Review: ProtoPreneur Planner

Review: ProtoPreneur Planner

Why Do You Need a Planner?

No matter what your goals are, you need a planner. Blogger, student, small business owner, CEO… having a planner allows you to outline your goals and document the steps you need to reach them. They all you to look back at your process and spot your weakest points of productivity.

I use my planner as a visualization for my entire business. Not only do I use it for simple things like recording due dates and events, but it gives me a place to:

  • document new things I want to try
  • skills I want to learn
  • record every task big or small
  • manage my time wisely
  • visualize long and short term goals

There are tons of different types of planners out there, some designed for creatives, some for people who are more tech-minded, some that are minimalistic, some that are colorful and fun. It takes a little exploring to find one that is perfect for you.

I was recently given the opportunity to test out a new planner designed by a friend of mine. It’s called the ProtoPreneur Planner and it has pretty much everything you could need in a planner and more. After over a month of using it, I’m reminded of why I need and love to have a planner by my side at every moment.

Why I Love the ProtoPrenuer Planner

Versatility

The ProtoPreneur Planner has an amazing variety of page layout types that allow you to track things you didn’t even know you needed to track. It starts off with some huge empty pages for visualizations. Then, it drills out and asks you to envision the rest of your year. There are sections for intentions, focuses, challenges, goals, habits.

The planner also has sections to describe yourself and your story, as well as outlining the details of the kinds of people you want to work with. I love these sections because we tend to have a vague idea of who we are and who we want to work with, but being forced to record this information in a concise way helps refine these ideas.

I love the marketing and content planner; I’ve been searching for something like this for ages. I’m a visual worker and being able to see all my social media efforts outlined so neatly has been extremely helpful.

Focusing on financials and numbers is one of my weakest points. I hate thinking about money, but any business owner knows it’s a must. Therefore one of my favorite sections in the ProtoPreneur Planner allows you to outline things like your goals for your income day to day, as well as monthly income goals broken down.

But the meat of the planner are the weekly breakdowns. Each week as two full pages dedicated to it.

Page 1:

  • To Do list – I love a simple to do list! Every week has a simple section for keeping track of tasks to be done.
  • Project checklists – Each week also has squares to keep track of larger projects that need to be completed.
  • Weekly focus – Outline your weekly focus here too; it would be a mindset or goal.
  • Habit tracker – Set personal or business habits you want to be better about keeping up with.
  • Bills due – I like using this section for both business and personal bills to pay, although you could reserve it for one or the other.
  • Follow up – This is a lifesaver. We let go of so much potential business by forgetting to follow up!

Page 2:

  • Good old scheduler – Every day has a section for gratitude, focus, and “Today I Am”. I love how introspective this planner encourages you to be. Below this section is an area to keep your schedule for each day of the week, broken down into AM, Noon, and PM. And then at the bottom, track the highlights of your day.

As you can see, there is almost no end to the features, sections, and prompts provided by this planner.

Organization

Given the amount of versatility, it took me no time at all to dive in. Each page had a way to help me get organized and stay that way. The sections are laid out in a way that is intuitive and fun to use. A good planner is more like a mind-mapping book, where you can basically empty your brain out and make more space for work!

Personal Sections

This isn’t just a business planner. There are tons of sections for personal habits, personal tracking, and personal goals. Business owners sometimes forget that the personal parts of their lives are important for balancing. Maintaining a healthy hold on that part of your life helps you to be a better business owner.

Adorable-Ness

While function is much more important, I love the overall look of this planner. The cover is soft leather with a big fat colorful stripe. I picked pink because its the main color in my scheme. It also has pockets for cards and a pen holder so you never loose another pen!

The Community

ProtoPreneur is not just a planner but community. You can sign up here  receive ProtoPreneur Success mail and get access to the private Facebook Group for ProtoPreneurs that are already building their empire and getting sh** done! You can join the community through the group, get free resources, get a GSD Coaching from Yvonne herself, or see her at a speaking event. The community is meant to help you follow your dream and succeed as pursuing your passions

How I Would Improve the ProtoPreneur Planner

Simplification

It wouldn’t be an honest review if I didn’t mention the few things that I missed or wasn’t crazy about in regards to this planner.

This planner really does have it all. While all the options, sections, and features were amazing to interact with, I did find it to be overwhelming at first. This planner is jam-packed full of sections to fill out. I’m visual, but I also like things to be minimalistic and simple.

