5 lessons i've learned from year one
If it wasn't already obvious, I've just marked one year of running a creative business. I've loved every minute, and have learned so much in this first year. Here are just five lessons of the most important!
There have been a lot of projects where I have had to push myself into something new - often learning a new skill there and then. It might be designing the front end of a website, trying my hand at lettering or taking up a photo shoot. At the time, it would have been quite easy to say no but I challenged myself to say yes. Back then I was probably saying yes to the extra bit of money (hello!), but I guess now I can see how important it was to learn those new skills and eventually find more work from them later on.
On the flip-side it's just as important to know when to say NO. Some clients can take the piss with their requests... Usually trying to get more hours out of you for free. As hard as it may be, I've learned to say NO more.
I have learned that creative-types love an opportunity to work together. More than that, they love to get something for free (don't we all?). Skill sharing is pretty much an exchange of skills rather than money. Here's an example - At one time I noticed my portfolio was beginning to fill up more with music work, and less branding. So to break that up I offered to brand my friend's blog, in exchange for an interview post to share my work with a new audience. This is one example of many where everybody wins, and we don't have to dirty ourselves with money!
BE NICE TO ERR-BODY!
One of the big things I've learned this year is the importance of being nice to people. It probably goes without saying, but I mean go out of your way to help people, or when a client is being ridiculous don't swear at them in an email (as hard as that may be sometimes!). It could be as simple as some advice on how to best use their new logo, or how they could improve their SEO but I believe that in business it'll all come back and I've found that this year that's just been the case.
Most of new work I get is because I've been referred from another past client. I don't think it's just because of good work, but also because I'm trying to go that extra mile to help them out.
I've had a lot of headaches which could have been easily avoided by asking a lot of questions from the beginning. I've found that a lot of clients think they know what they want, but as we get into the project they actually don't. Being a detective and finding out as much as possible before hand has helped avoid these stumbling blocks down the road.
Building relationships with the people you work and connect with is so key to success. For example, I've got a great relationship with my printers, so I feel like I can be cheeky and ask them for a short turnaround when I'm desperate. I'm always thankful for that and make sure they know it.
The same goes for some of the musicians I have worked with. The Emerald Armada were the first, and I've got loads of work from them directly and also from them referring me on. They know I'll go out of my way to give them the best stuff and I know they'll plug me, and refer me on to the other bands they get to play with.
Most new projects come out of the good relationships I have with the people I work with.