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I haven't been on here in awhile. But I'm looking for help anyone might be able to give. I have a business plan written up. Have for a while now. However I know it needs a lot of work. I have tried to contact SCORES and it seems nobody is in my area offering help. I have in the past been in email contact with mentors from SCORES, but at the time I didn't have a business plan. Now those contacts aren't available. 

In a nut shell I want to be an art department to businesses who do not have one or businesses who need help with their work load.

I'd be open to people who may have "niche" ideas as well. I'm an illustrator as well as a graphic designer. I have a love for drawing portraits or doing paintings, but haven't had much time to keep up on that. Thanks for letting me vent a bit. 

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Hi Jason,

I know lots of capable business owners who need help with artwork and your niche sounds quite doable.  Would you be willing to post your business plan for folks here to critique?

Jason,

Try the sbdc. They gave me a lot of marketing help and business plan help.

Hi Jason,

I am not a graphic designer but I have a friend who is.  His name is Jay Thatcher.  Check out his web site at:

www.magneticverb.com  He moving in a fresh and new direction.  Jay and his web site may have some ideas for you.

Dennis King

Hey Jason,

In my opinion if you are a solopreneur or very small company, you don't need a formal business plan unless you are looking to obtain external financing from investors or banks. Oftentimes, it's just more time and effort that is needed for you to have a solid blueprint for launching your business.

You're definitely on to something by targeting businesses without art departments and I think targeting business that offer services which include graphic design is a great idea, because as you said you can get them to outsource the workload to you. One caveat however is that in a lot of cases you'll be competing with other freelance designers who offer services via elance or odesk and have unusually competitive rates.

You'll probably want to get a lot more specific about who you want to serve and who you can best serve to avoid ending up in a situation where you're viewed as a commodity. For example, is there a specific area in graphic design in which you excel and enjoy most? Could you be an expert in hand-drawn graphics for digital use? Or are you a custom logo guru?

The little things can help you set yourself apart from other designers while also paving a path to a clearer target market.

I created this one page business plan for my blog subscribers that you might find useful in putting together a more coherent plan of action for your business: The One-Page Business Plan

Hope it's helpful. Good luck, Jason!

Marlee,  I love that business plan.  It actually is perfect for helping me with the specs for hiring a copywriter.  The focus on who is my ideal customer, what problems I solve for them, what products I offer is really what I need to focus on.

Thanks for posting the link.

Hi, Jason,

I would agree with others here that a formal, extensive business plan is probably too much for what you are looking to do right now. I would spend the time identifying a picture of your ideal customer. This is the first part of a video series I did a few months ago surrounding a business model. I've learned that the more you can really understand your ideal customer - how they consume information, how they buy things, etc. - the better you can create a marketing plan to get noticed. 

I've had difficulty with SCORE in the past as well. They mean well, but many of the people in those organizations are retired and are used to ideas that aren't as cutting edge. Your business idea is a very sound one, especially in this age of specialization and people wanting to avoid fixed employee costs. Have you considered specializing in a particular industry or type/size of business? If you've enjoyed working with a specific industry in the past, that may be a good place to start. You can become the go-to designer in that industry and then branch out into other industries.

Dallon

Thanks for the info guys. I'll try and take a look at some of the links you guys shared. Sorry for the delayed response. I'm also in full time online college. I have an associates degree in commercial arts, but now am working for a bachelors in computer animation. I don't like my current job and current degree I got in 2003 isn't really helping me with a better job. 

I think maybe trying to have my own business and school might be too much. But it would be a dream to be able to do my work at home and do school. 

@Marlee
Thanks for the advice. I think that's one of my problems. I'm like a jack of all trades. I have a focus somewhat in hand drawn / painted illustration. With this new degree I'm working on, they focus a lot on digital hand drawing and painting, so that will help some in that aspect. I've always drawn portraits, but I just don't see that working out much. You mentioned Elance, I've actually got some work on there, but not much. I'm actually against those type of sites... being I'm going against people in other countries, of which the dollar most likely is worth more than their national monies... thus they gain a lot while I lose on what I'm actually worth. Which is probably why I don't get a lot of work on there. But I do try to match the "average" bidding.

@Chris
I'll message you with my email. I'd be interested in doing the work for you. I also do some shirt designs for a client. And my last job I was at for 5 years was in production art for an apparel company. If you need to see samples I can email them to you. But current stuff(not shirts or screen print) is at my website www.JEIllustration.com.

@Dallon
I sent you my email address. I'll check out the video. I did have a contact with SCORES, but once they added me on facebook and saw I wasn't a raging liberal... but rather a Christian "conservative"... well they ignored me really fast. I have had an email from another guy, but he's from San Diego and emailed me what seemed to be a copy and paste he gives to people. And mention I look local for mentorship since he's in San Diego. But from most responses here, maybe I shouldn't focus so much on the business plan. I currently do business as my own name. I thought about registering a business name I came up with years ago... maybe registering with the local chamber of commerce. 

Jason, a business plan is not an end all, be all, but going through the process will help you see different areas of your potential business that you may not have thought of.

I am just now putting up some of my business and computer courses online and you are welcome to the business plan one at:

http://moscertificationtraining.com/learn/course/view.php?id=4

Login as a Guest and go through it at your leisure.  The other courses are in the works, so excuse the dust.

Here is the thing, you just need to get there. Begin to expose yourself, gain experience in the areas you desire to work, and level up. BPs are really only needed if seeking financing from investors or bankers. 

The only type of "plans" I would create right now is a marketing and sales plan.

These need to be simple starting out.

  1. what niche(s) do you want to target
  2. where do those people hang out (in person, online, what journals do they read) - Start putting yourself in these places via point 4 below.
  3. Determine how many clients you need to have to make your bills
  4. What is your contact/prospect to Quailified Lead conversion rate
  5. What is your lead to client/customer conversation rate
  6. Plug those into the revenue/number of clients you need to pay bills, etc. This will tell you how many people you need to expose yourself to each week
  7. begin "exposing" yourself http://vandelaydesign.com/blog/business/gain-exposure/
  8. rinse and repeat

Now, there are a lot of between the line items above, but you can figure those out once you have some cash flow. For now, start putting yourself out there. 

P.S. send me a portfolio please

Jason Ansley
www.ansleyRDgroup.com
www.NPOdev.org
www.randyRCplanes.com 

I am an art director and I have three in-house artists, but recently, to shorten turnaround times, I've been utilizing freelance artists, so here is my advice on how to get out there based on my own personal experience:

Network, network, network!

I currently have 9 freelancers I work with. We are a highly specialized market and it takes someone willing to learn a little bit about how we do things. I have a recent hire and there was one other candidate that interviewed for the position and then didn't want it. I reached out to her and asked if she was interested in freelance work and she was. I have 3 other freelancers simply because I asked her if she knew anyone else who would be interested. So be sure to network with other artists and designers.

I gained 3 freelancers from eLance.com, so utilizing that might be an option.

One freelancer came from Facebook. He was an acquaintance and got laid off from his job and posted about it. I messaged him right then and was able to get him some work.

One freelancer was a friend of a friend.

One freelancer is the previous Art Director.

In other words, just get the word out about what you're doing. Think about going to local Chamber of Commerce networking events. People go with what they know a lot of times, so if you are familiar to them, you stand a better chance of doing work for them.

While our workload is tapering off (it has a seasonal aspect to it), we are always looking for Freelancers to add to our network, so drop me a line any time!

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