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Becoming A Successful Design Freelancer

Lesson 10 of 15

Questions to Ask Every Potential Freelance Client


Becoming A Successful Design Freelancer

Lesson 10 of 15

Questions to Ask Every Potential Freelance Client


Lesson Info

Questions to Ask Every Potential Freelance Client

I need a logo and identity and a word. Mark. Doesn't that sound weird? What Sounds weird about that? Does anyone know world markets? Actually. Okay. How ignorant and my No, no, you're certainly not ignorant at all. Okay, I knew what a watermark iss, Right? Right, Because you're a photographer? Yeah. Ah, word. Mark is another way to say logo, but it usually is a logo without an illustration and is just typographic. He's kind of saying the same thing three times in three different ways. Exactly. Exactly. That's exactly right. So you're it's It is likely, although not always the case, that your clients they don't know what you know, right? They're not. They don't have the expertise that you have. And so they are gonna articulate their needs to the the best of their ability and describe what they want. But when you hear that, it's like, OK, right. I'm gonna have to guide them. I'm gonna have to guide them in this conversation. You don't want to make the person feel feel embarrassed that th...

ey said that ever. But you want to. It's It's very revealing, right? So I know where I'm out with this person. um and I think that that's very common, right? You know, people come and they ask you for something, but really, they need something else, and you have to navigate that eso. I have six questions that I think you should ask every client, and hopefully that will clarify if they're right for you. How feasible the project is if it's gonna be a match, right? So I really believe always take the phone call, even if it sounds like something don't want to dio if you can pass that person on and help them, it's going to come back and help you, right? So, you know, um, uh, referrals are a big thing sharing who you guys met earlier. It is extremely generous with her referrals to me, and I've gotten a lot of work out of that, and I and I, um, I value that incredibly, and I tried to reciprocate as much as I can, but having having giving the person who, um, who needs something help along the way and then helping your friends and colleagues like, Why not send them to, you know, sharing. Maybe she could do it if I can't do it, kind of things. So So that's about developing. You know, even if you work for yourself a network of people who are complementary and who can help you and who you can help. But the first question that you want to ask is, what do you need? Right and let the person say what they need. And if they say I need a logo and identity in a word, Mark. Okay, great. You know, tell me more about your business. You're just curious. And you want them to say as much as they can about it, and you're just gonna listen. You're gonna you're not gonna correct them. You're just gonna listen, right? The next question is, what are the known challenges? Okay. And this is likely what? Um, but the known challenges It's a great clarifying question because this person is going to start to tell you. Let's say that they say something like, I need a I need a logo and a website, and, um and I say what are in the known challenges and they say, Well, um, you know, we're going to get a new chief marketing officer. Um, and we're really close to hiring a candidate But, you know, he may want to take things, or she may want to take things in another direction that's going to tell me that, um, that, um this project might not happen, you know, depending on if a new person comes in. Um And, um, you know, the the the businesses point of view about itself might change because the new person and leadership is coming in. And you want to know that because you wanna you wanna, um, assess whether or not, uh, you're okay with that? Are you okay with, you know, starting the work on this project, and then maybe it not finishing, you know, and it's just a maybe thing, but it's a risk. Right? Um, another risk could be, um, you know, Well, we're right at the end of our quarterly budget, we're at right at the end of 1/4 and we're not sure what our budgets gonna be like next quarter. Well, that sort of says, Hey, I want you to do some work on this, but I don't even if I can't even do a snack, I just want to look like I want to be prepared for next quarter. But I'm not sure that that you know I'm gonna be able to pay you, um and and so it's going to reveal certain things about the state of the business, and you're gonna have to decide if you want to assume that risk as well, right? When you enter the relationship, you're gonna assume the risk that's based on these challenges that this person surfaces for you. The next is who were the decision makers. So you may be talking to someone if it's an individual or are you know, if it's an individual. Hopefully that person, this is the only decision maker. But if it's a business or even a small business or a large business, you may be talking to someone who who is not a key decision maker in in whether or not this work continues. And you need to know that. And you also need to know that maybe it's more than one person, right? So if it's more than one person, um, you know who are those people? How is this going to potentially impact the work that we do together? Um, and then maybe you decide. Look, I don't wanna work anywhere where there's too many stakeholders, right? Decision makers? Um, we can we often refer to them as stakeholders, right? So if the person says, Well, it's me and my team and you say, Well, how many people are in your team? And they say, Well, there's 12 people on the team, you know, you might think G is like, I don't know that this project has a chance to be successful. If 12 people are gonna be deciding about this thing, you know? Or you may say, I don't care. It feels like the person that I'm talking Teoh, you know, knows their stuff and and, um, and even though the team's going to give input, it's really that single person's decision. So that's OK. Lots of people can review the work, but you just want to make sure that that you know, you feel comfortable, right? What's your timeline? Okay, everybody's like, Well, I need it by Friday. I wanted tomorrow I needed in a week. They have no idea how long it takes you to do what you do. And they are just telling you exactly what is happening for them, um, at their business at the time, right? So What's your timeline? Is another great question