6 Tips for Newbie Graphic Designers Who Want to Increase Their Rates/Prices in 2017

In graphic design, it is important to avoid being a “commodity”. The founder and CEO of brand strategy design consultancy Blind, Chris Do, agrees that one of the things you’ll learn over time is that you’ll need to “make room for better clients”.

In order to gain more opportunities in the future, you’ll have to make the tough decision of leaving your comfort zone of existing clients.

As one self-taught graphic designer (Ben Burns) who moved from $400 to $30,000 logo designs said to me once, “It’d be hard for Tarzan to swing through the jungle if he never let go of a vine.” So sometimes grasping a new opportunity will take one hand as opposed to two.

Here are my six tips for budding graphic designers looking to make more money:

How Not to Work for Cheap

Every design project you complete takes you closer to being a better graphic designer.

It will be important for you to remain mindful that your value is increasing. With increased value and expertise comes the need to revise your rates. Do not fall into the trap of pricing your work at a lower rate than market rates just to land the next project.

Know your worth. One obvious indicator that you can raise your rates is being in demand.

Don’t Be Afraid to Raise Your Rates

Are you afraid to raise your rates? There’s absolutely no reason to feel this way.

Whether you studied graphic design in school or you’re self-taught, you should have confidence in your skill sets to know that you work is better than the competition’s.

When you think about every other professional out there (dentists, lawyers, doctors, architects, fashion designers, artists, etc.), they all charge what they know they’re worth.

For instance, let’s say you land a logo and identity project for a startup or established company; you want to come out the winner, so ensure you consider how much your client stands to make over the lifetime of the logo and identity.

All They Can Say Is No

Your ideas and time are valuable. If you feel your next logo design should cost $1,000 USD then charge that amount even if your previous rate was $100 (or significantly lower).

The worse thing that can happen is that you lose a prospective after you submit your quotation. It’s not the end of the world.

The people who understand the value your work will bring will pay what you’re asking. After all, creativity takes tremendous mental capacity, especially if you’re constantly doing custom work versus production work (templates).

Examine Your Present and Past Clientele

Some of you have been in busy for at least three years and you’ve just been getting by on minuscule earnings, even with a steady stream of design projects.

Perhaps it’s time you take a very bold step and being firing those nickel-and-dime clients. You know the one’s I’m referring to; they’re always asking for a discount and complaining about how “expensive” your quotations are.

But take my advice, this is a step in the right direction; this was the way I was able to charge more.

Look At the Prices of the Competition

It is important that you always try to recognise your value as your skills and work improve. As you grow, you’ll need to reassess your value as a graphic designer.

One way to tell what you ought to be charging is to take some time and examine the competition locally and internationally.

If you work is comparable or better than others in your industry, it’s one indicator that you should be offering your design and creative services for around the same price or significantly more — particularly if you bring more value to a design project.

You Are Not an Impostor

My final bit of advice to you, especially if you are self-taught, is to move beyond the “impostor syndrome”.

Just because you weren’t formally or classically trained in graphic design with a degree behind your name doesn’t make you any less of a graphic designer. Let your work speak for itself.

Go one step further and take some time to have clients write you a testimonial (three to five sentences) immediately after a design project completion. People like hearing from other people and not from the business/entrepreneur.

This will help boost your confidence to increase revenue. Once you’re able to embrace your abilities and authenticity, you’ll feel more justified in raising your prices.


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8 Tips for Making the Perfect Wedding Program

You’ve recently landed a design project to create a wedding program for an excited couple’s upcoming special day. Fantastic! My design process below offers some creative direction and inspiration to get the results that will satisfy your clients’ expectations.

There’s nothing more exhilarating than getting ready for the BIG wedding day. I should know since I got married back in 2014. You want all the details to be brilliant and exactly the way you dreamed them up in your head.

With all this in mind, when working for a bride-to-be, especially the ones who have an eye for detail, you’re going to need to be at your very best as you interpret what she says into what she wants. No pressure! You’ve got this! Besides, I’m here to help.

