The Design Materials Growing Nonprofits Should Invest In

Having worked with nonprofits on a variety of branding and marketing material projects, I’ve often fielded the same query multiple times - what types of marketing materials should we invest in? For any organization that is working to expand and deepen their donor base, it can be tough to know where to start.

When should I invest in design?
This varies depending on the situation on nonprofit. However, my recommendation is when it would make more sense to hire outside your organization instead of doing it yourself - whether that’s for monetary or time reasons. For example, if it takes you four hours to create a document that a designer could design in 30 minutes, it could be a smart use of funds to free up that time for yourself.

I’d also recommend waiting to invest until you have a clear brand vision to guide to process - which includes a strong visual brand identity, brand strategy, and content for the designed materials. This is so you don’t just have gorgeous materials - you have content worth reading once you grad your audience’s attention.

Why invest in design?
Working with a designer provides an opportunity to get a professional opinion on how to attract your audience. Your content could be excellent, but without a visual hook to pull in your audience, there’s a huge chance that they won’t consume the information they need to. We live in a visual world, and having a professional designer create materials that are catering to your audience can make a huge difference.

When you’re just starting out or refreshing your brand, there are a few strategic documents that are worth investing in:

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Trifold or one-sheet on your company and programs.
A trifold or one-pager is inexpensive to print, and can easily be produced in short runs. It’s a no-nonsense option that provides your potential donors with everything they need to know about your organization, and can provide information on where to go for more information on your website.

You can also create one-sheets or or trifolds for several different programs or campaigns for your nonprofit. A brief document like this is easily consumable in a meeting, and is small enough to work well as a key takeaway at an event. A call to action to learn more, donate, or sign up for an event should also be included on this, to create a call to action for next steps.

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Donor form and/or remittance envelopes.
Like I mentioned above, with donors can be missed when there isn’t a clear call to action. Attention spans can be short, and you can make next steps easier for a donor by providing a clear path to take.

Donor forms are a way to provide a simple and easy way to increase chances to a potential donor giving to you. If you’re speaking to a group of potential donors at an event, it also encourages them to promise a gift right then. When mailing a donation request, a pre-stamped remittance envelope is a simple way for your donors to give right away.

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Annual Reports (or Annual / Quarterly Donor Updates).
Once you have established a donor base, providing a yearly or quarterly update is a clear way to show the direct impact of their donation dollars. Although this may be a bigger undertaking for a designer because of the length of many reports, it can be a worthwhile one.

Branded folders.
Last but not least, it’s a great idea to have a branded folder to keep these materials together. It can be as simple as including your logo on the front, or could be more personalized to your donors or campaign.

What I've Learned in My First Full Year of Business

Although Anchored Creative Studio was founded in 2016 (almost three years ago!) mid January 2018 to January 2019 encompassed our first year of full-time business for me. As the creator of Anchored Creative Studio, I’d always wanted to run this studio as a full-time gig. Lots of things prevented me from doing that, but the biggest one was fear of the unknown.

A little over a year ago, my part-time design job was eliminated. Although I started to apply to other part-time jobs, I realized that I was in the position I’d always wanted - to run my studio on a full-time basis. I was a year of high highs and low lows; of learning so much about myself and the types of people and companies I like to work with; and the boundaries I want to set in order to keep Anchored going for a long time.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned:

  • Lead your clients - don’t let them lead you. This is the big one. Any not-so-ideal client experience I’ve ever had was because I let them lead the process, the contract, and/or talked down my price. Everyone likes structure, and the more structured your process is, the better the chance that it will run smoothly and be successful. I learned a ton this year about standing up for myself and taking charge.

  • Find people who make you feel like you’re not alone. Being a solo business owner is lonely. You spend a ton of your day alone in a coffee shop or home, with your main interactions being with your clients. You don’t have coworkers to bounce ideas off of, or to ask an opinion about a sticky client situation. This year, I found some amazing business besties - both in-person and virtually - and have found it to make a giant difference in finding camaraderie and making the struggle feel a little less crazy.

  • Admit your mistakes and learn from them. If you want a job that’s without confrontation and conflict, being a business owner is probably not for you. In this year alone, I’ve dealt with a ton of issues that require having tough conversations with clients - including out of scope requests, lack of payment, and ending professional relationships. From all of these situations, I’ve learned to do a postmortem check and see what I could have done better, and what processes can be put into place to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

  • Find clients that fully trust you. This piece of advice may sound obvious, but took me awhile to really understand the nuance of it. Of course anyone who hires you will place some amount of trust in you, but there are still clients who attempt to drive the entire creative process through endless tweaks and lack of commitment to a specific direction. They should be able to trust your expertise, and create a true collaboration.

