Hey fellow graphic, brand and web designers! Today I want to dive into 4 ways you can really prioritize internal growth in your design biz. This is something that as designers and strategists, I think we all struggle with from time to time because we are spending so much of our time pouring into the businesses and the brands of others, right?
I mean, as designers, that’s literally our full-time gig! Pouring into our clients and equipping them with really beautiful brands that are an intentional reflection of their life’s work. And often times, as much as we are pouring into other’s brands, we keep our own business and brand on the back burner. But, it’s time we flip that! Keep on reading to discover the four ways that I’ve found over the years to be intentionally helpful when trying to really carve out some time within your own calendar to make your own brand a priority!
4 Ways To Prioritize Internal Growth In Your Design Biz
Maybe you are finding yourself feeling like you build beautiful brands for other people, but your own brand could use a little love? Or maybe you have these big, beautiful dreams of designing new elevated visuals, or redesigning your website, or pouring your time and energy into something that is going to really grow your own brand? But, you are struggling to find the time in your busy schedule to make that happen. Maybe you’ve also felt that you are struggling to figure out a way to prioritize growth in your design biz without detracting from the amount of time and energy that you have to spend on your client work? I know I personally can really resonate with that last one.
As someone who really wants to serve our clients well, I’ve often had to figure out how to kind of navigate that fine line between still pouring into my clients wholeheartedly and serving them to the best of my ability, while still prioritizing my own business along the way. Because if I’m being honest, if I am neglecting my own brand, I’m unintentionally not taking action to propel myself forward.
If we just take a few simple steps, we can actually prioritize our own businesses and our own brands, while still devoting so much great time and energy into the lives and the businesses of those we serve!
Tackle Your Portfolio
Finding the time to actually update your portfolio, whether that’s on your website, social media account, or an external portfolio site, can be a challenge. I totally get it! Or maybe you are struggling to figure out how exactly to update your portfolio in order to reflect your most recent and your best work?
As designers, we want people who are coming to our websites to see realistically our best foot forward. We want them to see the best that we have to offer them. And, if we aren’t showing them what we can do, then we are very realistically missing powerful opportunities to connect with them. So I highly recommend carving out some very intentional time in your calendar to update your portfolio.
Personally, I like to do this on a quarterly basis! And what I do with that is, I literally just kind of have it as a standing repeating date in my calendar so that I know every quarter I am going to be sitting down and making some updates to my portfolio.
Now, if you are working through projects at a slow, very intentional pace and quarterly wouldn’t necessarily produce a lot of work to add your portfolio, then you can do it biannually or even annually. But remember, the point of having an updated portfolio as a designer is we are wanting to very purposefully show potential clients just what you’re capable of creating for them. We want them to land on your website and get this beautiful, polished view of the work that you are most proud to do and that you are most excited to share with them.
So in order to do that and drive inquiries around the kind of work that you want to do and the kind of work that you have done recently, it’s important to keep those portfolios up-to-date! If you can work it into your calendar on a quarterly basis, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how manageable it is, and you’ll be amazed at the kinds of inquiries you can drive by simply just putting your best work out there.
Work On Your Brand
My next tip that I have is to work on your brand on an annual basis. So what you’re going to want to do here in order to really assess what’s working, what’s not working, if some visuals need a little bit of sprucing up, you’re going to basically create a date with yourself. You’re going to sit down–I always recommend pouring a glass of wine or grabbing a cup of coffee–get really cozy and give yourself an audit.
Give yourself a visual brand audit and take a look at your logo, your website, your social media accounts, if you have any print collateral or packaging elements. Get all of that out in front of you and very literally check in with it and assess, “Does this still feel like a reflection of me? Does this still feel like an elevated and honest depiction of who I am as a designer and a strategist? Are these pieces resonating with my ideal clients? Or are there some opportunities where I could just make some thoughtful changes to really drive more qualified inquiries based on the fact that I’m sharing a visual identity that resonates with those kinds of people on an annual basis?” That gives us an amazing opportunity to really check in with your visual brand and see what’s working, what’s not, assess some room for growth in your design biz!
If you find that there’s some things you need to update, you can actually work it into your calendar. So for example, if you sit down and audit your own brand, and you find that, “Oh, wow, I actually think that I could update my website!”. Well then from there we know this is something that we can work into your schedule and we’re doing it in such a way where we have a lot of control over how you fit that into your schedule. If you’re sitting down on an annual basis once a year, taking a look at what’s working and what’s not from a visual standpoint, then that helps inform the amount of work that you need to do for yourself to elevate your own brand along the way.
One thing that I like to mention with this approach is, the reason why I recommend checking in with your brand only once a year is because if we are making too many changes, that is actually going to dramatically confuse your audience. It’s going to make it difficult for them to build a sense of trust with your visual identity or the way that you’re doing business if you’re constantly changing things up. So on an annual basis that gives us enough time so that we can really take a hard long look at what is working and what isn’t working.
