You’ve got a freelance design client, a project and a budget. This is a good thing. You want to produce good work, get the project done on time and make the client happy. You should also try to look out for your client’s long-term interests and yours as well. The world of freelancing has just become challenging and monetarily rewarding now that you’ve incorporated highly lucrative design projects into your workload. You’ve created the fun environment you’ve always wanted, but it’s called something much better than that.
This is called creating a win-win situation. Many clients have an idea of what they want, but they are coming to you — the expert — because they need help not just with design, but with generating ideas and getting the end result produced. You value the end result of design, for example, how your creative work will come to life on quality printed materials. Explaining that you have a close partnership with a wholesale printer and will manage the print production to ensure quality is a great way to stand above the competition and demonstrate that you care about the client’s ultimate success.
1) When you are with the client, they should feel like their project is the only thing that matters during the time you spend together. Avoid telling them when your next appointment is (why should they care about activities with your other clients?) that only gives the message of watching the clock. Never take calls during meetings, except in emergencies. Come prepared with a next meeting date in mind.
2) Engage your freelance design client by involving them in the details. Walking them through the meanings behind suggested concepts, colors and fonts gives them shared investment in the end product. Explain how paper, printing process and different formats have an impact on how the design will be received and used. Educating your client builds your credibility.
3) Every meeting and conversation with a client is an opportunity to expand their horizons and extend your work. If they are asking for a brochure, talk them through the different options and explain how different formats fit different occasions. Recommend companion pieces (sales sheets with custom printed presentation folders and business cards). Suggest alternatives and what the next project will entail so you can incorporate the current project’s ideas into a greater holistic solution.
4) Don’t over promise and under deliver. If you set dates for deliverables make sure you keep to your commitments. If you need to check with suppliers before making commitments saying so indicates you really understand the full picture. Pleasing the client by saying what they want to hear face-to-face doesn’t last long if a week later you cannot deliver as promised because you over committed in the original conversation. And consider if you go cheap on production, you’re risking the success of this project and future work as well. This same facet goes for freelance IT projects which you take on that carry similar design ideologies.
5) Sometimes you have limited control of all the moving parts in a project and missing a commitment is out of your control. There will be times when you have to deliver bad news but just remember the worst thing you can do is avoid delivering the bad news at all. How you handle it and the fact that you do handle it can be a huge opportunity for building trust. And if for some reason it is your fault, own up to it and learn from it as an opportunity to improve your accountability.
6) As the project nears completion, schedule some time to review the project with your client. Is there an opportunity for future projects? Ask for referrals. How did the project go overall? Does your client have a this-was-money-well-spent feeling? Also consider a mental evaluation – are there aspects of the project that could have been better? Did you improve on any aspect you intended to from prior projects?
Consider your design engagements as consultative at every step, looking and probing for the next project, and you’ll naturally find that clients will value your work more and the results will be better. Everybody wins.
About Our Contributor
Paula Brewers is member of the Independent Reseller Marketing team for Navitor, a commercial printing company that specializes in both digital and traditional printing processes. Paula writes articles for the Navitor blog and other social mediums.