Answer: Which designer makes more money….

Thanks for your posts about the two designers — one your classic artist and one your classic template developer — and which makes more money.

In this case, Designer 1, the artist-type, makes more money. He is a better marketer than designer 2. While Designer 2 works alone, Designer 1 has built a firm of employees and contractors that work under his guidance. He markets primarily via referrals — from clients who love his work and rave about him.

But wait, before you post to argue…..

There are basically three business strategies that any firm can follow (based on The Discipline of Market Leaders by Treacy et al):

– Be a product leader, like Nike or Intel. Designer 1 is a product leader, with custom, beautiful work that leads the market.

– Be operationally excellent, like Walmart or Southwest. Designer 2 follows this strategy, with repeatable products at a good price, and lots of volume.

– Be customer intimate, like IBM. These firms serve a broad range of their client’s needs. They may not have the best products or best operations, but can handle soup-to-nuts needs of their clients. The person who posted that they are Designer 1 and brother is Designer 2 may be in this category.

Pick one, and be the best at that strategy, while meeting minimum requirements in the other two categories. For instance, the designers noted have some potentially fatal flaws (like meeting deadlines, typos) that are below the market’s expectations. They need to fix those.

Beyond picking one of the three above strategies, here’s the key to making lots of money:

1. Make marketing a top priority. Different designers have different marketing strategies and approaches. But the most successful market, market, and market.

2. Build a firm. That way, you have leverage and earn money independent of your time. You can also create a team. As one reader posted, a team approach gives you the benefit of many more ideas than one person alone can create.

Okay, now post your arguments….

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  • Aaron

    Excellent. I really like your insight. A side-note… I recently found sitepoint.com and I am so darn thrilled!!! It seems like you have created this site just for my reading pleasure. Excellent work people!

    OFS!

  • Anonymously

    Andrew – Keep up the great work!

    You might find this of interest…
    http://www.bobparsons.com/ThesecretJohnDRockefellerusedtobuildStandardOilItssimpleWeuseitatGoDaddyPuttingittoworkinyourbusinesst.html

    and NO I’m not affiliated with GoDaddy… ;)

    Their blog is nice too, you can reply in threads…

  • http://www.ptpnewmedia.com ptpnewmedia

    Interesting thoughts. Bob does have a good blog too. Thank God for RSS.

  • ken

    This answer has nothing to do with your question. Your answer “Designer 1 has built a firm of employees and contractors that work under his guidance. He markets primarily via referrals—from clients who love his work and rave about him.” has everything to do with how he has built a business not his style.

    You should have included that in your question, because you lost the point.

  • aneitlich

    Ken,

    Exactly my point. Any designer with a focused strategy (product leadership, operational excellence, customer intimacy) can succeed. I can find designer 1’s doing great and designer 2’s doing great, with or without a firm.

    But to do really great you need:

    1. A sound strategy/approach.
    2. Great marketing.
    3. The skills to build a firm bigger and longer lasting than you.

  • Satya

    LOL.. like Ken said, the reason for the answer wasn’t included in the question. Or probably to prove your personal style won;t matter to much as long as you have good business structure.

  • http://www.napathon.net/ vinyl-junkie

    Stating the obvious, you supplied information in this blog about each designer regarding how each conducts business – facts which are conspicuously absent from the original blog. These facts may well have made a difference in each person’s response as to which designer they thought made more money.

    Almost all of what you said originally refers to their individual work habits, some of which are good and some not. Work habits don’t necessarily indicate whether someone can or does make a lot of money.

    In short, none of the original facts you supplied was sufficient for anyone to give an informed opinion as to which designer made more money.

    I’m not arguing, mind you, and for what it’s worth, I guessed correctly in my original comment. It just seems that I did so for the wrong reasons. ;)

  • http://www.turtlereality.co.uk jont17

    Surely the whole point is that it doesn’t matter whether you are a one or a two, as long as you run your business effectively.

  • http://www.napathon.net/ vinyl-junkie

    Surely the whole point is that it doesn’t matter whether you are a one or a two, as long as you run your business effectively.

    I think we see that now. It was a trick question, and all of us fell into the trap. ;)

  • http://www.deanclatworthy.com Dean C

    vinyl, the whole point of the last post was to encourage us to think about marketing practices and what it takes to be successful in business. It wasn’t a competition ;)

    Thanks for yet another great post Andrew.

  • http://www.napathon.net/ vinyl-junkie

    vinyl, the whole point of the last post was to encourage us to think about marketing practices and what it takes to be successful in business. It wasn’t a competition

    I didn’t view it as a competition. Anyway, what kind of “winner” is there when you have only two choices? ;) I’m just saying that people made their decision (including myself) for the wrong reasons; i.e., based on work habits, not how they conduct business.

  • pinepeak

    I agree that some important information was withheld in the original post – there was no mention that one works alone and the other runs an agency…

    You are comparing apples to oranges and I disagree with some of the sentiments that “it doesn’t matter what your personal style is”. Sure it does. If you compare those two designers on equal footings (either in a firm or on their own), I think you’ll find that number 2 is going to make more money. A designer such as number one – high on the creative end, low on the tech end – may not understand the technology behind the design, and therefore isn’t going to take advantage of important things like CSS in his/her designs.

    So, essentially, their marketing being equal, the technical designer is going to make more money. Then there is the usability factor in web design. Is “artist” number one, just that, and artist? Does he make websites that “look cool” but aren’t useable? I bet number two makes easier-to-use sites, which in most cases, is much more important than “great looking” sites.

  • Stevo

    I know its already been said, but the fact that the main point was missing from the question makes the whole question and answer thing a bit daft. Surprising really, coming from sitepoint.

  • MickoZ

    I get something now… If we are designer 1. We are perfectionist, top notch, deliver late (because of our attribute or other reason). Well sometime we want to get to be designer 2 (and maybe vice-versa). However beside strive to become designer 2, why not built a company full of designer 2? :D And just play the game of business. Hrmmm… ;-)