Neil Tortorella
Based in the Greater Fort Lauderdale, FL area, Neil Tortorella brings with him over 30 years experience as an award-winning graphic designer, writer and marketing consultant. He has operated his own design and marketing consulting practice, Tortorella Design, for 25 years. Tortorella is the author of Starting Your Career As A Freelance Web Designer, published in 2011 by Allworth Press.
  • Business
    Understanding the Design Audit: Getting the Biggest Benefits for You and Your Clients Understanding the design audit benefit you and clients
    Signage, stationary and forms, oh my! Businesses can easily create enough visual material to fill up an ark. There’s a logo, of course, and everything it gets applied to, such as: brochures, catalogs, websites, print and e-newsletters, Facebook pages, ads, uniforms, vehicle graphics, and more. When a company is successful, it grows and expands. As it moves from infancy to adulthood, its visual armaments grow as well. One location becomes three, then twenty and so on. Each one brings with it more of everything. More signs. More stationery. More forms. This can avalanche out of control. Hopefully, someone is keeping an eye on things. But, that’s often not quite the case. Enter the design audit. “Audit” might be a word that puts the fear of the taxman into you, but don’t sweat it. This kind of audit is a good thing. And it's an opportunity for freelance designers to expand their service offering.Read More…
  • Business
    When The Project Is Over - Billing and Actually Getting PaidWhen the project is over billing paid
    Here’s the deal. Sure, we love freelancing and what we do. But, we do this stuff for money. Dough. Moolah. We are authentic businesses after all. We provide a valuable service and deserve to be paid for our labors. However, at some point in our freelance careers, usually early on, we learn that there can be a major difference between billing a client and actually getting paid. Plus, billing can be a stumbling block for some freelancers. Many seem to put it off for any one of several reasons. For some, it’s because they’re busy and too focused on the project at hand. As a result, their billing gets put on the back burner. For others, it boils down to their relationship with money. This seems to be especially true for freelancers in the creative arena. For the latter, even with great tools such as QuickBooks or Freshbooks, that make invoicing a snap, there can still be a lot of anxiety. They worry about the client balking at their fee, whether or not they got the invoice right or worry about whether they are worth the fee. If that sounds like you, I’d suggest picking up a copy of The Money Book for Freelancers, by Joseph D'Agnese and Denise Kiernan or The Creative Professional's Guide to Money by Ilise Benun. Both are excellent. As freelancers it's important to master the craft of billing and collecting. It's easier than you might imagine and flourishes with a system in place.Read More…
  • Business
    When The Project Is Over - Getting Rockin’ ReferralsWhen the project is over rockin refs
    For freelancers who provide professional services, testimonials are an important tool. So are their first cousin – referrals. As a matter of fact, RainToday’s 2009 study, "How Clients Buy", showed referrals from colleagues and other service providers topped the list at 79% and 75%, respectively, outpacing personal recognition/awareness (73%) and in-person seminars (66%). We all love referrals. They’re often ready-made business, endorsed by your client or associate. They significantly reduce the sales cycle, if there is a sales cycle at all. Why? Buyers often find themselves with a fire that needs to be put out -- right now. So, they scramble and call a few trusted associates for professional fire extinguishing recommendations. We all love referrals. They’re often ready-made business, endorsed by your client or associate. Many freelancers rely heavily on referrals. For some, it’s their only source of business. And here’s how it usually works. Mr. or Ms. Freelancer hang out their shingle and tell a few associates that they’re open for business. The associates, being the benevolent souls they are, want to help, so they tell some of their colleagues. The freelancer makes a few calls and lands a gig or two. They’re doing the happy dance. Then the phone starts to ring with a few more requests. Off they go into the merry world of self-employment. The problem is that they’ve set up a behavior-- a habit. They wait for the phone to ring or the inbox to jingle. They think, “I do good work, so people will refer me to others.” Sorry folks, in reality, it seldom works that way. Sure, your clients might think you’re great while you’re working on their project and shortly thereafter. But, soon they forget about you until they need your services again. This non-marketing marketing method may be just peachy for a while, but, eventually the phone stops ringing and the freelancer starts to freak. Truth be told, even in good times, waiting for the phone to ring is a bad idea. It’s simply letting your business happen to you, rather than taking responsibility and making things happen. A better idea is to have a system in place to ensure those referrals keep rolling in and that they’re quality referrals.Read More…
