Have you ever “brought the thunder”, hussled or “crushed it”? If you have, you’ll know Gary Vaynerchuk, the wine business guru who has exploded into the internet and social media world over the last couple of years. If you are an awesome designer but struggling to find new clients or build your business, he’s an excellent source of advice and motivation.

Gary’s personal style is hugely excitable and passionate, he’s like what Australia’s Crocodile Hunter would have been if he was hunting $10 bottles of Merlot instead of crocs. At Campaign Monitor we’ve watched Gary’s videos and talks and been impressed with the way he approaches marketing and branding. Although his delivery is a bit different to ours, his advice and direction really match the way we like to work.

So it was awesome to get the chance recently to ask Gary a question. We wanted to know what he would say to web designers about building up their business. Watch the short video below to hear his advice. You may already know the theory, but hearing it from someone who has actually done it, and who is a consumer of design services is really valuable.

That’s quite a challenge, to dedicate a good chunk of your day to doing things which are not the actual design work. If you’ve got your passive income happening, you might be able to spend a bit more time listening to what people are looking for, and working out how you can provide it.

Gary also dropped in an extra special plea on behalf of Fix Outlook:

All the design chops in the world won’t help you if you can’t get the attention of client’s who need them. If you need to get pumped up about building your brand and your business, definitely check out Gary’s new book, Crush It! which focuses on turning your passion into real money.

  • David

    Man – think that guy has had far too much coffee!

  • Billee D.

    Awesome advice, Gary. And I think that Gary is right; you need to take a proactive approach to finding new work. The work is not going to just come to you. And to use your analogy, CM; it is a lot like hunting. In fact, it is hunting. :-)

  • Simon Garlick

    Be prepared for the fact that any small-business client you meet probably thinks of web designers as unprofessional cowboys. Every client I’ve ever had in that sector was previously burnt by some “WEB DSIGNAR!!1” who promised them the earth, bashed out a disaster in Word and exported it as HTML, and then disappeared into the sunset taking a cheque, and all the hosting and domain passwords with him.

    Be prepared for the client to not only be indifferent but to actively dislike what you do. You have to manage expectations very carefully. Be professional. Be reassuring. Offer tangible, measurable expectations and meet them. And for god’s sake, be realistic in your pricing. Don’t charge the client $1000 for a CMS when you decided to go with Drupal or WordPress. Don’t charge them for five hours of time to “set up Google Analytics”.

  • Ros Hodgekiss

    Hi Simon, many thanks for your response, it’s a great reality-check. To refer back to what Gary said about the power of referrals and social media, developing your reputation online and otherwise can go a long way to remove the potential aversion that a client may have to hiring a designer. A portfolio is certainly one thing, but what is more powerful is a good word put in – let it be praise towards your professional work ethic on a previous project, or personally authoring an informative blog.

    Your comments on managing expectations are excellent – not only for clients, but for keeping your own hair as a designer.

  • Koen Mertens

    I do agree with Gary but I suppose it’s a bit narrow. In my opinion the most important thing to do, or rather have, is a goal and a plan. And then of course stick to that plan.

    We recently wanted more visibility on the local market. We’ve been doing business all over our (rather small) country but few companies in our immediate region knew we existed. So we had a goal and worked out a plan to spread our brand locally (showing our faces at local business gatherings, placing brochures where needed, doing a local contest, etcetera…).

    Maybe that’s not your goal and you probably need a different plan but the point is you need to focus on your goal and analyze how you can get there.
    Stick with that plan, don’t get discouraged too soon and always remember that quality and hard work will pay off in the long run.

    In addition some extra tips for freelancers that may be interesting:
    – know your prospect/client: https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/10/identifying-and-dealing-with-different-types-of-clients/ (smashingmagazine.com contains lots of tips for designers)
    – look for concrete projects: https://99designs.com.au/ or http://jobs.cssmania.com

  • Ros Hodgekiss

    Hi Koen, thank you for presenting your experience – I totally agree that planning and a long-term vision are great foundations for anyone involved in the design trade.

