How to use brand strategy to grow your motion design businessw/ Melinda Livsey
When you price your motion design projects, do you think about the value that you’ll bring to your client? How about asking them what success would look like?
These two things in combination will allow you to create your best work and get paid well for it. Join Brand Strategist Melinda Livsey as she teaches you how.
About Melinda Livsey
Melinda Livsey started her career as a graphic designer before turning to brand strategy and education. She teaches other designers how to make the switch from designing to becoming a brand strategist.
She really wanted to work on bigger projects so she made the move from graphic design to brand identity. From there, she learned she could solve even bigger problems and help businesses to make their brands more profitable and memorable.
Making your work about your clients and not about you
One of the biggest mindset shifts that Melinda had when she was moving from being a designer to more of a strategist, is that she realised when she was approaching work as a designer it was very self-focussed.
She was always thinking about what kind of work she can create that she will be proud of and that will look good in my portfolio – instead of thinking about what work could she create that would be best for her client.
Hire someone to help you with your business
One of the best ways you can improve the client experience is by hiring someone to help you with your business – whether it’s a video editor, copywriter or graphic designer.
By doing this, you’re able to get into the mindset of how your clients feel when they work with you. It gives you a new, unique perspective that will help you to improve your client management in the future.
How to progress in your motion design career without giving up designing
Lots of people think that if you want to progress in your career and work more on strategies, this means giving up the actual designing. However it doesn’t need to be this way.
For a period of time, Melinda was doing both the graphic design work as well as brand strategy work alongside it. She now has multiple students who offer design work as well as brand strategy. They also are able to raise their graphic design prices because they can offer more overview and insight to make them better designers.
How to get consistent, high-quality clients
Start by doing brand positioning for your own business. Once you have figured out who your ideal client is, then you can really get into their headspace – who they are, where they work, how they would like to be communicated with.
Create a long list of people that your dream client already follows. Then approach these people proposing some form of partnership, such as a guest blog post that’s hosted on their website. You could also offer to teach a workshop for one of those peoples’ audiences. This will help you to be seen by their audience.
This is a much more engaging and forward-thinking approach than something that is commonly used, such as cold-emailing.
The fear of niching down successfully
If you want to work with direct clients, you need to make sure you niche down so your work is super targeted.
However lots of people self-sabotage and talk themselves out of niching down. One of the things you might think is, well what if it goes well? Will I be able to serve these clients properly? What if I get too busy?
Melinda says that if you’re struggling to get clients in a specific niche, changing your strategy cannot hurt – but it does have the potential to hugely benefit you. So take that leap of faith and try!
How to enjoy the process of content creation
Whenever we try something new, our primary focus is getting the results we hope to achieve. But if you can learn to enjoy the moment for what it is and remain unattached to the long-term goal or outcome, you’ll enjoy experimenting a lot more and nothing is lost – only gained.
For example, you might hope to get some new clients from teaching a workshop. But actually, if you can enjoy the teaching element and showing someone a new skill, any work that comes from that will just be a bonus. You won’t feel like your time was wasted if you don’t get any new clients.
You need to give yourself enough time to assess what’s worked and what hasn’t. Wait to assess the analytics after a month to give the statistics time to settle.
How to price your work and earn what you're worth
Focus on the goal that the potential client is trying to achieve. You are essentially a vehicle to allow them to get to their goal and everyone looks for something different.
Find out what is the goal, what is the value or achieving that goal and what value will that bring to the business?
Once you’ve figured this out, you can figure out the correct pricing for the project. This feeds into the concept of values-based pricing.
If you’re wondering about the budget, just ask the client. They may not give you a response but sometimes, going in with a large number will help you to gauge what the client is thinking. Also set yourself a minimum project budget to make sure you don’t go under your minimum amount.
Set a broad range – say that for a company similar to yours who required a similar project, we’d be looking at, for example 5,000 to 15,000.
Have you ever done a brand strategy for your freelance motion design business? Or priced a project based on values rather than hours? Let us know in the comments section below!
ln this episode
- An introduction to Melinda
- How to make your work about your client and not about you
- How hiring someone can make you a better motion designer
- How to progress in your motion design career without giving up designing
- How to get consistent, high-quality clients
- The importance of constantly learning
- The fear of finding success by niching down
- How to price your work and earn what you're worth
“When I shifted my lens to the client then the world started opening up to me. Because when I was focusing on myself I was very limited and short-sighted. That was one of the biggest mindset shifts that I had.” [7.30]
“I used to think, if it looks good then it’s successful. I would never check in with the client and ask, how will we measure if this work is successful or not?” [10.40]
“If you’re not getting clients now then what are you losing out on by trying a new strategy?” [27.38]
Melinda Livsey (00:00): The people that are doing really well, have really good relationships. So that either looks like being on social media and doing the content game, which is awesome. That's wonderful. I've also seen it where people get really involved in communities and serve those communities really well. So they, they go where their clients and customers are at.
