One of the biggest changes that COVID-19 has prompted is the experience of working remotely. Now, for many professional freelancers who have been doing their own thing for some time, this ‘new normal’ is potentially not that different from the ‘old normal’. They’ve been working from home for a while, dealing with their clients directly, and delivering a great service.
For many new freelancers though who have generally either been in full time work or who have become used to working onsite, this could feel a tad bit strange. Without the usual structure to provide a framework, this ‘working from home’ thing can be filled with a few unexpected challenges.
Stepping back a bit, I’ve been asked over the years to find people who could provide a freelance service to our clients remotely. I’ve often been a little hesitant on these, simply because there isn’t the same level of hands on ‘overseeing’ that would happen onsite when you allow a job to be done offsite. In fact, I’ve often joked that the ‘terms and conditions’ document of many businesses is often made up of lots of stories of how things had gone unexpectedly wrong and offsite has provided one or two of those stories over time.
What I had to do was to come up with a framework and set of rules for both the client and the creative freelancer to ensure that things were kept on track and that the job was delivered as expected. Some of these are really obvious and would be commonplace with many ‘work from home’ graphic designers however they are certainly worth sharing in case there is a nugget of wisdom in amongst here that could be useful to you.
Taking the brief
Now, obviously any graphic design role is going to start with taking a thorough brief. Regardless of what it is that you’re working on, you need to have a good understanding about what it is that the client wants done.
As part of this, I would recommend you ask the following questions;
- What are you expecting me to hand to you as the final piece of work?
- What file formats are you expecting me to hand you this final artwork in?
- At what point do you expect me to hand it over and step back for you to do the rest?
These might seem like really obvious questions however you might be surprised how many people don’t think to ask them. Depending on the level of experience and design knowledge, your client may know the answers to these questions. If they don’t though, that is also another insight that they might need more explanation and management around their expectations.
What is the budget for this
In my experience, once you have discussed the brief and you have a clear understanding about what the client is expecting, talk to them about how many hours this is likely to take and what is the estimated cost associated with that.
Your client might have a set budget and what you’re putting forward might be way outside their budget. Once again, this could be down to their own inexperience in this area and lack of awareness about how much it might cost, so it really comes down to communication and managing expectations.
If they agree with you, then you need to keep within those number of hours and only exceed it with the client’s permission. If they don’t agree on the number of hours, then either the brief has to change or perhaps it isn’t going to be a good fit; this is obviously something you would want to know about BEFORE you started working on a job though, right?
Let me put it this way; I remember years ago a colleague of mine agreeing to organise a freelancer to do an offsite job for a small business client. The client had the expectation that they were going to get a brand mark done. The candidate went on to do the job and ended up delivering three concepts for the client to look at, taking around 40 hours to do. The client was furious; they only wanted one and they only wanted to do it in around 10 hours as that was their budget. This highlights again; communicate clearly, ask questions, and manage expectations. It was a very costly mistake to make financially, not to mention the impact on the relationship.
Ensure there is a regular touch base
Just because you’re not onsite doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a regular check in to give an update, ask for feedback, remind them how many hours are left, and overall give them the feeling that they are the most important client in the world.
This could be as simple as an ‘end of day update’ where you offer where you are in the process, give some insight into idealisation and what is left to be done, and an update on how you’re tracking to the agreed number of hours.
If you like what you see, give me a thumbs up
Once the job is finished, provided that you’ve done an outstanding design job and you’ve made that client feel like they were the most important client in the world, make sure you ask for feedback.
This could be via a Google Review or LinkedIn testimonial if they feel comfortable doing that.
This is all about building social proof that you are awesome. It’s the review that everyone goes to read when they’re considering using a service. I don’t know about you but if I’m buying a white-good, I’ll often sit and read a few reviews first to find out what others' experience has been. Same thing with this, in these times where things are perhaps a little more challenging, make sure that you do your business a favour by getting feedback and building your reputation as being a reliable, professional and trustworthy creative specialist.
Virtual Meet Up
Did you know that Creative Recruiters currently host a weekly virtual meet up to talk to the creative community about various topics and challenges that we're experiencing as we embrace the 'new normal'?
If you didn't know, then why not come along to the next one? We host them every Wednesday at 1:00 PM (Melbourne time) and they're open to anyone who feels that they might benefit from it.