Graphic Design Podcast :: The Deeply Graphic DesignCast

Designer Deductions

Designer Deductions

We’ll bet you hate thinking about taxes. We also bet you love saving your hard earned money! While paying taxes is the burden of just about every person on this planet, it can be especially hard on freelance graphic designers. Luckily, we have many expenses that can be deducted from our tax burden, resulting in more money in our pockets.

In this episode, the gang discusses many of the biggest deductions we as designers can take, including a few that you may have not been aware of.

As we say in the show, we are NOT tax professionals, and any advice we give should be run past your accountant first. We want you to keep as much money as you can, but we don’t want you crossing any lines that could get you flagged by the IRS.

We also answer a few new listener questions about how to handle client web hosting, and what the pros/cons of hiring a business manager.

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Featured image copyright: Angelyn Ong

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(2) responses

Simon Toyne

January 23, 2014

Hi Wes,

Awesome podcast as always and great advice. You’d be surprised how much of your content applies to designers around the world. Our tax laws maybe slightly different but the fundamentals seem to remain the same.

One thing… can you ask Mikelle not to bang the desk when she’s emphasising a point. The boom through my headphones can be quite uncomfortable!

Also, I must say I disagree with your points regarding designers offering hosting services. Your last points about client confusion being my main reason. Clients don’t understand the difference between domain registration and hosting. Often, domains are registered through one service provider and web hosting is set up with another.

They also don’t take into account the requirement for email hosting attached to the same domain.

As the contracted consultant to the client, tracking down login details for hosting accounts, DNS settings and WP Admin accounts can be a nightmare and extremely time consuming.

If the domain, hosting and site build are all with me, I can ensure the whole process is seamless and, if my service is good enough and my approach to providing the client with information is transparent, why would they go elsewhere?

I provide all of my clients with a document containing all of their hosting URLs and login details and even include their domain password so they can easily change service provider as and when they want. Plus, I don’t specify minimum terms so, if they want to move, they can… at any time.

Poor designers with questionable ethics give those of us trying to work honestly and ethically a bad name.

Keep up the good work with the Podcast. It’s great listening to other designers all over the world who are going through the same experiences :-)



Steve Wilkinson

July 10, 2014

Hi guys,

Thanks for the great podcast! I’m a bit stronger on the development and management side of things, but also LOVE design, so I am listening for tips to enhance that aspect of my business. I started on episode 1 and am catching up, but couldn’t resist commenting on this episode, as I also disagree (with some caveats) to having the client pick and manage the hosting.

The main reason I say this, is that clients often pick really horrible hosting solutions. You as much admitted this in your own past experiences, probably even knowing more than most clients might. I’m always a bit amazed people don’t think through this aspect more than they do. Many companies will put their whole Internet presence (arguably, the most important aspect of their marketing/image today) on a service they know little about, which costs far less than most of them spend on their (or an employee’s) cell phone plan. What do you think you’re going to get for $10/mo? (Crammed on a server full of other sites with as little support as possible… that’s what!)

For the domain name, yes you absolutely want the client to have this under their control. I use a DNS provider that accepts paypal, so I can set it up for the client, with all their info, and then I can pay it if the client doesn’t want to deal with it.

For hosting, I actually take care of that for the client. I include terms in the contract to ensure them that they are free to leave and what I’ll provide. I’ll help them if that is ultimately their choice. However, by controlling this aspect, I can accomplish a couple of things:

1) I know they are getting excellent hosting that will make their site look great and perform great. I even tell them not to think of it so much as a hosting fee, but a keeping their company looking great on the Internet fee. And, IMO, that includes a LOT more than just designing it and turning over the keys. It’s an ongoing process which includes SEO and making recommendations on improving things, or taking care of little details they don’t have time to.

2) I pick a host with capability to grow and handle the spikes, even if they become a Fortune 500 or get featured on Oprah. They just don’t have to worry about this or the pain of moving. I also pick a host that has great features they often don’t think about at the start, like CDN, backups, staging site, great security with guarantee to fix hacking, developer tools like Git, and great expert support, etc. Most people don’t have this stuff, and don’t figure that out until a disaster happens.

3) By having all my clients on the same hosting, it allows me to really get to understand that host. This saves them time in the end. I’m also able to negotiate better pricing and pass that along to the client.

And, as Simon already mentioned, it allows me to quickly guide them through stuff like e-mail with their domain. I can also quickly get them going with stuff like analytics and social networking that might take them a long time to figure out on their own. This creates a lot better long-term experience for the client, which results in more repeat business.

That all said, any one looking to work with a designer or developer should be sure things are properly stated in the contract about the ownership. Clients can certainly get burned by dishonest designers/developers who hold their site hostage. The most simple way to prevent this is just to register the domains yourself. Then worst-case, you can just point the site at any new location (host).


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