So I have a great idea, again. I bet you have them all the time too. I’ve filled diaries with ideas, I fill my head with more almost every day. Unfortunately I can’t say the same thing for the amount of ideas that have come to fruition, they wouldn’t even fill a page, actually the ratio to domain names registered vs actual websites isn’t that great.
As the mid point of 2014 draws freakishly close I freak out about tax and start evaluating the projects I started at the beginning of the year. Only one out of the 2 projects has launched but still not fully completed (thinkluke.com) and the biggest project isn’t even at 50% completion. I’m happy this year I only started 2 projects both based around website’s and I have focused solely on those 2 projects. While the incomplete project still suffers from my fear, in the past I would have completely given up by now.
If you are getting caught up and not pursuing your dreams, goals or simply new ideas, this might help you in the future. The general process which runs through my head whenever I have a new idea looks something like this:
A couple of years ago, I read a great article by Vinicius Vacanti, about how new ideas almost killed his startup.
The gist is that when you have a new exciting idea, you are in a state of “uninformed optimism” – yep you are too excited. As you spend more time on the idea and start learning about all of the issues, you get into a state of “informed pessimism”. This is a bad state that eventually leads you to a “crisis of meaning” where you either turn the corner into “informed optimism” or crash and burn.
~ Vinicius Vacanti
Relating this to my list above, I tend to hit informed pessimism around step five and start to “crash and burn” around step 10. The root causes for the pessimism and the crashing and burning are different for each person, but I’ve noticed something in my pattern: I focus so much on validating my idea with good advice that I become paralyzed with fear of failure and eventually give up. It doesn’t necessarily have to just be good advice, it can be as simple as something questioning my plan for a website project.
If you identify with this at all, then you know what a shitty and completely demoralizing experience this is.
Here’s the “trick” to avoiding the paralyzing nature of good advice and other’s: stop asking for it.
Stop asking for approval.
Seeking out good advice is great, but for some of us, it should come after we finish something rather than before we start.
I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but trust me, you’ll get a lot farther if you build quickly and then get feedback. Here’s why:
You’ll never be able to truly convince yourself your idea will be successful.
God could show up and tell me I’m on the right path, and I still wouldn’t believe him. When I seek out good advice, what I’m really trying to do is convince myself my idea will be successful. But the only way to really know this is to ship it.
Walk your own path
Don’t do something because you think it will be successful. Do it because you want to do it. It’s easy to say, but nearly impossible to put into practice. If you’ve read any of my recent articles, then you know I’m an approval whore. I thrive on being liked and thought successful. And here’s what sucks: I’m guaranteeing my own failure by thinking this way.
I recently watched the best talk I’ve seen in a long time. In it, Dan Harmon (creator of Community, talks about following your bliss. He tells this amazing story:
My mom, when she would take me to the mall when I was a little kid, would always tell me, “If you get separated from me, you stay put and I will scour the mall for you. Because if you don’t do that, if don’t stay put, if you keep looking for me while I keep looking for you, we could theoretically never find each other.”
The logic of that stuck with me and I often think of it when I think to myself, “What am I supposed to do next in my career? Is this joke funny? Or should I do one that I think other people are going to think is funny, even if I don’t think it’s very funny?” The answer is always follow your bliss. Always follow your bliss. Find your voice. Shout it from the rooftops and keep doing it until the people that are looking for you find you. Stay put.
~ Dan Harmon
So for the rest of 2014, try to stop relying so much on the input of others to validate what you do or don’t do. Do things because they resonate with you, regardless of what others think, regardless of societies expectations for you, regardless of what would make your folks proud.
So, you have an idea. What if you just did it? What if you saved the advice-getting and approval-seeking for after your launch? I think you’ll be happier with the outcome. But that’s just my advice.
At thinkLuke we do a lot more than website design, development and SEO. A large part of our business involves logo design, branding and graphic design, here’s the story how I went from riff-raff graffiti artist to commercial logo designer.
Starting in my rebellious high school years I used to tag walls, bomb bus shelters (not an explosion – bomb is a term for quickly done graffiti see more) and destroy my notebooks in class with artwork. I knew there wasn’t a career for me in graffiti but quickly grew to know and love logo design and typography.
I started design because I loved to create logo designs
The thinkLuke business was founded on the full service approach to design – encompassing logos, website design and online marketing. I wanted to have the ability to help small startup companies with all their visual & marketing requirements. Overtime I designed and developed many brands for clients on the Sunshine Coast, Rockhampton and in Cairns, however my logo design services took a passenger seat making way for websites and online marketing.
thinkLuke’s roots start from manipulating type / fonts or “graffiti” which started at a very young age and was the inception to starting a career in the creative industry. The natural progression was to delve into designing commercially in the form of logo design – were fonts can be manipulated and a personality given to a business all through the use of stylised text, colours and sometimes with a symbol to match.