I think this planner would be better if it was purely the scheduling pages. The other things – the other trackers and outlines might work well as a smaller booklet that could be slipped into a pocket inside the cover.

Also because there is so much to do in this planner, the sections for writing are very small and crowded together. Having fewer sections may make the book easier to write in overall. Once you fill in all the sections, the page tends to look super cluttered.

Color

While I love the bright strip of color on the cover, the inside has zero color. Every page is all in black and white. I love color, both for my mood and for establishing hierarchy within a design. The gray squares are very drab and don’t make me feel as powerful and amazing as I would have hoped. The planner does it’s job without the color, but I think it could be a great new feature for future versions of this planner.

 Learn more about the ProtoPreneur Planner With the Overview!

 

How to Get a ProtoPreneur Planner

It’s really simple, and there are quite a few ways to save. You can get 10% off  this planner using “ProtoPreneurAllie” at checkout! If you want to order multiple planners, you can contact Yvonne to get a rebate.

The ProtoPreneur Planner At a Glance

Name: ProtoPreneur Planner

Distributer: Ask Yivi

On Social Media: Instagram and Facebook

Join the community

Price: $39 + shipping but get 10% off using: ProtoPreneurAllie at checkout!

Pros: Versatile, organized, both oriented toward business and personal goals, adorable, and community driven.

Cons: Over-crowded and not as pretty as other planners.

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Why You Should Never Ask a Designer to Lower Their Rates

Why You Should Never Ask a Designer to Lower Their Rates

Has anyone ever tried to get you to lower your design rates or barter services with them? Have you ever tried to get a designer to lower their rates? If you have, you’re in for a bit of a rant on why I believe you should never ask a designer to lower their rates because recently, I’ve been hearing about it a lot. It’s happened to me quite a few times as well.

I encountered a lawyer who was attempting to get a full website designed for $150 and a testimonial.  I encountered a woman who wanted to trade a “simple” e-commerce site for what seemed like mindset coaching. (She was not a professional in this area.) I encountered someone who wanted a logo for $5 from a major company and who threatened to go to Fiverr instead if the designer didn’t agree to the price.

I myself used to exchange services for reviews and work virtually for free because I wanted the experience and the opportunity to build my portfolio. I also worked on Fiverr for a long time. However, once I worked long enough to feel confident that I could guarantee a truly valuable product, I left Fiverr and increased my prices. Now, I balk at these offers and here’s the main reason why:

You are making assumptions about someone and it’s disrespectful.

 

Art and design in general are seen as hobbies rather than skilled professions. People treat artists and designers as though they couldn’t possibly be making a living off of their services and therefore must be starving and desperate for work. We are often treated as though being hired is a gift in and of itself and that we are lucky to have someone even consider taking us on when in fact, in most cases, the opposite is true. Assuming that we are desperate for work and therefore should be paid less than minimum wage or not at all for our time is flat-out disrespectful. Consider that many designers have earned the right to call themselves designers. So here are some concrete reasons why it’s disrespectful to ask a designer to charge less than they have decided on.

 

Designers are educated

Many have trained, either formally (i.e. college, internships, etc.) or informally (i.e. online classes, self-teaching, etc.) for a long time to be able to provide quality work. I myself have spent 3 years learning to do what I do – mostly self taught, which required time, discipline, money, and effort – and I’m still learning and taking time to teach myself new things every day. Good designers will reserve working time to learn new skills and programs to make their services better. We pay doctors and lawyers tons of money because they went to school for a long time to be good at what they do. I’ve encountered designers who have been working and training for 20 years or more to be good at what they do. You are paying for that expertise, just like you would with a doctor or lawyer.

Designers work hard

They often spend just as much time working as anyone with a standard 9-5, sometimes more. Designers who work from home, for instance, don’t get to leave work. They often work late into the night and on weekends doing client work as well as marketing, bookkeeping, networking, researching, etc.

And they spend a lot of time on your project. A lot more goes into building a website, for example, than you might think. I myself have 5 phases and over 50 individual steps to ensure that every project goes smoothly. This includes research, planning, wireframing, many design stages, integrations, testing, launching, troubleshooting, and more. Not to mention the work I do for free, like writing proposals, writing contracts, adding your finished product to my portfolio, tweaking and improving on my systems, etc.

