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5 Key areas to expand in your eCommerce business

Posted: December 22nd, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Business, SEO Marketing | No Comments »

If your business has seen the same upturn as many online businesses in 2020, you’ll be about ready to expand. There’s more to it than just renting a larger warehouse and hiring more staff. There are many more things to consider, including what should be number one on that list and how you finance that expansion.

Although your business may be enjoying unprecedented success, that is certainly not the case for other sectors within retail. Many high street businesses are struggling or failing, and this is very much the picture that conventional lenders see. This has made them very risk-averse, and it means that you should seek a specialist eCommerce loan for your business.

Once funding has been secured, the question arises of where best to spend it. Of course, there are the larger premises and more staff to think bout, but there are five other areas you might also want to consider as priorities.

#1 Image and graphic design

They say a picture paints a thousand words, and nowhere is that more true than in online retail. When a customer can’t get their hands on a product to check it out, the image is all they have to go on, so they need to be of the best quality … and there needs to be plenty of them.

This will probably go beyond whatever resources you at the moment, so it may pay you to get some professional shots done of your stock. After all, your competition probably will.

#2 Website design

Although you probably do a lot of your business through Amazon or eBay, a fair amount will still come in through your website. Now is the time to invest in the design and to improve the UI and UX of your site. The bar for this is often set by Amazon, so your site needs to be as easy to use if you want customers to come back.

#3 SEO

Getting natural traffic for your site is the holy grail in online retail. In a world dominated by two big players, getting people to your site without paying every single time can make a massive difference to your bottom line. Engaging a company to move you up the rankings is definitely part of a long game but has been proven to bear fruit over time.

#4 Hosting

With the upturn in business and the planned increase in traffic from SEO, the last thing you want is for the website to crash because it can’t cope. Many small online retailers have exactly the same type of hosting package as your everyday blogger. If eCommerce sales volumes increase any more, these packages will not be fit for their purpose. So, you should look to upgrade your package or ask your hosting company for a bespoke solution.

#5 Advertising

 Short term solution but one with, if done correctly, near-instant results. It should bring a sudden influx of traffic that should bring in sales and test out the effectiveness of other changes that have been made.

In conclusion, it’s not about the thing you can see immediately that you need to consider when expanding a business but look at every piece that makes up your business and see what can be improved with any new funding.

6 digital marketing techniques to reduce consumer-switching

Posted: December 14th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Business | No Comments »

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There was a time when having a great product and pitching it to the right customers was enough for your company to grow. Unfortunately, that time is long gone. Now, the market is fiercely competitive, and you need two things to make sure that your company survives. The first is attracting new customers, and the second is retaining existing customers. Most people only think of new customers. They believe that they must keep getting their target audience’s attention to ensure that more people buy their products or avail their services. Undoubtedly, it is imperative to attract new customers. However, the other aspect, customer retention, is as important as new customers are, if not more.

Why put so much focus on retaining existing customers? Well, any company’s measure is not how successful they are in acquiring new customers. But how they ensure that their existing customers don’t switch to some other brands. It is also more cost-effective than acquiring new customers. Current customers spend more on a brand than new customers. They are also the ones who sing high praises of the brand and bring in the most referrals. Word of mouth is persuasive third-person marketing that builds or destroys a brand’s image. Therefore, your existing customers must receive the value they desire from your company.

Several factors ensure your existing customers keep coming back. You can provide them with a personalized experience or promotional offers. You can make your customer services better and be aware of what they are searching for online. The online market is multiplying, which is why keeping an eye on what the customer is searching for, that is, the keywords is imperative. It is a complex task, but with this keyword checker, you can tap into online customer behavior and offer great value.

Below are six effective digital marketing techniques to ensure that your customers don’t switch to another brand.

1.    Communicate and Engage

There are multiple modes to communicate with your customers. You can use email marketing for this purpose or messenger apps and social media platforms to talk to your customers. Nowadays, customers are getting smarter, and they get irritated when a brand keeps on throwing promotional messages at them. If you do that, you will soon find yourself unsubscribed, in the spam folder, or having an adverse word of mouth in the market. Use digital communication methods to keep your brand front and center in the customers’ minds. Ensure that you tell them about all the deals you are offering and that you are willing to elicit feedback and suggestions. Find out what they want. Conduct surveys, ask for their opinions, and act on them.