Here are my eight (8) phresh tips to make the perfect wedding program for your clients:

1. Meet with the happy couple and get a really good grasp on what their visions are for their wedding day – colours, mood, style, decor, etc. It’s important to ask all the right questions (examples below) in the first meeting, so you’ll have all the necessary information you need to get started.
What size wedding program do you have in mind?
What are the colours of the wedding?
What’s your personal taste/style?
Do you have some design ideas in mind?
What’s your deadline? [Always log your design times in a timesheet]

2. Afterwards, put together a simple or detailed creative/design brief based on the answers you received coupled with your creativity for what could be. It could be anywhere from a few sentences to a page or two. You just need to communicate the intended visual experience in not just words, but with images.

3. It’s time to choose a colour palette that captures and complements the colours and intended atmosphere/feel of the wedding. Remember that as their designer, part of your job also includes educating them on certain things like why one colour works over another and why some colours should never be combined.


4. Find inspiration in what the couple likes…better yet, loves. Ask them to show you some examples of designs they fancy. It’s a lot easier to build on that and gives you the clear proverbial roadmap you’ll need to conjure up some ideas. [Don’t try to read minds]

5. Experiment with the creative direction using a combination of things:

Rough sketches offer tremendous flexibility to figure out concepts, so grab your pencil/pen and paper and get started;
• Design the bare minimum first (experimenting with fonts and layouts only), using the software you typically work in. Adobe InDesign (tutorials to get your started) is always my go-to software for work in print;
• Work fast and see if you’re on the right track by comparing work in progress to first creative/design brief.

My design process, where quickly put everything down on paper

6. Start adding requested colours, accents, and backgrounds (images or colours). Now comes the fun part, where you get to really personalise the design to reflect the wedding colour scheme by pulling inspiration from – bridal party outfits (dresses and suits) and accessories (like bouquets and ties, pocket squares, and lapel pins from Ocean Boulevard), plate settings, decorations, and so on.

Find inspiration for the colour palette in the planned decor | Image Credit: Pexels

7. Present two to three great options to your clients. Honestly, that’s typically the best approach to take. Flooding your clients with four or more options can get really confusing and overwhelming, so create as many designs as possible and then shortlist your top three.

8. Fine-tune final choice and make changes with a combination of client feedback and your own ideas. Make sure to give your clients the correct file format for print. May I suggest a high-quality PDF file (300 dpi).

So after all that, here’s the custom wedding program that I created for a very HAPPY couple!


  • Rustic Elegance
  • 3.5 inches x 7.5 inches
  • Double-sided
  • Purples and golds
  • Full colour
  • Card stock paper


The finished product features gold accents against a gradient backdrop of purple and mauve

To the designers, I hope you found my tips useful and I wish you good luck with your own creative projects for your clients’ wedding. I know you’ll do a stellar job.

If you’re getting married soon and you stumbled on this blog post and you’re interested in having Phresh Ideas and Designs craft your ideal wedding program or wedding stationery (invitations, save-the-date card(s), wedding program, directions/map card, table number cards, menu, etc.), drop me a line. And feel free to look around and see what other services I offer.

5 Big Problems With Your Creative Business Website

I spend a reasonable amount of time looking at creative business websites for all manner of reasons. For example, I do a lot of competitor research. I also get a lot of inspiration from other graphic designers – from every sector of the creative design industry.

It’s fair to say that I also see a lot of the same old problems cropping up. It’s clear that many creative people are unable of getting the business side of things right. And, it’s often incredibly apparent when looking at their websites. With this in mind, I thought I would go through some of the biggest issues I see on design business websites – and how to fix them.

Image Credit: Pexels
A website that looks like a CV

OK, let’s start with the biggest crime of all. Far too many creative businesses forget who they are selling to – customers. Sure, their websites look awesome, but the idea of a business is not to impress your peers, it’s to delight your customers. You aren’t making a CV, or trying to get a job at your local design firm. You need clients – and your focus should be on appealing to them. Flash, fancy graphics are okay – but only if they work regarding context. If your website is a technological marvel, but customers find it hard to use, they won’t buy from you – it’s as simple as that. Usability is key – design is just a lick of paint.

