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Resourceful Designer podcast: Offering tips, tricks and advice for starting and growing your graphic or web design business.

Do you have a YES attitude when it comes to accepting design projects?

If you want to grow as a designer, you need to embrace a YES attitude when it comes to dealing with prospective design projects.

I’m hearing more and more designers, both graphic and web, who turn down projects because the job doesn’t fit their skill set. It frustrates me when I hear this. It frustrates me because I’ve been there and I’ve done that.

When my design business was still relatively new, I turned down several projects and several clients because I didn’t know how to do what they were asking.

I turned down a $50K website project because I wasn’t comfortable enough with my knowledge of PHP and MySQL. I wasn’t sure I was capable of doing the job and was afraid to try. I’m not an illustrator, so when projects requiring illustration came my way, I would turn them down.

It frustrates me now knowing how much work I turned away, and how many possible great clients I ended up not working with because I didn’t have the skills for the job, so I turned them down.

I wish I knew then what I know now. Running a design business as a solopreneur, all by yourself doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. Yes, you should take every opportunity to learn and expand yourself as a designer, but in some cases, the best option is to team up with someone proficient in the skills you lack.

Every independent designer requires a team.

In episode 77 of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I talked about how being a self-employed designer requires a team effort, how every independent designer needs to have an arsenal of peers and associates with complimenting skill sets to fill in the gaps that they have. 

That’s where embracing a yes attitude comes in. And it’s simple. When a client asks you if you can do something, say yes even if you don’t know how to do it.

Saying yes to one of these projects can open incredible doors for you. If it’s doable, use the project to learn the skill you are lacking and add it to your repertoire. If it’s not something you can or want to learn, find someone who can do it for you.

When I started embracing a yes attitude, it propelled my design business by leaps and bounds. I embraced a yes attitude and stopped turning down jobs on the pretense that I wasn’t sure I could do them.

This doesn’t mean you should take on every single job presented to you. There are still plenty of valid reasons to turn down design projects. What I’m saying, is to embrace a yes attitude for projects that sound great but that you’re not sure how to do. Then figure out how to do them yourself, or figure out who can do them for you.

Grow as a designer.

Since embracing a yes attitude, I’ve had a client ask me if I could add their logo to a photo and make it look like a neon sign. I’ve had a client ask me if I could create a realistic-looking 3D type heading and make it look like it was on fire, with realistic flames. I’ve had a client ask me to create a title heading for their poster with the words made out of stacked ice cubes.

I didn’t have the foggiest idea of how to do these things when I took on the jobs. But when they asked me I readily said yes, I could do that. And you know what? I figured out how.

You don’t need to know how to do something beforehand to get it done. Learn along the way.

Grow your design entourage.

Since embracing a yes attitude I’ve had clients ask me for e-commerce websites, I’ve had clients ask me for illustrations, for video. In each case, I found someone who could do those things for me and delivered the job.

Saying yes to a client doesn’t mean you have to do it yourself. It just means you can get the job done.

Solve the problem.

Remember, as a designer; you’re a problem solver. It’s your job to provide a solution to what your clients want or need. Solution, that’s the keyword. A solution indicates that the answer is unknown and you must discover it. This challenge applies to every design project.

So the same way the answer is unknown, the skills and knowledge required to complete a project may be unknown at the start as well.

Part of finding that solution may be trying to figure out how you’re going to get something done that you don’t know how to do. Say yes, and then find the solution.

When you say yes to one of these design projects, you end up adding to your skill set, your repertoire, possibly to your portfolio, and of course, to your reputation.

Clients will appreciate you.

I know some designers feel like this is being deceitful to their clients. However, a client doesn’t care if it was you or someone you oversaw that completed the work as long as they are happy with the outcome.

Think of it this way, whenever someone is having surgery, they want to know who the doctor operating is. But surgeons never operate alone. They have a team assisting them and doing things the doctor can’t or shouldn’t be doing themselves.

The same goes for your design business; you’re the “design surgeon”; the client is hiring you. They don’t need to know who your team is because they’re putting their trust in you. As long as you deliver, they’ll be happy, and they’ll keep coming back.

All because you embraced a yes attitude.

What was the last project you took on that you didn’ have the skill set for?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Christie

I have a question. Many times when I’m asked to do a new project, there are elements of the project that I don’t know how to do. One guy needs a video along with his marketing, another needs illustration, etc. My experience is designing websites, brochures, email, mailers and I don’t feel I’m very good with logos. I also don’t know video, have a great camera or know how to do the backend of a website. All of these things would have been done for me at companies I’ve worked at before, and my freelance projects have been so random that I’m continually learning new skills. It’s nice, but sometimes I don’t know what to do in those scenarios since I don’t know a lot of other freelancers. Can you recommend some resources or best practice? I’m just starting out.

To find out what I told Christie you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week Your Local Library

Your local library can be an excellent opportunity for you and your design business. We often forget all the great resources libraries offer. Libraries are great for learning, getting inspiration, self-improvement, hosting presentations, and so much more.

Enquire with your local library to see what services they offer that you could incorporate into your life.

Contact me

I would love to hear from you. You can send me questions and feedback using my feedback form.

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I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

My Voice-Over Guy.

Resourceful Designer podcast intros are performed by the amazing Wayne Henderson of MediaVoiceOvers.com. Wayne is available to help you with any voice-over work you require.