biz ladiesLife & Business

biz ladies: how to brand your business on a budget

by Stephanie

Today’s Biz Ladies post comes from Andrea Baxter, owner of Bratface Marketing and co-founder of Smart Cookies, which was created in early 2007 after an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Bratface Marketing is a boutique marketing firm with a focus on franchise organizations, start-ups and mid-sized companies in all industries. The Smart Cookies have gone on to publish two best selling books (Random House), hosted their own TV show and more.

Andrea offers some experienced guidance and knowledge on how to brand your business on a budget. She shows us how to build a logo and a website, acquire a legal team, and grow your business . . . all on a shoestring budget! Thanks Andrea for this extremely helpful post! — Stephanie

CLICK HERE for the full post after the jump!

If there is one thing I’ve learned over the past four years as an entrepreneur it’s that you can start a business with very little money, no matter what people tell you. Obviously, it’s smart to have some money saved up, but when it comes to the money you have to spend in order to get your business up and running, the costs can be fairly minimal!

I have always loved branding, so when it came to branding my own business, I was excited and eager to get my hands dirty. I had a very specific idea in mind for my company name (Bratface Marketing) and I knew that I wanted to position my company as being a little bigger than it actually was without coming across as too corporate looking, so I was willing to make a small investment.

It is important to understand what branding really means, as often there is a misconception of its true definition. In short, branding is the specific identity of a product, service or business. This goes far beyond just creating a great logo and choosing Pantone colors. Business branding encapsulates everything the business stands for: how you market your products or services, how your staff treats customers and handles customer service issues, how your website looks and reflects the brand and how you communicate to the masses. It’s one of the most important things in which you can invest for your business, and I can show you how to do it on a shoestring budget. (Psssst . . . and it isn’t that hard!)

Logo & Identity Package

Let your creative juices flow! This is where you can have the strongest influence on your brand’s identity. And depending on whom you’re working with, it’s very important to be vocal, firm and clear about your brand’s core values, vision and goals. How do you want to represent your brand visually? What colors resonate with you and best represent the service or product you are selling? For Bratface Marketing, I wanted something cheeky, but not too cheeky because I wanted people to take me and my business seriously. I also wanted a color that I loved and one that represented the Bratface name, so red and black it was. Working with my designers was crucial to achieving the final product. Be hands-on and involved in how things are laid out on various applications (collateral, stationery, etc). When it comes to money, you don’t have to spend a fortune as many people do. I spent $400 on my entire branded package, which included my logo design, letterhead, business card design, envelopes and complete brand package (all file formats like JPEGs, Vector, Photoshop and Illustrator files) and finally, the Pantone and HTML color codes for my website. I used a small, start-up design company that I had used before and knew had reasonable prices. Plus, I like to support small businesses.

Another alternative, which I use for a lot of my clients who are rebranding, are companies like CrowdSpring or 99Designs. They are both online creative services agencies that offer logo and website design, company name development, product design and writing services. These companies are lifesavers, because the intention behind their creation was to allow smaller business to tap into a global pool of creatives and designers. Logo design can start off as cheap as $200, $300 for logo and stationery design and up to $600 for a small website design. Brilliant!


Spending a fortune on websites is another misconception within the business community. I often hear of people who receive bids from companies to create their websites for $15,000 and up (and that’s on the cheap side!) and wonder how the heck they will come up with this money. Well, you don’t have to. The web itself has created great opportunities for people to find alternative and more affordable ways to build websites. I’m not gonna lie — you should know something about websites and how to post articles and images and change content through the back-end, but it’s not as hard as you think.

Websites like WordPress and Intuit have dominated the website creation category. As the most popular option, WordPress is free and allows you to easily choose a theme or format you like. You just post and upload the info on your site and you decide how simple or complicated you want to get. Or, if you are more experienced in coding and design, you can basically redesign their platforms to look like an expensive website. Intuit costs money, but it’s still rather inexpensive, priced as low as $4.99/month! One third and final option is a cool company in Vancouver, BC, called CityMax. Not only is this company great at what they do, but they thrive at customer service and have a wickedly fun culture so everyone is happy and it shows (I should know, I’ve been to their offices). Plus, their services go beyond web design. For just $19.95/month you get a website domain (your website address), web hosting and web design, as well as features like online payments, editing capabilities and so much more! Whichever route you choose, these companies provide you with a fully functional site with tons of features you can take advantage of for very little money.


