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How to get better clients?

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  • How to get better clients?

    Hi there,

    I have been struggling with one major issue as a freelancer. I pride myself on quality work, and my pricing is maybe just a cut above the beginners rate. So I am not even that expensive. But still, everytime I have a project inquiry, after our first discussion, when I send in a design proposal with a project estimate - 90% of the clients go A-wall - like disappear. Don't even say why. I don't mind discussing with people their concerns, but I really am at a loss finding the kind of clients who actually stick around! Any advice?

  • #2
    Hi Anujakanani and welcome to GDF.

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    • #3
      I think this happens to all of us to some extent. Many prospective clients do not understand the workings of graphic design in true practice. (Hell, that can be said of many who mistakenly believe they themselves are in the practice.) They come in with an anticipatory misperception that it will be like a retail transaction...they pick what they want, and you ring it up. The moment they get a look at the real process, which will require their thought, input, and effort all along its path, a voice inside their head says "damn...we weren't looking to get caught up in all that."

      So, while you will always ultimately be the one who must provide consultative leadership throughout the process of developing a product for and with them, you must be ready for clients who are prepared to bear little or no load. Keep your initial interview simple and relatively superficial until you know who you're dealing with. Use the responses from that to identify the type of person you've got, and remember there are just as many who'll want to be too involved. Once you add this protective personality analysis step to your initial meeting format, you'll be better positioned to foster a relationship from which they won't flee.
      I'd rather be killed than come to your party, but if you don't invite me, I'll kill myself.


      • #4
        You say your pricing is ''just a cut above a beginner's rate.''
        What exactly is your experience level and what sorts of projects have you done to date?

        I'm not an advocate of designers freelancing at a beginning level. Far too much reinventing of the wheel.
        A freelancer should have a solid foundation in the industry, 10 or so years of practical experience in some facet of the industry and have all of the references and resources to show for it. Yeah, I know, the current economy doesn't support that model.

        The client who is going to pay more for design work and who understands how designers work, is going to be in the levels above the occasional brochure and business card layout. They will already have their branding in place and will know their target audience enough to know what their ROI should be from the hiring of a designer. They will be looking for one that has past experience and their own metrics on ROI given to previous client work.

        There are a lot of dues to be paid to get there. Right now you are competing with everyone else on a ''beginner'' level. Many of whom will slash their own throat (prices lower than able to live on) in order to get work. Some of the clients vanish, like HB said, because they are tire-kickers. Others, because they have found someone else who will do what they think they want for even less money, even when the thing they think they want is the wrong thing.

        Last edited by PrintDriver; 02-09-2017, 10:29 AM.


        • #5
          Yeah, this happens. People are busy with their own lives and projects get put aside or delayed. It happens all the time. My best clients are the ones who have worked with graphic designers in the past - by the time they talk to me they are more serious than someone who's never worked with one before and is just wondering what it would be like to have X designed by a professional.

          People are flaky, and when they inquire about a design service they're often at the very early stages of the project they want, sometimes they reach out to designers way too early in the process because they're thinking about the final product too soon. They don't have any idea how they're going to get something printed, how they're going to distribute it, or what their budget is: they just have a "vision" and they jump straight to "final design". Project management, organization, and planning are rarer traits than you'd think.


          • #6
            Always ask a prospective client what their budget is, then decide what you can deliver to fit the parameter. Explain that advertising their business or service is on going process. Know your prices before you go in to see a client and ask for the sale before you leave. Then get 50% down right there, before you show them anything for this job. Include a kill fee whereby both parties can leave the venture should things not work out.


            • PrintDriver
              PrintDriver commented
              Editing a comment
              Doesn't happen in the real world. While it's a bad sign if your potential client doesn't have a budget, it isn't necessarily a sign there isn't a job there. And even a savvy client with a budget isn't going to lay it all out on the line. You will most likely not get a 50% down on the spot. And there are many many instances where you may have to show a proposal (including sketches) to even be considered for a project. And I mean project like something that will bring you 5-figures or more.
              Aim higher.

              But definitely include that kill fee.

            • Kayekaye
              Kayekaye commented
              Editing a comment
              I am in the real world and this is how I work. I don't proceed without a 50% check in hand. I've never had any trouble getting it. Must be my personal charm and talent

            • PrintDriver
              PrintDriver commented
              Editing a comment
              There can be much more to the process that goes beyond the first meeting where you don't always get a budget and a contract on that particular day and you may have to put some money into the process before getting the job, sometimes without knowing IF you will get the job. It's all part of the game.

