Last year, I did a post discussing the opening year of business entitled : Year One: Growth & Learning through Crowdsourcing where I went over the initial problems and successes of the Freelance Logo Design world. This year I thought I’d do the same with a brief review of 2012.
This was a good year in the growth of Inkbot Design. Where 2011 was all about developing the portfolio and gaining clients, 2012’s focus was upon growth and increased recognition within the local area of Belfast.
Early on, it’s natural that you are willing to take on any project that someone is willing to trust you with, often pro bono or at a rate the industry would consider ‘low’. In 2012, the amount of quote requests and projects in general was doubled from the year before, both in numbers and budgets, which is an excellent improvement in any case. Part of the reason, if not primarily, was the hiring of two specialist freelancers to assist in aspects I wasn’t overly knowledgeable of – Search Engine Optimisation and Web Development.
Martin Wilson is a freelance Marketer and all-around SEO genius whom I got in contact with after my website drastically dropped traffic from Google. Unable to source the reason for this, I was willing to invest to get it sorted – fortunately he found the problem pretty quickly (robots.txt had blocked one of the search engine spiders and basically de-indexed the whole site from Google).
After that, the traffic started moving nicely upwards as did my page in the search results, directly gaining me several new local clients I know found my site through a web search, as supposed to referral or outreach. If you’re finding that your site isn’t doing as well as you’d expect, or simply wish to optimise it, I highly recommend getting in touch with Martin for a quote.
Shane Hudson is a Website Developer whose technical know-how boosted the loading speed and tweaks to the code to make things as efficient as possible under the hood. Again, I would highly recommend having a word with Shane if you have more ‘technical’ issues, although his site says he’s not taking on new projects until 2013. Previously, some pages on the site were taking in excess of 10 seconds to lead and people simply left altogether – speeding them up significantly improved the overall usability.
Bringing these guys on board really helped the site grow in 2012, both in functionality and making it the central hub where Inkbot Design lives. The growth in the ‘right’ traffic helped get a lot more local clients from Belfast and the UK as a whole, where previously many were from the US and Europe, you can read more about this in my post on the Advantages of working with local customers.
With an already established logo design portfolio at the start of 2012, I found more opportunities at working with clients that budgeted ‘sensibly’ rather than the seemingly cheap startups willing to risk the shoestring budget branding. Having a solid portfolio definitely allows you to justify the quotes you offer, early on it was often difficult to tell a client that they weren’t investing enough in their brand, without seeming to simply be wanting more money for the sake of it. Working in a broad range of industries, in a variety of outputs made offering additional Brand Design services much easier as the client is able to see visual examples of how they could present their image to the world.
2011 involved a lot of active outreach, looking for clients via twitter and forums as supposed to them finding me – 2012 was about reversing that time-wasting approach, allocating more time to actually ‘work’.
Toward the end of 2012, I managed to tick two items off the long-term todo list, trademarking and registering Inkbot Design as a Limited Company with Companies House to make it all official, and legal for future expansion. Totally worth the £15 admin fee if simply to protect your business name from potential copyright thieves! It’s also nice to see your name on an official document listed as the primary shareholder of Inkbot Design Ltd., even if it’s only a technicality.
So, where does the focus lie for 2013?
Well, hopefully growing the client base, with larger projects and continuing the growth of traffic on the site. Admittedly, I’ve been a little lazy with the blog section but that’s only due to setting up another logo blog called Logoholic.org where a lot of time was invested initially. Now that it’s up and running I will try to get at least one decent post a month here to keep things fresh. New Years resolution sorted!
Happy New Year from Inkbot Design and best of luck to you all in 2013!