Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Your Clients Can Kill You

The title's a bit harsh, so let me explain. If you're an independent designer or illustrator (or an entrepreneur for that matter) it's important to get clients. The great work you do for them pays the bills, you get yourself some referral business and some solid testimonials. Then it starts all over again. Piece of cake!

But the problem with this tactic is that you''ll always have to go out and find more clients, which leads to burn out. Burn out is the leading case of creatives going crazy in North America alone.

Not really, but it sounded good, right? Seriously speaking, getting burned out is bad, and it will affect everything from your work to your relationships. The other, and more serious problem, is that although you'll have a great body of work to show for your efforts, you will never use your creativity for anything else. Essentially, you're trapping yourself within your business.

Here's a quick example...

Bo Don't Know Squat. Gretzky Does Though
Wayne Gretzky, famed hockey player and known as The Great One, said "Don't go where the puck is, go where the puck is going to be". In this digital age you have to find a way to make technology work for you. Assuming you have a solid brand, identity and you know what you're talking about, you also need to get the word out on what you offer. I didn't have a large advertising budget, so I thought about the quickest way to get the word out. A podcast. Yes, in this day and age podcasting is where the puck is going to be. So I found a podcast I loved and I sent them an illustrated poster of them. They loved it and that got me a weekly live read on their show and a chance to come on to talk about what I do. Twice. Now, I'm continuing to do work for them and have created a strong brand recognition through their listeners which has landed me 30% of my business this year. They get over a million downloads a month, by the way.

Building a clientele is not enough. You really need to build assets. This can be online properties such as blogs and websites where you are the authority on the subject of your choosing. With the proper promotion and content, you can stop the hustle and have the business come to you. Does Seth Godin ring a bell? You can also set up a etsy or bigcartel online store and sell things like prints, hand-made crafts or photographs that will allow you to stay creative and also create a passive income. These are just ideas, but things that people have found success in. The point is, don't kill yourself chasing the dragon to the point where you're buried under your own success and screaming for death. Work smarter, not harder, and find different ways to bring business to you while keeping your sanity and creativity in tact. It's not easy, but nothing worth doing ever is.

Happy Designing,

Dennis aka tanoshiboy

What do you think about this post? Have you experienced a burn out? What did you do? Or do you think I'm gone crazy? Let us know in the comments section and spread the word on facebook, twitter and google+. Thanks!