to ask. And that's also gonna help you understand? You know, do I have time to do this if they want it by next week, you know, And they're really serious about that. You can say. Well, you know, normally it would take me four weeks to do something like that. And they can say, Well, we don't have four weeks or they can say, Oh, really? I didn't know that. You know, let me go back and talk to the team or the business or my business partner. Whatever, and And really think about that. So you have this chance to educate them. But you're also learning through the conversation. Are they reasonable or unreasonable? Are the reasonable or unreasonable people are they reasonable people with unreasonable requests? Right on. And? And how is that gonna play out? Right? The next one is What's your budget? So Okay, we already talked about how I don't love talking about money, but it is perfectly acceptable to say. What's your budget? How much money do you have for this? You know, and you're gonna already know how much about, you know, ballpark wise. You want to charge for things. Um, what your hourly rate is you're gonna You're already going to know that. So when they when they say, Oh, well, you know, we actually don't We don't have any budget earmarked for this. Okay, then they're less serious, right? Um uh, okay. We have, you know, $3000 we need all of this crazy work you can say. Well, you know, I now know that I'm gonna have to reset their expectations. We can still work together for $3000 But I'm not going to give you all the things that we already talked about that you said you wanted, right? So you're gonna It's gonna give you a clue how much you're gonna have to negotiate with them. So that's interesting. Because of love lines of the sort of research I've been doing about creative directors working on YouTube and stuff. Yeah, there's a photographer who says he whenever he's mentoring someone, the first thing isn't when someone asks what your hourly rate is, you ask them what their budget is. Yeah, smiles. Everybody has a budget they already know walking into how much they're willing to spend. Sure It's not about your hourly rate. Yeah, it's about time. Which it's about the whole scope and see, Totally walk in thinking about the whole scope with them in terms of budget. And you don't even get into that earlier, right? Yeah. I think that's another really great way to do it. Definitely. Yeah. Yeah, I never Yeah. I mean, I think Is it maybe it's just a personal value thing. Yeah. We only value ourselves experience wise at this month when you say budget, you're asking for all the money they have. Yeah. Um, so I think, um, I like that strategy. I've never tried it. I think it it probably works, But, um, I think it would be less common for people to disclose their total budget. Okay, Like if somebody asked me what the total budget was, Yeah, I don't know that I would disclose that information. Um, but I would disclose like a range because this is all a negotiating part, right? So now I'm now in the business. I'm not your friend. I'm not trying to help me make more money. I'm the business, and you come in and you say, What's your total budget which to me it makes me feel like you're trying to get, like, the most amount of money. That right? And so then I'm gonna be, uhm, I'm going to be, like, more defensive about that, and I'm gonna feel like, Okay, so we're in a negotiation here, and it's gonna change the terms. And you don't know. I mean, this person's advice that that you had heard, you know, hopefully they've had success at that, and that works for them. Has the success of that Fine. Fine. Good, Yes. So, you know, it's it's kind of about what you're comfortable with, but, um but if somebody said, What's the total budget for the project? I would I would never tell you that. Yeah, but, you know, unless unless, Unless I'm not like in my super business mind. And I'm more like small fry, um, person. And I'm working, you know, kind of at a different level of like in the business world. And then I'm like I consumed $500 on this. I think you're an amazing cinematographer. I would love like you to do a video at my house. But if $500 is not like acceptable to you. You can just tell me that. Um, you know, So I think it kind of depends when I'm employing people. Like for paper jam. I like Teoh. Just let people know, and I totally understand. Like, this is just what I'm comfortable spending with if you are. If you charge more money than that, that's totally That's totally fine. So I don't know. It kind of depends. Yeah. Yeah. Um Oh. What does success look like? Uh, what does it? Okay, so, you know, we talked earlier about one of the marketing skills Is critical thinking right. But one of the skills that you're gonna have to call upon from your clients is critical thinking for them to you know, they need a website or whatever it is that they need. But you're gonna you're gonna ask them. What does success look like for you? And they're going to tell you lots of different things, like the increase in the traffic to the website is going to go up by ex Or, you know, our sales were going to grow by X. Or maybe they're going to tell you like I get a promotion or something. That's more personal about about that or like, my boss is happy. Whatever they tell you is gonna be, like, a clue into what they value, right and what's important for them. Maybe if they say I'm going to get a promotion or my boss is going to be happy You comptel like there's some political or, you know, hierarchical stuff that's going on there, um, or, you know, or they just really love their boss. And they want to make the Ross happy or whatever it is, But it's gonna be telling. It's It's Ah, it's an indicator. Um, yeah. So those are the questions. The next thing Does anyone have any questions about the questions? Met? Uh, no. Okay. Uh, did you Sorry. No budget. Do you reveal your rate in that first conversation, or do you wait to talk about how much it would cost? I like to tell people my hourly rate. Okay? Yeah, because if it's off putting to them, then then we don't have to have another conversation, you know, And, um and, um, if it's not then then we'll continue. But it is a sure fire way to be like, oh, boy. Too expensive. or oh, boy, um, to inexpensive. And I actually, um I don't think this person has, like, they're not a person I want to hire, cause they're too cheap, right? So then I'm also uncomfortable or like it. It makes me not trust them or something like that. Just, like, sounds like too good of a deal kind of thing. You know, it's like, Oh, why's that so cheap?