    Also, regarding the SmashingMagazine.com link – the “family friend” clients are indeed the most perilous. Unfortunately, there’s rarely a happy medium between social (“I’ll do this as a favour”) and market norms. Have you, or others, pulled off this relationship successfully?

  • Jamie McCue

    You can’t help but get hooked on his energy and passion for what he loves. His message is pretty basic but he comes across as very motivating. Plus the world could use more web celebrities to rally for web standards.

  • Nikc

    Dude, put that camera on a tripod and get some light in the room.

  • Jeff Teschke

    Gary’s great at thinking one step ahead of most people. It’s clear that most businesses (especially) have no clue how to use these new tools. We all need to break outside of our “tech circle” to educate people. We’ll all benefit in the long run.

  • Jeff Teschke

    Gary’s great at thinking one step ahead of most people. It’s clear that most businesses (especially) have no clue how to use these new tools. We all need to break outside of our “tech circle” to educate people. We’ll all benefit in the long run.

  • Craig

    I agree with Gary about spending on UI- but also you need a Social media strategy. Don’t rely on deisgners to handle the architecture of a community, SMPR or Social CRM strategies. These are all scalable components of your web strategy- not web design or development. You can scale from Joomla or WP into cloud based services that level the playing field for SME’s. Adding sales drivers to your video campaigns is a good example of how agencies help.

    Remember, 20% is technology, 80% is strategy (including creative) in social media marketing!

  • Craig

    Sorry- I forgot my link…

  • Howard Stein

    Why Design? You can get business cards by the carton for two dollars, your neighbor’s kid will get a website up for you, or the hosting companies will offer a design service, and logo companies offer ten thousand or more from which to choose.
    So why pick a designer and why go the extra mile to find a really good designer?

    Because if you don’t brand yourself, other people will. That means you relinquish control. That means the herd decides who you are. And most of the herd only have an opinion, not expertise. Opinions are cheap but expertise is not. It takes experience and maturity in any field to produce value, and the value of good design has been proved over and over again to be an invaluable asset to an individual or company.

  • elizabeth

    this video is impossible to watch!
    it keeps stopping

  • Joanna Bradshaw

    Certainly enlightening – I didn’t think of digging through the twitter trenches (being a twitter virgin n’all). Well, I’ve worked quite a few vintages in the wine business and then some, albeit sporadically, in the design business, and from my experience as, erm, a human, I can add that you can twitter and facebook and jangle your web presence as much as you want, but don’t overlook the most obvious thing: You.

    The most successful communicators (and no, I’m not counting myself here, I’m too busy being a social media tourist) seem to be the ones who stick their necks out, who make themselves vulnerable, who bear all. Those who let us normal folk see a little bit of…what…soul? You’ve just got to have your heart in it. Be yourself, don’t be the Wizard of Oz.

  • Gary

    Entrepeneurs should also consider spending money on a hairbrush a nice suit.

  • Peter Sinclair

    Hey Gary – love your book – and am in the social media trenches…having a ball, finding business and growing my personal brand. You’re a legend!

  • Darrell WIlson

    I’ve been following Gary on Twitter and his blog for a while and yes his advice on leveraging social media for exposure is starting to seem fairly obvious (though he has been leading the way for quite a while now – the rest of us are just starting to catch up!) – BUT – the key thing about him is how motivational his manner is. His character and language – ie. action oriented, funny, lack of boring businesses jargon – really inspire you to get moving and do it.

    The book is great for a jolt of motivation when you need it!

  • Joel Hughes

    Gary is still pure, bottled enthusiasm. Have known about him for a while and always feel exhausted when I watch him speak!


  • Shona Lepis

    Great post! I just ordered the book. I run a small one person design studio so these are some great tips! I love twitter and after watching this I setup a few saved searches in hootsuite.com for people looking for design services.

    I also work with a lot of small business and I’m always trying to explain the power of social media and I will certainly pass on these tips.


  • Sue

    Im going to apply Gary’s advice to my oh so small business and watch it grow.

  • Sue

    great advice, I have been trying to convince my boss to do this for some time

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