When you decided to open a graphic design business, you probably had grandiose ideas of being your own boss. You would have more time to spend with family and friends, make more money, and get away from your overbearing boss. If you are still struggling with time management, lost under a sea of bills, business and insurance paperwork, and dealing with hard to please clients, your graphic design business may not be as healthy as you want it to be.
Your flow of business may be all over the board. You take each and every job that comes your way because you want your business to be successful. The only problem is, you no longer enjoy what you do. Take a step back and figure out what kinds of graphic designs you want to work on and go from there.
- What is your creative edge?
- Who is your target demographic?
- What kinds of businesses do you want to work with?
- How are you going to keep your name out there?
These are all questions that you need to answer honestly to determine if your graphic design business is healthy and mold it the way you want so that it can be at a healthy level. Once you determine what skills you want to share and who you want to work with, you can market more effectively to target specific businesses.
Create a Routine
You work from sunrise to sunset and even when you’re not working, you’re secretly checking your email, sending texts to clients, and talking on the phone with vendors. You have no downtime and this is not what you signed up for when you got into the graphic design business.
Establish a routine where you have a work schedule laid out – and allow for some variations. You should also close your email client when you are in project mode so the email pings don’t break you from your concentration.
Work with the Clients You want to Work With
One of the best things about being your own boss is that you choose who you want to work with. If a potential client comes in to talk to you about a new website they want to build, you have the power to say yes or no. If you can see from the very beginning that a client is going to be high maintenance, you may want to come up with a reason as to why you cannot accept the new business right now.
If you already have one or two high maintenance clients, you may simply not have enough time in the day to work in another one. It is OK to turn down business – especially if it is business that is going to cost you too much time and cause you too much stress.
You can free up time to work with the clients that do appreciate you and that clearly state what they want. These are the clients that will ultimately recommend you to others, write great testimonials for you, and support you.
It’s important to work with clients who have a clear vision of what they want (or who will listen to your ideas and accept that as what they want). Working with clients that have no idea what they want can be draining and expensive. As a freelancer, you get paid for what you deliver, not for the hours you spend. If you spend all of your time in revisions and brain storming, then you are unable to make money.
Work More Productively
Are you constantly working? The whole idea of going into business for yourself was to have more time to do things. You may be so inundated with projects for other people that you have lost sight of being able to market your own business, make updates to your website, and maintain the health of your graphic design firm.
Productivity tools are available for you to use. You may be able to find tools that will help you repost your Twitter feeds to your Facebook and LinkedIn. You may be able to find tools that remind you of when you have to do something, meet with someone or place a call. This way you never forget to do the most important things within your day.
Learning to recycle can also help you to be more productive. Did you just create a cool code for a website? Save the code and mark it up so that you can use it in a slightly altered form for the next client. Are you trying to figure out the topic for your next podcast? Look at some of the tasks that you are working on now and use those as topics. Recycling can save you a significant amount of time so that you don’t have to start from the ground up with each project that you take on.