Ok so you have just gone freelance or you have set up a small design studio. You are ready to go, bursting with creative ideas! this is it!! The only problem is you don’t have any clients to work with.
As designers we all want to land that dream client and work on the creative projects that we love, but it isn’t always like that and life as a designer can sometimes feel like you are never going to get to work on the projects you dream of. Well first things first… DON’T PANIC.
Below are some pretty straight forward but necessary steps which will help with landing and keeping your dream client.
1) Sort yourself out.
The first thing a lot of eager designers do is jump straight in and start contacting potential clients with nothing to back themselves up. If you are doing this be warned a client needs to know what you are about so sort yourself out.
Get your portfolio in order. Have a PDF portfolio tailored to your desired area of design ready to go at a moment’s notice. Keep this PDF up to date at all times and ensure it shows the best of what you can do.
Online portfolio / website. Having a portfolio online for potential clients to view is essential for any designer. You don’t always need to have a registered domain name such as www.neatdesign.ie. There are a lot of free portfolio sites out there…
Get yourself some business cards and keep them on you at all times. You never know when an informal conversation might turn into an opportunity for you to promote yourself and the business card is the easiest way to do this.
2) Get out there.
Once you have some materials to back you up you can look at getting yourself out there. Make a list of clients you would love to work with and do some research. Look into what type of seminars or conferences they might attend and go. Hook up with people in the right circles via social media. Twitter and Linkedin can open some doors here. Once you have made some connections don’t bombard them with correspondence straight away. If they have connected with you they know who you are. Give them time and at some point follow them up with an introduction email or phone call.
3) Cash is king.
So you have a nice portfolio site and some potential clients on the radar starting to request your services. You now need to ensure you quote correctly for the job at hand. Just because the client is a big multinational does not mean you can quote them more than the local business up the road. This is where you can go wrong. Be sure to quote consistently from project to project. Don’t undervalue yourself and do not overvalue yourself. Know what you are worth and quote accordingly. Clients of all backgrounds will see and respect this.
4) Be Nice and Enjoy.
You have received your brief, agreed costs and are happy to proceed so what’s wrong. This is the good part right? Don’t get bogged down if you don’t seem to be hitting the mark and your initial design options are getting poor client feedback. A little fact that a lot of designer seem to forget is that clients have the right to not like your design. This can be frustrating but it’s all part of the design process. Be nice, take on board the criticism and learn. If you keep this attitude you will find the next brief you get you will knock out of the park. Smiles all round. A happy client is a returning client.