What It Takes To Run Your Own Design Studio

Khula Design Studio founder and ADPList mentor, Jamie Windell, shares his first-hand experience, top tips, and best advice for running your own design studio.

21
January 2022
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Solopreneur

So you want to run your own design studio? Maybe you recently finished college, or you’ve been working in the industry a while. Perhaps you’ve been honing your skills at an established agency or freelancing, and now you’re ready to start your own company? 

Whatever your circumstances, running your own design studio requires an additional set of skills to the ones you already have. From managing multiple deadlines to hiring and managing a team of designers and other creatives, the challenges are endless.

But as Khula Design Studio founder and ADPList mentor Jamie Windell explains, when you get it right, the rewards can also be great. But where do you get started? And what exactly does it take to run your own design studio? Jamie shares his first-hand insight.

What exactly is a design studio?

One definition of a design studio is a group of talented designers creating designs, both offline and online, for smaller businesses. You’ll find many definitions online, but essentially a design studio is different to an agency in terms of size, the number of employees, and the type of services offered.

A design studio is smaller than an agency, and clients get a more boutique service. For example, at Khula, we offer a set of core design services to startups and small businesses-like branding and web design. We’re not a one-stop shop like a full stack creative agency.


Why start your own design studio?

If you’re a solo freelancer who’s looking to make the transition to studio owner, or you’re a graduate designer who dreams of starting your own business, the benefits to opening your own studio are three-fold:


  • Firstly, setting up a design studio as a separate entity allows you to build a brand and create equity in a business, rather than simply staking your own name and reputation as a freelancer. 
  • The second benefit is that it allows you to contract other designers and freelancers into your business — to help you execute on projects and services that you might not be able to fulfil on your own. 
  • Thirdly, as your studio becomes more established, you’ll get to know the types of clients and businesses you like to work with and carve out your own particular niche within certain markets.  

What are the day—to—day challenges of running a studio?

If you’re a one or two-person start-up, from day one you’ll need to be prepared to wear different hats from Finance Manager and HR Manager (managing people and contractors) to Creative Director and Account Strategist. It’s all on you, and you can expect a steep learning curve in the early-stages. It’s a challenge because you have to carefully juggle each area of the business with care and dedication. 

When you’re running the show, you need to nurture two things: the quality of the work produced, and the growth of your business. Whether you’re a small team or a solopreneur, time is limited, so be prepared to fail fast and iterate by taking an Agile approach to your workflows. Based on your client’s priorities, be realistic about the work that can get done to the quality you expect, in the time you have, and be clear about what won’t get done within a given timeframe. Don’t get caught out by only focussing on the work and not nurturing the business itself.

On that note, scope creep (or unregulated growth in a project’s scope after the project has begun) is a real thing. So make sure you set expectations with your clients upfront. Agree exactly what you’re delivering and the timeframe for delivery, ensuring you have clear outlines and scope defined. That way all parties involved, from designers to the clients, know exactly what to expect. This enables you to manage the feedback and revision loop with confidence and integrity, and within budget.  

Lastly, accelerated by the global pandemic and technological advancements in the way work gets done, it’s increasingly likely that you’ll be dealing with clients and contractors working in different timezones. This will inevitably add to the complexity of your day-to-day operations, and you will need to manage your time and communicate effectively to keep the projects and tasks moving.


What do you need to start a design studio?

Every early-stage business needs a clear business plan, and ideally a brand strategy in place. And you could think about hiring a brand strategist to help you. Whilst this is undeniably another initial expense, it’s also an investment in the long-term success of your business. Making this investment will help you to:


  • Unpack who you are. 
  • Decide what you have to offer.
  • Know how you will offer it.
  • Understand who your ideal clients will be.
  • Identify what makes you different from your competitors. 


Khula Design Studio went through this process when launching, and it helped set the tone for how we showed up, marketed ourselves, and created messaging that spoke to the exact type of target persona we wanted to attract to our business. We now have other design studios and marketing agencies come to us to help them with brand strategy, creating differentiators, and launching their business! 

Alongside the prerequisite design skills and an understanding of how a business works, the main thing you’ll need to get started is capital. Your initial outlay is going to be spent on decent equipment. Don’t be tempted to cut corners here. Design software, together all the software you’ll be using to run your business, requires a high performance computer. 

