Peaches & Business

Low-hanging fruit. We’ve all heard the old saying in regards to gaining new customers and pursuing new business. It means to go after the easiest clients to get… the ones that take little effort. But before you do that, let me tell you a little story…

The Peach Tree

We have a gigantic peach tree in our backyard. The other day I decided that I was going to harvest all of the peaches that I could before the birds beat me to it. I grabbed a bowl, headed out to the tree and got to work.

I immediately grabbed the peaches on the lower branches because… well… they were the easiest to take. My dog was harassing me the whole time trying to snatch them from my bowl or directly from the branches. Frankly, some of them were quite rotten so I had to throw them away.

While I am a tall human being, there were many peaches that were way out of reach. So, I dragged out my a-frame ladder to reach the hard to get peaches I hoped tasted even better than what was at the bottom of the tree. I climbed up the ladder and reached as high as I could. While I was reaching as far as I could without tipping, there was a monsterous beetle buzzing me the entire time I was working. I even got dive-bombed by a bird at one point. I thought to myself, “Is this really worth it?”

After about 20 minutes of peach harvesting, I decided that I had gotten all the peaches that I could. With a bowl overflowing with fresh peaches, I went back inside to begin the jelly making and canning process. In the end, I ended up getting about 8 jars of delicious peach jelly. It was totally worth it!

So, why did I tell you a story about peaches and why is the title of this article “Peaches and Business”? Everything I experienced during my fruit harvest relates to pursuing new customers for your business.

The Low-Hanging Fruit

While the low-hanging fruit may be easier to get and there is more of it, it’s not always the best choice as far as gaining long-term client relationships. If you offer the cheapest rate just to undercut your competition, those customers who came to you because of that cheap rate may leave you for the same reason… someone else will be cheaper next time. The low-hanging fruit can also have ‘dogs of business’ fighting for the same fruit. Also, that low-hanging fruit may be more rotten than the fruit that resides a little higher on the tree.

The Hard-to-Reach Peach

It might take more work and time on your part to reach the higher fruit on the harder to reach branches, but that fruit will most likely taste even sweeter. Sure, there might be some competition buzzing you or technology that is trying to distract you from your goal, but you have to stay focused. The business that you can gain by reaching farther and pushing yourself could turn out to be the best client you’ve ever had. Sometimes the ‘long-play’ will result in even deeper customer relationships and more trust – keeping them with you when the dogs of business pursue their low-hanging fruit.

That’s Just Peachy

If you want to grow your business and build better client relationships, consider reaching a little higher and going the extra mile. When you are able to finally harvest those hard-to-reach peaches, the reward will be so much sweeter!

At Mr. Freeland Design, we strive to help you reach the sweeter fruit at the top and avoid the rotten fruit that the other dogs are fighting for. Contact us today and we will provide the tools necessary to reach more clients with a more concise message. And that’s just peachy!

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Service with a Smile


Today is evidently World Smile Day. And lately I’ve been thinking a lot about smiles and how powerful they can be. As Buddy the Elf would say, “I just like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite!”

Have you ever walked into a store to purchase something and the person working the counter notices you, but doesn’t greet you? Have you walked into a shop where the employee greets you with a huge smile and a verbal “Welcome to ______!” Notice the difference? Which business would you want to return to? Most likely it’s the one where you are greeted with confidence and with a genuine smile.

Today, service with a smile seems to be a lost art.

At your company, are the employees taught and coached to smile at customers when they walk in the door? Does your sales team greet potential customers with a smile and a firm handshake? Do your cashiers greet people with a smile when ringing up their items? If you answered no to any of the above, you need to re-evaluate your employee training techniques.

Smiling Sounds Better

It even shows over the phone. Smiling when you talk on the phone can actually make you sound more friendly. One thing that is taught to phone reps (or should be if it is not) is to smile when answering the phone to achieve better customer service. Are you teaching your employees to smile even while on the phone?

