Ballsed up.....


Well-Known Member
When I started Bleed Ink. my goal was to be at the luxury end of the market, working for clients with decent budgets on creative projects. 9 months in and I seem to have slipped into the cost cutting, anything for a fast buck end of the print world. At the luxury end of the market, work was hard to come by but paid well when it did but this cheap end of things is so much harder as nobody wants to pay you for your time so you spend all day every day grabbing what little scraps you can and getting nothing but grief.

This week I messed up on a print job which could have seen Bleed Ink moving back to real work for real budgets. The company (a lifestyle magazine) wanted my best price on a job and I mistook that for the cheapest job and so that's what they got... I feel sick about it and knowing the influence this company holds, can't honestly see how Bleed Ink will recover.

I'm starting to wonder if perhaps I should write Bleed Ink off as a steep learning curve and start again?.. Maybe just as me rather than hiding behind a Business name?
I can offer any advice on the print side of this problem but I can say that being up all night worrying about these things gives you a really bad view of them. I know as soon as I have something stressful going on that's exactly what I do, I cant help it and its annoying. Take a step back, sleep and gather your thoughts. Talk to someone face to face and you'll probably know exactly what to do you just needed to say it out loud.
We all mess up sometimes :)
It's difficult sometimes to gauge what people are wanting/willing to pay and I sometimes ask if they have a budget. But also take a look at what they are doing/selling and how much they charge.

Build a relationship with a small number of printers of different sizes (Small format B3 /digital/ and a couple of B2 or B1 printers)- they will give you good prices if you are giving them work. I would also tell clients who only want cheap that you don't do cheap! Have high standards and that will stand you in good stead.Give excellent service - it may be what makes you stand out from the rest!

If you get a 'cheap' image it will be harder to move upwards!
It's good to have goals and to be clear about where they are but it stands to reason that you'll sometimes hit the post and occasionally stick it over the stand and into the car park from two yards out (I didn't start this whole 'balls' thing but it's on).
I just wonder if using my experience of the past 9 months I could be more successful over the next 9 months if I start from scratch rather than trying to improve on where I currently find myself.
Dave, take a step back... Re-work the plans for the business, and push those plans back into place. You get stuck in a rut and it seems like it's very hard to get out, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel my friend.

Good luck, and keep your head up and you will work it all out. I agree with getting some sleep take a couple of days off (if that's possible) - go back to your original business plan and you will soon see if/what mistakes were made and where you went wrong, IF you actually went wrong.

Keep at it...

Honestly, you guys should be able to do a re-branding job standing on your head, one balls up barely merits a mention in dispatches, I've done lots, you get used to them after a while.
Hi Dave,

Sorry to hear you haven't had the best of weeks. Working for better paying clients doesn't happen overnight and could take a few years (and even then you might have to accept a few 'cheaper' design jobs).

There's no point scrapping Bleed Ink in the hope that this will give you a change of fortune. Take some time out and work out how you can put things right.

At the end of the day, Bleed Ink is just the name of your company - all of the business decisions, pricing and client interaction comes from yourself. Unless you change, then it does't matter what your company is called, the same things will keep happening.

So what if you've made a mistake with your costs? Just put it down to experience and keep moving forward. I doubt if any successful businesses haven't made a few mistakes along the way.
It's been a shitty week all round really. I'm thinking a re-brand in the new year might cheer me up a bit.
I should point out that this problem with this job is entirely my fault! The printer did produce an excellent product on the stock requested (as they do every time). It was me misinforming the client based on assumptions I'd made about his needs.
Didn't realise you'd actually proceeded to print. Yikes! A big rule for me - probably the one most tailored to protecting my business - is to never (like, ever) do anything that's going to cost the client money until all aspects of it have been seen and signed-off - and always by the client: I will not get involved in approving anything that's in any way out of my hands.

