As a design professional and freelancer, part of the struggle in today’s world is in turning away business.
Yes, turning away business, because too often, a prospective client is not ready for a designer (yet).
The first thing you need to have ready when contacting a designer? Money. The last thing any competent professional wants to hear from you, whether you are a non-profit, have a fantastic, heart-wrenching story, or that you’re a start-up with a whizz-bang idea that’s going to change the world is this: Can you do this for a discount?
While passionate about my job, I can’t eat passion. I can’t keep the lights on with it. I can’t continue to chip away at my student loans with “passion.” I, like everyone, need money, and before you decide to come to me to ask for a logo, a flyer, tee-shirt designs, yard signs for your campaign, etc. you could very easily go to a discount stock graphics site, or type something up in Microsoft Word for free that communicates what you need, have it printed, and move on with your day.
If you want a professional to design for you, please have professional money budgeted for your project. If I’m compelled by your story to give you a break on price, that should be up to me, not because you expected it of me.
Second, if you are designing an ad, know this – people do not like to read. Most of the folks who clicked on this probably got as far as the third paragraph, saved this for later, and then they’ll never go back to it.
If you want people to be interested in what you are offering, MERCILESSLY edit yourself, and then go back and edit it again.
The most effective ads out there are 10 to 15 words of text maximum, accompanied by a compelling image. Next time you are flipping through a magazine or you notice an ad in social media, take note of how long you pause on a cool ad, and how quickly you flip past a confronting wall of text (kind of how this note is?)
Third; proofread. If possible, have two other people look at your content and run a spell and grammar check on it before you send it out. If possible, make sure its a diverse group of people who look at it, because in our current age, you might be sending something out that is offensive based on race, class, sexism, or another culture that you may not be familiar with.
Finally, be VERY careful with humor and know your audience. Too often, people think they are being ironic, or risque, or “not PC” in an attempt at humor.
Your intent is not and never will be important – what is important is how it lands; specifically, people may never remember your name, or the details of what you produce but they will always remember how you made them feel, and if you’ve offended them, regardless of intention, they shut down, and your message does not get through.
A creative professional will appreciate it when you come to them prepared, with a clear idea of what you need, money to pay for the execution of it, and, of course, ample time to produce what you need. Design isn’t an afterthought. It isn’t “making something pretty.” Design in many cases is as important as function. Bad design wastes people’s time. Bad design makes things hard to read. Bad design means your product stays on the shelf, where the better designed one goes home with the customer. Participate in the process, be prepared, and then trust your designer to produce and you’ll come away with communication, ads, graphics, a logo that will clearly represent you and what you wish to communicate.