2.    Personalization

The method of drafting a single message addressing the entire audience is not a practical approach anymore. Now, everyone wants personalization and seek brands that provide services according to their preferences. Nobody wants to be part of the crowd anymore. It doesn’t matter how loyal they are to your brand. If you don’t provide them with personalized services, you will soon find them switching to another brand. Therefore, make sure that your digital marketing strategies include personalization tactics. Create content that is curated for your customers, offer rewards based on their loyalty, and offer opportunities. Give them suggestions based on their purchasing or browsing history.

3.    Captive with Value Proposition

Take any brand, and you will see that there are at least a few customers that are loyal to it. These are the customers who love to talk about that brand. Many brands have not achieved a love mark for their brands from several customers worldwide. It means that customers are not only loyal to your brand but will continue using and promoting it for a lifetime. This strategy helps achieve a profitable customer lifetime value, but how to achieve it? The answer is quite simple; by offering unique value, the element of differentiation should be visible in your offerings. Make sure that you give them a platform to divulge their love for your brand.

4.    Influencer Marketing

In the previous era, all you needed was a sports star, a celebrity, or somebody famous, and you could market your brand to millions. However, the current era is the age of influencer marketing. Make sure that you collaborate with an influencer who holds sway over your target audience. The more people see influencers using your brand, the more they will return to your offerings.

5.    Customer Service

There is a lot that a business can do now for its customers. Gone are the days when customer service meant that they would have to come to your store to get it. You can now provide excellent customer service through your website, your social media channels, and more. In this regard, make sure that you utilize the power of AI (Artificial Intelligence) to up your game. How can you do that? Make sure that you use chatbots so that you can be there for your customer 24/7

6.    Elicit Feedback

One of the things that customers dislike is one-way communication. For any communication to be effective, it has to go both ways. You can implement this in your marketing strategies to ensure that your customers know that you listen to them. Conduct surveys, ask questions, elicit feedback, and reviews to understand their needs.


At the beginning of any brand, it might seem important to focus only on acquiring new customers. However, to achieve long-run success, it is imperative to focus on retaining your current customers. It is the existing customers who bring the most benefit and higher profitability. Ensure that you have strategies for customer retention, and you will not have to implement drastic measures. Keep the above six ways of retaining customers in your mind and ensure that you include them in your digital marketing strategy for long-term success and growth.

An Easy Checklist For E-commerce Business Startups

Posted: November 27th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Articles, Business | No Comments »

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The world has moved towards online sales in a big way. The events of 2020 have accelerated this trend even more, and it looks as if there is no turning back now. With this in mind, a lot of people are starting e-commerce stores of their own. While this is a great idea, and you can often launch one with a limited budget, you still need to ensure that you are doing it the right way. After all, you will find yourself facing stiff competition on all sides. Taking this into account, here is a checklist of some of the things that you need to bear in mind before you get started:

Choose Your Business Name

All of your marketing and promotional activities will center around your business name, so make sure you choose one that adequately reflects your company and everything that it has to offer. Since people will be searching for you online, you don’t want it to be too difficult to spell. While clever wordplay can sometimes be a nice touch, you don’t want to try too hard. Ultimately, you want to make life as easy as possible for your customers when they are trying to search for your business online.

Establish the Domain Name and Website

Ideally, your domain name needs to reflect your website as closely as possible so that people can find it by typing it into the search bar. You can then get to work designing and building the website. There are many platforms that aim to make this as straightforward as possible to do yourself, but you may want to enlist the help of a professional depending on your technical skill level. If you are looking to give this a boost, you could always take a course, such as AWS certification training. Remember, while the design of your website should be stylish, this shouldn’t mean that it loads slowly or you sacrifice integral aspects, such as the navigation.