Smiling is Contagious

When you see someone smile, your automatic instinct is to smile back (hopefully!). It’s in our nature. Smiling at someone can brighten their day, even if it’s a stranger on the street. Most people will return a smile, even if their day is not necessarily going ‘as planned.’

Save the Drama for Your Mama

We all have personal lives filled with ups and downs. That’s life. But once that personal drama begins to interfere with work, that’s a problem. Customers do not care that your cashier has been on her feet for 6 hours. They don’t empathize with an employee’s bad attitude because that staff member only got a 15 minute lunch break. People are at your business to do business. It’s that simple. Bad attitudes result in bad return for your business.

Without even getting into any scientific data about endorphins or your muscle system, smiling can actually make you feel better. Try it. Right now. Do you feel better already?

Don’t make today the only day you or your employees smile while at work. Make every day World Smile Day!

Choose Their Own Adventure


I used to love to read “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. Some of the best were by Edward Packard. I loved them because I was in control of the decisions. I chose where the heroes went. (And if I didn’t like the choice, I would keep my finger on the previous page and just go back to it. Maybe that’s cheating, but who didn’t do that?!) This weekend, I picked one up for my son to read so he can experience the same adventures that I did with these stories.

Today, consumers are choosing their own adventure before buying.

In today’s socially connected world, every consumer is on a choose your own adventure journey. Before the majority of consumers buy a product or pay for a service, they start researching online. They ask their friends who they would recommend. They crowdsource answers on Facebook or read reviews on Yelp. We compare and contrast by price (lowest to highest), by customer ratings (best to worst) and by the detailed amount of features or services listed.

We are all bombarded by content. Every. Single. Day. Research would also say that the attention span of a human (8 seconds) is now shorter than a goldfish (9 seconds) (via cbc news). Consumers are choosing to engage only with content that is personally relevant to them and adds value to their everyday life.

How do you cut through the clutter? How are you reaching your potential customers? Are they choosing to read the content you share? Do they click through to your website only to be turned off by the design or the way your site functions (or rather… malfunctions)? You could say that they “kept their finger on the previous page” and just hit the back button to revisit their Google search. Give them the adventure they are looking for by having relevant content, a user-friendly website, or a value-adding social media presence.

Consumers today are more prepared than ever BEFORE they even contact you!

If your company is not proactively marketing and finding out how to get in front of the decision-makers and the time of purchase (or at least the start of their research), you need to rethink your strategy. As your brand and marketing consultant, I can help you make certain that your organization is consistent in messaging across all of your online avenues, including your website, social media and online advertising. If you are still stuck in old school, more traditional marketing tactics, let’s start a conversation today about converting your efforts to digital marketing.

I can help you guide potential customers through a choose their own adventure… with your business as the central hero in the story.

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The Day I (Almost) Got Scammed

The Day I Almost Got Scammed - It's a Trap!

Sometimes, the age old advice of “Don’t talk to strangers” can apply in the business world. I’m not talking about general cold calls or prospecting for your business, but I am going to talk about the day I almost got scammed.

Last week I received a project inquiry via a text message. Fairly random, but all seemed legit at first. This person asked me if I was interested in a project because they needed a web designer. I texted back saying that I could help, but if they could email me some details on the project we can begin a conversation.

Their email read as follows:

Thanks for getting back to me, I have small scale business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in MI and the company is based on importing and exporting of Agriculture products such as Kola Nut and Cocoa so i need a best of the best layout design for it. I hope you can handle that for me. Check out this site: (external link removed…), I will be happy if you can give me something better than this if its possible. The site would only be informational, so i need you to give me an estimate based on the site i gave you to check out. The estimate should include hosting and i want the same page as the site i gave you to check out. I have a private project consultant, he has the text content and the logos for the site.