  • Learn to say “no.” Perhaps the toughest lesson. I struggled with saying “no” to clients that I thought wouldn’t be a good fit all year, which resulted in rough client relationships and forced me to further examine my need to take every client that inquires with me. I also struggled to say no to existing clients, going over the set number of revisions, or adding in additional deliverable that weren’t included in the original scope. I’m now less afraid of setting up boundaries, and more confident in my own voice and skills.

  • Trust your gut. Whether it’s for a creative direction, choosing a logo, or accepting a client - It’s usually always right.

  • Create passion projects. I’d often put off passion projects, citing that I was too busy, and they weren’t directly connected to an income stream. But spending more time on passion projects has not only reinvigorated my creativity and allowed me to take risks, but also helps create portfolio pieces to attract my ideal client. It’s something that I’ve found is necessary to make time for.

  • Know that time and experience brings answers. As one of my favorite songs says, “take your time, don’t live too fast / troubles will come, and they will pass.” Letting time pass and gaining experience brings clarity. Don’t respond to that email immediately, and table a project if you feel stuck. All will come.

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Where to Find Quality, Affordable Fonts and Typefaces

When I first got started as a professional designer, the most stressful part of the job was the sheer number of choices that needed to be made on each and every project. Working primarily on new brand identities, it’s common for me to still spend lots of time weighing the pros and cons of two intensely similar Pantone swatches before finally deciding on one. When it comes to fonts and typefaces, these choices can be detrimental in properly communicating the mood and feeling of a brand, and need to be chosen well.

To avoid scouring all of the Internet each and every time I work on a new brand, I’ve compiled a short list of my favorite resources. To be honest, it’s rare that I download a new font or typeface these days, and probably only do so once every month or so; and that’s usually for a specific client request or mood that I can’t quite hit with my existing library.

When it comes to fonts and typefaces, I encourage that quality always trumps quality. Because I have created a client niche among entrepreneurs and nonprofits, there are about 25 - 35 typefaces that I use within about 90% of all projects. While something new and unique is necessary from time to time, I recommend finding what works and works well for the types of projects you create, customize when necessary, and use them well.

 

Have you gotten this far and are wondering what in the world the difference is between a font and typeface? A typeface is a system that contains many variations that are called fonts; kind of like how you learned in geometry that a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square. For example, Proxima Nova is a typeface. Proxima Nova Light is a font within that typeface.

 

Adobe Typekit

Many designers probably use Typekit the most because it is included in their Creative Cloud subscriptions, and it’s definitely not to be overlooked. Typekit partners with a variety of foundries to provide a large variety of fonts and typefaces for download. I love Typekit because it includes typefaces that can be rather pricey to purchase outright, but can be downloaded for free with a CC subscription. There’s unfortunately a cap on the number of fonts that can be synced on a CC subscription (you can also sync more for an additional fee), but it’s nice to have an opportunity to clear out those fonts you’re no longer using.

Font Squirrel

Font Squirrel is a pretty magical website that features mostly free fonts, all of which are licensed for commercial work. This means you can use any fonts from this website for branding projects as well as products or packaging that might be printed en masse. The website isn’t incredibly user friendly, but is worth the bit of effort it takes to learn to navigate it. I’ve found some pretty incredible free fonts on this site (a few personal favorites) that I now use on a regular basis.

Creative Market

The majority of what you’ll find on Creative Market is not free, but don’t let that dissuade you. It’s a great place to support small business owners and find super unique fonts and typefaces, as well as other graphic design resources (such as illustrations, mockups, Photoshop brushes, and more). It’s a great place to head to if you’re especially looking for a unique handwritten font or typeface.

So, what do you think? What are some of your favorite resources?

 
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My 3 Favorite Tools to Ensure a Great Client Process

For a long time in my business (maybe too long?), I wanted each and every client process to be unique. I chose to spend a lot of time writing out personalized responses to every potential client, and would often already be exhausted by the time I’d landed the client. Earlier this year I realized exactly how many hours I spend each week simply on emailing, and knew I needed to invest a little time and money in my client process.

Once I dove into how I could streamline and automate this process, I found a few things - a) it’s wayyy cheaper than I thought, and b) my clients LOVE working with these programs, mostly because they make things incredibly easy. There’s little to no learning curve, and my clients don’t need to sign up for their own accounts in these programs. I was worried that using multiple new programs in the client experience would complicate things, but it’s done quite the opposite.

To Get the Client: 17Hats

An example of 17Hats’ client portal

An example of 17Hats’ client portal

17Hats is a CMS (customer management system) created just for small/entrepreneurial businesses. There’s a lot of similar CMS systems (Dubsado and Honeybook being two of the most popular), but 17Hats ended up being the best fit for me. All of these CMS systems have a myriad of uses, but this is what I use 17Hats for the most:

  • Automating workflows. For example, I have a full workflow that seamlessly takes potential clients through the inquiry phase - after filling out a form on my website, 17Hats triggers a follow up email with a few more questions to ensure they’re a great fit. If it seems like they are, all I need to do is review and hit a quick “approve” before 17Hats sends another email to set up a phone meeting. Something that used to take me at least an hour to do now takes 5-10 minutes.

