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Tips for running your own business

Hi all, I've been running a series of blog posts since January and my latest one is a great guest post from Dennis Salvatier of Salvatier Studios in LA. It's a list of ten top tips for running your own small design business - I'd love to get some feedback on the comments section and hopefully get some discussion going.

Please check out the article here:
Owen Jones | Graphic Design | Plymouth

...and leave a comment if you want! I hope the article is useful to you - keep checking back too, there's a new article posted every 2 weeks on a Monday!

It's a fairly interesting read and I think mostly relevant for graduates - but you do raise some good points.

On a side note - my eyes are f*****g killing from reading that!! White text on a black background is really bad for large amounts of text. For your blog, it may be worth changing the background colour?! It's manageable on the rest of your site, but if you have a text heavy blog post, it's hard to make it all the way through. Whether this is just my eyes, I'm not sure...
Cheers Chris, appreciate the feedback. Not sure I agree it's just relevant to graduates though - I graduated in 2003 and still find some of the points pretty helpful, at least to get me thinking about them.

I've been thinking about the white out of black problem for a while too, glad you said something about it if it's a problem. Have had 50-50 responses when I've asked for feedback on that aspect so because I like the aesthetic I've kept it. Will certainly be reconsidering now though. Thanks again.
No worries. I guess what I meant by that is hopefully nearly all of the points that you've brought up should be practiced by designers already that have been doing this for a few years. But it's always nice to be reminded from time to time - keep you on track I suppose!

Do a blog post with a poll asking about it!! Then you get feedback from your readers...
Yeah, might try that actually. I struggle with getting responses to things though so can't guarantee I'd get an accurate set of results. Worth a try though.
Try a different colour background and track the average time spent on your blog, compared to previous times with the black background. Not entirely accurate as time spent will also spend on blog posts lengths and readers interests... but a potential avenue!
In your opinion, is the attached visual any easier to read? Wondering if it can be done without fully inverting the colours to black on white, even just for the text panel. I wonder if it's a little less harsh, so perhaps more readable?

The black, white, yellow/orange theme is pretty key for me. My next option would be to make the text panel white or light grey with black writing but I'd be concerned about the consistency and aesthetics of that.

The contrast is less, so yes it is better. Not sure about the texture, a slight noise with the gradient could look nice, but that's always personal opinion.

A light grey background with the oranges and black could make a nice look - but that depends on whether it steps too much away from your current branding...
To be honest I don't mind the second one. It is a little less harsh than a solid black. I'm not sure about the first because of the texture that shows through the white, but that's just my personal taste. Either would work though!!
Thanks gents. Greg, had thought that but feel that the grey on black might be just as wearing on the eyes. Cheers Chris - I've updated to the second one with the grey texture and I'll see how I feel about it for a few weeks I expect. I'll continue to seek critique though and suspect I may need to revert to the one with the white panel.
I think you could be a little more subtle with it.... Also, you could just use it on your blog, keeping the same image on your site as it is more image focused than a blog with heavy text content


In point number 7 you say that the term freelancer has negative connotations - as a new freelance graphic designer I've got to ask, is this your opinion or the general consensus?

Paul Murray

Staff member
I too am interested in the 'freelancer' title point. I can see the logic behind it.

One similar piece of advice I've been told a couple of times is to stop referring to yourself as a student/graduate. Both 'student' and 'graduate' also have negative connotations. Besides there isn't really a point where you 'become' a designer, if you think you're ready to refer to yourself as one then do it, even if you're still studying.


I think it's all about how you present yourself and who you're targeting.

If you're a student graphic designer and you're targeting charities, small organisations and sole traders then I think using the student, or even freelancer, title will improve your chances of landing a client.

The higher up the food chain you go, the more professional and accomplished you're going to need to make yourself look. A company with a turnover of £50m a year is never going to want to hand their marketing over to that 19 year old graphic student or that guy who's just started calling himself a (freelance) graphic designer.

It really comes down to how you present yourself as a business person and how well you do your job. If someone hires you to design a logo and you give them something that makes them say wow, in a reasonable amount of time, at a reasonable price then who's going to care whether you advertised yourself as a freelance/student graphic designer?

Will some people draw conclusions or have previously bad experiences with students and freelancers, sure, but do you really want to work with someone who's going to judge your entire business from a single word?