Build Your Agenda
Let’s say you sit down and you find that you need to design a new website for your business. Your current website isn’t driving the kinds of inquiries you want to see. It’s not reflective of your experience as a designer anymore, so you know that some changes need to be made. Well, the beauty of understanding that need and understanding where your time and energy needs to go now is we can implement that and really carve that out into your calendar!
So on a daily basis, what I want you to be doing is breaking down some of those bigger picture tasks, like designing a new website. Think about on a day-by-day basis – what steps can you be taking in order to make progress on that bigger picture goal?
So for example, if you need to design a new website, one day maybe it’s sitting down and building out your wire frame, maybe the next day it’s pulling inspiration for the overall aesthetic of the site. Maybe the next day is checking in with your website platform and making a decision if you want to stay on your current website platform or if you want to change to a different website platform. We can take this one big picture goal of designing a new website and break it out into all of these teeny tiny little actionable steps that as you knock them off of your agenda, you are building progress along the way.
So what I want you to do is to figure out if there are things you can be doing to really move the needle on some of those bigger picture goals on a daily or a weekly basis. And when you do that, write them down, make them a part of your agenda on a regular basis so that you are prioritizing your own brand just as you would a client brand project.
Utilize Time Blocking
My favorite way to do this is to leverage time blocking to prioritize the growth in your design biz in the midst of a busy day. What you’ll want to do is actually very strategically map out your day so that you are doing both the work for your clients and the work for yourself! Be intentional about carving out, at the minimum, at least an hour and every day so that you can pour back into your own brand.
Just to kind of give you an idea of how I block out each day, I will create just an overview hour by hour of what I’m doing and what I’m working on. So, for example, I always start the day with client work. It’s something where I find that I just perform better and I’m in a better head space if I start my day with my most important, top priority, client work for the day versus getting stuck in my inbox for a while. I will start with client work and then I’ll move on to checking in my inbox for only a very specific amount of time so that I’m not spending my whole day replying to emails. So I build out my day based on the things that I know need to happen. And they’re always happening within a set amount of time, usually an hour or or less, so that I am working efficiently and getting as much done as possible.
For me personally, that’s an approach that’s worked really well and I’ve seen success with time blocking! But I’d recommend if time blocking is something you have tried before and maybe didn’t love it, that’s okay! I really believe that how you structure your day has to work for you and it might not look the same as what everyone else is doing. Even the idea of you doing your best work within a 9-5 timeframe, that might not be realistic for you. You might not be a 9-5 person, you might be a 1-7, or 2-8 kind of person. You might be a night owl, and so you do your best work at night, whatever the case is, I think it’s really important to remember to structure your schedule in a way that really serves you best and leans into your strengths and allows you to do your best work on your own terms.
As designers, we serve our clients well and pour to their brands wholeheartedly, and then feel like our brand is kind of left by the wayside or it needs a little bit more love and attention. And if you are going to be really propelling your business forward on your own terms, I really do believe it’s important that you prioritize internal growth in your design biz as much as you prioritize your client’s brands, because this is something that you are constantly building and crafting and elevating. I think that it has such amazing potential to not only help you bring in the ideal dream clients that you get so excited to work with, but I also think that your brand gives you the space to do some of your best, most fulfilling work. It can give you the opportunity to do things that you are so passionate about and help people in amazing ways.
Are You Ready To Prioritize Internal Growth In Your Design Biz?
When you prioritize growth in your design biz and care for it and really pour back into it that it just becomes this beautiful cycle where you’re able to put your brand’s best foot forward, visually, get the attention of your ideal client, do your life’s best work, and then kind of rinse and repeat! And, friend, that’s absolutely something that I want to see you accomplish!
If you are a designer who is wanting to learn more about how to grow a profitable design business, that continually gives you the ability to use that creativity to generate consistent income, then I want to invite you to learn more about my signature program for graphic brand and web designers, the Brand Strategy School. If you’d like to learn more about joining me and the incredible global group of designers already making big moves inside this community, then I invite you to head on over to the program page to learn more about joining us today!
Through brand strategy, you are able to take your business to consistently profitable months so that you are able to work with a select number of ideal clients who are ready to invest in your work accordingly. And that is a beautiful thing, friend. I would love to invite you to join us! If you’re curious about what exactly brand strategy can do for your business, then go check out my totally free training, where I show you how brand strategy has the power to transform your business. You can go to grab your free seat to my class on how to exponentially increase your income as a designer and get all the juicy details there as always friend, I’m cheering you on from Waco. And I cannot wait to see how your next move to invest in your design business results in a massive ROI.