My days and nights are normally so filled with work and meetings, it felt strange to have no urgent or pressing work. The phone was quiet, emails nowhere to be seen. I was in limbo, and wasn't sure what to do with myself. Then I started to get that weird acidic feeling in the pit of my stomach and thoughts began to creep into my head like ”oh no, I’m going broke” and “what will I do if my business fails?” and “how will I pay the rent and the car payments?” and on it went for a whole minute and a half... then I stopped myself – what was I thinking? Don’t I KNOW that thought creates reality? Of course I do, that’s how I built this business in the first place, on dreams and a wing and a prayer and a lot of determination! So I stopped thinking those thoughts and looked around at all the beautiful things I own and I felt thankful. I scrolled through my client database and I felt thankful, I wrote out ‘thank you’ cards to a few clients I haven’t heard from for a while and got them ready to mail. I counted how many projects I’ve completed in the last three years (about 526!!!) and I felt thankful. I checked my bank account and relished in the feeling of abundance, amazed that somehow and in all ways there's always enough, knowing that there will be more prosperity coming very soon and I felt thankful. I even found time to read some blogs and check out some websites I've been meaning to do for ages and I checked through my project files and put away the completed jobs with a kiss to make room for new ones. I de-cluttered my desk to clear my mind and make space for more opportunities to come in, and I felt thankful. Today was a gift, a time to reflect and acknowledge how far I’ve come. I do have to pinch myself sometimes to make sure it’s real. I get so caught up in the ‘doing’ and being busy building my business; sometimes I lose sight of the magic of it all, the wonder and the blessings. So to my clients, I thank you, for trusting me to share in the creation of your business, as you have in mine. I am so blessed.
Last week she put a post on facebook about a new client who had come to her for a quote for a website - that's fairly normal in our profession - but when she delved deeper (well, not that deep really) it became apparent that this client didn't have a business yet, nor a business name, she didn't have products or clients and wasn't sure what a blog was. She just had an idea. Needless to say this makes a designer's job very difficult. So my sister stated that before a client comes to her for a quote, they need to have the three B's (at least). I agree. Here they are:
A Business - one can't sell or serve without an actual business. This means having a business name, trade marking that name or logo, registering the name, and buying a domain. I didn't say it was quick and easy, but having these things in place before you go getting websites and business cards is important. This is the foundation stuff. There's a lot more to it on an emotional level too, but I'll save that for another day.
A Brief - we designers like to know as much as possible about your business. Not only do we make things look pretty, we also need to know things like who your target market is; including their gender, age and profession, what your product or service is, how you plan to reach your market, what makes you different to everyone else doing a similar thing. A design brief should contain all of that information as well as things like the colours you want to use and why, the style of your business (corporate, spiritual, alternative, healthy etc) and the moods you want to convey through your branding. I know!! We're nosy people us designers, but in the end you'll get a design that's created specifically for your business, not some random generic logo you got online for five bucks that Bob over the road could use.
A Budget - You need to know how much money you can commit to your design project because us designers can generally tailor a package to suit or offer payment plans. Lots of people shy away from talking about money but it's important to get that sorted from the start. Then there are no nasty surprises and everyone's happy. I generally give a fixed price quote because that's what I prefer myself. Hourly rates are too varied and it can blow out really fast, so a fixed price is much better for you - often not so good for me, as design work is incredibly time consuming and can go on and on - but them's the breaks.
So, if you're thinking about a website or a logo, answer the above questions first and you'll be off with a flying start. I'm more than happy to have a chat if you want to know more and would love your comments below.
Today I woke up to a critical email from a fellow designer. Possibly sent with good intentions but interesting all the same. I guess what I found most intriguing was this person's willingness to criticise not only my graphic skills and my website but my niche client. Here's what he said...
Hey, I just wanted to ask you if this website is legit? It's just that for someone whose profession is 'graphic design' your work and website seem to be really below par. Like seriously, nothing on this site is remotely good. I was just wondering if you benchmark your work against other professionals in the design community, or just rely solely on the feedback of the new age niche market. A market whose members are not exactly famous for their sound discretion and taste. No disrespect or anything, I like honesty, so I point out faults when I see them. I remember when I started my first year of graphic design and I relied heavily on harsh criticism which has only helped me grow to be the best designer I can be today.
So I replied with this...
Hi [name omitted]
Thanks for your email. I do know what you're talking about, my site could be a lot slicker and better designed, however as you've pointed out, I have a very specific niche market. I'm not trying to capture large corporates or high-end businesses - there are plenty of designers who can do that better than I can - my market is mostly women who have or want their own small business, usually working from home, and who are more interested in connecting on a spiritual level with me. It's not about up to date elaborate design, it's about expressing them and their business in a gentle and authentic way through their branding and the words they use.
