Entries from August 2011

Freelance Matters | Managing Your Client

August 18, 2011


I often receive emails from blog readers and fellow freelancers who vent about clients from hell and am asked for advice on what boils down to how to manage freelance clients.

I come from an advertising background where I had the luxury of account executives who would act as a buffer between the creatives and the clients – clients who often had a dedicated marketing team. Now as a freelancer I am often working with small businesses (and formerly brides) who have never worked with a designer – so now it is not only my job to execute a kickass design it is my job to educate and guide them through the design and branding process.

So today I want to discuss how I manage my clients.

1. First you have to manage yourself.

I’ve talked a lot about how I manage myself – from project management and to-do lists and estimating & billing. Being organized allows you to direct you focus to your clients needs without getting all flustered.

2. Communication is key.

Figure out how your client likes to communicate. Is it by email? Face-to-face? By phone? The goal is to create a meaningful connection and trust through these mediums while being respectful and efficient with everyone’s time. Maybe an email is appropriate to touch base or send files for proofing. But maybe a phone call or Skype session is more appropriate if you have a lot of brainstorming and direction to hammer out.

3. Manage your meetings.

Meetings can be a time-suck but sometimes they are a necessary evil. I will have very brief meetings with a potential client to see if we’re a good fit for each other, but otherwise I wait until a contract has been signed to invest a lengthy amount of time talking about art direction and goals. Our time is valuable!

Some tips I’ve picked up from productive and unproductive meetings are:

• Have a meeting agenda. Prep your client beforehand with your expectations of the meeting. Think of specific questions you need answers to. Write them down.

• If you start to veer from the agenda gently guide the meeting back to the topics on hand.

• Always end the meeting with next steps. Each meeting should produce action steps for you to take.

• Follow up by email. Consider following up with your client. Thank her (or him) for her time and briefly bullet your conference notes and outline next steps. This way you have in writing what was discussed should it come up for question down the road.

4A. Listen.

9 times out of 10 a client from hell situation is the designers fault (there! I said it!) for not listening to the client in the first place. If you listen to your client you will efficiently be able to uncover the solution easier than if you just want to design something rad with banners and birds.

4B. Then Guide.

I always try to present myself as a friendly authority to my clients. I am not an order taker – I’m an expert. I always communicate with my client what I think they’re saying they need and then my recommendation based on what I heard him (or her) say. I also walk the client step-by-step through the process (with a timeline attached) so they know what to expect and when. I may have done this a million times but I have to remember it’s my client’s first time so it’s important to shine some light on the process. Your client will thank you for your confidence and direction – afterall, that’s what you were hired for.

5. Be Nice.

Always remind yourself that your client is not the enemy. They chose you because they need your help and oftentimes, that is a vulnerable position to be in – especially for my clients who are usually DIY and do-it-all small business owners. I always treat them and their project with the respect, attention and genuine enthusiasm it deserves.

6. Get Paid What You’re Worth

If you don’t value your services neither will your client. And if you’re not getting paid what you’re worth you’re going to become resentful. It’s a toxic combination, but it’s your own fault for agreeing to anything less. If you’re not worth a lot yet (because you’re a new designer or fresh out of school) remember that you are investing in either a portfolio piece or experience – so be grateful.

Do you all have any tips for managing your clients? Do you have any other freelance questions you would like me to address? I would love to hear some of your ideas or experiences on this matter in the comment section.

Related Posts:

• Estimating & Billing

• Project Management

• To Do Matters

Glory Days

August 17, 2011


I love this photo because it makes Jeremy crack up every time he looks at it. I was trying to imitate a football player but apparently it comes off more as cave-woman-protecting-her-food.


Fact: Jeremy has a third nipple. Can you spot it?

When we were on a family vacation in Destin, Florida, Jeremy got really tan and could often be found drinking one of my dad’s Coors Light. I also think the sun has bleached out his grey a little. So one day we started throwing a football and he looked like one of those middle-aged dudes that goes on and on about The Glory Days. So now I like to call him Glory Days.

Glory Days made another summer appearance when we found a football to throw around on the beach in Michigan – paired with a Pabst Blue Ribbon, of course.


I’m still having a hard time shaking my summer funk – I just need to keep reminding myself of the moments where I’ve laughed myself to tears. And there have been quite a few of those moments lately. These really are the glory days.

OH! And before the blog police come to arrest me I should thank Liz Fabry for taking all of these photos.

Identity: Photographers Skeen

August 16, 2011


Bryan and Kendi found me after seeing the work I did for Clyde’s Rebirth. They challenged (and paid) me to see what I could do to brand their lifestyle & wedding photography business – I accepted. When we had an intial meeting over Skype it was a little bit like love at first sight. There was a lot of energy and brainstorming that left me with the exciting task of designing a logo that captures the story and mission of Photographers Skeen.


Bryan and Kendi desired a clean & modern logo that wasn’t too masculine and cold or overly feminine and scripty. But what I really wanted to do was not only elevate their identity but really tell their story. I wanted to capture the fact that they’re a husband/wife duo shooting other couples getting married. It’s like a double-whammy love fest. I kept on thinking about the overlap – so a Venn Diagram seemed fitting. I used watercolor paired with a really clean and modern typeface.

Bryan and Kendi loved it.

From there my next charge was to create a portfolio / rate piece for Photographers Skeen. This is a document they can share with potential clients to give them a glimpse of Bryan and Kendi’s personality, photography style, rates and capabilities. Here are a couple spreads from that:




Bryan and Kendi were once again thrilled. They said really nice things that made me feel good about myself. Things like:

Oh my goodness — you’ve outdone yourself. We hate it. Just kidding, we love it! It is just what we wanted, so thank you for being an artist and a psychic. – Kendi

This is exactly the message that we want to give to our clients. We so appreciate your ability to look through and help us to visually communicate what we cant only with photos. – Bryan

WTF Kathleen. Why are you so talented? – Kendi

Related posts:

Kathleen and Kendi. Everyday.

• Identity: Dina Avila Photography

Anatomy of an Outfit: These Boots (+ A Giveaway) [CLOSED]

August 15, 2011




I’ve been wanting a pair of cowboy boots for a while now – my sister has a pair that I’ve been attempting to kidnap for years now. There are a few reasons why I should have cowboy boots:

1. I live in Oklahoma.

2. I love cows (and yaks).

3. I love boots.

So when Langston’s Western Wear emailed me asking if I’d like a pair of cowboy boots for myself and a pair to give away to my blog readers I didn’t hesitate to say yes (it was really more of an exclamation that maybe involved almost peeing myself with excitement). Because I really needed those boots. And I think you need them too.

So here’s the deal. Browse Langston’s Western Wear and comment below with your favorite pair of Justin Boots and a valid email address. You have until midnight Friday, August 19th to enter.

The giveaway is for any pair of Justin Boots (men, women or kids, exotic boots made from ostrich and lizard are excluded). A winner will be selected at random and announced on Saturday, August 20th.

Langston’s Western Wear is also offering a coupon for J&K readers until Sunday, August 21st:

Coupon Code: jeremykathleen

Coupon Value: 15% Off any order over $50

Marriage Equality Tote Giveaway – WINNER!

August 13, 2011


First off, thanks so much for your positive energy and support with the marriage equality post. The response was overwhelmingly positive – it made my heart sing. The winner (picked with random.org) of the limited edition YAY NY! marriage equality tote is:


Katie! Katie I’m going to have to call you out here for not leaving your email address. Email me at jeremyandkathleen (at) gmail (dot) com so I can get your shipping information.

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