Hi all! My name is Nathan Miller and I've been an erratic member of 48Days.net for quite some time. I've dreamt of "doing my own thing" for years now but have yet to make the jump. On May 8th my boss (a county government official) lost the primary election (the other guy ran on a campaign of lies.. ironic how well that works in elections.) and I am in the unique position where I need to phase out of my position by December 31st. Right now I'm stuck somewhere between excited about the possibilities and terrified! I have a stay at home wife, and three kids with a fourth on the way (late December).
I have a degree in graphic arts and I absolutely love art and design! I've spent a few years building a website business ( www.AmbitDesign.com ) where I build custom websites for Squarespace.com users. I'm getting some traction but have yet to be really successful with it. Dallon Christensen (another 48Days.net person) has been helping me develop things but the last few projects have been very slow going and frustrating..
Anyway, for fun (and because I needed a creative outlet) I talked with a young man I know who is part owner of a nice remodeling firm in our area. They do great work but their presentation is lousy at best. I decided to re-work their logo and sort of build their marketing strategy. You can see their current branding and logo (er, rather lack of a logo) here: http://www.craftsman-design.com/
To the best of my knowledge they do not have a proper logo, and their marketing identity is really "fly by the seat of their pants". I created the following design as a proposal. I would like them to consider working with me to create a proper identity. As you can see from the attached PDF, I found all sorts of ways to incorporate a new logo into many different areas.
Honestly I'm really happy with the results, and I had a blast putting this together! In some ways I dream of working with companies on a regular basis to build up their presentation. In essence I would do what Dan Miller recommends and offer to be a dedicated designer/marketer one day a week for a company for a set fee. Looking at my budget and all of the expenses for a self employed person I figure I would need to charge $1500/month for this type of work, and would likely sign a 3, 6, or 12 month contract. This way I could work with them on an ongoing basis to really flesh out their new identity and strategy. Another option would be to offer 1 week intensives - that is, work with the company for 8 hours per day for a whole week for a set fee.
My question to you is whether this sounds like something that would work. I'm realizing I have a passion for taking a company with some fantastic product or service and tuning their identity and presentation to match. I think there is a serious need out there, so many small businesses have a great product and many small business owners are passionate about what they do. However, Microsoft Word clipart is the most advanced graphic art they have and the lack of a good presentation is really dragging them down.
I guess I'm looking for cheers or jeers on this one. I'm trying my darndest to keep my chin up and strive for what I'm passionate about, but my energy is wearing thin, I fear I'm going to settle for a pay check that will keep us comfortably at the poverty line.
Thanks for any feedback and suggestions you can provide. :)
Nathan - I love your logo work - fantastic job. I totally think that what you're saying as far as your business proposal would work, but I guess it would depend on what the market opportunities look like in your area.
Thanks Rob. :)
I live in a small town near Fort Wayne, Indiana. I'm not sure what the market could handle. My fear is I'm doing something people need, but haven't found something the WANT! Dan Miller always says you can sell things people need, but you make money by selling things they want.
I'm wondering if I should learn more about the lady who interviewed companies for them to hire her.. I wonder if a strategy like that would work.
Thanks for your input.
Nathan, I looked at both your logo and your website. I really like your designs! You're clearly talented.
For a graphic designer going freelance I would recommend checking out the sites Freelance Folder and Freelance Switch. Freelance Switch has a very active forum where you can post questions about business building, dealing with clients, design feedback, whatever ... I would join the community there as a way to learn what the common practices are and as a way to keep my "chin up". :)
I've never heard of Freelance Folder, but I'm familiar with Freelance Switch. I've browsed their articles many times for inspiration and information. I'll check them out.
Thanks again. :)
You are doing the right thing by posting here! I like the logo- I LOVE the card with the black background. Keep at it and network. If I was in a position to pay you, you'd have a customer as my tech person just delivered her third child yesterday. I've got products- some that folks love and many waiting on the back burner. As soon as the house is done I'm whipping up some soap and Quiet Doll classes and figuring out Kickstarter.
Thanks for the encouragement Vickie. :)
I had a look at your website. Looks like you're on the move too! I see exciting things in your future.. makes me want a "faith without works is dead" jar. LOL
I just had a crazy idea.. I have no idea if it will work.. I'm wondering what you think. What if I auctioned my services off. Every week the top bidder would get an "extreme business makeover". I could do the auction on eBay (or are there other options out there?) and each week the top bidder would get my attention and expertise to create a beautifully branded company.
I'd probably want to chronicle everything though. That is, whoever I work with would have to agree to let me record our conversations, display works in progress and discuss the outcome. This way it could inspire other business owners to improve their branding/marketing.
Is this nuts? I could easily see myself work for peanuts...
You had to know I'd find a way to chime in here! :)
I'd do this no more than once a year as a marketing tool. I think it's a great idea for publicity. Media outlets are looking for interesting stories like this, and you could chronicle this on a website.
What you're proposing is an excellent extension of what you're doing with your SquareSpace design. Like with the SS business, your best bet is to specialize in a particular industry or specific type of client base. Having a niche will reduce your learning curve, understand their business more effectively, and charge higher fees. This is the kind of business you can do remotely. Location is not as big of an issue with tools like Go to Meeting. You just want to avoid trying to be everything to everyone.
I sent an email to a local event/ miniture amusement park this morning. I'm going to see if I can do a "business makeover" for them as a freebie and a portfolio builder. The company is: www.PaigesCrossing.com - as you can see their marketing is UGLY! I think that website is from the mid 90's at best, LOL.
Hopefully I can create something beautiful for them that they can use. I also hope to build an audience, and get some local publicity.
Yes, I hope to do something like this along with website development. This way I have the higher profit margins (allegedly.. our last few have been a complete bust) and still have the consistency of contract work over 6-12 months.
Thanks for chiming in Dallon. :)
Yikes - that's awful!
That would be an awesome project to undertake for publicity. The before and after shots could be stunning since I know the work you do. There are so many businesses like this that would need this type of help for their own marketing. I may even need something like that myself as I build my review course.
Just off the top of my head, I can think of several industries that could use help like this. All of these industries are "low-tech" and would not have this type of help readily apparent.
Here's just one example of a CPA firm that could use some help. I have several friends that work at this location. The site just isn't that exciting. When CPA firms are fighting hard for business, every little bit helps. Plus, CPA firms would be able to spend the money. They are not afraid to spend on marketing, but they just need to know the work will get done well. You've proven you can do that.
Quick update. Paiges Crossing called me back today and I have a meeting with them tomorrow. I think I'm going to do a (free) "extreme business makeover" for them! I think I could do some really cool things for this little company. It would help them out (they would actually have a marketing strategy) and I would have something to showcase.
If I get lucky I can build some local publicity around this whole thing. If all goes as planned I'm going to talk with the Chamber of Commerce and a few local blogs about this project. Maybe even a tv station or two..
Do you have any ideas on how I can get local publicity doing a project like this?
Because of this thread I have resurrected my old blog and made some changes. I think I'm going to outline my goal and showcase my work on here. Hopefully I'll be able to use this to drum up some work, test a few new ideas, or possibly use it as an extended resume for finding a job.
If you'd like to check it out the URL is: nathanmiller.squarespace.com