I love being a freelance designer. I work on my own schedule and enjoy the privilege and freedom to be creative in a variety of different formats and genres. As my design work is diverse, so too are my clients. As any freelance designer will tell you, no two clients are the same and dealing with them can be trying at the best times and exasperating in the worst.
I love all my clients…even the difficult ones.
Who wants to work for someone who quickly accepts everything you send over to them? I truly enjoy defending my design choices and get an immense amount of satisfaction from winning over a difficult client.
I’ve been around long enough to know that the key to any relationship (professional or otherwise) is built on a foundation of good communication. If you can understand who your client is and the target audience they are attempting to reach, even the most difficult client turns into an “easy” one.
Problems can occur when a client fails to articulate what he or she wants in a meaningful way. You would be surprised how often this happens. More often than not, a successful designer has to “read between the lines” in order to get to the information they need to successfully complete a job. You must go the distance to understand the need more than an inarticulate or inexperienced client may be expressing.
By simply asking the right questions, many times you can flush out the necessary information you need. Whenever I have an initial sit down with a client, I always ask the same questions:
- What’s the company’s background?
- Who is the target audience? (age, gender, subgroups, other segmentation)
- What is the message you are attempting to convey?
- What are the specs of the project/deliverable? (mediums, dimensions, content)
- What is the budget?
- Is there a specific deadline?
- Can the client show you preexisting design examples they like?
- Are there pre-existing design requirements or style guides? (specific colors, fonts, logo placement)
By asking these critical, poignant questions you are not only showing your client that you are an insightful, professional designer, but also that you will deliver a thoughtful, intelligent design that truly meets their need. This is also the key to forming a lasting, fruitful relationship, and to your continued success in the field.
Read Erik’s first post in this series, The Contemporary Designer.
Erik Summa received his BFA in Graphic Design from West Chester University and graduated with a MA in Graphic Design from University of the Arts London. Summa is currently self-employed as a freelance designer.
His personal website can be found here: http:www.eriksumma.com.
Summa will be teaching courses offered in the Print Certificate program in the fall.