Choose Your Selling Structure

Some people choose to house all the products on-site, while others will take part in what is known as ‘dropshipping’. Both approaches have their own individual positives and negatives. When you take care of your own stock, you need to first have enough space for it. Then you need to think about all the proper security and insurance provisions to ensure that it is all properly protected. On the plus side, you do have direct control of it, and you are able to send it out whenever needed. As for dropshipping, this means that you use certain partners to dispatch your products. You have the obvious advantage of not needing to invest in anything directly, so there is a limited amount of risk here. You also don’t need to worry about the storage space to hold everything. However, you are very much reliant on these external partners and you can bet your bottom dollar that customers are going to blame you directly if anything goes awry with their order.

Start Your Marketing Activities Early

There are several aspects involved in marketing, but you should start all of them at the earliest possible opportunity. Even if your site is not yet ready to launch, it is still a good idea to start generating a buzz around it. For example, you can easily start up your social media profiles and begin trying to accumulate some followers. Similarly, you can start writing a blog as this is useful content to share, as well as being helpful to the overall SEO of the website. Of course, you may not want to begin more serious marketing, such as online ads and PPC, until you are ready to launch. When you do kick off your business activities, it is a good idea to include an introductory offer or a welcome bonus of some kind to introduce the world to your brand and everything it has to offer.

Invest in the Right Software and Hardware

While an online business can be launched with just a laptop and a stable internet connection, you may well find that you need a little bit more to give yourself the best chance of success. So, research your software options thoroughly before making your choice. While there are many good programs that are available for free, you shouldn’t worry about being too frugal at this stage. Sometimes, the better software options are worth paying for. You may also find that your old hardware options are simply not cutting it and you need to invest in the latest technology for a higher level of performance. Alternatively, you may feel like you need a degree of separation between your business and personal lives, so you may decide to invest in a phone, or a laptop that is just meant for business purposes.

Increase Your Customer Loyalty

It is certainly an exciting moment when you start generating some sales. However, your best course of action is to make sure that these customers come back to you time and time again. There are several ways of increasing customer loyalty. One of the most effective is by creating an email list for them to sign up for. Of course, you don’t want to bombard their inboxes, but some well-placed messages can prove to be highly valuable in creating the loyalty that you seek. Then you have all your social media accounts, which give you a direct means of communication and a way of nudging your customers back towards buying your products.

This checklist gives you some of the basic ways that you can get your online store up and running. Ultimately, you need to put a lot of focus on the design and build of the website, and ensure that you start marketing at an early opportunity. Not only this, but you have to consider carefully what you are going to sell and how well it is going to appeal to potential customers.

5 Brand Surveys Your Graphic Design Business Should Be Running

Posted: November 26th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Articles, Business, Design | No Comments »
graphic design laptop chart design

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Setting up an agency is hard. But, keeping it in business, harder.

No matter who you are as a business, a solopreneur, or an agency, with the industry reaching new heights of competition each day, hitting the nail on the head is becoming more challenging.

So the million-dollar question here is how do you address the problem?

Enter Branding!

Branding is the one-stop sustainable strategy that enables you to establish a long-term relationship with your consumers making sure your agency garners the strength to glide during the next wave of disruption. But setting up a brand identity is much more than a cluster of visual identity; a set of logo, color scheme, typography, and a catchy tagline.

As Forbes explains it, a brand is everything that sets you apart from your competitors. It is the tool that helps you communicate with your audience and an opportunity to be an indispensable part of their lives.

So the question here arises how do you overcome this critical point?

The answer lies in brand surveys.

Brand Surveys make it easier for you to understand your consumers; their preferences, likes, and dislikes. It gives you a complete understanding of the lives of your target audience, and their motivation towards a relationship with your brand.

1. What Is A Brand Survey?

A brand survey is a valuable tool for gathering information about your target consumer’s business, product, target market, competition, and other valuable information that gives you an insight into how you can add value to their business.

A brand survey typically hosts a series of questions related to the service you provide as a service provider. It often has questions related to feedbacks of previous services, past brand experiences, and how the audience feels about the brand.

2. What Is The Purpose Of A Brand Survey?

There are two primary goals of a brand survey: provide a thorough understanding of how your brand is perceived by your audience and understand your target consumer preferences.

graphic design meeting

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After all, it is your audience whom you are trying to serve with your products.

Brand surveys act like a guide leading you to ask the right questions to your audience to better understand them and come up with improved products and level up your brand value.

