According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some 260,000 professionals worked as graphic designers in 2014. Graphic design is a highly competitive field, and while artistic skill and creative flair are undeniably important, these qualities aren’t enough to ensure success. If you are interested in working as a graphic designer, you have to be prepared to develop and maintain good working relationships with your clients. Here are five tips to help you nurture these essential relationships.
1. Let your client’s needs form the basis of your relationship.
When you are creating a design for a specific client, your ultimate goal is not to produce the best possible design. It’s to produce the best possible design that fits your client’s needs. In many cases, the two will be the same, but they aren’t always. Instead of jumping in with both feet and hoping to sell the client on your concept or services, take time to ask questions and get a clear picture of what they want, why they want it, what they hope to achieve with it and what they expect from you. Use that information to inform your design, and you’ll up the odds of producing something that will satisfy the client and have them happy to continue working with you.
2. Say no when necessary.
It’s true that many people don’t like to be told no, but there are times when you need to say it. Time, energy and manpower are limited resources, and you need to use them wisely. If you cannot deliver the product that the client wants, are unable to complete the work on their timetable or find their budget unsuitable for the amount of work required, then say no. Be polite and professional. They may be disappointed, but it is generally better to refuse a project than damage your reputation by delivering subpar work.
3. Communicate carefully.
You’re not a mind reader. Your client isn’t one either. That’s why it is crucial that you make every effort to communicate carefully. Ask questions, seek clarifications and take notes about any important concepts. If you notice information is missing or suspect a problem, be proactive and discuss the matter before it causes discord. Make it a habit to avoid design jargon when talking with clients and listen carefully to any comments. They may not be quite sure how to say exactly what they need to, so be prepared to read between the lines and then ask questions to verify your interpretation.
4. Deliver what you promise.
In virtually any scenario, doing what you promise is vital for a successful relationship, and the relationship between a graphic designer and a client is no exception. If you fail to deliver what you promised, the client to probably won’t want to work with you again. They’re also unlikely to recommend your services to anyone else. As a professional, make sure that you know what you are contractually obligated to do, and get it done. Provide quality work and respect deadlines and budgets. Take responsibility promptly if you make a mistake, and then make appropriate efforts to repair the damage.
5. Handle criticism like a professional.
The idea of the eccentric, sensitive artist with a fragile ego is a persistent one, but you cannot afford to be perceived that way by clients. When you’re selling your graphic design services, it’s essential that you deal with the inevitable criticism of your work in a thoughtful, professional manner. Be ready to listen and learn from critical reviews of your work so that you can ultimately deliver a product that suits your client’s needs.
In order to succeed, graphic designers need to approach the work of building relationships with clients with a positive attitude. Putting these tips into practice is a great way to help clients understand that your goal is to use your skills for their benefit.