B-School Modules 1 and 2

B-School 2014 - Profit Plan and Website Modules // erineflynn.com
Whoops! I am definitely falling behind in blogging. I had a bunch of stuff put in my editorial calendar, but haven’t found the time to do much blogging between clients and B-School. I’m also a little lost since I’m shifting my audience, so not sure all of my planned post topics make sense anymore. Maybe I’ll find time to figure that out… soon.

Module 1 – Profit Plan

In Module 1 the goal is to nail down your business, where the money is coming from, and who you’re selling to. These seem like really simple concepts, but I think a lot of people (myself included) go into business without a clear vision in mind. And then we end up with clients we don’t enjoy working with, offering products that don’t thrill us, and not making as much money as we could be.

While there’s nothing groundbreaking in this module (it’s all pretty basic business advice) it’s laid out in an easy-to-follow format and after redoing my customer avatar this year I’ve decided to change my audience, business structure, and offerings (even though we’re not to the offerings module yet). I feel like I’ve got some new clarity on who I want to work with–and it has changed since I launched my business and even since I took B-School last year. I’m excited about it.

Module 2 – Website

In this module Marie talks about how important your website is, and how to help it actually convert browsers into paying customers. I believe (correct me if I’m wrong) that this content has been updated and tweaked since last year. I know there’s a least a new video or two. Anyhow, so Marie (and Derek Halpern) has some great ideas on how to structure a website, and having made websites for the past 15 years, I give her tips an A+.

But then she mentioned using sites like Fiverr and 99Designs. I feel like she waffled quite a bit on this issue. She starts out the video series wonderfully with the benefits and costs of a professional website, but then listed these kinds of sites, which I think just really confuses people who don’t know the difference between a real web pro and someone who is just churning out designs for cash. I don’t mind a listing of “quick start” website solutions–because sometimes you just need to test an idea or get a temporary graphic–but these sites were listed on a PDF called “How to Hire a Web Pro” which is just going to confuse non-designers. I’m sending the B-School team a letter to request that these sites are removed from this PDF and instead put on some sort of “quick-start” guide instead. With the exception of 99Designs, because I hate that site and am hoping they’ll stop recommending it completely.

Lindsay has recently written a great article on this which I recommend reading if you’re not sure of the difference between a professional designer and someone you find on Fiverr. This article is also worth reading–did you know using sites like 99Designs for your branding could result in you getting sued?

Anyhow, overall I think there are some GREAT tips and advice in the website module, but I and many other designers are banding together to help educate non-design B-Schoolers on the importance of professional design, and not crowd-sourcing your logo (seriously, every other post in the main group right now is “which logo do you like better?” STOP. We’re not even your target market!). We’ll see how that goes.

I know a lot of you are taking B-School–how are you doing so far?

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Comments

  1. says

    Great discussion! While the business advice in Module 1 was pretty basic, I appreciated having it all collected for me so I wouldn’t have to consult The Google as much as if it hadn’t been :P Module 2 is interesting, there are a lot of great tips for functional and strategic website components; however, I do agree that design and branding is really something that shouldn’t be skimped on.

    • says

      Yeah, exactly! I think having everything in one place, laid out, and with a bunch of other people doing it really helps motivate me! While the module 1 info is available probably in any business book–it’s much easier to digest the way Marie does it. I also love the format of videos, worksheets, and a group to chat with. I know when I first started my business I kind of fell into it, so my first round of B-School really helped me turn a profit, and I’m hoping this round will help me square things away even more!

  2. says

    This is great Erin! I know quite a few people who are participating in B-school and I’ve been wanting genuine feedback before I thought of investing in the future. However, I am also taken aback by the mention of 99Designs in this course. YIKES! Such a red flag and hopefully your letter can inform the team of the problems with crowdsourcing designs.

    • says

      Yeah–I feel like the team that puts together the course probably doesn’t really understand what 99Designs is, or why it’s bad. They probably just saw it listed as a good resource, took a quick glance, and added it to the PDF. At least that’s what I’m hoping!

