How to Get Your Design Studio Up and Running

Setting up your own design studio is one of the most exciting and exhilarating things you can do as a designer. It can also be a little overwhelming and confusing too however, so we are here today to create a tick sheet on how to set up your design studio so that you are up and running in no time at all.

Business Capital

Firstly, you’re going to need to look into a good, reputable business lending company that can help get your business off the ground financially and set you up with the funds that you need to get your business started and financed into the initial few months. With some business loan companies offering small business loans with business funding as low as 9.9% make sure you put in the research to find the best packages that fulfill the needs of your company.

Your Creative Team

Assuming that you are setting up your design studio with a background in design you are already bringing with you heaps of design experience and contacts within the world of design. You then will obviously want to create a team of fantastic designers. Creative individuals who add a diverse range of creative talents, style, and conceptual vision.

However as your background is most likely in design you will also want to ensure that you are creating a team that offers solid diversity for your business. So combining designers with more commercial staff who will be able to build your business and marketers who will be able to promote your business will ensure that you have a well rounded team that ticks all the right boxes for your business. Having a team of individuals with different backgrounds will also mean that you can bounce ideas around a team with multiple areas of expertise.

Those All-important Clients

The decision for you to bite the bullet and go it alone probably means that you are confident that you already have a few clients that you can take with you into your new company. A handful of clients is obviously a great start, but they are not going to pay the bills long term. Therefore the primary focus for your design studio is canvassing for new clients.

Begin by understanding what it is about your company that makes it special and makes it standout from the competition. Carve out a niche for yourself and then compile a list of potential clients that you feel your approach, values, and style will suit and serve well.

Build strong relationships by being transparent with your creative process so that there are no hiccups or no unmet expectations and disappointments along the way. Being clear about what you offer and what you can deliver is important in creating clear goals and aims for any projects you take on for new clients. Happy clients mean great word of mouth publicity, so being clear from the start will ensure your clients are satisfied with you and your new team and your company will subsequently grow.

Collaborators

So you now have your full time team in place, however you are still going to want to build up a network of outsourcers, collaborators, and specialists around you. Making sure you have people you can outsource work to means that no matter how much work you have coming through your studio you can always deliver and never have to risk clients going else where if your schedule is full.

Forming relationships with specialists in areas such as video animation or TV production advertising means that if you have a specific project that comes in that needs specialist knowledge in certain areas, you already have a trusted and reliable extended team that you can call upon.

Keep Updated

Now that you are setting up shop on your own there may be a few differences, to working for an employer, that you don’t immediately notice straight away. One of the biggest differences that can sneak up on you, can be the training and industry knowledge and research that is gathered and presented and offered to you on a regular basis when you work for a larger agency.

So as a business owner you now need to make research and training a priority for yourself and for your staff. Staying on top of market trends and business development in your industry means you stay on top of the game and are able to offer your clients a service that is fresh modern and forward thinking.

Similarly, investing in training for yourself and your staff will mean that your team are constantly evolving and are able to offer the most up-to-date and sought after software and design programmes and tools.

A Bunch of Random Insight, Advice, and Inspiration For Budding Entrepreneurs

This past October, I gave myself the challenge to write and publish an eBook in just two to three weeks. I’ve always wanted to take my writing further and publish a book and I’m happy to report that I pulled it off. It’s now available via Amazon.com and Lulu.com as we speak for a “whopping”… $4.99!

In all honesty, the real purpose was to share some of the lessons and experiences I’ve had since I started my own graphic design business. I’ve pretty much been a one-man band since October 2010, but I’ve managed to generate some substantial revenue as a freelancer.

I’ve met some remarkable people who were initially my clients, who have now evolved into really good friends. As a freelance graphic designer, I’ve also met some bad clients and in those experiences you learn some of the best lessons the hard way.

Cover 04 copy
Dedicated to the budding entrepreneurs

However, this eBook explores the journey involved in starting a business from scratch and highlights successful entrepreneurs (Richard Branson and James Dyson) with their own individual stories. It also shares a little bit of inspiration that’s needed to keep our spirits and our dreams alive.

I wanted you all to have the opportunity to read it this Christmas, so consider this my gift to you for supporting my blog this entire year. I’ve been overwhelmed by just how many visitors stopped by and read my posts. They were all written to share knowledge and I’m glad they were so well received.

Also, leave me a comment below or send me an email and let me know what you thought of the eBook. If you feel like purchasing it for your Kindle or iPad, here’s the link:

Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017HXEBK2

Lulu Bookstore

http://www.lulu.com/shop/phil-rodriques/a-bunch-of-random-insight-advice-and-inspiration-for-budding-entrepreneurs/ebook/product-22510625.html

Thanks again.

