Think of the last time you’ve been in a room with over 30 people. Could you imagine fostering relationships with every last one of them on a deeply personal level?
The month of June 2022 officially makes 6 months since I quit my job to pursue freelance design and marketing full-time. Since then, I’ve worked with over 30 clients to develop their visual identity, brand assets, and marketing materials for their respective small businesses. That’s over 30 discovery calls, brand needs, collaborations, and genuine relationships - not to mention that I first entered the industry in 2015.
The freelancer-to-client relationship is directly related to the success of the work you create itself. If you struggle to truly understand the needs and desires of your clients, it will reflect in the designs you develop for them. Freelance web designer, Rachel Shillcock, says:
“Sometimes I think we can get carried away with the latest fad, trend, or way of designing. Of course, we should never put out work that we are not happy with but more and more we need to make sure that our client's needs and wants are met first, followed only second or potentially third, if you count the user’s needs, by your own preferences and choices. In my opinion, if you don't have happy clients then you shouldn't be happy yourself with the work you're doing and putting out there.”
This is no new concept - as in any business, if you can’t connect with your consumer in an authentic way and think beyond closing the sale, it will be difficult to build trust and brand loyalty and keep customers coming back. In my experience, customer relationship management has been key to success in the previous six months, gaining me new referrals and recurring projects.
For a new freelancer, it can be overwhelming to manage multiple clients at once, not to mention navigating different personalities, brands, and standards. To give you some support while you launch your freelance business, I’ve compiled a list of three types of design clients and how to meet their needs:
The Dreamer is my favorite kind of client. They’re full of big dreams and make my job as their designer a whole lot easier. While working with them, you can help ground them by writing down keywords and asking for details. Before you begin, reiterate their ideas to them to make sure you’ve got the particulars down and share the steps you’re going to take to achieve their desires. If you can make their dreams come true, your relationship with them will see return tenfold.
The Helper is sweet and has great ideas, but can sometimes get in the way of your creative process. This client just needs to be hands-on and wants to interact personally with your work - after all, it is their business and they’re investing in your service. Be patient with them, help them visualize their ideas, but most importantly, set your boundaries as well. Outline your workflow to them and give them realistic deadlines and contracts before you get to work.
THE BUSY BEE
The Busy Bee most likely hired you because they understand the value you can add to their business while they focus on other responsibilities. They trust your professionalism and expect you to match their level of performance by delivering on your promises, if not more. While working with them, respect their time, be direct and honest (both with yourself and them), and deliver. Deliver. Deliver.
These are just a few of the many client types in freelance. Plus, everyone and every business are different. The truth is, you never know what you’re getting into until the pressure of deadlines and deliverables sets in. If you can learn how to effectively manage their expectations while meeting their needs and beyond, you’ll have a successful freelance business in no time.
Check out my last article, The Anatomy of A Discovery Call, for a checklist on starting your client relationship off on the right foot so you can start meeting those expectations right at the first call!
Genesis Cosme is a graphic designer and digital marketer based in Miami, Florida. She helps small businesses and startups find their creativity to compete amongst giants. Contact Genesis.