Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Top 5 Freelancer & Design Firm Mistakes

Graphic Design Company

It's well known that we learn more from mistakes than successes, but sometimes it's nice to learn from someone else's mistakes rather than our own. Every designer will have their own stories and mistakes to tell, but here is a collection of mine and perhaps yours as well. I hope you find them useful so you can avoid these in your career.

Pricing Issues
The main issue we as designers face is pricing. Rather - under pricing for our services. Money can be a difficult subject to handle for people, but the simple fact is: graphic designers deserve to earn a fair price for their work, especially if the quality, time input and experience is there. Use this as a way to judge your prices: If you do great work and never lose a bid; your prices are too low!

Be careful about charging by the hour as well as you may be getting less money for your experience and talents because you're faster than others. Some jobs require a significant amount of experience and expertise while not taking a lot of time to complete. An example of this is plumbing: A customer complains about the price of changing a pipe, so the plumber said, "It's $10 for the pipe, and $990 for knowing where to put it".

Nobody has the right to monopolize your time, even if they think they're paying you well. When one client takes all of your time up, your client/designer relationship has turned into a boss/employee relationship. Remember: A job now doesn't mean a job in the future - take time from your day to market yourself well enough to bring in future work. Allowing one person to dictate hours can be the worst mistake you'll ever make.

Failure to Sell Yourself
This is a significant problem in the Graphic Design world. Most creative types are not elegant talkers or salesman and so have issues selling themselves before the project, and selling their ideas once the project has started. Remember that the client came to you for a reason, and that reason is this: they have an idea, but not the expertise to implement it. You are the expert! Sell yourself as one, stand behind your designs and have the words to talk about your work.

Being a Yes-Man
Look at the situation and make sure it's good for you before saying yes. Saying yes to a bad situation can cost you more in the long-run than the loss of work itself. Be prepared to not agree to everything that walks into your door, and know that you can still be a friendly person without having to say yes to everything. This will most likely save you money in the end as well because your clients won't be able to pull the 'scope creep' on you as easily.

Never Following Up
This is an enormous failure in the Graphic Design realm. We get clients calling us and asking for proposals for work, and being surprised when we reply so quickly. It boggles our minds that the rest of our field has such issues with following up on prospects and clients. It's even more important to follow up with your current clients: send them birthday cards, or holiday cards - make sure they're happy with their design and ask if they need more business cards, or if they need a slight design change. Perhaps they've hired someone and need a new name! You never know what can be found out by simply asking.

Like everybody, we had to learn and so will you, but perhaps these suggestions will keep you from falling too hard. Have you learned any lessons the hard way in your career? Let us know in the comments!

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