It’s a new year, and like most people, I’m glad 2015 is back in 2015. My business grew tremendously in 2015. Growth is not always roses and sunshine, and it forced me to take a hard look at some of my processes and my business foundation. I finished the brand audit last week, and this week marks the beginning of growing forward. Last week, I started my first custom project of the year. For the first time since I started my business, I am completely mixing up my process for custom work.
Limited Number of Projects
This year, I will only be taking on 12 custom full work projects. Since I launched almost a year and a half ago, I completed 68 fully custom projects. So, twelve is a big shift. I am only taking on one full branding project at a time. For the client, this approach guarantees that they are my central focus. However, the customer and I have to adhere to a set timeline requirements.
Set Timeline | Holding Clients Accountable
Since I’m only taking on 12 custom projects, this approach allows for four weeks for each project. At first, I was skeptical setting a rigorous timeline for the project. At the end of the day, I believe completing custom design project in 4 weeks is the best for the client: a shorter design process is less of a time commitment for my clients; therefore, they can focus on growing their brand instead of making design decisions.
This strict timeline also requires that I manage client expectations from the beginning and hold clients accountable for providing me with the require materials. I book each project at least a month in advance. After the customer meeting (6-8 weeks before the project starts), I outline the project homework needs along with the project contract and timeline. During the 6-8 weeks before the project begins, I check in with the client every week or every other week to see how the homework is going, if they have any questions, etc. When the project starts, I have everything I need. The client also has a thorough understanding of the who, what, when, where, and how of their brand – an essential component of creating a visual brand identity!
Let’s say the client fails to have all the assets to me at the start date? Well, they will forfeit their deposit. If the customer cannot make this timeline, then the project is over. Harsh? Maybe for most. However, this approach weeds through the type of clients I want to work with, and it ensures that the project follows the timeline I outlined above. From the very beginning of our client interaction, I express this requirement. If a potential client does not think they can meet this requirement, they are not a good fit for the project package. The blog shop packages would be more inline with their needs.
Even though I am committing to a four-week timeline, I have added assets to my Brand Identity + Web Design Package. The process of three rounds of revisions for the logo and website still exist! In the Brand Identity + Web Design Package, the client receives logos, social media, blog post templates, two pieces of print collateral, launch graphics, address labels, branding guideline AND a custom website design. This package is priority booking, meaning I schedule these projects before any others. I just recently added a few examples of these projects to the portfolio: The Looking Glass, Heartbeet Kitchen, Green Valley Kitchen, Jill Alberts Jewelry, and Fashion Matters Chicago. I also added Murdoch and Little Sister (branding only projects).
Then, if I’m not launching any info products or blog resources that month, I will take on 1-2 smaller projects. These would be branding or development only projects. One of my goals for 2016 is to take on more development only projects (on the side). I would like to partner with more designers to develop sites.
Difference from The Blog Shop
The Blog Shop is not customized anywhere near the same extent as these projects. Blog Shop orders are filled as they come in, and the turn around time for them is no more than a week! I often get inquiries from people who want the blog shop price for a custom project! I have updated the blog shop packages. I’m currently only offering one option for a custom blog header – in the Lily package, but I have updated the premade header options to reflect better my aesthetic. Anyone can purchase a premade header (no need to buy a theme), and as I add more branding products into the blog shop, customers than can use the premade resources to create a cohesive brand experience at a fraction of the cost.
Interested in a Custom Branding + Web Design?
Make 2016 the year you overhaul your brand and give it that truly one-of-kind visual identity it deserves. This week is the last week I will be booking for February 1 project. I’ve received several inquiries in the past week for spots, if you are interested in reserving a spot for March, April, May, or June, check out my services page, and email the branding questionnaire to firstname.lastname@example.org.