Once they’re out of design school and battling it out in the real world, designers can find themselves in a pretty crappy predicament. Maybe your teachers warned you to be as discerning as possible when taking on new clients (or maybe they told you the opposite, but you knew it was BS), but reality is often a rude awakening from what you expected when you first started working.
Bills pile up, the rent’s due date looms closer, and suddenly that shady dude who wants you to design his logo and website for $150 and “exposure” doesn’t look too bad.
We all know it can be hard to stick to our guns and seek out quality work that will enhance our careers, rather than drag them down into the mud, but think about one thing for a second.
When you take on a terrible client – one that, say, refuses to pay you either in full or in part, or one that has a million and one changes to make to your designs, you’re actually spending far more in labor costs – and sometimes even in legal fees – to complete that job than you would have if you’d had a few more instant meals and committed to finding a good client. A bad client is bad news, period. It will always cost you more to maintain a bad client than it’s worth.
Clients hire you for a reason: to improve the profitability of their business venture, whether it’s an information website, a product, or a personal brand. At least initially, they know they need a professional to step in and create something usable and which contributes to their overall goal of making more money.
I’ve found that reminding clients of this in a polite, but firm, way is incredibly effective in getting them to slow down and hand you back the reins of the project.
Your ultimate goal as a designer is to find clients who will trust you. If there’s no trust there, your clients may become overwhelmed with anxiety and begin to micromanage.
Generally speaking (but not always), the higher you price your design services, the more frequently
you’ll find clients who respect your judgement and who will trust you, and the more you’ll drive away those who only want to play dictator.