I've owned this business for over 2 years now and am enjoying a very successful living from it, employing two contractors to help me out. So, I may not be up to scratch in many designer's eyes, but I do service a market that's often ignored by most design studios. I listen and I deliver and I have many heart-felt testimonials and relationships with amazing women (and even some spiritual men, believe it or not!) as a result.
So, if it's not broken, I won't be fixing it.
Thank you though for taking the time to write, I do appreciate your view point and a few years ago that would have been enough to break my heart and make me give up, but not anymore. We all have a purpose, mine is to help those who want to shine and be proud of their business, their brand and their passion.
Witching you a magical day,
What do you think? I'd love to know your opinion on this...
I love winter. Winter is my favourite season, it means hot soups and crusty bread, fluffy blankets and a snuggly bed, steaming hot showers and furry slippers. It means jeans and boots and scarves and coats, fresh crisp air and blue sunny skies, hot chocolate and brisk beach walks on Sunday afternoons, sleeping in late and cuddling my man. I feel most alive in winter because I sleep better when I'm warm and wrapped up tight, there's no humidity and my hair doesn't frizz. What's your favourite season?
We came here for dental work and a holiday and it's been fabulous. There are a lot of Aussies here, possibly more Aussies than Thais, though I haven’t done a head count. As a result of spending quite a bit of time in Patong waiting in the dentist's reception area, we’ve met many fellow Aussies and struck up conversations and the one theme that nearly always gets a great rapport happening is sport. Rugby League in particular, though my man could talk about ANY sport under water with a mouth full of marbles!
It’s a beautiful thing watching a camaraderie unfold between two blokes who love their footy – and it isn’t just at the dentist, it’s in the busess, in restaurants, in taxis, at our resort lobby, by the pool (did I mention we’re having a great holiday?) - just about anywhere. And if there’s another Aussie bloke nearby, he sits up straight and listens, smiles and nods, and before you can say “State of Origin” he’s in on the banter as well.
I just love that – though I think it might be time I learned more about footy...
I’m in Thailand! Yes, another bucket list ‘to do’ has been achieved, and all in a very short time. It’s amazing what you can do in a week, thanks to my wonderful travel agent. So, here I am with hubby, staying in a very nice resort on the western beaches of Phuket. It’s just lovely and such a treat to have a break from work and our daily routine. How blessed we are!
Our main reason for being here is dental work. Hubby needed some major work done and talking with friends lead us to choose Thailand for the dental work, and it really is brilliant, not to mention so much cheaper than at home in Australia. I thought I’d just come along for the trip, I didn’t think I would need any major dental work, just a check up and a clean, but it turns out I need a crown and root canal. Not fun, but we’ll make the most of it while we’re here!
So on our many visits to the dentist we’ve been constantly invited/begged/cajoled to buy from every vendor we pass in the street, and there are so many (as those who’ve been here would know), not to mention the taxi drivers and masseuse girls. I’ve noticed with interest how I react to the different personalities when they’re selling their wares. I don’t like the ones that crowd me, or feel threatening or get loud. I shy away from the pushy massage girls that step in front of us, or the tuk-tuk drivers that want our fare, and the guy that sells DVDs and holds pictures of recent movies in your face so you can’t pass easily.
And it got me thinking about my approach to people as a business, because if you’re like me, I prefer to market my business organically, by word of mouth and through social media, where people have a chance to get to know you a little before deciding to use your services. It’s about trust and connection, not standing at the front of your shop pouncing on every poor soul that wanders past. As a result, I’ve caught myself standing back and watching the taxi drivers, before choosing the quieter more respectful one to drive us back to our resort. I choose the shops I like by observing the owner, if they stand back and give me space, I’ll happily go in. If they stand at the front and hassle me, I walk away. It’s always good to walk in your customer’s shoes for a while. What do you think? How do you like to be treated as a customer?
We’ll be back in Australia in a few days, and boy oh boy, am I looking forward to the cooler weather! Oh, and my biz partner Krishna and I are running our Magnetise Your Brand workshop on the 23rd May, so if you'd like to learn how to market and brand your business in a nice way, without having to yell about it, come along!
'La-Korn' or 'Goodbye' in Aussie
I am gr8ful for you Girlfriends
There's a group of girls that I've known for about 15 years. Our children all went to primary school together and we've been friends through all those years. There's something pretty special about sharing a bit chapter of your life with friends. In the early days we spent a lot of time making craft for the mother's day stalls and the school fete. I loved those days filled with paint, cellophane and tissue paper! To walk into a brand new school and feel so welcomed was a new experience for me and I will be forever grateful. Over time our kids have grown, all have finished school now and are at uni or out in the world doing their thing and every few weeks us six girls get together for dinner. It's become a tradition to celebrate our birthdays with each other where we catch up on news and share our lives. I am so grateful for you girls. Thank you for being an important part of my life Dorit, Rita, Gail, Virginia and Margaret. Love you long time beautiful ones x
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