I’ve had my share of clients to know that no two clients are the same. But if I think about the lot of people who are responsible for paying my mortgage the last few years, I can divide them into two general categories.
The ones who push me to do my best work
These are the folks who provide the content, maybe an idea or a photo for inspiration, and then they give me freedom to do what they hired me to do: design their project. Working as a freelance designer, as glamorous as it may seem, can be a bit of a bummer sometimes. Like when I have to look for new work. Or when I have to remind clients to pay their invoices. Or when I have to keep spreadsheets (ech!). Or make 17 rounds of edits to a business card that honestly looked okay in round 2.
But when I get to work with this type of client—when I get to spread my creative wings and fly—that’s when I remember why I love my job. It’s also when I get my portfolio-worthy pieces.
The ones who want to design it themselves but hire me for kicks
Sometimes I don’t spot them right away, and I’ll present a really kick-ass first draft for a project. It gets immediately shot down, and then the client proposes a more conservative approach (I have nothing against conservative, by the way).
What I do have a slight problem with is creating marketing materials that look exactly like a hundred others I’ve seen. For this type of client, I’m pretty much taking art direction from someone whose experience in design is limited to the Christmas card/family newsletter entitled, “Year in Review,” which they no doubt print off on their ink jet and send to their entire address book each December. It would be the equivalent of me telling my surgeon how to tighten my ankle ligament, or asking my accountant if he might try crunching the numbers a different way when doing my taxes.
With this type of client, I am reminded that freelancing is just my job. And while it is a huge part of what I do on a daily basis, it does not define me, and I cannot take the ninth (or tenth or eleventh) round of revisions a client requests of me personally.
And, come to think of it, I did question my physician regarding his recommendation that I 100% needed surgery this summer. He may have gone through a dozen years of training to be an expert on ligaments and bones, but I have been walking around on my ankle my whole life. I did, however, keep quiet during the actual cutting. Granted, I was under general anesthesia.
Now be honest. Which type of client are you?