When I first started out in graphic design I didn’t really know I was creating logos, while you still couldn’t class graffiti as a logo in the real world it was a step in the right direction to understanding how letter’s can be manipulated to the extent they are almost illegible yet can still form a word. Here is some of my early logo design / graffiti work:
First attempts at converting graffiti sketches into commercial logo designs – from around 2004
Over the years I obviously learnt a lot about branding and logo designs while freelancing on the Sunshine Coast and attending University. Nowadays most of the graffiti and heavy typography work is saved for playtime, but the valuable knowledge I learnt from graffiti has payed off on every single logo I produce now. The ability to see letters and how they connect, affective and form relationships with other letters to form words in fundamental in graffiti and logo design, I think this has helped separate my logo design services.
Here are some of my more recent logo designs for clients on the Sunshine Coast.
The “TD Plumbing” logo is a great example of manipulating letters to form words and meaning. The “TDPL” all connecting like pipes that a plumber works with while still be legible and forming an identity. Learn more about thinkLuke’s logo design services.
Over the years I still continue to dabble in graffiti and I often put together logo’s just for fun, here are some examples:
I still enjoy practising typography, graffiti and I love every new logo design project that comes along from my clients, if you want to view more logo’s check out my logo portfolio or if you want a logo designed please feel free to get a project started.
Over the past 10 years the steps to business success has completely changed. A business can now acquire new leads and clients without even leaving their house, at least that’s what I did.
When I started my freelancing career I never really had an idea on how to run a business, I never really approached thinkLuke.com as a business at the start. Sure I registered an ABN and registered a domain name, but thats not very official – anyone can do that. I never really thought about a marketing plan, I never really understood why companies even needed to market offline – that stems from my jaded view on commercialism.
All I did was set out to rank well in a google search for 1 keyword – “website design sunshine coast”, and that was all I needed.
Let’s be clear, I did think about how to get new clients but my thought lasted around 3secs during a web code binge developing my first thinkLuke website when I started freelancing on the Sunshine Coast. I knew I wanted to be on the first page of google for “website design Sunshine Coast“, not “web design Sunshine Coast”, it had to be “website” as according to my research in 2009 that keyword phrase had the same search traffic with slightly less competition – meaning it’ll be easier to rank for.
My steps were as follows:
After University I worked for a web company and learnt a lot about processes, SEO and planning. During my time here I actively sort out other jobs whether they were freelance or part time I applied, if I was successful I’d asked if the job could be preformed from home. Luckily I landed a continuous job with almost guaranteed 20hr/week of design work. The Stage was set.
I saved $4000 working for an agency on a yearly salary of $40,000 over 6 months (easy!) and the most money I had ever had in my life.
I quit my agency job and launched my freelance website within 2 weeks of non-stop designing and coding, along with my ‘ad hok’ SEO implementation which I learnt mostly online and while working for another website design agency on the Sunshine Coast. In fact if it wasn’t for the said company my SEO efforts may have been useless, so thank you. You can achieve a lot when you are really determined and I was.
Simple, I created several pages making sure the URL, Meta Description, Title, H1’s etc all had my keyword phrase. From here I set about creating an online presence for my website, which involved creating a bunch of social media profiles and the usual stuff any web guy would suggest.
Then I built my back links, mainly from Web Design CSS Galleries – you can pay an Indian employee twenty bucks and they’ll submit your website link, along with a screen shot and description to over 50 website’s. These websites are basically showcases of website design, like a gallery for other designer’s to get inspiration. I managed to get a heap of back links.
Within 2 weeks my website on the first page of google for “website design sunshine coast” – I was pumped. And then the inquiries slowly started to trickle into my inbox.
The results of my SEO efforts
As you can see the traffic spike to almost 2000 visitors in 1 day, which was all un-targeted traffic from the back link strategy. While this generated absolutely no leads it did boost my Domain Authority giving thinkluke.com a pagerank 3 within a few months – which helped with my website ranking for other keywords and boosting my ranking for “website design sunshine coast”.
Some of my biggest clients have come from that keyword alone, I know for a fact when a company is looking to hire a web design company they’ll google “web(site) design Sunshine Coast” and open the first 6-8 links and send out their brief for tender.
SEO is the single most important aspect of my thinkLuke website business, without it I’d be out of business, that’s why it is so important to stay on top, well at least until recently.
Lately my strategy has changed as I have less need for new clients, as I’m working for several clients on an ongoing basis, however I always welcome new projects. I’m also juggling several other online projects that require a great deal of time.
Along the way I acquired quite a few jobs from word of mouth – which in a services industry as a sole trader is the 2nd most important aspect to actually running a successful business.
Over the 5 or so years of running thinkLuke I’ve consistently turned over profit, generally double the income of a med-level website designer at an agency on the Sunshine Coast while I used to charge almost half the price of other companies. The main thing for me was, I always had full control of the projects. That is why I started freelancing in the first place, so I could determine everything – to create better work.
In this post we’ll explore the new thinkLuke logo, branding and website, which is similar to what I do for lots of new startup business that need everything from branding to a website.
I finally had the chance over christmas 2013 to update my branding, website and get business cards printed after 5 years as a freelancer these are my first set of cards!
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