1. I want the same number of pages with the example site i gave you to check excluding videos and blogs.
2. I want only English language
3. I don’t have a domain yet but i want the domain name as
4. you will be updating the site for me.
5. i will be proving the images, logos and content for the site.
6. i want the site up and running before ending of next month.
7. My budget is $3000 to $5000

Kindly get back to me with:
I. An Estimate
II. Cell-Phone Number


Okay, my next question was “How did you come across my company?” Since I like to thank any referral partners who pass my info on and I track where leads come from, I am always curious as to where people hear about me. I was interested to learn they found me on

Okay, still seems somewhat legit.

Despite the fact that he seemed pretty demanding and requested immediate responses via text message, I emailed back and said that I would like to have a Discovery phone call to discuss more of the project, which ‘James’ agreed to do. However, I then told him that prior to our conversation I would need to see some more documentation from him about his company, so I requested the following basic information specific to his type of business:


Can you please provide the following:

A copy of your US agriculture import/export permits.
Your formal business name, address & telephone number.
Your private project consultant’s name & telephone number.
A tax ID number for the business.

Once I have this additional information, we can proceed with our phone call.

Best regards,

After that last request, I never heard from him again, despite his initial push to contact me and expect immediate responses. So, I did a little more research and this email is similar to others that appear to be targeting designers and web companies. I found a similar case on Graphic Design Forum with almost an identical email inquiry. Evidently, these scammers request that after they give you their credit card number, you then use that card (most likely stolen) to pay their ‘private project consultant.’ Although I never got that far into it, this has apparently been going on for a while now and others have almost been scammed by the same inquiry.

Be careful and don’t talk to strangers!

The moral of the story: ALWAYS do your research on prospective customers. ALWAYS ask the right questions up front. And ALWAYS get the right documentation in place before you sign on with a new prospect.

Too Busy To Care

toobusy_headerThese days, when someone asks us “How are you?” the typical answer in most cases is: “I’m busy.” It’s no longer the norm to answer the question as “I’m fine.” or “Doing great!” It’s not about how we are doing, it has become more of what we are doing and how much of it we are doing. We are too busy to care – or at least that’s what it may look like to customers.

Our lives – especially around the end of the year holiday season – have become so busy that we no longer appreciate the little things. We have apparently made the choice to fill our lives with activities and scheduling, instead of filling our life with quality time spent with people. I’m talking about real people here, not your Facebook or Snapchat friends. I’m talking about real customers and referral partners for your business. When is the last time you connected with them? (Besides sending them a bill – that doesn’t count)

Recently my family and I went to a pizza restaurant. We ordered a large pizza – half cheese, half meat – and sat down to wait for our delicious dinner to arrive. About 45 minutes later, the pizza was finally done! During the wait time, I had approached the counter to ask about the status of our order and the woman behind the counter answered the phone – TWICE – instead of helping me, a live customer standing right in front of her. Then, when the pizza was finally dropped at our table, there was no apology for the wait. She simply said, “We’re busy” and walked away. Needless to say, we were not happy customers and afterwards went straight to Yelp to give our thoughts on the restaurant.

Always keep in mind the power of Word of Mouth advertising!

How have you treated your customers recently? Are you ‘too busy’ to manage your current client relationships or referral partners? As with the pizza place, if your excuse for terrible customer service or delayed service/product delivery is “We’re too busy,” then your customers aren’t going to stick around. And you have to always keep in mind the power of Word of Mouth. Today, people go to their family and friends (and internet reviews) for recommendations on where they should buy or who they should hire, so your reputation is on the line with every customer you serve.

Don’t get wrapped up in pursuing things that may take you away from retaining your current customer base and developing your referral partner network. Don’t let yourself get too busy that you are working 80-hour weeks and your family life suffers. Don’t let your answer to “How are you?” be “I’m so busy!” People don’t care how busy you are, but they definitely care if you come across as too busy for them. Be careful, or they might become ‘too busy’ to stay in contact or give any more business to you.

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Telling a Good Story

tellastory_headerI’ll be honest: I don’t really care what you do. No offense with that statement. It’s not that I don’t care about what you do for a living. I do care, BUT I don’t care what you do… unless you tell me why you do it. Tell me your story.

