12 Things to Start Doing in Your Design Business

by Dustin Lee March 10, 2014

It's easy to get caught up in the day to day tasks of running your design business. But often, the smallest changes in how we do our work can cause a flood of new opportunities.

I've had a lot of conversations with designer friends about daily habits that made huge differences lately. Some habits kept coming up again and again as catalysts to growing their businesses. 

Here are 12 things you should start doing now in your design business.

1. Share your process. – The details of how you create your work are fascinating to people. Share your inspiration, research, sketches and workflow with the world. Some easy ways to share your work include: blog posts, Vimeo, Tumblr and SlideShare.

2. Give your work away (the right way).  – Share something useful with your tribe.. Teach a digital course, offer some free digital goods, or share a collection of useful resources. 

3. Connect with your favorite designers. – It can be intimidating to connect with those you look up to. But don't forget, your favorite designers are just like you. They value relationships with positive people . Reach out to designers you look up to. Support their work. Don't be a fan boy/girl or otherwise invade their space. Just be a positive connection in their online presence.

4. Accept your imperfections. – You don't have to be perfect to run a successful design business. Accept the fact that you don't know everything and never will. Just do the best work you can every day. Be okay with making mistakes.

5. Say no to the wrong clients. – We've all had them. Clients that drain your energy and make you dread your workday. Trust your gut. Start saying no to clients and prospects that you have a bad gut feeling about.

6. Break the compulsive checking habit. – If you're like most designers you check your email too much. The allure of possible work inquiries, emails from clients and social media can be hard to resist. Reclaim your mental health. Set time aside during the day when you shut down email and social networks. Use an app like Concentrate to make it easier.

7. Commit to unplugging. - Designers, especially freelancers, can have a hard time clocking out. Increase your happiness by committing to disconnect from your work at a certain time each day. That means no more work (even personal projects), checking emails, or reading design blogs.

8. Learn a new skill. - Is there a skill you've been meaning to learn? Commit to learn a new skill. Some ideas may include: screening printing, letterpress, photography or book making.

9. Work smarter. -  You probably have a handful of time consuming tasks you do over and over. Commit to work smarter. Start batching tasks, create actions for common tasks, and use software like TextExpander to respond to emails.

10. Optimize your site to get clients. - All designers want a great looking site. Just don't forget your site isn't work much if it doesn't get clients. Always fault of the side of clarity over cleverness. Is it easy to contact you? Is it clear what kind of work you do? 

11. Sell something. - Selling goods online is a dead simple way to increase revenue. Not only does is create passive income but it lets people experience what it's like to do business with you. Once someone has spent even $20 with you they're much more likely to spend more. 

12. Stop fighting against yourself. - There's probably some kind of design work that comes easy to you. Maybe you're great at icon design. Stop trying to force yourself into something you're not as good at. Be the best icon designer you can be. 

Enjoy this article? Share it with others using the share buttons to the left. Want some free design goods? Sign up for the RetroSupply newsletter here.

 

Photograph courtesy of @CorySchmitz on Flickr.





Dustin Lee
Dustin Lee

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