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Time is a freelance graphic designer’s biggest asset. We are paid per project basis. Unless we get a project done and approved by the client, we won’t get paid nor start on another project.
Being a freelance designer is a job made in heaven or hell. Don’t you love the feeling of fulfillment once your design has been approved? Being recognized and praised for your work is the best feeling to have, but this is not always the case—some bosses are harder to please than others. We have been on that road before, on one time or another—clients demanding revision after revision, asking for changes and modifications. There are so many demands that you feel like every creative juice has been squeezed out of your head. What do you do?
Of course, there’s no easy answer to this. We can’t please everybody. Sometimes we get disgruntled because clients ask for too many changes that we have to compromises the whole design and aesthetic. Clashes can occur, especially since some clients lack the creative set to distinguish design from rubbish.
Photo by: Zsuzsanna Kilian
As revisions are inevitable, there are actually a few ways on how you can avoid them:
Master the art of communication. Client communication is the most important part of Freelance Designing. The best way to solve misunderstandings and frustrations is simply through proper communication. Always ask them their demands and preferences before starting a project. Ask them for their expectations.
For your part, give them an overview on how you work and on what they should expect from you. Give them details on what you can and what you cannot do. If you can, present them a portfolio of your previous works to give them a glimpse of your design philosophy.
The most important part is meeting halfway. Yes, we graphic artists are trained to know the good from the ugly–but do not assume you know what to do and what your client wants. See to it that your client’s needs are met but not so much that it could compromise the design.
Photo by: Raja R
Take time to think and be inspired. Jumping on a project without some inspiration can cause creative burn out. Thus, find ways to get inspired in order to think of fresh and innovative ideas. Avoid getting ideas from the internet–go out and derive inspiration from real life. Brainstorm, read a book, take a walk or take a pencil and doodle. Sleep it in and start the project the next day–brain recharged and stress free.
You and your client should come up with a set list of objectives approved by both parties. So much time can be wasted if there are no ground rules given. So before starting a project, ask the client what they want to achieve for the said project, and put it in writing. Objectives will give you a clear rundown on where you’re heading for both you and your client. After finishing the project, you can see if the objectives have been met.
Create a timeline for the current project handled. This will force you to put a deadline to the project, removing your chances of procrastinating. Creating a timeline will help you manage your time properly, so that you can proceed to other projects. Your client will appreciate the effort, as well.
Many of our headaches come from the clients themselves–for example, giving us low resolution images to use, or insisting on using Comic Sans MS for their site, or asking for crappy color combinations like orange and black. Do not be afraid to voice out your opinion as a designer–make them understand. Tell them that low res images won’t look good when printed out, that Comic Sans MS will make a web site look second grade-ish, and that orange and black is best left to use for the Halloween season.
A creative brief is a great tool to keep track of the project’s progress. It doesn’t need to be that long (as the name ‘creative brief’ suggests). A short, one page creative brief will do. Write a good creative brief and explain the design thoroughly, in order to prevent any more further provisions and changes.
Some graphic designers make the mistake of worshipping their own work. They think that their design is so good the client will instantly love it. Once creating a single design, their mind is closed for other new ideas on how to approach it. Read: This is a big mistake.
Clients love to work with people who have plenty of ideas. Multi-faceted designers are always valued. So for a project, be sure to present, three, four, or more proposed designs for the project to show off your versatility and imagination as a graphic designer. For every design, you can make more studies by varying colors, fonts and the layout design so that your client. Providing several variations by mixing and matching in order to provide the client a wide range of choices to choose from.
If your client asked you for revisions, don’t be such a sour puss. Too many designers tend to complain and sulk if their design don’t get approved. The creative set are known to be too proud to accept the fact that their design needs a little tweaking. Accept it, be happy to have given feedback, and do your job.
Once you get a list of revisions, create an outline and prioritize things in order. Inform the client the maximum client revisions you’re willing to do per project, and ask them to give instructions to you in sets, and not one at a time.
Revisions can be tiring, but it is another way to learn and add experience. Moreover, strive to prevent further unnecessary revisions by listening to your client carefully.
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Rachel Arandilla is a curious subject -- she appreciates things that are quirky & clever. She loves spontaneity and adventure. She is a carefree soul, has a deep love for travel, culture and languages. And she's beginning to wonder she keeps on referring to herself in third person perspective.