Hayley Akins (00:22): Hey Hatchlings. Welcome to the motion hatch podcast. I'm your host, Hailey Akins. Hey hatchlings. Welcome to episode 92 of the motion hatch podcast. So today on the show we have Melinda Lipsey. She is a brand strategist and online educator. She currently helps creatives become brand strategists so they can develop entire directions and personalities for brands. We spoke about how to use strategy to win bigger projects with direct clients. We also talked about pricing and how to convey value to the client. Just before we jump into this episode, I wanted to ask you, do you ever feel overwhelmed by social media? I know it can feel daunting sometimes to create fresh new content every week. It can be really scary as well to put yourself out there and show your work. And sometimes it can feel pretty impossible to stay consistent when there's lot of the work to do. And I totally get it. We wanted to make this easier for you. So we've created the social media guide from motion designers. It's completely free. You can use your existing projects to create content that will get you noticed when you new clients or maybe land you your dream job. So if you want to grab that, you can go to motionhatch.com / social media. Now let's get into this episode.
Hayley Akins (01:44): Hey Melinda, thank you so much for coming on the show. Thanks for having me really happy to be here. So do you want to start by telling the audience a little bit about yourself and what you do? Yeah,
Melinda Livsey (01:53): I'm a brand strategist and educator and I started out as a graphic designer and and then moved into the world of brand identity. And then from there moved into doing brand strategy and now I teach other designers who want to make that switch into brand strategy, how to do the same thing. Yeah, that's
Hayley Akins (02:10): Awesome. So how did you get started doing this? Because I know you're originally doing design work on kind of smaller projects, and I wanted to know how you transitioned from that to taking on larger projects and mainly focusing on the strategy side of things. Yeah,
Melinda Livsey (02:28): So originally I actually started in-house as a designer, so I was working on, although it was a big company and they had big budgets. I was working on very specific design projects. So things like packaging catalogs marketing, one sheets for sales. And then when I moved into my own business and do my own thing, I was getting jobs like setting up dial lines for packaging files, for print and doing little marketing, like dental marketing that would go out to different dentists to so that they could get their continuing education units. And I was working on these smaller projects and I thought, my gosh, I want to work on, I want to work on bigger things. I wanna work on bigger projects, bigger problems than just an invite for some kind of class or, or whatnot. And so then I moved into focusing my efforts on brand identity, so trying to attack the whole brand and not, or the brand, the visuals of the brand, not just say, like I said, an invitation to something.
Melinda Livsey (03:34): And then I learned from there I could solve even bigger problems. So instead of just trying to think of it as like moving up, as far as the scope of a project growing really large, I was thinking of it in a way of the problem is getting bigger. So I'm solving a bigger problem for the business versus versus something that's not gonna make a huge difference. Like it's not going to bring in much revenue and it's not going to, it's not going to set a direction for the whole brand. Those were the smaller projects I was working on and I really was anxious and excited to seek my teeth into a bigger problem. Like something that's really going to help the business change and move the needle and attract the type of clients or customers they want bring in more revenue. I wanted to work on those bigger projects. So that's, that's the short version of my journey from going from smaller design projects to to those larger, larger brand strategy problems developing the personality of brands and setting the direction for them so that they can be in alignment with every single creative initiative that comes up in the business. Yeah. That
Hayley Akins (04:43): Makes sense. I mean, I'm always thinking about like, how does this apply to motion design and sort of what we do, you know, the people listening to the show. And I feel like before we've said on this podcast about, you know, what problems are you trying to solve for the client and really trying to put the focus on that, because I feel like that's something that we don't really think about and what we're more thinking about is how can I make this animation nice and how can I make it pretty for my portfolio and stuff like that. So I think like having that mindset shift seems like a big deal because then you're starting to focus more on the businesses and then you're able to speak their language. Do you feel like that's kind of where you started? Oh, definitely.
Melinda Livsey (05:28): I'm glad you brought this up too, because this is something that I have noticed that is one of the biggest mindset shifts that I had was that when I was just a designer and I say, just designer, like that's something so simple to do. I don't want to put down any designers that are listening to this. It's very difficult to be a designer and do it well. But when I was doing design, when I had no clue what brand strategy was I also came into my work very focused on like, like you were stuck talking about, I want to make this animation project really good. And I was very focused on design and making the design really just amazing, but it's something that I would be proud of. Something that I'd be proud of to put in my portfolio. But then the longer that went on, I realized it was all, it was all about me.
Melinda Livsey (06:20): It wasn't necessarily focused on my client or what it could do for my client or what my client was trying to do or what my goal or the goal of the client was. And, and I know that not every designer has this experience or animator creative has the same experience, but that was a huge mindset shift for me, was to go from the work is about me, or I need to land this project. I need this one to be my dream project. I need to make it great for my portfolio. And I had this focus. That was, it was so self-focused, but then the huge mindset shift for me was when it, it got flipped to the client, oh, what is the client trying to do? What's the problem. The client is trying to solve. What, where are they trying to go with their business?
Melinda Livsey (07:07): What are they, what's their goal? Who are they trying to attract? And when I shifted my lens to the client, then the world started opening up to me because when it, when it was just focused on me, it was very limited. It was very shortsighted. It, it was only helpful for, you know, to an extent to my clients. And so that was one of the biggest mindset shifts that I had moving from smaller projects to bigger ones is the shift off myself and onto how can I give the utmost value to my client, even if they choose something or go in a direction that I might not want them to. It's not about me. Yeah.
