This is my “painted picture” — the shape of my business in 2014 (three years from now). The idea is that by putting it into words, my picture has a stronger chance of coming true.
What I do
I do what I do because I have a passion for design. In particular, brand identity design. I love creating visual identities that help people in business surpass everything they set out to achieve.
New projects are secured through a number of means: I convert website visitors into clients by demonstrating the value I bring to companies of all sizes. My online presence attracts 1,000,000 visitors and 2,500,000 page views per month, and many people arrive having searched for my name with the specific intention to hire me.
In 2011 I appeared as the fourth result on Google.com for the term "graphic designer" and its plural "graphic designers." Today, only Wikipedia ranks higher.
Demand for my business is so high that I choose to work with only those companies in line with my values. Many of the projects I undertake are for non-profit organisations like Amnesty International, Marie Curie, and Oxfam.
Company directors and CEOs keep mentioning my name and recommending my work.
Design: The work I produce is inspired by studios and agencies like Johnson Banks, The Partners, Moving Brands, and SomeOne. The results I achieve are appropriate, distinctive, emotive, memorable, dynamic, and durable.
Writing: My books have been translated into 10 languages with more than 100,000 copies in print. They're used extensively throughout design colleges and have inspired thousands of designers to dramatically improve their working process and/or to become self-employed.
Coaching/mentoring: Designers hire me on a project-by-project basis to help them achieve fantastic results for their own clients.
I sub-contract specific design items to people who are better and making something brilliant. These items include web development, brand strategy, illustration, photography, leaving me to focus on what I most enjoy: designing brand identities.
I build my business through personal relationships with those who excel in their related professions. I have no employees, instead sharing client payments with sub-contractors when needed. Those I team-up with are very well paid because the work they produce significanly increases client profits.
The nature of my business means that I can work from any location with an Internet connection.
I've collaborating with clients from 25 different countries and the diversity keeps growing. Distance has no adverse effect on the design process, and can actually be a positive factor because no time is wasted travelling to and from meetings.
My website has received hits from every permanently populated country on the planet.
Google Analytics visitor map overlay for davidairey.com
When people want to talk, I'm the one who answers the phone. There's no filter.
I read every email I receive and respond to as many as I possibly can. I say what others are thinking, and don't tip-toe around the subject.
My website is highly-regarded in the design profession and is seen as a forum that provokes lively debate around topics affecting the lives of graphic designers everywhere.
I'm paid an annual five figure sum from sponsors of my online presence. The brands I highlight all offer a product or service of benefit to my site visitors, and sponsorship is kept to an absolute minimum so as not to detract from the quality of my site content.
Publishers and PR agencies send me copies of every new design book. Once read, I pass them onto my readers as a very small thank you for their support. Electronic manufacturers send me their latest products in the hope of reaching my audience through unbiased reviews. These products are also passed freely to my readers.
Word-of-mouth recommendations are frequent, due in no small part to the care and attention I give to customer service. I'm never working on more than two projects at once, and as such, my attention is fully focused on those who pay for my time.
The media call upon me for expert opinion on everything related to brand identity. I'm regularly offered paid gigs writing articles and giving opinion in both the on- and offline press. I share these pieces on my website to generate discussion and to learn from my readers, at the same time building credibility for my personal brand and those of the clients I've worked with.
I continue to increase profits year on year. A number of clients presented me with equity and stock options in their companies to allow me to benefit from the upturn in business I've helped create.
My expertise has developed to the extent where I work fewer hours than at any other stage in my career, yet with significantly higher earnings.
A sizeable percentage of money is earned through relatively passive income streams such as Amazon Affiliate sales and online advertising.
Much like Stefan Sagmeister's sabbaticals, I afford my family the benefit of regular extended time away from work. The new cultural experiences are used to further improve the results in my client projects.
I continually lower the time spent sat at a desk. I run five miles twice a week and use my home gym on three of the weekdays when not running. It's important to me that any family I'm fortunate enough to raise is brought-up in an active, health-conscious environment.
Every week contains time devoted to catching up with friends and family. When travelling for work, it's mainly to locations where I can either visit family and friends, or take them along for the experience.
I learn how to improve the design work I produce from people who run leading design studios and brand consultancies. They kindly take time out of their schedule to answer questions I have and to provide valuable feedback on my work. We communicate on the phone and by email.
There's really very little my mentors need in the way of help from me, but I insist upon regularly publishing insights into their working practices on my website in order to further spread their names, knowledge, and work around the world.
I feel incredibly fortunate to lead the life that I do. It's a simple matter of chance that I was born into a loving family in Northern Ireland with a roof over my head and food on the table instead of being orphaned at the age of five in the Kenyan township of Kibera. My business grows stronger alongside a deep appreciation for every chance that comes my way. I choose how and where to spend my time, and because of which, I'm relaxed, stress-free, but most of all, extremely grateful.
You'll find examples of the Painted Picture coming true in Cameron Herold's book Double Double, published by Greenleaf Book Group. My thanks to Cameron for what's so far a solid read on improving your business (I stopped reading in order to Paint).
If you've created a painted picture of your own business three years down the line, I'd love to see it.