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New business

Discussion in 'General Business Forum:' started by danbyi87, Dec 16, 2014.

  1. danbyi87

    danbyi87 New Member


    I have recently just started my own business as a freelance graphic designer. My Business is called ICreativeDesign - Works on my initials from my name.

    I was wondering if anyone could give me some tips on where I can look for potential clients or whats the best way in which I could contact or find them. I have used ads on gumtree and People per hour in the past. I am thinking more about my local companies, what would the best way be?

    Any sort of help would be very grateful :)

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    What sort of work are you providing?

    If you don't have one already, write a business plan. It will help you identify what skills and experience you have, and therefore who your target market is. Once you know who you're targeting and where you can find them, it's much easier to approach those clients.

    Working with local businesses is a good idea, and targeted mailings can work. Consider designing something you can send out, maybe a postcard you can hand write, telling these businesses about how you can help them. I've bolded that bit because ultimately that's what clients want – someone with expertise they don't have. Being a person is a big selling point. Nearly all my clients are looking for someone friendly and trustworthy they can have a 1-on-1 conversation with, so being able to offer flexible meetings, etc, is a big selling point.

    Referrals work. Ask past clients and contacts if they can put you in touch with anyone you don't already know. I did this last week and now have 3/4 jobs lined up for the New Year. Don't be humble or afraid of asking, but don't come across as desperate. Just explain that you have some free time coming up and are available for work if they or someone they knows could make use of your services.

    Also look into Google Adwords to get in the search results for key terms. It's important to ensure you're targeting a particular market and your website is optimised to convert visits to enquiries, so don't fork out for Google advertising until you're business and your site is ready.
  3. danbyi87

    danbyi87 New Member

    Cheers for the advice Paul, really good points here which have inspired me to design a postcard I can drop off at some of my local companies and speak to them.

    The work I am looking to provide potential clients with are logos, leaflets, flyers, business cards, posters & brochures. I have in the past completed t-shirt illustrations and music album artwork.
  4. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    That's quite a mixed bag, and probably what most people offered when they started, me included. I also offered album cover design as a service, but am yet to actually design for a band or artist. It's worth trying to focus on a particular area, especially in the future. Something that most people don't actually think about or realise is that graphic design is a B2b service, so your target market will primarily be other businesses.

    Now I primarily focus on finding clients who want one thing – websites. I design, build and brand them. This makes it easier to market myself, and have contacts who put forward their contacts who are looking for website designs because they know I do it. This is the bulk of my workload, substantial projects that can lead to a trickle of smaller jobs in future. I can also market myself to start-ups as I can give them a 'Start Up package' offering a website and branding.

    Think about how you can present what you do to businesses with budgets, particularly with regards to the wording and terminology. For example, offer branding as a service, rather than just logos. 'Logo design' tends to have a cheapness to the term thanks to the myriad of sites where you can get one designed for £50. Branding covers a lot more, and is a term that's understood and recognised in business. It incorporates identity design, stationery, and marketing material, and more. And it's more work and requires more experience and expertise, so you can earn more.

    Businesses with larger budgets generally aren't looking for posters, flyers, and business cards, they want marketing material, branding (including stationery and business card). When you market yourself, the wording can make all the difference.
  5. @GCarlD

    @GCarlD Well-Known Member

    Great advice from Paul above.

    Paul, I agree with everything you've said, although I don't ever see myself choosing a niche in design to focus or specialise in. What I love about graphic design is the variety and versatility that comes with it. It keeps it fun and interesting for me, as I never know what the next job my skills could be leant to. Having seen some of the various different types of work you have produced in the past on your old website, don't you miss that variety? For some reason I seem to get a lot of branding work, and have contemplated specialising in branding but I know I'd miss everything else. In 2008, I worked for a company where all I ever did was design websites, creating web templates, web; banners, buttons, ads, etc. After a couple months designing the same type of 'web stuff' week in week out, knowing that once I have finished a web template, the next job would be to design another one.. It just sucked the fun out of designing for me, and it started to become more of a chore. It is the branding, web design and everything in-between that keeps me 'energised' and excited not knowing what the hell my next brief will involve. It's all about the spontaneous lifestyle of design that I love.
  6. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    A lot of the work in my portfolio is self-initiated or was done for a client but was amended for portfolio purposes. Stuff like the book covers were done solely for the portfolio and for my own enjoyment. I do like to do a variety of different things, but the more you do, the harder it can be to market yourself. Now I focus on websites mainly because it's a constantly growing and evolving sector, and as such the gap between a website and a client is ever-increasing. I'm there to bridge that gap, with the help of a reasonable budget of course ;)

    I'm not saying you shouldn't be a 'Jack of all trades', as naturally you'll be asked by clients to do different things, but it's hard to focus on a key market when you advertise as a designer who does a bit of everything. I suppose you could get more passing trade that way, but being known as someone to go to for a particular skill is a big benefit. I went to a networking event recently and there was a few designers there, but I got a job from it because someone was specifically looking for a web designer, not "a graphic designer who can do websites".

    When you're starting out you'll probably take on any job that comes along, and you'l learn which jobs you can/want to do, and which you want to avoid like the plague. I started out offering book design (cover and interior), but it was clear I wasn't going to make much of a living that way because most of my clients were self-publishing authors with low budgets. If I spent 3 days perfectly typesetting a 300–500 page book, then doing the cover design and artwork, AND amending the design, AND getting the whole thing to print, for that £150 budget, I'd make more money stacking shelves in a shop.

    If you can make a living doing whatever comes along then fair play, but if/when you want to grow, then it's worth considering a particular niche or skillset to be able to offer a clear area of expertise to bigger clients.
  7. @GCarlD

    @GCarlD Well-Known Member

    Yeah I totally get what you're saying Paul. I offer five main services (4 1/2 in reality) and to be honest, they all interlock with each other, one way or another. I chose to stick to what I am good at and more importantly enjoy. For example, rather than learning how to develop websites (which I did try to learn and failed) I choose to design them and then hand them over to a developer who knows what he's doing. I also purposefully chose not to improve my illustration skills, (as most people like myself who has a graphic design degree come from an art & design background) as I know the amount of effort and time I will spend on illustrations will rarely equate to the clients budget, plus I didn't want to be seen as a 'jack of all trades' offering graphic design, illustration, web design and whatever else. I chose to 'master' graphic design (not saying I have, I always try to learn new things & improve), as that is what I most enjoy and am best at.

    Nine times out of ten, it is because of this variety that I gain work, as more often than not, a client would rather be able to rely on one person to get everything they need done for the one fee, rather than having the headache of paying 2/3 different people to complete their brief and it all coming together seamlessly. Also, more often than not it saves them money, which is what everyone wants to do.

    When a new client calls me, they usually say one of two things: 1/ "We saw such and such in your portfolio and we would really like something similar in terms of *blah* but so its more like *blah.*" Or through word of mouth recommendation, "We heard you offer such and such and we would like *blah, blah, blah*" Without showing off and offering the things I do, these same clients would of gone elsewhere.
  8. danbyi87

    danbyi87 New Member

    I have decided to focus on branding for companies mainly as I have enjoyed doing this for my past clients.

    I as well have decided not to teach myself the web side of things, I have recently spoke to a mate who does this so we are going to join together when it comes to websites.

    I am in the process of designing a leaflet which I am going to distribute to local companies and just get my name out there i suppose!

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