My design business is "crazy busy" right now - smack-dab in the middle of all the news about the horrible U.S. economy. I could currently be working night and day - everyday. In fact, I'm now scheduling projects at least a month out on the calendar.
Such has been the case with each economic downturn (wouldn't want to use the word "recession," would I?) since I started working officially as an independent designer in the fall of 1980. What's going on?
Historically, each time we've experienced a "speed bump" in the economy throughout my 30-year career, the following have taken place:
1.) Corporate downsizing of design departments
Often, with a bad economy comes the laying off of in-house design staff. However, there's still design work to be done. With limited, or no, in-house design support the corporation or larger business finds the need to outsource their design efforts. That's when the emails and phone calls start coming in to my home-based studio.
2.) Smart businesses respond with marketing smarts
Smart businesses will have been marketing regularly prior to a "slowdown." With business perhaps a bit slower than usual, these companies will take advantage of the time to pump up marketing and promotion efforts. Often those projects will include a new, or updated business identity - something that may have been put off during periods of busier day-to-day operations.
3.) Laid off workers suddenly become entrepreneurs
Individuals who have lost their traditional jobs, and have become frustrated with a job search, may suddenly take the leap into entrepreneurship. With the cushion of a good severance package, or a "rainy day fund," it may be time for creation of one's own business. If a person can't find a job, creating their own is often a realistic possibility - and new businesses need the services of graphic designers.
4.) Somewhat secure employees plan for the future
Many people, although they feel their traditional job my be secure for the present, are planning for that future leap from the corporate cubicle world. It's often easier to be getting everything together for a future business while the monthly bills are being covered with a salary. I work with many such clients. However, the numbers do seem to rise in uncertain economic times.
The potential clients mentioned in the above scenarios contact me as a result of my own self-promotion efforts. I am marketing and promoting myself ALL the time - even when I am my busiest - to guarantee that work will constantly be coming in the door. I always encourage other creative types to be doing the same. Too many designers wait until no new work is at hand before starting to market their talent. In doing so, the panic of no projects will add a sense of desperation and stress to the quest for new contract work.
© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives