I will let you in on a little secret. You want to get ahead in your freelance business? Offer good customer service, not just good design. Sometimes doing what is right may mean you spend more time doing something and not cut corners. I'm not saying give away your time, but if it takes an extra hour to do something right, do it.
I just recently finished a project with a new client. They asked for an 80pg book to be laid out. I quoted the job and gave the time frame of two weeks. They came back to me and said I had two days because the printer needed 4 weeks to meet their deadline. I gave them a revised quote due to the rush. Once I got the book laid out, the printer changed the size of the book to make it easier on them. That caused me to re-flow the entire book. Then the printer came back and said I needed to add 8 pages to the spread to make it easier/cheaper on them. Again I had to re-flow the book to insert 8 pages. There were a few other curve balls, but I got the book done as fast as I could. The customer was pleased with my work and I hope to have a repeat customer.
I felt the printer was trying to make his job easier on him. Would I personally use this printer, no. But this was the hand dealt to me and I made the best of it. By doing what was right and fixing the book to their constantly changing specs, I gained a customer. Customers are getting harder and harder to find and keep. I know a lot of designers who would have said, this isn't what I agreed to and left the customer high and dry. Hard work gains you respect. Everything is not going to be given to you or always easy.
Probably the number one question I get asked is, "How do you get your jobs?" I've been freelancing for quite a while now, and I can say the majority of my jobs come from people I know, or through someone who knows me. Very rarely have I gotten a job from someone who didn't know me at all. That's why I stress the importance of networking. You may be the best designer out there, but if people don't know who you are, they are less likely to take a chance on you. Get out there and meet people, you will be surprised who you might run into and who they know. I'm not talking about going out and make a sales pitch when you meet these people. Just get to know them personally. The more outgoing you can be the better.
I've known several designers who are good at what they do, but socially could not start up a conversation with a stranger to save their life. I would constantly see these designers struggle to find clientele. Unfortunately there is no trick or website you can subscribe to that will do this for you. Just some good old fashioned socializing will do wonders for your business.
Customer is Always Right
It's a joke that all professional work places have, the customer is always right. We laugh at the thought, but they really are. I have been asked numerous times on how I would handle this particular situation... The designer does a really nice job for their client, but the client has all kinds of changes that ruins the design in one way or another. The answer is simple, you do what the client asks. Now you can voice your concern in a professional manner if you truly feel they are doing something wrong. I'm not talking about ruining your design, but truly doing something that is offensive, poor taste, etc. But the bottom line is, they paid you to provide a service. You do the job, make the client happy, get paid and hopefully have a repeat customer.
So many graphic designers want to be some super star designer. Let's be honest, there is no Graphic Design Hall of Fame. You aren't doing this just for fun. You are doing this to make a living, to pay the bills. You got to remember, when it is all said and done, the piece you are working on is theirs not yours. So yes the client is always right.
"But I want to show the piece in my portfolio, and I hate it now." Simple solution, show the design you originally did. When I look at portfolios, I want to to see your best work, your best ideas. I don't care if it was the finished product or not.
We all want our best work out there. But sometimes it's better to get paid and move on to the next project.
I’m going to start our first discussion with probably the most important graphic element you can design, a logo. I’m not going to get into all the details or process of designing a logo. But rather, the importance of knowing the proper file type your logo should be. I’ve seen it over and over, where a client will send you their logo in an improper format. It will be the size of a postage stamp, and need it blown up to a 24 x 36 poster. Then they don’t understand why it doesn’t look good. If you are a Marketing Director of any sort, you must understand the difference between pixel and vector. Time and time again, I hear, “This is the only file I have.” 99% of the time, they don’t know where the file is and they grabbed it from the web. Then I hear, “It looks fine on my screen, why can’t you use it?” First off, the internet is low resolution with a display of 72dpi (dots per inch). High resolution printing is done at 300dpi. A big difference. When you have a logo designed, and the designer supplies you the files, they should always supply a vector and pixel version. A vector version is basically a line drawing of your logo that the computer can scale to any size without loss of quality. A pixel version is made up of tiny dots, and when you start to blow these dots up, the computer starts to guess at what the dot should look like and you end up with a fuzzy image. Pixel versions are used mostly in electronic formats, such as websites. If you are guessing what to send a designer, always send the vector version. Common vector versions are usually an .ai, .eps or .pdf file. A designer can always convert a vector version to a pixel, but can not always convert a pixel to vector. Common pixel version are usually .jpg, .tif, .png or .pdf formats. Wait a minute, you just listed a pdf for both. Yes, a pixel and vector version can be a pdf. The only way to tell, is to open it up in a design program to see which version it is. A file version that should NEVER be sent are word files. This is not a proper design format, and does nothing but cause headaches for the designer. You say, “I’ve sent pixel versions before and haven’t had a problem.” This is true, if you have a large, high resolution version, you can use it. However, you may notice that the logo will print without a crisp edge. You can always size your logo down but not larger with a pixel version. Sometimes, it may not matter if the logo is crisp or not. But for me, I like to output the best quality I can. I had a job come across my desk today, all the logos were vector except one. While that one didn’t look bad, I could tell a difference in quality. The client only had a jpg version. Luckily it was easily logo to recreate. I spent the 5 minutes needed to produce a superior product.
If you handle logos, I encourage you to educate yourself on the file types and organize them in a way to find and distribute them easily. A lot of times clients call me and say, “I can’t open the eps file you sent me.” While you may not be able to open it, you need to hang on to it for a designer down the road. That’s why I supply both types. Internally most companies will use a pixel version, but hang on to that vector version, it will be needed down the road for a poster, banner or billboard.
Andy Kidd | 423.309.0468 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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