Business

Learn how to run your design business, work with clients, manage expectations, and handle your finances.

Freelancer or FTE? 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Deciding
Business / 10 Dec 2010

Freelancer or FTE? 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Deciding

As a designer, you have a much higher likelihood of confronting the freelancer vs. full-time employee dilemma than most people. No matter which side you’re currently on or have been on before, there are several key questions that you should ask yourself before deciding where you fit in best.

Below we’ll take a look at ten such questions that you can use to assess your career aspirations and long-term goals. We’ll also offer tons of advice along the way about how to interpret your answers to each question.

12 Brilliant Direct Marketing Pieces You Have to See
Business / 6 Dec 2010

12 Brilliant Direct Marketing Pieces You Have to See

Direct marketing is all about connecting with customers in a real way. To accomplish this effectively, you often have to come up with some crazy unique and inventive ideas. The next time you’re in a meeting where people are ideating about direct marketing ideas, use these as inspiration to wow the group!

All of the examples below are from Ads Of the World, an excellent online source for all kinds of real and conceptual advertising and marketing examples. This is a truly invaluable inspirational resource for anyone involved with printed marketing deisgn.

5 Ideas for Earning Money Beyond Web Design
Business / 3 Dec 2010

5 Ideas for Earning Money Beyond Web Design

Freelancing is an interesting profession. The flow of work is referred to by many as “feast and famine,” meaning that you can generally expect periods of complete overload followed by extended periods of little to no work at all.

With much of the world still attempting to rally from a global economic crisis, many freelancers have taken a serious hit or have even been forced to give up their ventures altogether. Today we’ll go over a few ideas for opening up your horizons and finding sources of income outside of web design.

Productivity Management Tips for Freelance Designers
Business / 1 Dec 2010

Productivity Management Tips for Freelance Designers

Working in freelance web design is like nothing else in the world. You are able to set your own hours, spend all day working to create beautiful designs and can even practice some of your skills. From the outside this seems like the artist’s dream job, though there are a few downfalls.

The largest is, quite blatantly, lack of drive and interest in work. Over time you can become burnt out from so much design work and lose focus on projects. I’ve gone over a few productivity tips below which will help novice and professional alike.

Building Your First Professional Portfolio: Thoughts and Considerations
Business / 26 Nov 2010

Building Your First Professional Portfolio: Thoughts and Considerations

After graduating from college, how you present yourself to the job market can have a huge impact on your future career. If you’re sending potential employers to a portfolio website, you want to make doubly sure that you’re putting your best foot forward.

Today we’ll be looking at a real portfolio site and trying to see how we can improve upon not so much the design but the strategy in place to leverage the resource. You can use these lessons to analyze your own portfolio site and gauge whether or not you need to make any changes.

20 Outstanding Tools to Maximize Your Time
Business / 25 Nov 2010

20 Outstanding Tools to Maximize Your Time

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I’m off stuffing my face with copious amounts of poultry and mashed potatoes but I planned ahead so that you don’t have to miss out on your daily dose of Design Shack!

If you’re like me, the holidays drastically cut in to your work time. You don’t get the luxury of having less to do, only less time to do it! If this sounds like you, check out the 20 amazing tools below to help maximize your time. Dedicating yourself to using just a few of these will boost your productivity levels to an all-time high.

Networking Tips in the Design Industry
Business / 23 Nov 2010

Networking Tips in the Design Industry

Web designers come at a dime a dozen. These days businesses are not hiring professional designers to create work anymore. Instead most of our progress has shifted overseas where outsourcing web design and coding is common place.

This shows how much industry name really means. The conversion into a well-known and respected designer takes time and a lot of hard work. There are some great networks out there for connecting with designers and once you understand how to utilize their power almost anything is possible!

Feedback From a Theory X and Theory Y Perspective
Business / 3 Nov 2010

Feedback From a Theory X and Theory Y Perspective

This article is for both designers and clients/employers. I have been on both sides of this equation so I know how it feels to give feedback as well as receive it and I firmly believe that there is a right and wrong way to go about each task.

Today we’ll look at both sides of the coin and discuss how employers can motivate the people working for them to meet necessary goals and how designers should react in the face of both constructive and destructive criticism.

As we’ll see, designers and managers are often equally guilty of approaching the problem of feedback in a poor manner. While abusive managers do exist, designers tend to unnecessarily wear their feelings on their sleeves and take offense too quickly.

How Persuasive Is Your Website’s Copy? a Simple, Five-Step Checklist
Business / 9 Aug 2010

How Persuasive Is Your Website’s Copy? a Simple, Five-Step Checklist

As a web designer, you’re probably accustomed to obsessing over the layout and visual appearance of your designs. And if you’re like most, a site’s content is something you’d rather not worry about. But being able to identify weak web copy allows you to offer greater value to your client. By spotting major problems and helping him to solve them, you can position yourself as an expert who works with him…rather than as a labourer who works for him.

And if you know some basic principles for identifying and fixing weak copy, you not only increase your value to your clients—you increase your chances of getting them. Your own website will have stronger copy; more likely to persuade prospects to hire you.

5 Tips for Sending More Useful and Effective Invoices
Business / 16 Jul 2010

5 Tips for Sending More Useful and Effective Invoices

It happens all the time. No sooner than you click the send button does the phone ring. At the other end is an angry client who just received an invoice. Despite the fact that all of your payment agreements were handled before the project ever started, he has still somehow managed to be surprised at the amount that he owes you.

Whether the description above typifies your client base or not, it can still be a good idea to soften the blow of an invoice by showcasing what you did and how it benefited them. There are also a few things you can do to make the whole process easier and therefore (hopefully) speed up payment. Below we’ll look at five things you can do to make your invoices both more useful and impressive.

Why Money Shouldn’t Motivate Design
Business / 9 Jul 2010

Why Money Shouldn’t Motivate Design

Today we’re going to discuss the difference between designing for money and designing for a living because it’s what you love to do.

We’ll take a look at a few things that motivate designers who couldn’t be anything else if they tried and why design is more than a means to a financial end but is in fact a way of life.

QuoteRobot: Freelance Job Quoting Made Easy
Business / 6 Jul 2010

QuoteRobot: Freelance Job Quoting Made Easy

Quoting jobs can be a real pain.

As designers we often procrastinate and/or avoid this necessary step simply because it’s tedious and no where near as fun as actually designing something. QuoteRobot is a new tool that helps address this problem by enabling you to quickly get back to what you love instead of being bogged down for hours on end creating custom bids for every client.

We had a chat with Shawn Adrian, one of the founding developers of QuoteRobot, and asked him to explain a little bit about the service and why you as a freelancer should be interested in this product. Below is our full interview. Along the way we’ll toss in some screenshots so you can get a feel for the service.