What do our clients really want?

I’ve been freelancing for awhile now and as part of this I’ve been reading a few books. mainly “know your onions” graphic design and I’ve come to realize that some of the simplest of things that a client would need tend to be over looked by us. So I’d just like to highlight some of the things I’ve put in place with my own clients that keeps them happy and ultimately leads to more work.

1) Contact In my experience working with someone local to you can be way better than working with someone on the other side of the world the key reason for this is communication. (unless you can travel and work on the project in there country) or vice verse contact can be difficult. Skyping can be a great way to make things work although you also have to consider time difference. but the best client relationships that I have are the ones that I live on there door step. They know that they can phone me when I need to and that I will respond or we can meet in person, which gives them peace of mind. It makes sense they are investing there time in you and they need the confidence that you can do your job ect.

2) Pixel Perfection essentially this one is probably the most obvious but the way they see it is the better the perfection the better it looks on them. For example if you are designing a poster for them and there is a tiny bit out of place and there customer, client or whoever notices this. This can look bad on the company and instantly look unprofessional the same thing goes for a website. You have to think carefully one little thing out of place can send your customer on to another site, because imperfections can make you look sloppy and what customer would put money in your hands to do something, when you website flyer or whatever isn’t up to scratch.

3) Time Management  They say time is money for a reason I believe that this is true especially from a freelance perspective from the clients perspective the work should be done quickly and efficiently thus saving him or her money and getting just as much work done. This isn’t all ways easy when a client wants a lot of changes and lets face it we’ve all been there. working until the early hours of the morning is normal for the freelancer (yes I am referring to a freelancer as a hunter gather someone has to put food on the table!) but the main thing is the longer the project takes the more money we receive from the project (hopefully or not in some cases) but the more agitated the client would be that you didn’t just finish the project in the first 20 logo examples you gave them.

anyway I hope my little life experiences are of us to someone and if anyone has anything more to add on this please do so in the comments.

My Latest Branding Project

This week I’ve been working on a branding project. Logo design, Business card and brochure just wanted a little bit of feed back from you guys if you can help I really like it, but an unbiased second opinion is always good!.

The client is a 1 on 1 high end teaching and project management specialist.  which looks better out of these two?  after looking at it for awhile my mind just boggles.

 

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a fox in a box thsirt design

fox t-shirt design #ohhdeer

As most of you have probably seen from my slightly crazy twitter feed. I have been promoting my t-shirt designs the last post I did on this I only had two designs finished but now I’ve gone onto my third and final design. I hope you like it.

I decided to illustrate a sleepy looking fox that gives the impression he is coming out of the t-shirt not really sure why but for some reason I just felt the need to rhyme.

you can buy this T-shirt design here!

 

 

 

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Should you design a covering letter?

I’ve been doing some searches on how to make my CV look beautiful. My previous CV was how do I put it…. A little bit boring just plain black and white like a corporate CV. So I’ve designed my CV to be in sync with my website and my blog to keep my brand consistency, which is a sensible move. but the question I’m wondering is if applying directly (obviously in a creative manner job) with a fully designed covering letter can effect the decision of the hiring manager or does it simple just say “PICK ME, PICK ME” and provokes bad attention toward the candidate.

Covering letters are defiantly a bit of a blank subject for graphic designer at university they tended to miss off the covering letter part and skip to the interesting CV design. Which considering the lecturers are designers themselves who can blame them they didn’t get into lecturing about there favorite subject to talk about copy writing or maybe we should have all just taken a creative writing class!

But in a serious note the covering letters that I see online seem to be branded and very simplified but in tone with the graphic designers branding. but then I come across others that have the same cookie cutter style and then the word “I CAN DO IT” embossed in the centre. or a designed post about why they would like to work with them. But my question is do creatives on hiring teams enjoy this kind of thing? well I’m sure it provokes some entertainment but is acceptable. Would that covering letter be seen as “trying to hard” or “lazy and inappropriate” whats creative and acceptable and what is stepping the mark?

anyway I’m sure you all have your own opinions. Take a look at my CV design and tell me what you think.

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This weeks design feature!

