Don’t take that client.


Hints that let you know a person is not ready to be your client:

No Time

He or she is too busy to meet with you to discuss their project. This might not sound like a huge issue particularly is the person is able to pay your deposit but, it is. Their lack of time will become your issue when they review work in which they didn’t take the time to contribute. After you have poured yourself into a design or project, they will miraculously discover the time and ability to communicate. This will leave your previous hours very wasted. If you are just determined to take on the “too busy ” client, don’t start the work until they have conveyed their vision for the project. This will keep them involved and overtly responsible for any feelings of dissatisfaction. Keep yourself in the position of fulfilling their request. If they then complain, charge for your extra time.

No Vision

This one is a little tricky. You can sit with someone who seemingly has no vision for their project and a few questions could spark a terrific new brand. This is where listening will be extremely pertinent. You will have to depend on the language that client is using. If her vision changes from conversation to conversation, invite her to draw out what she envisions or present pieces she has seen that display the style she desires. If she is still unable to produce, she is simply not sure enough in her own company, project or product to began creating marketing collateral. Save yourself some time and frustration. Give the client homework and encourage them to contact you in a future date. You can always follow-up to inquire if the potential client vision has become more clear to him or her.

No Budget

Get the scope of work from the client with as much detail as possible. Will they provide the copy and images? When does the job need to be completed? Are you responsible for securing other vendors relevant to the project? Before you turn on your Wacom tablet, write out a detailed scope of work agreement including deadlines, revisions allowed and pay schedule. Present this to the client. Only start the work after receiving a written agreement and deposit. (Hint: Do not deliver a completed product until you have received your balance.) If the client tries to bargain your price and you know that you are being fair, thank her for her time and move forward. You can use the quote as a template when you meet the person who is meant to be your client.

No Authority

As you are out networking, you will certainly meet people who love your work and contract you. Before agreeing know who the person is in their organization. If they cannot make the decision to hire you but were given the task of doing a project, prepare your proposal thoroughly enough for the decision maker to understand the process. Do NOT design anything until you are hired by the person with authority to issue payment. To empower the person who wants to hire you, offer to be with him or her when they present to their supervisor or board. If there are questions, you will be more equipped to answer them than an employee reading your proposal.

Aim for clients who are ready for you. If you detect any of these characteristics, simply encourage the client to contact you in the future. Don’t forget to follow up with them later. You can even schedule a few date to converse.

What should you charge?

I used to be so super excited to get projects that I would often dive right into designing. After getting started, I would then get the question “how much do you charge?” As I stumbled along unsure of what to say, I would toss out a number and would often receive the income I desired. After those initial moments of being more stunned than I probably should have been, I began looking up equations for determining what to charge depending upon the number of years in the industry, client’s industry and the time the project would take.

Credit Card machine with human hand for shopping payment

Before haphazardly throwing out a number, simply tell the client that you will write up a quote for him. That will give you time to really consider what will be required to complete the project, compare your prices to others in the industry on your level and in your area and consider why the price is what it is. The latter is important in case your client questions the cost.

Now I know exactly how much I would charge for a website, logo, magazine or flyer depending on the sector (non-profit, entrepreneur/small business or large company). I also know how long the project should take if I was wise in choosing my client. Yes, you choose your client. As an entrepreneur, you have the privilege to not take a client or not. Not everyone is your client and that is ‘okay’.

Take some time to look at the projects you are most asked to create. If your most requested three projects in the course of a year or two are T-shirts, flyers and website, write out a spec sheet on each project type with a low, medium and high price tier adding features with increased cost. Save it on your phone or in Google Docs, so you can quickly reference it when asked about your fees.

If you are confident in your prices, do not lower them to appease the budget of a client. You will most likely resent the project or rush through it to get to those that are higher paying. At a business development event I attended two years ago, the speaker said, “If a client asks you to lower your prices and you know your prices are accurate, that is not your client.” It was the most liberating statement I had ever heard. When I don’t get a client due to their budgetary restrictions, I remind myself of that statement and the reality that she or he was not my client.