Pruning my services garden – doing better by doing less

Published by Nela Dunato on in Business, Graphic design, Personal, Thoughts

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 listened to all those recommendations to focus on one main expertise. It’s not easy to focus as a multi-passionate person. I’ve been postponing it for so long, and I’m still not tightly focused in the real sense of the word, but I’m making progress.

If you check out my services page, you’ll notice that I no longer advertise separate services, but a progression of branding as a journey:

  1. Brand strategy
  2. Logo & brand identity design
  3. WordPress website design
  4. Continued design collaboration

Here’s what’s changed.

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.)

Miscellaneous graphic design services are gone

Graphic design for print and digital media has been off the table for new clients for a while now. I used to do one-off flyers, brochures, even just business cards, and that’s no longer available. Only repeat clients (who I have previously designed logo and branding for) can order additional graphic design services.

Website design is available only for branding clients

The biggest change to my approach is that I no longer offer website design services to new clients. If you want me to design your website, first we need to set the foundations together and create your brand identity. I don’t work with logos and brand style guides that someone else has designed, and I won’t work without them, either.

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 designing 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 content strategy consulting to my website services. I’ve found that clients desperately need this when creating a brand new website with no content to work with.

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’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 brand strategy and brand identity design.

This approach has been working very well for me last year. Most of the websites I made 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 video call to figure out what your needs are, and how the two of us will get along.

Learn more about how I work

For those that need another specialized service that isn’t brand identity 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...

Some blog articles contain affiliate links to products on Amazon. I’ll get paid a few cents if you buy something using my link, and there’s no extra charge to you.

2 responses to “Pruning my services garden – doing better by doing less”

  1. 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!


  2. 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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