  • Invoicing, contracts and proposals all in one place. Instead of creating PDF invoices for clients who wanted to write me a check and sending others a PayPal or Stripe link, I can keep track of everything all in one place. Those check writing clients can easily print invoices and others can pay online - no excuse for lost invoices! You can also set up 17Hats to automatically send reminder emails when invoices are nearing their due date. Also, a client can quickly approve a proposal, sign a contract, and pay their invoice in one fell swoop - no more going back and forth with clunky PDFs each time you are landing a new client.

  • Client portals. 17Hats automatically creates a client-facing portal, where all of their invoices, questionnaires, etc. can live; it’s also a place where you can upload files (such as final deliverables). It’s amazing to give clients a single URL where they can always head to if they can’t find a file, or need to print out an invoice for any reason.

Want to check out 17Hats? You can take 10% off an annual plan by using this link!
Full disclosure: this is an affiliate link, and I get a little something if you sign up.

For Client Onboarding/Project Management: Asana

I’d heard people raving about Asana for years, and I’m kicking myself for exactly how long it took me to try it out. Asana is a free tool (there is also a paid version for larger teams) that is truly amazing for organizing both client experiences and your own business to-dos.

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Above is a screenshot of my current Asana board. On the left, I’ve organized personal, business and client boards, all of which are displayed on this calendar view by due date. It’s a great way to eliminate a to-do list, and get a visual idea of what’s coming up next. You can also view each individual board on their own and as more of a checklist. For me, I love this as a central place where I can keep track of blog ideas or social media posts.

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And the client experience is just as awesome. As soon as a client has signed off on a project, the first thing I do is built out and send over their Asana board. It can be viewed as a checklist (pictured above), or as a calendar, showing what is due when. This way, there’s never any confusion about what comes next - you also have the ability to assign each task, clearly setting boundaries about who is responsible for what task.

For Client Offboarding: Loom

Loom is one of those products I didn’t know I need until I found it. Loom is a video recorder that operates as a Google Chrome extension, and is amazing for recording and sending videos to clients. I personally use it when I’m sending over drafts of work to clients, and want to include a rationale of some of my design decisions (I personally prefer to do this via video instead of phone call, so they can check it out on their own time); as well as for offboarding. Especially with website clients, I’ve found videos to be the best way to communicate any final steps and walkthroughs of how to edit their site.

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I also love Loom because it operates via Google Chrome extension - which means you just need to click one button in your browser to start recording. You can also upload it right to your general channel or a folder where you can store all your client’s videos. It’s incredibly easy, and eliminates the need to find a place to store those giant video files. And best of it - it’s totally free!

What do you guys things? Any favorite client tools you can’t live without?

How to Use a Moodboard to Inspire a Logo | Ballast Notes

I've written about moodboards before on this blog, and why I think they're such an asset in the client process. For any sort of design project, moodboards are a great way to ensure cohesive visual inspiration and to nail down a strong visual direction before the design process actually begins.

All of that being said, how does the moodboard actually influence the logo and overall branding of the project you're working on? Below are some tips on creating a moodboard for yourself or for a client that will ensure smooth sailing in the design process. 

All visual inspiration below was gathered for Amelia Damplo Videography & Amelia Damplo Yoga.

Gather visual inspiration focused on type, shape, texture, and color

When gathering inspiration, don't only focus on finding logos of other companies that you're in love with. Those are great starting points, but pay attention to what elements you're truly drawn to - is it the bold typography, or font, that they're using? Is it their earthy color palette? Perhaps even the shapes in a brand pattern, or the feeling that their overall branding evokes? Find images like that to be a part of your moodboard.

The above images were a few initial pieces of inspiration for Amelia Damplo's moodboard - the left as geometric typography inspiration; the middle as shape/texture inspiration; and the right as color inspiration.

 

Include variety, and establish a color palette

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Using a variety of images/graphics will help ensure a cohesive moodboard, and will give you plenty of inspiration as the design process begins. A few different types of images and graphics I often look for are:

  • Logos and other branding (business cards, patterns, websites, etc.)
  • Interior design
  • Lifestyle and nature images
  • Fine art and illustrations
  • Typography examples
  • Color palettes

I keep Pinterest boards as a way to filter inspiration; it's a great place to come back to as I'm working on new brands.

Moodboards are especially great places to establish the color palette of a brand; look for images that evoke the feeling you'd like for your brand to have, and the color palette usually falls in the line from there. For this brand, we stuck with an earthy, light color palette that worked really well.