Something like a MacBook Pro is an expensive upfront cost, but for professional daily use, you need something fast and reliable. It’s better to invest in something higher spec than face painful delays as your machine struggles to cope. The other two key pieces of tech for a design studio owner are a high-quality headset for professional-sounding calls, and a desktop monitor with a large screen.    

Whatever business you’re thinking of starting, it’s always advisable to get six months of savings in your bank account. Launching as a design studio owner, your savings will give you the peace of mind you need to sleep at night when there are no sales coming in. And it also buys you time to focus on building your brand, networking with potential clients and building a network. This can sometimes take a few months, but once the ball is rolling, it rolls fast!

What should a design studio have?

Your design studio and brand are the people who work for it. And those people need to buy — in to your vision in order for your vision to succeed. You need the right people. You also need to build a team who can support you in areas where you require the most support. If you’re not good at sales or business development, hire someone or bring — in a partner who is. Play to your strengths and outsource the rest if you can. It’s advisable to hire an accountant to help with bookkeeping and taxes.


What are the costs associated with opening a studio?

The extent of your initial outlay depends very much on where you’re based, what you want from your office space in terms of size and location. The big question here is does a design studio require a physical space, or can it exist in the virtual environment? Working solo, you could easily work from a coffee shop or home. But you’ll need to consider meeting spaces when more local clients request a face to face meeting in person rather than over the screen. If, like Khula Design Studio, you have clients all over the world, you could save a lot of money by operating from home. It also means you’re not immediately responsible for bigger overheads like rent. 

The time when you’ll need to consider moving to dedicated office space is when you start onboarding staff. In an office space, you can collaborate a lot more easily, and it’s much better for building relationships in person rather than jumping on and off video calls. And as your business grows, it’s important to have a dedicated meeting room, a collaborative workspace, areas for workshops, and space to welcome clients. Obviously, renting premises is going to add to your costs.


How does a design studio find new clients?

So you’ve got all the right equipment and software, and you’ve got some savings in the bank. Your business plan, branding and website are good-to-go, there’s just one thing missing. Clients. It’s time to get out there and find some, right? But how? 

One of the key channels for driving new business, and this is how Khula Design Studio got started, is word of mouth. You might have someone in your family or social network who needs help with things like branding or a new website. Just through word of mouth, you can quickly ramp up your client base — so long as you’re or surpassing meeting your clients’ expectations. 

That extends to online platforms like LinkedIn, which offers great opportunities for business to business (B2B) networking. Using platforms like behance and dribbble are a great way to showcase your work, but they’re not best suited for lead generation. However, a good website will serve you well. Once it becomes established with long-form content like blogs and case studies, you’ll start to generate business through people finding you through ‘organic’ search terms. For example, try typing “branding for solopreneurs” into Google, and you’ll find Khula Design Studio pops up. 

Of course, there’s a huge range of marketing strategies you can use to get noticed, from placing paid Ads to auditing a company’s website by creating and sending a video analysing their existing site and discussing how you would improve it. It’s an audacious move, but it enables you to introduce yourself, showcase your expertise, and provide value by giving them free advice on improving their website. They might even approach you for a website revamp.     

One of the strongest tools for winning new clients is through advocacy from existing ones. If you can showcase testimonials and case studies of work that you’ve done. This helps to build authority and credibility, which in turn generates trust in your business. Think about the last time you purchased a product or service. Did you read the reviews first? Would you have gone ahead with a purchase without seeing some testimony from other people?  

Why do small businesses need to use design studios? 

When you’re starting a design studio, it makes sense to work with businesses who are at a similar stage of their development. And for many of them, especially those who are based offline, getting a professionally designed website and brand identity may not be top of their expenditure list. After all, why would they pay for something they can build for free using any number of apps or software packages? 

In the beginning, most small businesses might start with a do-it-yourself (DIY) brand and website, and that might be good enough. However, as their business grows, they’re going to need a more professional-looking brand image as they start to compete with existing businesses. The danger of not doing this is that over time, as they try to attract business from larger, more established clients, they run the risk of actually diminishing their brand. 

Without a clean, professional-looking, high resolution brand image, small businesses can have trouble attracting new business.

So what they require is something unique, something bold, and something that helps their offering stand out in the market. Your start-up design studio can help small businesses with mood-boarding, research and professional design services which puts them on the same footing as their competitors. They also need a consistent identity across all touchpoints with customers, so their brand is cohesive across all platforms and mediums, from the website to social media channels.

