One of those discussions was led by Julia Reich of JuliaReichDesign.com, who lives and works from the Finger Lakes Region of New York.
Thanks to Julia for these highlights of the discussion, posted also on her blog:
Designers from PA, MI, TX, Cape Cod, NY, CAN, and even AK discussed our location-based issues while acknowledging that living in the sticks can lead to a higher quality of life (low cost of living! access to nature! it’s quiet & peaceful, there’s no traffic, pollution levels are low!) helping balance work life with personal life. Here’s some highlights from our conversation:
- We’re always encouraged to narrow our market and focus our services. But can we still do this when we have a limited pool of prospects to choose from? If we did that, we might never have any local clients – there aren’t enough appropriate prospects in any one market. Is a design business only appropriate in more urban areas?
- The readily available industry may have no money to spend on marketing services (ex: mushers in Alaska, or wineries in the Finger Lakes region of Central NY, where I live)
- Prospects do not understand the value of design. Is it our job to educate them? A useful tip that came out of the conversation in response to this challenge is try networking with a young professionals group (in my area, this group is called IGNITE, where they are more likely to “get” what designers do, value our services, and make qualified referrals.
- Participant Amy Caracappa-Qubeck's unique challenge with her locale on Cape Cod, MA is that it is a vacation destination - so the population, at least during the summer, isn’t interested in business relationships.
- How do we network with others in our industry and nurture our design community?
- Perception obstacles abound: clients may think you don't have the same design chops as those in a metropolitan area (Laurel Black describes this phenomenon in her blog article, “Urban Refugee Syndrome” ); while prospects from your small community - if you’re from “away” like I am, having started my business in New York City - may assume you’ll be too expensive.
If you were you there, what else did we talk about? What did you take away from our talk?
Finally - designer or no, do you live or work in the sticks? What are your unique joys & challenges?