A Month in a Design Agency by the Numbers [Infographic]

I’m a data guy. It took me a while though.

For a long time, Andy & I just operated on feel when it came to Paper Leaf, our design agency. Because it was only the two of us for the first couple of years, we could get away with that – there wasn’t much overhead, and you don’t need that many projects to keep busy when there are only two people.

As we’ve grown, though – we’re at 7 people at the time of this post – I’ve learned to track more & more data about our company. It’s not just that numbers are interesting. Having data means we can spot trends, have measurable goals for the business, and more on a month-to-month basis. There’s a lot you can learn from numbers.

So I’m going to share those numbers with you.

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False Hustle

It’s easy to be busy; it’s hard to be productive, and the two terms are different. Raise your hand if you’ve spent entire days answering “quick” email after “quick” email; spent hours in your task manager organizing your tasks for productivity; spent a half-day organizing tidying up old design files; or looked back on your week and realized you worked your ass off… but you’re not really sure what you actually accomplished.

Bad news, those with raised hands: you’re a victim of false hustle.

Don’t worry… I have been too; everyone falls into the false hustle trap at one point. It’s not intentional – after all, there’s a lot of work to do in a day – but false hustle can torpedo our business goals and ultimately our motivation at work.

Here’s what I mean by false hustle, and how to avoid it.

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Why You’re Losing Proposals

Losing proposals, and the potentially lucrative contracts that come with winning them, just plain sucks. You know you can do that job – knock it out of the park, even. But for some reason, the prospective client went in a different direction, leaving you, your proposal, and the hours that went into it in the good ol’ reject pile.


We’ve been there. I write a ton of proposals at Paper Leaf; some we win, some we lose. Over the years, though, we’ve refined our proposals and learned a lot about why we win the ones we do – and conversely, why we lose. And guess what? The reasons we lose proposals are likely the same reasons you lose yours.

Here’s what those reasons are, and how to fix them.

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What’s Your Proof?

What do messages like “We create beautiful websites that grow your business”; “We help businesses succeed online”; and “Canada’s leading digital post-secondary institution” all have in common?

All those statements are vapid and empty; there’s nothing to back them up. There’s no proof.

Standing by themselves, these messages just plain don’t work. You can find this type of communication everywhere you look, too – and there’s a good chance that your messaging is suffering from the same fate.

That’s a problem.

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Inside the Black Box of Web Design Pricing

Web design costs come in a huge range of shapes & sizes. Thanks to that range, clients can struggle with understanding why websites cost what they do, and freelancers/shops can struggle with how to price their services.

That’s what we’re going to uncover: the thought processes, variables, logic, and math that goes into pricing web design. I’ll focus on one specific end of the spectrum: custom web design and development. While DIY web platforms like Squarespace definitely have their place, their pricing models are pretty straightforward and easy to understand. The custom side of web design & development? Not so much.

So buckle up, and let’s get our learn on.

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