Your designs are rock solid; your websites superb. Your packaging strategies unparalleled and your mother thinks you’re handsome. So, why haven’t your clients been calling?
You may not be aware of this, but *shifts awkwardly* you are not well liked. There. It had to be said.
Why, you ask? What difference should it make if people like me? I’m not in this business to be liked; I’m not here to make friends. I’m here to give the world my genius, dammit!
We know, we know. But, you still have to live in the real world, son. Let us help you. It’s for your own good.
1. You’re inflexible.
Look, we know you’re a genius whose designs and concepts are without flaw, but slamming down your portfolio and putting your hands behind your head only works for designers who have a decades-long track record of success. Even then, eventually clients get tired of the attitude.
Customer service skills are critical. Clients have to believe that their ideas have merit, and they want to work with designers who respect their brand and their expertise. If you behave as though you are the messiah of graphic design, then your clients won’t feel comfortable working with you.
2. You slam others behind their backs.
Ridiculing the work of others only makes you seem petty and arrogant, and it makes clients uncomfortable. If you truly despise your competitor’s work, keep it to yourself. Leave the trash talking for professional athletes and reality show confessionals.
3. You’re unreliable.
If you don’t respond to emails, voice mail messages and if you are consistently late delivering specs and assignments, your reputation for being a flake will get around mighty quickly. Likewise, if you forget about project details and meetings and then come up with excuses each time, your clients will catch on quick. “This is his third dog that’s died this month, how many could he possibly have?”
4. You’re unprofessional.
We all want to work in a relaxed environment, but communicating with clients as though they are your BFFs is just flat-out immature. Save the text message cuteness for when you’re chatting with your GF.
5. You nickel-and-dime clients.
No one wants to work for free, but taking on $10 charges here and there for little extras in addition to the agreed upon rate just seems paltry and resentful.
Now, if your client’s addendums add up to several hundred dollars in time and equipment, then you should have a sit-down. You have to make it clear that you are not someone to be taken advantage of, but you have to do it in the nicest way possible. Then again, if your clients are trying to take advantage of you, then you might have a different problem altogether and should instead focus on trying to get better clients.
6. You promise your clients the moon, and only deliver rocks.
When you’re in the client-wooing stage, it’s really easy to instantly declare that you’re capable of producing the webpage/package/logo of their dreams without really considering the true time and cost involved. Once you have the contract and discover that everything that is expected is completely unrealistic, the client isn’t going to want to hear it; you promised, and now you look like a fraud.
Be clear about your capabilities and enthusiasm, but don’t over-commit. Trust that your client is reasonable and will be flexible with regard to project size, money, timetables, etc. Good work costs money, and a client should understand upfront that quality doesn’t come cheap.
7. You’re slacking off.
If you have a project that you’re unenthusiastic about, don’t let it show in your work. Even if the association with the client doesn’t give you any prestige or significant revenue now, you never know if that little marginal start-up will eventually become an industry leader. Also, dissatisfied clients like to talk, and you never know who he may be talking to.
8. You’re unpleasant.
Interpersonal skills are as important as talent. If you are arrogant and snarky, no matter how brilliant your designs are, clients won’t think it’s worth it.
Whew! We’re sorry to have to be the ones to tell you all of this, but no one said this career was going to be easy. Everyone needs a little reality check once in a while, and believe us, we only want you to succeed. Even if you never do return our calls.