Clients are like Onions

Clients come to you and say “I need some shirts made.” You tell them how everything is priced and what the limits are. Then you realize this isn’t just someone who wants to make one or items, but they are planning an entire future starting here. If at first a client is demanding maybe we as designers need to ask them about their lives and motivations. 

Today, I was at my job all alone. I didn’t know that would be the case until today. It was on the calendar but I clearly didn’t read the times well enough. Not only was everything just fine, it was also eye-opening. A customer came in to approve some details on his order. I walked him through what I needed to know, told him what I knew he needed to be told, and thought that would be that. 

It turned out he was an aspiring clothing designer. By clothing designer I don’t mean someone with a degree in fashion, but someone who wanted to make an entire line of graphic tees and products. So I asked him more about what he needed and wanted since he seemed to be willing to learn to do the work for himself and save some money. He was making these designs, or having someone else make them, for a line of clothing inspired by and dedicated to a family member that was important to him. 

I never would have known this information if I hadn’t asked the question “what is it you want to do?”  Does that make me a Chatty Cathy? Is that inappropriate for a “clerk” at a small shop? I think I helped out a customer. Hopefully, that will help bring him back to our services in the future. Maybe he will tell his friends about the shop. 

I’d love to say where I work because the publicity would surely help business. I haven’t because I have published some personal thoughts about coworkers and my employer. To be sure, there are ways of finding this information anyway for someone dedicated to finding it. I also want to protect our customers and have avoided naming names as much as possible. I want this blog to be about my thoughts and lessons in my journey of freelancing and self-employment. How to talk to others is so critical! It’s been a tough 32 years of life being socially inept. I’m ready for more, anyway. 

Take it easy and remember to smile. 

Holding Two Jobs

Anyone who has had to work two jobs knows it’s unpleasant unless it’s 2 strictly part time jobs. I, of course, don’t fall into that category. I don’t even get paid time off since I’m an independent contractor and self-employed. There’s a real freedom to that. 

There’s also the problem that I don’t make nearly as much as I used to in a corporate job. I’m not complaining here. It is what it is. Having to be full time is a time-sink that doesn’t, yet, pay enough for the long run. I think that will get better soon. I also think I need to stop crashing at the end of the day and do design work! I feel awful about it. No more! Starting next week I take it seriously. I start treating my own freelancing as a second job that needs part-time dedication, at least 10 hours per week. 

This is it! Do or die! There is no try, only do! Where’s that from? Anyway, I’m still determined to get myself established in the freelancing world. I’ve been submitting proposals, at least one every couple of days. I can show that I’m actively trying. What I need to do is still look up a contest or two in the meantime to work on. That gets me practice even if I never win. 

Red. Yellow. Green. GO!

Take it easy and remember to smile. 

Image

Good Clients

It’s no secret that the world of design is full of bad, naughty, impatient, mean…

2 days later

…awful, terrible clients. The nit-pickers want perfection, but refuse to negotiate payment when the project goes over budget due to time wasted on endless revisions. Vague-ists expect mind reading levels of understanding from a brief only 10 words long that says they want a logo.  Worst of all are the clients who give you detailed instructions on what they want, decide to completely change their mind half way through the design process, and finally at the end refuse to pay you anything because you were not able to finish the project in time.

We all know people like those described above as friends and family in addition to total strangers who want to pay for work they can’t do themselves, but don’t want to pay for work they can’t do themselves. Did I just confuse you, dear reader? Sorry. I guess you’ll have to take my word for it that’s its bad. 😉

But I want to talk about the good clients I’ve encountered in the last week. Two of them to be precise.

The first is, of course, the client who hired me for my first design job. Justin went above and beyond by telling me there was a problem with his payment and he had already fixed it. That job should clear with Upwork sometime this week and enter the mandatory 1 week security hold. It’s ok, just par for the course here in designer-land. I can’t withdraw the money until I have $100 in my Upwork account. That’s fine with me too if it avoids fees or ther pitfalls on Upwork’s side and keeps the service free to people like me (not counting the service fees since I set my own rate and the system charges the client the fee, not the designer.)

Good client number two is a repeat contest holder over on Freelancer.com. He held a contest back at the end of May which I won. It was only $25 after fees, but that was enough to set me up with a year’s paid intro membership on the site. I needed it! A week and a half ago the same client requested my entry on another, similar, contest. I read over the brief and decided it was something I could do for him so I submitted an entry. Yesterday, I received a message from him stating he decided not to use any of the submissions, but since he had solicited my entry he was awarding me with the prize. I gave him the files anyway since from my point of view it’s required to get paid and because if he’s paying then the work is his anyway. Maybe he will change his mind or use the illustration for something else. This was beyond my expectations! If you foster a good relationship with a client sometimes they will give you a break. The winnings will be $40 after fees. Again, not that much, but work is work and pay is pay. Repeat clients count for a lot and show that you do quality work at any price.

Two doves perch on the antlers of a deer skull

The winning design that starting it all


Take it easy and remember to smile!