Hayley Akins (07:51): I think that's great. I, it just makes me think of when I can't remember who it is we had on the show, but someone was saying about, like, if you talked to the client, it might've been [inaudible]. If you talk to the client and you're talking about the project and like what their goals are and what their problems are. And if you think that an animation isn't going to solve that problem, then you shouldn't try and sell an animation to them. You know, you should try and like, maybe give them a recommendation for something else, because then when they do actually need an animation, then they're going to come back to you for that. So it was just reminded me of those kinds of conversations that we've had before. And I wanted to reiterate that to the audience, because I think, I just think that really like, you know, a little light bulb went off in my head like, oh yeah, that's so right. We should be talking about the problems and the goals of the businesses. And especially, I think this applies, if you want to work direct to client.
Melinda Livsey (08:46): That made me think too about, you were saying about how focusing on the client's problems. And I know too, it's, it's an interesting thing to be on the side of client services. Cause I am direct to the client and it's interesting to be on this end because I also to build my own business. I will hire vendors from time to time. I will hire designers, I'll hire copywriters, video editors, the list goes on. And so then I'm put in the client's seat and the client's position. And then I can feel the feelings that the client feels when they're asked certain things or when the, the vendor, the contractor does not ask me or care about what this particular thing is going to do for my business. And so in my head, I'm thinking, well, I need this to do something for my business. Otherwise, why am I doing it?
Melinda Livsey (09:44): It's not for vanity sake. I'm not, I'm not doing it just to do it. I need this to do something in order to get me to where I'm trying to go in my business or serve who I'm trying to serve. And so it's been a really interesting experience to be on the client's end. And I would encourage anyone who is able to hire someone to help you with your business, whether that's marketing or designer or copywriter or someone else to help you on your business, because you will, you will see what it's like to be a client, especially. And, and the questions that people ask you in the sales call and you realize, oh my gosh, I used to ask this too. And it, why did I ask this? Or why didn't I ask about the problem I didn't I ask about the goal or what we're trying to do with it, or how we're going to measure success.
Melinda Livsey (10:27): I think that was another huge one. I just figured, well, if it looks good and I'm good, I'm good with the design, then that's successful. But I did not. When I, when I used to do smaller design projects, I would never check in with the client and say, well, how do we know this is going to be a success? How will we measure it? I never asked those questions. So I just want to throw that in that if you get a chance to be on the client's end, that you might learn a new perspective that you didn't have before. Yeah, definitely.
Hayley Akins (10:56): I think I've totally experienced that too. And you're like, this is the most important thing, you know, it's like, obviously we care about the motion design and stuff like that. And for me, it's kind of a bit meta because I've actually hired motion designers and animation studios to do motion design for a business that is in the motion design industry. So that's like try and wrap your head around that one as well. But yeah. And it's so, you know, you know, the good people because they asked you the right questions and they ask you what you want out of it. And even like the studio that I hired to do, one of my videos, they asked me what the results were, so they could make a case study about it on their website, you know, and I was like, that's excellent. Of course I will tell you because that's how you're going to attract more clients and things like that. So I think that's really awesome too. Yeah. So I just wanted to know about talking about like hiring and stuff like that. So when you're doing the brand strategy stuff, are you any of the design anymore or have you kind of taken yourself completely out of that side? I
Melinda Livsey (11:59): Have taken myself completely outside of it. So I still, luckily I can use my design skills, my design thinking that I previously used in my other career to fuel what I do now. So I only focus on brand strategy, but in delivering the brand strategy, I can draw on my design skills to tell the story, the narrative of the brand how I present the document and whatnot. And but I do not, I don't do the actual design, so I will go up to the point of potentially choosing the imagery or the direction that I think the brand should go. Sometimes that looks like a brand scape where we're pulling a lot of, it's like a mood board, I'm pulling a lot of imagery that would speak to the brand visuals and then that would either be but most likely it would be given to the company's in-house team if they have a design team or it would go to someone I refer out it's like a design agency to take over that portion. So I only work on just the strategy now. Yeah. That's
Hayley Akins (13:01): Really interesting. Cause I think for many people listening, they're like, but I want to, like, I don't, you know, I want to be paid more and I want to get bigger clients, but I also love doing motions then, or I love doing the design, you know, I want to do that part of it. So I wouldn't do like, how is there like an in-between like, can people do both or do you feel like that's like muddying the waters too much potentially? Oh no, I
Melinda Livsey (13:24): Don't. And I used to do that. So when I made the transition from designer to strategist, I, there was a time that I was doing both design and strategy. I personally didn't like it because I realized that my strengths and my passions are more in the thinking and the figuring out of the purpose and the direction and who we're trying to target. And and the research portion. So I was really interested in that and I thought that, well, if I'm doing design too, it would be taking away from what I could be doing with strategy. And so I personally don't any more, but I did have a ton of doing it, but I have multiple students who came from the design world too, and they learn strategy and they still love design. They still want to offer it. So I've seen them. I've seen them raise their prices because they can now offer more value to their clients so that they can solve the bigger problems they can set the direction of the brand.