I don’t care if you are a chef, a YouTube star, a city commissioner, a photographer, a small business owner, or a CEO. If you don’t tell a compelling story – and if you and your team don’t talk about that story – then how do you expect others to talk about it? People will share interesting and – sometimes – strange things. Are you interesting? Are you strange? Strange in the sense of going against the normal business model? Odd in the case of a unique product or service that no one else offers?

Be interesting. Be odd. Stand out from the crowd. Go against the grain. Swim upstream. Do something that no one else is doing. Go where no one else is going. THEN people will notice you.

As I have said before, everyone loves a good story. You know that feeling when you are immersed in a good book and can’t put it down? You are walking around the house reading it while trying to get the kids ready for school. Your “Just a minute” turns into an hour of reading because you finally reached the climax of the novel! This is why libraries are filled with shelved overloaded with stories. Imagine walking into a library and the shelves are empty, or all of the books are the same. How boring would that be?!

Are you telling a good story? Or are you telling the same story as everyone else?

People – your potential customers – are constantly seeking a new, captivating story. That is why sites like Facebook, YouTube and Upworthy are filled with stories that people share with their friends and family. People want to be the first to share an interesting new story. Consumers will consume your story if they are delighted to find an interesting read. Your story will spread exponentially if people – especially the right people – share it with their circles of influence.

I have talked about overcoming the fear of sharing before, so you should just start sharing your unique, odd, fantastic, interesting story. Who cares what others think?

To bring it home, I don’t – and won’t – care what you do… unless you tell me a good story.


How to Be (Un)Professional on LinkedIn


If you have a LinkedIn profile set up, please keep reading. If you do not have one yet and are not a LinkedIn All Star, you should definitely keep reading.

LinkedIn is a professional networking site where individuals can connect with fellow business men and women, follow their favorite company updates, and contribute to industry specific group conversations. This community of professionals is – or at least should be – committed to professionally representing their personal brand. While it is also used by companies to create buzz about their business happenings and new hirings, I am focusing only on the individuals for this article.

Below are a few tips on how to build your rockstar profile and also what NOT to do:

Before You Start

Before you create and post your LinkedIn profile (or update your current one), think about your personal brand. What is the story you want to tell? What specifics about each job you’ve had do you want to list? What projects have you worked on that want to showcase? Will you use it as a lead-generating tool and actively post fresh content for prospective clients?

Your Profile Pic

LinkedIn does not equal Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. Your profile pic on LinkedIn should be a professional looking head shot, not something that you took on your smartphone and then cropped out your ex-boyfriend or new puppy.

Profile pictures on LinkedIn end up being 200×200 pixels, so make certain that when you crop your image to fit those dimensions that you keep your head and shoulders centered. You want to be recognized here, so a mysterious shot of your face hidden in shadow or behind a camera lens is probably not the best choice. (Sorry, fellow creative types.)

Tip: Make sure your face is the clear focal point of the picture.

Here are a few examples of bad profile pics:


Here are two examples of good profile pics:


Your History

Your profile is a digital resume. If you don’t present your absolute best (bad profile pic, spelling errors, bad grammar, etc), then you leave a lasting first impression that is not a good one. Also, don’t overload people with your job duties. Make your list concise and focus on the accomplishments that make an impact on the company you work for or the customers you serve.

Tip: You can reorganize your profile to feature certain information at the top of your profile page. When you edit your profile, you can literally drag sections to bring them up to the top.

For example, it might be a good idea to put any recommendations or endorsements you have received toward the top. Testimonials that back up your experience speak much louder that mere bullet points that describe what you did on a daily basis at a particular company.

Your Credibility

Ask for recommendations. While endorsements for your particular skills are great to have, recommendations allow your current and past colleagues to write a full testimonial about your working relationship. They can write an entire paragraph on how you saved the business, exceeded their expectations, or delivered a project on time and under budget. Think about it – do you like it when people talk only about themselves in a social setting, or does it mean more when you hear from another person how great someone is to work with?

