The Friday Five: Q & A Session for Business Owners & Designers
It's become a usual thing for me to wake up, open my Instagram, and find a multitude of messages from other designers and business owners who want to pick my brain. I receive the same questions over & over again, so I thought I would start a series to share my findings, things I've had to overcome, my advice, and so much more.
Every Friday, I'm going to be sharing answers to questions I've been receiving and also a little insight into my daily life as a designer.
Good question! I think a lot of people wake up and decide to start their own business in whatever niche they truly feel a pull towards while neglecting the main focus: their target market. In any market and in any business, it's so important to really know your target market before you even begin. Is there a true need for your service? Is there anything about you and your business that stands out from the crowd?
Knowing your target market and truly understanding them before you begin offering services is a no-brainer. If you begin your business without any sort of direction as to who you're even speaking to, you'll wind up mis-branding yourself on social media and you won't know who you're speaking to, therefore you won't be speaking properly to them.
Take some time, do your research. Who is your target market? What do they enjoy? Who do they follow on social media? The more you know about them, the better you're able to market to them.
Where do I begin? Haha, just kidding! Owning a business in general is absolutely tricky yet so rewarding at the same time. I would have to say the most difficult thing for me was selling myself. In the beginning, I was timid & nervous that I wasn't good enough. I've yet come to realize that I'm just as amazing as my clients say I am, that I should be proud of my work.
When people don't want to work with you because of your pricing, move on. I've learned to never lower my pricing to suit people. I've had to learn to get a thicker skin and stand by my contracts and my method of doing business. Not everyone will agree with you, not everyone will be your ideal client. And I think, for me, learning that was really tough.
I actually get this question A LOT. To give you a little background on me, I graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Marketing in 2012. When I graduated with almost $30,000 in student loan debt and not much to show for it other than a piece of paper, I realized that no Marketing firm would hire me without experience. I spent my first year post-grad attempting to get into every firm imaginable. They didn't want me because I lacked what they titled "experience" although I had a multitude of experience in so many aspects & facets. I spent years garnering my own experience through retail, learning adobe products on my own, and blogging. The experience they thought I lacked allowed me to pay my student loans and all debt off in the matter of one year. I now own a successful design firm and would never imagine going to work for a marketing firm, ever. So to answer your question, I don't feel it's 100% necessary.
I think college in general is fantastic for learning who you are as an adult. It's amazing for learning your independence, becoming more responsible, and figuring out a whole new chapter in your life and who you're going to be for it. Would I recommend college to people? YES! Would I have received another degree? 150%. You'd think a Marketing + Advertising degree would come with teachings on design and the adobe fam, but you'd be wrong. I didn't learn about graphic design until I was halfway through my senior year. When I asked if I could double major, I was told I was too late. A marketing degree without any knowledge of how to even design a billboard? Not ideal.
I spent years teaching myself how to use InDesign, Photoshop, & Illustrator. I taught myself HTML & CSS, Wordpress, Shopify, Squarespace..you name it. I made my mistakes, I learned from them, and I grew. I found that learning the basic marketing skills were critical to certain aspects (like understanding what my boutique clients' customers needed to see on their websites) but by creating my own learning curve, I feel I'm able to create differently than most. There is no book that has told me how to be.
I am so scheduled, it's crazy. Since my husband is an airline pilot, he'll leave for 5-6 days at a time and his training schedule can be almost a month long. This leaves me with a full time design biz and a toddler to juggle.
Monday through Friday, my workday begins around 4:30am so that I can have time to spend with my son. I schedule my workload throughout the week, and give myself enough time to accomplish everything I need. Personal items like updates to my website, social media planning for myself, and even blog posts are written during the weekend or while I'm on the bike at the gym (haha!) I think it's all about sticking to a schedule that works for you and helps eliminate stress.
When I'm off work, I'm off work. No phone calls, no emails. I try to finish work early when my husband is home so we can spend time together and I try to keep weekends work-free, always.
One thing that has been really difficult for me is finding others who understand our daily life. When John is gone and it's just myself and my son trying to hold it all together, it's really difficult for me to answer a million random text messages and chat on the phone for four hours. I think any mom, in general, understands that feeling. Life as a mom is absolutely different than it ever was (which it absolutely fine) but finding people who understand how busy you are, is kind of difficult. I'm thankful for family + friends who do get it, and know that it's really hard for me some days to even jump on the phone for two seconds. Car rides are when we get our phone calls in!
No one understands being married or in a relationship with a pilot better than those who are in a relationship with a pilot. Fact.
How dedicated I am. When my husband is gone on a trip, sometimes I'll find myself laying wide awake in the middle of the night going over a new website design in my head. It's really difficult for me to disconnect at times and, when John is flying, I can't really fall asleep most times.
"Should I put a newsletter sign-up box here or should I add a custom slider there? Oh my gosh I bet their product page would be so badass if I did this." That's what goes through my head at 2am.
Those moments make me get up out of bed and get on my computer. I don't think a lot of people understand how dedicated we, as designers, are to our work and our clients. I want them to feel confident about their business & their brand, I want them to know I've put every bit of myself into every piece of it. Every graphic, every pop up, every newsletter has been made with so much love!
Sometimes we'll be driving in the car and I'll be thinking of a new strategy for a social media client and I'll tell my husband "grab my phone..put this in the notes" and we'll start strategizing right then and there, in the middle of our family car ride to dinner or the gym.
I would absolutely love to feature your question on my upcoming Friday Five feature! Feel free to comment below or send me an email at email@example.com