As my business has grown, there are many things I have needed help with but could not afford to pay someone for. Interns are a great way to have someone help you out on various projects for a short period of time or, if you want someone for the long haul. I found my intern through a friend who referred her to me. But I also took to the social media masses to let everyone and anyone know that I was looking. I posted an ad on my website with the full job description. Word can get out much faster and allows you to get the job done much quicker! Also, look into some of your local community colleges and technical schools. Often, students must complete an internship to earn their diploma/degree. These are unpaid internships that can last up to four months, depending on their program requirements. Plus, you can apply for an intern with very specific skills (marketing, communications, public relations, etc.). The only work you have to do is training them and providing them with feedback on their performance to their instructors.


People can spend a lot of money on traditional stationery. Luckily with everything now available online and electronically, this means you don’t have to spend a fortune on printing costs. Once I had my brand established, I was really careful as to the stationery I chose to print. Business cards were by far the most important, and this is where I spent the money, only because you need them to connect and network with people. Plus, they will always get used and you won’t waste your money having them collect dust on your bookshelf. One way to save money is to make your letterhead electronic. Have a standard shell created that you can use in a Word document with your logo and contact info on it, and just print it out on a blank piece of paper. This way you aren’t spending money on getting letterhead actually printed — it will save you a ton of money over the long term. Also, because I operate a small business, I email all of my invoices to clients, so there’s no need for printed envelopes. That is something you can revisit once the need arises and as your business grows substantially. Plus, it’s better for the environment.

In total, I spent under $200 to have 500 business cards printed. Keep in mind that when it comes to printing, the greater the quantity printed, the lower the unit costs. Often, it can be more costly to print smaller quantities.


Last but not least (but definitely the least fun), is the legal and accounting side of your business. Unfortunately, getting all of your legal work done is hard to do on the cheap as there are set fees for incorporation, trade marketing and registering. However, you can keep the costs down by being very frank and honest about your budget. Don’t be afraid to question any invoices you receive, as well. Make sure your lawyers are not spending a lot of time working on things that are not important for your business at the time. Make a list of the immediate “must haves” and read your invoices thoroughly to ensure there aren’t any miscalculated costs.

Accounting is another area where you have to spend money, but that doesn’t mean you have to go out and hire the best that money can buy. I have been able to use my bookkeeper as my accountant. She does my personal taxes every year and can also manage my business taxes. Their costs are much cheaper, and until you are an incorporated business with more complicated taxes, you can get away with using a bookkeeper in the interim.

I am always interested in hearing how other entrepreneurs have started and operated their businesses affordably, so please share your stories with me! You can email me directly at andrea@bratfacemarketing.com or you can find me on Twitter at @andreabaxter or @bratfacemrktg.

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  • I just want to give a HUGE thank you for this article, Grace, Andea & DS.

    I am disabled so spending a lot of money means I can NEVER get my biz off the ground. In my circumstances (having barely enough $$ to live on), being able to sell my wares is the only hope of bringing in cash since I am unable to work at a “real” job. Just getting my biz going is an uphill battle, so I am extremely grateful for every DIY/lowcost info I can find so that, I too, can have a piece of the entrepreneur pie.

    You who are complaining about this article are not taking other peoples circumstances into consideration! There are, I would bargin, thousands who have no other choice but to climb the biz ladder one rickety step at a time and who NEED this info.

    As for me, once I am making profit, I will probably want to find a designer, an accountant, a printer, etc whom I can sit down with face to face; I would PREFER that kind of biz integration, but if I can’t even get started, I won’t be there to use your services down the line.

    If you could stop being ‘shocked’ by this article, you could see it as a positive for your biz; this may bring people into a true biz to get started, but after profits are coming in people will WANT to have a higher quality of everything and will start looking for YOU instead of staying with a less personal, less quality mass-producer. I wonder how long those who use the mass-services stay with them after they have become successful? Any investigation been done on that?