What are some challenges and opportunities of working with small businesses?

Working with smaller businesses, who aren’t necessarily familiar with digital design and websites, means it can be a hard sell to communicate the potential return on investment (ROI) of employing professional design services. Start-ups typically don’t have as much budget to spend on branding and web design.

So once your design studio is more established, it makes sense to work with equally more established organizations who have larger budgets to spend on their branding and website, and they also have more experience of digital design. However, if the client is too large, you may not have the resources to match their needs, and they may be better aligned with a full-stack agency with a complete team, rather than one or two person start—up design studio.

That’s not to say that high-quality design studios can’t come straight out of the blocks and work with bigger clients, but operationally, there may be a steep learning curve. A more viable approach might be to work with a series of start-ups to really hone your craft and streamline your workflows, going through a process of iteration to continuously improve. With improvement and refinement, you can start to attract medium-sized businesses because the way you’re working is better aligned with their expectations.

Advice for new design studio owners

One of the most important things to remember as a studio owner is to celebrate those small wins. Finished your latest website? Celebrate. Got great feedback from a client? Celebrate. All those small wins compounded over time — that’s what’s going to keep you on your journey. 

Learn to iterate. Not everything is going to work out perfectly first time. There’s always scope for improvement and potential to make change. Launch early and launch frequently — even if you just have a landing page — you can always build incrementally on what you’re creating.

To ensure your business is able to thrive, you’ll need to look after your finances. It’s the heartbeat of your company. You need to know how to create a proposal, how to cost out a job, how to calculate profit margins, and how to manage your cash flow. Finance should be at your core. It’s the heart of your business, and your business won’t function without it.  Pipeline Management is key. You need to ensure you have sales coming in. Getting those leads and converting them is crucial to maintaining a steady flow of work through your business.

Acquiring the right talent is also key. Resumes or CVs are one thing, but there’s real value in attitude. People can learn and develop skills. But it’s often much more difficult to change their attitude. When you hire, whether subcontractors or employees, make sure their attitude fits with your business. As we say, attitude over aptitude. 

Finding coaches or mentors is also a great way to ramp up your learning and experience. Having great people around you can help you tackle challenges, setbacks and improvements. 

When you’re a solopreneur or a two-person start-up, you need to be able to bounce your ideas off other people. A coach can help you on a personal and a professional level, and a mentor can help you with advice, give you ideas and help you to think outside the box. You don’t have to act on all the advice, but it can give you inspiration for how you can approach a challenge slightly differently.  

On that note, Nate O’Hara from NOKO Solutions is our go-to coach for ideas, challenges and goals. Having him in Khula’s corner really helps our business to pivot and grow.

Final thoughts on what it takes to run a design studio

If you’ve got grand ambitions for your design studio, that’s great, but it can be tempting to rush through and try to be everything to everyone. And definitely don’t try to do everything all at once. Your business can slowly evolve overtime. Have patience. As you start working with your ideal clients, you’ll start to adapt your positioning to better suit their needs and solve their problems.

As it is today, Khula Design Studio is a progression of everything we’ve done over the last 12 months. It’s like building a wall: lay one brick at a time. Don’t focus on building the wall, focus on adding one brick every day until the wall is built. 

Khula Design Studio is an award-winning, global strategic design studio dedicated to helping businesses transform and thrive.

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We get it. You’re a brand strategist, and you love diving into the details to deliver the big picture for your client. You know their mission, vision, and value proposition; you’ve got a clear picture of the competitive landscape; and you understand their audience. Not only that, but you’ve done their messaging, and maybe even the copy. Now your strategy is going to help your client (re)position themselves in the market. 

Next comes the tricky part: handing over your brand strategy to a team of designers, developers and creatives to deliver on your promise. There are a lot of roles to fill. Besides graphic design, there’s UX/UI design, web development, and copywriting. Whether you’re a freelance brand strategist or part of a small branding team, you can only wear so many hats. 

Sooner or later, your marketing engine is going to need more creatives to keep it running — research and strategy quickly turn into project management, or referrals to other creatives. In effect, you’re giving clients half the solution, and then putting them in someone else’s hands to execute your strategy.  

If those creatives don’t deliver, it reflects badly on your strategy — even if it’s great. That’s when contracting to a design studio makes a lot of sense. Here’s why.

