Relationships With Design Clients
As funny as the image above might be, that’s how it can feel sometimes when working with clients. If you’re a freelance designer, then you’ll be working with design clients on a daily basis. Your interactions with your clients will either make a project go smoothly, or it can make it out to be a disaster. Your relationship with your clients is one of the most important things that you should focus on as a freelancer. There are things that you can do to ensure that your relationships with your clients are strong and positive. Your design clients should want to work with you, just as you want to work with your clients.
Be Upfront About Everything
One of the best ways to build a strong relationship with your design clients is to be upfront with them. Don’t hide things, such as the cost of a project. You definitely want to keep this in mind when working with them. Make sure that they understand you are trying to save them money on their project. However, at the same time, make sure that they understand that you are not going to sacrifice quality in their process. Make sure that your design clients know things, such as the cost of printing, what you will need from them, such as information, and things that could arise during the project. Making sure that your clients know these things ahead of time will make it so that the project goes more smoothly. Your clients will be willing to work with you, because you are upfront about possible problems that could arise. No one likes unpleasant surprises. Keep unpleasant surprises to a minimum when working with your clients.
Put Everything in Writing
Another great way to build a strong relationship with your design clients is to put everything in writing. When you submit a quote to them for a price put it in writing and make sure that they know that it is good for a certain amount of time. Outline everything that you are going to do for them, as well as how much it costs. This set will actually help you, because if you happen to leave something out, they may bring it up and you could add that to the cost. Otherwise some design clients will try to get you to do an extra task and not charge them for it. This can cause you to lose money and feel cheated or frustrated. When you have your tasks in writing, and your client asks for another service, you can be upfront with them and tell them that it’s going to cost extra. Then, you simply add that to their next invoice. If you have been up front with them for the entire project, they’ll be more likely to pay more for an extra service, rather than trying to get you to do that for them for nothing.
Strongly Guide Each Project
Be sure to stay on track with the projects. This is important for building trust with your design clients, because they would know that you mean business about their project. When you keep track of due dates and milestones within the project, it makes you look more professional. It also means that your client doesn’t have to keep track of this. They will feel more like they can trust you in the future. This will also make it more likely for them to hire you for projects further down the road.
You’re on the Client’s Side, Remember?
Be sure to keep their best interests in mind. This is important to clients because they will be getting the best price possible for a service. If you outsource your printing, shop around and try to get them as low of a price as possible. When design clients know that you have put in the extra effort to try to get them the best deal possible, they know that they can trust you. They know that you care about them and that they aren’t just another fistful of money in your pocket. If you encounter any issues throughout the project, it is important that you bring them to the attention of your client. Make sure that they are in the loop, and that they know what is going on. This way, if any special decisions need to be made the client can make them and feel like they are in control. This is important, because it can save you work further down the road that you may have to do for free, because a project was messed up. No one likes having to go back and redo their work. This will also keep you from feeling jaded, because you have to spend billable work hours working on the project that should be done, or fixing a project that was messed up due to bad communication.
Like a Mailman: Always Deliver
Always deliver projects on time. This is extremely important and many rookie designers make this mistake. Many designers will work til the last minute to get something done, only to realize that they didn’t factor in enough time for printing or other important tasks. This can be a disaster when working with some design clients, because their projects may be time sensitive. If you deliver a project late, and they can’t use it, then your work is worthless. You can pretty much guarantee that they will not be hiring you in the future.
Design Clients Are People, Too
Treat your design clients like people because they are people. If you ever gone to a store where the person didn’t talk to you they just took your money and exchange for product that you wanted? How did you feel when this happened? You probably felt like you didn’t exist or that you weren’t important. I’ve been to several retail stores like that, and I didn’t go back. The same thing goes with your design clients. They are spending a lot of money for you to do a great job for them. However, it is important that you treat them like a person, not like a job or like they are just another dollar sign walking through the door. It’s important to deliver your project on time and under budget, but that I have found that your projects will end up being more fulfilling and actually will turn out better if you develope a good relationship with your design clients. If you have ever read or listen to the interviews of Milton Glaser, then you know that he thinks that you have to work with clients that you enjoy working with. He says that projects turn out much better when you work with clients that you’d like. Now, I know this isn’t all that practical, especially for a freelancer just starting out, but it does make sense and it is true. It’s important that you talk with your clients and understand them and their business. With a deeper understanding of both areas, you will be able to deliver a better solution to their problems. Anytime that you can gain any sort of extra insight into your client and their business, it will only serve you positively.
The Impact of Relationships With Design Clients
The relationships that you form with your clients can end up being a life long business relationship. If you really do a fantastic job on the clients project, chances are that they will be hiring you again soon. Getting reoccurring work as a freelancer can pay the bills and put food on the table for years. Not only will that client keep coming back to you, they will also refer other clients to you as well. Word of mouth will make or break your business. The more positive word-of-mouth reviews that you can get, the more your business will grow, & faster it will grow, too. What are some ways that you build strong relationships with your clients? I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Please leave your thoughts or questions in the comments section below.