Pruning my services garden – doing better by doing less

Published by Nela Dunato on at 13:50 in Personal, Thoughts, Business, Graphic design

Pruning my services garden - doing better by doing less

A while ago I've read a great article called Clearing the pipes, on revising our business practices, and getting rid of what doesn't work for us so we can do better. That's something I try to do continuously, and rarely in a public way. That article came up at a time when I was considering some changes in my business, and it gave me the encouragement I've needed to pull the trigger.

At the end of every year, I take the time to review different aspects of my business and run the numbers, such as:

  • Which services brought in the most money.
  • Which services didn't bring in much money.
  • Which types of projects I've enjoyed the most.
  • How my clients found me, and how our collaboration has progressed over time.

Of course, that's not the only thing I do. As numbers-nerdy as I am, my heart is that of a touchy-feely tree-hugging artist, and I pay attention to my inner guidance (which usually comes up as a strong feeling that what I've been doing until now must stop immediately).

Over the years, I've offered a wide range of services, since I've had the experience in a lot of different areas of design. I thought these services complemented each other nicely, so I didn't want to take them off my site. However, some of them weren't very popular among new clients anyway, and I've finally caved into all those recommendations to focus on one main expertise. It's not easy to focus as a multi-passionate person. I've been postponing if since forever, and I'm still not tightly focused in the real sense of the word, but I'm making progress.

No more “full service”

If you check out my services page, you'll notice these are the options currently present:

  • Logo & brand identity design
  • Website design
  • Art licensing

Here's what's changed.

Consulting is temporarily down

I'll be restructuring the consulting service and raising the price to reflect the higher value offered through it. At the moment my schedule is packed with teaching, so I expect consulting to be back for a limited time during the summer.

EDIT: The restructured brand strategy consulting was back up, then down again as I was focusing on my book. In the future, it will be offered on a limited time basis, depending on my teaching and speaking schedule.

Custom illustration is gone

I want to focus on developing my own art ideas, and so from now on, the only way to use my art in publications is to buy the rights for one of my existing works. (I might make an exception for a really interesting project, but don't hold your breath.)

Graphic design for print is gone

Graphic design for print or digital media (ebooks, presentations etc.) has been off the table for new clients for a while now, but now I no longer advertise that this option even exists.

Website design comes with a full logo & branding package

The biggest change to my approach is that I no longer offer standalone website design service to new clients. If you want me to design your website, first we need to set the foundations together and create your brand guidelines. I don't work with logos and style guides that someone else has designed. My past experiences with using “inherited” brands were very frustrating, so I don't want to do that anymore.

My favorite projects are those where we make a fresh start with your brand identity, and do everything properly. Each following step is a natural deepening of your brand, as opposed to a tug-o-war that comes from employing designers of radically different philosophies to attempt to craft a coherent experience.

My energy is best spent on developing brands for service based businesses and organizations, and that's what I want to be doing the majority of the time. I want to do a smaller number of larger projects per year and get to know my clients better, so I can offer each of them even more value than I was able to offer before.

I've also included a content strategy consulting service to the larger website package. I’ve found that clients desperately need this when creating a brand new website with zero prior content to work with. To see how all this works, check out my new Website design page that outlines my entire process.

What this means for you

If you're an existing client, don't worry. You'll keep getting my support in the form we've been doing so far. I might occasionally do a standalone website design that comes in through a referral, but I don't want to advertise it publicly, and it's my intention to move away from it completely by 2017. (EDIT 2018: Standalone website design is no longer available, even for referrals.)

I’ll vet every new client carefully to evaluate the potential for successful long-term collaboration, and the only routes through which new clients can get into a working relationship with me is via logo & brand design (or consulting, which then leads to brand design).

This approach has been working very well for me last year, and most of my websites were a part of a larger branding project, so I only see the benefits in it – both for my clients, and myself.

If you see the benefits of this approach as well, and wish to work with a well-rounded design professional through a process that sets up your brand from the ground up and implements it into a wide range of media, let me know. We'll set up a Skype chat to figure out what your needs are, and how the two of us will get along.

For those that need another specialized service that isn't brand design, I'm sure you'll find plenty of web and print designers out there who would happily take on your project.

We might not be ideal collaboration partners, but we can still be friends :)


Nela Dunato

About Nela Dunato

Artist, brand designer, teacher, and writer. Author of the book “The Human Centered Brand”. Owner of a boutique branding & design consultancy that helps experienced service-based businesses impress their dream clients.

On this blog I write about art, design, creativity, business, productivity and marketing, and share my creative process and tips. Read more about me...

Your comments

  • Chichi

    2018-10-02 at 18:30

    I always think that it's good to narrow down. When I started freelancing last year, I was a general freelancer and the jack of all trades. Now I've learned that that's not effective, and there are certain things that I don't enjoy. Several months later, I niched down and now I like having a speciality!


  • Nela

    2018-10-03 at 18:57

    Right on Chichi!
    We learn so much as we go, and the offerings we start with often need to evolve. Having a specialty is good! It took me a while to find mine and while it's still rather broad, it's way more narrow than what I used to do.

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