1. A single point of contact

If you’re part of a network of other freelancers, it might be possible to assemble a full design team to execute your brand strategy. Chances are, they’re working remotely across different timezones and platforms. They also have their own schedules and other clients to consider. 

Onboarding, unifying, and collaborating with multiple freelancers on a single timeline for project completion is no easy feat. Right now marketing and IT talent are in high demand, so if another project comes along that takes priority over yours, you stand to lose expertise, capacity, and time. Say it’s your UX/UI designer — any delay from their end impacts the rest of the website build.  

By partnering with a design studio, everything is handled for you. It’s like having your own in-house design team doing all the heavy lifting. They’re a silent partner executing your strategy. And the best part? It all happens through a single point of contact, so you’re not having to manage multiple creatives to get the job done. 

2. Totally devoted to you

As a freelance brand strategist, there’s always the option to work with one of the big design agencies. From graphic designers to SEO specialists, they’ll certainly have the in-house expertise needed to execute your strategy. The problem is that they’ll also be serving multiple other clients, and you may not get to meet your creative team in person. 

With all that time invested in getting to know your clients, it seems counterintuitive to contract-out the creative execution to people with no relationship to them or you. Partnering with a smaller design studio means you can actually deal directly with the team responsible for delivering the brand identity, website, and copy. 

Typically, a design studio will work with a single client and have another in the pipeline, so they’re totally devoted to one project at a time. Collaborating with a design studio means you get a closer connection, a more thorough understanding, and a better alignment with your client’s brand strategy. 

3. Expertise built around you

With a design studio, not only do you get a closer relationship with your creative team, you also get a ready-made pool of technical talent to support the execution of your brand strategy. This saves you time sourcing, hiring, and onboarding the right freelance talent to get the job done.  

A good design studio will put together a team to suit your client’s specific needs. That includes delivering on the technical side of the website such as website performance, SEO fundamentals, and connecting Google Marketing Platform and its sub-products such as Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager. In fact, they’ll help you build and roll out the brand way beyond strategy and messaging.

4. Project management you can trust

When you bring onboard multiple freelancers to a project, it’s time-consuming and costly. With multiple moving parts, it’s easy for something to go wrong or slip through the cracks. This can end up negatively impacting the client’s experience of your services, and therefore your own brand’s reputation.

With a design studio, not only do you have a single point of contact, but any issues with contractors, like the availability of certain expertise, is out of your hands. It’s down to your design partner to take care of the day-to-day and smooth-running of the design execution. 

Put simply, all the heavy-lifting is done for you, so you can sit back and let someone else drive the project forward on your behalf.

5. More time to focus on new business

There’s no question that project managing the execution of your brand strategy takes you away from what you love. 

Putting your brand design in safe hands means you can free-up time to focus on other activities that add-value to your business, whether that’s reaching out to new clients, or starting with your next strategy project. 

Either way, hiring a design studio gives a brand strategist the perfect opportunity to offer clients a complete end-to-end service from market research right through to the launch of their new brand identity and Webflow website.

“KHULA has been the missing link I’ve needed to deliver beautiful brands and websites that fit the brand strategy and copy I develop for clients. Jamie has solid communication skills. He answers questions quickly and in detail and is a genuinely positive person. I always leave our calls 1) impressed by the work he delivers; 2) in a good mood. For businesses looking to strengthen their brand and website, look no further!" — Reagan, Brand Strategist

Be the hero to your clients

Partnering with a design studio gives brand strategists the creative and technical talent they need to deliver more for clients. Not only do they get to oversee the execution of their brand strategy, they also have the opportunity to add value by not sending clients to a third party to create their brand identity and website.

By contracting KHULA to operate in the background, brand strategists get to play a bigger part in clients’ lives and create more meaningful impact on their business. They also get to take extra credit — and earn a little extra — by delivering the final brand identity and website without building it themselves. 

When you work with a design studio which has helped hundreds of small businesses refresh their brand image, you get an identity design and website with marketing assets that are all cohesive and create a unified brand experience for your clients. 

Wondering what that might look like? Take a look at this case study that showcases a cohesive brand image at every touchpoint, from the logo and the website right through to social media posts and marketing campaigns.

How it works with KHULA

At KHULA Design Studio, our brand strategist partnerships typically work like this:

Step 1

We formulate the visual side of the brand based on the strategy and research you conducted with the client. That includes mood boarding, creating a solid logo concept, and helping you develop a strong brand identity.

