We think we get to work with some of the best clients on the planet. But it did not start out like that. For this article I ask our designers to go back to when they were just starting out and really talk to me from that perspective. What advice would they give freelaners or new designers on finding great clients we like have here at SmashBrand.
So, you’ve got tons of design work lined up and almost no time to complete it all. Well that’s good, right? What do you mean, you can barely pay your rent – with all of this work you do, you should be rolling in dough! You have numerous clients, but they all pay you next to nothing, you say? Well, that ends now.
It’s time someone told you to man up, for heaven’s sake. Your work has value! Your life has meaning! If your clients are walking all over you, it means you’re either letting good clients take advantage of you (and they might not even know it), or you’re just attracting the wrong type of client. You want great clients? Here’s how to get them.
Know Your Worth
When you start out as a new freelancer or a newly established company, you’ll no doubt have to take on projects for ridiculously low amounts of money. It’s critically important that as you get more experience under your belt and as your portfolio grows, your rates will grow right along with them. Otherwise, when you struggle with only the meager funds you’ve been given, your work suffers, your sense of accomplishment suffers, and you wind up an embittered shell of what you could have been (not to be overly dramatic about it, or anything).
Unscrupulous clients feed off of talented people who don’t know the real value of their work. If you’ve done fantastic designs, let your future clients know, in no uncertain terms, that they have to pay for quality.
High quality clients already know this, and they’re willing to fork over more money for great results. Maintain your standards.
Once you’ve started getting high paying gigs, don’t allow your clients to bombard you with emails, phone calls, meetings, changes in design specifications, add-ons and other little directives that turn into time-consuming hassles.
Clients who like to micromanage are unavoidable. However, set parameters. Make sure everyone is clear about what they want and how they plan to interact. If your client knows that you can’t do your best work with a marketing executive sitting on your shoulder, then he or she is more likely to ease off a bit, because the company certainly wants its money’s worth.
Changes are inevitable. It’s perfectly reasonable to have a slight shift in the direction of the project in the beginning, but if suddenly the client decides that he wants an entirely new concept after you’ve nearly completed the original, that is flat-out unacceptable, unless the client is willing to renegotiate the costs. After all, if you’ve sculpted three-quarters of a statue of a wood nymph for a client, and suddenly he changes his mind and wants a gargoyle, then that needs to come out of his pocket, not yours.
Offer Better Services, Detail Them Explicitly
After enough experience with clients, you should have an idea of the services clients want that wouldn’t necessarily be obvious to a novice. Make sure you advertise these services, even if they were things you were going to offer anyway. Many times, companies offer services that they never advertise, missing out on clients to whom those services would really matter. Don’t be one of those companies.
Don’t Work Just for the Money
This may seem counterintuitive to the advice we’ve just given, but we assure you, it isn’t. When you’re building your reputation and your client base, you have to look for the projects that will earn you some status. Your previous projects will dictate the direction your career will take. This is the key to enticing those great clients. They want to work with people who are passionate about their work. Why do you think political campaign managers fight over high-profile candidates? Yes, the money is good, but not always. Sometimes you have to take a lower-paying position or client so you can include him on your work history. Want to know what else clients are looking for? Take a look at our blog from last month, which details how clients look for design firms.
It is crucially important that you do work that makes you look good. If you are bogged down in projects that do nothing to enhance your prestige or reputation, believe it or not, your skills will eventually erode. If you hear about a project that really piques your interest, whether it is because of the project itself or who you are working for, go for it; regardless of the dollar amount.