“I need to convince my boss”

The majority of people who contact me for work find me by searching the internet and seeing my website, then contact me either by phone or email. Sometimes, I have to turn them down because I don’t have enough time to give their project the attention it deserves.

Other times, I do take on their projects because:

  1. They are nice
  2. They have interesting projects
  3. They are clear with what they need

And these clients, I have kept for several months, even years. It’s proof that when you can work well together, the relationship can last a long time, saving us both time and money. For my clients, it means that:

  1. They no longer have to search for a designer every time they want something created
  2. They don’t have to explain their business to every new designer
  3. They don’t have to source design files (logos, images, etc) and style guidelines for every new designer
  4. They save time and money by telling me what they need via one email, and they get a quick turnaround

However, there are a very small number of cases, where I’ve agreed to take clients on, only for the relationship to fail before it’s begun. Sometimes it’s due to budget constraints – they only discover a few emails later that the quotation hasn’t been approved (which is why I always state my fee and what it entails upfront) – and sometimes it’s due to project requirements changing during early discussions, and me realising that I’m not equipped to deliver, although this happens maybe once a year.

I manage to avoid disappointments like these by choosing my clients carefully. I confess that I am in a very lucky position to be able to choose them in the first place.

As I have been freelancing for over ten years now, I’ve learnt to discern the personality and demands of clients from our first contact. Like I listed above, the top three characteristics of clients I take on are very important (not only to me, but to everyone). But of course, there are grey areas.

This has happened to me quite a few times, especially in Malaysia. I will be contacted for a job, and when I tell them my fee for it, they ask for a discount. Depending on the person and the project, I may give a discount, or I may openly explain to them that they can have a lower total fee for less work. And I’m completely fine with these discussions, as it helps to manage expectations.

What I dislike is when they put the burden on me, to justify NOT giving them a lower price, or just to hire me:

  1. We have never used you before, so you have to prove your work to us” – I don’t have to prove anything to you. If you choose to use me, the responsibility of choice is yours. You can choose anyone else.
  2. I need to convince my boss that you’re the right person” – Then you need to convince your boss. I just have to deliver on what you ask me to do.
  3. Can you send me some of your work so I can decide whether to hire you” – My work is displayed on my portfolio. Everything I want you to see is there, and you would know my website because my contact details are only listed there, and nowhere else.

Honestly, I have heard these lines more than once, and it always baffles me that some people don’t understand their job and responsibilities. For the last point, it baffles me even more that I should send them work via email, when my portfolio is easily accessible.

In conclusion, yes, this contains a rant, but I also hope to enlighten anyone reading, whether you’re a client who’s just starting to work with designers (or other service providers), or a designer who’s just starting to work with clients. Both sides should know their duties and responsibilities, and be respectful of the other no matter how baffling their words may be. In the end, it’s not the work that counts, but the relationship. You can’t put a price on a good relationship.

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