Include a credit line in client projects
A credit line is just a small line of text giving you credit for the work you’ve done. Example: in the footer of your client’s website, include the text “Website by YourWebsite.com.” You should ask for your client’s permission to include a credit line, and this is usually negotiated before the client signs a contract.
If your work is excellent, this link should send visitors your way who are interested in hiring you! Even if the original client never hires you again, that link is sending traffic your way, and people who click on the link have already been impressed with your design skills displayed on the client’s website.
Sell your unused work
Let’s say a client hires you to create a logo for his company, and you come up with 3-5 good concepts. The client chooses one, and the rest are forever entombed on your hard drive. Why not bring in some cash by selling the unused concepts?
Brandstack.com allows you to sell logo designs, and logos typically sell for $300-$1500. This can be a great way to bring in cash on the side from work that you’ve already done.
There is some serious debate about whether selling logo concepts like this is a good practice—some valid arguments are made that it devalues the design industry. If you feel that way, you can always stick with selling more generic things like textures and other graphics at GraphicRiver.net.
You can also sell website templates and WordPress themes at ThemeForest.net. You can sell PSD templates, WordPress themes, website templates, and lots more. Authors receive commissions of 40-70%, depending on sales volume.
While most of your work cannot be reused for more than one client, certain types can be reused. For example, I recently designed a wedding invitation for a client. Within the next few months, I have several more wedding invitations to design. Once I have 5-10 wedding invitations designed, I can show them to potential customers and resell whichever design the customer likes, simply changing the names and photos. Since I am not selling to a business with competitors, and since I retain rights to the design, I can resell the design over and over.
Similar to the credit line mentioned above, referrals are simply new customers that find you through your one-time client. Referrals differ from the credit line in that they are word-of-mouth, which gives you even more credibility with potential clients.
So how can you encourage your clients to give you referrals? Here are a few quick tips:
- Just ask. Ask your clients to send their friends your way.
- Give your clients an incentive to refer you (20% discount off next project?)
- Consistently follow through and deliver excellent work, and your clients will be excited to recommend you to their friends
- Communicate quickly and clearly
- Go the extra mile. Impress your clients with your excellent customer service.
- If you would like to learn more, you can read more on how to get referrals here.
An additional tip from the editor:
Create passive income
Leighton has made some great suggestions on keeping cash flowing as a designer. I would also like to add the tip of creating passive income. Passive income essentially means that you create something that can be sold over and over again. While many design services are a one-time thing (web site design, logo design, etc) there are many things you can do to gain perpetual income with little or no extra work (comparatively speaking). Leighton eludes to these possibilities is his section titled “Reuse work”. Here are a few more ideas for creating perpetual passive income for designers:
- Write and sell an eBook
- Design a flash, wordpress, or HTML template
- Create and sell premium screencast tutorials
- Write for blogs that pay you per pageview
While the design industry doesn’t tend to be one with a lot of possibilities for passive income, be creative. You’ll find a way to do it.