If you’ve never worked with a creative professional before or need to request services from a graphic designer you likely have some questions.
As the saying goes, “you never get a second chance to make a great first impression.” So how you present yourself or business when you request services matters.
Ideally the following information will provide some tips for the next time you may need to request any services from a creative professional.
Who We Are…
One of the most important things you need to understand is:
“Designers are creative partners who utilize aesthetic tools to communicate your message more effectively.”
We’re here to assist you with your visual messaging and marketing so that you can reach your business goals. Thus it goes without saying there’s a right way or a wrong way to request services – that is if you want them to want to work with you.
You Want it to be Win-Win
Think of it in terms of an attorney taking you on as a client. There’s a process involved. You’ll need to provide relevant info and reflect a level of commitment so that he may win your case. Hiring an attorney may be an investment, but it should ideally be a mutually beneficial relationship.
When you request creative services it can be thought of in a similar vein. Projects should be a “win-win” for both sides as you are both business owners creating value for each other.
Learn Something About them First:
Designers ARE business owners. As you would likely visit a business’s website before contacting them, you should do the same with a creative. So it’s a good idea to learn a bit about them first. Most will have an About page on their website which will include a bio and other background info. This can include the types of clients they work with and the industries they serve.
Next, take a few moments to look at their online portfolio. This helps to give you a visual reference of their design style and if it aligns with what you are looking for.
Many designers will also have a FAQs – frequently asked questions page which gives a good overview of studio policies and procedures. This can include payment terms, how the design process may unfold as well as your obligation to a project.
None of this takes much time (as we know how precious time is). But it offers you a great foundation prior to reaching out.
“When it comes to the business of creativity, there’s often a disconnect between what we know and what the client doesn’t know.”
We Don’t Know How Much Your Project Will Cost till We Get More Info…
Like a doctor or a mechanic, we have an intake process. Imagine calling a mechanic and saying “hey, I need you to fix my car. How much will it cost?”
At that moment, he likely has no idea of the make and model of your car or the symptoms that may be plaguing your vehicle. Yet you want to know how much it will cost to fix-it without having an opportunity to look under the hood first? Well asking how much creative services may cost is much the same. We require more info!
Like mechanics, designers may have baseline pricing for certain services. However, each project is different and requires an individual assessment prior to providing any pricing details or an estimate. Again the mechanic reference, he may have set prices for say brakes. But there may be other underlying issues that need to be addressed. So he cannot give you a estimate till he knows what those may be.
All too often folks send an obscure inquiry to a designer that reads like this:
“hey, I need a new website. How much will it cost?”
Or worse yet, the blind post on Craigslist that says:
“I need a logo for my biz”
There’s no info about what you do or your business. How vague is that?
What to Include with Your Initial Inquiry:
So let’s get down to how you should request services – and professionalism matters! Designers may each have their own set of initial questions – but most WILL require that you clearly define your project (no ambiguity.) At a minimum, include the following info:
- Name of your business or organization
- Where you are located (City, State)
- What you do/your industry
- Type of project you’re considering: logo, brochure, seo etc.
- Your url/website address (if you have a website)
Inquiry Example – BAD:
“I need a new logo for my business and need it done ASAP”
(This does not tell the designer squat! It has little or no info to go on. Nor does it consider whether or not the designer is even available)
Inquiry Example – GOOD:
I have a new business I’m about to embark on called ACME Widget Services. We are located in Golden, CO and create very custom purple widgets for the appliance industry. We are currently in need of a logo identity that properly defines our business. After reviewing the information on your website and some examples from your online portfolio we’d like to see if you may be available to assist us with our new identity. We do not currently have a website (something we may also like to discuss). How do you generally proceed with new projects?
(Notice the difference? This person gave a good overview of their project/business, and reflected professionalism. Most designers would be motivated to respond and likely want to work with them. First impressions are huge!
Mind you the same set of above criteria can apply to requests for website design, website maintenance and search optimization etc. Regardless, you should be prepared to provide more info than “I need a website” or “my site needs SEO”.
What I Look for Before Accepting a New Project
The following are a few of the things I look for before accepting a new project or client:
• Your level of commitment to a project
• Ability to communicate in a timely manner
• Understanding that your are in a business relationship
In the case with this studio, after an initial inquiry you can expect a Project Qualifying Questionnaire. This is a few is a few short questions – which may vary depending on the type of project – but need to be answered and returned for review. Upon assessment of the information provided, it generally will determine whether we will move forward with a new project consultation and/or if we are a good fit.
As for project pricing information, don’t expect that before all of the relevant project information has been gathered. Each project has different requirements and needs to be assessed accordingly.
Want that new project done ASAP?
Well that’s not always going to be an option. As many designers are a one-man shop, it can depend on their availability and which projects are currently in the queue ahead of you. Keep in mind that “urgency” comes with a much higher price tag!
Be Professional and Utilize Business Etiquette
If you’re sending an inquiry to a designer resulting from a Google search, understand that you are likely contacting a fellow business owner. We’re not your employee and you’re not our boss. (sorry, sometimes a little tough-luv is necessary). We have business hours and lives which means even if the Internet is open 24/7, we aren’t. Albeit our hours may not be bankers hours…
“Mutual respect is the foundation of every solid relationship — and the best way to create mutual respect is to first show respect.”
Professional design services are an investment in your business. We know you can scour the planet for designers in a crowdsourcing site that may give you a short term solution. (knock yourself out on that one if you want to deal with different time-zones and language barriers). But your needs would likely be far better met by working with someone who is a creative strategic partner – establishing a professional relationship to assist you in reaching your goals rather than a “hired-gun”. Doing so you’d also be supporting a local business and contributing to a local economy as well.
Last of all, a little courtesy and mutual respect goes a long way. “Please” and “Thank-you” never hurts in your communications! Trust me, we notice 🙂
Written by Barbara Rogers of Future Primitive Graphics. Helping businesses grow through better design and search visibility solutions. Creatively collaborating with those who genuinely want to make the world a better place with their products or services.