I love all of Peter Bowerman's work, so when he told me he had a new book, I asked him to talk to the FundsforWriters readers about it. He graciously obliged. Enjoy! ~Hope
Is Your Writing Career Profitable “By Design”?
Five Tips to Tapping the Writer/Designer Partnership Goldmine
I’m working on yet another project with one of my favorite graphic design partners. Our client has plenty of money, and could certainly hire a high-end agency if they wanted, but they like us and LOVE the work we do for them. AND they know the superior results they get from us come at a fraction of what an agency would charge.
On countless occasions during my 18-year career, one of my design partners and I have gotten in the door of company that, up till that point, had been dropping some serious cash on all manner of Big Bucks Agency (or design firm, marketing company, etc.). We come in, deliver work at least as good, and often far better than they’d been getting from the agency, and at far lower rates – thanks to our respective low overheads.
Most importantly, as a team able to take a project from start to finish (i.e., from first meeting to final handoff of printed product; and it’s the only two-person team that can pull that off), we’re not offering that client “services,” we’re offering a solution. And clients want solutions – answers to their pressing challenges.
This solo designer has put many tens of thousands of dollars in my pocket over the years – far more than any of my other clients. As she and another designer I’m connected to find work for themselves, they often find work for me. It’s been a rare month during the past nearly two decades, when one or two jobs didn’t come to me from these folks. And I did little beyond answering my phone to get that work.
Okay, not entirely true. I bring a lot to the table: my writing has made their work better, their portfolio stronger and their clients happier – all of which has boosted their referrals and repeat business.
What does it take to nurture your own “golden goose” designer? Here are my five top strategies for crafting your own profitable partnerships with designers.
1) Be the Right Writer: The #1 piece of advice and an umbrella concept over all the others that follow. Who’s the “right writer”? Someone who’s ultra-reliable, dependable, professional, easy to work with, understands marketing fundamentals (i.e., audience, features/benefits and USP – Unique Selling Proposition; none of which is difficult to learn!), and most importantly, someone whose writing is creative, engaging and effective in achieving the client’s objectives.
2) Be Persistent – Finding a designer who’s established, busy and talented, and who doesn’t already have solid copywriting resources in place, isn’t a snap. But, if they’re open to talking to you, try to get your foot in the door and let your serious writing chops move you to the top of their “go-to” list. And know that even if they do have writing resources in place (likely), everything changes eventually. So, keep looking!
3) Get in On the Ground Floor: Some of the most promising design partners are folks with plenty of design-firm experience who are about to go solo (or recently have). Their skills are proven, but they may not have locked in their preferred writers yet. So, get to know talented staff designers or ferret out newly solo practitioners. Sell them on the value of teaming and being that “solution” for clients, and you’ll get their attention. This was the profile of both of my primary designers when I first met them.
4) Have Multiples: Remember, most of the work a designer lands won’t need an outside writer (i.e., client has their own copywriter, or insists on doing it themself), so try to establish multiple partnerships in order to have several bird-dogs scoping out work for you (even if you’re not at the top of their list quite yet). Again, things always change, so be waiting in the wings, do good work, and keep in touch.
5) Come Bearing Gigs: Quickest way to get a designer’s attention (and to move to the top of their “preferred writer” list) is to call them with a writing job you’ve landed that needs design work. But to generate the ongoing job flow to YOU, again, you’ve got to be that “right writer.” And when you are, in my experience, reciprocity isn’t even expected! Just delivering superior writing and being “count-on-able” is enough.
So, if you’re looking for a bona fide “working-smarter-not-harder” strategy that can truly be the gift that keeps on giving, make those design connections. And they’re everywhere. Assuming you’re in a decent sized city (and even if you’re not: geography has pretty much become a non-issue in our field), just Google “Graphic Designers – (your city)” for starters. Happy hunting!
Have you built any partnerships with designers?
If so, how did you go about putting them together initially?
And how have they worked out for you?
If they’ve been lucrative, what have you found to be the expectations from the designer?
Any other comments on your experience with this strategy?
He chronicled his self-publishing success (60,000 copies of his books in print and a full-time living for nine-plus years) in the award-winning 2007 release, The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to Turn One Book into a Full-Time Living. www.wellfedsp.com.