Client Q & A's
I was reading a great marketing blog entitled 5 Marketing mistakes you'll probably make this year, when I stopped at a note about social media Q and A's. I asked myself, how often do I answer YOUR questions about design? I mean, I usually answer the common questions that irritate designers most and of course give it a comical spin, but I think it's time to seriously answer some commonly asked questions to help you as a potential client understand what graphic designers do. These answers are based on my freelance business, and may vary from designer to designer, but for the most part are consistent in the design field. How does a logo design process work, and what will it cost? Starting with the most popular question. Everyone's process is different. But my process begins with research. I want to know all about your business, your goals, and your target audience. I also want to know where your logo will be used, and "everywhere!" is a totally acceptable answer! Some companies are primarily web-based, so a simpler, memorable logo would be great. There are also individuals who simply need a logo design for an upcoming event, and a more illustrative logo may be necessary. I want to know your plans for the logo now, and years to come. I also research what similar companies have done already, to see what works and what doesn't, and avoid doing something too similar. From here I create sketches and convert them into vector graphics (don't know vector? Scroll below, I answered that one!), then I present a few more refined choices to you. I'll also show you the logos in one-color, two-color, and black and white options. It's important that your logo still comes across strong in all of these color options. Then, you pick your favorite and I refine the logo until you're satisfied. I have one set price for this entire process, and my prices vary between a standard logo and an illustrative logo. The illustrative logo takes more time, and therefore is slightly higher in price. I also throw in a pre-sized social media version of your logo for free. I want a website built, and then I want to maintain it myself. Is this possible if I have no web experience? The answer to this question for a long time was no. But thanks to new technology and web services such as Word Press and Wix, it's now easier than ever for people with no coding (or design) knowledge to create and maintain a website themselves. So, I offer to build a clean website on one of these platforms and then hand over the instructions for you to make edits yourself once it's complete. Though I have plenty of coding experience, today, everyone wants to be in on the process and maintain their own website themselves. If you have the option to, then why wouldn't you? When I say a "clean" website, what I mean is that I assemble styles with preset colors, fonts, and more so that you can automatically maintain the look and style of the website when making edits yourself. My website package includes the website design with up to 5 pages (additional pages cost a little extra), and I even throw in the first year of hosting for free. With these new web platforms, search engine optimization is made incredibly easy, so this is included in my package as well. I'm also able to create e-commerce websites that you can easily maintain and add new products to, offer promotional codes for sales, and more. There are tons of possibilities. I also offer a mobile design version of your website. This is so important, as a high percentage of users today will access your website from their phone or tablet. What is a "print-ready" file? Throughout the design process, the majority of my clients (probably upwards of 90%) will be viewing proofs online or on their mobile device. This is more convenient for several reasons; Clients can view their proofs from anywhere and show proofs to others within their business for more input, and proofs are at screen resolution so they are a smaller file size for quick loading and e-mailing. Also, to protect the designer, if I haven't been paid yet I can use watermarked images so my client can't use them without paying first. After a client has approved a proof and made their payment, I provide "print-ready" files which are high-quality files ready to be outsourced to a professional printer, or ready to be printed from your own computer. If a client is printing a design from their home computer, I'll provide a file that meets their printer specifications. For example, if their printer is capable of printing 8.5 x 11, I'll send a file sized appropriately and be sure to not include artwork or important information too close to the edge. If a client is sending the design to a professional printer, I'll include bleed (additional artwork that slightly exceeds the final design size to allow for proper trimming) and crop marks (to let the printer know where to trim). I will also be converting the color format from RGB (colors used for viewing on a monitor) to CMYK or process colors (used for printing) for all print-ready files. Why do you prefer vector graphics? When designing something for print, I'll request from the client that their logos and other designs that are already created to be submitted to me in vector format. A vector graphic retains clarity when scaled at any size. It is not raster-based, meaning when you zoom in on the logo or design, the edges don't turn into pixels (or squares), they remain crisp. If you have had a logo or design created by a professional designer, they should have supplied a vector file to you. But, if you don't have a vector program you may not have known what this file was or may have not been able to open it. Always be sure that your graphic designer provides original files for any artwork they create, mainly for two important reasons; You may need to switch to another designer in the future so having the original file will prevent you having to pay a designer to recreate something, and you also may need to provide original files to a printer in case they need to adjust anything for printing purposes. If you are outsourcing any graphics to a screen printer or embroiderer, they will need a vector format and may charge you an additional fee to convert your file if you don't have the vector. What do you base your prices on? I am happy to send you an estimate based on the work you need, the timeline, and the hours needed. I want to provide an accurate estimate for each project based on each client's needs, and that estimate is valid for 30 days. My prices are based on a few things. First, I determine how much of my time will be spent on each service. This includes meeting with the client, research, sketching, the design process from start to finish, and the final preparation of files. Many services include several rounds of revisions, so I factor that time in as well. Next, I adjust my prices based on what is a fair or competitive price for a client to pay, factoring in additional charges they my incur such as printing or shipping (which I offer through a third party). Often, this means I'm working for close to nothing in order for a client to have a reasonable price. For instance, I make hardly any money on invitations, stickers, and stationery, but if it's a great final product, I can hopefully create revenue from future jobs with that client or another they may refer to me. My prices change as the economy changes, and I date my price list so customers know if they are looking at current prices and estimates.
How can I do my own graphics for free?
I hear this question all of the time, and though it irritates me, I know is an honest question and people just do not understand that it's offensive. The easy answer is that nothing good is for free, and nothing that's free is good. I have two degrees and over a decade of experience, so if you are looking to make your own designs without the previously mentioned credentials, you could start by educating yourself with classes or online tutorials and buying the required programs. But, that doesn't mean it will be easy, fast, cheap, or turn out the way you want it to. It's best option to hire a professional if you are looking for something to LOOK professional. You can read an entire post on this discussion here. How can I thank you? I am so grateful to have many kind clients who are very happy with their final product. Many satisfied customers have asked how they can help promote my business. The best compliment I can receive is a referral, and I offer discounts on future projects to clients who send someone else my way. As a freelancer, I gain more new customers by word of mouth than any other type of marketing. A personal testimonial is also a wonderful compliment and I pick several to showcase on my website and social media. I often return the favor by posting my recent work for you and a link to your business. Small businesses helping small businesses is how we grow! Are there questions here that I didn't answer? What else would you like to know about freelance graphic design? Tell me below!