              Of course work doesn't begin until the deposit check is received. That could be months from the initial first meeting though. And as I said, not having an obvious budget is not always a valid reason to disqualify a potential project.

          • #7
            Unfortunately, that's been my experience so far since I got my degree. I've actually been considering adding a consultation fee or something like that since that seems to be as far as it goes. I'll put together things that people like and will spend hours talking with them, getting them all excited, only to be dropped with the "Oh I get my nephew to do it. He knows computers."


            • #8
              I don't know what to tell you, as I said, the current economy as it relates to Graphic Design does not support the model of an apprenticeship in a design studio as a junior designer, which is the way this profession used to work, and it worked well. The current state of the studio industry just cannot support the hordes of student designers being pumped out of colleges these days, many of those students with nothing more than the very basics of a GD education.

              Now, with every beginner out there trying to learn on the fly what will make their clients' message work, there really is no way to learn except by doing, and by doing a little more each time. It really should be considered unethical to practice on paying clients if you can't provide them some assurance you really do know what you are doing. It's sorta too bad malpractice insurance isn't required as well.

              Designers like to read design magazines and blogs that write about what other designers are doing. Have you ever considered reading trade magazines devoted to your source vendors instead? Why would you only want to know about what others designers are doing rather than the nuts and bolts of how people are dealing with your designs. So you do logos. Whee. Can you do a lit logo in 3D on the client's reception area wall? Would you know what to spec? What are their options? What are the latest trends in tradeshow marketing? What are the current best practices in in-store decor? What materials are being used for POP displays or window decor? What are the current online tools for determining website traffic? What print options are out there for any given project.
              Do you know how to provide your clients with proof of the ROI you are giving them?

              Graphic design extends far beyond the initial pretty picture logo or website. You need to prove your value. You need to extend your usefulness beyond business cards and trifold mailers.
              Last edited by PrintDriver; 02-16-2017, 12:55 PM.


              • #9
                Originally posted by HotButton View Post
                I think this happens to all of us to some extent. Many prospective clients do not understand the workings of graphic design in true practice. (Hell, that can be said of many who mistakenly believe they themselves are in the practice.) They come in with an anticipatory misperception that it will be like a retail transaction...they pick what they want, and you ring it up. The moment they get a look at the real process, which will require their thought, input, and effort all along its path, a voice inside their head says "damn...we weren't looking to get caught up in all that."
                New to the forum but not new to working with clients! This is my experience too. However i think that communication is key like with everything. Even if im fairly new to web design i have been working on my own for a long time and being able to handle people is key. As Printdriver say you need to provide value beyond what is expekted. Perhaps study some psychology on buying and selling? Rich dad poor dad comes to mind. Hope it works out for you! /George


                • #10
                  the thing is not to find better clients but the ones who will agree to pay) try different variants of offering them your services. maybe you should include a line about special offers and discounts? persuade your clients they need your services or else there is always a chance they will find someone who has lower prices. Like in the example about nephew)))


                  • #11
                    Why would you offer discounts?
                    There is never a non-supply of someone cheaper. There is always the option for the client to go with someone else for a lower price. Especially where design is concerned.

                    I'd be more apt to raise prices, with a qualified and proven product. Does the client want positive internet metrics or a just a pretty website. Does the client want research into demographics and what will work for the project at hand, or do they just want pretty pictures with words on them.

                    The way to get better clients is to offer more than what the lower tier offers, with quantifiable results on previous work.


                    • #12
                      To get a good prospective clients to hire you, remember to market yourself as a professional. Showcase your skills. You must have a unique selling proposition by creating a very compelling portfolio.


                      • #13
                        This happens to all. And the best advise I can offer is assess yourself, check your platforms and check those areas that might need attention and change. I do not know about all of these but surely you do. Good luck


                        • #14
                          Not sure how you can find better clients but I can tell you, clients that don't repond to a proposal probably found someone else to do the work or they aren't going forward with the project altogther. Either way tho, they should've given you a courtasy call.

                          Try a follow up email. If they don't respond to that then consider yourself lucky, cuz you probably dodged a bullet. Imagine trying to collect a payment from a client like that!






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