I want things to work between us.
Let's clarify a few points before we move on to "business". There are no written rules for client-creative relationships.
You see, I've had clients that didn't appreciate my creative work.
And I've had clients who've hurt my feelings.
Then there's those that pissed me off.
I've had projects terminated earlier than expected.
And clients that didn't pay for my work.
Those that didn't return my calls.
However it wasn't always the case. Thankfully, it's mostly the opposite -
I've had clients who got the best of me.
Many projects I'm so proud of - I've showed them to my grandma.
I have clients that never stop recommending me to their fellows; They keep on coming back.
In order to make our mutual venture(s), work; to make us both content; to avoid drama and unpleasantness -
I want to share with you my principles on how good, solid, creative work gets produced.
If you're game - be assured I will play my part the very best I can.
Hiring a creative isn't like buying a TV or a car.
You pay me to create something outstanding for your business. Something no one else has. Something unique that fits your unique business.
You hire me to create something that will help you market your services or sell your products. You pay for a bulk of my time, my ideas and talent - for creative work I'll produce for you only.
Please don't confuse that with buying "me". I'm not a commodity, please don't treat me like one. You can't "use" me as much as you want and you don't "own" me.
If the first thing you ever ask is "How much will it cost?" - this is a big warning sign. It's far better and conductive to first speak about your business, your goals and how implementing creative work could help it grow.
It's important for our business model for you to realise things are the exact same on my part - I don't see you as an ATM.
I see someone with dreams, who owns a business they want to grow. Someone who puts their 110% trust in me. I value this immensely and don't take it for granted. Someone who allows me to have the time I need to create something valuable - I appreciate it.
Dear Client, to produce amazing work I need to dedicate significant time, focus and effort to your project. The alternative is to work on many tiny low-budget projects. I'll be jumping from one thing to another. None of which will turn out to be worthy. At best the results achieved working like this would be mediocre.
Good money opens up avenues to allow investment of time and resources into obtaining the research needed. It's essential to make sure you get something that fits your specific brand.
Good money will let us try a few different things, before we hit the nail on the head. We can explore diverse pathways, allowing us to strengthen the end result.
Good money will allow me to work on your project full days. I'll be dreaming on it, thinking of it in the shower, and when I go for a walk.
Sure - it might not fit your budget. Maybe you aren't interested in a high quality end product that will pull in new customers on an ongoing basis and retain them thereafter as paying, returning, consumers.
Luckily, you have alternatives. There are places all over the inter-web that let you get things done for pennies. However the old adage of "spend peanuts, get monkeys" is very true in this situation. The work you'll receive will be worth pennies in return.
It certainly won't be unique, or derived from deep thinking and research into your brand.
It will be a single try - either you like or hate it - that will be your problem. There's a significant risk it won't help you achieve the goal that made you call me in the first place.
And no, please don't offer me to work for free in exchange for "exposure" or other potential benefits. Like you - I'm running a business.
Don't get it wrong - I am not your employee - and you are not my boss.
Saying things like "others will be happy to do this work" won't make me want to work with you. Such a remark is designed to make me feel small and off-balance; of no value. It's disrespectful.
We both have to choose to work with each other. Our relationship will be symbiotic - if we do, and symmetric.
Hence, it's crucial we have clear communication, and set up boundaries on both sides we both respect and adhere to.
You might like working at 2AM - but this is when I sleep.
You might go through emails on a Saturday morning - but this is when I'm having brunch with my wife.
Unless it's an emergency, please don't expect me to reply ASAP. We both know it's hardly ever an emergency.
You might text your employees when you need a quick answer, but I prefer communication via Email. To do deep work that requires intense concentration, and to stay focused, my phone is sometimes on silent mode. New emails don't pop on my screens.
We should both respect each other's time. Don't throw me a task at the last minute, expecting it to be completed ready for tomorrow. And if something is delayed on my side, I shall endeavour to let you know - as soon as I can.
Let's sit down and talk about the workflow and set up expectations. It'll make things be so much smoother.
You might have something in mind already for the end product.
I guess you've already visited your competitor's websites; you've looked what similar brands have done; you've watched a million viral videos.
You have an opinion and a taste and I respect it.
However you must also trust me, this is my profession.
Trust my diverse experience - it's what I do five days a week for many years now, helping many tens of clients walk away with a great result.
Please don't ask to see my work every other hour, and I'd ask you not to micro-manage me. I cannot focus when you are looking over my shoulder 24/7. It's stifling.
On my part - I promise to listen intensly.
To look at things you love and understand why.
I promise to do my homework and check out your competitors so we can create something different. I promise to be able to explain why I chose this and not that, to break down every salient part of the solution; and to listen to your feedback.
I need to know why you need X.
Please don't ask me for "A Logo" or "A Viral Video". Help me understand WHY you need them, for what purpose. Help me see the end goal and I can make my work lean towards it.
Explain why you want this website built. Or why you need this copy written.
The more you explain, the more accurate and purposeful the work will be.
I've worked with many clients before; I have mind blowing ideas waiting for you.
You will have certain complex problems you won't imagine I can help you with. You'll be surprised then, upon detailing these to me, at my level of excitement and enthusiasm at striving to produce a wonderful solution.
Dear Client, I want to help.
You see, I chose to be a creative freelancer, not an artist.
I teach myself new things every day - for one purpose. I get inspired every day, filling my mind with new ideas, for one purpose.
I train my skills, challenging myself - for one purpose.
Doing great work for you, a result that I'll be proud of, this is my purpose.
Let's do this. Together.
Creative Freelancer and CEO at Prospero