5 Things Client

By Nicholas Nesbitt

Nicholas Nesbitt is a Johannesburg based creative specialising in Illustration, Digital Design and Sound Design. These are some of his latest illustrated ramblings. Enjoy :)

1. Honesty is the best policy

Creatives often get lost in creative-land and sometimes we forget that the work we are making is for other human beings. We are also human and not perfect. Mistakes and misunderstandings happen and the best way to dissolve this is through honesty.

Even if the news is bad try to communicate this early in the process. An issue that is swept under the carpet will always find a way to rear its ugly head at some point. So rather be frank about it and find a solution. Also do it as quickly as you can to avoid the awkwardness.

Be honest about your skill set. Solve problems by delegating where you lack. Dont over promise. Under-promise and over-deliver.

2. Know their biz

You can’t pick family but you can choose your clients. Try to imagine a client as your family, a family member you pick. Remember you can decide who you work with and if you get the feeling that your personalities don’t gel maybe its best not to work with them.

It’s important to know what makes them tick. Get to know their interests outside of their business. This will help you decide what type of person they are and it will benefit you in making decisions when working on a project. If you show interest in the type of person they are it will be easier for them to trust your judgement and they will feel safe.

Do as much research as you can on them. Being prepared is important. Your clients will notice this and it will benefit you in the long run. Seeing spaces for your talents will open you up to new opportunities.

3. Talk is not cheap

The most important thing is communication. Sometimes details can be lost in emails and a phone call can save you loads of trauma in the long run. Remember to always keep a paper trail and follow up phone conversations with what has been agreed in phone calls in an email. Ask your client to also put down their thoughts in an email. Trust is formed when there is transparency and openness. Try develop this with your client.

4. Boundaries are important

Its important to Set up timelines, milestones and deadlines. They keep you and your client accountable. Your client can measure this, the progress of the work can be tracked and if something falls out of these boundaries you are able to be compensated for your extra work.

Make sure you have things in writing. I like to clearly define these milestones in my quote. This could also be a separate document called ‘timeline'. Break up the job into sections that you can charge for. This also becomes handy when clients want to take out something…for example an animated section on a website that they could leave out to save money.

The main reason for setting this up from the beginning is that you want to alleviate any confusion, over-expectation and steer clear of difficult conversations.

5. Don’t be a yes Woman/Man

You are allowed to say No. Some clients will take as much as they can get and it’s your job to say no when they start stepping over the line.

If you have set up milestones and deadlines you need to keep reminding your clients how far down the line they are. Make them sign off sections of the job or drop them a line when you are getting close to the end of the project. We teach people how to treat us.

Don’t be too quick to respond to clients especially if they are rushing you, this can be a tactic that’s used to make you make a spur of the moment decision (you will regret this). Rather sleep on it or say you are busy at the moment and will respond when you find a gap.

Clients respect you more when you are firm and organised. They will think twice about taking up your time when they realise how busy you are and that they might be exceeding their budget

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