Step 2

We take your web copy, refining it where needed to create the UX/UI web design before building the site in a no-code, all-in-one platform, Webflow.

Step 3

We set up the technical side of the website, conduct a comprehensive go-live checklist,  including SEO fundamentals, ensuring everything’s ready to launch. 

"I worked with Jamie as a consultant to help me grow my own design and development studio. I was looking for a mentor/coach, but hadn't found anyone that I "clicked with" and that I felt could help me take my business to the next level. From the moment Jamie and I got on a call, I knew I had found the perfect match. He's energetic, insightful, and, most of all-- He just gets it. The level of strategy he brings to the table is unmatched, and I'd recommend KHULA Studio to anyone who's looking to grow their business and delight their customers." — Josh, HMPSN Studio

For freelance brand strategists, KHULA Design Studio has a proven process and framework, plus a streamlined way of working. See what we offer. 

Interested in finding out how you can partner with us? Book a complimentary call here

5 Reasons Why Brand Strategists Partner With A Design Studio

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Solopreneur

Whether you’re a social media savvy solopreneur or bricks and mortar small business owner, you may have seen and heard a lot recently around the concept of ‘niching down’. 

Not only is there a hot debate about how to pronounce it correctly (for me, it rhymes with Quiché, for others it rhymes with rich) there’s also lots of discussion around whether it’s the right thing to do for small businesses and solopreneurs. 

The reason? Done right, knowing it's the right time to niche down can open up huge business benefits. Done wrong, it can close down potential business opportunities.

So first off, what do we mean by niching down?

What is niching down? 

A niche is a specialized segment of a market for a particular product or service. So when we talk about niching down, we’re referring to the specific market you’re in, not your product. 

A niche product caters to a high specialized, low volume, consumer demand, which often leads to premium pricing. A good example of a niche product would be vinyl records, which attract music purists who value the authentic sound quality and packaging. 

In contrast, in a niche market, your product or service provides a very specific solution to a very specific problem. For instance, if you’re a personal trainer, then your target audience might be people who want to get fit. Niching down means refining that audience further. 

So, maybe you specialize in helping women get fit. 

Or maybe, you go deeper and your core audience is actually ‘busy mums who stay healthy’. 

Or, further still, working mums looking to build in exercise around work and childcare.

And so on. 

You might be thinking that’s getting too niche, but the reason that niching down is no longer a limiting factor is that social media and the Internet now enable businesses to reach a smaller, more niche audience, on a global scale. 

Let’s start by taking a closer look at the reasons why some small businesses and solopreneurs decide to go niche.   

Why do small businesses and solopreneurs go niche? 

So niching down has got your attention: it might be something you’re thinking about doing, or possibly something you’ve already done (maybe without even knowing it). You might be wondering why so many business owners make the choice to go more niche. Here are four common reasons for niching down:

  • When you go niche, you go deep. By specializing in a more specific niche, you create an opportunity to become a thought leader and go-to expert in your field.
  • With a clearer idea of who your specific target audience is, such as working mums finding time to exercise around work and childcare, it’s much easier to create relevant content.
  • By focusing on one, or a smaller set of problems, you can focus your attention on creating a more specific solution, or a set of solutions, that really resonate with your audience. 
  • The most obvious reason to go niche is that when you narrow down to a particular target group, you automatically reduce the number of competitors. 

How can niching down benefit a small business? 

Plain and simple, businesses wouldn’t niche down if there weren’t tangible benefits to their bottom line. And as the saying goes, if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no-one. 

With a niche, it’s much easier to reach your target group because you know them so much better. And when you produce a piece of content, you know that it’s much more likely to resonate with them and, if you’ve got it right, gain much faster traction within your community.  

By being so specialist, you immediately differentiate yourself from more broadly-focussed competitors, which means you can start to position yourself as an expert in your niche. By becoming uniquely specialized, you also make it more difficult for other competitors to copy what you do or enter the market. 

Taking that position also creates a sense of trust, and people within your community will start to view you as an authority. You’ll start to become the go-to business. With a niche, you have a much clearer understanding of how to engage with your audience.

For a good analogy, let’s take rocket science. If you wanted to know the answer to a technical question about rocket science, would you ask a science teacher, who has very good but general scientific knowledge, or an actual rocket scientist who specializes in that particular field? 

