A streamlined branding process will save you your sanity and lots of wasted time! I know what it is like to know how to design, but when I first started out as a freelance graphic designer, I didn't have a process. To be a successful creative entrepreneur, you need to treat this as an online business. If you are tired of getting clients that don't want to pay your fee, micro-manage your designs and are feeling frustrated because you weren't trained in modern design methods, I can help! If you are new to branding design and don't want bad clients, I can also help. This process works for both types of designers, and you will be relieved to learn the secret of successful freelance graphic designers. I promise!Read More
OVERWHELMED. CONFUSED. FRUSTRATED.
These were the exact three words that described how I felt when I wanted to compete with other freelance graphic designers online. I saw how together they all looked and I had no clue where to start. I was also unsure of how to find and book clients.
I tried interacting in LinkedIn Groups. Meh. That fell flat.
Then I tried Facebook Groups. No. Not for me. It helped me find experts to hire, but no clients that didn't want a deal. (That may just be me being a novice!) I thought I would find my target audience if I interacted in groups where they hung out.
I changed my tactics and looked to using what I call PLACEHOLDERS.
Placeholders are the branded graphics that hold your place online, WHILE you design, blog and socialize online.
This post will show you exactly how to do this with three easy steps. Why do graphics work so well?
A variety of graphics build trust. But, to do this, you have to be consistent in delivering branded posts. To get started:
Step 1 | Create Branded Templates
My Go to: Canva, a free resource that has templates in the exact sizes you need for each social media platform.
Canva offers images for quite a small amount. $1! Some are even free.
But, to go beyond Canva, my trick is to invest in styled stock photography. You don't need a lot, just a bundle or subscription that will give you variety to choose from.
You can store these in Drop Box or Creative Cloud to save space and easily upload your favorites into this app. If you are great behind the camera, I suggest taking some flat lay photography of a desk set-up. Recently, I bought a canon T-6 on Amazon. It was an amazing deal! I have been learning how to use it by taking shots of office supplies, succulents, pretty note pads, pens and anything with a pretty + practical touch, all placed on a piece of white foam core.
If that is out of your budget, you can easily use your phone and do the same thing. I like using my own photos now, with a mix of styled stock that fits my brand's style. It is nice to have both to choose from.
Chiatra from Pink Pot Design has great tips for taking photos with your phone, if you want to learn more! The link above is for instagram flat lays, but the tips can be used when shooting for other platforms.
Choose Social Media Templates in Canva.
*SIDE NOTE: I LOVE Instagram, by the way, because it is such a powerful, visual app. This is where I found my "tribe" of like-minded, creative mom-bosses and found success growing my business. It is different for everyone. Create plug-and-play templates for your favorite social media platforms and see which one performs best for you.
Here's where to start:
Step 2 | Create different topics + themes, plug them into graphics
Choose a template for one platform or just social media templates like I stated above.
Upload photos or purchase credits from Canva and upload those.
Curate quotes, tips, and blog post titles and customize the templates.
- What does this mean? Well, it means to carve out time to collect quotes, tips and to grab your favorite blog post titles. You can use Trello to house this valuable info until you need it.
- Create a graphic that says: "Booking Open for (name a month)" To make it enticing, use words that will inspire the viewer to take action, in a way that sounds like you and injects your personality into it.
- Create a testimonial graphic and change them out with different kind words from happy clients.
Step 3 | Create a Social Media Schedule using your branded Graphics
To make sure your social media marketing is consistent, scheduling is a must. What it really does, is that it helps you to be strategic and not leave much up to chance. This next step is covered in my March blog post, where I list all of the scheduling apps that are the top ones used by other successful freelance graphic designers.
My favorite is SmarterQue! I have tried Buffer and Hootsuite, and they just don't offer the recycling of evergreen content like SmarterQue does.
What is Evergreen and how does it work?
"Evergreen content is anything which isn't time-specific, meaning you can post it again days or weeks later and still reap the benefits. Simple and mighty, SmarterQueue's Evergreen recycling lets you share, re-share and share again. As only 4% of your followers ever see your posts within the first 30 minutes, Evergreen gets more mileage out of each update. After your post is published, it then goes to the bottom of the queue. Once all your new or one-time scheduled posts have been published, your Evergreen posts are then posted again, and again, and again. This can continue forever, so your queue never runs out." ~SmarterQue
Make it Happen
By doing the above you will reach your target audience and will easily fly above your small town to anywhere in the world!
Freelance graphic designers and home based businesses aren't trained in marketing their businesses online, but not being social online isn't doing your business any good right?
