Working as a freelance graphic designer and web site developer can be wonderful most of the time. It’s not always roses and sunshine, and you often have to work extremely long days, weekends, holidays, etc., but, at least for me, it’s very much worth doing something you’re passionate about and being appreciated for your work. It’s a challenging, yet wonderful way to achieve balance in your life and create harmony within the range of people whose businesses (and, let’s face it, lives…) you touch.
After reading Jack Knight’s excellent and amusing article on Freelance Switch, I realized that he was bang-on in his depiction of general categories of clients and that I couldn’t have done a better job capturing the varieties of people we regularly have to deal with as freelancers. Whether you’re a designer or a potential client, it’s worth a read. What’s interesting is that it’s so accurate, and often clients can belong to more than one group.
I find that, over and above Jack’s very astute observations and sage advice, it helps to nurture a sense of trust in the relationship you have with your client. Listen carefully, ask pertinent questions, and then offer your expert assessment with the confidence that comes with being a professional. If your client wants to override your ideas or suggestion, that’s their prerogative, although I feel it’s a designer’s responsibility to point out any potential shortcomings that may arise from their choice. After all, they don’t know what you know, although many might think they do!
Regardless of the outcome of your discussion about solutions, directions, technology, aesthetics, etc., one fundamental necessity, as far as I’m concerned, is caring. I am passionate about my work, but I also deeply care about making sure clients get what they need. Consequently, I’ll do my best for them, usually throwing in some extra “freebie” stuff for goodwill, especially if they are nice, appreciative folks. Conscientiousness and caring invariably blossom into good relationships, and, because being at peace with yourself, your business and, ultimately, your client, is a worthwhile goal, I’ve found that caring leads to genuine harmony and happiness for all involved.
I’ve always believed that the hallmark of a true professional was a conscientiousness that resulted in honest counseling and confident advice. If nothing else, that’s rare value that’s bound to be appreciated by most people, and certainly by clients, regardless of what category they might fit into. Something to think about — it certainly works for me!