So, now what do you do?

Here are some of my observations, thoughts, and opinion(s) on surviving the economy: 
Keep your current clients happy. If that means giving a discount in order to make sure that the client won't go elsewhere, then do it! Send out an email giving a one-time discount for a project. Or help them find ways to cut costs without stopping their advertising and marketing completely.

Show your client you care about them in inexpensive ways. Throw in a free set of business cards with one of their other design projects to show what a great client they've been, or send them a note in the mail thanking them for using your company all these years.

Communicate by actually picking up the phone. I know that none of us like being on the phone and email is easier, but call your client and discuss the economical situation with them. Find out if they are okay and ensure them that you are not going out of business as well. See if there are any projects that they've put on hold... you might be able to help them afford them if you know about them.

Become more creative with your company presence. This ensures that you'll survive the economy while others are sitting back because that's what many designers have always done. By being proactive, you're keeping your name out in the public. If you're busy — advertise. If you're not busy — advertise more. Otherwise people will think you went out of business. But remember, you're a designer, so get creative with how you advertise.

Go out and grab those new clients by spending your time and not money. So the economy is bad… That means that while other designers are sitting around and starving for business there are clients out there who are looking for new designers. NETWORK!!!!! Don't go out to pubs and such, go to Toastmasters. It will help you speak better. Go to a trade conference in your town and pass out business cards. Conferences are usually pretty cheap to get into if not free. Join your local Chamber of Commerce or find out how to attend one of their 'mixers' for free. There are lots of ways to network without spending money.

Team up with a designer or programmer. Many of us can only be one or the other at the highest quality. So if you're a designer, send in your portfolio to a programming company that may be looking for designers or vice-versa. This is also a great way to network too. But make sure you work with someone who is reliable and that you're willing to reciprocate by sending work their way.

by Christina Wilkinson