The other day I did a piece on the three best freelance designer decisions you can make. Now, I'm following it up with the three worst freelance designer decisions you can make.
Keep in mind that I'm leaving obvious items off the list, such as copyright infringement and jumping off a cliff if a client complains, but including poor decisions freelance graphic designers make every day that jeopardize their careers and could spell doom for their businesses. In addition, I've avoided stating the opposites of the three best decisions you can make, since “double your fee” and “charge too little” seem a bit redundant.
Getting too comfortable
Ever hit a streak when steady client work is pouring in, you're landing year-long contracts, and repeat business is so good you don't have to look for new clients? I call it the Comfort Zone, and it's a good feeling. But when you get too comfortable, you risk everything because you're not sewing the seeds of new business.
Many say the freelance life is feast or famine, and getting too comfortable when things are going great means you're setting yourself up for frustration when things settle down. Continually market your business, and even lulls in activity will be fruitful.
It's great to have pride in your work, but too much pride can limit your profit potential and threaten your business. When you're in the Comfort Zone, it can be easy to justify not looking for extra work because you don't have time to take it on. Thus, you're limited by what you – and you only – can accomplish. But when you're open to contracting talented help to handle overflow, you can grow your business exponentially. Remember that every client you turn away is a client you can't get back when business is slow.
Think everything you need to know about graphic design you learned in college? Then you're severely limiting your ability to compete in an ever-evolving marketplace. Always learn new techniques, stay abreast of new trends, and study others' work. You'll stay relevant and cutting edge while other struggle to keep up with archaic design styles.
What's more, make a concerted effort to understand how graphic design plays into your clients' overall goals. Remember that if your clients wanted a beautiful piece of art, they'd go to an art store. What they want, at least in most cases, is for you to create a design that will help them land sales. Understand how colors, contrast, layouts, font styling, and other design elements motivate customers in order to craft designs that not only look great, but also generate sales. Doing so will keep your customers ecstatic about your work and you in business for a very long time.
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