The “Why I do what I do” Challenge

Finding your why (and learning how to articulate it) is a tricky and scary thing. I think it’s like riding a bicycle. Once you figure out how ride, you’ll never forget. But, until then…you’re paralyzed by an intense fear of crashing into the neighbor’s fence and completely busting your shit.

A recent IttyBiz post challenged readers to answer some tough questions about their business, including the who, what, and why of it all. I’ve decided to take off the training wheels and give this a go. Whee!

What’s your game? What do you do?

I believe in easy, efficient, effective communication. I have an eye for editing out the visual and verbal clutter so your message comes across loud and clear.

How do I do it?

By talking to you about your goals. Why do you want to create this project? What does success look like?

By brainstorming and teasing out strategies. Who are we talking to? What do we want them to do? When, where and how should we deliver our message to our ideal people?

By helping you collect and create the blend of words and pictures that will articulate your message with ease. How can we get these ideal people to do that thing we want them to?

By massaging and editing that blend of words and pictures until it’s just right. What’s that main thing we wanted people to do? Is that clear? Does this have the “feel” that we want it to? Are we missing anything?

By delivering the final product on time and on budget.

    Why do you do it? Do you love it, or do you just have one of those creepy knacks?

    I absolutely love what I do. I think communication and the psychology behind it is so fascinating.

    Why do I do it? Because it kills me when a fabulous business is hiding behind a crummy, generic logo and tacky WordArt flyers. They deserve so much better than that! These beautiful, unique businesses deserve materials that reflect who they are.

    “But, I’m small. I just work out of my house. I don’t need anything fancy.” No one needs to know you work out of your garage! And, you might not need something “fancy” – but you do need something that quickly and easily let’s people know what you’re all about. Pay attention the next time you’re walking past some storefronts. Which ones look “expensive” and which ones look “cheap” or “friendly” or (insert adjective here). You can tell, even before you read the sign. Why? Design.

    Who are your customers? What kind of people would need or want what you offer?

    My best working relationships have been with other solopreneurs — coaches, consultants and creatives. These folks have been in business for a few years and are ready to take their image to a more professional, consistent level. They understand that the accurate portrayal of their business through their brand is crucial to their success. They are looking for a long-term collaborative partner.

    I want to work with clients that are open to dialogue about how the project can be improved. If you are always right, no matter what, then we are not a good fit.

    What’s your marketing USP? Why should I buy from you instead of the other losers?

    I can rock your pictures and your words. Because, seriously, you need both in order for your message to be effective. Great copy in a crappy design doesn’t get read. Confusing copy in a great design doesn’t get read either.

    Lucky for you (and your budget), I can help you with both. I can take a look at your rough draft and help you shape it into something that will fit the design and convey a strong brand message.

    Ever hear of the inverted pyramid? It’s a journalism thing: lead with the most important information, and cascade the details through the article in the order of importance. Many people stop reading after the first sentence. Don’t bury your main point in the third paragraph.

    When the copy doesn’t fit (and it almost never does), I don’t have to toss the problem back in your lap. Here, you fix this. I can edit it for you, or work with you to craft a tighter piece.

    Also, my clients think I’m pretty cool. Almost all of them have hired me more than once.

    Oh, and I work really fast. Especially when it comes to page layout.

    Um, and did I mention I might have a theme song?

    What’s next for you? What’s the big plan?

    First, I need to settle on the services I want to offer. Here’s where I’m at thus far (love to hear your feedback on this):

    I want to create partnerships with a few select businesses where I am their go-to-gal for all things marketing.  They aren’t so big where they need to hire a full time employee, but they have a steady need for design work. I can help them rebrand from the bottom up, or expand on what they’ve already got going on. I currently have two clients like this and I just love it. The work just gets better and better because I really know their businesses.

    I want to do e-book/info product design.

    I think I’d like to do e-mail newsletter design too.

    Finally, I’m kicking around the idea of offering a WordPress website package where I would customize an existing template. Clients would pick a theme (I’m thinking about basing it around the Genesis framework and child themes) and I would install and tweak it so it better reflected their brand. Add some plug-ins, supply some basic instruction, and off they go with a shiny new website. I’m trying to decide if this would appeal to the “I know this isn’t cheap, but I really can’t afford a $3,000 website” crowd. I’m considering the $1,000-$1,500 price point, which would include the framework + theme.

    Once I nail that down (and maybe I just did) – I’ll overhaul my website (which is currently already underway) and start my email newsletter. I also need to decide if I want to stick with this new label I’ve been kicking around… “the copywriting designer” (love your thoughts on this too).

    Then, I’d like to explore creating some info products of my own. I really like the idea of teaching and helping others. I’m also looking into starting a store on Zazzle, selling t-shirts and mugs and posters and such. I kinda miss the random art projects, and I think having a little shop could be fun, without all the inventory and shipping hassles.

    – – –

    This took me a really long time, but it turned out to be very cathartic. I highly recommend that you take the challenge too!


    Follow me on Twitter here.

    Find me on Facebook here.


    1. Deb Pang Davis on October 15, 2010 at 12:06 pm

      Congrats Danielle for saying it out loud.

      It’s amazing how many ideas start to come out when we are in the mind of describing what we do and who we do it for. It’s such a great exercise to do every 6 months or yearly. Good luck!

    Leave a Comment