Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Freelancer Tips 2 - Designer, Illustrators, Developers - Morale, money and clients

Well, I felt that as the other post about freelancer tips had some interest that I would write another post with some pointers that would make life just a bit more bearable when delving into the life as a freelance designer! I'm also sure that some of these pointers are transferable across other creative professions, so here we go.

** Manage Client Expectations **

That's almost all that needs to be said. Make sure that you and the client are on the same page in terms of what they expect at the end of the project. Be up front, discuss budgets and see that you are both heading towards same goal. Failing to manage their expectations in the initial stages can result in dissatisfaction and loss of a client. Avoid surprising them, be up front, see what they want, check that you can deliver on what that want and you may save yourself and them a whole load of hassle!

Clients to Avoid

In the early stages you will probably bump into many clients who may be trouble than their worth to your business. This isn't a personal criticism of these clients, nor are they strictly conscious of their actions but you need to build a viable business take some of these behaviours into account. A bit of fun below, Client types:

- The non-payer: yeah we have your number Non-payer and shame on you. I bet if the shoe were on the other foot you'd be among the first to complain about not being paid! The trouble is some of these people that have an adversity to honourable business practices is, they can be tricky to spot. They may vanish without a trace when it comes to payment (pppppoooohhhhfff – the sound of them vanishing from the phone, emails, post code). What do you do? It's best to ask for a deposit at the start of a project to see if they are fare dodgers, if they wince at the thought of paying you a starter fee (even a small one) be very very careful! You could find yourself out of pocket.

- The Cheapskate: And you! Stopping asking students to produce work for nothing whilst in the process of cheapening the design industry! Stop! I don't care. In all honestly you can spot these clients quite early, and in fairness they are just trying to use a bit of business sense. But remember fellow designers… you are a businessperson too and you need to make a living before making a profit. Stand strong and admit that you need to make money, eat, pay rent/mortgage keep a family and that the client hiring you are doing so for you skills and expertise. Have respect for your skills, if you don't they certainly wont. And don't do spec work for free, sometimes this is rewarding but more often that not this is company or client looking to explore insecurity and gain something for nothing. Again… they probably wouldn't offer their services for free – unless they are charity, then that is a whole different kettle of fish. One small exception to this rule is when you are student – getting real commercial work is like gold dust in the early days. Even then, when I was a student doing a HND in design we a great lecturer that would find us clients and live worth that work give all the students a bit of money, not a lot but a bit.

- The Disrespectful One: trust me , these guys can put real sour taste in your mouth avoid them if possible. Sometimes the general lack of respect (sometimes combined with ignorance) can take a little while to manifest and no matter how much you try to win someone round, educate, inspire they just see your skills as an superfluous aspect to their business, “you just make things look pretty”you are skills are never an investment, to them they wander if they can do a better job, whether their cats or dogs can do your job and they don't even have thumbs “ah anyone can do that” or quote - “The computer did that!”. This type of client alone can be the underpinning for statements above. Be warned and be ready. To tell the truth, this can be tricky to draw out its ugly head. Engage in conversation, and maybe ask some questions about the business. What do they need from a designer, is there anything else they like on the market etc. You are contending with an attitude towards you professional skills and in the films you can almost always win these people round... these is probably not the case in the real world. You will just start to get a gut feeling from this sort of client from odd little quips and remarks, this can also be especially prevalent if you work in-house. – Show yourself a little self-respect even if the client won't move on! Onward and upward... if you can afford to.

Selling Yourself Short
Or the design industry in general. “I'm new so I won't charge anymore that bag of peanuts and a pat on the back!”Why? Have confidence! If you have trained as a Graphic designer, artist, or any other profession be creative or technical, have faith in you skills. If you don't have faith in your skills how do you expect your client to faith in you? Not only that, if you go in for a low ball number it just says to the client that they may be dealing with someone who lacks confidence knowledge, and also you draw out the wolves – and you will be the wounded animal – and like wolves, they will smell vulnerability. You will probably want to avoid working hard and getting very little pay in return, it gets old trust me on that. You also cheapen the industry, stop.

Don't be Desperate
This one is also tricky to avoid as a graduate or newbie. Companies and recruiters will know that you will be probably be desperate for a job as you will have 0 years experience. If you really want a job, desperation can lead you to making bad decisions early on with selecting employers and clients that will want to take advantage of you. If a position or a job smells fishy, don’t ignore that gut feeling. If someone is taking advantage of you be prepared to say 'no' and walk away. That willingness to say no will save you hassle, be prepared to walk away if it feels like the right thing to do... and make sure you complete what was required if things got that far.
Well I hope that gives you something to consider. Its not all terror out there in wilds of design but there are pitfalls you should avoid. I have run into these on a couple of occasions but they are much less frequent these days. If you are new I would advise taking some of the above on board. If you a season professional you can look back and laugh (or cry) at some of the points above. Have a good one all!

“I ain’t paying £5 for a business card!” – this was said in response to offering them a branding make over!

Feel free to post any mini stories or rude comments.

No comments:

Post a Comment