  • Okay. I’ve been back and forth on this post for the past few hours and I’ve finally come to an actual opinion.

    I think this article points out a lot of good stuff. Sometimes you can’t afford a “real” designer and you need a logo fast. I get that. As a new business owner, I’ve been there.

    But at the risk of sounding enormously bitchy, I have NEVER seen a crowdspring logo that looks good. NEVER. This includes the author of the post (no offense! I swear, it’s totally my unprofessional opinion, it just looks cheap.)

    A really well done web design and perfectly branded logo are really important. My own site is lacking because I can’t afford to shell out for a $4,000 website (that’s usually the going rate for a good site that won’t break the bank), but I’ve seen from experience that other freelancers/small businesses who DO shell out the cash for good design see the results payoff like nobodies business.

    My advice? Don’t go for some generic logo that’s been done by someone at 99designs. I get the temptation, I really do, but you can always tell. And I would never hire a company that doesn’t have a really well done site that shows they’ve spent the cash and taken the time to really brand themselves properly.

  • Also! Sorry, one more thing. I like what Becca said about bartering. I can’t afford a massively impressive web design, but I recently bartered with a designer. She creates a kick ass website for me, I help her grow her design business by using social media. It’s win-win and has been working out extraordinarily well. Can’t wait for my new site!!

  • Marian:

    If you had read my post carefully, you would see that I had written that a local designer/small business owner designed my Bratface Logo who I was supporting – not CrowdSpring – and paid their fees that they posted. I then go on to mention that another ALTERNATIVE is to use a sight like CrowdSpring or 99Designs. Don’t forget the people who actually design logos, stationary etc on websites like CrowdSpring are still designers.

  • Oh man, I’m so sorry Andrea, I must have missed that. Totally lame and completely my bad.

    You’re right about them being designers too, I’ve just never seen a good logo come out of one of those sites. I really didn’t mean to give you a hard time, I promise! I just really think an impressive site is important – especially from experience. I know I don’t get the kind of clients that I want because my site doesn’t look professional.

    Thanks for responding, truly.

  • As a freelance writer I completey understand the designers point of view – sites like elance cause the same problems for writers that 99designs does for designers.

    However, as an industry (and an article) that’s all about BRANDING, I’d think you’d all understand Grace’s argument about establishing and arguing your unique value proposition. It’s your job as a designer (and mine as a writer) to have a brand that explains why it’s worth paying for. If you don’t like explaining it to every customer, hire a writer good enough to make clear on your site why you’re worth every penny.

    I agree it’s stupid to work for pennies and would never suggest to a designer that they work for something like 99Designs; but I also would not put down a small business who saw that as their only option for putting together a good design.

    I agree options like bartering for services are preferable, but not every small business has the connections or know-how to do that. So some fall for the “cheap” option. It’s the way of the world.

    Instead, focus your energies on converting customers who have the money but are reluctant to pay into folks who understand what you have to offer.

    I write for a B2B magazine that covers specialty retailers and they have to do the same thing WITH PHYSICAL GOODS. They can’t compete on price with mass merchandisers like Wal*Mart; so they have to offer their customers education – they have to teach their clients about the value their products offer. It’s not just the design industry – or just the writing industry – or just any one industry. It’s EVERY industry that sells ANYTHING.

    Perhaps a designer who wants to offer a “cheaper” option should hire an intern and charge clients who can’t afford their services a lower rate for their intern’s work, with the promise to oversee it – the intern gets a portfolio builder, experience (perhaps even pay if it’s a paid internship) and you can offer the client cheaper services and get them coming to you for work.

    Be creative. And realize your struggles are not unique.

  • Also, having to explain your UVP to clients is the difference between having your own company and working for an agency… if you don’t want to explain why your work is worth it, perhaps you should be working for an agency instead of yourself.

