Seth Godin
Seth Godin (photo by John Abbott)

Seth's blog
Seth’s blog

Seth and I don’t always agree (that’s the point, right?), but IMHO, we’re humming the same tune with a couple points in How to live happily with a great designer.

Below are a few of my favs:

1) If you want average (mediocre) work, ask for it
Good point. And one I’ll add to my website questionnaire. If anything it will (hopefully) nudge potential clients into seriously thinking about their budget. What they can afford, or not. What the project calls for, or not. Not every project needs to be brilliant and cost a ton … Ok Seth, uncle, each needs to be ‘good enough’.

4) Come back too many times for one little compromise, and you’ll make it clear that #1 was what you wanted all along
It’s creatively painful when a client twiddles a project to death. In my experience, when it comes to stubborn clients there aren’t many options open except for to … leave it out of the portfolio.

7) Be clear about dates and costs. Not what you hope for, what you can live with
Many clients are not knowledgeable about what things cost in our industry. But neither are some forthcoming when it comes to sharing their budget bottom line. Further on there’s project creep, where they end up building a castle when a bungalow would do, and the cost explodes. Running overtime (I’ve never had a project run ‘under time’) also creates additional costs. Some of the time problems are due to clients not getting materials as promised, then needing a rush job (which again translates into extra cost). Another is not returning emails in time. Basically, a client not communicating can cost additional fees and unnecessary hassles at any part of a project. Be clear and communicate. It’s YOUR project, right?

8) … don’t backseat drive
This brings back sweet/sour memories of my entry into the design industry. Wanting to be helpful, I talked my first real client into buying a Mac so I could show what the designs would look like on screen, in real time. What a misguided idea. After a meeting or two, the head of the company decided my job was more fun than his. He’d sit behind me and chirp “move it to the right” … “no, too far, back a bit” … “can you make that bigger?” … “how would it look in blue?” When finally he gloated “hey, what am I paying YOU for?” I knew it was a nightmare of an idea.

8) Say thank you
Some clients are brilliant at this. Some, well, you just have to wonder if they were raised in a barn. The lack is surprising as (not ignoring the good manners angle), it costs nothing yet gives so much. The top offenders I’ve found are pro bono clients. I make sure to send a bill to softly let them know that ‘free’ or ‘discount’ does not equal ‘zero’ value. And if good manners are lacking even with this in place, I can always search around until I find a pro bono client who does value my time.

And I’ll add a few of my own …

14) Don’t expect me to read your mind
Remember that website questionnaire I sent you in response to your email? Fill it out. In full. What you leave blank (or fail to answer when questioned again) I’ll have to guess. Meaning, there is a good chance that it will cost you extra down the road. Why? Because in my project proposal (which you will have signed, along with the contract) it clearly states the number of samples you’ll receive for that phase of the project (which you will have paid for up front). If you change direction and require additional samples, it will mean more money. It’s logical if you think about it, as time does indeed equal money when running a business. So the more information I get from you, the better and possibly cheaper your project will be. Communication, once again, is key here.

15) Don’t ask me to work on spec
Asking me to work on speculation is just not on. Do you ask your accountant to work on spec? Your dentist? Do I look like I can afford to give my time away on a chance that I’ll get paid? Ok, I’m not broke (just reluctant to get out of pj’s), but there’s a valid reason for my financial state of affairs. It’s deliberate. I charge for my time in order to spend my free time doing the other things I love – travel, paint, take photos, splurge on my collection, visit friends and family, read good books, blog about design …

Yes, I love what I do. I love design. But I also love having a rich life. It means I can come back refreshed, to go at it another day.

For more information about working on spec, go to NO!SPEC

On Seth’s Blog check out:
Marketing pothole (#1 of 3): I’ll know it when I see it and The Dalai Lama, marketer.

Seth’s Blog is by: Seth Godin

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