Here are a few merits that you can readily achieve:

  • It helps you measure the brand image in the eyes of the stakeholders from time to time
  • It helps you to measure the efficacy of your brand policies
  • It helps you devise a strategy to boost your brand equity in the long-term
  • It tracks campaign effectiveness
  • Keeps you informed about your competitors
  • Helps you measure R-O-I of marketing initiatives
  • Keeps you connected to your customers

3.    5 Brand Surveys for Graphic Design Business

No matter if you are a newbie design agency or a very established one here are 5 brand surveys that your graphic design company cannot fail to execute.

a)    Brand perception survey:

This type of survey allows you to understand your audience’s perception of your brand. It gives you a clearer picture of how your customers think and feel about your brand and products.

  • A brand perception survey is an important tool in brand management That assists you in building the right image of your agency.  Also, it is a one-stop solution for receiving real-time feedback from your stakeholders. 
  • Some of the key benefits of this survey are:
    • Tracking brand performance
    • Competitive advantage analysis 
    •  Delivering superior customer experience
    • Improving brand loyalty
    • Optimizing target audience communication

Here is a sample questionnaire that can give you an insight into a typical brand perception survey:

  • Are you familiar with our brand?
    • Are you familiar with our product or service?
    • When you think of our brand, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?
    • How likely are you to recommend our product to your friends?
    • How was your last experience with our brand?

b)    Brand positioning survey:

This survey is a critical data collection tool for improving brand equity. It helps in the strategic alignment of your brand addressing business organizational decisions.

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The data obtained from a brand positioning survey is critical in determining how you present your product or service to your audience. This survey should essentially solve the unique challenges of your organization,  the vertical you operate in, and the target market.

Some of the key benefits of this survey are:

  • Helps in developing brand strategy
  • Helps in developing a unique selling proposition for your target audience.
  • Reinforces unique brand features and helps to develop a key differentiating factor in your product or service.
  • Strengthens your core business and establishes you as an industry differentiator
  • Develops an emotional connect with your stakeholders

Here is a sample questionnaire that can give you an insight into a typical brand positioning survey:

  • Why do you buy from us?
  • What kind of brand appeals to you?
  • What are the brand qualities that stand out for you?
  • How would you read your experience with our brand?
  • What is unique about our product that appeals to you?

c)    Brand awareness survey

This survey directly helps to measure the level of awareness or popularity of your brand in the industry.  This survey gives you a better idea of devising a strategy for improved outreach to your target audience.

Few of the key benefits of this survey are:

  • Understanding the brand’s stand in the target market
  • Increasing customer awareness about the product and brand
  • Improving customer engagement with the brand

Here is a sample questionnaire that can give you an insight into a typical brand awareness survey:

  • Are you aware of our brand?
  • Are you aware of our product or services?
  • When was the first time you heard about our brand?
  • How did you come to know about our brand?
  • When was the last time you used our product?

d)    Brand identity survey

This survey entirely focuses on brand communications. It helps you to understand how well your organization communicates its core values and image to its direct stakeholders maintaining a positive overall impression, authority, and credibility in your domain of service.

Some of the key benefits of this survey are:

  • Tracking brand communications
  • Empathizing with your audience
  • Crafting the right brand image
  • A detailed insight into consumer preferences

Here is a sample questionnaire that can give you an insight into a typical brand identity survey:

  • When was the last time you used our product or service?
  • How would you describe our brand to another person?
  • What is the first thing you associate or brand with?
  • What unique value does this brand serve you?
  • How long have you been our customer?

e)    Brand loyalty survey

This survey deals with measuring the probability of your customers repurchasing from you. It also tells you about how strong your brand communications are on the level of emotions.

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Some of the key benefits of this survey are:

  • Tracking customer retention
  • Measuring brand equity
  • Mapping highest-performing products
  • Mapping the lifetime value of a customer(LTV)

Here is a sample questionnaire that can give you an insight into a typical brand identity survey:

a)    How much do you trust the brand?

b)    How happy were you with your last purchase?

c)    Would you prefer our brand over a competitor?

d)    How likely are you to depend on our brand?

e)    How much likely are you to switch to another brand if its alternative was cheaper?