Tip: Ask for recommendations from your fellow coworkers or past clients. Most people are willing to give a recommendation if you simply ask.

Your Homework

After you have read this article, you now have a little homework to do. Take a look at your own personal LinkedIn profile. Is it the best, most professional representation of who you are? Could you tweak some of the content or rearrange your profile information? Does it put your best foot forward in a business setting?

To view my personal LinkedIn profile, click here.

If you have questions regarding how to build your personal brand on LinkedIn, contact me today for a profile consultation:

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How to Draw the “Perfect” Dog


Learning to draw is as easy as 1, 2, 3… right? But what if your drawing isn’t as good as someone else’s drawing? What if you don’t get any Likes on your post of your drawing or no one shares it with others? Does that mean your time was wasted? Not at all!

In our interconnected world of social media, many fall victim to comparing themselves to others. Now, this is by no means a new phenomenon, but we are much more hyper-aware of it thanks to the internet and social media. We have Pinterest moms who strive to mimic the amazing arts and crafts they find on their boards. There are Twitter accounts that have millions of followers and – sometimes – 140 characters of never-ending “wisdom.”YouTube videos go viral all the time, but not always for the reason it was posted. And let’s not forget the Facebook fan base that your company page can gain (and lose).

All that to say, why are we so focused on the number of followers we have, the total ‘Likes’ we get on Facebook, who retweets us, or how many shares our Pinterest posts get? Why do we care so much? Why is social media the judge and jury on our creative potential?

Everyone is creative in their own way. Some are creative artists (and CAN draw a the ‘perfect’ dog), while others are creative in the kitchen or photo studio, and still others who are creative in the world of business. We should not create our worth by comparing ourselves to others on social media (or offline).

Don’t be afraid to post your sketches, even if they are imperfect. Don’t shy away from posting a pic of the wedding cake you designed, even if it might not land you on Cake Boss or might land you on Cake Wrecks. Don’t be afraid of what others ‘like’ on social media – letting that stop you from posting something. Be yourself and allow you (or your company’s) voice to shine through.

You never know, you might be the one who inspires.

Sure, the old saying is: “Practice makes perfect.” But what exactly is ‘perfect’? Who defines perfection? Your perfect drawing might not be someone else’s definition of perfection, but it’s YOURS. Your perfect event plan might be criticized by others, but the event was a success because of YOUR plan. Your perfect dinner party might not appease everyone in attendance, but it’s the best party YOU’VE ever hosted. Not everyone will ‘like’ what you bring to the table, but who cares? Don’t be afraid of what other people think of you. Just be your creative self and let your work and your excitement for that work shine brighter than what others think. It’s as easy as 1-2-3!

In all honestly, I had to overcome a little fear just to start doing this blog. But, I’m going to continue to share my thoughts on business, life and design, as well as post my imperfect sketches and projects online. I hope you continue to share your ideas and creativity as well, and that your creative potential is not limited by fear or worry about what others think.

Side note: You can see some of my imperfect sketches and designs on Instagram here.











Welcome to My Blog

TGIF!! Welcome to my company diary. Yes, I said diary. This is the place where I will post news & updates about Mr. Freeland Design, sketches & progress of projects I am working on, industry news & insights, graphic design tips & tricks, and general musings about running a small business.

I hope you enjoy some of the posts and subscribe to my blog updates so that you can read my design ‘diary’ on a regular basis. You might even get inspired or even… *gasp*… learn something!

After doing this freelance gig full time for about 4 months now, I have learned a lot about running a business, and also learned a lot about myself. While it has been a great ride so far, there are some key things that one must do consistently to stay focused and on track to grow a business. A few initial thoughts I had when I first ‘hung out my shingle’ that still ring true today:

I have already had the chance to work with many great clients across the state of Kansas. And I am eager and excited to help more and more local businesses tell their story. If you need assistance with a logo, brochure or website, you can email me below to start a conversation about revitalizing your business plan. Thank you for reading my diary and stay tuned for more fun, creative posts!