Graphic designerTo launch your career in web or graphic design, first you learn as much as you can about design, technology, and marketing trends. Then you network with local businesses and ask them if you can do small projects at a discounted rate so you can gain some experience and build your portfolio.

But becoming a designer is different than running a successful web and graphic design business. So what’s the secret?

The answer applies to any small business that wants to succeed: Answer your phone and emails.

Frustrated at a computerThat may sound like a no-brainer, but let me tell you a story that reveals how many web and graphic designers just don’t get it.

A new customer recently came to me because he needs a website for his family’s business. I asked if he had an existing site we could look at, and he said no.

His web designer disappeared five years ago and the site was now offline. He hadn’t gotten a response despite leaving several messages for the designer. How many business leads did he miss out on because he couldn’t get a call back from his designer? Sadly, this is common. I’m estimating here, but probably 1/3 or more of my customers have come to me with a similar story. Here are just a few…

“The person who designed my logo won’t return my calls and I need my logo in a different format.”

“My web designer stopped answering my emails and phone calls and I don’t have control over my domain name or site anymore!”

“I have a graphic designer, but I don’t like working with her because I have to email or call her 7 times before I get a response.”

But now for my favorite flaky designer story:

Hitchhiker“I think my web designer moved out of the country because I haven’t been able to get a hold of her for a couple of years.”

Just a few weeks later I learned from a friend that the same web designer was still living in town and had recently joined a local business networking group to find more business, but she didn’t feel like answering her customer’s messages.

I’m grateful to those unreliable designers. In every instance, I got a new customer, and most of them have been with me for years now. I didn’t have to do any heavy lifting to get that business – I simply had to show up and answer my phone and emails.

Needless to say, I’m thrilled to have them as customers and they’re relieved to have a web and graphic designer who knows how to communicate.

Do you know someone who’s fed up with their web or graphic designer? Send them my way and you know I’ll call or email them back.

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