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Why You’re Failing As A Graphic Designer

by | Dec 15, 2014 | Articles, Freelancing, Graphic Design, Web Design | 0 comments

Failing As A Graphic Designer

If you’ve ever tried starting your own business from scratch, you know how tough it can be. The possibilities are endless, to the point where you don’t know where to begin. You are ready to take on pretty much any project that comes across your desk. Your main objective is generated and getting new clients. If you’re not getting a steady flow of new clients, or clients you worked for aren’t coming back, you may be doing things that hurt your business. After a while, you may not have clients at all. Let’s take a look at why you’re failing as a graphic designer.


You’re Not Listening

Many designers have the misconception that clients will hire you just to create beautiful graphics. You have to change the way you think about your clients. Your clients are looking for solutions to their problems. They may want to target a specific audience, or they may be marketing to new area where they’ve never been before. 75% of our job is listening to our clients. If you don’t listen to your clients, how are you going to understand what they really need? You have to give clients what they need, not necessarily what they want. Understanding the difference will enable you to produce results.

missed-deadlines - Graphic designer no-no

You Miss Deadlines

This is the quickest way to send your graphic design business down the toilet. If you can’t get a project completed on time, that client will never hire you again. Not only that, you may end up with a lawsuit. If you cause your client to lose money, because they didn’t have the promotional materials that they hired you for, you could be in big trouble. Get your priorities straight and make it the utmost importance to never miss a deadline, ever.

Your Solutions Aren’t Creative

Clients are hiring you to provide creative solutions to their business problems. If they wanted and every day solution, or a cookie-cutter design, they could have bought a template and done it themselves. The best designers create designs that are concept driven. Concepts help drive the message home to your client’s audience.

Graphic designer: Understand Your client's industry

You Don’t Understand Your Client’s Industry

In our industry, it is important to understand your clients and what they need. This usually involves a great deal of research, which takes time and effort for you to understand the big picture as a whole. This research includes your client’s competition, what has worked and what has failed in the past. Research is extremely important because it gives you the insight that you need to provide the best solution for your client.

Your Level Of Service Isn’t Up To Par

Your clients are paying you for a service. It’s important to deliver the best service for their money. If you don’t provide quality services to your clients, they’ll find somebody else who will. Clients can tell when you’re just in it for the money, and when you don’t care about the success of their business.

You Don’t Provide Enough Value

Value is extremely important in our business. Your clients have to feel like they’re getting the most bang for their buck. If they feel like they can get more for their money from the competition, you’ll lose business to your competitors. To stay competitive with more established businesses, you have to provide a sense of value that they can’t get anywhere else. That’s one of the best ways to keep clients coming back.

Failing as a graphic designer - difficult-to-work-with

You’re Difficult To Work With

You are no Salvador Dali, and you’re definitely no Picasso. Neither am I. There is no room in our industry for divas, or diva-like behavior. Leave the attitude at home. Every client should feel like a privilege when I walked through the door. If you’re not doing what you love, then why are you doing it? It’s hard to build a relationship with your clients if you’re difficult to work with.

Overall Reasons Why You’re Failing As A Graphic Designer

There may be some basic business reasons why you are failing as a graphic designer. It’s important that you assess every aspect of your business to ensure its success. Let’s take a look at some common reasons why graphic design businesses fail.

You Don’t Promote Yourself

Your business is just like every other business. It is important that you promote yourself as much as possible. You should be on every social media outlet that you can. A lot of people write on their own blogs to promote their business. This can be an effective way to promote yourself, while spreading your reach on social media. You can also do guest posts on other blogs to help extend your reach even further.

You Don’t Charge Enough

This is one of the biggest things I struggled with when I first started out. This typically requires a lot of research to fully understand. You have to look at the average costs of your services in your area, so that you can stay competitive with those. Every area of the country is different.

This can also be an area where you may lack confidence. You have to have the confidence in your business and your skills in order to charge what you’re worth. If you don’t charge enough, you won’t be able to keep up with your bills. You’ll end up closing your doors eventually. It’s important to find a happy medium, where you don’t under charge for your work, and where you don’t price yourself out the local market.

You Don’t Have Flexible Payment Methods

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about invoicing your clients and making it easy for them to pay you. Giving your clients the ability to pay how they want will make it more likely for them to pay you on time. Payment methods, such as PayPal, make it easy for your clients to pay with their checking account or their credit card.

You Don’t Keep Up With Invoices

When you’re on your own as a designer, you’ll be doing more than just graphic design. You’ll have to keep up with the books as well. Bookkeeping is an important aspect of your business that ensures that you’re getting paid everything that you’re owed. Regularly invoicing your clients will keep a steady flow of income coming in.

You Don’t List Your Services In Directories

It’s important for you to understand that you have to get your business in front of as many people as possible. Everywhere that you can get your business listed is another link back to your website to help promote your business. Get your services listed on sites like the Envato Studio and AwesomeWeb. You can list specific services that you provide for a flat fee. You can also provide estimates for larger services that clients may need. These are quality sites that will enable you to control how much you make from each project.

You Don’t Make Any New Connections

As in any business, the connections that you make are essential. You never know when a connection may turn into a client. Someone they know may eventually turn into a client as well. You need to make as many connections as you can. Unfortunately, you can’t hide behind a computer and wait for the money to roll in. You have to be aggressive, which means you need to meet new people and make connection. It can take years before people seek you out for your services.

You Don’t Have A Professional Persona

A professional persona is one of the most important things that you can have. People have to know that they can trust you, and that you are a true professional in your industry. As much as I would like to wear a T-shirt and jeans to every meeting, I understand the importance of a professional appearance. Dress neatly, speak eloquently, and be friendly. This isn’t rocket science, but anything that you can do to build trust will only promote your business even further.

Branding your business is also an important aspect of your business persona. Creating a brand that businesses recognize, and carrying it out everywhere can ensure that you provide a consistent experience for all potential clients. This means that you should create a professional logo, and that logo should be displayed everywhere, including places like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google plus. This is one of the best ways to build brand recognition and spread your reach quickly. Every time I see a tweet from an account with the egg icon as the avatar, it is immediately discredited for me. Keep that in mind when promoting your business.


You shouldn’t be failing as a graphic designer. If you use the basic principles that I mentioned above, and combine that with your own business sense and promotional skills, you’ll always have steady business coming in. The most important thing to remember is that everything you do says something about your business. Do you have any business tips to ensure the success of graphic designers? Feel free to leave your tips and advice in the comments section below.

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