Today, I want to talk to you guys about why I gave up my career as a graphic designer full-time, and now I’m running a company instead.
If you’re a graphic designer who wants to grow a business and work for yourself, you need to change your mindset. I know firsthand how hard that change is, because I’ve had to go through this since 2007, and it hasn’t been as easy of a transition as I thought it would be.
Why I Quit
I started my graphic design and print shop in 2007. By 2010, I had taken on over 3,000 clients. And during that time, I got so overwhelmed with work that I had to start bringing in other people to help me.
One of the guys that bought into my company was pretty mean. He told me that I needed to stop doing graphic design and start doing sales, because that’s what I was good at. I took that very personally, because a lot of my identity was wrapped up in being a graphic designer.
I know a lot of my fellow creatives feel the same way. You might feel discouraged by having to bring in other people to do the work that you think you should be doing, but you can only produce so much in a day.
It’s so important to understand that your income, your quality of life, and the value of your work is tied to the people you work with. That’s why you have to let those insecurities go.
I eventually brought in a graphic designer who was just as talented as me, if not better. I realized that would help my income go up. I could only do so many jobs a day, and by bringing him in, we were able to work at a higher level.
I realized then that hiring more people was only going to boost my income. That’s what I was most driven to do. In the big picture, it was also about helping my clients — I was bringing in people who were even more talented and could do better work than me alone. Yes, they had to pay a little bit more, but they were getting a better quality of work.
This was a win-win situation for everybody. I was able to let go, have more fun, and enjoy the income of being a graphic designer.
Today, I’m not really doing any graphic design. I get to pick some projects that are personal to me, and allocate the rest to my staff. That has helped my income and given me a lot of freedom.
That leads me to my first point: income. By bringing in other graphic designers and giving yourself the role of a creative director, you’re going to increase your income. It will also increase the income of the people on your team.
I have hit record numbers in sales last year, because I brought in so many talented graphic designers. By doing that, I increased my income, grew the company’s income, and produced more jobs. I’m actually helping the economy grow, not just putting all the money back in my own pocket.
The next important factor is volume. If you’re doing a high volume of work by yourself, you’re going to burn yourself out. And that burnout is very, very real.
Think of the volume of work that you can produce if you bring in one more graphic designer. If I can produce 100 graphic design projects in a month, and then I bring in another graphic designer, that doubles the amount of volume of work that I can produce in a month. It takes some work off of my plate, so I don’t have to stay up working crazy hours.
The volume of work also increases your income. You’ll be able to charge more, because you’re delivering better quality work to your customers. I’m going to hit record numbers this year in volume and in sales because of how many people we have on our team.
I’ve encouraged everybody on my team to start thinking in the same way. I want them to be entrepreneurial, not just employees. My team should be creative directors of their department — whether it’s web design or motion graphics.
We can find young, hungry people who are just starting off in their career. They might have just finished college, or they might be self-taught. Maybe they’re on Upwork or Freelancer, or working online somewhere. You can find them at colleges and internship programs. They’re hungry, and they want to get the experience and build a portfolio.
If you bring these people in for $12, $15, or even $20 an hour, and you can pay your people better. Then the client gets a better end result. You won’t ever under-deliver to your client.
I don’t know how many times throughout the years I’ve found myself overwhelmed with projects. Because I needed to make an income, I took on too many projects at once. I was constantly behind on each project, and that’s not the way I wanted it to be. Creating more volume with a bigger staff has changed that for me.
Better Quality Of Life
Now, let’s talk about quality of life. As a graphic designer, you deserve a good quality of life. And that doesn’t mean making a ridiculous amount of money. Money is great, but that’s not the only thing we’re after, right?
Your priorities will change once you start bringing in new people, and your quality of life will improve. You won’t be working 24-hour shifts to catch up, like I did through so many years of my career.
Don’t get me wrong: I wasn’t miserable through all those times, but it wasn’t good for me. I enjoy doing it so much that I couldn’t go to sleep. I had so much work on my plate, and I was making great money as a graphic designer, so I wanted to keep going. But the truth is, that’s not good for me, my company, or my clients.
I wanted a better quality of life for myself, and a higher ROI for my clients. By bringing in more great talent to my team, I was able to do both of those things. Now that I’ve transitioned from being a graphic designer to a marketer and trainer, I can actually help other people make more money.
Remember, you’re not just doing this for yourself. You’re doing it for all the people around you: your customers, your team, your business, and even your family. Your family deserves to spend time with you, too!
Let Go Of Control!
So, if you want to have a better quality of life and a better career, you’ve got to let go of that control. You can still be a creative director and manage the overall vision for your design projects, but you don’t need to be the one doing the actual graphics work. Just take on the projects that are meaningful to you.
As a freelancer, I just want you to start changing your thinking. I want to challenge you to let go of the control of being a graphic designer.
That’s what I got for you today. Please send this to another creator if you enjoyed it. Thank you guys for watching. God bless. And as always, keep looking up.