- Strategize: Plan what your themes are, how many slots you want to book in a month, and gather up testimonials.
- Create your PLACEHOLDERS to reduce the worry of where and when your next client is coming from.
- Schedule like a pro so you can get back to designing!
>>Use my referral link and get 30 days FREE SmarterQue by clicking here!
Once you are signed up with SmarterQue, you are ready for my FREE Social Strategy Workbook to end Feast or Famine Syndrome once and for all! Click the link below and get instant access. See you on the other side. You will not be sorry!
Goodbyes are never easy!
My husband and I dated long distance for about 9 months and MAN, those goodbyes were hard! But, the one thing about our goodbyes that is sooooooo different from ending a project and saying goodbye, is that project goodbyes can be stressful AND never-ending!
My solution is a goodbye page, right on your website!
Goodbye pages are not talked about much, but after using one with my last branding client, I am a firm believer in them.
A lot of what I do and why I do it, is because I experienced so much stress and mistreatment that I decided I wanted to help other freelancers. You have been there right? So today you will learn how to add a secret weapon (of sorts) to your freelancer's toolbox...or preventative first aid kit!
Why You Need A Goodbye Page
The short answer is that it saves you time.
After a project is finished, you need to set firm guidelines. Why? Because your soon to be ex-client, has your email address! And questions will arise...after you have been paid! YIKES!
The Best Way to Deliver Your Goodbye Page
I use Squarespace. On this platform I create pages that are called Client Pages. When I send my welcome page to my new clients, I include a link to a password protected page (with the password). This is where I put all of our proofs, moodboards and brandboards and then at the end, the Goodbye Page.
When you create the Goodbye Page, include the following:
What to Include:
- TITLE: HOUSEKEEPING + FINAL ITEMS + FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- LOG-IN INFO
This is where you would put all the passwords that your client needs.
- NAME OF WEBSITE TEMPLATE USED (IF APPLICABLE)
If you designed and built a website, like I did on Squarespace, Include the name of the template that you used.
- RECOMMENDATIONS FOR OTHER EXPERTS THAT MAY BE NEEDED + LINKS
Will your client need any other contractors after your time together has ended? For instance, they may need a website maintenance, social media marketing manager, sales funnel expert, virtual assistant.
- INCLUDE HOW-TO'S THAT MAY BE NEEDED LATER + LINKS TO ONLINE GUIDANCE
Include links to any step by steps they may need.
- LIST EACH COMPLETED DESIGN WITH A LINK TO THE FILES | EXAMPLE: BUSINESS CARD (INCLUDE LINKS TO WEB + PRINT FILES), LIST NEXT DESIGN ITEM + LINKS, AND SO ON.
- BRAND BOARD + STYLE GUIDE
- FOR WEBSITES: INCLUDE INSTRUCTIONS FOR MAKING CHANGES TO THE SITE + LINKS
- IMPORTANT NOTES, SUCH AS: Take note: these are the final files, which means you cannot make edits to text or other info.
- LINKS FOR FONTS USED + INSTRUCTIONS THAT FONTS NEED TO BE PURCHASED
**When You DON'T want to work with a client again, due to a bad experience or a change in business plan... Do this:
Native Buy-Out Plan
Body Copy from my Goodbye Page that you can customize
[Since I am no longer offering client services, I am giving current clients a buy-out option for future print runs and copy changes that can only be made with the files that your brand identity pieces were created in. To make any changes to the text, these files are needed.
If you choose to, I will provide you with the design files for the brand board, with all of the logo variations, business card, front + back, 25 mini card designs and coaster design. Most designers do not give the actual files that their clients' branding was designed in, however, because I will not be available to make any changes in the future, I want to provide you with this unique option for $849.00. Your files are zipped for transfer, with all native files included, plus, the patterns and textures used for your brand. This will allow you to take my designs to another designer for future products, print runs or social media and website use. Unfortunately, due to my homeschooling schedule, client work is just not possible any longer.]
*Screenshot the window, showing all of the Zipped files that will be included, if they choose to purchase this plan. It is important to show them the actual files in their package.
Give A Deadline
Let your client know the exact date that they need to purchase their files by. State there are no exceptions, if files aren't purchased by deadline and that they will no longer be available after that date.
My biggest piece of advice is don't leave ANYTHING up to chance!
Give deadlines, files, links and any other instructions to your client that answers all the questions that you can think of, that may come up after the project is finished. Cover it all.
The End: AKA Goodbye!
