Every designer is excited to obtain their first job prospect, right? I know I was!
And then it came time to discuss money. I was a terrible negotiator. Heck, I was so excited at the prospect of landing a client that I blurted out, “I’ll do it for exposure, pro bono!”
I still regret that to this day…
But, before the regret set in, I sat down at my computer after talking to the client and figuring out what he wanted. I was a fellow horse lover and showed AQHA while growing up. I got this! It’s right up my alley.
After research about polo and finding images that I could use to make my drawing “just right,” I sent the client 6 proofs. Count them! SIX!
What the heck was I thinking? I wasn’t. I was so concerned that my artwork wasn’t good enough and that I wasn’t sure which one they would like, so I sent them all. If memory serves me correctly, I think I was just having fun.
Over the next few days, and possibly weeks, I sent a total of 21 different files. Some were just little changes to the originals and others were just straight up new designs.
I started to get frustrated. At what point do the revisions end? Why was he just changing one little thing here and there and then changing it back? Why can’t he just pick one already and get on with it? For crying out loud, I’m doing this for FREE!
Once he did settle on a logo, I got really frustrated. He chose the 4th one I created, and we changed the font to one that appeared in a later proof, I think around proof 7 or 8.
He then requested it in any file format you could imagine, which is okay and something I offer every client. But it is what I saw next that really ruffled my feathers. It appeared on a website and was completely skewed. The proportions were completely off, and I found myself hoping and praying that he wouldn’t spread my name in fear that someone would see that and blame me for it.
Speaking about that exposure I was promised…the word of mouth that was supposed to ignite a wildfire and I’d be landing clients here and there and everywhere? Well, that never happened. Part of me was grateful, so that I didn’t have to worry about people thinking I didn’t know what I was doing with such a horrifically skewed logo. Part of me was angry as I never got one client out of the deal sent my way. I didn’t even track my time, which I should have so that I could have figured out how much I lost.
But, what did I gain?
I found out that it is very important to discuss the money aspect of a job. I don’t care it’s billed hourly, by package, or what. The point is to make sure that the client knows exactly how much it going to cost BEFORE doing anything.
I also found out that a contract is important. Working without a contract is dangerous in that it does not protect you or the client. With a contract in place, both parties know exactly what is to be expected by the other party and each party can be held accountable if they don’t follow through with what is agreed to.
In conjunction with that, my contracts now state how many proofs a client will receive along with how many revisions. Anything beyond the scope of the contract is then billed hourly, which is something the client doesn’t want to do. It encourages them to identify ALL changes they want in one or two goes instead of 22.
The imposter syndrome is real, by the way. I still feel it from time-to-time, but it’s waned a bit. Every time I start something new or learn a new skillset, I feel inadequate, no matter how good the education is or how hard I applied myself to it. I wish a had a solution to “get over it,” but I don’t. Things just get easier in time.
The best way to grow a business is word-of-mouth. That is what I’ve always believed. Organic growth is best. But no one can guarantee that they will get your name out there and frankly, I don’t trust it. So, in retrospect, and the way I like to do it now is to take care of each client. I want them to have an amazing experience working with me. I won’t have to ask them to spread my name. They will do it naturally. If they trust me, their friends will be more likely to trust me.
The last lesson I learned is to always keep track of time. If you don’t, you will wonder how much something is worth. My packages are all based on how much time I think it will take me on average. That is something that comes from years of experience. Do I still mess up on estimates? Of course I do. I cannot foresee absolutely everything that might happen with a job, but I, for the most part, stick to what I quoted. The only time I don’t is if I was astronomically off and then I will give discount on the actual price. But this post isn’t about pricing. I’ll save that for another time.
For it being the first logo that I landed for a real client, I think it’s important to realize that I actually did walk away richer than when I entered into the verbal agreement. I learned at least six important lessons. Have I always remembered them? No, but writing this blog has been a great reminder.
I hope you learned something today as well. Believe in yourself. Stick to your guns. You are worth it!