This week I talk to Maurice Cherry of 3eighteen media. Maurice is a busy man, when he's not running his consulting agency he's running a podcast, blogging, teaching and being a stand up guy. He's was also Nusii's very first customer!
Hey Maurice! Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for us on the Nusii blog. Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little about who you are and what you do?
Sure thing -- thank you for the opportunity! My name is Maurice Cherry, and I'm creative principal at 3eighteen media, a design and consulting company in Atlanta, GA. I'm also a podcaster, a freelance writer, and I'm an instructor for Mediabistro.
How did you find your way into the world of design?
I've had an interest in typography and colors since a kid, but I didn't really know that it was called "design" until high school. My brother is very artistic and I was always drawing and writing, so design felt like something that was second nature to me. In high school I learned about Photoshop and Illustrator while working on my school's paper, and then experimented more with tutorials and such when I was in college.
Can you talk about how you source new clients, and has that changed over the years?
It's all about pre-qualifying the client. When I first started out as a freelance designer, I took any job that would pay me just so I could build up my portfolio and didn't really listen to the client. If they were ready to get started, then we got started.
Now, I do a lot more listening. I listen to their responses and I see what kind of passion they have for their business -- that has ended up being a key indicator as to how involved they will be on a project. And I ask a ton of questions about budget, scope, timeline, etc.
What would you say is the most challenging aspect of working for yourself?
Motivation, probably. I'm all about momentum and forward movement when it comes to projects, so I like to keep the ball rolling from start to finish. When there are lulls in the project because the client's not being communicative, then my motivation to finish wanes considerably. Keeping motivated to finish even in those slow periods is something I'm continually working on improving.
At Nusii we help creatives win more proposals in less time. Can you tell us a little about your proposal process, and how it’s evolved for you.
Absolutely! The biggest evolution for me is moving from creating proposals in Microsoft Word to creating them using proposal software (Nusii, of course). I would recommend that anyone go with some type of proposal software. It saves you so much time, and I guarantee you it will pay for itself once you land your first big project.
(It also makes responding to RFPs less of a pain.)
My proposal has an introduction about my company, a description about the client's company, my recommended strategy (high level, not too granular), a project timeline and pricing schedule, and a section with next steps to take (signing a contract, paying the deposit, etc.).
What piece of advice do you wish you’d been given before going it alone?
There will never be a "perfect time" to strike out on your own. I started my company in the middle of a recession after quitting my job and six years later, it's still here and thriving. I wouldn't give it up for anything in the world.
What’s your proposal secret weapon? What do you always include when writing or planning a proposal?
An expiration date! I've had some clients sit on proposals for months expecting that the same price and timing schedule will be locked in place. Setting an expiration date for your proposal puts the onus on the client to make a decision and lets you manage your time more effectively.