This week you will be glad to know I’ve been working on my pr skills to try and get noticed on a few other design blog. Mostly ones I enjoy myself.

So I’ve finally managed to get myself noticed on a fantastic website for graduates and talent: design juices. They currently showcase work from everyone to graduates and freelancers. They host fantastic competitions by designers for designers.

So if your currently a designer and would like regular updates on the latest in design talent and design do follow them on twitter.

You can also take a look at my feature here: http://buff.ly/1eVsUWQ

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Design portfolios what is the norm? or is there not one?

I’ve been thinking about design and recruitment recently and the type of things that must go through there minds as they see a portfolio.

Things are getting more and more digital so does this eradicate the need for a print portfolio although I must say (PRINT IS NOT DEAD)… ahem… but it must be difficult when you have to compare one to another. in different types of medians we now have to view work.

In my experience I’ve been asked for various different things from supplying them with 5 to 6 pdf examples under 5 mb (which I’m sure most designers find quite hard when they want there work to be shown in the best possible light shrinking it down to a small size and not compromising the work quality is tough)

print portfolio

To just being asked to provide a link which is simple enough and makes sense for video and animation positions. But I ask myself are there print designers out there sending promotional pieces of work to companies in order to seek work and what is considered the norm or does the organized savvy designer out there just prepare for every eventuality and hope for the best.

animation portfolio

Its made me realize the other day recruitment is tough in the design industry… large amounts of people after one job being sifted through recruiters before you get to go on to the next round  and most of the jobs have a shelf life meaning there career is often uncertain and lets face it … its hard to find a stable job in the design industry because it feels like companies are always on the look out for hot new talent… (at least that’s my opinion anyway) being freelance puts your career in your own hands and puts you in control even when jobs are out of control and you can’t find any leads. I guess thats why people consider it as a career …. you know what to expect when you get out of bed in the morning!….. unless of course you are rudely awoken by the sound of a client ringing your mobile!…

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Logo design

Do clients understand the importance of brand consistency?

So I’ve had a fair few clients now and sometimes depending on the client they know what is needed and the others are not so clued up (I mean they’ve hired me so clearly they need my help and nobody’s an expert in everything even I wouldn’t call myself one.) but sometimes I wonder if they are aware of the potential damage that an inconsistent brand brings.

I sometimes get the odd client that just wants one thing designing for them which is okay and other times I’ve pushed for more work that needs doing or suggestions that I can make and for the ones that have needed more (not all some) tend to have there own individual ideas for each project which is fine and the key is to incorporate this with the designs that already exists other wise customer get confused they lose interest and because of the brand inconsistency they lose trust in that company that’s how things are these days and lets face it (I speaking for everyone here) big brand no matter what country you live in stick to these rules and the consumer is used to seeing this. So if a company is inconstant it sticks out like a sore thumb and comes across as… well confusing… and don’t get me wrong branding isn’t easy brand books are normal big thick books with exact dimensions colours and everything. but the key is to get it right take your time and don’t get me wrong it isn’t easy to disagree with a client on something at the end of the day he/she is paying you money but freelancing isn’t just about design its about communication and that in itself is branding. So if your client want a purple background and your coulour scheme is yellow or they want “Times new Romans” (god only knows why or comic sans for that manner…. hate that font) instead of “helvetica” just tell them how is it and hopefully when they have a successful brand they will thank you for it.

 

Logo design

Creativity vs Cash: A graphic designers work flow..

It’s come to my attention recently that I haven’t really discussed what is going in terms of my work and freelancing for a while at current I have 2 clients. which they are both going pretty smoothly one only initial wanted me to do a logo and business card design and now I am doing there website as they are so happy with the results which is good. The other is a packaging based project which I am very excited to be part of.

It is great to have a clients that lets your creativity flow.

I mean some client already have an idea and a vision in there head which they want you to materialize other have absolutely no idea what they want and are happy to let you as a professional in your industry lead the way, as to what is appropriate for their target market.

