Friday, May 29, 2009

Why some businesses and freelancers FAIL

I got a call yesterday. The fellow had a great product that wasn't selling. He wanted to know how much it would cost for 3 banner ads and to redo his home page on the web. Since 2 of the banner sizes were similar and because I felt sorry for him I quoted a very low ball price.. $250 per animated banner.

"That's $750 for 3... I can get it done for $125 bucks!" he tells me.

Now, while he's telling me that he can buy it cheaper, I'm looking at his web site and I'm not surprised he can buy the services he wants for $125. His web site is not SELLING. It's not professional looking... I guess he paid $125 for his web site too.

I explained to him that he will be spending a lot of money in the future on his advertising... and if he's running the same banner ads over and over again, then he should be getting more bang for his buck with banner advertising that WORKS... that drives clicks to his site.

"But I can spend $125 on it" I keep hearing him say...

BUT what HE wasn't hearing was that he wasn't giving his business a chance to succeed.

He wasn't spending his money where it really counts... in smart design combined with PROVEN marketing strategies designed to SELL at the very beginning.

I didn't get the assignment.

There will always be someone willing to do the project for less. If you are competing on price and not on quality, service and results, then you will be working 24/7 and will be out of business in one year.

My market, as well as yours, should be geared to people who are SERIOUS about their business succeeding and who know that quality and experience will cost a little more BUT WILL BE CHEAPER in the end because they will SELL MORE.

Bottom line: To be a successful freelancer, you have to convince your prospective clients that if they are SERIOUS about wanting their company to succeed, they have to take a swing at it with their best shot... and that's YOU not the inexperienced person who can do it for pennies.... because CHEAP is EXPENSIVE in the long run.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Your phone call....

It's hard to get in to see people these days. The way you present yourself on the phone is very important to being a successful freelancer.

What you have to communicate quickly is several important points:

1- You can help the person.
2- You can help the person.
3- You can help the person.

People aren't calling you because they think you are the best designer in the world. They are calling you because they have a problem and they are hoping you are the person that can solve that problem.

No matter who calls you, their problem is the same: they need to SELL a service or product. How you are going to do it is the solution to their problem... it could be a sell sheet, or a logo that communicates a deeper meaning, it could be an ad, a flash banner or a new web site maybe a postcard.

You should be nimble and you should be able to offer lot's of different graphic design answers... not just the ones that they are looking for.

Imagine going to a car dealer and telling them that your problem is that you need to be moving large boxes across town every day. If they only sell race cars, they will be only recommending a race car to you.

As a successful freelancer you have to have skills in a wide area so that you have different revenue streams... that's your "toolbox" to help your clients.

Bottom line: your job is to SELL your clients service or product. The more design areas that you are skilled in the better chance you have of helping your client and making a better living.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Holding your client's hand

We've all run across this kind of client... they need a lot of hand holding. You know what I mean. You have to explain why you used the color maroon instead of teal or why you set your text at 9.5 and not 10 point.

Sometimes there's no "real" answer... you just did it because you felt it just looked good.

So, you finish your clients project, and now you are spending 2 hours going over every little detail.

Is all this hand holding worth it? Did you charge enough to include 2 hours of back and forth over tiny details that don't have anything to do with the impact of the design?

I'm sure that there are folks that would disagree with me on this one, but I say "It's worth it".

Here's is an opportunity to have a great relationship with your new client. Answer all the questions, give your client all the time they need to feel comfortable about working with you and your working style.

After a few projects your client will develop a trust in you and your designs and that means less time going over "details". Or you can figure out a way BEFORE you do the assignment on how to cut down on the "debriefing" segment of the project. Every client has a different way to work with you.

Bottom line: to be a successful freelancer figure it's important to establish a firm working relationship and trust with your client. Your job is twofold... help them sell their product or service and secondly, make them feel comfortable working with you. In the long run you will get more work and that will make you a successful freelancer.