Published on by Joel Milne
This line of thinking got me to wondering, if it is true that the landscape is unfriendly for designers and other creative types such as writers, what can be done about it? On an individual basis there is always room for those with exceptional skills to charge a high rate. But what about the many quality designers who find their earnings continually pushed lower as budgets shrink and alternatives like crowd-sourcing spring up?
Here are my top tips for designers to remain competitive and keep their earnings up as well as find new opportunities in this economy:
- Be exceptional. Learn what the highest caliber designers are doing and strive to equal or better their skills. As in most industries, the top 5-10% have much higher earnings than all the rest.
- Scale services to meet market needs. Very few businesses have the budget for high-end design and competition at the highest price points is fierce. Look at what businesses, especially start-ups really need. Many need good quality on a fairly tight budget. Use innovation to scale your services to fit that type of need.
- Reuse and recycle. Design industry is guilty of truly awful amounts of waste. How many partially finished pieces of work are sitting idly on hard drives all over the world? How many hours are spent reinventing the wheel to create a fully original solution for a problem that has already been solved? Learn to improve and adapt instead of reinventing. Make some use out of everything you produce.
- Avoid crowd-source and spec-work. Don't fall into the trap of working for free. These systems exist only because there are designers willing to serve them. Don't let your support to it! Put the time you might have put into crowd-sourcing to learn a new technique, or to approach a potential client.
- Think products. Find ways to turn what you create into a product rather than a service. For instance, is logo design a service or a product? If you are able to communicate clearly what you provide for a given price, specify terms, and market your offering as a package, then it has shifted from a service to a product.