Respect, the Hidden Art of Client Retention

Now that we have tested the dark waters of pricing and visibility, let’s talk about dealing directly with clients.  Clients are the lifeblood of a designer’s business, and deserve respect.  Whether you do graphic design, illustration, animation, or anything between, it is critical to realize that clients have reached out with opportunities and are putting up capital to create something new — something that takes guts.  The least you can do is show them respect and give it your A-game.

Always be honest and open with clients when discussing projects and work.  Problems will arise in client/designer relationships when a party compromises without voicing their concerns.  Examples of this might include: a designer taking a job for an unsustainable rate, a client not receiving artwork at the stages they want, or a client telling a designer to “not worry” and “there’s no deadline,” when in reality there should always be a deadline.  All of these things can, and should, be headed off in the beginning and spelled out in a preliminary contract.  If the contract is unsatisfactory, review it and create a better one or don’t sign it.

If you’re not a people person there is still an option that gives you less control over your relationships, but will land you work: find an artist representative.  The trick here is to also vet the representative as if they were a client.  Look for, and talk to, other artists who are represented by that individual, and take into consideration any red flags that pop up.

For the rest of us without representation, show clients dignity and mind your manners.  There is a hidden ripple effect in treating your clients nicely, and they will be more inclined to recommend you to a friend when their friends need designers.  At the end of the day, if things don’t work out and you or the client need to drop out, the worst you will have done is treated someone with respect.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by, and I hope this small write-up will be of use. Please join me next time when we examine more tips for aspiring freelancers.

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