Class Description

You need more than technical skills to make it as freelance designer. You have to know how to land projects and keep jobs over the long haul. Becoming a Successful Freelancer with Arianna Orland is your guide to managing the logistics of freelance life.

Arianna is a freelancer doing business in the saturated market of San Francisco and knows exactly what it takes to get and keep clients. In this class, she’ll cover the tips, tools, and strategies you need to have in place to be successful as a freelancer. 

This class covers:

  • Branding: Guidelines for creating a design language that’s right for you
  • Collateral: A roundup everything you need – website, business card, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Clients: Building your client list and keeping them happy
  • Finances: Keeping up on taxes and budgeting
  • Management: How to stay on top of your projects and time

Freelancing gives you the flexibility you won’t find in a 9-5, but it comes with a whole range of responsibilities. Find out how to prepare for those in Becoming a Successful Freelancer with Arianna Orland.


Will Vu

I watched the free live and can't help myself by purchasing this class. It's a valuable lesson from a humble and humorous Arianna. I love your presentation very much. Wish u the best. Thanks or bringing us this course, CreativeLive. !

Cherice Pope

Arianna gives real advice on deciding if the freelance lifestyle is right for you by describing what it's like, business skills you will need to learn, doing a gut check with yourself, how to get clients and promote yourself, and discussing a variety of experiences with other designers. She also goes in depth on differences between working at a company versus working with a company as a business. Her information is clear and wonderful. I greatly appreciate the time and effort put into making this valuable course.


Thank you Arianna for an informative course. Its heartening to know that there are other designers like me that don't come out of design school :) Your guests were a wealth of information as well, specially Peter's bulleted list.