Melinda Livsey (14:18): And then if, if the project calls for it, they can say, Hey, I also do identity work. I also do whatever type of creative work they do. I can do that portion of it if you would like and I've seen them do that. And, and they charge well for it and they do amazing work. And then I've noticed them too. They've been, they've been able because they've been able to, to charge more and solve bigger problems. They're able to then hire more people to come with them on projects. And so if they didn't want to just stay as a one team, like they can start growing their agency. Yeah. So if
Hayley Akins (14:55): You want it to start to offer strategy and then like potentially like do the animation and the design stuff as well. I know like maybe like we were saying, you could hire copywriters and other designers to help you and all that kind of stuff. But I think the big problem then is like, how do you get these client leads in the first place to kind of sell the strategy part to them? So in your experience, like what has worked for you or your students as well?
Melinda Livsey (15:21): Yeah. This is the number one question that people inevitably have. They can figure out everything else. They can learn everything else. But I think getting clients is the number one question, and there are so many different ways to get clients. I'll share some, I'll share some things that have worked for myself as well as my students. But first off I would say, get brand strategy done on your own business because the whole point of strategy is to position a business in the marketplace. So that that's, that's one at least purpose of it is to position yourself in a marketplace and fill a gap that no one else is filling and fill that in the minds of the customer so that you become memorable. You become the go-to for whatever it is, you're the go-to for. And that you build this emotional connection with your customers or clients.
Melinda Livsey (16:17): And of course we want that too. We don't just want it for the businesses that we're helping. We want that for us too. We want to be the go-to. We want to be the ones that are remembered. And so I would say that if you're learning brand strategy, why not go find a friend who's also learning it too and practice it on each other. That's something that we have our students do, where they learn strategy, but then they do it for each other on each other's business. And it's really difficult to do it for another strategist because you're both in the strategy world and you're doing strategy for each other, which is very meta. But if you could do it for a strategist and find what is very unique about that strategist or their business that is different from your own, then I feel like that's a, you're on your way to being a really good strategist.
Melinda Livsey (17:01): You can do it for another. So I would say first, get that done for yourself because that's going to set the tone and direction for all of your marketing. Because if you know who you are wanting to attract, you know, your ideal client, then you're going to know you can then ask yourself. Maybe you won't know right away, but you can ask yourself, where are they hanging out? What communities are they in? Who are they learning from? Where can I show up that they will see me and know me? How do I talk to them? You'll know because you will, once you know who they are, you can go find out where they hang out and then you can hear how they talk. You can hear the problems that they're dealing with. You can hear how they describe their problems or what they want. And then you can develop a plan that is very unique to your own business that will help you attract them.
Melinda Livsey (17:51): So that might be, I mean, here's some examples of my favorite strategies that have worked not only for myself, but others. Once you find your ideal client, you know who they are, you might have a few industries that you want to focus on just for the time being and you, you know, the mindset of the person that you're looking for. Like what type of personalities you, you gel well with, then you list out all of, I would start with like a list, a long list hundred go for a hundred of, of people that they already follow. So who, what, who, whose community are they in? Who are they listening to? What podcasts, if they listen to you and listening to what books are they reading just where are they, whose newsletter are they on? I would make that list of at least a hundred and do it per industry too.
Melinda Livsey (18:42): So you have this list of a hundred and then you go and you contact these people and form some type of partnership, whether that is offering a guest post on their blog, you could start there. That's usually an easy entry point because a lot of these creators are people who are serving particular industries. They're trying to give good content to their audience. And so if you come in and help them with that content, then it's a win for both. You get, you get some exposure and then they get content for, for their audience. So that's one way. And I would choose when I say like people who were serving that audience, the podcasters, the bloggers the authors, I would look at them, not just like, don't go straight for other strategists who are serving that industry. I would go for the people who are adjacent to you.
Melinda Livsey (19:29): So who are the product engineers, who are the marketers that are helping this industry, who are the social media managers, who are the lawyers there, there's sometimes lawyers that are specific to industries, accountants, who, who is every single person that your ideal client is connected to listening to respect who is it that that is in their life, that you can form a network with our help. And then I would say, so guest blogging is one, another one is approaching these people. Let's just say that there was an accountant who had a really good brand that was serving their community. Well, that was, that was sending out newsletters that were super helpful. You could approach this accountant, let's say who's helping small businesses and say, Hey, I have this this thing that might be really helpful for the businesses that you serve. It's not something that you do, but it would be helpful for them.
Melinda Livsey (20:27): Would you be okay? Would you want to set up something where I teach a workshop for your audience? So then again, they're giving extra value to their audience or their people, their customers, and clientele, and you get to tap in and teach a new audience that you don't have a connection with. And I would really encourage people to form those types of partnerships with people who don't do exactly what you do, but serve the type of people that you want to work with and then help them teach them about what would help them in their business. As far as what you do. Like, Hey, this is what has happened. You can even show a case study and show like, Hey, this is what happened when this business, when this business did this maybe they, they used a particular animation or something like that. And you can show them like, these are the possibilities that you have for your business or walk them through something they can do right now that will get them on the way to to wherever it is. You need them to go to then potentially hire you. So there's so many different, different ways to go about it. But I think that that is my favorite strategy that I've used myself. And have seen others have success with as well. Yeah.