4.    Tips To Optimize Your Next Brand Survey

Conducting brand surveys is expensive. However, if performed right, they can bring you extensive rewards. Following are a few guidelines that can make sure all your brand surveys drive your business to the next level. 

a)   Define the purpose of the survey: Make sure you align the primary objectives with the type of survey that your participants take. This sets a clear expectation for the survey respondents.

b)   Map your audience wisely: No matter what kind of survey you indulge your brand in, your survey participants should always be the ones who have some level of brand awareness.

c)   Map the feasibility of the survey: A good set of questionnaires in your survey is of no use if no one is willing to take your survey. The first metric to keep in mind is to make it hassle-free to participate, opt for online surveys. This not only helps you collect data from a large amount of audience mapping qualitative analysis but also improves the dropout rate dramatically.

d)   Organizing is key: One of the primary reasons for the high dropout rate of surveys is their incapability to motivate respondents to take the survey. So what’s the solution?

Make it human. Make it fun for your respondents.

Empathize with your target audience and design the structure keeping both the usability and desirability in mind. Use color schemes, layout, and graphics to balance the goals of your questionnaire in alignment with the taste of your audience.

5.    Avoid asking leading questions

Data is no doubt the most critical point of running a modern-day business. It is the fuel on which your business runs. 

Biased misleading data can break it beyond repair. Loaded questions are a big no. Avoid asking open-ended questions. Make it simple and direct.

To Conclude

Humanize the process of your survey. Make it exciting for your respondents.

Remember not to make the brand survey feel like an interrogation. Instead use this powerful tool to eradicate future disputes and improve chances of brand interactions. 

Let this survey be an opportunity for you to develop a long-term relationship with your customers.

There are no Standards on Pay for Graphic Designers

Posted: September 1st, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Business, Finance and Loans | Tags: , | No Comments »

What happened to, they used to serve this industry fairly well 10 years or so ago fighting for designers, but they’ve become a useless organization for creative pros.

I think it’s time we build an organization or create a Union to help designers get the pay they deserve. This is hard to do, but this industry is suffering more and more every year.

So many designers have bachelors degrees, or years of experience, but the market does not back them up, businesses just want cheap labor.

Designer pay has been about the same as it was since about 2003. Almost 20 years later and the majority of salaries or freelance wages have staid the same.

Just remember this, you would not have your business without graphic design. Your brand would fail, your marketing collateral would not exist, your product packaging would never be on display nor would you have a company website or online presence.

Graphic designers are a crucial part of a business. Treat them with respect.

Graphic Design Slave Labor

Posted: August 24th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Business, Quick Blurbs | No Comments »

My rant for the day….

Low class company (The Social Robin – Dallas, TX) offering slave labor wages for a graphic design position in Dallas, TX. They want to pay up to $10 per hour for 1-2 years of experience as a graphic designer. You have to travel some which will take up your entire $10 for one hour just to drive to Dallas. Plus, you have to bring your own equipment. What a bunch of cheap ass wipes!

These companies should be ashamed of themselves. I will shame every company I find online doing this to graphic designers.

View the job post below and pass along the shame!


Registering a Business Name

Posted: August 6th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Business | No Comments »
Graphic Design web design

Registering a business in my county is one thing, but what about finding a name for online purposes? What if the name is fine for the county, but there is another company with the same name on the Web? Would I have to find another name for my company if I want to go online?

Well, it is best to find a domain that matches your company name. If not, then you don’t have a brand identity. My suggestion is to find a name that works on the Web and for the company too. Plus, you need to make sure clients don’t get confused if there is another business using the same name even if that business is not in the same town or state.

Pricing an Annual Report

Posted: August 6th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Business | Tags: | No Comments »
annual-report design pricing

A company wants to hire me to do their 10th financial report. I’m trying to figure out my price for them (I’ve never worked for them so I don’t know how time consuming of a client they are). It would be 30-40 pages (4 color) and I would be responsible for:

  • Creative and art direction (conceptual, photoshoots, etc.)
  • Design (2 initial designs and meetings to come to a final approval)
  • Project management/trafficking (scheduling project, interacting with printer and photographer)
  • Production (layout, corrections, preparing for printer, releasing, checking proofs)
  • Press checks (on site checking print quality and approving).

