Date: Jan 21, 2011
Generating income is the main reason you started your own graphic design business, and generating more income is a primary concern in any business. One way to generate more income is to offer additional goods or services. Some sources of income are just sitting there unused on your computer, and many online income opportunities, such as click thru selling, are just waiting for you to tap them as well.
Do I need to say it out loud? Generating income is the main reason you started your own graphic design business. You need to pay your operating expenses, pay your employees, and, most important of all, pay yourself[md]enough to buy groceries, buy clothes, and pay the mortgage. Beyond covering your basic operating and living expenses, maybe you’d like to go on a cruise once in a while, contribute to the relief efforts in Haiti, build up an emergency fund, or support the fight against cancer. Whatever your reasons, generating more income is a primary concern in any business.
In this five-part series, I’ve been offering advice about how to start your own graphic design business and run it successfully. In this final article, it’s time to look at ways you can generate more income.
Raise Your Prices
One of the quickest and easiest ways to generate more income is to raise your prices. If you’ve been charging the same prices for a year or more, it’s probably time to go up (unless you had your prices set at the top of the range initially). Raising prices can be tricky. You don’t want to raise your prices so high that you lose existing clients, and you don’t want to “price yourself out of the market” when it comes to getting new clients. Before you raise your prices, do a little research to see what others are currently charging for services.
One way to raise prices is to make subtle changes. For example, if you charge $70 an hour, you could raise your hourly rate to $75 but start billing in increments of 20 minutes. So if you do 1 hour and 10 minutes of work for a client, you bill for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Another way to raise your prices subtly is to keep your base prices the same and raise the prices for the bells and whistles. So the base price of a five-page website remains the same, but the price of creating photo galleries goes up.
Offer More Services
Another way to generate more income is to offer additional goods or services. When you are focused on making money, it can be easy to get pulled in multiple directions. Instead of scampering off after a host of different money-making ideas and spreading yourself thin, try to keep the main thing the main thing. In other words, focus on your core business and look for additional income opportunities there.
For many graphic design businesses, website design is the core business[md]the real rainmaker. The price of website design can get into the tens of thousands of dollars with the right client. Even on smaller website projects, you can increase your revenues if you look for needs that your clients have. Remember your client’s core business is widgets; it’s not writing website copy that’s optimized for search engines, or taking professional-looking photographs, or analyzing web statistics. All that’s in the realm of your core business. Your client realizes that you are much better equipped to handle these things than he is. If you just offer the additional website services, your client is likely to avail himself of them. Your smart clients know they can make more money by focusing on their core business than they can by trying to do everything for themselves in house.
Here are just a few of the additional services you could offer your clients relating to your core business of website design:
- Content Development: This service could include an in-depth study of the client to develop material, writing the website content, editing the client-provided content, developing new page content on an ongoing basis to keep the website fresh and interesting, and writing monthly articles for the client’s blog.
- Google Analytics and Metrics: You could provide training for clients on the interpretation and effective use of Google Analytics, but most clients don’t have time to do this for themselves. You could provide site traffic monitoring and a monthly statistical report that interprets the statistical analysis in a way the client can understand. Additionally, you could provide recommendations for ways to improve the client’s site based on the statistical information, and then, of course, you could implement those improvements.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): This service could include structural assessment of a site and recommended changes, keyword research, site update to include top keywords, revision of content so that it is SEO effective as well as reader-friendly, search engine and directory submissions, inbound linking assessment, and inbound link strategy recommendations. To offer SEO services, you need to stay current on the latest algorithms the search engines use to rank sites.
- Photography: With the right equipment and the talent, you or someone on your staff could take the photos for your clients’ websites. If tweaking photos is what you’re good at, you could offer a service that prepares photos for the web, including cropping, retouching, enhancing, creating effects, and saving the photographs with the proper resolution.
- Flash Animation: Most clients love Flash animations, but they don’t necessarily request them. If you created a sample website that uses lots of animated effects to show your clients, it would certainly help you sell more of these high-dollar items.
Examine each of your other core businesses and see if you can think of additional related services. For example, if you design printed materials, you could offer printing services. You don’t have to go out and buy a printing press. Just establish a sales relationship with a reputable local printer (or an online printer). Clients don’t really know how to talk to printers any way so if you are designing the piece and walking it through the print process to completion, you have eliminated one more headache for the client and generated additional income for yourself.
Think about Who Else Can Use Your Services
Now let’s look at these services in a different way. In addition to offering them to your clients, think about others who could use these services. For example, a printer or sign company might need your design skills to service one of their own clients.
Find Online Opportunities
Many online income opportunities, such as click-thru selling, are just waiting for you to tap them as well. These include becoming a Domain Name/Hosting Reseller. For example, at http://www.site5.com you can buy a program that allows you to host unlimited domain names at your site with only one ftp address to post changes to. Think how much this could simplify your life if you could post all changes to your clients’ websites at a single ftp address!
Another online opportunity you should check out is Amazon Associates. You can make additional income by advertising Amazon on your website, using Amazon mini-applications that promote their products, or actually selling Amazon products in your own eStore. Lots of Amazon products relate to web design and your other artistic services, including books, music, cameras, electronics, and so on.
Create Your Own Products
Finally, you can just get crazy and use your artistic talents to come up with a physical (as opposed to digital) product to sell. You could design and produce bumper stickers; screen-printed T-shirts; framed photography, illustrations, or art prints; stick-on/peel-off text or artwork for wall treatments; custom sets of stationery, notes, folders, and binders; automotive, sports, or motivational posters; and the list goes on. Just look around you and notice the things people buy that you could produce with very little problem and expense. Then design, publish, and promote a website for your products.
I’d like to conclude this series of articles by being your cheerleader. I know you can be even more successful than you already are. You just need to take the next step. To borrow a slogan from the Army, “Be all that you can be!”