      I love that Marie brought in Derek to talk about conversions, and I know she has Nathalie Lussier doing the WordPress setup videos, so maybe in the future she could get an actual designer in to talk about design/branding! :) I know people had complained that B-School doesn’t update content, but since this module WAS updated this year, that gives me hope that they listen to feedback!

  3. says

    I really liked Module 1. Before B-School, I was starting to change my audience, but Module 1 cemented it. I’m not finding too much value in Module 2… I’m trying to be open minded though and not go into it assuming I know everything, but it’s hard. However, it did teach me what a squeeze page was and Derek’s video was really informative. For someone who is tech-challenged, I could see how it’d be really helpful though (that definitions video alone is a great resource)! As for 99Designs and the like, I agree 100%.

    • says

      Yeah, much of the website module is how I already focus my website designs and have for years (see pretty much any of my blog posts/about page/etc.), but I think it’s really helpful for people who haven’t thought about what the purpose of their website is–they just know they need one.

      I wish I could have all my clients watch that module or something similar before hiring me! Which… I think I’m going to do a website planning course using the planning videos I’ve already made my website creation course, so maybe there’s the answer. ;)

  4. says

    I so appreciate this post!!

    As someone who is on the other side (not a website designer or builder) it’s pretty easy to get caught up in what other people are doing and saying. I’m a B-Schooler as well and have seen a lot of folks recommending 99designs, and have seriously thought about using it myself, too!!

    So, thanks for providing your perspective on this! I’m still in the middle of module #2 and things are going quite well. This is my 2nd year, and I’m gaining more clarity than I did last year!

    • says

      Yay! Glad you like it!

      That’s the thing, 99Designs is a popular “tool” and I can see how people would like it… but you’d never have 25 business coaches each coach you for an hour and then only pay one of them, and you wouldn’t have 100 seamstresses make you a dress but only pay for the one you liked best–so why should designers be expected to compete for work that way? They shouldn’t! While I’m sure it’s enticing to go that route, I just can’t imagine treating people like that! It’s like saying “put in the work and I’ll decide later if I’m going to pay you or not,” and that would NEVER happen in other industries!

      Plus, the service just can’t even begin to be as good since these designers are churning out designs just to compete and hopefully get paid–not because they have an actual interest in making your business better–which is my FAVORITE part of the job: growing small businesses!

      Whew, sorry, didn’t mean to rant! I just can’t stand 99Designs and while I think there’s a time and a place for things like Fiverr, they need to be used with caution and are not the same as hiring someone who is really invested in making you a killer brand/website. :D

  5. Amy says

    Great post and yup those are truths about fiverr and 99. I too was a bit surprised they were in b school. I try to share the excitement of all the logos pouring in but ya it’s a lot lol. I shut off notifications and when I comment I unfollow the post. Figure if I wanna see other comments I’ll go look or if someone is replying they will tag me. Loving b school though, for sure!

  6. says

    Keep these coming girl! I shall live vicariously through your blog for B-School insight. And good for you for emailing them about changing/updating their content!

  7. says

    Ew, 99Designs seriously? That filth should never have been put on earth. Fiverr can be okay, but I wouldn’t go there to hire a “pro” and in many cases you get what you pay for and at those prices, that’s exactly what you deserve to get.

    I’ve been selling monster illustrations there myself which has been crazy fun and has generated a lot of unexpected income in my free time though. This was more intended to get me back into drawing, the money is an amazing bonus xD Hi, I draw monsters for a living. (http://www.fiverr.com/ffionevans/draw-a-unique-custom-creature-or-monster-for-you)

    • says

      I think Fiverr has a place in the design world–it’s fine for mockups, place holders, etc. Not for a pro though. Too many designs are re-used over and over–though if you like someone’s style you might be able to hire them for something custom and that’s a-okay!

      I LOVE your monsters! I love those kinda things on Fiverr! Now I know who to contact if I ever need monsters drawn for a project! :)

      • says

        Yeah, it’s fine for stuff like that, I’ve even outsourced some small design stuff I didn’t want to do there, but for professional work, not really, maybe some exceptions, but rare.

        Haha, thank you, they’re so much fun! :) Always up for monster drawing, anytime <3

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