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AndyTalks to Nico about Graphic Design & Selling Services

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Andy Black

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AndyTalks to Nico about Graphic Design & Selling Services

Myself and freelance graphic designer @Nicoknowsbest record a 75 minute chat we had on Skype.

Nico reached out to me a couple of weeks ago with an offer to help me with my videos. I've since engaged him on a project for a new client and it's working out really well for the both of us.

I learned a lot in this call, and it's not just one for graphic designers or people who want to hire graphic designers.

Amongst other things we talk about:
  • Why producing and getting feedback is so important.
  • Knowing your natural way of selling.
  • Playing to your strengths.
  • Hiding behind screens.
  • Fiverr and Upwork versus helping local business.
  • Using Fiverr to test an idea for a niche service.
  • Becoming "The XYZ Guy" - locally!
  • Stop overcomplicating things and just go out there and do it.


> Click here to access the recording <

What were your takeaways?

What will you do differently going forward?



(For other recordings click HERE.)



EDIT: Transcription added here (it won't fit into a post).
 

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devine

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I would upload all skype talks to youtube into private playlist for TFLF.
x2 speed playback would be good, because they are lenghty and a lot of not so necessary details there, but they are good. These recordings have some special touch to them and simply give personal insights to me personally.

Regarding the content of recording:
- If you're a good designer, or any other kind of specialist in general, it doesn't really matter what your client wants. It's about what client needs. Your job as a specialist is to deliver the latter. As a specialist you have to know better than they do, which is why they come to you, not the other way around.

- Getting to locals is good, but... can they afford your services?
And what is easier: close them or close someone on the opposite side of the planet?
This is the main reason I do only <20% of work in Russia as a specialist. I have 90% better chances of closing a $20k project in London than in Moscow.
I realize it's not such a sensitive case for people who charge <5 figures, but still.

- Approach people who search not for a designer, adwords guy or someone skill-specific. Approach those who need to make more money.
I wasted years on the first type, don't make the same mistake.
Be a guy who makes things that bring profits to people who seek profits.

- Now Nick highlights that very thing and I'd say half of translation from skill-oriented service to profit-oriented service depends on targeting right clients, not your own positioning. With years I realized that positioning is not what you say, but who you say it to.

- Andy talks gold on offers. Timing is ~40:00+

- "Scared of speding a lot of money"
Someone who has $100k in production budget can afford quality and expensive things. Approach people who constantly want to improve their business. Those who need results and need them fast.

- Andy talks gold on clarity of thought on 1:13:00+

- ))))))))))))))))))))))
One bitchslap at TFLF is effectively better than being praised somewhere else. (here's my left cheek)

- Make sure every conversation is worth paying for transcription.
When you know that transciption of your conversation is worth more than $1/minute - things started moving.
I have a whole lot of recordings under NDA which I need to transcribe myself. I would pay much more than $1/minute for them to be transcribed.

- Follow your passion:) (bitchslap here)
On a serious note, problem is not with following your passion, problem is that passion 90% of time borderlines bullshit.

- Fiverr won't get you anywhere. It has nothing to do with real world businesses. It won't help you land real, seriously paid gigs.
If you need portfolio - come up with your own concepts and develop them.
It's not hard to get work on fiverr, because your work is undervalued. Get your shit together and aim for real gigs. Reaching out to businesses directly is difficult, but it's the only thing that really pays out.
 
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Why I Never Considered Designing Graphics, How This Thinking Cost Me Years And
How Changing My Mindset Finally Got My Process Kick-Started


First Things First

Thank you @Andy Black for doing this together - it was awesome.
I just checked and we had 56 listeners - thank you guys for listening to all of those who took the time.
I hope we could help one or two with what was discussed.

Waiting For The Next Big Thing
I just wanted to add a little more insight and thought to what was said, especially from my perspective.

I didn't study graphic design.

I had no intent of doing it in my past.

And yet it helped me get off the ground. I studied something related and started designing graphics on the side, for everybody who needed it. During my time at university, high-tech startups became "fashion" so I thought, this was the way to go, since I never wanted a normal 9-5. I worked on one "big" idea after the other, only to discover that nobody needed what I was developing. So I started boiling down my ideas, making them less complex. I went from working on "the next, better Evernote" to "just" sourcing products to sell online.

Apart from a few lucky punches here and there, I didn't find success.

Why?
Because my mindset was wrong. I was developing things I thought the world needed. When showing it to people and getting negative feedback, I simply thought that these people were not ready yet. I wanted to tackle a "fancy" niche with a high reward potential. I mean, who would choose the path of a "starving artist" voluntarily?

