The business of design is a complex one. Balancing creativity and making it profitable doesn’t come in handy. It requires years of experience to be able to lead a profitable business.
One of the ongoing challenges for every designer is how to manage the client’s expectations and communicate what’s required to get the job done.
In this series of articles, we offer you the learnings we picked up along the patch scaling Bonanza Design and the range of our offerings. We cover a lot of points and this article mainly deals with how you can build up your online presence.
These tips directly came from our personal encounters and vast experience dealing with clients over the years. We too have a fair share of awful experiences and that leads us to learn these important things.
We encountered a lot of designers saying ” I don’t know how much I should charge the client” or clients would say “others have it for a lesser price or I only have this $$ budget for the project.”
You must know your production cost!
Every designer has their way of doing things. Some designers like to collaborate with others and some like to work alone. Regardless of your approach, you need to know how much it typically costs you to deliver a certain service i.e. production cost.
You may call “know your cost” as your baseline rate. That’s the lowest low you can offer to a client (which you shouldn’t).
It doesn’t end here. You need to put aside some money always for the taxes and growing your business.
As a freelancer, it may be counter intuitive for you to look at yourself as a business. But you’re a small business that revolves around a person and its growth directly relates to how much time she spends on it.
So when you want to make an offer to a client, you cannot only offer a rate that covers your production cost. You want to make an offer that covers your taxes + marketing costs to attract more eyeballs.
Here are our sample calculations on how to put a basic price on a project:
For example, if you’re a logo designer, you have a process that more or less follows for every project. Over time you can tell how long it usually takes. Is it a week or two? Or a month?
A gentle reminder for all the freelancers or small agencies: If you decide to work on a project that takes up your entire month, you probably can’t focus entirely on another project (unless you have 4 hands and two brains)
If you usually make 100, up to 40 of it (depending on where you live) will be deducted through various taxes. You want to factor this in your final rate.
This includes your office needs and maintenance, your supplies, and your tools and materials that you are using to keep your business going.
In the design business, we are well invested in high-quality gadgets and tools for production and create quality outputs. That’s why you need to consider the cost of the things that you are using too.
Also how you’re going to fill the pipeline? A common challenge of freelancers is to find new clients. You need to invest in your marketing and sales.
A combination of your production cost + taxes + 30% margin defines your rate
Okay, you now know your rate. How can you now attract eyeballs to your services?
Clients and projects don’t just land in front of you especially during this time of the pandemic. In this digital world, the competition is getting tougher and tougher every day. You must showcase what you got in different ways.
Here are a few must-have to win clients
Social visibility is very important to all kinds of business nowadays. If someone is looking for a service, the first thing they do is to look at the yellow pages?
What? We’re kidding. Of course, the answer is the internet.
That is why your social media content is pivotal to attracting eyeballs. The majority of business owners use social media channels for their businesses as well.
Highly recommended for design people is to connect with people over to LinkedIn and Instagram. LinkedIn is the social media platform for business people or can be your online portfolio.
Facebook groups are also good for connecting and widening your preferences. There are a lot of free social media platforms that you can join and invest time in posting relevant posts about your business.
Skipped the selfies or nonsense posts, but instead, create quality contents that can attract people to engage in your post.
Aside from your social media accounts, your website is the next place that clients and prospects will look at. Your website is already your portfolio, if it’s already looking great, that will give them an idea that is something that they are going to get.
Your website will represent a lot of things about you, the quality of your work, your brand, and the type of person that they will be working with. So invest a lot of time in your website, it’s just your online portfolio but it’s the face of your business.
Your portfolio can be part of your website or you can host it on Behance, dribble, or what have you. Your portfolio will tell a lot about you, how you do your work, and the quality you deliver.
Showcasing your previous work on how you did it and with your case studies will build confidence in your prospects. That they will be working with someone who knows how to provide what they need.
Your case studies will give them detailed information about your processes and your strategies. This is the time for you to showcase your craftsmanship and your great abilities.
Perfect your portfolio and your case studies so you don’t have to explain to them how you do your work. Instead, they simply look at your portfolio and that will assure them that you are someone capable of making their dreams to reality.
Though you already have your LinkedIn profile or your online portfolio, people will still ask for your CV. Not only that they will be looking at your previous work, but some also want to know other than your career life.
They want to know how you started, the school you graduated and how to ladder up yourself to this current position. Transparency is the key.
Tell them your failures and setbacks and how you overcome them, and how that experience can potentially help them. Your motivations and drive why you do what you best do. How you developed your skills and experiences that gave you learnings.
It’s not just your typical life story, it’s your representation of who you are. This will tell them what kind of person they will be working with.
Some may have been to the best schools and training but lack the proper skills. Quality and good character are what needs to be highlighted in your CV. So you better write your CV as detailed as you can, and always update them and keep them handy at all times.
Right from the start you have to be clear with what kind of services you will deliver, how, and under which timeline. Does it take a day, week, or month? This secures you and your client that both of you are on the same page and resolves any ambiguity. Make sure it’s clear the deliverables of every step.
We often hear that designers complain about projects that never finish and go on and on. Having a clear process that has a beginning and end helps you to avoid such dramas. And believe me, running a business is a lot of work. The last thing you want is unnecessary dramas.
Avoid burnouts. What happens often after being in the freelance or agency game long enough, then you attract eyeballs. Then as luck, you’d have it, you hit a home-run and a big client knocks on your door.
What ones normally do? Say yes to every requirement without hesitation. Wrong! If it’s too big, you’ll fail. The only way to make it is to break it into pieces.
Break down the project into phases and clearly communicate the timeframe of each step. You have to over-explain each step of your processes to your client.
To properly guide them, inform what steps are needed, why it should be done, and what are the impacts of those steps to their business. This avoids blindspots and ensures your processes are in the right direction.
Unless your client is tech-savvy, avoid talking in jargon and complex processes to your client. This will create a lot of confusion on their end and might think in different ways.
Again both of you must be on the same page at all times. Your client will not remember all the processes that you did but they will surely remember the way you communicate with them. So be professional, use simple words, and communicate with your clients clearly and concisely.
We do hope you take the learnings and this will lead you to your success. This is the first part of the series of tips and how-to’s when dealing with your clients. Being in the design business is not easy as it seems that’s why we want to share our experiences through these articles.
Stay tuned, the next part is on the way.
For questions and comments email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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