Business tips for creative freelancers & consultants

What does it take for a creative person or a consultant to become a successful business owner? Here are the business lessons I’ve learned since I started freelancing.


3 ways service based businesses can specialize

3 ways service based businesses can specialize

If your market is saturated by competitors, and you can tell you’re losing clients to other (perhaps cheaper) businesses, you need to stand out in a meaningful way. While it may seem counterintuitive that aiming for a smaller market segment would bring in more business, it actually works because it gives you an edge over generalist competitors. Read more...

Can great branding really help you earn more money?

Can great branding really help you earn more money?

Branding can be a significant financial investment and as savvy small business owners we need to ask ourselves: is it worth it? Will we actually receive enough of a financial benefit to justify that cost? In this article I explain how branding can encourage clients to see our business as a better choice, and share an exercise to help you see where you may be losing clients. Read more...

Fact-checking 13 MLM myths about business

Fact-checking 13 MLM myths about business

I'm tired of seeing misleading claims that multi-level marketing companies are spreading about business, so I want to raise awareness of how damaging those myths are. Starting a small business from scratch is many times more likely to lead to profits than joining an MLM, and the small business ecosystem is way more supportive than any MLM team. Read more...

How to get clients to see you as an expert

How to get clients to see you as an expert

How can service based business owners convince clients to hire us, instead of someone else? One of the most persuasive ways is to claim an expertise in a narrow field. In this article I’ll explain what it takes to be an expert, and how to demonstrate your expertise to your clients. Read more...

How to stand out through exceptional client service

How to stand out through exceptional client service

Creatives and consultants try to stand out from their peers by claiming to have rare skills and specialized knowledge, but that is only one part of the professional service equation. How we package, explain, and deliver our skills and knowledge makes a difference between the average consultant and a highly reputable consultant. Here's how to blow your clients' minds with professionalism and expertise that shoots beyond their expectations. Read more...

Which brand identity design assets does your business really need

Which brand identity design assets does your business really need?

Brand identity design is rarely just about creating the logo and brand style guide. Every brand design project I work on involves at least a few additional graphics. But which of those graphics do you need? Many business owners are stumped by this question because they may not even know what options exist. My hope is that this article helps you clarify your individual needs. Read more...

Nela's ultimate list of freelancing tips

Nela’s ultimate list of 34 freelancing tips

I started freelancing when I was 19 years old, and for the past 7 years I've been a full-time freelance brand identity designer. There are many lessons I learned in that time that I wish I knew when I got started, but at least others can benefit from this experience. Here's my list of 34 tips that will help you avoid the common pitfalls of freelancing. Read more...

Client journey map workshop

Creative professionals: design your client process

Imagine there was one important thing that you could do that would result in better client satisfaction, higher productivity, attracting more ideal clients, more money, and less stress for you—would you do it? Who wouldn't, right? This magical-sounding method is designing your very own signature client process. In this article I’ll explain why I believe that any creative consultant would benefit from it, and how to get started if you don't have a process yet. Read more...

How young designers benefit from volunteering

How young designers benefit from volunteering

I often get asked by young, inexperienced designers how to find their first client. My answer is always: find a cause or a non-profit that aligns with your values and your interests, and offer to volunteer. Unless clients are already seeking you out, you need to put in more hours to improve your skills and build a portfolio that shows what you're capable of. Read more...

Do I need to register a trademark

Do I need to register a trademark with my logo and business name?

Selecting the perfect business name is a difficult process, and there’s nothing more demotivating than learning someone else has already registered your chosen name. Once you’ve found a name that is available and appropriate for your use, it’s a good idea to protect that name (and the logo graphic) so that your company is the only one that can use it. That’s what trademarks are for. Read more...

How and why to sell accountability?

How & why to sell accountability?

Sometimes what people really need is not your expertise or your superior knowledge—all they need is someone to hold the time and space for them to show up. If you’re struggling with what to offer to your clients at this time, think about what “accountability” might look like for them. Read more...

The Ramp and the Ladder - 2 methods for improving client experience

The Ramp and the Ladder – 2 methods for improving client experience

Our responsibility as business owners is to make purchasing easy for our dream clients. Of course we want our clients to be happy! On the other hand, you don’t want to make it too easy for people to hire you, because you want to make sure that only the right clients get through your sales process. Read how making things easier, or purposely more difficult on prospective clients—what I call the Ramp and the Ladder—can be used to improve your client process. Read more...

Rebranding 101 - Why and how to update your existing brand

Rebranding 101: Why & how to update your existing brand

Whenever designers create a brand for an organization, we want it to be long-lasting. What’s the point of doing it if you’re going to scrap it in a year or two? The challenge here is that in order to create a long-lasting brand, the information designers and brand strategists are working with has to be accurate and future-proof. Unfortunately, new businesses often base the information they give designers on lots of assumptions, which may or may not prove to be correct in a couple of years time. Businesses grow and evolve, and a brand may get outdated even if you did everything “right” the first time. Read more...

How do I know what I'm buying? – Logo design and spec work

How do I know what I’m buying? – Logo design & spec work

I’m fully aware of the risks my clients take when working with me. I used to think I should be offering money-back guarantees, endless revisions, or doing exactly what they tell me to do to make sure they’re happy. Thankfully, I learned quite a bit over the years and I no longer think that. I do one revision within the scope of the project, and only offer a refund in case I cancel the project. I know where the real value of my work lies, and I want to share these thoughts with you today. Read more...

My journey of self-publishing a non-fiction book, part 1: Motivation, planning and writing

My journey of self-publishing a non-fiction book, part 1: Motivation, planning & writing

It wasn’t easy to create a book, and it took way longer than I thought it would. In this series of articles I’ll talk about the whole process, and why I made certain decisions along the way. It’s not intended as advice, but I hope it provides some insight in case you want to self-publish a book of your own. In the first part I cover: why write a book in the first place, how to decide on a topic, how to find the time to write, and the behind-the-scenes of my writing process. Read more...

Real friends pay full price

Real friends pay full price

If you own a business or do creative work for a living, it’s very likely that some (or a lot) of your clients are friends and family. That’s great, right? However, some of your friends and family might think they’re entitled to a discount just because they know you. My stance on this is that friends and family should pay the full price like everyone else, and in this post I explain why that is. Read more...