Graphic Design Is Not Art
Many people don't know that there is a science behind why certain things are easy on the eye (ads), pleasant to read (articles) or exciting to use (apps). Graphic design is a craft. Most people connect creativity with art. They forget that everybody who wants to be successful has to be creative, but this is another story. Most companies see no value in graphic design.

The Biggest Challenge With Graphic Design
Business owners don't want to spend money on something that won't help get results. The word design itself indicates that it might be expensive and dispensable. At least this is what the world of luxury goods is teaching us daily.

They want something that generates more leads, leading to more sales and therefore helping them to become better businesses. Graphic design can do that. Combined with other skills, it can do this even better. The challenge is to re-package and re-combine my skills (and maybe external ones) into a compelling service offer that helps businesses make more money.

Why Am I Doing It?
After years of action faking and thinking about "the next big thing", by taking @Andy Black's and @SinisterLex's advice of helping people close to you with what you know today, I've come further in basically no time than in the past. It is all about starting and gaining momentum, no matter where you are at. For years I have been sitting on skills I thought were not useful or couldn't earn me decent money.

Sure, there are jobs that bring in much more at this stage.

But if you respect the process, you will end up way ahead.

Outlook?
I am just at the beginning of my journey, figuring out exactly what businesses need. It's time to spend money on "Diesel And Coffee".

Key takeaways - TL;DR:
  • take a look at what you already know - re-package it to be able to sell it better
  • go out and help someone with what you know today
  • make your first sale within 7 days (otherwise the product/founder fit is not right)
  • repeat
Hope this helps!
 

Nicoknowsbest

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- Getting to locals is good, but... can they afford your services?
It has to do with what @ApparentHorizon said above:

Golden nugget right there: Owners want someone they can meet.
When starting out you also have to think about how to sneak past your established competition. If you want to build a track-record of proven results quickly, my guess is that you can do it much faster locally than globally, aka be the guy to go to for XYZ, be the brain to pick.

- Approach people who search not for a designer, adwords guy or someone skill-specific. Approach those who need to make more money.
I wasted years on the first type, don't make the same mistake.
Be a guy who makes things that bring profits to people who seek profits.
I agree 100 %. Very good advice!

- Follow your passion:) (bitchslap here)
On a serious note, problem is not with following your passion, problem is that passion 90% of time borderlines bullshit.
Forget passion. Think: product-founder fit!

- Fiverr won't get you anywhere. It has nothing to do with real world businesses. It won't help you land real, seriously paid gigs.
If you need portfolio - come up with your own concepts and develop them.
It's not hard to get work on fiverr, because your work is undervalued. Get your shit together and aim for real gigs. Reaching out to businesses directly is difficult, but it's the only thing that really pays out.
I agree and disagree at the same time ;)

Basically, you are right. BUT, Fiverr can be used as a testing and training ground for specific services.

I'd hire someone with good reviews on Fiverr (any other platform) over someone who built his portfolio "for himself". The first knows how to sell and communicate with clients, the latter most probably won't.
 
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Transcription added here (it won't fit into a post).
 

FastNAwesome

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I had plenty more takeaways but these are the ones I got down...

As Andy said, everyone's insight is different, so here's mine before reading what others in the forum have said...



- Collaboration of different specialists. Something Nico talked about.
With the right team with complementary skills, it's really much more than
a simple sum of efforts.

It creates synergy such that 1 + 1 + 1 can easily end up being 10.



- Underselling vs overselling... Another thing Nico mentioned, which I'm not sure if I agree. For many reasons:

a)
Yes, if you undersell it's easier to overdeliver, and it may impress the client...IF you even get the gig, due to underselling yourself.
And even if you get it...let's say you impress them. It would be "fair" that now they give you higher paid gigs, right?

Maybe...but there's another thing at play - psychology. Say you sold me a kick-a$$ logo for $5. I didn't even expect that quality.
But now you want to send me the next one for $50? No thanks man. I want 10 logos for that price, actually I want 11 - bulk discount?

This is just me trying to think like a regular customer. Btw. do you even want a customer who set out to buy a logo for $5?

I can do things for FREE. But not for $5. I'm not entering a customer-service provider relationship for that amount.


By underselling and underpricing you're positioning yourself, and anchoring yourself in customers eyes as a cheap, low-end guy.
First impression "sets the stage" for future interactions.

What you deliver for $5 is now expected to cost $5. Add a zero and you look like a rip-off.


b)
Too many people suck at whatever they do. One simple trick to "overdeliver" is to just deliver!

Do what you promised, at the timeline you promised, be cool and kind in interaction and provide friendly customer service with obvious care for your client's benefit.

Man that's overdelivering in it's own right.

