Here’s what I’ve learned building an unlimited graphic design business for 5 years

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Photo by Peter Conlan on Unsplash

For ten years, I had been a do-er. As a graphic design freelancer, I’ve always been working on the creative process, the technical side of things, and delivering the work to clients.

I refused to hire anyone to help, because all projects are customized to unique individuals, it’s hard to tell whom I have to hire.

Furthermore, I thought “why should I pay someone else when I can do the work myself and earn more”, “such a hassle to manage and train people”, “I love doing design work and I should only do what I love doing”, and “nobody can create what I’ve been doing, my clients will leave if it wasn’t me doing the work”. …


Design is not the same as a brand. It’s more than just your logo and website

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Erick Justo

Clients come to me all the time to create logos, websites, and anything related to graphic design. Many of them want me to come up with something that stands out so that their companies will look branded and different from others.

“I want to build my brand. You are the creative gal, please come up with a logo to make my brand stand out,” some clients say. Yes, I’m a creative gal, but no, I can’t make your brand for you. Certainly, I can’t come up with a logo and suddenly you have a brand that stands out.

Big brands like Nike, McDonald’s, Apple, and many others surely didn’t become big just because of their logos. What they did was they figured a way for us to go back to them again and again. …


$100? $1000? $10,000?

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Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

Recently, a few people have been asking me for advice on starting a new brand. They want to quickly get their business up and running but they also want a professional logo that’s decent and affordable.

Although they are willing to fork out some money for a logo, there are so many designers to choose from and pricing can range from $100 to anything more than $10,000. What’s the difference? Would you be ripped off if you were to pay $10,000? Would you get a crappy logo if you only pay $100?

You may have also considered creating the logo on your own. Nothing wrong with that. Just be mindful of your time though, since, at this point, your focus should be on sales and learning more about your customer pain points, not logo design. …


A three-step process to quickly decide who to work with

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Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

When I first begin my design freelance career in 2005, I didn’t think if there’s a right or wrong client to work with. I worked with anyone, both for a fee and for free as and when someone needs graphic design services.

As my experience with clients grew, I started to choose my clients based on my gut feeling and how I felt about the potential client. I didn’t use any quantifiable measure to certify we will work well together. …


Instead of doing freelancing and consulting

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Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash

I was a graphic design freelancer since 2005, and very happy with my life then. When my kid was born, there was no way for me to be serving my clients while babysitting. That’s when I realised my business couldn’t run without me. I was the bottleneck in all areas of it.

Searching for solutions, I tried to create other tech products, thinking that services can never be scaled. Maybe developing a SAAS (Software As A Service) product is the only way for me to remove myself from my business, scale it while still earning an income from it.

Since I’m equipped with decent coding skills, I thought I could create the next Facebook or Youtube and not have to work forever. After a few failed SAAS startups that included everything under the sun: parenting, food and advertising products, I got slapped by many lessons. …


Lessons learned to differentiate my business from competitors in a crowded market

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Photo by Karolina Bobek on Unsplash

These days, you can hardly start a fully brand-new, unique business idea or startup. Chances are there’s already one or many out there. Seems like almost everything you see in the market is becoming more commoditized than ever.

In my opinion, this could be due to the increasing market demand for cheaper, better, and faster delivery.

My startup provides ongoing, unlimited graphic design service at one fixed fee a month. Graphic design isn’t new, and there are many designers offering their services on retainer.

I was indeed trying to start another of the same thing in a crowded market. Think 99Designs, Freelancer.com, Upwork, and Fiverr — the whole world knows them, why would they come to me? …


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Photo by Tim Tiedemann on Unsplash

It’s more than just an idea.

If there’s one reason for me to start a startup, that would be to build a business asset that can run without me as quickly as possible. However, growing a business is tough enough. Setting up a company to grow fast takes more than just resilience, sacrifice and making the right decisions.

It’s been four years of the rollercoaster ride since I started an unlimited graphic design service. To me, the hardest part of starting and growing this business is that I’m always fighting against time. …


A way to scale your freelance or consulting business

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Photo by Curology on Unsplash

Since I have been a freelancer since 2005, my productized business wasn’t born out of anywhere. With more than ten years of experience, I was confident I knew my industry well enough to pull it off.

If you’ve been a freelancer, service-based practitioner, or consultant for some time and find yourself burned out and spread too thin by working dollar-to-dollar, this is for you.

In a service-based business, there is only so much time we have to deal with client’s customized requirements. …


Steps to stop working dollar-to-dollar and earning more without doing it all

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Photo by Thom Holmes on Unsplash

Have you ever wondered how you can earn more while working less, without having to give up doing what you love?

As a solo freelancer, you only have so much time, energy and resources in a day to help a limited number of people. You can only work on one task at a time. But you have to do everything, from creating proposals (that may be rejected) to chasing clients for unpaid invoices.

I’ve been a solo graphic design freelancer for 10+ years. I could work from home and anywhere, that was great. But once I stopped working, incoming cash stops flowing. That wasn’t so good. …


Events that led me to find a better way to run my business

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Photo by Edmundas Stundzius on Unsplash

Being a graphic design freelancer for 10+ years, life was better than being an employee because my schedule was flexible. I could choose to sleep at 9 AM and work at 9 PM, so long I got the work done on time. If I were a full-time employee, I may not be so lucky.

That said, as a freelancer, though I could choose when to work, I couldn’t choose to not work. I still had to work no matter what, even if I was unwell, otherwise, my income would run dry. …

About

Marilyn Wo

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