In an ideal world, freelancers get the chance to create, they find the right clients who love what they do, hand it over and make money from their labour of love. This world, however, is far from perfect and what usually starts off as a labour of love for most creatives easily ends up as a frustrating, unending job.
A lot of times, clients don’t understand the creative process, have little or no respect for it and a number of times they aren’t willing to pay a fair wage for work done. Creatives on the other hand feel misunderstood, underappreciated and frustrated that most people don’t get the value of what they do.
So how can creatives get fulfilling jobs, and the customer gets value for what they have invested? In a world where there are thousands of creatives who do good work and their work can easily be found on various platforms, how do the right clients choose you? You should ask yourself, “if this client was to choose between me and an equally good “X” creative, why should they choose me?
Sell Solutions not Design
All clients are looking for solutions and by investing their money in what you do, their hope is that there will be a return on investment either directly or indirectly. So what are you selling to the potential client? Are you selling photographs or a brand image, are you selling design or effective communication? What you are selling to the client will define how you approach them and even how you work for them. When pitching to them, sell them the bigger picture i.e. how can they look better, sound better, reach better their intended audience? This they need to understand so that they can buy into what you want to do.
Maybe it’s time for creatives to sell value instead of products. A graphic designer should sell communication not design. Often times clients want to communicate better with their clients so they can improve their bottom line. Whether we like it or not that is how most clients see it. While photographers should sell communication assets not pictures/images.
The other thing that a lot of creatives overlook is customer service, how do you treat your client? Are you reliable, delivering work on time and genuinely caring about their objectives? All these little things end up make a big difference. Treat your client well, try and deliver on time and communicate on time if you aren’t able to, cross check your work and finally “kill” them with the creative delivery. Then do this on repeat.
While this may not guarantee you a bucketful of awesome appreciative clients who are just swooning over you, you may be able to land yourself a few clients who love your work, find you reliable and they may just be willing to stick it out with you. So remember, don’t sell the product, sell value and position yourself as the one with the solution. Oh btw, we are also learning this ourselves so this is a note to self as well, every time we are frustrated, we’ll come to reread this article.
What are some of the challenges you face as a creative trying to get new clients and retain them, do you have tips? Share them with us.