In every sector of the industry, we have those clients who want everything for nothing. They make lame promises, threats, and insults to put us designers in their place. They always want to make us feel as low as dirt, hoping we will work for free, or very little. We complain about these types of clients but do little to correct their behaviour.
As designer the first thing you must understand is that you must sell yourself to a prospective client so they feel they are lucky to have you as their designer. Moreso, you must also know the difference between having the confidence to elevate yourself in the eyes of the client, and being a douche-bag to others around you. Too often, we designers beat on each other. Most designers, if not all, carry a fear that their peers won’t respect their work. The truth is: it only matters what the client and you think of your work.
You must always give room to critics, they should not be for you learning to take them, but for you to learn how to defend your design decisions and how to best convince clients you made the right ones.
For instance, if you ask five designers what they think of your design, you will get five different opinions of what you did wrong. The only thing you did wrong was ask other designers for their subjective opinions. It’s not that they’re wrong, they just aren’t right. They weren’t there with you and the client, they didn’t hear the creative brief and they weren’t privy to the changes the client wanted. They also aren’t the ones who sign your checks. So perk up, because you’ll never know what the client will think until you show it to them. I mean, if you are busy seeking the approval of other designers, how can you be confident enough to seek the approval of a client in the first place?
Like i do tell some others in this field of ours, you need to always go beyond your horizon. As odd as it may sound, Designers are the ones who make the world go around. You need to be able to ooze success. This goes for networking and how you present yourself and your brand, to how you speak to people. Humble-but-confident is the key. So start focusing on the positive things about yourself, the professional designer in you and not the negative things that keep you down.
Always remember that there is a human response when it comes to designs that want what you can’t have. Go ahead, the door is open i cannot do your work for free, almost as if you don’t care if they become your customer or not. Trust me, you will be amazed that they would come back, begging to deal with you and i am not denying the fact that there are some big clients who would approached you first with offers to do freebies or work cheap but there are those who decide they will pay a good fee when confronted professionally and convinced that you are worth the payment.
If you aren’t confident with your own design ability, you have to discover why. Is it that you are just not happy with the final design when you are left to your own decisions? Do client changes send you into an indecisive depression? When you are going to present preliminary sketches to a client, do you obsess over the worst one, hoping it won’t be picked? Then get rid of it! If only two sketches are exciting to you out of three, then present two sketches. If the client asks why there aren’t more, say these two are the strongest concepts that will solve the design solution. If they want to see more, make them tell you why the presented solutions don’t solve the problem. Assert your professionalism and don’t position yourself as a design slave.
So find the right balance for your ego and attitude, make your portfolio feel expensive and professional, well put together like someone who has it so together, but doesn’t step on others to elevate him or herself. When you let go of the part of you that is more concerned about what other designers think and concentrate on what you like about your work, you will find your creative juices flowing freely. That will end up pleasing your clients. Project approved, check received, design successful! That’s all you need to be a great designer while understanding the “D” word and all it stands for.
RULES TO LIVE BY…
Don’t get cheap with your brand! Your brand is the first impression of your professional standing.
What matters is a satisfied client and your opinion of yourself and your abilities. Ignore what other designers think. They don’t pay your bills.
Negativity is a drain of valuable energy. Worry about your career, and not the careers of others.
Don’t brag, but don’t shrug and talk your work down either.
Always smile at a client and never take an insult of a bad offer personally.
Never lose your cool! Look at every situation as a test of your ability to solve a negotiation in your favour.
It’s artwork not artplay! Don’t let clients get that mixed up.
Stand your ground. Walking away from a non-paying, or low-paying project costs you nothing.
Start your first fee offer high. If you agree to a discount, then you won’t lose income and the client will appreciate your flexibility, without losing respect for your professionalism.
Your career is your life! Take it seriously and don’t let your peers sabotage it with their opinions or standards. Misery loves company. Quit that company!