The conceptual and design would be done over the next 3 months (just to set the scheduling, decide on concept, design, and approval — probably about 50-100 hours total). Then I would be working on production, design (always some more), project management, and press checks in June, July, and August (perhaps about 360 hours — based on 30 hours a week for 12 weeks). This is a rough hour assessment which would total 460 hours. It could go drastically up or down depending on the client.

My questions:


My personal background — generally I charge by the hour, 50/h is absolute minimum for straight production but design/art direction goes up to 100/h. I am basing my rates on my experience and standard New York City pricing.

Answers to Your Questions

I am not based in New York and have no standard fee knowledge of what the going rate is for an annual report there. However, I suspect that the costs are very similar to my area which is Dallas Texas. As for the time you are planning to put in (360 to 460 hours) is quite a lot. Most companies are not willing to spend $30,000 on an annual report unless they are hiring a large firm like DDB that would have a staff of 10 or more working on the project, including copy writing and more. My suggestions below reflects what I would charge in my one person studio. My pricing also does not reflect copy writing, the client must provide this service.

Also, the time frame of 3 months is quite a long time to continue on a project. You need to force your client to try to get everything approved for final design within a month. On the second month, they should finalize and go to press. The more room you give your client to make changes and stuff, the longer the project will be and the more mistakes will happen.

Listed below is what I suggest for pricing. However, since the company is a non-profit, they will be tight on cash, even if they are a large company.


Photo shoot
Cost per day photo shoot direction = $1,000 (10 hours, does not include photographers fees, development or photo retouching)

Project Management/Working with Printer/Press Checks
Cost = $1,000 (10 hours)

Design/Production/Art Direction/Concept/Proofing
Per page cost = $300 to $400 (40 pages / 3-4 hours per page)
Total cost = $12,000 to $16,000

First 3-4 hours no charge
Cost over 4 hours billed at = $100 per hour

Total approx. cost of annual report = $12,000 to $18,000


I suggest you bill between $12,000 and $18,000 for a very high quality annual report. This depends on what you think they would feel comfortable spending and how much you feel you could cut in order to get the job. Don’t forget you still have a photographer you have to pay – that will be in addition to your total cost.


Present them with 2 options on price range, and let them know you would be flexible based on what they need. Many clients have big eyes on what they want to do until the pricing closes them. Don’t be so set in stone about your pricing, give them options on where they can save money and still get a great product. Remember to take care of yourself and make money. Nothing is worse than working on a project that you underbid on.

I used my base rate of $100 an hour, but to get the job, I would be willing to go down to about $60 to $75 an hour. You might even consider doing a flat $60 to $75 per hour and put them on a retainer and charge them hourly.

When using the pricing guides, do the prices reflect meetings and consultations with clients?

Posted: June 1st, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Business, Design | Tags: , , | No Comments »
graphic design

The design prices are for design only. For the most part, it is industry standard to have one free consultation with the client and time to go over the initial design after completion. If you have changes or more meetings, then you need to extend the hours per job (charge per 1/4 hour). Basically, the 3 hours it takes to design a letterhead is just for design. Additional charges will need to be applied if the client request changes. My suggestion, is if they have minor changes, then do it for free, but don’t let it get out of hand. The reason the extra charges are not in place on these pricing guides, is that every client is different and that it is virtually impossible to judge what will be changed. Some may need more while others less. Since most design work is custom, this will always be an issue for designers.

Download Pricing Guides

Do you recommend breaking down your estimate to include the number of hours spent on certain tasks as well as breaking down each item?

Posted: May 24th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Business | Tags: , | No Comments »
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It’s fine to breakdown your estimates, but to much breakdown will cause the client to pick apart the estimate and try to cut time and pricing. However, it is a good idea to place the amount of time and then state if the client goes over a certain amount of time that they will be billed for additional hours at your rate. My suggestion is to give the client a base price and then list the total time for the project. Then state the time overage costs to the client. Clients can be overwhelmed and not understand what you are breaking down in your estimate, they just want you to get the project done for a good price. Remember, the more simple the better.