The client isn’t the enemy

So we’ve talked about what a pain clients can be when it comes to design. They don’t alway know what they want. And sometimes they do know what they want…and it’s bad.

But here’s something you have to realize. The client is not the enemy. So often designers will take jobs and they feel like the client is the enemy. All this leads to is an unhealthy relationship that isn’t good for either side.

Repeat to yourself. The client isn’t dumb. The client’s ideas aren’t stupid. The client isn’t out to ruin your life.

As much as we like to sit around, stewing in our own design snobbery and complaining about the clients, the fact is they put food on the table. Without them, we’d be a bunch of whining, starving creatives. At least this way we aren’t starving. Just whiney.

So let’s say you are the average creative and consider your clients to be the enemy of all things that are good and holy with design. What do you do about it?

1) Reconsider all your clients. Slowly filter out the ones that you don’t like and replace them with ones you do like. If you have a client that you consider the enemy, stop working for them. It’s that simple.

2) Communicate better up front. Lay down very clearly what you can do for a person. Is this a job where your creative input is valued or is this a straight-up design-it-for-the-cash gig? Do they want a designer or a waiter? Be comfortable with whatever the job requires and communicate that clearly or walk away.

3) Shoot yourself in the head to deflate it a little. Like all creatives (myself included) your ego could probably stand to come down a few notches. Acknowledge that all great design ideas don’t come from you. Once in a while, (are you sitting down?) they may come from the client.

4) Learn the art of sales. With the art of sales, you can sell them your ideas in place of the bad ones they might have. As creatives, you should not lock yourself in an insulated creative bubble. Learn every aspect of sales. It will help you get better creative produced. I promise you that creatives who have one foot in sales are happier people.

Do you have clients you need to fire? Or, better yet, what can you do to improve your view of the situation?

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