No nuts and bolts

You might design pretty pictures, lovely clothes, or first-class graphics. But what impact does it have on your customers? That’s what people want to know – the nuts and bolts of your successes. Let’s say you are a graphic designer – how have you helped your clients make money? Can you share some definitive results, rather than just lots of nice-looking images? Reveal the positive outcomes for your past clients, and you should see your sales rise rapidly.

Image Credit: Pexels
Targeting the wrong market

Let’s say you are a clothing designer. You might have ideas of wowing the crowds at London Fashion Week and joining your luminaries as one of the world’s best. But the chances are that you will have a much more thriving business seeking out a particular market. For example, let’s say you can create hard-wearing and high-quality clothing. A little investment in work wear ERP software will give you entry to the B2B market. Sure, it’s not as thrilling or as high-end as you might like. But the simple fact is that you will have a more robust foundation for the future of your business.

Failure to sell

Creative people have a tendency to forget what’s important – making sales. Time and again, I see websites that are hard to navigate and almost impossible to buy something. It is critical that your online store has a simple user experience that allows people to buy what they want, and quickly.

Lack of portfolio

It can be tough to create a strong design portfolio when you are just starting out. But as a designer, you won’t get customers without one. The answer is simple, however. You should consider working on your design concepts – perhaps for an already-successful business. Share it with your friends and contacts, and who knows who might see it?

Hope this has helped – let me know your thoughts!

The Amazing World of 3D Creativity

You like to draw, to design, to create. But you’re a little sick of working in two dimensions. You still feel the thrill of putting pen to paper, but you definitely need something more. You want your designs to pop out at you, to be tangible and interactive.

Well, my friend – it sounds like you might enjoy 3D modeling and design!

The term ‘3D’ has become something of a buzzword in recent years. It probably has something to do with some of those awful 3D movies Hollywood keeps releasing. (You guys better not mess up Beauty and the Beast!) But 3D still deserves to carry around a feeling of excitement. If you know how to harness its creative power, you can do so many amazing things with it.

Image Credit: Pixabay

So how exactly does one get into working with 3D modeling and design? This article will show you some of the best ways to get started.

What do you want to work with?

Admittedly, ‘working with 3D’ is a pretty vague phrase. It could really mean so many things. This is why you need to decide what exactly it is you want to do. This will depend heavily on what sort of industry you can see yourself working in.

So what is it you see yourself creating? Do you want to make special effects for TV shows and movies? Do you want to create games? Do you want to work in manufacturing and product design? Getting some formal training is one of the best ways to get an introduction to any of these pursuits. For example, those wanting to work in industry modeling can look into injection molding seminars.

Image Credit: Flickr
Picking the right software

No matter what pursuit you’re going for, you’ll have to work with software. You need to know your way around a computer. Even something like injection molding will require you to use software to create the required designs. Thankfully, you have a lot of choice when it comes to software. Getting started with some practice here is pretty simple.

In fact, the amount of choice you have is almost a problem! At the end of the day, you need to assess your options and see which one works best for you. Some of them are completely free, but may not be suitable for your purposes. Let’s look at something like Blender. It’s free and works incredibly well if you want to make games in a program like Unity. But it might not work quite as well for something like 3D printing or molding.

Image Credit: Pixabay
Experience and feedback

The best thing you can do is get started now. 3D design is an incredible pursuit, but it’s a very involved one. Practice as much as you can with whatever software and physical tools you have at your disposal. Get into an education or training program to hone your skills.

One of the best things you can do is join an online community of 3D designers. They’ll be able to give you suggestions for your own pursuits. More importantly, they’ll be able to give you feedback on any work you present them with.