When your aim is too broad, it’s likely that your presence is going to be less keenly felt. In a broad network, it’s difficult to find quality leads. However,  tapping into a smaller market enables you to make much more meaningful connections with clients and customers. And the chances are that they have similar pain points and needs which your product or service can help support.

When you truly understand the needs of your target audience, you can build a stronger relationship with them, and can create much more tailored messaging. This gives you a much clearer focus for things like your brand identity and website.  

What are the pitfalls of niching down for small businesses?

As you may have already seen from social media, opinion is very much divided on niching down. For entrepreneurs and small business owners, this can create uncertainty, making them feel unsure whether the time is right to niche down or not. 

As we’ll see, there are different approaches you can take to niching down, but one of the common concerns is that niching down potentially excludes your product or service from certain clients, losing you potential business. 

Let’s take our personal trainer example again. If they help working mums find time to exercise around work and childcare, does that mean they can’t work with clients from other demographics? Not necessarily, but the way your business is set up for a particular group will not have the strongest appeal outside their niche.

The other potential pitfall is that if your brand identity and messaging doesn’t resonate strongly enough with your target audience, you may find yourself backed into a corner and unable to grow your business. In that scenario, how do you broaden your niche in order to attract different target groups?

To ensure your brand resonates strongly enough with your target audience, you need to ensure you’ve picked the right audience. How? Well, this might depend on your chosen approach to niching down.

How can small businesses approach niching down?

Every business is different, and so there’s no one right or wrong approach to niching down.  It’s up to the owner to decide on the approach that suits their business needs, and how far to take it. And that very much depends on their business model and their industry. 

There are two approaches to consider:

  • Too Niche: If you already know your market, and you’re confident about the niche that your product or service fits into, by specializing from the get-go, you’re going to create deeper connections faster with that smaller group. And when you’re well established amongst that very specific community, over time you can broaden out your offering to take in related markets. By the same token, you might also discover more opportunities vertically which strengthen your business without having to step outside your niche.
  • Looking to niche down? Here is a nice video from Pat Flynn, Author, Podcaster & Serial Entrepreneur

  • Not Too Niche: It’s okay not to know your niche from the start. So if you begin broad, it can help you to identify a niche further down the line. It may not be something you had in mind when you started out, but it’s something you discover over time. If you’re a data-driven organization, analysis might reveal that you’re connecting with a particular demographic, or group of customers, or that there’s a common trend for why customers are reaching out to you. That means you can start broad and narrow down. 

Reaching out to your niche

Whatever niche you’re in, it’s important that your brand identity, brand messaging, and website resonate strongly with your target audience.

At KHULA Design Studio, we get to know you, your business, your customers — and your niche — so we can deliver the right design solutions for your brand, whether you’re a solopreneur or a small business owner. 

See what KHULA could do for you. Take a look at our work.

To Niche Or Not To Niche? That Is The Question

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Solopreneur

Copywriting might not come naturally for you, but hey that’s okay. After reading the article below, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a worthy wordsmith — one that can pen everything from social media captions to best-in-show blogs that lure customers in like a saucy siren. 

 

Let’s highlight some stats to start with.

- Around 7 million blog posts are published per day.

- A 2011 study by AOL/Nielsen showed that 27 million pieces of content were shared every day, and today 3.2 billion images are shared each day

- The top 3 content marketing tactics are social media content (83%), blogs (80%), and email newsletters (77%)

- Headlines with eight words had a 21% higher clickthrough rate than the average title, according to the folks at Outbrain

Yup — there’s lots of content out there already. Lots. But rather than add to the noise, the trick is to try and cut through it — to stand out among competitors and speak directly to your target customers. 

A woman is typing on a laptop | “Let us march!” Creating content that captivates & converts | Khula Design Studio

You need to grab their attention – but where do you start? 

Here are some best practice tips provided Dave Barton, founder of copywriting agency, tbc/wtf. He’s worked with some on the biggest B2B tech brands out there — such as Microsoft and Oracle — as well as some up and coming startups.

Despite what many may think, copywriting isn’t just about words. It’s about conveying intentions and emotions. At KHULA Design Studio we always say it’s about establishing a relationship with your reader — setting an authentic tone for the nature of your interactions. 

Or, in other words, it’s talking to them about something that matters to them — in a way that they’ll relate to and act upon.

Know Your Audience

It’s vital to know who you’re writing for. The more you understand about them, the easier it is to address them in the right way. That doesn’t mean you need to know the age of their cat or their inside leg measurement. It just means appreciating who you’re addressing, and what will resonate with them.