A lot of designers run their own businesses or freelance, so not only do they need to be compensated so that they can pay their bills, but they need to pay businesses expenses most people don’t have to think about. They may also have to pay VAs or subcontractors.

Designers provide a unique and in demand service

Humility is a large part of respect. They are providing you with a specialized service and/or product. If you could build a website or design a logo yourself, you would. But you can’t.

We also have keep their services competitive and in demand. Art and design are constantly changing as new trends come into play. You are typically paying a designer to be aware of and on top of these trends. Each designer is giving you something that has value to you. Think about how much a new website or logo would help your business. Think of how much money you may earn as a result of a well-designed website or logo. Is it fair to pay someone $5 for something that may bring you thousands?

These days, all businesses and brands need designers and artists to help them grow. Remember that many designers who market themselves well get tons of offers and have many opportunities to work with various clients. While working with you may earn them some money or experience, there is always someone out there who is more than willing to pay what they are asking.

So, if you think someone is charging too much, how do you deal?

It’s true, there are bad apples out there who ruin it for the rest of us. There are people out there who try to take advantage and over charge and those people suck. It’s a hot topic right now, but many believe that working on Fiverr makes the rest of the freelance design community look bad by comparison. To a point, I agree with this way of thinking because it makes clients believe that it’s perfectly normal and expected to pay someone $5 for logo design or another design service.

So, how do you as a client combat this way of thinking? 

  1. Do your research. Shop around. Talk to different designers. This will allow you to figure out what the average cost is for what you need, by comparing the highest and lowest costs. Go with one that is in your price range and if you can’t find one who fits your budget, wait and save up. If you wanted to buy a new TV but didn’t have enough money, the only thing to do is wait for the prices to go down or until you’d saved up enough. You wouldn’t insist the Best Buy employee take your toaster in exchange for a flat screen.
  2. Look for someone who is already offering to barter or work for testimonials. There are beginners out there who are looking for the experience and will work for next to nothing and that’s 100% okay. But understand that you are taking a risk and may not have a smooth, flawless experience. You get what you pay for. In this case, you may get your product, but it may be a more stressful process and you may not get exactly what you want.
  3. If you want a service you can’t afford, you can always inquire about payment plans (many designers offer them, including me) or see if you can complete your projects in phases so that you can pay for some now and get your project off the ground. Then hire the designer for more work later when you have more money. In the end, you’ll have a full project that meets all of your needs, but you didn’t have to shell out the full cost all at once.
  4. Never ask for bartering or reduced prices if they have not already been offered to you. Designers tend to assume that if you haggle up front, you will be a difficult customer. Don’t start off the working relationship by being disrespectful and causing tension.
  5. If you do INSIST on bartering, make sure and be ready to prove that what you’re offering has the same monetary value as what you are asking for. Some designers are open and willing to this idea, but only if both sides are getting a fair deal.

What should you do if a client is asking you to lower your prices?

If someone approaches you and they want to barter or want to pay you less than you need, it’s perfectly okay to decline! Like I said, if you’re just starting out and the experience is worth more to you than charging more, go for it! There is nothing wrong with that at all, in fact most designers start out that way. However, you have to remember that what you do has real, tangible, measurable value. It matters how much you charge and it matters that your work should be able to pay your bills. Remind yourself that not only does your work have value, but you have value.

You can politely decline and if pressed, explain how much time and effort goes into each project. I have no problem giving a not-so-detailed list of what does into my projects and how I thoughtfully worked out my prices to be able to pay my personal and well as professional bills. Many people may hit you with the “I can get someone on Fiverr to do it less” or “I can get my nephew to do it for half the price!” If they meant this, they would have already done it.

Remember that clients who are difficult at the beginning will almost guaranteed be difficult throughout the entire project. Save yourself the stress and find someone who appreciates what you do and is actually happy to compensate you. These people do exist, I promise!

So, you can accept. Or you can politely decline and explain why. You can also offer a few other solutions, maybe links to other designers who charge less than you. If the client keeps pressing you, there is no shame in not answering the e-mail. You are not required to defend yourself as every turn or try to work something out with them. It’s hard sometimes as freelancers to let go of potential business, but I can say from experience that every time I have let an iffy opportunity pass me by, a better one came along right on it’s heels.

 

There you have it! Are you a designer who has encountered a client who wants to haggle? Have you hired a designer based on a barter system? Leave your successes and horror stories in the comments!