I cannot stress the power of this little page enough! The client that I created this for, LOVED IT! In fact, when I asked for kind words from her for the work that did on her new brand and website, she included how much she appreciated the goodbye page. It was thorough to say the least!
This is definitely for you if you don't want to have to send files or images or even fonts...whatever...it will save you time. SO MUCH TIME!
Feel free to edit the copy that I used above in my sample and use it for your own Goodbye Page.
Here's to happy endings or just plain endings that are good for everyone.
Are you looking for clients that are more of the perfect fit? My three day e-course, to be taken at your pace, is open for enrollment!
Click and register below! See you on the other side!
You know those people at basketball games that use air guns to shoot t-shirts randomly into the stands?
It is totally random, but someone is guaranteed to win a t-shirt. The problem is, size can't matter, because the recipient doesn't matter. You get what you get.
Social media, if done right, should be the perfect fit for the recipient. But, how?
It's easy. Let me show you how! In this post, I will show you how to monitor your analytics to see what platforms bring you the most traffic and the top eight things you need to know.
Step 1: Your client has a face.
Step 2: Your client has a name.
Step 3: Your client has their favorite hangouts online.
To create your Client Avatar, which is basically all of the above, rolled into one client, follow the easy steps by clicking the link above. A recent blog post of mine, walks you through this process, as well as providing you with your very own template in Canva! After that is done, it is time to put your detective hat and keep your eyes open.
What You Need To Care About And Know:
(I know you are a home-based biz, but this info will put you ahead! It worked for me!)
When I first decided to turn my freelance biz into an online biz, I had to start caring about analytics. Now, let me tell you, I am not one to like numbers or care about marketing stuff that threatens to make my eyes glaze over. The following list is courtesy of Razor Social. But, the home-based biz girl in me had to tone down the marketing lingo, so that all of us could "get it".
- Audience Size
If you are just starting, this is an easy one to answer.
- Who Your Audience Is
Refer to your client avatar for this one.
- Reach + Engagement
This consists of: Lurkers, Influencers and Engagers. Most of your audience can be lurkers at the beginning, then a small few will move to engagers, commenting on your posts.
I use a mix of Google Analytics, bit.ly (use this for online links for a customizable link title), and Planoly (instagram analytics). Coschedule + Sprout Social are a little more advanced, but great tools to use to track your online marketing pieces. It really becomes fun, once you get the hang of it.
- What Content is Working + What Isn't
Since I have gotten more aware, I noticed that I get more engagement and likes from behind the scenes photos and personal stories, than for articles. I have pre-made templates for Twitter/Facebook and Instagram. I create content in advance and schedule it in a tool called SmarterQueue . This posts my graphics without me having to post EVERYDAY! This tool could go in my traffic list of fave tools above, because they have great analytics, but it works here too!
- Your Community (tribe of like-minded people)
If you don't know who your community is yet, no problem! I didn't either, so I joined different groups on Facebook and sat back watching and commenting from time to time. Some groups I didn't like right off the bat, some I had to stick around to see if it was a fit and others just stuck. I would recommend staying with 5 groups, no more, no less. This allows you to really know if you are a good fit and are connecting with like-minded business owners.
Secondly, if you are a graphic designer, photographer, and/or blogger, I would suggest starting with Instagram. Learn how to post, what to post, when to post and what hashtags to use. As you spend time here, you will find your tribe because your target audience is going to be visual. Heck, you are in the business of being visual, so focus on learning one of the most visual platforms around! Pinterest is a close second...but just put your energy into one at a time. It WILL pay off.
- How Your Competitor is Marketing Online
My free training will help you find out how to do just that! There is even a section that shows you how to find your potential client's pain points...on your competitor's website!
- Analyze Your Audience's Opinion of You + Address the Positive + Negative
Years ago, before I changed my business model, we were house poor and not making much from my freelance biz. Because of our lack of extra income, I couldn't even afford to pay anything for website hosting. So, I deleted my website and unplugged. Weeks later, I tried to pull up my website to see if it was still being indexed and what I found left me speechless!
A "student of design" gave a review of my website, that was no longer there, and ripped it to shreds! He even stated that he couldn't believe I even went to design school. It was negative comment after negative comment. But, something even more surprising happened. I agreed! Don't get me wrong, it was only after I picked my heart and jaw off the floor!
THAT was my turning point!
All of the above steps will help you know what platform your potential clients love to use most. Become a detective, and act as if your business depends on it...because it actually does!
Have you had your turning point yet? Are you ready to track where your audience comes from? I'd be happy to help. Pop any questions in the comments below!