February 3, 2010 3

If Design Isn’t Profitable, Then It’s Art.

By in Design, Web Design

Henrik Fiskar once said this quote, and while it isn’t always true, it is an excellent observation nonetheless. The freedom of art and creativity is exhilarating to say the least, but design is off in a separate tangent — one that solves business problems, and earns a hefty profit for doing so.

Still, though, many designers can have trouble making a profit for their business, unless somehow already notable or working for a large firm. In today’s post we’ll look at the two main lessons for increasing the profit of any design related business, and on how to create an unlimited profit in a sometimes seemingly low-income world.

“Bread and Butter Work” vs. “Starving Artist”

Sure, many of us either freelance or run our own design businesses because we wanted to start earning the creative freedom we deserved, so sometimes falling back on the type of work we don’t like to do seems humiliating. Where’s the pride in falling into the same old rut, just on your own? Well a better question one might ask themselves is: What’s the pride in becoming a starving artist? Nothing.

The point is, sometimes bread and butter work is necessary; sometimes the type of work we absolutely despise, yet know how to do, is necessary — at least until we become more established.

Lesson #1: Don’t be too picky from the start; always accept boring, relentless work over starving yourself.  In order to run a profitable design business, one needs to start with bread and butter work. It is impossible to run a design business doing only what you love from the start. But don’t worry, that time will come where we finally do feel as though we’re running our own design business, instead of the clients running us. It just takes some reputation, some optimization, and time.

Two Bank Accounts Can Be Simpler

Depending on how business is going, our paychecks can alter dramatically. Anyone who runs a design business, whether it is freelance or firm can find themselves feasting one month and in famine the next. Implying that one delivers a decent marketing strategy and has a semi-regular flow of client work, where does all that dough go?

The beauty of working at a company rather than owning a company is that we get paid a paycheck, and can spend it in any way we like or need to. When owning a business, though, your ‘paychecks’ need to be reinvested constantly in that business, as well as take on your personal expenses. Among all the added expenses, earning and spending can get a bit confusing.

That’s why two bank accounts can help. If you are not to the stage of two bank accounts yet, consider using a PayPal account as a business account, and a savings/checking account as your personal account. Give yourself a genuine paycheck every two weeks worth a certain amount, and make sure it is no more, no less.

This can do two things:

  • It can prevent one from going on a shopping spree, or thinking their more financially secure than they actually are after a big project is completed.  A steady paycheck perceives a more accurate financial situation.
  • Creates a separate business budget, which can be more accurately watched when it comes to business expenses and gains.

Lesson #2: Organization with any small business’s finances is essential. While above we stated that two bank accounts can be beneficial, others have other methods for organizing their finances. Budgeting all in one account but dividing it into categories, using the envelope method, or balancing their budget weekly from both a personal and business standpoint.

About: Kayla Knight:
Hello, my name is Kayla Knight, and I am a web designer and developer based in Iowa, Usa. I focus on user-centric, beautiful, simple, and functional web design. You can check out my portfolio here: KaylaKnight.com.

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3 Responses to “If Design Isn’t Profitable, Then It’s Art.”

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  2. Andrew says:

    great article! very informative for freelancers.

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    Bernice Franklin