You made it through school; you've been creating / designing / illustrating / whatever for awhile now; you got into a groove. Great. But now the groove has become too predictable. You find your designs start looking the same. You dread getting out of bed and getting to work. You start your ideas and projects by opening software before you even have a clue what you’re going to do. You go to an old design annual and start from someone else’s idea. You base your color choices on what your client’s favorite colors are! (*cringe*)
Your groove has become too deep—it’s not just a rut, it’s a trench that's now too high to see out of, and it feels like a stinking prison!
Stop and think… What caused you to be here, stuck in such a predicament? Are you afraid of leaving your comfort zone? Do you need a boost of integrity? How about confidence? Are you holding a grudge about something? Or are you just bored?
From here, there are only two directions to go. Either you keep trudging on in your rut, making it deeper by doing what you’ve been doing, getting more of what you have (and you already know what that’s like)—or you stop digging, put down the damned shovel, and get the hell out! It seems like a no-brainer—I mean if you're stuck in a rut, you've got to do something different than what got you there, right? But what?
Try something new, try anything new. Look elsewhere for clients. Start with pencil sketches if you're always jumping on the computer first (be honest, we all do it sometimes). Ask for the kind of work you've always wanted to try, but didn't know how to do (Adobe After Effects, anyone?)—then figure out how to do it! Go talk to the people you've only dreamed of associating with who have the work you want to do.
Look, my point is just start, just do. Don't pause to think or feel, because you can talk yourself out of almost anything that's not comfortable), just do. Once you're in motion, the sky's the limit.
Once you’re free of this rut, you start creating fresh ideas, connecting the dots no one thought of before. You operate with integrity as well as an abundance of confidence. You practically jump out of bed with ideas that you can’t wait to get to work on. You fearlessly try new things. You explore unique ideas with a pencil and paper, or even with mashed potatoes and asparagus, before you ever touch a computer. You trust your color choices and can explain it clearly to your client. Other people start coming to you to help spark their own ideas. You are the powerful, creative force you were meant to be, spreading good juju in everything you do.
What are you waiting for? Let’s get started!
Thanks for reading. Good juju to you!
According to the Freelancers Union's fourth annual Freelancing in America study, 57.3 million Americans are independent workers, and they project independent workers will be a majority of the U.S. workforce in just a decade. I googled the phrase, "finding & keeping clients" and got 124 million results. Yep, confirmation that the subject is top-of-mind for a rapidly growing number of us.
I've been freelancing off and on for more than 25 years, so I can say I've been around the block more than once. Or more than twice. I've had what seems like more than my share of crappy clients. Ones who didn't want to pay what I was worth, wanted projects done literally overnight, or insisted that the design changes they wanted would "make it pop" (insert violent cringe here). I even let one client convince me to create 82 proofs! What was I thinking?!
Since learning the hard way seems to be the only way I learn things, I figured out the hard way how to weed out those crappy clients, find the awesome clients, and how to keep them happy.
Here's my nutshell advice for finding your ideal clients…
Here's my nutshell advice for keeping your ideal clients...
Finding and keep great clients is about solidifying a relationship built on trust. There's no shortcut—it takes time.
But there's more to running a successful freelance business, isn't there? There's just as much internal work as there is getting-dressed-and-doing-stuff work. The internal work takes time, too. We need to get out of our own way, and trust the process. But as creatives, we like to do things our way, by ourselves, and against the grain. I get you—I mean, I am a creative after all. A rebellious one at that.
If you want help growing an awesome freelance business and become your own Freelance CEO, I can help. Just let me know.
That's it for today, thanks for reading. Good juju to you!