Random designer tips

When I started my business in 2009 I was still in school (Art Academy). The first few years I really didn’t know what I was doing, but I did learn a few valuable lessons. Some, unfortunately, by making mistakes, so here are a few tips, in case you don’t want to do the same.

Low prices might attract more clients, but few will take you serious (and they’ll even try probably to get a lower price). If you see a product for a ridiculously low price, you’re not expecting high quality. The same applies to you work. This is valuable and it should show. When I first started out, my teachers made fun of the prices I asked. Also keep in account that your prices are suppose to go up every few years: you’re working faster, have more experience, finish school, etcetera.

Avoid what you’re not good at. For example, I don’t design websites. My skills are very limited and just not interesting for clients, because it would because way too expensive for them (because it would take me a long time). Of course you can invest your own time to teach yourself new skills to increase your range, but realize there are lots of other people who might be better at it.

Don’t work for free. This is your job and you’re suppose to make money off it! It’s ok to make an exception every now and again, for example to design for a good cause, or start a collaboration, but be careful. Don’t do it too often and it has to feel right. Work to increase your brand awareness can be interesting, but be sure it’s worth it!

Make clear agreements with the client. Let them tell you exactly what they need and base you price on that. If they change their minds, this should reflect in the price. Don’t forget to communicate this to the client too.

Don’t send designs to your clients you’re not totally happy with, chances are they’ll choose that one and then you’ll have to create something you don’t like. You can also make a few ’rules’ for yourself, you have to abide. For example I’ll never create a logo with Comic Sans. Because I personally don’t like how it looks, but it also has a bad name.

Send multiple (different) sketches to a client, they often have an idea in their mind, but sometimes when they see an alternative they might like it even better. You, the designer, are better at that and are suppose to help them. They’re the ones who make the choices, but you can make suggestions.

Only send small files of the examples to a client. Unfortunately there are always people who will try to take advantage of you if you don’t (I once had a client already use the logo design before they paid for it). You can also use a watermark, but don’t make too predominant, the client might not be able to ’look through’ it and find it annoying.

If you’re creating an identity, include mock ups of what the will look like. So not blank stationery, but fill it with fake text. The client might not be able to visualize what it will eventually look like and you can help them with that. I use various blank templates I bought at stock websites.

The price is not only based on how much work is put in it, but also which files they need and what they’re going to use it for. A big company will make more money off your design, so it’s logical to ask more money for it. A PDF file has more options in use than a JPG, so it should be more expensive.

This is a tough one and that’s why I don’t use it. A creative process isn’t a straight line, so not every design takes the same amount of time. I work with fixed prices for products. Sometimes this is in my advantage (when I finish quickly) and other times the clients. But this is a choice you have to make for yourself.

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