Hayley Akins (21:43): I mean, I think it's like a very forward thinking way of thinking if that makes sense. Cause I, you know, obviously live content marketing and stuff like that. That's why I do this podcast, but you know, I feel like a lot of people in my industry just kind of doing the cold email sort of strategy and stuff like that. And they're not trying to build their relationships over time, which is something that I try and promote a lot of motion hatch. And do you feel like the most people should be getting into, you know, social media, content marketing and kind of trying to build their personal brand or like their company brand like depends whether you're a freelancer or, you know, you have a studio.
Melinda Livsey (22:29): I think it, it depends. I don't want to say everyone should do anything. I think it's been helpful. It's been helpful for myself. It's been helpful for other people. I have also seen others completely not be on social media and they're doing just fine. But the thing is, cause when you boil down social media it's relationships, so you mentioned relationships and building that network, the people that are doing really well have really good relationships. So that either looks like being on social media and doing the content game, which is awesome. That's wonderful. I've also seen it where people get really involved in communities and serve those communities really well. So they, they go where their clients and customers are at. So an example is from my own my own bootcamp that I teach for brand strategy, we actually have, most of them are designers, so they they're, they're in design.
Melinda Livsey (23:22): They want to switch over to brand strategy. However, I do have a copywriter in there and she wanted to, she did want to learn strategy, but she also serves designers and she gets hired to write designers, case studies because designers are notorious for not getting their case studies up, especially the writing portion of it. And so she, she writes case studies for designers. And the beauty of this is she is one person that's, that's a copywriter in the midst of all of these designers. So she knows how to speak their language. She gets to know them. She understands what their problem is and the cool part is she's learning strategies. So she can help them out with where they're trying to go with their own business. But I think it's just so smart. Like, can you be in a group of people and their community where you learn their language, where you learn what problems they're dealing with and the goals that they have and then how can you learn to beat?
Melinda Livsey (24:15): She's the go-to like, if anyone in the group needs a copywriter, it's like, well, have you talked to her because she's the one that we trust. She's the one that always is showing up and giving value to our community. That's another way to go about it as if you and she doesn't, she doesn't have much going on on her social media as far as business is concerned. Like she has a personal one. But I find it so fascinating that to see that yeah, the content thing works really well for some that really take to it and they enjoy it, but some people don't and that's fine, you know, but you can find other ways of, of giving value and getting clients. And one of those would be the community route, find the there's so many communities online. I mean there's meetups and there's conferences, there's Facebook groups and there's courses like what the clients that you want to get are the people who may hire you for your services.
Melinda Livsey (25:06): A lot of them are taking courses, even if they're working in house. Like even if they're, let's say someone in the marketing department might hire you for something from a big company. Okay. Well, where are those people potentially online? What are they still learning? What, what, like, who are they still learning from? Who are they reading about? I mean, the first thing that comes to mind is like Seth Godin and all of his, his marketing, you know, all of his workshops that span beyond marketing. And I think, well, what about taking those classes? What about learning those things? What about getting in the room with the people that potentially could hire you? So there's, there's also that if you're trying to get business owners, they're, they're learning usually all the time. Like they're taking classes and I had one friend who went to the StoryBrand workshop, which there's a lot of business owners going to do StoryBrand for their own business.
Melinda Livsey (26:00): But then there's a lot of strategists too, that take those classes. And she was in a group, it was online, it was zoom call and it was, she was in a group of business owners and then one of them called her up later and hired her for something. So you want to get in their midst, do you want to get in their community? And you want to get in front of them and to do that, you gotta to have some kind of strategy and who are they? What are they, where do they hang out? What do they care about? And then how can you get involved in that? Yeah,
Hayley Akins (26:25): I think that's, you know, I live that and it's, we talk about this all the time and I'm a big fan of the niche. Like obviously this whole, like my whole company is based on like quite a niche of entrepreneurship, crossword motion design, you know? So I'm a big fan of it, but a of people are frightened, you know, they're scared to like potentially niche down, which is, I feel like what you're saying, because if you're going to go direct to client and you're going to try and find out where those clients hang out, if you're trying to like, you know, connect with every possible direct co like this never going to work, you know, you never, you're just going to be like overwhelmed and you're not going to know where they're hanging out, cause your customer could be anybody. So it's just like, you know, it doesn't really work. So I don't know. What would you say to people listening to this thinking? Well, yeah, I want direct clients, but I'm scared if I like niche down too much and then maybe I'll lose out on some work.
Melinda Livsey (27:22): Yeah. Yeah. There's so many things that are usually dry. I can't say this for everyone, but that's driving those, those comments which is fear. Fear is usually driving it because if you're not getting clients now, what are you losing out on by trying a new strategy? That's one thing the other thing I've noticed is, and I've noticed this for myself too, is I think, and I think I've heard people say like, they're scared of the success and I kind of, and I understand that because if you, if you find a particular niche, listen, you can always change that too. It's not like you're married to it for the rest of your life. Like you, if you find that it's you don't like it change to another one, it's just gives you enough focus to move forward. But what I've noticed is we self-sabotage. So we think, oh no, I'm not going to like it.