Everyone's skimping, faking, delaying....

When we find people who just do what they're supposed to and do it right, we really praise them. We're able to recommend them.


c)
One funny technique that can jump-start your career or take it to the next level. Oversell and then do your best to deliver (you just might!)

We'll never be ready for things we didn't try yet. And some of those things no one's gonna let you try unless you're ready.

So how do you ever do it then?

Overselling is one way.

But if one keeps in mind ethics, honesty and benefit of everyone involved, is "overselling" even possible?


There are ways...


- Promising fantastic results, on condition of not asking for a dime if you don't deliver.
(so - you would take the risk of working for nothing)

- Making the pitch look the best it can (while staying 100% truthful and non-misleading),
and addressing project requirements in such a way that client sees you really UNDERSTOOD them,
and addressed THEIR wishes and concerns with genuine CARE and in a well thought out way.

Not sure if this sounds too vague, but this thing alone is able to make you preferred over others,
even when your prospective client knows full well that others are more competent or better than you in whatever way.



- Who already has your clients? A badass insight from Andy. If you're working with someone who already has your clients (and maybe you have theirs too) it's a WIN WIN WIN.

Ok, so doctors already know this...and they'll recommend you a lab to get your tests done in. And the lab will recommend you a doctor.
Car mechanics know this...they'll send you to a certain store to buy parts. And if you ask at the store if they know of a good mechanic, "oddly", they will know a few:)
(at least that's how it goes where I live)



- The style that works for you is the one you own already.

We swim through this life somehow already. So chances are we know some tips and tricks to get by, even if we're not aware of it or don't have it laid out as a system.
Maybe it would be good to reflect on one self and see HOW we're actually doing what we're doing.

It's an eye opening experience to actually do this.

It's also eye opening to look at things you are NOT satisfied with or successful with in life and see HOW were you going about these things,
and then deciding to change.

So as an addition to Andy's insight, I'd say:

The style that works for you is the one you own already, which is not to say you can't improve it.
And for things that are not working out, you should also look at the style you own already in those kind of things. And consider changing your ways,
which is way easier said than done.


- Play at your strengths. I can only agree on this one.

All the champions play at their strengths. It doesn't constrain them from getting good at other things. Or even championing other things.
But playing at your strengths probably gives the best ROI.

As my additional feedback - sometimes the biggest weakness becomes the biggest strength. Many body building and martial arts champions were
bullied and inspired by that very thing to excel at becoming great fighters or big guys with respectable muscle mass.

When someone has a burning passion, it can turn into a strength, because it anyway comes down who does the most work, and talent plays the smaller role.
Talent on it's own does nothing. Hard work can make a champion of someone who was literally not meant to be what he PASSIONATELY set out to be. He can beat the odds.


- Find someone to pay you to do what you love doing - get paid. Andy heard this from some experienced Irish gent, and I like it:)


- First making the smaller sale which measurably increases the clients profit, might be a great precursor for further relationship
and getting even bigger deals from them.

It's easier to get someone to get a small bite, and if that bite is super super tasty, they'll wanting more without you even asking.


- A profession like designer is not niche on the internet. Plenty of them.

But it is very "niche" in your town. Or your hood (if you're in the bigger city). Now you're not "a designer". You're a
"designer in _________"

If you get out there and mingle with local business owners, it can be a great source of new opportunities.
And the better known you become for your results, the more people will come looking for you.

Now you're becoming even more niche. You're a "designer in __________ who did that great job for ________ and _________.

Not to mention that many people prefer dealing with local people they can see, hear and reach out to easily if needed.

And it can get you gigs you'd never ever ever get otherwise. Just by mentioning what you do in presence of another entrepreneur,
ofthen they'll go "hey, that's just what I need!" - or they know someone who is looking for that service right now.

And it's just so much easier to people to entrust someone they met and gotten a good impression of, than to go and search for
random service providers and hope for the best.
 

Nicoknowsbest

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It creates synergy such that 1 + 1 + 1 can easily end up being 10.
I see that now when going out and selling locally.

When talking to business owners about designing websites for them, the first question is: can you program them too?

They want to get a full service, not worry about it.

So when getting a design but no programming, I actually created more work for them, because they invested in me. For the ROI to be positive, they need to find a programmer...

- Underselling vs overselling... Another thing Nico mentioned, which I'm not sure if I agree. For many reasons:

a)
Yes, if you undersell it's easier to overdeliver, and it may impress the client...IF you even get the gig, due to underselling yourself.
And even if you get it...let's say you impress them. It would be "fair" that now they give you higher paid gigs, right?