 

Editor’s Note: Updated on January 3, 2016

Here’s When You Use a Registered Trademark Versus a Trademark Symbol

It’ll be Christmas in less than a week and for some of you designers, your desk just got more cluttered. You’re working late at nights and up as your alarm goes off the next morning. You’re doing this all in an effort to meet your deadlines and satisfy your clients as you’ve always done. If one of your projects just happens to be a logo design, identity and branding then you’ll find this blog useful.

The question was asked by a fellow graphic designer in a designers forum and closed group, Jamaica Design Association: “Is it okay to use Registered Trademark and Trademark together?”

The trademark (or trade mark) symbol is an unregistered trademark, used to promote or brand goods. In contrast, the registered trademark ® is exactly what its name implies, a legally registered logo (mark or icon).

Typically its one or the other even if a logo has been redesigned. But in some instances, you’ll see the trademark symbol beside the tagline if it came after the logo had been successfully registered as a trademark. Only when a logo is registered with a government body (Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) in Jamaica’s case), can you display the registered trademark symbol.

In the United States, your client can choose whether they want to register their logo at the national level or at the state level. A federal registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office provides broader coverage but is more expensive than a state trademark registration.

It is important for you and other designers to understand the proper usage of each symbol and to also educate their clients on what is involved in getting a registered trademark for their logo.

For a bit more information*, you can start off by telling your client(s) that they should protect their intellectual property against infringement. A registered trademark may begin legal proceedings for trademark infringement to prevent unauthorised usage of that logo, but registration is not requirement.

Your client can also file a suit with a common law trademark. The downside of an unregistered logo is that it may only be protected within your country. If your client plans to promote brand goods in other countries then it is best to apply for your logo to be registered.

*℠ sm for an unregistered service mark, that is, a mark used to promote or brand services.

Leave a comment and let me know if you found the post helpful.

7 or 8 Tips to Help You Arrive at Rates That Define Your Value

As a freelance graphic designer, you spent your time giving and gaining new design experiences, whilst creating a client list and a reputation for putting out quality work. You acquire client testimonials, because tooting your own horn just isn’t going to cut it.

Every year you question whether or not you’re charging clients the right amount for design work completed; you look at the prices and you think you have. But have you really?

In business, knowing or even discovering your own monetary worth is one of those instances that requires a sometimes really long and hard look at all that you have done and accomplished as a freelancer or entrepreneur.

Take time to do the following:

  1. Examine your present and past clientele
  2. Evaluate your portfolio of work
  3. Find someone established and positioned as an industry leader and ask for advice
  4. Look at the prices of your competition locally and globally
  5. Join forums for freelance designers
  6. Make the tough decisions on pricing your value
  7. Lose a few prospective customers who aren’t ready to pay you what you’re worth

To get your business to the next level requires a lot of effort in heavy-lifting. It’s a lot like moving your friends furniture to their new apartment that’s on the fifth floor and the place has no elevators only stairs. You know its going to be back-breaking work and sweat pouring down your face, but it’ll all be worth it knowing you’ll be rewarded (not with pizza and cold beer).

Don’t be afraid to raise your prices. Only you can do what you do and if people are lining up around the block just to work with you then that’s a good sign you’re worth more than you first thought.

How did you discover your true value as a designer? Share your story below. We could all learn from it.

What Should You Charge for a Logo Design?

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Recently I was asked by another graphic designer how much he should charge one of his customers for a logo design. Below is an edited version of what I told him.

I have three (3) different rates based on small, medium and large scale businesses with the last two (2) coming with perks like a ‘stationery package’.

For start-ups or small businesses I currently charge a reasonable rate that does three (3) things:

1) It is a good and fair price for a new graphic designer and

2) It makes people see the value-added of having a logo design and

3) It communicates to people that a logo is not a mere ‘commodity’.

You have to evaluate each client and what they say their budget is because you stand the risk of being “low-balled” since people will always try to negotiate the lowest possible price. You need to establish your price and let them know what that figure is. If they ask for a “discount” let them know you do not give discounts, but you might be willing to “not include” a specific charge in the overall cost for let’s says “online research” or “development of concepts”. This makes the client see the value of your work.

In this particular instance, as you said, you might get ongoing work from this client so that’s something you can factor in when you think about charging him. But establish a fair price and if anything you can offer this client a lower price if he says to you it’s too much. You will have to look at how low you’ll be prepared to go. Sometimes a little bartering is good where he can give you something else of value for you taking off a specific cost off the overall price.

In the end, you have to know what payment you would be comfortable with.

Fun Fact: The price for logo design is not just for labour, but more for IDEAS.

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