A smart business owner always takes a significant chunk of his profits and reinvests them into his company to further grow his business. Designers are entrepreneurs of their own, albeit in a different class.
Nevertheless the same principles apply: you should make wise investments to further your design career. But how should you spend your hard earned cash? Look no further, I’m here to help.
1. Ergonomic chair, mouse and keyboard
We work around the clock, so it’s in our best interest to have the very best tools on hand. We invest a lot of money in our workstations, yet somehow overlook the most important part of the design machine: ourselves. Your health is your wealth – that’s why ergonomics are at the top of this list.
There’s a few things in life you shouldn’t cheap out on: a good mattress, a business suit and a high quality chair. You can handle the first two, we’ll help you with the last.
Your chair should be:
- Premium Quality: You want it to last through the test of time. You don’t want it to break into pieces after a few months of heavy use.
- Tested Throughly: Start by reading lots of reviews, from both regular people and experts.
- Customizable and Versatile: Everybody has certain particularities, whether you’re small and have long arms or your big and need lots of thigh support. Whatever the case may be, you need to make sure the chair you’re looking for is a great fit for you and has lots of adjustable controls.
- 3-5 Year Warranty: If you’re laying down $500+ on a chair you should have piece of mind.
I personally use the Ergohuman V1 Mesh chair and I’m very happy with it.
Keyboard & mouse
A friend of mine recently had to undergo surgery on his right hand because of an inappropriate mouse. He was/is a freelancer and – needless to say – he had to take several months off in order to recover. Think about that when you’re buying your next set of keyboard and mouse.
There are several models specifically created with ergonomics in mind, but since we’re all so different I can’t recommend anything in particular. What I can say is that you should experiment with several models and spend some extra cash until you find your perfect fit.
2. Accurate color representation
First of all this means a set of high quality monitors. You can read more about this in my article, “How to choose the perfect monitor for graphic design” – so I won’t go into too much detail here. What I want to add is a monitor light shade (hood) and a colorimeter.
The monitor light shade protects your screen from any glares you might have from various light sources. Considering most of us don’t work in dungeons, that’s a fairly common issue. Thankfully a good light shade costs under $50 and you get can one in all major stores.
A colorimeter is a device you place on your screen that works in conjunction with its special software to calibrate your display’s colors. The most popular choice is Spyder4, which has become a staple brand in our industry. I’ve personally tried the midrange Spyder4Pro on my 2 U2412M with no results.
Happily I had several other displays at my office and it worked great on those, bringing them closer to what my own monitors looked like – so it’s not for every monitor. What’s even stranger is that my U2412M didn’t come pre-calibrated from the factory, so that’s another point to be aware of. Still, I’d say you should try it and use the money back guarantee most stores offer in case you’re not happy.
3. Premium graphic packs
We all know clients love custom graphics. But, depending on the project, this type of artwork can very time consuming. To save some time, it can be in your best interest to invest in pre-made premium graphics that are free for commercial use and then declare those stock images to your client.
Subtle patterns is a very well known website that offers, well, subtle patterns. These are great for your every day work and web design. They also offer a Photoshop plugin for just $11.99 (that’s just a few cups of coffee!) that automatically updates with all of the newest additions, a favorites tab, blending mode options and so on. It’s a steal.
PSDGraphics is another great place for high quality graphics and – get this – you can download free sample images to test out on your designs first before committing. This will allow your client to approve the graphics before making the purchase (just $4 per item). That’s a great deal and the fact that you get full free access to images before paying makes this one of the best sites out there.
Pixeden and CreativeMarket are 2 other sites that offer superb quality for low prices that you should check out. Both of them offer regular freebies and Pixeden even offers a subscription service of $6 per month for access to absolutely everything.
Just be sure to follow the Stock Image and Clip Art Policy when submitting designs to 99designs and remember: no third party images are permitted in any logo, illustration or button/icon contests on 99designs.
It might be tough to part with your hard-earned money, but it really pays to make smart investments as a designer. Putting yourself in the best position possible to further your design career will only set you up for greater success.