  • I totally agree with Melissa on this one, and I’d like to take it even a step further by repeating what a great business coach once told me: Yes, you can make it your job to educate potential clients on the value of your work vs the value of writers who’ll write for a penny a word. Or, you can target those who are already educated enough to know that they want top talent and what they’ll have to pay for it. Both are equally valid tactics; I think it’s just a matter of growing with your audience. As your work and expertise improve, so should the quality of the clients you’re targeting.

  • Andrea,
    Crowdsourcing sites like 99designs and crowdspsring are ruining the design industry and the future for those of us who are in school, working as freelancers or owners of small graphic design businesses. These sites disrespect us and exploit our knowledge and talent that we have all spent so much time and money developing.

    You do get what you pay for and don’t expect much from those sites. The designs are generic and hastily done. There are a lot of concept copycats and people who trace clipart so you may likely find yourself in a legal battle due to copyright infringement. There are many unethical designers on those sites so it is best to hire someone directly so you can get an understanding of their background, education, aesthetic and personality. You’ll have peace of mind knowing you spent your hard-earned money on a trusted source instead of giving it to someone who could have stolen an idea from someone else’s portfolio site. Believe it or not but it happens all the time!

    I understand many women here are on a tight budget but there are alternatives like brandstack.com and upstack. These are the ethical way to go.
    Designers on those sites do not participate in spec (FREE) work. The logos are already designed or you can easily hire a designer with the appropriate aesthetic through there or upstack where you work one-on-one and within your budget.

    Would you work for FREE each time you were trying to land a new client or project? You wouldn’t sell yourself short so why should we? As female business owners we need to do things the right way and think about the consequences of the choices we make when building and operating our companies.

    Sites like 99designs were created by men who wanted to make a quick buck because they saw an opportunity. They are exploiting so many designers who are desperate for work-it should be criminal!

    Please think about using the alternatives out there-you’ll get more value for your money, a much better experience and tailored, creative memorable solutions.

  • As someone who is starting a small business I found this site due to it’s amazing biz ladies articles. This article was put in the biz ladies section for ALL women starting a small business – not just for designers starting a small business. And they do a great job of giving advice to people like me who do on all sorts of subjects, not just design.
    Trust me when I say I have tried all sorts of ways to get some affordable design work – everything suggested here. I offered to do work (for free) with a design business to learn how to do some design work myself and they would get use of my business skills in return. When they saw my business management skills they offered me a job instead. After 70+ hours and no pay, they then told me they were too cash strapped to pay me but they wanted me to stay on. I asked if they would prefer to pay me in design. Nope. They were too busy to do that and they thought I didn’t really need the design work or the money because I had been offering my work for free, obviously I could afford to just pay for work if I could afford to work for free. So I quit. I have since tried many other designers – I have tried bartering, I have tried to students at my Uni (even offering them CASH and to be a excellent client reference!), approaching people I went to school with and offering them design work when I heard they were really strapped for cash. I have tried EVERYTHING I can think of to get some affordable design work done because I do understand the need for good design and branding. I dedicated over a year to finding some affordable work. Unfortunately I have had no luck and sadly I have come to the conclusion that designers are *really hard work*. And this post has just proved that to me even more, you guys are all up in arms and insulted when this post was just trying to help those that cannot get help from you or afford to pay your exorbitant fees.
    I have tried EVERYTHING suggested by the designers in these comments to get some design work. Now I am desperate and I will most likely have to turn to something like Design99 because as much you seem to say you are flexible I have not found this to be true at all.
    I thank Andrea and Grace for being able to look at this situation objectively. They see that there is a need for this post because people need other options. Everyone needs options and maybe you guys need to have a look at why people think your as an industries work is over priced and under rated – it is not just because of places doing things on the cheaper side. It is because you have an unrealistic idea of how important your services are in the grand scheme of things.
    Just remember many of the people you knock back will go one to have very successful businesses (without design perfection from the get go) and they will be turning to someone else to spend their big design budget with, not with you who looked down on them in the early stages of their business because they needed to put their money back into building their business and not on your big design project when they barely had their first client.
    Thank you Grace for this wonderful biz ladies series, it has been more help then you could have imagined. And thank you for staying down to earth and seeing that every situation is different and that one size does not fit all in terms of design or business. I am sorry you and Andrea are being crucified just for trying to help others. Don’t let it put you off giving real advice to those who do appreciate it. YOUR A STAR!

