My $4000.00 mistake (what I took away from this learning lesson)


I have been in business over 12 years and anybody in the freelance industry knows & understands that you really need to sell & market your business to get consistant work. You always want to get big enough that you can fire your worst clients!

Initially most of my work was word of mouth from print brokers in the industry that I had relations with. When business started to slow down I would reach out and take on other projects that wasn’t in my arsenal of tricks. My business has become more of a marketing business where I provide my clients with a roadmap to their visions of success.

I had a client that referred a large refrigeration company in Yakima, WA that needed a new trade show booth. I had a relationship with a strategic partner in large format sign business (Vancouver, WA). I thought that I could do this. Went to Yakima to visit client with my buddy John Poss (amateur photographer). He took pictures and we took a tour of the facilities. He thought that he could save his friend from the refrigeration company some money if we used his images.

I thought that this shouldn’t be a problem. I “stung-up” the image and sent to the manufacturer in Chicago, IL. The timeline was getting pretty and it always takes 10 working days for production & shipping. When it got back, I thought that it looked great because I am envisioning that it is like a billboard and the details were not crisp but the colors would catch the trade show visitor’s eyes. When we sent it to the client in Yakima, WA he rejected the graphic because when he was looking at it from three feet he didn’t like the quality. My heart nearly dropped, it was $4,0000.00 and the show was in two weeks. This is a nightmare, they were my only client (at the moment) and I couldn’t afford to not make any money on this project.

What did you do to fix this nightmare?

1. Did some tests.
2. Found out what the problem was.
3. Went to the strategic partner to get support from this project.
4. Had graphic reprinted.

Mike Johnson

Affiliation Inkspot Graphics

Graduated 1981 from Western Washington University (Bellingham, WA)
1982 – 1984 Substitute Teacher, Bartender and Softball Umpire (Seattle, WA to Portland, OR)
1984 – Macintosh & Apple first start – classes at PNWCA
1984 – JK Gill Desktop Publishing Center, Wine Distributor and Softball Umpire (Portland, OR)
1986 – Burien Imagesetting (Portland, OR)
1987 – K2 Ski Corporation (ski manufacturer – Vashon, WA)
1989 – Inkspot Graphics & Capitol City Press (printer – Olympia, WA)
1990 – K2 Ski Corporation
1990 – FlexoGraphix (software developers – Portland, OR)
1990 – Precision Imagesetting (prepress house – Tigard, OR)
1994 – Formation (exhibit/display company – Portland, OR) Married to Paula.
1995 – Revere Graphics (prepress house – Portland, OR) Clark College (Adjunct instructor – Vancouver, WA)
1999 – Sumo Creative (creative agency – Portland, OR)
2000 – present Inkspot Graphics