Reaching the Unreachable: How to Catch On-the-Go Customers

These days, we all rush around from place to place. And we often have our heads down looking at our phones as we do this. For businesses, this presents a clear challenge. How can these consumers be caught and advertised to in a way that succeeds in lifting sales figures? It’s tricky to get it right, but the focus has to be on new forms of reaching customers, as well as some smart thinking.

If you’re going to catch these on-the-go customers, you really need to put a solid plan in place to make it happen. Catching them and delivering your message to them in a coherent way has never been harder. However, the tools at your disposable have never been better either, so you should take advantage of them. Any business that aims to secure the custom of young professionals has to be aware of the new challenges that face them. If you want to learn how you can grab their attention, here’s what you can do.

Make Sure Your Website is Fully Responsive

It’s vital to ensure that your website is fully responsive if you want to appeal to people who browse when they’re on the move. If you fail to put this kind of website in place, people won’t be able to browse your website when they’re using their smartphones. This is a problem because people who are busy do a lot of their online browsing when they’re out of the home. So, if your website is not suitable for people who prefer to browse on their smartphones, you’ll have a big problem. A responsive web design allows your website to shift according to the needs of the user. And that’s essential if you want your website to succeed.

Image Credit: Flickr
Use Promoted Posts on Facebook

Promoted posts are adverts that pop up in people’s feeds on Facebook. The advertising options offered by Facebook are vast. You can choose from all kinds of different options. However, promoted posts are still often seen as the best. They allow you to reach out to people who might not already have liked your page on Facebook. And because the advertising functions on Facebook are so good at targeting the right people for your business, the outcomes will be good. Of course, it’s up to you to make sure that the posts you create are strong enough to strike a chord with consumers. They should stand out and offer something that’s intriguing.

Guide Visitors When They Arrive at Your Website

Your job is not over once people arrive at your website. You need to carry on guiding them when they arrive and see what you have to offer. This might seem unnecessary, but people can easily lose interest if it’s not obvious where they should click. People’s attention spans are short, so give them some clear and obvious calls to action that they can engage with. These could lead to particular offers that are ongoing, for example. You just need to point visitors in the direction you want them to go in. If you can do that, more people will stick around, and they’ll look at the things that you’re most interested in promoting.

Develop a New App

Apps can be really useful when you’re trying to catch on-the-go customers. They are engaged with on smartphones, and they offer something different to a conventional website. Custom application development companies can assist you when the app is being created. So, you don’t need to worry about the technical side of things. Focus on creating an app that allows for simple and straightforward browsing. If you can do that, then you could make a lot more sales as people browse your app on the way to work or during their lunch break. Give it a try and see what the results are for your business.

Image Credit: Flickr
Advertise on Public Transport

If you are willing to branch out and do some outdoor advertising, you could reach people better. With all the focus on online and mobile engagement, people often forget how effective other options can be. Commuters are always busy. But there is one clear method of advertising that will reach them: public transport advertising. Whether it’s on trains, stations or buses, there are advertising opportunities in all of these places. And it really does make sense to take advantage of them at every chance you get. People will see the adverts and your business’s brand awareness will improve. That’s what your business should be aiming for, and you’ll know that you’re reaching the right kind of people too.

Photo Source

This Dutch Bicycle Company Created the Best Hack to Ship Their Bicycles

When Dutch bicycle company VanMoof got tired of their bicycles getting damaged during shipping (before arriving to their customers), they decided to do something truly ingenious and super-practical.

What they came up with is one of the best hacks I’ve ever seen in business…not counting the ones people come up with using stuff from IKEA, of course.

Image Credit: VanMoof

What’s a hack you say? Well depending on who and where you are, you might think I’m referring to a washed up Hollywood writer or Mr. Robot (you should watch that show!) or a one of those nasty coughs you get when you’re sick.

But the hack I’m referring to these days is being able to transform something ordinary into something extraordinary. They printed a TV (television) on the sides of their existing packaging!

Yes, you heard correctly. After eight years in business and struggling to find a responsible way to ship “to your front door for free”, the two Dutch brothers (owners of VanMoof) had an “aha moment”. Their boxes used for shipping was roughly the same dimensions as the biggest flatscreen television you could find.