  • I’m a little late to this post but had to add a few thoughts I hope will be helpful to your readers. (

    I run a boutique design firm and like many of the previous designers who commented, was shocked to see a post recommending spec work and radically low prices for design here. As many others have commented, there are a lot better options for those on a really tight budget. Working with young designers (with less experience and therefore a lower rate… a great way to give a designer a start in his/her career AND get amazing quality work), templates for websites (like BluDomain), etc.

    But I felt there were a couple things that have yet to be mentioned.

    1. Fair wages
    I don’t think any professional designer commenting here took issue with the idea that there is a real need for more budget friendly design options. What we are taking issue with were the specific suggestions to use spec and/or expect RADICALLY reduced costs. When you are asking for spec work or working with a company that promises a brand for $400, someone somewhere is being taken advantage of. Ditto with unpaid interns. Designers are either not being paid at all (spec/intern) or being paid a few dollars an hour ($400 full brand package). I agree with Andrea’s statement “Business branding encapsulates everything the business stands for.” I would include in this fair treatment of vendors. We all support the efforts of Fair Trade to guarantee fair wages to those who might be taken advantage of in the global business system. This is no different. The suggestion to use these kinds of services would be like saying about jewelry design, why go to etsy and buy something unique and handmade when you can go to Walmart and buy 10 necklaces for a $1? Your brand should be strategic and unique or it does very little for you. This is a really important thing to consider when you are weighing your options to get started. Consider the real VALUE of what you are getting, not just the cost.

    2. True cost: a word of caution.
    Because I get inquiries for this kind of work, I hear A LOT of horror stories. I can’t tell you how many sad stories I have heard from potential clients who have been burned by what seemed like an amazing deal. I have had several people come to us with half finished projects or non-functioning sites. They are now in the unfortunate position of having to redo the work and what seemed like a great deal has now cost them both time (a valuable asset to a start up) and a great deal of money. I also had a client come to me after having to sue their previous (very cheap) vendor when they discovered their logo was STOLEN from a charity organization in their industry. They were lucky. They discovered this pretty early on in the process. (And they were lawyers and could sue without adding lawyer fees to their loss.) Can you imagine the irreparable damage this would have done to their business had they launched with a stolen logo?! Not to mention the cost of redoing every part of their brand? Design is like all other things in life… if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Sometimes going with merely the cheapest option is not the best business decision in the long run. You really need to weigh ALL the factors (reputation, quality, experience, value AND cost) to make the best decision overall.

    I am a HUGE fan of the business series and also a huge fan of Smart Cookies. I remember being inspired with my own business when I first read their story. I think we all know that this article was written with the best of intentions. But the points we are raising are very real issues in our industry. As Andrea mentioned, it is positive to have an open discussion, because (as shown by the post) many people outside of our industry (even those who support the design world) really don’t understand the impact of spec work and unrealistic price expectations. There is no design button on our computers. This work requires a great deal of our time, creative energy, knowledge, and skills we gain over the course of our careers. And those skills have a real value. Both to us as service providers, but also to our clients who get strategic, EFFECTIVE brands.

  • It’s so great to hear folks on the sunshiney side of the coin! I also believe that it doesn’t take a mountain of money to start a business. It’s all about being creative with your resources. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • I’m a professional photographer and often run into the same scenario as the designers in this thread (plus I’m also a design graduate from SVA). But to echo Grace’s point other photographers that service clients that cannot afford to hire me are not taking away my business. They are simply providing a solution for clients that would otherwise have none. Sure, occasionally there may be a client that can indeed afford me but chooses the cheaper photographer simply because they can get away with it. But that client does not realize my worth, so I am better off without them.

