How many times during our work day have we stared at our screen pulling at our hair thinking “Why is this happening?” Yes, we all have had frustrating moments in our day, but I am going to let you in on a secret, a lot of these frustrations can be AVOIDED! Our clients hire us for our expertise and experience, so in exchange we should focus on acting as offense versus playing defense. Below I will explain several examples of how we can play offense versus defense to make the game of design more enjoyable for everyone!
Freelancer Gripe: Everything is so Disorganized!
Play: Encourage everyone to use online documents (ie Google Documents) or a Project Management System (ie Basecamp, Trello etc) from the beginning of a project.
We have all been there. The changes have come in through several email threads, you were busy and now that you are working on the project you can not remember where to find that last change. I like to get all of my clients to put all of their changes and copy in Google Documents ,because then nothing runs the risk of being eaten by email goblins and everything is in one place for easy refrerence. If a client forgets, I simply remind them, then copy and paste the change from email into their google document. And I never start a project until I have all of the consolidated content entered into Google Docs.
Freelancer Gripe: All of my clients need my attention at the same time!
Play: Block your schedule
Jumping between projects in an effort to be super responsive, will leave you feeling frazzled and to be honest, is a waste of time. I like to block my time so I can focus 100 percent on the client without being distracted. During that client block I do not check emails, or allow myself to be pulled away to other client work. I try to keep blocks between 30 mins – 3 hours so if an emergency comes up I can still handle it in a timely manner. This also helps me plan out my week, so I can let clients know when I am available and when I am not available.
My Schedule Blocking looks something like this.
Freelancer Gripe: One of my clients is micromanaging me!
Play: Set schedules and expectations early
Our clients hire us because their projects are important to them. If we set expectations with a delivery schedule and working style/options at the beginning of a project it will help them feel at ease that we have everything handled. When the client sees you sticking to a schedule you both defined they will be less likely to micromanage!
Freelancer Gripe: The client is not giving me clear direction, but then did not like the concept I came up with!
Play: Ask directed questions at the beginning of the project
A lot of times people do not know what they want until they see it, or they do not know how to articulate it. I like to start every project with a client survey asking specific questions like “What colors do you not like for your logo,” “Do you like full screen web images.” If I am still having trouble figuring out client tastes after the survey, I start a shared pinterest board where we can share visuals to get on the same page aesthetically.
These are just a few! If you have any suggested plays please tweet them to me @artbyshanthony