Melinda Livsey (28:10): Or it's going to be too tight, like too tight of a focus. And I won't like it anymore. Or what if I don't get any clients? And I waste all this time. I've heard that a lot too. And I understand where that's coming from. But I also think that hidden behind there could be a fear of being seen and being known and then getting clients and then, oh no, what if I can't serve them? What if I can't give them the value that I promised that I could? What if I'm charging too high? What if they ask me for my money back and they Sue me and I'm forever ruined and I have to give up my business and I know we laugh at this, but it's like, they're legit. They're legitimate fears that come up and I'm sure I have had those fears cross my mind too in this.
Melinda Livsey (28:50): And so we can be sick. We can be afraid of the success too, that comes with niching and then self sabotage ourselves and be like, well, what, you know, I don't want to limit myself. And it's like, well, if you're already having trouble getting clients, if you're not having trouble getting clients like do by all means, keep doing what you're doing, if that's awesome, but if you're having trouble or you want to change, then you're going to have to change something you do. And that is, that is difficult because when we change our actions, there are a lot of fears that come up and I T and they're understandable. They're understandable fears, but if you can face those and try to see that maybe the reason why you are not trying or not niching down or not, at least trying it is because of self-sabotage potentially might be something to explore. I don't know if you've, you've noticed that too, or what things that you've noticed pop up when people say that. Yeah,
Hayley Akins (29:52): I think it's it's definitely coming from a place of fear because obviously if you you're like, oh, I need more clients, you know, or I want to get direct clients, but then you're not kind of changing your positioning or you're not changing anything about your, what you're doing. You're obviously not going to make progress and, and get any different clients because you, I feel like you have to change before your clients change, you know? And, and I think it is difficult. It's always difficult to put yourself out there. Like it's incredibly hard, especially if you want to kind of like do more post more of your work on social media or even yourself, you know, do more YouTube stuff or podcasts, or, you know, all the content marketing type things. I feel like it's extremely difficult. You know, when I first started this podcast, I was like, everybody's going to hate my voice. No, one's going to care. No, one's going to listen to it. You know, I've been there, everybody. I'm sure, Melinda, you feel the same way when you first, like, did all of those things, you were like, oh, you know what, what's happening? Everyone's going to hate me, you know? Yeah. Yeah. And
Melinda Livsey (31:04): I, yeah. Oh exactly. And I have gotten strange comments and DMS that I wish I didn't have and emails and whatnot. And then you realize, oh, I can, I can live through this. I can get through this. It's not as scary as I thought. But yeah, it's it's a lot. And I think, especially if we're talking about content, like when we, when we think about the content marketing, it is, it takes a lot for me to put myself out there to actually like focus my attention on what is it that I even want to say, what do I want to post? What would be most helpful? And then actually doing it and then posting it and then replying to comments like it is, it's a lot of commitment. And then you don't know if it's going to do the thing that you hope it to do if you're looking for an outcome.
Melinda Livsey (31:52): And I think that's another thing for us to focus on too, is how can you, I mean, we've heard the term enjoy the process or love the process. Like how can we love the thing that we're doing in the moment of doing it? So creating the content or joining the communities and being involved and giving workshops to a particular industry, how can we learn to love doing it for the sake of doing it in the moment of giving value to someone versus what it's going to give us later? Because I think that would, at least for me, it relates back to how my self centered design career was at the beginning of my career, where I was doing things for an outcome. Therefore, if I didn't get the outcome, that was a, and I don't want to waste my time. Of course, we don't want to waste our time.
Melinda Livsey (32:43): So now I try to, to think of how can I invest my time in something where if nothing comes out of it, that the thing that I did gave someone value in the moment, or for somehow it gave value to myself or enjoyed it or something like, how can I enjoy something for what it is in the moment and give value to someone in that moment versus hoping that someday it's going to pay off, which we do hope that, but if that's the main focus we're going to be constantly disappointed and we're going to stop short. We're not going to keep posting on social media. We're not going to continue with the podcasting. We're not going to continue going after a particular industry that we're interested in to see if it's even viable, because we don't have enough stamina to keep going because we don't have enough wins yet. And a lot of times we stopped short because we don't see those results yet before we even know if it's, if it's worth it or if it's viable. Yeah.
Hayley Akins (33:39): I think that's great advice. It kind of makes me think as well about something that I teach a lot of my students about experimenting. So like, think about, you know, okay, where, where do my clients hang out? You know, I feel like you have to experiment a bit with that. You can't just expect it to be like, I'm going to go to one event or I'm going to post once on LinkedIn. And all of a sudden I'm going to get all these clients. Like, it just doesn't work like that. There's a bit of, I think there's a bit of consistency in there, a bit of experimentation and then measuring those results, like after a certain period of time, and then okay, if that's really not working by Philly, you have to be consistent and put a certain amount of time into it. Then you can kind of switch your strategy up a bit as well. Yeah.
