I wish I had a dime for every time I had a conversation with somebody who wanted to show their work to the world, but was holding back because of some lame excuse.
Usually, I ask if they have a website and the answer is some variation of:
- “It’s still under construction. I’ll show it when it’s done.”
- “I’m working on getting a logo done.”
- “I’m doing a rebranding.”
The problem is that this goes on and on for weeks or months. People keep tweaking the fonts on their website, mulling over variations of the logo, agonizing over a color scheme or some such.
Sometimes they tell me they aren’t ready to contact prospective clients because they haven’t ordered their business cards yet.
Meanwhile, other people put up a simple website, with a few galleries, their name in a nice font in the way of a logo, an about page, and a contact page, and they start getting clients.
Their websites certainly won’t win any design awards, but who cares? The truth is that, for the most part, clients don’t care much about the design of your website, as long as it’s fast, usable, and not a complete eyesore.
Very few people care about business cards at all.
And now, while all your website shows is an “under construction” graphic on its homepage, they get work and start refining their initial version. Now that they’ve got something visible, they start working on the copy, to make it more effective at converting visitors into clients. Let me tell you that good copy is much better at this than getting the kerning of the logo perfectly right.
In the end, it’s all a matter of mindset. You can either adopt the “good enough” mindset, or the perfectionist mindset. Adopting the latter would be a mistake, but putting out something that is good enough and stopping there would be an equally grave mistake.
The trick is to produce something that is good enough and then keep iterating until it gets really really good. It’s a process of continuous improvement, but you do it live, in front of your audience.
Don’t be afraid that people will think you’re an amateur if your logo isn’t perfect. Most of them don’t care anyway, but most of all you can always perfect it later. Guess what? Nobody will remember your old logo, if you show them a new, better one.
“Here’s a simple test: Ask a few people to name a logo they like. With very few exceptions, people will choose a logo that’s associated with a brand they admire. That’s because what makes a good logo is a good brand, not the other way around.”
– Seth Godin
Here are a few practical suggestions to get you started on the right foot. I’m not affiliated with any of those companies, just a happy customer, now or in the past.
Create a website using SquareSpace. Their plans start at $144/year and include a custom domain name. This is important, because you want a domain like myname.com, not myname.squarespace.com. SquareSpace sites are very easy to set up, no technical skills required, and their templates look truly professional.
In time, you can think of migrating to a more powerful platform, like WordPress. The nice thing is that SquareSpace lets you export your website’s content in a format that can be imported into WordPress. I’ve used that when migrating websites from the former to the latter and it works just fine.
While WordPress provides many more features and customization options, you should start with something simpler that can be up and running in a matter of hours.
If you, like me, are completely deficient in the design department, get a logo done on fiverr.com. Designs start as low as $5 and you can get a decent logo for about $20. If you want something fancier, you might get a better one from 99designs.com, but prices start at about $250. Again, get something quick and possibly cheap, then iterate and refine later.
If you think you must have business cards, get a stack made from some place like moo.com. Make something simple, with your logo on one side, your name and contact information on the other. Black font on white background or whatever color combination works with your logo. Do not put photos on one side of the card: you’ll waste time deciding what photos to use, you’ll want to change them once you have better photos, it’s not a sign of distinction anymore, because everybody does that, and nobody really cares. These days, you have better chances to stand out with a minimal design.
Looking for more business advice? Check out my Simple Marketing Strategies For Photographers series.