Selling toothbrushes to 45 year olds? Talk about the importance of dental hygiene. 

Selling toothbrushes to 6 year old kids? Talk about crocodiles. 

Decide The Impact You Want To Have

Copywriting is commercially-focused. It needs to influence people – whether that means asking them to ‘sign up’, ‘buy now’ or ‘give me two minutes of your time’.

It goes without saying that you want your prospect’s attention – but what are you actually trying to do? Persuade? Inspire? Activate? Explain something? 

The intention drives the impact. Writing’s a bit like acting in that respect - there’s a meaning behind every single line that we need to convey: and it’s not necessarily the same meaning as the word that’s on the page!

Appreciate The Context Of Your Interaction

Are you attracting new customers? Coaching existing ones? Driving traffic to a landing page? Online? Offline? Via a banner ad, social media message, or piece of direct mail? 

Content may be king, but context is certainly queen. Knowing where, how, and when the message will be delivered affects the copy you’re creating too. 

Know The Rules (And Then Break Them)

Depending on the context, there are ‘technical rules’ around copywriting. For example: focus on keeping a blog title under 70 characters so it doesn't get cut off in search engine results. For web development, this is important to help with SEO best practices.

But just as important, is playing with them. Sometimes this means communicating with clarity — particularly important in B2B when products and services can appear complex. 

However, other times this means speaking to your audience about something they expect in a way they don’t expect, or talking about something they don't expect in a way they expect. 

Don’t be scared to give your words some flourish: a hint of enchantment and a big dose of personality — as long as you understand what personality you’re conveying and know that it’s the kind of voice your audience will not only want to hear, but will actually listen to.

Always Address Your Audience

The one golden rule — to always remember — is to make sure you’re speaking directly to your audience. Be open, honest, and human with them. Seek to establish a kind of ‘alarming intimacy’ with them — whether you’re selling software or sandwiches. 

Talk about what matters to them — their pain points, the solutions they’re looking for. And do it in an authentic, relatable way. That’s what’ll incite them to action.

It’s both arrogant and unrealistic to assume that your product or service will appeal to everyone, everywhere. So decide who you want to target/who’s most likely to engage with your message and go from there. 

And, if you don’t get the results you want, try something else. Keep testing. Keep experimenting. Find what works for you. 

As a design studio, we are constantly testing, iterating and seeing what works and doesn’t work for our audience. Over the time, we are gradually becoming more and more aligned with what our audience wants and needs. In return, it helps improve our online presence’s performance and improves our SEO score. We just need to keep iterating, and keep marching. Being agile is the key! 

“Let us march!” Creating content that captivates & converts | You got this | | Khula Design Studio

“Good advertising is written from one person to another. When it is aimed at millions it rarely moves anyone.” – Fairfax M. Cone

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Some guidelines to abide by when writing captions:

Know your audience

Identity your brand voice

Place the most important words in the beginning 

Make it engaging.

Set the right expectations. A blog title needs to be more descriptive than the title of a magazine article. ...

Keep it short and sweet.

Include a keyword but don't go crazy.

Learn from others.

Ask Questions To Encourage Engagement.

Use Emojis To Show Your Personality.

Tag a friend or two

Include a call to action

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Here are a few Power Words for writing emotional headlines:

Free

Sale

New

Growth

Proven

Magic

Delighted

Download

Simple

Direct

Wealth 

Bottomline

Successful

Unique

Affordable

Strong

Unlimited

Discount

Valuable

Challenge

Advice

Amazing

Exciting

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Here are some blog title examples that work and can you help you get into the notion of writing:

How to _____ that drives ______

How to get rid of ______

Ultimate guide to ______

Creative way to ______

Top 10 things to ______

Supercharge your ______

What no one tells you about _____

Most effective tactics to ______

Tips for a busy ________

Insane _____ that will give you _____

Questions you should ask before _______

Smart strategies to  ______

How I made _____ in ______

Most popular ways to _____

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All in all, good writing — or at least good copywriting — shouldn’t draw too much attention to itself. It shouldn’t be ‘showy’ in a vacuous way. It has a specific job to do.

As was said in Ancient Greece – when Cicero spoke, the people said, "How well he speaks" but when Demosthenes had finished speaking, they said, "Let us march.”

Always aim to get them marching.


“Let Us March!” Creating Content That Captivates & Converts

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