Melinda Livsey (34:23): If you don't give yourself enough time to see patterns to see what's working and then to analyze what's going on or hypothesize about what, what could it be that, why did this one take off? And this one didn't, if you don't have enough and a breadth of, of work to look at to see what has worked and what hasn't, and you're not gonna be able to detect those patterns. And I think you're so right about, like, we put one thing out and then, you know, we think it's going to do, like, we spend so much time on the first post that we're going to, we're going to put out or the first video that we're going to put out so much time, and then we put it out and then crickets are, we barely get, we're getting a few, like thumbs up and it's cool.
Melinda Livsey (35:03): But then we, we don't have enough in us to keep going. And I really try to not, I try not to look at the numbers or the analytics when I'm posts, like, as I'm posting, I try to look at it like after a month of me, cause I'll, I'll go in waves of posting on social media and I'll do like one to three months at a time. And then I'll look at the analytics and be like, okay, why did this one spike? Why did this one take off? Why did so many people share this what's going on here? And then I can start, I start gathering evidence for, to either or deny my, the hypothesis I had, you know, so I could think, okay, this is what really works well for my audience. I can do more of this next, but if you don't do enough and experiment, like you're saying, how are you now? Or, you know, to even what to do next, you're just going to be, it's going to be full of assumptions and that's not going to get very far.
Hayley Akins (35:57): Yeah. So I think that's awesome. I wanted to talk a bit about pricing cause everyone wants to talk about pricing all the time. And obviously it's a huge, huge issue for a lot of designers and motion designers. And I think the big question is like, how do you convey the value of like your service or your offering, no matter what it is, how do you convey that to a client and kind of what are the tips and strategies that you've come up with to help, you know, really convey the value of animation or whatever we're doing?
Melinda Livsey (36:33): The one thing that has really helped me is focusing on the goal that the client is trying to achieve because the value, the thing that we're delivering, well, no matter what it is, no matter what creative it is, the thing that we're delivering is a vehicle for them to get to their goal. And when you think of us buying a vehicle, we have all of us have different criteria. Let's say of, if we're talking about a real vehicle, a car that we're buying, like some of us want the luxury. Some of us want to get the quickest we want to get there, the quickest. So we want a fast car, let's say. So there's all these different criteria that, that we'd like in the vehicle to get us to the goal. But the thing that is really valuable, the theme the client wants the most is to get to the goal.
Melinda Livsey (37:25): So first off, that's why we have to concentrate on that. And we have to find out what is the goal? What's the value of achieving that goal? What is that going to do for the business? Because if the client can see that what you are creating for them is going to aid in them, getting to that goal, the valuable goal that they're focused on, then that's how you can figure out your pricing. So if you know, and this is, this is tapping into value-based pricing. If you talk about it at all but you don't even need to go as far as, you know, figuring out all those things, I think, but if you just get the general sense of what it is, the value, the value is in the goal and what you're delivering is the vehicle to that goal. So I think if you can get that down first and that mindset that really helps because it takes all the pressure off the deliverable of, oh, it has to be valuable.
Melinda Livsey (38:19): I have to add more stuff into it, or I have to add an extra stuff. So the client sees the value where we have already like, make these big, long proposals of extra things to the client and asked for, we do that because we don't know what it's trained to do. And so I think that that's number one I would say is focusing on that so that you could see that you can tailor then your creative to help get them, like, how can you create now something that's going to help them get to that goal?
Hayley Akins (38:49): Yeah. I think that's a really great advice. I wanted to ask you as well, because this is like the classic question. Like how, how do you find out the budget from your clients? You know, cause everybody we've had all the ways to do it. And the last podcast I just did, actually, they were saying, we just go back and forth until they tell us the budget, you know, but I feel like you know, I think that's always the question as well, cause we want to know the budget, right. So that we can like tailor our offering to the budget, I guess. Yeah. There's multiple
Melinda Livsey (39:22): Ways of going about it. I usually just ask and I'm sure that, I mean, that's like, oh, we're just asked, but I know we don't always get the answer for that. A lot of times clients are like, well, I don't know. You tell me exactly. So I first off I have a minimum, so I don't go go below a certain amount. I won't take any project under that amount. And so that's number one. So then you don't have to, if, cause we always, we always end up like negotiating against ourselves and like keep making it lower because we want to make sure that we land the project. So that's one, make sure you have a minimum to ask the budget. Also I've, I've given really big ranges. Like if they say, well, I don't know, you tell me, I'm like, oh, okay.
Melinda Livsey (40:01): So if I came back with a proposal that's roughly around $200,000 or we're thinking like, are we thinking around 200,000 then, or a hundred thousand? And they go, if their eyes get really big and they're like, no, absolutely not. That's not what I was thinking. Oh, so you did have something in mind or you did have a range. So there's a there's there are ways to throw out something that maybe would seem a lot to a client or if you're like, okay, well, are we thinking around one to 500,000 you know, from a hundred thousand down to 50,000? So if I came back with a proposal in that range, how do would we even have a shot at it? You know, there's that way other ways, or we'll typically we have seen projects like this with the size company that you have and the goal that you have can range anywhere between X and Y.
