Creative professional, designer, author. Lover of chocolate, coffee, laughter, and football. Teaching and inspiring through design. https://bit.ly/graphicdesign

Delivering excellence versus overdelivering.

Client in a car receiving an anonymous bag from the designer in a drive-thru window
Client in a car receiving an anonymous bag from the designer in a drive-thru window

— “Would you like this root beer? We accidentally made an extra one.”

— “Um, okay sure.”

I took it knowing good and well that I don’t drink soda, but I was thrown off and figured I should politely accept. When I got home, I also found—to my surprise again—two small bags of sugar cookies. “When did they start doing this?” I asked myself. Anyway, I indulged in those tasty fries. The root beer ended up going flat after sitting on the counter for almost the entire day. What a waste of a drink. And those cookies were gross. Why did they give me those anyway? I guess they were trying to be nice. …


Show that your work is about more than just aesthetics.

Illustration of paper, pencil, calculator, phone, and magnifying glass
Illustration of paper, pencil, calculator, phone, and magnifying glass
Work Vectors by Vecteezy https://www.vecteezy.com/free-vector/work

“That was a good conference.”

versus

“I was blown away by some dynamic speakers who helped me craft five creative action steps to book my next six-figure deal!”

The second description sounds a lot more appealing, right? That’s because the second statement quantified the type of action steps needed to produce specific results. …


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The first thing you consider is following up with a lower price. But here’s a tactic to consider—STAND FIRM.

If it hasn’t been a considerably long wait, the client could be getting approvals from team members, rallying the troops on your behalf, or drafting up an agreement for you. But imagine making the assumption that their brief silence is about price, so you lower your standards and resend a quote that you think will appease them. …


My answer: both.

An range of emotions through emoji faces
An range of emotions through emoji faces

Excitement

It’s always a great feeling to look forward to a creative project. You’re blooming with ideas, you feel confident about your abilities to execute and you’re hopeful for a good outcome. Maybe you’re excited to work on something you really believe in, work with a particular client, collaborate with a talented team, tackle something new and challenging, or look forward to an outcome with high visibility (and pay). Excitement is a good driver for energy, fresh ideas, and initiative. …


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Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Potential Client: “I need X, Y, and Z done in two weeks, but I can only afford [insert unfavorable amount here]”

Designer: “Well, I usually charge X-amount for a project like that, and it usually takes 3–4 weeks…”

Potential Client: “So can you do it or not?”

Designer: “Um, yeah sure— I think we can make that work” (while screaming obscenities on the inside)


A desktop computer, laptop and tablet on a desk
A desktop computer, laptop and tablet on a desk

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Photo by lascot studio from Pexels

When it comes to new beginnings, endings, plans, successes, failures, uncertainties, and everything in between, it seems commonplace to openly share these life events on social media, in social gatherings, over the phone, in the break room. But it is not anyone’s obligation or duty to be an open book at all times. As a matter of fact, I believe there can often be wisdom in silence. …


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Hindsight is 20/20. There’s a lot we can look back on from our past and boldly proclaim to ourselves “you should have done this” or “please, don’t do that!” When it comes to career choices and professional development as a graphic designer and creative leader, I honestly have no regrets. But if I did have a magic time machine that could transport me to various checkpoints across my 15+ year career, I would definitely tell myself a few things:

Less complaining, more doing

I know this freelance thing is tough. I realize you’re dealing with some unreasonable clients (I know, I know…it’s crazy that she called you at 11 pm about a $50 flyer). You’re just getting started and trying to figure some things out. But listen, you’re in control. This isn’t about people-pleasing. This isn’t about bending over backward for pennies. This is about exchanging a skill and a service for an agreed-upon rate of compensation. You are the expert. You set the terms and you can set boundaries. Use them. You get what you accept. You teach people how to treat you. If you don’t like working with cheap, needy, and unappreciative clients, then STOP. You have the power to create the change you want to see. Continue to update the processes and procedures that will help you cultivate better client experiences. Network. As you grow, cast your net in the next tier of clientele who value design and stop playing it small. I don’t want to hear about how bad it is to work with “so and so” anymore. If it’s that bad, then move on!

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