Maybe...but there's another thing at play - psychology. Say you sold me a kick-a$$ logo for $5. I didn't even expect that quality.
But now you want to send me the next one for $50? No thanks man. I want 10 logos for that price, actually I want 11 - bulk discount?

This is just me trying to think like a regular customer. Btw. do you even want a customer who set out to buy a logo for $5?

I can do things for FREE. But not for $5. I'm not entering a customer-service provider relationship for that amount.


By underselling and underpricing you're positioning yourself, and anchoring yourself in customers eyes as a cheap, low-end guy.
First impression "sets the stage" for future interactions.

What you deliver for $5 is now expected to cost $5. Add a zero and you look like a rip-off.
Incredibly important lesson I learned the hard way now.

It seems perfectly obvious, but to me it wasn't. Now it is.

My experience is even worse. Not that you have to deal with being a rip-off when raising your prices, people also think they bought your life for $ 5. No matter if they spend $ 5 or $ 500 - they both want the best they can get for their bucks. Low-end customers are much harder to deal with in my view, because in many cases, they simply don't know what they are buying for $ 5.

b)
Too many people suck at whatever they do. One simple trick to "overdeliver" is to just deliver!

Do what you promised, at the timeline you promised, be cool and kind in interaction and provide friendly customer service with obvious care for your client's benefit.

Man that's overdelivering in it's own right.

Everyone's skimping, faking, delaying....

When we find people who just do what they're supposed to and do it right, we really praise them. We're able to recommend them.
Totally agree.

Something I also learned during the past few weeks.

Only because you have certain standards doesn't mean you have to push yours to be able to over-deliver.

As you said, working with your usual standards is already over-delivering compared to most others.

c)
One funny technique that can jump-start your career or take it to the next level. Oversell and then do your best to deliver (you just might!)

We'll never be ready for things we didn't try yet. And some of those things no one's gonna let you try unless you're ready.

So how do you ever do it then?

Overselling is one way.

But if one keeps in mind ethics, honesty and benefit of everyone involved, is "overselling" even possible?


There are ways...


- Promising fantastic results, on condition of not asking for a dime if you don't deliver.
(so - you would take the risk of working for nothing)

- Making the pitch look the best it can (while staying 100% truthful and non-misleading),
and addressing project requirements in such a way that client sees you really UNDERSTOOD them,
and addressed THEIR wishes and concerns with genuine CARE and in a well thought out way.

Not sure if this sounds too vague, but this thing alone is able to make you preferred over others,
even when your prospective client knows full well that others are more competent or better than you in whatever way.
100% agreed.

This is also your best bet to constantly keep learning.

- Who already has your clients? A badass insight from Andy. If you're working with someone who already has your clients (and maybe you have theirs too) it's a WIN WIN WIN.

Ok, so doctors already know this...and they'll recommend you a lab to get your tests done in. And the lab will recommend you a doctor.
Car mechanics know this...they'll send you to a certain store to buy parts. And if you ask at the store if they know of a good mechanic, "oddly", they will know a few:)
(at least that's how it goes where I live)
This is golden advice.

Made me change my target group completely.

- The style that works for you is the one you own already.

We swim through this life somehow already. So chances are we know some tips and tricks to get by, even if we're not aware of it or don't have it laid out as a system.
Maybe it would be good to reflect on one self and see HOW we're actually doing what we're doing.

It's an eye opening experience to actually do this.

It's also eye opening to look at things you are NOT satisfied with or successful with in life and see HOW were you going about these things,
and then deciding to change.

So as an addition to Andy's insight, I'd say:

The style that works for you is the one you own already, which is not to say you can't improve it.
And for things that are not working out, you should also look at the style you own already in those kind of things. And consider changing your ways,
which is way easier said than done.
Not sure if I get this 100%.

So you mean that since I am a graphic designer, I should not go out and learn programming...

...OR...

...I should go out and learn programming but approach it from a graphic designer's perspective, not a programmer's perspective?

So what you are saying is that it is not about what you do but how you do it, right?

And the how should reflect your personality, your style?

As my additional feedback - sometimes the biggest weakness becomes the biggest strength. Many body building and martial arts champions were
bullied and inspired by that very thing to excel at becoming great fighters or big guys with respectable muscle mass.
Yes.

This thinking also helps when thinking about who you are today.

For me, it is what I already hinted at earlier: some business owners see graphic design as a "nice-to-have". Because, graphic designers usually don't know how to sell their services and show how it will HELP a business become more successful.

So, be a kick-a$$ graphic designer, learn how to sell and bring real results for real people is turning "your biggest weakness" into "your biggest strength".

- Find someone to pay you to do what you love doing - get paid. Andy heard this from some experienced Irish gent, and I like it:)
What you love doing or what you are good at.

