Category Archives: Freelancing

Imperfect

We expect your business (or you as a freelancer) to provide a professional, preferably perfect product or service.

But we know that’s not always what we’ll get. You are human. We know that. We know you will make mistakes and forget things that you really should remember. Sometimes you won’t have the answers to our questions.

That’s OK.

It’s how you deal with us that matters. Own your mistakes. Apologize where appropriate. Then fix it. Your clients will see a sincere human being on the other end and they will love you for it.

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99designs Logo Store Shut Down

A week ago 99designs.com announced that their ready-made logos store is shutting down. The company cited poor sales as the reason.

In my opinion, the poor sales could have been an easy fix. In ready-made logo sales, buyer confidence is paramount. The buyer must have the assurance that the logo is an original, once-off design. By contrast, the 99designs logo store was primarily about reselling the same logo to as many companies as possible. No doubt a percentage of buyers did not realize that they were buying a non-exclusive logo.

Really, how many companies would be comfortable with logo sharing?

Another crucial ingredient in successful logo sales is quality – which you cannot expect when designers are paid $30 to $50 per sale. Compared to LogoGround where designers receive just over $200 per sale (on average), 99designs had little chance of attracting brilliant designers.

By scrapping the “non-exclusive” logo idea and by treating designers fairly, 99designs could have turned their store into a goldmine for themselves and for their designers.

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Making it Right

If the client is so unhappy that she asks for her money back, then your “no refunds” policy is the last thing she needs. It’s enough to send her off on a campaign to tell people how terrible you are. Over time, that will cost you a lot more than the refund. Have a generous refund policy with no fine print and stick to it. It’s good business.

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Finding Clients

Online graphic design is becoming ridiculously competitive. Those who go out in search of clients have an uphill battle, trying to sell something that can probably be bought much cheaper elsewhere.

So stop trying to find clients. I think the future – in any online industry – is in giving clients a reason to find you. Not the means. I don’t mean “SEO” or ads or any other online marketing widget. I mean making them go “A-ha!” when they arrive on your site.

How you blow their socks off is the million Dollar question, but don’t focus on the value for money that you offer. That’s the most traveled route and it does not make people go “A-ha!”. It makes them go “Hm, not bad. I wonder if I can get this even cheaper.”

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Care

Two things happen when you care.

1. You enjoy work.

2. Your clients love you.

In a world filled to the brim with mediocre designers offering mediocre client service, try really caring about your clients and their particular needs. Consistently over-deliver. It will make you happier and richer.

(It’s not something you can fake.)

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Logo Production

It is relatively easy to talk about logos, to look at logos, to evaluate logos and to criticize. Creating logos is harder. It takes more time, skill, blood and sweat than any other logo-related activity. That’s why there is money in logo design once you decide to put your back into it.

Edit:
Re-reading this after posting, I realized that I’m not making my point clear. A designer asked me for a job the other day. I’m not hiring, so I directed her to places online where designers can sell logos and I advised her to upload 10 good logos a day for the next 6 months. Every day. That will take her to about 1,800 logos for sale. By then she will be making more money from logo sales than the best salary I could offer her. The only question is: Can you create and upload 10 good logos a day, every day, for 6 months?

Stop looking for work, logo designer. There is plenty for those willing to really work.

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Brandstack Alternatives

With Brandstack gone (but possibly coming back), the alternatives are:

LogoGround
Exclusive logos
High quality
Pays 85% to the designer.

99Designs
Non-exclusive logos
High quality
Pays 30 – 50% to the designer, last time I checked.

LogoTurn
Exclusive logos
High quality
Pays ?% to the designer. Designers can’t sign up. It is by invitation only.

StockLogos
Exclusive logos
Average quality (in my subjective opinion)
Pays 75% to the designer.

And the winner is: LogoGround!

There are many others, but these are the four that I think are worth mentioning.

The only drawback of selling @ LogoGround is that about 9 out of 10 uploaded logos are declined. The focus is very much on quality. If you’re not an experienced designer, you might find StockLogos a less frustrating option.

Disclosure: As the founder of LogoGround I’m probably not 100% objective. Although, if it wasn’t my site, I’d still choose it based on the higher commission payout.

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Superstition in Logo Design

When I was a kid, staying home on Friday the 13th seemed like a pretty rational thing to me. Lots of folks were doing it. I’m no longer superstitious and I think that nowadays fewer people contemplate suicide when they accidentally break a mirror.

But in logo design we have to contend with superstition. This news report is a little old, but worth taking note of.

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Brandstack is Back

A couple of days ago I reported that Brandstack was closing up shop. Well, not anymore. The announcement on the site was changed to a “we’re back!” message. Very few details are available, apart from the fact that the site was acquired.

Brandstack has agreed to be acquired. The purchasing company is excited about the opportunity to carry forward the ideals that once made Brandstack great. We’re not ready to release all the details, but feel this is going to be a win-win opportunity for all parties involved, especially the designers and customers of Brandstack.”

They are promising to “take care of” designers owed money by Brandstack.

“The goal of the acquisition is for all designers with outstanding payments owed to them to be 100% paid by the end of December. Yay!”

I really hope that it goes through and that the mismanagement of the site is at an end. Selling pre-designed logos is a good concept, proven by sites like Biz-Logo (that’s been selling pre-designed logos since 2004). Brandstack will be facing stiffer competition this time around, with sites like LogoGround offering better terms to designers. Sloppy management just won’t cut it anymore.

I wish them the best.

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Wait, What If It Works!

I was looking through the (great) logos that designers started uploading on LogoGround and I caught myself being intimidated by my own project. LogoGround is not a huge hit yet, but it’s climbing steadily. So far it’s a growth that my team and I can manage, but what if it really lifted off. What if others started seeing LogoGround like I see it?

Sun Tzu says it best: “Management of many is the same as management of few. It is a matter of organization.”

When success strikes, don’t run. Add good people and give them enough rope to do what they do best. Sorted. Nothing really changed. The team is just bigger. If managing it all becomes too much, add a good manager too.

The trick is to not chicken out beforehand. You’ve taken the risk, you’ve done the work. When your project starts to grow wings, open the cage and let it fly.

If you don’t you’ll just be one of those old-timers who tells anyone who will listen that he almost had a hit.

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