[MI: Update 8] Pitches, Proposals and Presentations

What up, good people of the internets?

Here’s a quick rundown of the latest happening. I’ve put together a keynote document that now contains a template for use on future Modest Industries presentations.

It’s nice.

Clean, minimal, uses the modest icons and isn’t too word heavy (because who likes to read boring pitch fluff?). The first client document to use this new style is being used for retainer information. I’m still pushing for those monthly retainers.

The MailChimp email template is built and has already been sent out to a select few people. If you want to join this list – let me know.

Now. I want to share some wisdom on the perils of pitching for new business. Something I kind of had in the back of my mind but didn’t really think of as an issue until recently experiencing it first hand.

Putting a proposal together for a company and pitching it with a slick presentation is a long, drawn out process that can eat up more time and resource than first anticipated.

Development projects in-particular can quickly become a painful endeavour.

Research and scoping goes into putting an as-accurate-as-you-can-get price estimate together. Firstly there’s the initial meetings to outline the client’s problem. That’s step one. Now you need to figure out a solution before moving on to the process of exploring the right technology to use going forwards – which is great if the project is being built from scratch – if not, then you’ll need to dive deep into what currently exists…

You need to get into the nitty gritty bitty bits. The content, content management system, the database, it’s structure and entries, existing programming logic, what’s doing what, when and why, etc. etc. blah blah blah. It’s easy to see how someone can spend a lot of time delivering a quality estimate. Even then there’s no telling what hidden hurdles will unveil themselves when the project actually kicks off.

So what’s the solution?

In my eyes, it’s simple. Go after it if it’s worth it.

What’s worth it though? For me, if it’s something that I’m personally passionate about, and just the thought of pitching gets me dribbling with excitement, it’s worth it. Or if it’s the kind of client that with a little perseverance now, means I’ll reap the rewards of repeat business for years to come, then I’d say that’s worth it too.

Everyone’s different when it comes to valuing the worth of a project. It get’s complicated if you’re working with a partner company where a project means more to them than it does to you. Although it’s important to keep a good relationship, it’s also very important to stand your ground if you don’t think a project is worth going after. Perhaps recommend another company to take your place on that one.

Is that it?

Nope. There’s another solution which is common practice in other industries. Quoting for a quote. In practice I see this as having two routes:

  1. A free, very rough ballpark estimate on what you can look at and take at face value with pre-existing knowledge. This approach works best for visual jobs such as design, photography and videography.
  2. A quote for a quote. Meaning that the client pays, just to know how much they can expect to pay. It sounds counter productive, but when you consider what’s involved to supply a well researched timeline and cost, it makes sense.

Option 2 is best for bigger development jobs. The information needed isn’t usually visible by simply visiting an existing website (if one even already exists). It’s behind the scenes written with letters, angled brackets and passive aggressive developer comments.

There’s extensive technical research, knowledge and strategic foresight, sometimes needed from multiple people to pick apart the problem and forge an elegant solution. It’s a lot of time and effort and that deserves compensation.

What if – after paying for the quote – the project is too expensive?

If the project is going to be more expensive than the client can afford then it’s definitely better to know beforehand. Otherwise you’ll be looking at one of two scenarios:

  1. Spending far more than anticipated on something that may not be worth it to the detriment of your business, or worse…
  2. Running out of money half way through the project and having something half-built and useless that’ll never see the light of day.

I know what I’d prefer.

Key of Confidence

Today I was in an office supply store and stumbled across some mini cash boxes. These are small metal boxes that are lockable by key. Nothing new there but then I got to thinking… what if you used it as a kind of get-away box?

Allow me to explain my thinking here.

What if you could go through life with more control over how you live? I’m talking about the everyday restraints we adhere to. For example, let’s say you’re in a meeting at work, one of the senior people there makes a decision that you don’t agree with for whatever reason. People often worry about offering a conflicting opinion, with good reason. You don’t want to air your concerns and get on the wrong side of someone that can impact the progression of your career, right?

So what do you do about it? If, worst case scenario – you lose your job and don’t have a backup plan, you’re screwed.

The aptly named Key of Confidence is the key to this little mini cash box. The idea here is in addition to your regular savings, not instead of. Also, remember it’s almost always better to pay off any outstanding debt first before putting money into savings.

Here we go:

  1. Figure out, if you were to lose all source of income tomorrow, what steps you’d need to take and how long it’d be until you start earning enough money to live the life you’re living now.
  2. Calculate how much money you’d need to support you during this time and get things up and running.
  3. Keep that amount in a mini cash box, lock it, hide it well, and keep the key with you everyday.
  4. Use it. Use the knowledge of knowing that at the drop of a hat, you can walk away from everything and start again fresh. Use it as courage to stand up to your dickhead boss without fear of retaliation. Use it to make the right decisions for your life everyday.

