Have you ever been approached by a client and asked to do work for them, work that will take your time, resources and valuable insight to accomplish? Attributes which could be found better invested into another area of your brand or business.

Only to be told, “there is no budget for the design, but its a great opportunity”.

It’s not a great opportunity. That person has no idea of your situation, circumstance, or where you are positioned in your career. They can’t tell you what a good opportunity is, only you will know what that is. You know what you want from taking on a project, and you know what direction you want your career to go in from projects. Only you know what you’re doing.

A client can never dictate what a good opportunity is for you.

It’s an arrogant statement for someone to make on your behalf. One that doesn’t respect your time, the value you have to offer and your professionalism.

The client may interchange the word ‘opportunity’ with ‘exposure’. They may say, “It’s great exposure for you”. Is it? What exactly is that exposure, who is going to see your work? who is the target audience of the proposed work? Is it one that will query the designer behind the work and follow through to hiring you? If you want to be paid, don’t do work for free. It’s that simple.

Free exposure doesn’t pay your bills. And it never will.

If you take on a non paying client who “doesn’t have the budget for you”, you are setting a bad precedent for future clients that come to you from that one client. This is what you accept, if you make an exception for one, you will compromise on another, and another, in a downward spiral where you don’t feel confident enough to ask for the money that your worth from any client.

The client will not value you work at full price if your working for free or at a discounted price. It devalues your work and devalues your brand perception if you compromise on your price. It shows you’re not confident in your capabilities and you will be taken advantage of.

It’s not your job to allocate the clients budget, it’s their job to fit it around your cost.

If you fill your portfolio or website with certain kinds of clients and projects, that’s typically what you’re going to attract. Ask yourself, “Is this the kind of client I want to be working with?” Are you practicing selectivity and choosing the best kinds of client to work with and show on your website?

Set your standard high, stick to it, and practice selectivity with the work you say yes to.

When you value your work at full price, it’s respected by those who receive it. You do a full price service and this is what you will be known for, not someone who can be taken advantage of because you’re in the service – arts industry and there is no set price like a corporate product such as Apple or Starbucks.

But think of Apple. They aren’t known for discounts or giveaways. They are known for offering a full price, premium product that people will buy because they know that Apple offers a high quality product that has a high value.

To put into perspective. You pay a mechanic and a doctor. You go to them. They aren’t cold-calling you. You go to them because you need a product or service from them. Your doctor isn’t looking for ‘free exposure’, they are looking for money in exchange for a quality service. It’s the same way it has worked since the turn of the industrial revolution. Likewise with products, you don’t walk into Starbucks and barter for your coffee.

This is your livelihood. The same with any other professional in another industry. You shouldn’t cheapen your service because the client couldn’t afford you.

If a client can’t afford you, they can’t afford you.

More than likely, if a client is willing to save money in the design aspect, they are trying to skimp in another area too. This is the wrong type of client to work with. They are positioning you as a commodity, you are an expense to them. They aren’t going to value your services to its full extent. If you aren’t offered money by the client then they aren’t respecting you as a professional.

This generally isn’t someone you want to work with.

There is a time when you can work for free, which I will discuss in a future post. Ask yourself;

  • What are my values? Know them so that you won’t devalue them.
  • What are my rates? (Post #7)
  • Am I trying to grow my brand/service.

The clients you say yes to are a true reflection of how you view your brand or business. You attract what you broadcast. Raise the bar, keep it high, stick to your values, respect yourself and you will be respected.