  • Business
    When The Project Is Over - Gathering TestimonialsWhen the project is over gathering testimonials
    In my previous post, I wrote about conducting a follow-up meeting after a project. This is the perfect time to ask for testimonials and referrals. You’re still fresh in your client’s mind and, providing the project went well, they think you’re the bee’s knees. The meeting, or better yet, lunch, should happen as close to the end of the project as possible. If you wait too long, your client will likely forget about you until they need your services again. One of the most important marketing tools, especially for freelancers, are testimonials. Why? Before the project begins, and often well into it, there aren't any tangibles. That spells high anxiety for your new client, as well as your prospects before signing on. One of the most important marketing tools, especially for freelancers, are testimonials. Working with a new service provider can be a scary proposition. Will you live up to their expectations? Will you be able to deliver the goods… on time and within budget? Testimonials are an excellent way to help set their mind at ease. They're an endorsement, ideally from someone like them, singing the praises of you. But, not all testimonials are created equal. Vague comments, initials-only sign-offs (e.g.: A.B., New York), lack of specific benefits and results tend to water down testimonials. On the flip side, well-crafted client comments will go a long way toward positioning you as the “go to” person, an effective problem-solver, increase the perceived value of your work and, ultimately, make closing a deal loads easier.Read More…
  • Business
    When The Project Is Over - The Follow-up MeetingWhen the project is over followup meeting
    At the end of a project, there are a couple of things you can do. You can hand the files or materials off to the client, a printer or upload them to a server. Then, you bill it and forget it. Bad idea. A better idea is to conduct a follow-up meeting. Sales and building client relations are, or should be, an ongoing process. A follow-up meeting helps to enhance value, fortify trust and cement the relationship. It helps you do a better job next time around. It differentiates you from the other guys whose policy is: Do it, bill it and forget it. Schedule a Follow-up Meeting Those other guys are going to be spending a lot of time and money finding a steady stream of new clients, rather than leveraging their existing clients for additional business. The truth is in the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 Rule. When applied to business, the Rule states that 80 percent of your business revenue comes from 20 percent of your clients. It can cost up to five times more to land a new client than it does to build on your existing ones. That little tidbit is a handy piece of information to mull over in your mind. To keep it company, here’s another factoid: It can cost up to five times more to land a new client than it does to build on your existing ones. Some sources go so far as to say 10 percent. Suddenly, it becomes apparent why you should foster and build on your current client relationships. The follow-up meeting is one tactic to help you do that.Read More…
  • Business
    When The Project Is Over - Getting OrganizedWhen the project is over getting organized
    When the project is over, it really isn’t. You might breathe a sigh of relief, but there’s still much to be done. We hear a lot about how to land clients, estimating and managing projects, but the follow-up seems to get forgotten and that’s what this is series all about. Over the next several posts, I’ll address getting organized for your follow-up, the follow-up meeting, billing, along with some techniques for gathering referrals and testimonials. This will give you some ideas, so you don’t find yourself pulling your hair out.Read More…
  • Business
    Email Marketing for FreelancersMailbox
    There’s some talk around the Web that email marketing is becoming a thing of the past due to the popularity of social networks. I beg to differ. Consider this: According to a recent Direct Marketing Association study, email marketing’s average return on investment (ROI) is a whopping $45.05 US for every dollar spent. That makes it the highest return of any marketing channel. Even other Internet marketing methods pale with an ROI of $19.94 for every dollar spent. If an e-newsletter or or other email tool isn’t in your marketing toolbox, the above fact alone should pique your interest. Here are some other bits of information to excite your inner email marketer.Read More…