[photo: dyana valentine]
the 2nd day of the 2010 creative freelancer conference was a whirlwind of activity. i was dead-set on getting to peleg top’s roundtable breakfast for my peleg pep talk on client relationships, which i have been needing for months now!
how to make clients love you
peleg top is an outstanding business coach for creatives. i’ve taken a few of his workshops before, and always leave feeling empowered by his advice and perspective on approach to client relationships. in this breakfast he started by asking us to think about who we are ideal clients for and why we give loyal repeat business to our favorite companies. we settled on the fact that ultimately it’s how our favorite service providers make us feel after working with them or buying from them, we sell experience as much as we sell our actual services. if you can give clients a service that make them feel relief, confidence and empowerment, they will become loyal patrons of your services.
we looked at apple as an example, since we are all loyal patrons, and agreed on things that make us feel good about buying their products. they serve us well, because we are their target market, they think about our lifestyles and design for solving our problems. they deliver quality, and it’s not cheap, but we pay for it because we know it’s a better product that improves our quality of life. research your clients and their lifestyles, ask them what they need in their professional lives, involve yourself in their industries so you can understand how to solve their problems and help improve their experiences.
it’s your money, so take it personally
galia gichon gave a great talk on getting organized and proactive about your business finances. i am typically pretty organized, but she had some great advice that reminded me of some areas where i could improve. overall, i liked her style of advice, which was to stop avoiding it, stop thinking you can’t do anything just because you don’t have all the money you want right now. start small, organize, analyze your own finances, consolidate loans and investments, and plan one day a week where you check in and make adjustments. ask yourself where you’d like to be in 3 months, a nice, short window to work with, and give yourself a dollar-oriented goal. finally, connect with what you’re good at, and give yourself a positive affirmation about your money habits to feel good about.
freelancer’s legal basics: contracts & copyrights
jean perwin‘s presentation on contracts & copyright was a good kick in the pants for anyone who isn’t using a contract and isn’t charging for the true value of usage rights to their work. i still hear of so many designers who shy away from legal agreements, but her main point was: it’s just business. always use a contract, never assume your client understands your business agreement. it’s okay to over-communicate to prevent misunderstandings, be very clear about what service you are providing, what you are selling, and what you are not selling. she went through a solid list of what should appear in a contract, as well as the 5 levels of usage rights: reproduction, derivative work, display rights, distribution rights, and performance rights. every right you release has individual value and should have a price: charge accordingly. perwin was extremely knowledgeable about the design industry and copyright law, i loved her presentation.
the art and science of pricing a project
i read shel perkins‘ talent is not enough a few years back and found it to be a great resource on the business side of running a design practice. for his presentation, he went through all the factors that go into figuring out your options as an independent creative professional, how to calculate your overhead and operating costs, and how those figures affect the pricing you work out for each project you bid on. according to perkins, the process is mostly science, with a bit of art thrown in at the end. he also went through a must-have list of items that should appear in a proposal, along with some optional add-ins, and how to best present them. the advice i liked best was about writing your cover letter last, when you have worked out the entire scope of the project and are excited to get to work.
your internet marketing toolkit: find and use tools that are right for you
aliza sherman is a veteran social media marketing specialist, and gave a presentation on how to find the tools that work best for your online social networking style. your main objective is to build your brand and increase your reach with your market, so choose networks where your clients hang out, that have an interface you like working with. be clear about what you offer, provide strategic contact points regularly, so the people who want to work with you can find you. pick one of each in the social toolkit triad and them out: a social portfolio, a social network, and a blog or microblog, and post in them at regular intervals you know you can maintain. then, just keep being yourself!
success profile, cause farm creative
[photo: dyana valentine]
between sessions, the creative freelancer conference staff had picks of creative business success stories they wanted to share with the group. they asked my colleague & conference travel buddy, beth goldfarb, to share her new business launch of cause farm creative with the conference, as well as tell a little bit about how she came to this decision after working with her business mentor, peleg top. i’m really proud of her and think her new brand looks fantastic.
prioritizing, deciding and doing: your hands-on guide to making the best decisions
samantha bennett gave a really enjoyable presentation about how to help yourself decide what to do, lest you fall into the perils of procrastination. i really liked her system, because it’s a balance of being proactive, but also asking yourself what you really want to do, as opposed to just throwing a daunting list of things at yourself and then scolding yourself when you don’t do it all, or getting bogged down with shadow goals that aren’t actual priorities. she showed us how to make lists of everything we need to do, prioritize them based on how we’ll feel when they’re done, decide what’s important, and then get to work. one of my favorite tips from her talk was about taking 15 minutes every day before checking email to write about personal values, motivations & reasons for why we do what we do. it’s a great way to center your mind and stay focused on what matters.
this year’s conference was at a really great time for me. i was starting to open up a lot of questions about myself and how i run my business, which can be a lonely and confusing place without guidance. i held off any major decisions, and i’m so glad i let all these fantastic people in and all the helpful things they had to share. i’m leaving it feeling happy, empowered and renewed. it was also fantastic to see the physical manifestation of so many friends i made last year [we keep in touch online, but face time rocks]. with them as my main CFC network, i met a lot of new smiling faces too. i’m looking forward to getting to know all of you better in our social networks, and checking in again next year! thank you, marketing mentor and HOW for another great year!