Furthermore, if I anything did ever result in me somehow failing to observe the rule, I've made sure I have the appropriate insurance in place to cough for a re-print - was that not an option here?
Dave - from what you're saying all you've done is misinterpret the client's wishes...and the client couldn't say exactlly what they wanted. This is where you need to have samples to show... a client might ask for 115gsm thinking it's thicker than 80gsm but really want 170gsm! I always show my clients something on the same or very similar stock. If it hasn't truly ruined your reputation why rebrand? If you use a rebrand to reposition yourself away from the 'cheap' stuff it could be good. Or you could have 2 websites/names that you trade under and run one as a budget outfit and one as a posh...and see which one does best!
Just a thought.
1. Never assume anything or leave anything to chance where money changing hands is conditional on a specific outcome.

2. If you're worried about damage to your reputation it's implied that you have a reputation worth protecting and cutting all ties with your former self because of a mistake is tantamount to throwing a hissy fit (and, frankly, a bit dishonest). I've worked with printers who've made mistakes and (possibly a slightly different thing, but...) I've always felt that it speaks well of a business where they take pains to try and make amends: perhaps consider how you might go about this.

3. No reason why a business can't serve a range of differently placed clients under the same banner: a job's a job and it can be done well or it can be done badly: that is all.
I've been considering dumping Bleed Ink for a number of reasons, firstly because I worry that recent event will have made the company appear amateurish and therefore make it hard to find future business. But also that for some weeks now it's become apparent that Bleed Ink is not so much a partnership but more of just me as an individual with the occasional creative suggestion from emma. Whist it doesn't cause me an issue being Bleed Ink the one man band, it does concern me again that it may be perceived as amateurish or as me trying to sound more important than I am.

Having said that and having had a day or two to mull things over, I don't think it would benefit me professionally to change the company name from Bleed Ink to David Hudson Graphic Design (that's the alternative) but I do want to reposition the company image including moving away from the existing logo and colour scheme. The logo it's self is a nice piece of design but as time goes on, I've realised that it's form is somewhat cumbersome and doesn't fit well into many situations. As for the company colour, I worry that the vibrant red maybe leads to too much negative emphasis on the word 'bleed'.

I've also had an email today from the client who's print job started all of this. We appear to have a well respected mutual friend who has popped into his office and calmed the waters. The email ended "It's not the end of the world, It's just a mix-up, don't worry.", which has made me feel brighter about the whole thing. He's not asked for a refund (and I've not offered) but I have offered to cover part of the cost of his next job should he feel he'd like to give me another chance.
Then that's a positive outcome for you and your business. I was going to say, has the client seen the deliverables? Or were you just worrying in anticipation?

My advice was going to be; don't worry about it until the client has gotten in touch about it, but, seen as they've already seen it, seems like you must have had the weight lifted off your shoulders already! Good stuff.
I've also had an email today from the client who's print job started all of this. We appear to have a well respected mutual friend who has popped into his office and calmed the waters. The email ended "It's not the end of the world, It's just a mix-up, don't worry.", which has made me feel brighter about the whole thing. He's not asked for a refund (and I've not offered) but I have offered to cover part of the cost of his next job should he feel he'd like to give me another chance.
Yay! It was just a mix-up - hope you're feeling better about it all now. Sh*t happens! I hope that he does give you another chance as you've been very generous to offer a discount (effectively!)
Good to see that is has been resolved somewhat.

As said, you can always have a bit of a rebrand without needing to totally start from scratch and if you gradually ease yourself back towards the market you were intending to reach then I'm sure you'll get there eventually.

If you make sure the work looks of a high standard then there's no reason why you can't justifiably quote the higher prices or approach those with the larger budgets that you're after.
I always think you can gauge the professionalism of an individual or a company by how well they handle mistakes.

You're only human, things like this happen and accepting and admitting you made a mistake speaks volumes for you, rather than simply hiding the fact via a rebrand. It seems sneaky and underhand to change your name every time a client isn't happy (think Rogue Traders).

If you're not happy with Bleed Ink though, perhaps a rebrand for the new year is an option. It will allow you to focus again and start with a clear head. Just be sure to email your clients to inform them you're changing the name. Why not even write a little press release/blog post detailing your reasons?
I have to say, this feels like a million years ago now. Despite the good will between myself and the client I've heard nothing else from him (and dont really expect to). I have however had a call from our mutual friend asking if I'd be able to arrange his print for him in future as he simply doesn't have time.