How to charge more for your work: 5 lessons to help you become more valuable

Working with premium clients is probably the ultimate goal of every designer or agency. But finding and keeping them is easier said than done. Let’s see what you can do to turn your clients into premium clients who pay you fairly and how (believe it or not) a creative brief can help you.

With these 5 insights we'd like to challenge your beliefs of how you think your business is going now and how it could be running differently. These are valuable insights every creative professional should reflect on every day.

1. Partner up

A clear sign that a client is not trusting you is when they tell you what to do. “Make the logo bigger”, “use a different color”, etc… They just want to get the job done quickly and you end up feeling like an order taker, a totally unmotivated one. These red flags result in a profession that is deeply devalued, where people (including current and potential clients) see design services as a commodity.

At HolaBrief we strongly believe the role of a designer is to facilitate and to uncover business problems and opportunities.

With the help of a creative brief filled with strategic exercises, designers can help clients to find out what could be: Diagnose like a doctor and provide a framework.

So instead of asking your client: “What do you need me to do?”,  guide them through your brief, ask plenty of questions and uncover the real problem TOGETHER.

2. Learn to say NO

Working with a creative brief and adding strategic thinking to your briefing process will truly let you understand your client's business, and give you the confidence you deserve to start making work you are proud of. When a client sees you digging deeper into their business, they start looking at you in a different way. You are not an order taker anymore, you are here to help them.

If a new client approaches you and they fail to value how you work and how much you are worth, it’d be best to kindly decline. As a strategic creative aka. BOSS, you’ll know your worth and dare to say NO to clients that don't want to work with your design process and YES to clients who do!

✔️Better clients challenge you to do better work.
✔️Better clients pay you fairly.
✔️Better clients are eager to tell others about what you’ve done for them.

When was the first time you dared to say NO? 

3. Dig deeper

It’s tempting for a client to propose solutions to what they consider their primary problems. Instead, ask questions and guide your client to talk about the problems themselves and what they’re trying to solve. Identifying the true challenge, and figuring out the best way to solve that problem is your (the designer's) job! 

During the briefing phase  you can teach your client to think strategically about their purpose and goals.

So next time instead of asking your client: Do you need a new website? Ask them: What is the problem you are facing? 

4. Communicate clearly

“I needed this done yesterday!" – Does this sound familiar to you? 

Whenever designers get together, we complain about difficult clients. At the same time, we respect our clients. And, of course, we need our clients. Any collaboration is only as good as the relationships, which take work. 

It's important that we as designers educate our clients on how design processes flow. If you can communicate with your client openly, honestly and responsively, you’ll be helping your client to have a positive experience. Argue that the quality of your work is very important to you and this is why you wouldn’t want to compromise the quality of the project due to any communication problems.

Design brief & timeline

Kick off your design project with a clear briefing. Communicate clearly with your client, that going through the design briefing together will help avoid too many revisions of the design later on. The more important the deadline is to the client, the clearer your time requirements and feedback requirements should be in the initial stage of the project.

Want to try out our collaborative and interactive briefing templates? Sign up here!

Design project & timeline

Send your client a revised project schedule and updated budget every week. In this update you could highlight the following:

  1. Completed tasks from the previous week.
  2. Budget spent and budget remaining on each phase, e.g. design, functional specification etc.
  3. Planned tasks for the following week and who is responsible, you or the client.
  4. Any tasks that are slipping over schedule or over budget, and if so why. 

5. Look out for your clients

Becoming partners with premium clients takes a lot of learning, reflecting, talking and trial & error. It's not a one way street.

Surely you should be mindful of getting paid for your work. But what if instead of asking “What is your budget?” you would ask the client “How do you envision success?”. What are their goals and what are they trying to achieve? You show the passion behind what you are doing and give them a glimpse of what your brain can do. What if in this conversation you help the client to figure out what the real problem is. You find out together. 

Real relationships are built, when you are looking out for your client, more than asking for budgets. Have you tried to give a spin to the budget question?

Discover more questions to ask within our briefing tool, sign up and get your first project for free.

If you’re ready to charge more for your design services and start taking on larger projects, start integrating these 5 tips in your day to day slowly but consistently. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour! 


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