Graphic design—you may think the profession is all about art, but the reality is much different. All professional graphic designers have at least one story about a “hellish” client. Client demands can get in the way of a designer’s creative process, making things complicated. It might be unpleasant, but putting up with difficult clients and delivering as ordered is part of the job. Graphic designers, thus, should master the art of compromise.
A freelance niche refers to a small segment of the total market that buys freelance services. This can be defined as a “horizontal” segment, usually focused on a particular service, like “Logo Design”. And a “vertical” segment, focused on a particular sector of an industry, like online retail. Ignore broad service segments (horizontal), because nobody seeks out services. They want to solve their problems. Instead, I’ll try to convince you to focus on the problems of a specific industry (vertical). The goal is to spend the least amount of time winning work, and more time billing.
Creative block is an unavoidable and unfortunate side-effect of being a graphic designer, however when you design for a living then you can’t afford to stop working while you wait for your muse to return. Fortunately, creative block is a temporary ailment that can be overcome quickly if the right measurements are taken.
When most people think of negotiation, they think of hostages and they start to get nervous. But the negotiation phase is a good thing. It means your potential customer is very interested in your services. It’s the last step in the sales process, matching their perceived value of what you do, to what they’re willing to pay.
Are you currently frustrated because you’re landing low-paying clients? I get it. I was frustrated for years and tried every piece of advice that came my way about how to charge more. From endlessly talking about what’s stopping me, to charging more with every new client, nothing worked consistently.
I would hear things like, “It’s all mindset. You just need the confidence to charge higher prices.” And while that’s true, where does the confidence come from? Do we just need to muster enough to be able to charge more? Or was there something else to it?
Having a strong personal brand is crucial if you want to build a successful design career.
When you’re applying to jobs or reaching out to clients, a strong personal brand can help make you more memorable, showcase your style and tone of work, and convince people that you’re truly passionate about design outside of your 9-5 job. It also shows that you have an opinion or point of view about design and are willing to boldly attach that opinion to yourself for everyone to see!
Freelance bidding websites attract a lot of freelance projects. They do this by encouraging competition and cheap prices. In this situation, nobody wins. The customer only gets what they paid for (not a lot). And the freelancer can’t grow their business beyond the platform. To win a bid, you must compete on price. To lower your price, you must perform a basic service or reduce your costs. This goes against an advanced freelancers way of thinking. If you focus on adding as much value to a customers business as possible, everybody wins.
There are so many client personalities it’s hard to generalise them into just a few. But here I’ve noted the most common types that I came across and how I handled it.
Advanced freelancers are different to your typical freelancer in a few important ways. They are reliable when they take work on. They’re consistent in their approach. They do their particular service or craft as a full-time job and enjoy it. And they’re aspiring to create a reputation or brand to help grow their business in the future. But if you were to sum it up in one sentence; they reduce the risk for their customers.
It’s normal to want to fill your schedule with paid client work. But when you’re just working for clients you’ll lose a lot of what makes you a good freelancer. Things like trying out new technologies or tactics. Taking time to work on things that give you pleasure or are useful for other people, like open source or education. There are a few things I’d recommend you do with time between projects, in-case you haven’t thought of them already.