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Micah Choquette is the owner of Upward Media, a one-man development firm that specializes in bringing small-businesses to the web. Based in Tulsa OK, Micah uses what he knows and learns what he doesn't to help his clients make their best impression. When he's not in the office, you can usually find him watching a good flick or hanging out with his wife.



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What Makes You So Special?
by Micah Choquette

Not long ago, I was on the phone with a guy who wanted to begin a graphic design business. His reason behind it was simple: he wanted to provide a cheap solution to the general public for graphic/web design. He planned to offer full blown websites for about $100. He wouldn’t be doing the work himself really, he would hire a team to do the work while he funded the company with his other job (a tedious, painstaking job I might add), and we when we got around to making a good profit, he’d step in and leave his other job in the dust, never looking back.

We exchanged emails and he said he’d found an office space; Great! He was getting calls from people wanting to work for him; Awesome! He was excited and I was glad for him.

I hadn’t heard from him in quite awhile when I ran into him by accident. I asked him how it was going. The whole operation was a bust. He was still at his other job, had spent a large amount of money in advertising and hadn’t gotten a single call for work. He said he’d continue to offer his services on a freelance basis, but didn’t really like the idea of starting up a company anymore. He gave me his card for his side job. I looked at it briefly and put it in my pocket before parting ways.

At home, I decided to see what he had to offer. I went to his website only to get a notice that the site was parked with Go-Daddy and coming soon. I took another look at his card—there were no less than twelve (twelve!) different services that he offered the client, all seemingly related.

In retrospect, I can see why it didn’t (initially) work out for him:

He hadn’t done his homework.
I could tell right from the start that about all the research he’d done was find out what the competition was selling for and it seemed as though he decided that all he needed to do was pitch a lower price and the clients would come knocking.

Talent was lacking or not reaching full potential.
There’s a chance that this guy had the touch of a great designer but just didn’t show it. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but from what he gave me, I wasn’t all that impressed. His card was black with white type and not at all looking like you’d expect from a graphic designer. A robotic font laid out in a criss-crossing manner makes it tough to read.

Failure to focus.
I think this is a common mistake of many who enter the freelance world. They are bursting with skill and all too eager to put it to use for you—“I can do web sites/ads/greeting cards/packaging/identity/photography/print/etc all while drinking a protein shake!” Although they may be able to do it all, no one can do it all well. Concentrate on what you do best, and offer the others if they become necessary to the client.

So that’s the point of this entire article: what makes you special? You might work in the field of design, but what you do best—that’s what you get hired for. It’s a win/win situation—the client gets quality, and you get to do what you love.

© 2007 Micah Choquette
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