DMP 005: Running a Design Business with Wes McDowell

My guest for the fifth episode of the Design and Marketing podcast is the wonderfully witty Wes McDowell. (Duration: c. 45 minutes.)

Wes runs a design shop in Los Angeles, California, and is known for having one of the best design podcasts on iTunes, The Deeply Graphic DesignCast.

But only a few years ago Wes was freelancing in Seattle. How did he get here from there? We talk about that in the podcast, here are some of the main points.

wes mcdowell

Offering other services

Wes has found that in order to attract and keep the quality, well-paying clients you need to diversify your service offerings. His company, the Deep End Design, offers print design, SEO, copy-writing and a host of other services instead of just web design.

If you are just offering web design you are almost irrelevant in today’s market place. The allied areas of SEO, copy-writing, social media profile design, etc., are just as important to a website’s success as the design is. So if you aren’t offering the complete package to your clients you’re really short changing them – and you’re earning less money.



In order to be able to provide this one-stop service to the best clients you’re going to need help with development, SEO, copy-writing, you name it!

Wes explains how to communicate effectively with outsourcers and potential outsourcers in order to find the right people with whom you can form lasting relationships and grow your business.


It was amazing how similar our experiences had been here. I found that by putting out good content that designers would like I was able to get good links to my site and gain exposure that way so that clients find me. Wes finds that by putting great content out with his podcasts he has ensured the same.

deeply graphic designcast

Doing great work

Probably the best part of the interview is where Wes explains how he’s stayed in business by continually impressing his best clients. He spends hours researching each new project. He looks at similar work online. He sees what’s worked in the past, what hasn’t worked, what’s been done to death. He gets inspired. He doesn’t just open Photoshop and go plonk, plonk plonk!

Dedication and pride in his craft have obviously served Wes well.

The interview with Wes McDowell

The fire outside my apartment a half hour before the interview

As I explain in the podcast, I was in Brazil when we recorded the interview and a fire had started outside my apartment just before. I was stressing about the Skype recorder as well as worrying about being burnt alive! Wes was so great at putting me at ease.

You can do it

Have a listen to the podcast as it will definitely give you some great advice about running your own design business. And, if you have any questions about this or the podcasts in general, don’t be afraid to ask!

Did this help you? If so, please share!

Download my 2 free e-books and 2 free MP3s on running an online business & getting clients

Plus a list of my 12 favorite resources for online business

two free books and two free mp3s and a list of favorite online tools


  1. says

    Thanks Rod for another great podcast. I’m getting ready to push my freelance into full force soon. You and other sites have been a great help.

      • says

        I am too. Feels like I never left. Just used your Odesk link to look for a VA. We got hacked so suddenly have a heap of work, but hopefully will get to have that promised shandy with you in the not too distant future.

        • says

          It must be funny coming back after nearly a year? Although, maybe not, by the sounds of things. Thanks for using my oDesk link. Getting the right VA is the real trick! Sounds like you’ll need more than a shandy!

  2. says

    Interesting concept to diversify. I’ve actually heard the opposite from some designers – that their business really took off when they narrowed their offerings down to a very niche market.

    • says

      I actually advise people to do both, Jennifer! Specialise and diversify. Yes, it’s really good to narrow down to a niche market. But, in terms of what you offer especially, always be looking to learn new things. So web design brings you to web and app development, creating sites brings you to SEO and marketing, etc.

  3. says

    Interesting conversation and some good advice from you both. I’ll be sure to check out Wes’s podcasts as well. For some reason I think information ‘goes in’ more easily when listening to/watching someone talk, as opposed to just reading it. Just another great way of learning from other designers. Thanks Rob

    • says

      I’m really glad you enjoyed this, Mark. I really enjoyed talking to Wes and his podcast is really worth listening to – it has a great format and you can learn a lot from the other designers on it. Thank you :)