, etc.
I asked for phone calls or meetings just to make these new connections. Every week I’d contact someone different and most agreed to meet.
Within a couple of months, this turned into referrals and booked clients.
There’s been no looking back since!
The other benefit to this strategy – you build up an amazing network of people you can refer clients to.
Just last week my client said she was so grateful I was well connected – I set her up with a photographer, social media manager and a potential videographer.
These reciprocal relationships are the reason I’m still in business today.”
Check out the other great client landing tips on Paige’s blog here.