50 lessons learnt since running my creative business
It has consistently been a learning curve since starting Hub Graphics in 2013. Many transitions from how I work and the tools that I have used. Design trends with graphic design, logos and anything web based is changing fast and is competitive.
Responsive design is now a must for any website as the percentage is shifting more and more to mobile use. Logo designs have become more simplified but more thoughtful in design. I have found this has crossed over to other forms of graphics with just clever use of typography, shapes, patterns and bright colour use.
Although these trends and styles change the methods to get results may not. So as part of the constant learning curve I have been on I have documented here what has helped me and may help you in the future.
This list can be a reference that you can build upon and come up with your own list so you can see more clearly what you have done, what you are doing and what you can do more. There is a mix here of general business advice and things that are more specific for creative businesses.
General Business / Organisation
1: Be confident in being yourself. This is part of your USP (Unique Selling Point).
2: Be someone of your word as if its a written contract with a client.
3: Go beyond client expectation, it pays off.
4: Get clients to submit reviews (google reviews, industry review sites etc)
5: Have a calendar of appointments and timescales and keep using it.
6: Make sure your email signature is top notch. This should include your logo, contact numbers, address, social links, email and website and possibly a discliamer.
7: Get a decent laptop, it will serve you well.
8: Have a system in place as to the work that will be carried out at each stage of a project. This can be presented to your clients so it clear what needs to be done with each stage.
9: Don’t over work, have a cut off point each day.
10: Have a business plan, refer to it, change it and build upon it.
11: Each day have to do lists, it really does help putting things down on paper.
12: Keep fit. If your like me your sitting in front of a computer for 6 hours a day so get moving….some how.
13: Take time to read and pray.
14: Have Privacy and Terms pages setup on your website.
15: Find out what business connections you can make locally with other like minded individuals.
16: Keep your desk tidy, it helps you think more clearly.
17: Use a note taking software you can access across your devices, I recommend Evernote or Google docs.
18: Have your business cards to hand when out and about and actually give them out.
19: Have a list of resources bookmarked available for future projects.
20: Write your passwords down, nothing beats hard copy.
21: Have email templates set up for regular tasks.
22: Research your competitors locally and be unique in what you are offering.
23: Be ready to learn on the job, we all learn by overcoming problems.
Branding & Marketing
24: Understand branding terms.
25: Clearly define your brand with vital questions. For example, What is your goal? How would you describe your customer? How will you measure success?
26: Have your branding guidelines to hand.
- Colour palette
- Font Use (primary, secondary)
- Imagery style
- Mission statement
- Stationary design
27: Keep up to date with your industries trends, adopt these techniques and skills but be original.
28: Understand your products and services inside out so you can sell better to potential clients.
29: Have clear navigation around your website with CTA’s placed on each page for potential clients to take action.
30: Get your page structure right with targeted keywords.
31: Focus on the benefits of what you offer not the features.
32: Check up, update or maintain your website. Don’t let it just sit there. Have a plan of how it will be used to reach your audience and generate leads and sales.
33: Work on your SEO, start with getting the basics right, meta descriptions, keywords, local citations.
34: Have a lead magnet in place to grab peoples email address.
35: Setup Google analytics on your site to track traffic and conversions.
36: When producing any online products make sure they any questions and solve your clients problems.
37: Have a journal or sketch pad to hand to jot down ideas.
38: Take your time on projects so you get it right first time.
39: Don’t be afraid to outsource, others might be more specialized at certain skills.
40: Get hard copies of work produced for your portfolio so you can show your next clients.
41: Research social media channels and which will serve you the best for your products and services. Utilize them effectively in connection with your blogs articles and news. Hire someone to manage these to be consistent in reaching followers.
42: Go as deep as possible with the projects you have completed, make them case studies on your website. This can apply to any industry.
43: Pursue potential leads until you get a response even if it is a no. Keep a list of who and when you have followed up.
Pricing & Finance
44: Have a pricing table as a document you can send out to all potential clients so your not having to justify your prices every time.
45: Have a pricing strategy that takes all outgoings into consideration. This will save lots of time.
46: Hire a bookkeeper to assist you in your finances even if it is to just gain advice.
47: Make sure you get deposits before commencing work. (40% is a fair amount)
48: Keep your outgoing costs down to a minimum.
49. Setup templates for invoices, quotes and estimations.
50. Work out and manage your out-going costs and keep them down to a minimum.
“Simon produced a superb flyer for our charity fundraising event. He did a great job first time and then was on hand to make a few adjustments, all in all very pleased.”
BRIAN – Flyer Design
“I have no hesitation in endorsing Hub Graphics after I used them to design a brochure. I was impressed by the attention to detail, customer service including the prompt turnaround and the quality of the finished product.”
BRIAN DILLON – Brochure Design
“Simon has done some excellent work for me over the last few years, his ability to create artwork from even the most sparse brief is excellent, and he doesn’t charge the earth either! Top marks!”
MIKE C. – Graphic Design
Company: SEO First Web Design
“Simon is a gifted designer who did a great job of making what I could see in my mind’s eye appear in full colour on the page! That’s easier said than done… Good job, feller!”
Andrew – Website Design
Company: Boyd Media Partnership
“Simon’s work has transformed our two company WordPress web sites and the technical reports we publish. The designs are innovative and imaginative but have very good usability, especially on a mobile device. Great value for money as well.”
MARTIN WHITE – Website & Graphic Design
Company: Intranet Focus
23 Littlehaven Lane, Horsham,
West Sussex, RH12 4JF
Phone: 0742 963 9268