    It’s interesting to me that no one has mentioned a glaring irony here. Design Sponge is mostly articles teaching people how to DIY. Refinish the wood on that dresser, reupholster that chair, choose this color combo or shop at these online boutiques for the best wallpaper. Don’t you think there are professionals out there that can do it better than you? Don’t you think they may get upset to find countless articles teaching you how to do, for free or cheap, the very thing they specialize in? Why is it acceptable for certain professionals to get upset while at others we tell them their trade is a dying art, a lost craft? What goes around comes around my friends. The letterpress was killed by modern printing methods and yet we now see many professionals making a living doing it as it is considered high style once again. As computers and software became commonplace graphic designers and photographers sprung up everywhere. It may be the same story told a different way.

    Perhaps a little off topic but I remember how many people thought nothing of downloading music online several years ago. Now most of us realize how doing so is practically the same as taking something off the shelf in the store and hiding it in your coat as you exit. The point is that ethics, methods, aesthetics & practices in business and life in general are not always cut and dry. There is always room for debate and it is articles like this, along with the accompanying dialogue of responses, that allow us to learn and grow as a healthy society.

    Couldn’t this article, as well as the entire Biz Ladies series, be seen as hurtful to the many professional and well paid business consultant/marketing firms out there?!

    Am I the only guy that read and responded to this article?

    • M Kruter

      I’m assuming you’re not the only man who read this, but you may have been the only one that responded so far ;)

      I understand your point about DIY and groups of professionals and agree to a certain point. However, just like you pointed out in your paragraph above, there will always be people for whom buying is their preferred option. I can’t tell you how many emails I get from people who say things like “That project was fun, but where can I buy the finished version. I don’t have time for that”. I think people who want to make things will always make their own versions regardless of a project being published here.

      That said, the projects published here are primarily of a 101/Basic nature. These aren’t exactly things a “professional” has trade secrets on. Taking off veneer and learning how to hang wallpaper aren’t going to take business away from people that have a completely different, and more specialized/expert, level of skills to offer. The level of quality you’d get from say, a professional upholsterer, is always going to look cleaner and nicer than something I learn how to do with a staple gun in my house. But like you mentioned above- if I didn’t have the $1500 to redo my couch, I was never going to hire a pro anyway.

      I don’t think any group should have their skills overlooked or disregarded- we highlight (and recommend/support) talented artisans on a daily basis here, but we also try to provide resources for people who’d prefer to try to make or do things on their own because of budget or personal preference. So I don’t see it as a glaring irony so much as a continuing choice to offer things to both sides of the audience.


  • Grace, I agree with you entirely and it is my only intention to play devils advocate.

    Regarding trade secrets I refer to Chase Jarvis, the very popular photographer and information activist. He was the keynote speaker at last weeks PhotoPlus Expo in NY (http://blog.chasejarvis.com/blog/2010/11/chase-jarvis-on-social-art-keynote-address) and he discussed being the first amongst his peers to share trade secrets.

    He did not mention the short or long term effect that he has had on the industry but I feel it is the following:
    -Short term he opened the door for many who would not have broken into the field. He watered it down and now the market is becoming saturated with photographers that can do it for less.
    -But long term, as the field becomes completely saturated, the cream rises to the top. What’s important is not that it can be done for less (there is always someone willing to deliver an inferior product for lower cost) but that the clients (and peers) understand the worth of the higher priced providers. And this is true in most all industries.


  • I feel that I’m on both sides- as a small business I had to create my own website, logo, and business cards. There is no way I could pay anyone to do these things for me (either last year or even in the next few years).

    I truly wish I could because I know paying a p.r. or marketing pro would pay off, but I also don’t feel right getting an unpaid intern either. For now, I’ll have to continue doing all the design/branding myself to the best of my abilities.

    On the flip side, consumers are accustomed to cheap, mass produced furniture so I do have to convince people that custom made furniture is worthwhile. It is a constant reminder to myself of the value of my services.

    On another note, it was interesting to read through the comments. You can’t assume you will get great service because you are paying more:
    My close friends who were starting up their business last year hired a professional graphic designer…do you know that he gave them a logo they didn’t like, had nothing to do with their business, and that he had copied from a magazine? Even the pros can provide inferior products.

  • the idea and the all other statments are specialy good to think while work in any firm. i think it can apply in the personal and the official life.