Most graphic designer prefer the latter (at least you would think) although sometimes the one that know what they want can give you an idea if you can execute it correctly. So if this is the case then in theory in terms of money and turn over which one would you decide option A or option B

A. The client know what they want you can execute it much more quickly meaning that  your quote for the project would be better off because your shooting above your time scale.

B. The client doesn’t know what they want. You get the creative control but It may take you longer the client could be indecisive and therefore your turn over would be less if you gave a quote that didn’t take this into consideration

It’s a difficult option basically creative vs cash but this is the kind of world we live in and as a freelancer who’s constantly learning about new things every day. It makes me stop and think about projects option A or option B which is best for me as a designer one feels like the easy route and the other creative but maybe financial less.

Basically and this is the “deep” part everything boils down to our decisions and risks sounds psychological but maybe its true. are you a risk taker or are you safe and now from analyzing my client base I guess I’m the risk taker in option B. but the question is who has the better portfolio? and at junior level anyway surely its quality not quantity … maybe I will get to option A In the future… perhaps design and experience will change the way I design in the future who knows.

Graphic design resources for freelancers!

Now I’m getting the hang of this freelancing thing I would like to share with you all a few places where I have found useful stuff! that have helped me in terms of various different things over the couple of months. Hopefully some of it can be useful to you as well!

1.  www.dafont.com

A great website in terms of inspiration some with rights and some without it can also help you find other websites  to find the desired font you want which is also very helpful. Sometime you get a client who knows exactly what font they want and this website can be extremely useful for that.

2. http://www.pinterest.com

I’ve had some interesting results from this website it’s a great way to showcase your portfolio as well as find useful information a lot of graphic designers post info graphics which from my research gives a higher re- pin rate thus expanding the amount of reach your work gains. I’ve also found out that by changing and adding in key words that you use and other people use most commonly your work will come up more often… (I hope that makes sense!) I also Like to use it as a source of inspiration there is a lot of very talented people on pinterest! check out my page http://www.pinterest.com/thecrtivecndrum/

3. http://www.brusheezy.com/

A great place to gain new brushes if there is something particular that you are looking for however I would recommend that you create your own brushes It can be done quite easily but this website is really useful.

4. http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/

This guy has some great stuff I’m actually really jealous of his blog. He has longs of hint tips and tutorials to help you expand your creative mind.

5. The freelance handbook – Computer Arts magazine

I found this magazine really useful over the past couple of month I have quite a few freelance handbooks but I struggled to find one that really includes UK based rules and regulations in copyright law and more it gives details of great places for resources as well as showing you which places need graphic designers and how to effectively promote yourself I personally think its a must have read for anyone in the UK also handy for thoughs of you in the USA but I’m not sure if they have this over there. They also have more in the same collection to buy which I think I may have to invest in you can get hold of them in Whsmiths.

Freelance handbook

logo design

Graphic design internships… what are they for?

It dawned on me the other day whilst searching through jobs through gumtree.com to see if I could find a captivating piece of work that I would like to put my name to. The sheer amount of times the word “intern” comes up with the words “unpaid” and don’t get me wrong I guess I’m looking in the wrong place If I want paid freelance work especially seeing as most of these company’s don’t pay to put there adverts on gumtree. It clearly doesn’t give us hope and whilst there is paid work on gumtree which I am able to tap into due to my expertise and knowledge .I feel bad for the fresh faced graduates looking to make there mark in the world when jobs are vastly being replaced by people who are able (not sure who they are) to work for free. personally I think graduates everywhere should boy-cock the term “un-paid intern” in order to produce paid work for someone else?! is this even logical? surely this would benefit everyone but it seems to me that if you are rich and privileged enough to work for free than some guy (or girl) somewhere will lose his job…. maybe not in the big firms or the ones who have proper vetted graduate schemes but the small start ups with no intention of making that persons jobs permanent and stringing them on in the hope things will get better…. I doubt it..

But I’m talking to you the people who contact someone like me with the clear intention to rip me off and demean my work by asking for it for free…. your work doesn’t benefit me in any way. I already have a portfolio and I’m not looking to add to it just because you say I need to. I don’t need a reference as  I have respectable clients who pay me enough that I value there opinion on the way I conduct my work. So what more do you really have to offer me?