Lesson: don’t give away ideas you hope to market

So translating design ideas into writing may not be as seamless for me as I expected … at least not if my goal is to convince someone that they desperately need my ideas over another designer.  Those who have followed this blog before know that I’m taking a landscape design course.  It’s a long sought goal for me to have a real piece of paper designating me certified as a landscape designer.  Those new here can catch up with my previous posts.

The lesson was to develop a consultation questionnaire and write a site assessment proposal for a design re-do of a familiar property.  The first part – a “Getting to know” questionnaire – is meant to entice the who, where, what, how, and when concerning any design or re-design.  I dutifully developed this document – it ended up being three pages long -  trying to factor in as many clues as I could conjure up that might tweak any future consultation I have with a prospective client.  It covers the number of people residing or using the location in question; their likes, dislikes, and physical limitations; what is currently best and worst about the spot in question; and what they hoped to achieve.  I’m happy to say it passed with no further suggestions from my instructor.

The site assessment proposal proved to be a little more challenging.  Understand, for my day job I write synopses of medical research so that consumers better get the gist of the findings.  In this venue, it’s important to provide enough information for readers to get the whole story … the who, what, when, where, why, and how.  This is not, however, what one does when trying to get a client to pay for your design ideas.

Autumn color 2 My first attempt, though well written, gave away “all the specifics,” my instructor noted.  I chose a narrow driveway entrance to a back lot.  It has just 25 feet of street frontage and is the center of three driveways.  It begins kind of non-descript then winds up into the woods for a few hundred feet before reaching the house (virtually unseen from the road). Instead of giving a broad overview of my ideas, I gave specifics – outlining pretty much all I would do to spruce up the narrow entrance and the more wooded sections farther along.  In essence my first site assessment negated the reason for the client to have me draw up a design plan, as my instructor aptly pointed out.  Hmmmm … not a very good business plan for someone who hopes to eventually be hired to offer her design ideas and plans.

So, I took the constructive criticism and reworked my report … not to have my grade amended, but to see if my second attempt better met the goal.  It’s always a good learning experience for me to have the opportunity to take something I’ve created and have to incorporate the suggestions of someone more experienced than I.  I learn best by doing and revising.  My second attempt turned out much better … even garnered kudos from my instructor.

So now it’s on to the next lesson, an actual survey of an actual property.  Since it’s winter, and this is the first time I’ve ever taken such extensive measurements and plotted out a property in a CAD program, I’m gonna go a little easy on myself and survey my own property.  There will be plenty of opportunities for me to survey other locations farther on in the course.  Wish me luck … I’m still a very green newbie with computer aided drafting.  I may be offering a lot of home cooked meals to my civil engineer son – I’m not above bribing him to help his dear old mom master CAD.

10 comments for “Lesson: don’t give away ideas you hope to market

  1. February 4, 2010 at 5:35 am

    Nice post, them CAD programs can be a bit daunting at the start, but they are great. Good luck with the course.

  2. February 4, 2010 at 7:27 am

    Joene, you will be very glad that you surveyed your own property. It will come in handy many, many times. Good point about not giving everything away for free, my instructor never mentioned anything like that. I was probably not as thorough in my report as I was the client, and I knew what was in the back of my mind, lol.

  3. February 4, 2010 at 7:28 am

    Forgot to say, if you go to my blog today, you can see my “blueprint” that I did in school. Pencil and graph paper, not on the computer, but it is the one that I turned in for my mark.

  4. joenesgarden
    February 4, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Sunny, thanks for the good wishes and thanks for visiting. I love your photos of living structures.

  5. joenesgarden
    February 4, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Very cool, Deborah. Thanks. I’m looking forward to getting outside an doing some measurements.

  6. February 4, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    That’s a good lesson for a lot of creative professionals. Finding that balance isn’t easy so good for you for getting it right. Congratulations and good luck diving into CAD and moving forward with your dream!

  7. joenesgarden
    February 4, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Thanks, Lynn. The CAD thing is stretching my brain a bit, but it’s a good stretch.

  8. February 6, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Best wishes for continued learning and perfecting your skills and techniques as not only a garden designer but in managing your business. It sounds like you’ll have to monitor your enthusiasm to get really creative until after a client signs on with you–or something like that. I am sure you will do well with your endeavors!

  9. joenesgarden
    February 7, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Thanks, Jan. My second proposal was much better.

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