  • As a pretty broke and avid DIY personality I can understand both sides of the story here. I appreciate the article and the methods pointed out because without being thrifty and making creative decisions I would not be able to bring my art and talents into the online world, but I have been marketing my things in stores and to shop owners for years with only basic business cards and brochures I designed and I have been able to make enough money to keep afloat and keep making things (which is sadly about all I care about, sharing my gifts and knowledge and not charging much more then cost for them, but that’s a fault of my own and my demographic).
    I understand the desire to have much more professional looking designs and things, but honestly you can do just fine without it as long as your products are good and you know your customers well.

    Sometimes when I walk into a store to make my sales pitch I need to be prepared with why MY products are a valuable asset and why they should buy from me. I don’t look at the things they have or could get and say, “yeah, that costs less, but it’s junk you just need to spend ten times as much on my stuff and you’ll have more sales” I really feel like that is the attitude among a lot of these graphic designers (and also a lot I have met in the real world), you know to me even saving up $200-$500 for a design seems like an outrageous expense… I could grab up a huge amount of awesome supplies and make things with that much capital. Let alone what I could do if I had $2,000-$5,000 saved up. I could finance another trip to go get my own materials, straight from the earth.

    I think if a designer wants to sell their products for thousands of dollars they should. but they should not complain when people get inferior products and lower prices. If I was able to get a $50,000 business loan, you bet I would hire professionals, to handle most of the “dirty work” in my business, but instead I choose to keep my prices low and wholesale as much as possible, thats my business plan and it’s working for me. Don’t let my business choices interfere with yours. It’s not good for anyone to engage in that type of attitude. Let your quality speak for itself.

    Sorry to make this so long, I read the article and really liked it! Then I read ALL of the comments, and I got pretty passionate about it. Thank you to the author and all the commenters, you have opened my eyes to a new perspective!

  • wow – some pretty passionate posts….this is great!

    persoanlly, i like crowdsourcing – call it what you want, but it’s a great tool for a lot of people.

    i work in marketing and help a lot of small businesses get their marketing plans started, but i’m not the most talented designed. so, if i’m working with a group that needs help cleaning up a logo or getting some new ideas, crowdsourcing is perfect.

    to the people who are upset about options….believe in what you are selling. you aren’t providing a logo, you are providing a relationship and and brand. a $100 logo isn’t going to compete, but for someone looking for a $100 logo, your “basic” branding package is way out of their league.
    if you are worried about losing your customers then you don’t believe your skill set puts you any better than the $100 version. that’s where your problem is – not that there is a $100 version.

    i like to think i have a pretty good understanding of building brands, and if i need website hosting or a fresh logo i’m not going to pay someone to do my job….i’m going to look for a customized solution for what i need. crowdsource is one option.

  • I loved the article. It has given great insight on how to build and brand your business on a budget. I have found ways to keep my costs low as a small business owner. I especially like the idea of locating an intern to assist me. Now, I’m ready for the ROI!

  • Andrea, I just wanted to tell you, as a result of this article, I have been working with 99designs to develop a logo for my little start-up business. My experience has been wonderful, and I will be choosing a winner within the next 24 hours. Thank you so much!

  • Oh my goodness! Aren’t the graphic designers a touchy bunch? A bit of perspective would go a long way here. Think about all the other creative occupations that are in exactly the same position (dressmakers, jewelery designers, furniture designers, writers etc) and are not the ‘cheapest’ option by thousands before. The RIGHT people will come to them for their service and are more likely to come back if they are NICE and are great at what they do (were most likely attracted to professional reputation in the first place).
    Get over it people, no one is taking business away from you because the business we are talking about wouldn’t be able to come to you in the first place.
    Be honored that you are too good for this post if nothing else.

  • Hi Glen,
    A couple of things that I’d appreciate your thoughts on (and hopefully others would too).
    First, use of tools such as Scribe to optimise posts/content for SEO. I guess what I’m looking for is good/bad/waste-of-time-or-money-for-this-reason type thoughts.
    Second, use of video in posts/content (coupled with transcripts for SEO). I’m fondling my way through this and experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t.

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