Sometimes these things are different.

- First making the smaller sale which measurably increases the clients profit, might be a great precursor for further relationship
and getting even bigger deals from them.

It's easier to get someone to get a small bite, and if that bite is super super tasty, they'll wanting more without you even asking.
Or, as @Andy Black always puts it - actually get paid by the business owner's additional clients you bring in.

- A profession like designer is not niche on the internet. Plenty of them.

But it is very "niche" in your town. Or your hood (if you're in the bigger city). Now you're not "a designer". You're a
"designer in _________"

If you get out there and mingle with local business owners, it can be a great source of new opportunities.
And the better known you become for your results, the more people will come looking for you.

Now you're becoming even more niche. You're a "designer in __________ who did that great job for ________ and _________.

Not to mention that many people prefer dealing with local people they can see, hear and reach out to easily if needed.
That's the key to success.

Even better: add a specific twist to your offer and off you go.

And it's just so much easier to people to entrust someone they met and gotten a good impression of, than to go and search for
random service providers and hope for the best.
Think about how you look for something.

The last time I needed an electrician, I didn't use Google. I called friends in my neighborhood for referrals.

Same with a hairdresser.

Beats the faceless depths of the Internet every time.
 

FastNAwesome

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So you mean that since I am a graphic designer, I should not go out and learn programming...

...OR...

...I should go out and learn programming but approach it from a graphic designer's perspective, not a programmer's perspective?
(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
So what you are saying is that it is not about what you do but how you do it, right?
Actually I meant something different, unrelated to any craft. When @Andy Black said "The style that works for you is the one you own already" - the way I understood it is this:

We already have some modalities on HOW we do things. Even if we're not fully aware of them, or don't have them documented in detail.

So it may be useful to reflect back and try to deconstruct HOW we succeeded at some things, and then maybe utilize that same techniques for more success.
 

Nicoknowsbest

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Actually I meant something different, unrelated to any craft. When @Andy Black said "The style that works for you is the one you own already" - the way I understood it is this:

We already have some modalities on HOW we do things. Even if we're not fully aware of them, or don't have them documented in detail.

So it may be useful to reflect back and try to deconstruct HOW we succeeded at some things, and then maybe utilize that same techniques for more success.
Thanks for clarifying - got it and agree 100%.

The way (or style) you approach one thing you are successful at will most likely bring you a similar level of success in other fields too.

I see that especially when it comes to having a specific mindset that helps you achieve fitness and business goals.
 

Nicoknowsbest

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a)
Yes, if you undersell it's easier to overdeliver, and it may impress the client...IF you even get the gig, due to underselling yourself.
And even if you get it...let's say you impress them. It would be "fair" that now they give you higher paid gigs, right?

Maybe...but there's another thing at play - psychology. Say you sold me a kick-a$$ logo for $5. I didn't even expect that quality.
But now you want to send me the next one for $50? No thanks man. I want 10 logos for that price, actually I want 11 - bulk discount?

This is just me trying to think like a regular customer. Btw. do you even want a customer who set out to buy a logo for $5?

I can do things for FREE. But not for $5. I'm not entering a customer-service provider relationship for that amount.


By underselling and underpricing you're positioning yourself, and anchoring yourself in customers eyes as a cheap, low-end guy.
First impression "sets the stage" for future interactions.

What you deliver for $5 is now expected to cost $5. Add a zero and you look like a rip-off.
Thanks to @Fox, I discovered the following book and read it in one sitting:

https://www.freshbooks.com/ebooks/breaking-the-time-barrier

It will take you around an hour or less.

It will help you shift your mindset from punching hours to creating VALUE.

Excellent read.
 

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Bump for the graphic designers and other freelancers out there...
 

james dixon

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Design is really modern nowadays and there are many people who are into it, however is it really worth to spend your time on something which is popular but not what you really like
 
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Design is really modern nowadays and there are many people who are into it, however is it really worth to spend your time on something which is popular but not what you really like
If you're already good at graphic design but don't really like it, then consider using it as a skill to freelance and then build a business around it.

"Grow what you know."

A business owner would likely move away from the coal-face eventually anyway, and only stay there because he wants to and can.



If you're asking "should you learn graphic design because it's popular, but you don't really like it?" ... then I'd say no. Why spend time learning something you don't like so you'd spend time doing that thing you don't like? Surely there's ways of adding value out there that suit you better?

Surely one of the points of becoming a (successful) business owner is to allow you the freedom to do the things you like and are good at while outsourcing the rest?

Product-Founder fit is important too.


This interview (and people's comments) might help you:
 

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