How To Offer A Free Graphic Design Service And Still Make A Healthy Living

As a graphic designer of some 20+ years, it’s fair to say the industry has changed quite drastically within the space of just a few years. Long gone are the days of extended liquid lunch meetings with clients and seeing marketing budgets that would extend to photo-shoots in some far-off exotic destination. These days small businesses and start-up companies are living hand-to-mouth and aren’t going to pay through the nose for a graphic design service, which they perceive, rightly or wrongly, isn’t going to give them value for money.

So what’s to be done? The graphic designer needs to make some money to live off of and expand their business while the client wants to pay as little as possible on marketing to enable them to succeed. The answer lies in the old adage ‘giving the customer what they want’ in this case – a quality graphic design service for free. Here we offer a few simple ideas you can implement without too much trouble and get genuine business flowing through to you in next to no time…

Free design consultation

This almost goes without saying but there are still some graphic design agencies who think charging prospective new clients to come and visit their premises to discuss a possible upcoming design project, is acceptable. Of course, there are many more designers who wouldn’t dream of charging for what is very often an informal discussion between two parties with no obligation on either part. However, even if it’s a meeting that lasts half an hour or less, this is still taking a bite out of your working day/hourly design rate. So if you’re not going to charge the would be client for your time and advice, make sure you at least let them know it and publicise the fact on your website or marketing leaflets that you offer a complimentary, no obligation, initial design consultation. It will set the client at ease who might otherwise be thinking the longer the meeting goes on the bigger the bill they’ll be getting in the post. Throw in a cup of coffee and biscuit and bobs your uncle – how can they refuse to go with you?

Free graphic design offer

Now, this may go against many designers instincts, devaluing the graphic design service across the board, however, if you look at the bigger picture, it starts to make perfect sense. In much the same way as a retail store will entice shoppers in with a loss leader item in the shop window at a throwaway price, the canny graphic designer can also offer a free/low cost design offer to try and land the bigger job round the corner. For example, if you’ve just designed a spanking new logo for a business, the hard work and time spent tweaking and refining it has been done so why not offer a free stationery set design as part of the logo design package? It’s not going to stretch the designer much more in terms of time to knock up a letterhead, compliment slip and business card and you can always offer to print them if you offer a design and print service which you will then be able to recoup costwise for the small additional time you’ve spent.

Another quality design service which always goes down well is to offer any brochure design customers a free digital page flipping version of the brochure. There are a quite a few online companies these days such as YUDU that will take your designed pdf brochures or newsletters and convert them quickly into lovely dynamic e-brochures that can be embedded to websites or emailed as links. Offer this as an additional free service to your clients and more often than not it will be this part of the service they’re most interested in, forgetting any effort that goes into the actual brochure designing.

Free royalty free images

Any designer worth their salt will have accrued over time a veritable arsenal of vector graphics, extra large format photos and interesting background textures that can be invaluable when laying out marketing brochures, leaflets and newsletters. These days it’s fairly easy for anyone to go online and pull off some thumbnails pictures to illustrate any document. However, once you explain to your customers that printing one of their tiny website gifs at full page resolution is going to result in a blurry/pixelated abomination, then hopefully they’ll see the valuable service you can provide by offering a free selection of royalty free images from your own unique collection. Particularly if it means saving them shelling out to buy large format images from some of the online image libraries, which don’t always come cheap.

Free dummy brochure design

For any substantial brochure design or regular newsletter design job on the horizon, there’s no better way of proving your worth to a potential client than by offering to put together a sample spread or page, free of charge, stressing that there’s no obligation on their part to take things further if they’re not happy. Yes, every now and again you’ll find yourself working for a would be customer only to find them going cold on you once the dummy design has been submitted for them to see. More often than not though, if you are confident of your design abilities, you’ll find that clients having gone some way down the road with you and built up some rapport will usually be keen to take things through to fruition, meaning that couple of hours spent dummying up a page, pays off big-time in the long run. Plus if you secure your pdfs with a password or watermark protection you can ensure that they can’t be used without your permission if nothing comes from it.

Following these simple procedures, can make all the difference in securing regular graphic design jobs in these tough times.

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