Have you ever met someone who was obviously an expert at something? Probably. But have you ever met an expert that you would absolutely never work with because you had no respect for them, or they were so un-together they had no actual credibility?
As a graphic designer, in order to reach your highest potential, being an expert isn’t enough. That’s why Tingalls Graphic Design has put together the following list of things you can do to improve your credibility and gain more respect from customers.
Don’t try and be someone you’re not, or match some perception of what you think a graphic designer should be. Let your clients and colleagues know who you truly are. Authenticity is as easy to spot as a phony. The only difference is nobody likes a phony.
The term professional means different things to different people. For some graphic designers it means wearing a suit, while for others it means making sure their t-shirt doesn’t have a stain on it. No matter what outward appearance you choose, it’s important to understand that at its core being professional means always being polite to clients, as well as being on time and being prepared. Follow up quickly, and always be honest. If you make a mistake, admit it. If your client wants you to do something you don’t agree with, voice your opinion. Just make sure you do it in a non-threatening, constructive way.
Be Self Reflective
Assess each project you work on. What worked? What failed? Is there a better way to present yourself next time? Even at Tingalls Graphic Design, our graphic designers and I always look to be reflective so we don’t fall into bad habits or become complacent. I’ve been a copywriter for over twenty years, and I’ve found that self-reflection is always a strategy that helps me improve.
Set Personal Boundaries
These include no client phone calls after business hours, unless agreed upon, as well as no graphic design or consulting services for free. In addition, never allow yourself to be subjected to abuse of any kind. And if a client is hitting on you? Whether you’re a man or a woman, it’s not acceptable for a client to treat you in an unprofessional manner. If need be, cut them loose. There are always more customers out there who will respect you for your graphic design skills.
Write Up a Quote
Whether the project is $200 or a $10,000, it’s always a good idea to write up a detailed quote and have the client sign off on it BEFORE you do any work. This brings up a tangental point that is critical to your long-term success. Make sure you’re getting paid for the value of the work you’re providing. It can often be difficult to perceive oneself as worthy of charging for all the value we provide. This ties back to the previous tip of setting personal boundaries and making sure you’re not working for free. Your price needs to reflect your level of expertise and also needs to be enough to support you.
Ask for a Deposit
This is especially important when working with a customer for the first time. It’s a way to protect yourself, and make sure the client is serious about working together. It will also show the client that you are experienced enough to ask for a percentage of the payment up front. We suggest writing the deposit and payment terms right into your quote.
In our next installment of this series, we’ll address five more strategies on how graphic designers can up their credibility factor — including improving your process and forming a corporation.
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