“You don’t have to do client work.”

When I heard that statement and the reasoning behind it, I felt validated. I felt like I was given permission to be an artist and business owner without changing my personality and dreams.

The truth is, some of us prefer to work alone instead of around other people. Some of us love teaching someone to overcome problem, and some of us would rather solve it ourselves then hand over the solution. Some of us prefer the challenge of a fast pace, and some of us would rather risk a longer work day in order to do the work correctly- slowly and carefully- the first time.

Your own personality is extremely important to consider when choosing your business model. If you’re not a people person, and you don’t enjoy working closely with someone throughout the process, you’re going to risk quick burnout if you force yourself to do so. It doesn’t really matter how much money is in it. Less money at a job you like is better than making money by doing something you’re not motivated to do. Bottom line: Do what works for you, because you’re the one doing the work.

If you choose to sell products, more power to you! I hope that you stick to your guns and you feel supported in that decision. I am so glad that you have taken stock of your abilities and personality and chosen something that works well for you! The product business has endless possibilities, especially when you think about Christmas in a month. Cha-ching. 

If you choose client work, more power to you! You’re the kind of person that loves transforming a problem into a personalized solution. I am so glad you’re sharing your skills and talents with the world!

I think we can all agree: If you’re going to do client work, you need a way to find the right clients. Just check out a recent Instagram hashtags I recently ran across: #ladiesgetpaid and #followherlead. No matter how extroverted and determined you are, you’re going to quickly become frustrated working with people who:

  • Don’t know who their own audience is
  • Can’t explain the problem they want remedied
  • Want your services for less money than you’re worth
  • Didn’t give you adequate time to complete the project
  • Guilt you into scope creep and/or change their mind mid-project

So how do you avoid these “bad clients”? Well, the only answer is: don’t agree to work with them. Don’t let yourself become desperate enough that you’ll work with anyone and everyone who wants to hire you. Maybe that means you have a full time or part time job as supplemental income. (That’s what I am doing, by the way. I work 9-5 at a performing arts building and sketch when I’m at home). By not taking on potential headache clients, you preserve your own time and passion for your business. Let someone else who’s not as good as you take on the bad clients. Here’s how:

Start with an application process. Create a form that everyone- especially past customers, friends and family members!- must complete before you begin a new project. Include things like:

  • How long they’ve been in business (will give you a good idea of how serious they are)
  • Details about their target audience (will help you appeal to right people)
  • What kind of audience or reach they have (will help you price your services)
  • How long and where the item will be used (will help you price your services)
  • Goals for the project (help you decide if you’re the right person for this client)

This is the time when you have a right to talk away from the business transaction. If you decide this is the perfect client for you, proceed to the contract.

Next, you’ll need to make the process absolutely transparent in your contract and quote. Break down things like:

  • Exactly what solution and deliverables you will be providing
  • What you know about the client’s audience and how you’ll tailor your deliverable with them in mind
  • How long it’ll take you to complete the project
  • What items are needed from client before work begin- text, brand colors, photos, etc.
  • The cost
  • Payment schedule
  • Who is the primary contact and how involved they get to be in the design- At what points, if any, do they get to see the project before completion? Do they get to give feedback? Do they get to loop in their coworker/boss/friend/mother or hand the entire project over to someone new part way through?
  • How changes to scope affect cost of project
  • How finished product will be delivered
  • If future maintenance or changes are complementary
  • Grant of rights and how copyright for that deliverable works – All rights vs. License for Personal Use, etc.
  • Termination clause – Which parties may terminate contract and how payment schedule is affected
  • Limit of Liability- That designer is not held liable for incidental or consequential damages that arise from performance of this commission (including, but not limited to, failure to perform in a timely manner, regardless of whether the failure was intentional or negligent.)

This is when a client has a right to walk away from the business transaction. However, if they decide they can abide by your process, they’ll sign the contract and you can proceed with the partnership. Just remember – you have a right, and absolutely should, hold them to it if they’re trying to take advantage of you. 

I hope this gives you some ideas and perhaps introduces a few items you may have overlooked while taking on clients. Perhaps it will help you better screen potential clients before you take them on so that you can avoid clients that will take advantage of you. At the very least, you and your client will be on the same page as you start a business transaction.

Good luck!

Thank You Kindly LLC

(Thoughts and ideas expressed in this blog post are not necessarily comprehensive.)



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