When I started my own design business, one of the first things I put in place was a well-written contract. Before I spoke to an attorney about drafting an official document for me, I made sure I had my design process established.
I also did a lot of research as to what other design firms and freelancers were including in their agreements. With something as subjective as design, there are lots of gray areas that need to be clarified as much as possible on paper.
If you’re in the process of drafting a client contract, or if you are considering revising one that already exists, I would recommend including the following list of items:
1. Estimate Terms
When starting a new project with a current or prospective client, I’m always sure to estimate the project time first. In my experience, giving yourself a bit of extra time on the estimate is a good thing. It will cover you in the event any unexpected snags come up.
My clients are only billed for the time I spend on their projects, so if I don’t use up all the time allotted on my estimate, I look like a hero who came in under budget. On the flip side, if I find the project needs more time for completion (for whatever reason), I’m sure to notify my clients before continuing work and racking up additional hours. Continue Reading
I’ve been self-employed for almost 4 years and never once had I missed a client deadline. However, last week I came uncomfortably close. So close, that I was prepping myself for the “we’re not gonna make it” speech. What was I to say? How was I to approach the client? There’s no doubt that they would be angry and even though I had been doing everything in my power to meet the timeline, it was looking grim.
Luckily, in the last second, I made the cut without time to spare. By this time, I had a whole plan worked out as to how I was going to approach a possibly difficult client situation. Instead of wasting my series of steps and never thinking about it again (hopefully…), I decided I’d turn it into a post. Truth be told, the first thing I did was jump on the Internet and run a search on, “how to handle missed deadlines.” I didn’t get much help and I kept thinking, “Why are there no better resources for this kind of thing? What am I supposed to say?”
Now, if you’re in the position I was in last week (and hopefully you aren’t), my prepared plan may serve as a resource for you.
Photo by benis979.
It’s easy to think about what your ideal client would be like, but actually finding them is much more difficult. Identifying the type of client you want to work with and their characteristics, however, is pivotal when approaching your marketing efforts. By answering this simple series of questions, you just may find that your dream client isn’t so hard to catch after all.
Question 1: What type of projects would your ideal client purchase?
If you’re looking for clients who are interested in website development, be sure your portfolio and printed samples contain web-related pieces. It’s wise to show one or two brochure or logo samples to show your versatility, but be sure web work is your main portfolio focus, if such is the case. Also, gear your marketing efforts towards a demographic that may be in need of site development.
Photo by simononly.
It may be easy for two design professionals to discuss hierarchy and layout, but it can be very frustrating for a client. During my experience, I’ve noticed a few patterns when it comes to client feedback and the phrases they choose when trying to communicate. Below are five common remarks I’ve picked up on and have translated into designer-speak.
“Can We Make This Bigger?” = Not Enough Emphasis
As designers we’re trained to give the most important elements in a piece the largest physical size. This gives the component priority and as a result, it becomes the focal point. So what happens when your client is asking you to make just about everything in the work bigger?
Chances are, they’re trying to tell you that the emphasis is on the wrong item or there’s just not enough in general. Ask the client to rank the content in terms of importance. What should be the chief element in the design? The second? Third? By getting your hands on this list, you and your client are both on the same page about what should be the largest/have the most importance.
Business cards are so important when it comes to networking. They provide prospects with our contact info and, more importantly, a lasting impression. My rule of thumb good business card design is if people are no longer “oohing” and “ahhing” over my cards, it’s time to make a change.
The following is a sampling of business card designs from Creattica.com. If you’re thinking of redesigning your cards, looking for a little inspiration or just need a little eye-candy over your coffee break, take a peek at the eye-catching pieces below.
Your college professor may have placed a lot of importance on type and hierarchy. Your client may be telling you to make specific words “larger” so they’ll stand out more. No matter who it’s coming from, it’s clear that graphic design is a lot more than just colors and layout; it relies heavily on typography as well.
It’s no lie that type treatments can make or break a design — have you ever seen a logo where the font does not at all match the actual service or product it stands for? Or maybe the text in a magazine is a mess and difficult to read. I’ve broken down two examples that I feel reflect the importance of quality typography in a design.
It’s not unexpected that individuals and businesses have tighter wallets in this economy. This, coupled with people who have been laid off and are now starting up their own companies, can be tricky. Little or no money creates a difficult situation for folks trying to promote themselves, thus raising the number of times we service providers hear “no, it’s just not in my budget right now.”
When I first started freelancing, I thought the conversation had to stop there. “They’re simply not interested,” would go through my head. However, I’ve come to realize that responses like these are actually great starters for conversation. There are essentially three things we can do when we hear such a response.
Photo by rpongsaj.
Exhibiting at trade shows is a very beneficial way to network for freelancers. Whether attending or actually exhibiting at the event, face time is essential in giving prospective clients the opportunity to get to know you. What could be better for business than having a bunch of one-on-one conversations about what services you offer?
If you’ve never exhibited at a trade show before, or if you are just looking for a few new ideas to freshen up your booth space, I’ve jotted down a few tips that have helped to make my trade show experiences a success.
As freelancers there are often times we work away from our desks. This could be due to taking much needed vacations or working from a coffee shop to gain a little human interaction. How can you keep your business going in a professional setting when you’re not working from your typical office space?
At a time when networking is extremely important, freelancers can’t afford to have a business card that isn’t eye-catching. My rule of thumb is if people aren’t complimenting you on your cards, then it’s time to make a change.
After collecting business cards over the years, I’ve seen some pretty interesting and creative designs along with some that just plain aren’t effective. Before going over some ways to ensure your cards don’t fall into the latter group, I think it’s important to ensure all of the proper information is accounted for. When designing cards for myself and my clients, I ensure the following information is included:
Clients can sometimes be nervous or hesitant about purchasing freelance services. Most of the time, freelancers (whether they are writers, designers, or something else entirely) won’t have a tangible product to sell, so it’s difficult to show clients what they’re paying for up front. This can provoke a lot of remarks from clients such as, “You design the logo for me and if I like it, I’ll pay for it,” or “Can I tell you if we plan to purchase the press release you write after we see it?”
I’ve found that to make clients feel more secure about purchasing services and to avoid spec work requests, a well put-together portfolio is key. People like to interact with portfolio pieces and feel the paper, see how an item folds, etc. If freelancers can use more than one of the five senses to show work to clients, it becomes a little more interactive, engaging and interesting.
I wrote a post recently about my logo design process and thought there was no better way to illustrate it than with an actual client piece (check it out here). The client I chose to use as an example didn’t end upusing one of my logo options, however, I did end up with some work I was very proud of and still use in my portfolio today.
Reading through the comments after the article was published, many readers wanted to know what happened next; was I compensated for my time? Did I end up creating a different logo for the client? Did I do any other work for this individual? Never had it really occurred to me to continue writing about what to do when the client rejects the work. Thankfully, I’ve only had to deal with this twice in my career. Here’s when and how I end a client relationship.