It's very typical that I experience an increase in clients during the summer months. I mean, business is really booming, so much so that I typically need some help with the projects I have.
Clients are excited and enthusiastic about giving out tons of work and trying to keep up with what their customers want.
But during the Winter and Fall months, my email inbox is a ghost town filled with spam and local deals. There aren't many client conversations going on unless they're telling me how much work they don't have for me. Things seem to come to a screeching halt for me around October and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
This time around, I've decided to try to prepare myself. After all, it's not like people stop spending money. I just believe people are spending it differently — less on their business and more on themselves. There are a ton of holidays in the latter part of the year. Here are some ways that I think designers can take advantage of that and make sure there's no drought.
Design and sell wrapping paper
Christmas is coming! And a huge part of exchanging gifts is wrapping it so it looks good. Personally, it never made sense to me: we spend hours wrapping gifts only to tear it to pieces and throw it away the next day. But, hey! It's what people really enjoy doing.
Now, there are some really tacky wrapping paper designs out there and some really nice looking ones, premium ones as well. The common feature between most of these rolls of paper, is that a designer had to help create them. Fortunately, graphic designers can create their own flavorful wrapping paper thanks to many sites, one of which is Spoonflower.
Spoonflower has a marketplace where you can sell your design, or you can start now to begin promoting your new gift wrap. You can make it fun, novelty or even very beautiful and eye catching for your customers. Whatever you choose, there should definitely be a strategy to get it out to your target audience.
Create and sell greeting cards
Again, we all know there are so many different holidays in the latter part of the year for many different cultures. If you have experience in print design (or you'd like to start learning it now), creating and selling some super creative greeting cards could be the way to go.
Greeting cards are a tradition I understand a little better. You purchase a card that reminds you of someone while still reflecting a bit on your own personality. We write nice, thoughtful things inside these cards along with what may already be in there. Then we ship them off or hand them to the receiver. Getting a good card is almost as good and heartwarming as getting a handwritten letter in the mail.
Kind of like wrapping paper, lots of these greeting cards you find in stores are pretty tacky looking. Not only that, many are so boring and are starting to look the same. The fun part about creating greeting cards is letting your personal light shine through. How can you add something new to the thought of Thanksgiving? What's a different way you can visualize Hanukkah? How can yours be different?
There are tons of printing companies online that print standard greeting cards. You could utilize them and print out a bunch and sell in local stores or online. You can even try to partner up with a local print company and split profits. There are many possibilities when creating a greeting card line, many that be very lucrative and fun.
Take up photography
Some of us designers already dabble in the wonderful world of photography. I've recently been sucked in and I must say, if you have the time, it's a wonderful thing to get into. It allows us to use our design basics but also gets us to focus a bit more on the beauty of life. Capturing the perfect, most beautiful moment of time is something that many people cherish. During the latter months, there's such a strong sense for family and friendship that many people want to capture great moments.
If you're interested, but don't have a camera, my recommendation is to save up now and purchase a nice DSLR camera. Try to watch some videos on YouTube on how your camera works and start shooting. Trust me, it's a game of making things look the part and if you shoot in RAW, you can almost certainly fix any cosmetic mistakes in post-processing. If you have a camera, well, now is the time to dust it off and warm up your trigger finger.
Once you get comfortable, taking great pictures, especially for family and friends begins to come naturally. These are often the times when relatives and besties from years ago finally get to come around. People want to cherish that and be able to hang it on a wall. I've taken some practice shoots this summer and have already been asked to come around for the holidays. Just grab a camera, learn it, and let everyone know what you're doing. Who doesn't love a good photo?
Plan and/or host an event
Maybe photography isn't for you and cute greeting cards and wrapping paper are just not your thing. Maybe you like to actually talk to clients, talk about your work and just genuinely be helpful to others. Maybe you would be best off creating an event that allows you to actually share your knowledge to people.
The way I see it, many people are waiting for the New Year to roll around to start something new. In November and December (and maybe even earlier), people are trying to get their ducks in a row to really go all in with whatever new ideas they have. You can take advantage of this by offering classes and workshops to new entrepreneurs and new business owners letting them know things like how design works, why they need design or maybe how to create a wonderful website.
You may even have another knowledgable side of you that wants to touch on branding and marketing or customer relations. Whatever your expertise, start to think about it and really find out what the new business people need to succeed. Create a few materials, find or rent a place to host this event, post it online at Eventbrite, Craigslist and more and feel free to charge at the door. Starting now allows you so much time to create materials and promote this event so that it's a success.
Create an awesome product
This one is pretty obvious and one that you've heard many times for many reasons. Make a great product and sell it. It's simple as that. It could be a great t-shirt, some phone and laptop cases or anything you really have the desire to create. These Winter and Fall months are when people love to buy, so you surely don't want to be on the outside looking in. Online marketplaces like Etsy are a great place to share and sell your products.
One thing I'd suggest is to find someone to partner up with. It could be a fashion designer you team up with by designing an exclusive patterned fabric for their Winter line. It could be a printer who prints and sells calendars and wants some great design. You can even find businesses that thrive off these seasons and start making connections now. (And don't forget about Halloween!) There are tons of avenues, you just have to find the right one for you.
I believe there's a little something for everyone on this list. By starting now, you'd be way ahead of the curve and well-prepared for what seems like are the more scarce months for designers. Even if it's not a rough time for you, these are some great ideas to make some extra income at the end of the year. Go out of 2013 with a bang by being ultimately creative!
Do you experience a dip in business in the Autumn months? What do you do to combat it? Let us know in the comments.