The one thing that drove me to near insanity during my years in advertising was working with client service. Salespeople. People, that would take my good ideas and sell them to other people that could buy them, Returning them buried under a heap of palaeolithic strategies and sales gimmicks. Having found the final last straw in my heap of reasons to leave that corporate world, I set on with much bravery into what I had imagined would be my freelance sunset. A place where my ideas would be accepted, just as they were. No feedback, no large logos, no sales gimmicks, no alterations. Yeah, ok. Turns out, those salespeople had their work cut out for them, and unlike me, whose creative job is fueled by ego, they had a certain characteristic that I do not. Diplomacy.
Having been through endless ups and downs, battles and break-ups, anguish and heartbreak, I seem to have found something resembling balance in my freelance relationships. The key, I have found, is not to mimic the attitude of the salesperson which results in quite a schizophrenic headspace, but to imagine that the client is a collaborator. Not a client, nor a boss, but someone that has as much creative input as I do. Yes, difficult for the creative genius to fathom, but they do, and I want to share with you a few tips that have worked for me so far.
This lesson was the hardest to learn but also the most helpful one. You have as much right to choose your client as they do you. Because we are oversensitive creative beings much care must be taken during this initial stage and both parties must work towards building trust towards each other. These people will eventually become part of your daily life and so you probably want to like them also.
Take time to teach them what you know. Give them a reasoning behind every decision you have made, from the font you have used to the colours to the size of their logo, tell them why. They have a right to know and you have a duty to do it. And your reasoning cannot, not ever be, 'because it's pretty'. Our job is to sell their things and we'd best know how to do it.
Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. These are not our friends, they are people we work with, and I'm sure they are great people, but they are not allowed to call us on Saturday night for just a quickie brainstorm. The age-old saying, 'time is money' is the exact way to deal with these kinds of boundary issues and they are healthy for everyone involved.
Have your own baby
The moment it all changed for me as far as my client relationships are concerned, was when I began doing my own projects. This is basic for many reasons, most of them being that your creative genius self, needs a way to have an unrestricted outlet. A place where no one will tell you to do it bigger or colour it green.
Sometimes, once in a blue moon, comes a client or a project that takes you and your work to a whole different level. A true collaboration, a partnership that works purely through chemistry, where you not only teach but learn. Where the result is a celebration rather than a finished document. Yes, those make it all worth the while.