Bam. That’s the Key of Confidence. Also known by it’s acronym as the FCKU Box.

[MI: Update 5] Doodles and Deadlines

Modest Industries Iconography
From watercolour sketches to beautifully rendered vector icons (if I don’t say so myself!)

It’s the final week of my self-appointed deadline to get the website live and everything else done. Working solo for the past month has been an experience. Good and bad. The good is that it gives me thinking time, I can get things done without needing to worry about processes or interdepartmental conflicts. The bad is that it can be hard to motivate yourself every single day and also it can get hella lonely. Everyone’s bloody working! It’s great not having to bump and grind on a daily commute to the office and having almost-empty roads whenever I drive somewhere during the day. Moral of the story – I need more some self-employed coffee shop friends. Maybe I’ll organise a working meet-up.

Now, what have I been up to this week?

Website:

The code is pretty much there. It works how I want and it scales well on different screen sizes. I’ve written the majority of the copy too which has helped a lot in visualising the end product.

After writing the copy I needed to make some changes to the layout. Lorum Ipsum is great but it’s also too easy to make look good so once I added copy there were inevitable tweaks that needed to be done. Mainly the sections where there’s alternating image and text side by side. I wanted to also have them align vertically to each other – which as other developers will know, vertical alignment can be a bitch – especially if the height needs to be dynamic and you’re also using nth-of-type and floats. Either way, it’s in a happy place right now.

All that’s left with the website is to finish making the accompanying icons and to take some photos.

Iconography:

I changed direction with the main style of my imagery from being borderless photos on white backgrounds to a flat, vector doodle style. The photography style will still be incorporated where people or physical products are involved, but for the majority of the site I’m now going with a bespoke set of icons I’ve been designing. You can check out some of them on the Modest Instagram. The more I make, the more ideas I have so the rest of this week will be making these and fitting them into the website.

Business Cards:

My first batch of business cards from Moo were terribly aligned so they gave me a reprint. The gold foiling on the original batch where I had the gold badge on the back bled into the detail too much so this time round I enlarged the gold badge and it looks kinda awesome. Think police badge mixed with American Psycho business cards. They’re badass. Aside from a few of the cards not having the gold foiling, I’d say about 90% of them were perfect.

Office Space:

I’m meeting a guy in London about office space this week. I’m not sure exactly what he’s thinking or what will come of it and I won’t know what the plan is until after meeting him, but it looks like a London office is a strong option on the table regardless of what happens here, the other option is Hertford as it has good connections to London and I’ll be moving in to a new flat there in March.

New Business:

It’s getting round to that time where I’m going to have to start scouting for new business. So far only some emails have been sent. Once the new website is live there’s going to be a big push for clients though even before the launch happens there’s currently potential for a couple of monthly retainers (design and development work), as well as website build and branding projects so it’s a good start. The feelers are also out for some employees. There will be a Vacancies page on the website when it goes live, chances are I’ll need one developer and one designer but these are dependent on the genre of clients that come through the door and the type work we’ll be delivering for them.

That’s all for now. Take care and don’t forget to follow Modest Industries on Instagram.

 

Foster The People

The more I watched this video the more I’ve gotten into this band called Foster The People.
They’re pretty dope. You can check them out here.

Len Chi: Tick Tock

Len Chi is a bloody genius. The way this has been filmed and the whole concept of it is beautiful. It’s touching, thought provoking and it even has a quote from Steve Jobs in it.

Peter Hurley Talks About Headshots


Watching this is just all kinds of inspirational. Me sitting here rocking my Canon 550D, him with his 50 MEGAPIXEL BEAST! If you’re into photography, you’ll probably find this interesting.

Dave Hill Photography

Just when I needed a dose of inspiration, it hits me like a kid playing on the train tracks! Dave Hill is a fantastic photographer, but more than that is his heavy use of post processing that makes his photos so astounding. After watching a couple of his “Behind The Scene” videos on Vimeo, I can kind of grasp the way he does his shoots, shooting each element separately from each other, cutting them out and then manipulating them together along with some other post processing techniques.

I love Photoshop and I’m getting into this Photography lark quite a bit so I may take try to make some pieces like this. It doesn’t compare, but my Self Portrait attempt, it seems (due to the cutting out of elements and heavy post processing photo manipulation) is a very small scale version of this manipulative photography. I have tried this before for a few things, but half the techniques I know now, I didn’t back then. All I need is some more equipment and an idea for a shoot, then maybe people will be blogging about my photography too!

Check out more of his work here, or click the images above.