Clients are the most important part of your freelancing career. Without them, you wouldn’t have money or pieces in your portfolio. Knowing this, you need to be armed with a solid knowledge of client relations to keep getting clients and maintain the ones you have worked so hard to find.
- Don’t undersell yourself to clients.
- Explain your process in simplest terms.
- Your client is not always right and it is okay to respectfully disagree.
- Having great customer service goes a long way.
- Always have the client deposit a certain percentage of the money up-front.
- If a client is angry with you, do not respond immediately to them; give yourself a few minutes to cool-off.
- Go the extra mile for your clients.
- Create a contract or terms and make your clients stick to it.
- Strive to get long-term clients and referrals.
- Always be professional.
We all have different ways of approaching the design process. Some go straight to the computer and some start off with a pencil. Either way, it is important to remember certain aspects while you design. Here are a few of my tips:
- Always sketch out your ideas first before designing on the computer.
- Research your client’s target audience before designing.
- Think of the user and NOT yourself while designing.
- Look for outside sources to inspire you instead of design galleries.
Time and Project Management
Time and project management are two keys to effectively freelance designing. You have to face the fact that you will receive multiple projects at one point. Once you have come across that, you need to make sure you are managing your time effectively and you are managing the project effectively or your project could collapse.
- Learn to “productively procrastinate”; which means you work on what is most important first.
- Don’t make procrastination a habit.
- Find a project management application you like and stick to it.
- Frequently use a to-do list.
- Outsource to other designers when you are busy.
Freelance designers often think they can bypass marketing, but you can’t. To reach potential clients, you need to constantly market yourself and prove your worth over others. Here are a few marketing tips for new freelance designers:
- Create an effective elevator speech.
- Use social media to your advantage.
- Advertise yourself locally as well as globally.
- Create business cards and hand them out whenever you can.
- Never advertise your services on internet forums.
- Look for work on Job Boards.
- Research your target audience and find out where they go on the internet.
Some Other Important Things
Some of these tips are very important. Starting out, I wish I would have known most of these tips because they have severely hurt my business and hurt myself. Without realizing some of these tips, I would not be where I am today and I would not be as happy as I am today.
- Have a diversified portfolio.
- Get an email client for your desktop.
- Learn from your mistakes and move on.
- Do not accept every project you are offered.
- Learn from criticism instead of shrugging it off.
- Step away from your computer and get some sunlight.
- Exercise is important.
Your turn to talk
In addition to adding your suggestions to the comments, we also asked you to share your thoughts on twitter. (To get featured in upcoming articles on GDB, follow us on twitter) The following are a few great ideas from the community:
@thephuse – I wish I would have known that even friends will screw you if you don’t put together a contract.
@gmsdesigns – I wish I could have known just how difficult some clients can be. And I wish the term “scope creep” had been in my vocabulary.
@blooji – I wish I would’ve known about the 30% self-employment tax (+ quarterly payment options). That hurts at the end of the year!
@mgpwr – How to do the other stuff, like TAX and books, how to approach clients, and deffo read up on their rights and law.
@evldesign – New freelancers should have a good handle on some of the business side or at least have a person they could turn to for help.
@MCDezigns – Find good partners and have an elevator pitch that grabs attention. NETWORK!
@amberweinberg – advice: to succeed just get out there and start freelancing. Don’t wait for the perfect time. It will never come.