Melinda Livsey (40:53): And usually that's, again, it's a big range because it's, every company is different. Every need is different, especially if you're doing strategy, is that you, you know, again, it's based off the goal and how much are they, how much do they think is fair to invest in achieving that goal? So if their goal is going to make them a hundred, sorry, a hundred, but let's say a million dollars in revenue then for that initiative, if there, if the goal and the end product, they're aiming at getting a million dollars more in revenue than what makes sense for them to invest with their, their budget or their resources that they have in order to get to that goal. So there's that way of going about it. So I, I usually, yeah, I usually will say a range. I, or I will say very well, or I will go with like, okay, I'm, I'm most likely going to come back with a number between this and this. If I did, how would, how would that go? How would that land for your team? Is that a possibility? But I've had a lot of luck too, and just asking for the budget straight, like straight away. So at least start there.
Hayley Akins (42:07): Yeah. I think like people tend to ask the budget, but then they're like, oh, well I dunno, like how much do you usually charge? You know? And I feel like the range is a great answer to that and something that I've definitely told people to do before, because I feel like, you know, as long as you're kind of giving yourself enough leeway in that, that you know, that it is kind of accurate, you know, like you said, big enough so that, you know, it's probably not going to fall outside of that then I think it's okay. And like you said, always say more or say more than you actually want for day rates. Anything, just be like, say more, cause then they'll use, everyone will try and negotiate. I feel like if you don't try and negotiate, then I feel like you're not a good business person. So don't be afraid to negotiate is what I would say as well, because I think it's I think it's really important, but I think we are afraid to negotiate. And that's why as creatives, like we ended up like, you know, kind of on the back foot sometimes because we're, we're scared to talk about money. So we don't want to, we're like, no, I don't want to talk about money. I just want to like make pretty things.
Melinda Livsey (43:16): Yeah. And then when we're asked to put a price tag on our creative work, again, if we're looking at the creative work as being valuable in and of itself disconnected from a business goal, then we're going to de-value that creative work because we'll think, well, it's only worth this to me, but is it really worth that to the client when we're not looking at it through the eyes of a business lens, we're looking at it through the eyes of a creative lens and thinking, oh, this is amazing. Like I really value this, but if I had to put a price tag on it, like, well, it's not worth that much. Or we price it based off of what, what we think the client has as far as budget. And we think that everyone has the same amount of money as we do or not as much money.
Melinda Livsey (44:00): And so then we think, oh, well, they can't afford it. And then we start negotiating against ourselves before we even get in the room or send the proposal and we're already thinking they can't afford it. And so I think that that's a common pattern I'm seeing too. And that I've, I've been guilty of this as well, where I just, I I'm basing someone. Else's like my assumption of what someone else has. As far as the resources or what it's worth to them, I'm putting my own lens on it. And I'm assuming, know what that is when I should just ask.
Hayley Akins (44:34): Yeah. I feel like the kind of, I dunno, the, the people listening, maybe they're thinking like, okay, yeah, Melinda, that's okay for you to say, but what about, you know, shouldn't we just charge everybody the same for our services, you know, wouldn't that be fairer, I guess that's my way of paying, like devil's advocate, like, you know, yeah.
Melinda Livsey (44:56): Oh, I'm glad you did. I'm glad you did. And I would come back and say
Melinda Livsey (45:00): That values
Melinda Livsey (45:02): In the eye of the beholder as in your client. And it goes back to the business goal. Every business goal is different and it's worth different things to different clients. So that's one, but also getting to that goal again, if we have a client who's trying to make $10,000 more a year, let's say versus a client who's trying to make a million dollars more a year. Those are different, very different goals. And they're going to require different ways of thinking and different approaches and potentially they might require more teammates to help get there. They might require, like, we don't know, we don't know what all is going to be needed in that case. So it's not just like, and I'm coming from customization and bespoke creative solutions, not using the same exact process for everything. I mean, it's not like a, I think of like how McDonald's has their process of how they make their burger. So everything comes out the same every single time. I'm not talking about that because that's a different, that's a different story. And that's productized services and, and whatnot. And I'm talking about the bespoke creative solutions. If they are bespoken creative, it makes sense to me, at least to price it based off of what goal are they trying to achieve because it's, it's all different. All of it's different.
Hayley Akins (46:27): Yeah. I think that, that makes complete sense. And thanks so much for saying that. Cause I think a lot of people would be like, yes, that's right. Like we didn't think about that before. So I appreciate that. Yeah. So just before we go, do you want to tell the audience where they can find out more about you and what you do?
Melinda Livsey (46:44): Yeah. You can find me on marks and maker.com. I have a free brand strategy, 1 0 1 mini course. And then I'm on Instagram, under Melinda, Lizzie, Twitter, Melinda lives underscore LinkedIn and then lots of YouTube stuff and on the future. Awesome. Well, thank
Hayley Akins (47:01): You so much for coming on the show. This has been great. Yeah.
Melinda Livsey (47:04): Thanks Hayley
Hayley Akins (47:06): Thanks again to Melinda for coming on the show. It was a really awesome episode. Thank you so much again to you for listening all the way to the end. I always appreciate it. And I look to hear from you. If you enjoy this episode, please do let us know. We are at motion hatch on Twitter and Instagram. Remember if you want to get our free social media guide for motion designers, you can go to motion, hatch.com / socialmedia. Thank you so much for listening. I appreciate you. See ya.
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