Simple ways to make a happy Monster!
Updated: Mar 18
How does it feel to be a freelance artist and wake up every day, focus and work hard on your projects, but at the end, face a grumpy client who is not satisfied with all your effort?!
As an artist who works almost all her work-days as a freelancer, I’ve had lots of different challenges with my clients; and I can tell you how it feels! Disappointing, overwhelming, sad, discouraging, … . (I just searched in a dictionary for “disappointing synonyms”, so forgive my lack of knowledge in English!)
But, as there is a little light in every darkness -as little kids, our parents used to say that!-, there are ways to prevent the problems. You might prefer to see your clients’ happy faces (I know sometimes you wish you could be a serial killer and started to kill them all, though), and I‘m here to tell you how!
I divided it into three sections.
First: Meeting the Monster!
(Before starting the project)
1- Listen! I know how difficult it can get when you have to sit in front of your client and listen to them say something maybe you know well. Sometimes you wish you could even do the dishes or load your washing machine but didn’t have to look at them explaining every different detail you already know. But believe me, it is necessary. In every single word they say there are lots of details that if you pay attention to, they will guide you to do your job in its perfect way. Moreover, you give them the lovely feeling of being heard. Also, they ensure all they say is valuable, and you totally understand
2- Remember and repeat! There is nothing more important than knowing your client’s needs. All the different aspects of a project need to be kept in your mind; if you even forget a minor part, it can affect the whole project. Try to remember and double-check them by repeating what your clients say to ensure them you’ve got what they require. (if you’re awful in English just like me, it will help you, too!)
3- Suggest! You should accept that our clients aren’t designers. Sometimes they don’t know what the best design for their projects is. Do not be shy; nobody hasn’t been murdered yet by giving feedbacks to a client! (I’m not sure, TBH!)
4- Find out their desire! No matter how awful their taste is (I hope it’s not!), you can choose whether you want to collaborate or not. Based on No.3 -I mentioned giving suggestions- you can suggest what YOU think is a good idea. But they can refuse and ask you to do exactly what they said. So, try to find out what fulfills their desire and do it.
5- Take notes! I hate writing! Maybe you are the same. (I even hate typing this post!) But, honestly, by taking notes and sharing them with your client, you will do what exactly needs to be done, don’t forget a thing, make your client assured you would do exactly what they asked, and prevent asking for more revisions! (I should take a deep breath after speaking about modifications and maybe spend some moments meditating!)
6- No rush! I know you should pay the bills, and the last version of pen-display’s website is always open in your browser, but when clients ask you to give them your rates, take your time. You need to consider what you suppose to do, how much time it would take, how much effort it would require, and after that, tell your clients how much you will charge. Don’t make yourself or your clients heist!
Second: Spending time with the monster!
(While you are doing the project)
1- Ensure you’re on the right way! I’m sure you don’t want to be a serial killer, and when the judge asked you: “Why did you kill them?” you would say: “revisions!”. So, anyways you’d like, ensure that you are doing precisely what your clients have required. Maybe sending some samples of different styles, or perhaps sending sketches of your ideas?! Whatever works for you, but please, do it!
2- Don’t present your design HALF-FINISHED! Please repeat after me, for a thousand times; our clients aren’t designers! They don’t have any ideas when you show them your ridiculous doodles confidently! Maybe you’re proceeding exactly the same as your clients have expected, but they can’t understand from your half-finished work that it’s the same so that it can put you in the wrong way.
3- Be Honest! Do not make a disaster by telling lies after lies, turning off your cellphone, or ignoring the poor client when looking for updates of the process! If you think you would not meet the deadline for any reasons, be honest and tell the truth. Telling “almost done!” when you are in trouble and couldn’t even think about the project just makes more significant trouble!
4- References aren’t your enemies! If you use any references in your artworks, introduce them or attach them to your artworks. Using references helps tell your client you’ve done lots of research and put a lot of effort, and it shows your honesty and respect for
what people have done before you.
Have a reason! I know you may think how nerve-wracking I am by telling you every simple point that every artist and designer may know, but I want to emphasize that as an artist, you should have a reason for every single forms, dots, colors, shapes, lines and … in your artworks. You can’t say: “I just liked it” to your client and prove that you did your best!
1- Don’t be a pernickety idealist! The best designers ever in all over the galaxy, when they look at their masterpiece, tell themselves, it can be better! I know you want to do your best, but there are no bests! There is always potential in your artworks to be better. Don’t fall into the trap!
Third: Friendship with the monster!
(After finishing the project)
1- Follow up! For a freelancer, there is nothing better than having a reliable client who always asks you to do their projects (and after a while, become a serial killer and cut their fingers one by one before murdering them!). Following up shows that it is important for you to know how the project has ended up.
2- If you made mistakes, accept them! You’re not a super-human, everyone makes mistakes, and you are not an exception. What important is to make up for your mistakes and make a good memory of collaboration with you.
3- Make up for your mistakes: Making up for mistakes is not that easy! Sometimes you should offer them compensation. You might lose money or time, but I will say that worth it to keep your client happy! (even if you’d like to put their whole house in a fire!)
Clients Aren’t monsters!
If you do these steps carefully, you’ll realize that clients can be your best friends. You can make them delighted by your skills and the final result of your effort. Also, you can enjoy doing the project and have fun. We, as designers, love our job. That’s why we spend ages in front of our artworks and forget about the time. So, be honest with yourself, your artwork and your client and do it; I’m sure it will work. And if it didn’t, no worries! Everyone has the potential to be a serial killer!