Interview with a Logo DesignerBy R.O.B On February 9, 2011 Under Interviews, Running Online Business
Welcome to Part 7 of the RunningOnlineBusiness.com Interview Series. It is projects like these that I feel truly have the ability to inspire and motivate people to invest the time and effort into taking their businesses to the top. Interviews are a brilliant way to provide yourself with a deeper understanding of how others approach online business. Today, I met with Tom, a highly qualified logo designer and head of a successful graphic design company. In this interview he shares his story and an array of valuable tips regarding online business, customer service, and how to make money online.
Welcome! Thank you for being a part of this interview. Would you like to introduce yourself?
Hey, My name’s Tom, owner of CoreLogo.com, which produces high quality logos designed for web use!
What sort of work do you currently do online? What products/services do you offer?
I’m involved in a developing a few content sites, run CoreLogo, and I also own a local web design agency which targets businesses to help develop their online infrastructure. At the moment my web design company takes up the bulk of my time.
A growing number of people are interested in making money online. What was it that initially sparked your interest in doing so? What was your motivation to keep it up? Could you estimate how long you have been producing an online income?
I actually used to work as a tree surgeon until illness set in. Back in 2007 I was diagnosed with Crohns Disease. This practically stopped physical work being an option for me, so I was forced to look elsewhere. Given my past history in design and a few other areas, I put my head towards working out just how to make money online. My motivation is quite simple, this is my job and it pays for everything. The Crohns Disease in a strange sort of way also drives me on, with constant flare up’s of the condition and having to fight it back into remission only make my drive stronger. I’ve been making money since 2007, it first started with content driven blogs, brining in AdSence revenue. Nothing major, but it opened my eyes to what can be done. Then I moved onto providing services.
Since you are involved in graphic design, which is a field that requires a lot of skill and talent, how were you able to refine your skills in order to make them profitable? Did you participate in any classes or training?
The training is constant. To keep on top of the game you need to be reading industry blogs day in, day out. I have very little formal training with the bulk being self taught. Apart from a few odd jobs I used to do for local companies a few years back, mainly working for printers and such, mocking up leaflet designs and flyers. I can’t stress how important it is to keep on top of current trends. The only way to do this is to make sure your reading the news sources which matter, smashing magazine for example is a great recourse for web design.
When you originally started CoreLogo did you have a large amount of initial expenses (training, software, advertising, etc.)? At what point did you begin to receive a significant profit?
Corelogo cost around $350 to set up. I already had the hardware in place, the only setup costs involved were the hosting, web design and initial advertising. Corelogo really took off after I managed to get an advert placed on the SEOBook forums; it really showed the potential for the service. Soon after the advert was placed, 2 or 3 orders started to come in per day. At $80 per logo, that was a solid $160 a day in revenue. Corelogo picks up work from people who recommend the service. I went through a period of spending $40-50 daily on AdSence to drum up even more work. But for various reasons it never really worked out and ended up as lost cash.
What’s in your toolbox? Are there any programs in particular with which you enjoy working? Is there anything you use that makes your work easier?
As far as graphic design goes, you’d be hard pressed to find any better programs than the Adobe Suit. I personally have CS5 Master Collection installed. The main programs I personally use being Adobe Illustrator (vector) and Photoshop for the added effects. I do also have a Wacom tablet, which I recommend any budding designers pick up, such a fantastic tool for freehand work.
What were some of your most successful projects? Most creative/unique?
It’s kind of hard to put a finger on the ‘most successful’ project. In some ways it’s almost impossible to tell which has been the best. With jobs taking around 24 hours to complete most people are in and out the door, so to speak. The best projects are the ones which result in the customer informing their contacts about our service. It’s always nice to receive an inquiry based off somebody else’s recommendation!
Have you ever had any negative experiences with clients/customers? If so, could you tell me about how you resolved them? How important would you say that customer satisfaction is in your industry?
Customer satisfaction is everything. We have a policy of 100% satisfaction. To this date after completing all the projects we have, every customer has been happy with the end result. Some customers like to use our ‘free revisions’ service to the max, but we tend to find at most 2 revisions works best before the customer accepts the design.
Has networking with other people played a role in your success?
You simply have to network. This is essential for any business to thrive. We keep in contact with old customers; we promote our services on more up market forums than say, digitalpoint. Without networking, there would be no Corelogo! We depend on the referral type of client more than anything. We have very minimal advertising, so it’s within our interest to keep customers happy.
How do you build and enhance your reputation online? How did you win the trust of your customers?
Do what you say you’re going to do. Keep everything you do at the highest possible level. It always amazes me how many people run businesses which take liberties with clients trust. If you say a product will be finished within a set time frame, make sure you hit the mark. Never fail to deliver…once failure sets in; it’s a hard thing to cut out.
Do you prefer to work independently, or with a team?
I head up a team, so I better say working as a team lol! There only so much you can do on your own, working as a team allows for a much greater pool of knowledge and experience to pull from.
Have past customers come back to you for additional work?
Yeah, it’s the main way Corelogo pulls in new customers. There really is nothing better than a customer referral.
If someone reading this has an interest in getting involved with graphical work, or online business in general, what sort of advice would you offer them? Do you have any tips that you picked up over time that you could give a newbie?
Pretty much read all the blogs on graphic design. Also, don’t expect to be charging the big numbers when you start, look at offering some cheaper logo designs (if that’s what you want to do) to get a feel for what it’s like. Then you can move upwards and onwards.
Finally yet importantly, has your business been growing, maintaining a steady pace, or declining? Do you have any plans to expand your work in the future? Any new projects coming up?
CoreLogo maintains a steady pace. There have been times when I’ve turned down work as it would just be too much to handle. We want to provide the best service possible and so we actively ensure we devote each customer the attention they desire. There are a few paths we can take. Produce more of the same, but increase the volume (keeping our prices competitive) or we look at moving into the higher end of the market which may cause our loyal customer base to disappear. I’ve not come to a decision as of yet. We have a steady stream of new projects coming in, 90% of which are logos for web use, which is our main area of expertise. I hope these answers are of use to anyone out there thinking of opening up their own service based online business. Big thanks goes to Kovich for giving me the opportunity to take part in this fantastic interview series!
Other Parts of the RunningOnlineBusiness.com Interview Series:
Part 1: Interview with a Top Online Earner
Part 2: Interview with a Successful Blackhatter
Part 3: Interview with a Motivated Online Businessman
Part 4: Interview with an Online Retailer
Part 5: Interview with a Proxy Master
Part 6: Interview with a Graphic Designer