Image Credit: Fast Co.Exist

Even after a photograph posted to Twitter resulted in the jig being up, VanMoof had still successfully managed to have shipping damage to their bicycles drop by an average of roughly 75%. That sounds like a great hack to me.

On the side of the box is a little poem too that made me smile:

We like bikes

and we like you

and the rest of the world

to ride bikes

and like them too

I guess the business lessons here are to always look for clever (and unorthodox) ways to get your high-quality product in the hands of your customers or in this case to their door in the best ways possible.

Sometimes the solution to the problem is staring you straight in the face. Keep your eyes open and look around for inspiration.

And finally, cutting overhead expenses is vital to maintaining your profit margins. If you’re an eCommerce business then it’s probably a good idea to find some neat hacks to reduce potential damage to your goods.

Have something to say about this article? Well why not leave a comment below so we can have a little discussion. I’d love to hear your ideas. No honestly…comment.

Featured Image: VanMoof

Now That’s Compact Living! Tour This Small Loft Turned Multi-functional Space

What do you do when you’re in love with the location of your studio, but 537 square feet is just not enough space for two? You look to some talented architects to help you transform a once singular bachelor pad into a multi-functional space for a young couple.

SF loft_01
The San Francisco studio before the prefabricated loft

Donnie and Nicole Chiu-Wang took advantage of their studio’s 13-foot ceiling and created a prefab multipurpose loft, thus creating more space where there was none. They also managed to achieve and promote the elusive “work-life balance”. The updated space features two beds (one a Murphy bed for guests), a stand-up desk (where Donnie codes apps), giant whiteboard, a dining table, and adequate storage for clothes, shoes, files, product samples, and tools.

Read: Now That’s Compact Living! Tour This Tiny Parisian Bachelor Pad

SF loft_03
This is the perfect example of building a space around one’s needs

The couple both work from home with Nicole running a fashion tech start-up (Boon + Gable) and a sock company (Treadfast), while Donnie’s a freelance app developer and the founder of SwingTime (Golf & Tennis Scheduling Assistant). The newly designed space functions well as their office, as it encourages both creativity and productivity.

SF loft_02
The completed multi-purpose loft in action

The entire project ran them around $15,000 and the investment was well worth it. Watch the feature below courtesy of Houzz TV and get a tour of this incredibly optimised space. Maybe it’ll offer some inspiration for your own home.

Do you have favourite place in your house where you go to work to be inspired and be productive? I’d like to hear about it on the comments below.

Airbnb’s next Move to Stay Ahead of the Competition Involves Urban Planning

Now this is a surprising move by Airbnb. Meet “Samara”, an innovation lab and design studio aimed at creating hardware and software that supports “exploring new attitudes towards sharing and trust”. One of their first projects delves into the realm of urban planning by constructing a communal space in a small town in Japan. It’s a unique opportunity to expand their business, staying true to their core business that has helped to connect 60,000,000+ travellers in over 191-plus countries with unique accommodations and experiences. 

For what it’s worth, branching into what us urban planners like to call creating a “sense of place”, isn’t a bad pivot. My only critique of Samara would be that I’d have wanted it to be done more from the grassroots level so there’s a lot of ownership from communities.

Airbnb’s design for a community centre to be placed in rural Japan | Source: Fast Company

That aside, I think it could work as a platform to boost alternative tourism and overall economic creation in smaller districts/villages/towns, particularly because their area of focus is on communities that have suffered economically from young people moving away to bigger cities and leaving the elderly behind . I’ll be curious to see how this initiative by Airbnb plays out.

The community centre features a 16 ft long table for shared meals and meetings | Source: The Verge

You can read the story in detail and get an exclusive look here from Fast Company. Read More –>

Also, Airbnb Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, Joe Gebbia introduces Samara here. Read More –>

Let me know your thoughts on Airbnb’s latest move by leaving a comment below.