I’ve been mentoring and talking with designers for the last few years – and when I survey my audience about what they struggle with most in their business, three answers pop up the most.
The most common responses?
- the fear that they don’t know enough
- the fear that they’re not credible enough to promote (and charge for!) their work
- the struggle to find clients that value their skills
The truth is, many designers worry way too much about their level of design and development skills when they really should be focusing on marketing and client relations (the way to really get new and life-long clients).
I see this way too often when I review portfolios – designers/developers place a huge focus on the tools and languages used to create sites. Your clients don’t care how you got there or created it – they just want a site/product that works and converts!
When you shift your focus away from the tech and instead focus on the client result, you’re going to see a change in the type of client you attract – and you’re going to be treated as an expert.
How to deal with imposter syndrome
One of the newsletters that popped into my inbox this week had the headline:
“everyone’s winging it” – and it’s more true than you realize.
You’re not alone in feeling overwhelmed and unprepared. I’ve been doing digital design in one way or another for 15 years, and guess what – there’s a whole heck of lot more that I don’t know about than I do. The difference now versus when I started my business eight years ago? I’ve become a lot more comfortable with the fact that I can’t know everything – and if I really want to, I can learn it (or hire it out!)
When I started my business, I remember being so stressed that my flash and actionscript skills weren’t up to par – it literally kept me up at night. I can laugh about this now – who (besides a few boutique companies) even requires those skills anymore?
This industry moves SO FAST that if you don’t keep up you get left behind…way behind. But you have to be smart about what you study and you have to work for it – you have to test, re-test, break it down and repeat. (This is why trying to decode someone else’s work is often one of the best ways to really learn web design – blindly cutting and pasting code snippets is all well and good, but really breaking down how something is put together will get you much further when you want to get creative).
Just this week someone asked me if I was worried about a website service that claims to replace web designers and I said no – because there will always be a need for designers, developers and people who can figure stuff out. (Side note: This is why I’m always testing out new frameworks and software – while I’ll be sticking with Genesis for my custom themes, I’ve been playing with Divi this week for a one-off project, and I have to say, I’m pretty impressed).
Each project, each client, each tutorial is an opportunity for you to grow and learn. If you simply do the same thing over and over, you become a one-trick pony – who can go out of date really fast.
Remember my worries about not knowing Flash? If that’s all I focused on (instead of continuing to educate myself on topics like marketing and conversion techniques) I’d have found a job working for someone else by now. My clients come back to me not because I’m the best designer or developer in the world, but because I’m always researching the best solutions to make their businesses a success.
- Focus on meeting your client’s goals – they aren’t worried about how you made it happen – they want a site that works and converts.
- Don’t stress about the technology – you can teach yourself anything if you hack away at it long enough. And Google isn’t going anywhere.
- Streamline – what did you learn on your last project that you can use on your next? How can you shorten development or design time? What can you reuse?
- Always be learning – if you stay up-to-date on the latest services, techniques and strategies. Be the go-to resource for your clients and you’ll keep them for life!