It took me two years to realize that I cannot be everyone’s designer.
I seriously laugh when I think back to all the ways that I learned this lesson. Of course at the time I was probably ripping my hair out and threatening to “never freelance again.” And here’s the thing. I’m just being honest. A lot of times, as a designer, I’m scared to talk about my frustrations and the lessons I’ve learned because I’m afraid a client will think I’m talking about them. I promise you this: I have had and currently have some of the world’s most wonderful and creative clients. Without clients like that, I’d be doodling in my sketchbook with crayons. Oh wait, I still do that.
So here’s how I learned my lesson:
I tried to be everyone’s designer.
And it sucks but it’s essential. I’m not sure what exactly makes a great project, a great client or great work but I know some things that make all those things go bad. Like:
- You need some quick cash and you say a little prayer along the lines of, “God just give me a project so I can pay my parking tickets.”
- Your client says something like, “My friend Joanna told me that I need a designer because I want to sell felt Kleenex box covers but I think I can do it all myself.”
- When their first question is, “How much do you charge?”
- When a potential client tells me that my little designs are cute.
- When they assume you’ll work for free because they know your college roommate’s stepmom.
I’m not saying all those things have happened to me…but I’m not saying they haven’t. To avoid situations like this I’ve discovered a few tricks.
- Create a portfolio and site that really reflects your style. Don’t just display work that drops names. Clients who love your style will approach you.
- Compile a list of questions to send to potential clients to get a sense of what they’re looking for, what they’re passionate about, and an estimate of their budget.
- LIKE your client. Make sure you take time to meet with them, chat on the phone, and genuinely enjoy working with them.
- Take referrals. If someone approaches you as a referral, you can look back on the type of project you had with the referrer.
Okay I’m done acting like I know stuff. I usually don’t share so many of my thoughts here so I hope you can relate or learn at least one thing (one thing being… that I enjoy making lists.)
What about you? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from designers AND the clients.
Photo found here.
It all started on Twitter. I said, “Best daily planner and best journals…give me brands! (besides Moleskine)” Of course, I received SO many recommendations and a few, “You mean…a planner with pen and paper?” I still rely on my iCal (we sync ours with MobileMe) but I need a place to make lists, jot down notes, and cross things out. Then, Kara to the rescue!
As you can see, this occurred on April 7th and I immediately placed my order with them. On April 9th I received it in the mail! That’s like…2 days!
The packaging is lovely, cute inserts and…ta da…The Little Otsu Annual Weekly Planner, Vol. 5!
So my search is over and I’m a happy girl. Go to Little Otsu right now and go shopping!
Today’s Monday Link Love image found here. Isn’t that cover gorgeous? Love the colors, type, photography. The rest of my links are brought to you by, “the gimmes.” My birthday is coming up so I can’t stop creating wishlists. Hint hint, Adam.
- I know I just bought a planner but this one is also really adorable.
- Cuuuuute iPhone cases! And yes I still have a 3GS.
- We don’t have a dishwasher in our new place…these simplehuman dishracks are tempting.
- I NEED THIS SKETCHBOOK. It’s grey and perfect. PERFECT.
- I try to be fashionable but really I would wear this everyday. And this.
- Sick of plastic fans. I want one of these.
- Eeeek pretty lamp!
Life. Has. Been. Crazy. In all the good ways.
Since the last weekend in March I feel like I’ve been running around at 120 miles per hour. We’ve moved, seen both our families, dealt with car issues, my BEST FRIEND HAD HER BABY, we’ve made time for our social lives, I launched my new site, I’ve been taking on a lot of fun projects (updates soon) aaaand have been eating really good pizza and drinking delicious drinks. I have great posts lined up for this week so stay tuuuuned!
I came across this quote the other day on Pinterest. I’ve heard it before…perhaps in the form of “Real Simple,” or maybe I realized it on my own while volunteering here in Columbus. Either way, I haven’t really done it until recently. I was creating my “24 Things to Do at 24″ list (since my birthday is next month) and I usually write down everything that comes into my head that I want to do within the next year. While I was jotting down ideas, I realized that a lot of my “to dos” required acquiring more stuff. I need to DO more, not HAVE more. Luckily, with recently moving, Adam and I just gave away and donated SO MUCH STUFF. And guess what? We still have SO MUCH STUFF. So this is my mantra lately and I thought I’d share it.
You can download the iPhone, iPad and iMac version here and maybe a daily reminder will keep us focused on doing and less having.
*I couldn’t figure out who originally came up with this quote so if you have any information on that, let me know!
I was approached by David Bushell, a designer based out of London, last month and he asked me to be a part of xheight. A portion of his email read:
The concept of “what design means to you” would mean writing about your personal theory and experience in design. Nothing practical or directly relating to projects, more on your own ethos, attitude and ideas. Perhaps centering around a particular theme. Something to make other designers think about their own practice.
And I thought, “I’m in.” I’m so looking forward to reading from all the contributors and mildly nervous about writing my own post set for April 25th. Add xheight to your blog reader and become a part of the conversion by commenting and sharing!
I’m in the process of setting up some amazing interviews and guest bloggers for this series and so this week I thought I’d share some of my own finds. A lot of couples that I meet want a wedding that is affordable yet has a lot of personality. Below are a few pieces that caught my eye over on Etsy. Not only are they wonderful but they’re affordable too.
CONFETTI Boutonniere by Pomp and Plumage, Yarn Pom Cake Garland by Short Cake Party Picks, Something Blue Custom Bride’s Hanger by Dawns Craft Store.
Personalized Silk Lucia Garter by Lola In Lace, Spring Summer Bride Bouquet by Bragging Bags, Photobooth Party on a Stick by Little Retreats.
Yeah, the process isn’t always pretty. Oh my gosh. Yes that is my actual desk and my actual iMac desktop (with a gazillion files open).
I kept it simple. My logo? Not perfect. Some of the serifs are a little off and it has no rhyme or reason. But, I like it like that. I wanted to be able to hand someone my card (maybe scribble something on the back) and allow them to get a sense of how I work. Or how my brain works? Too deep?
Also, like my Barbie Pink nail polish?
I took my portfolio site down awhile ago and set a date for a relaunch. “April 1st,” I thought. It seemed far enough away. So much time to get super awesome clients and photograph my work professionally…maybe even get pictures taken of myself so I look really cool and pretty?!
April Fools Day, ME. I had no idea the irony behind my little relaunch date. Future me was playing a joke and I’ll admit, it’s kind of funny.
Am I proud of what I’m showcasing at www.allisonlehman.com? Yes of course. Did I work hard? You bet. Is it everything I hoped it would be and is this portfolio complete? Not a chance.
But isn’t that the beauty in the process? That as an artist, my portfolio will never be finished? I’ll never have that moment where I say, “I will love this body of work forever and now I can retire and play golf.” (Golf? No, I meant get spa treatments.)
So my hope is that you can take a look at my work today and appreciate it and maybe visit again down the road and see it evolve.
Through this process, I’ve also realized that not only do I want to share gorgeous and handsome things here on my blog…but I also want to share my more of my random thoughts. Thoughts on freelance clients, finding your style, trying not to be EVERYONE’s designer, and how it’s okay to just have hobbies. Those posts will be coming very soon.
As for now, take a peek at my process and let me know what you think.