 

See it all come together

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Spending some extra time at the beginning of the branding process on a moodboard can take a little bit of time, but it pretty much always pays off. Using this formula to gather visual inspiration will help both the client and the designer find a way to understand the exact direction of the brand they're building, and sets you up for success from the very beginning. 

 

All images used in moodboards were found via Pinterest, and are meant for visual inspiration only. 

4 Steps to Take Before Hiring a Graphic Designer for Your Brand

Psst - before we get started, if you're ready to leap into your visual branding with a designer, don't hesitate to get in touch

1. Define what isn't working for your current brand, and begin developing your brand style.

If you already have an existing organization or product, what isn't working for your brand? Are you not reaching the audience you want to, or not selling at the price point you desire? Once you're able to identify the specifics behind why you aren't happy with your existing brand, narrow down how you think your visual brand can change.

At this point, whether your product or organization is brand new or existing, you can start defining your brand style. Who is your audience, and what are some of the visuals that might attract them? What is your brand's mission, and what are some of the images and graphic styles that could represent that? Through narrowing down these ideas and experimenting with what overlaps, you can start to see a brand style emerge. 

2. Find imagery that matches your brand style.

I used to think mood boards were a little hokey. But once I started using them, I saw a dramatic change in the brand discovery process. Sometimes the feeling of your brand is hard to put into words, and instead putting your brand into visuals is the best way to elicit the emotional response that you want and need. Sourcing imagery that matches up with your brand style - whether that's photos, logos, colors, typography, or other graphics - is the best way to show exactly what direction you want to head in. 

3. Have an idea of what you want to spend, and what you want to get.

Before diving into the search for a specific designer, think about the amount of money you have to invest in the branding of your business. Not only does this help you come up with a vague number, but will also help you establish what exactly you want to get out of the process. If you have a very specific idea of what you want and simply need a designer to execute it, you'll likely spend a bit less. If you're hoping for more strategy and/or need more deliverables at the end of the project, you're looking at a higher price tag. 

4. Get in touch with graphic designers that will play to the strengths of your brand.

Now is the time to begin looking for the designer that will make your brand come to life! The secret to finding the perfect designer to you relies mostly 1) in their work process, and 2) in their prior work. By viewing their prior work, you'll get an idea of the types of brand design they excel at, and how you could possibly work together. As you get in touch with these designers, be sure to ask about their process, timelines, and how you can best work together to create something awesome.

And as a pro tip - if you're not ready to invest in your business, you can still start shopping around to have a few designers in mind when you're ready to sink that cash into your organization. 

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On Knowing Your Worth and Raising Your Prices | Ballast Notes

During a rainy Wednesday a few months ago, I was chatting with a branding client. The client was kind and did great work, but the type of business she ran was different than most companies I work with. Although the beginning of our project together was a bit rocky, we were nearing the finish line and I was excited to wrap things up. As she reiterated that she was enjoying working with me, she said, "And honestly, I think you should be charging more."

Wait, what? Charging more? When I initially quoted this client, I remember opening her response email with my heart beating out of my chest because I was worried she was going to say it was too much. I was going through a tough time financially, and really needed a client to pull through for me. But I never would have thought about actually charging her more. 

I thanked the client, and she explained that she went to an event recently centered around the psychology of money. All attendees were instructed to write down a big purchase they had recently made and felt like they spent too much; as well as an item they had recently purchased and felt guilty because they may have gotten too good of a deal. She said she wrote down my services for the latter.

This goes back to the American "sale" mentality - if we get something for a good deal, we want to put it to its full use. I'm not a psychologist by any means, but this really got my wheels turning - do I notice a difference in my clients' feedback based on how much they've been charged? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my higher paying clients were often more organized, and our projects got done quickly, whereas lower paying clients (who were repeat clients who I honored previous pricing for, and/or had very small projects) often draw out the process, and aren't as quick to respond and provide feedback.

All of this is making me realize that I need to take a deep dive into my finances and how I'm charging clients - and what best serves both of us. I want to stay affordable and accessible, but know that my business model needs to adapt as I expand my business and see how my long-term goals fit in. Those higher-paying clients are making a big investment in their business, and are making my services a priority in their biz life - and those are the types of people I love working with. 

I've always prided myself in keeping my prices affordable for the small businesses and nonprofits that use my services, but I'm also coming to realize that upping prices a bit can very much expedite the process. Ensuring that clients realize they are making an investment and gathering all necessary information before kicking off our process; and allowing me to focus intently on a few clients, instead of being spread thin over many. 

If someone is paying less for your services, they're probably not going to feel bad asking you to do more. Especially if it's an hourly project - someone you charge $25 an hour is definitely going to have you do more than someone you charge $75 an hour - it's simple math. And in those sorts of situations, you really lose the most valuable thing - your time. 

Know your worth, and don't be afraid to charge for it. Amazing things might happen, and who knows what you'll find. And don't forget to add tax! I'll be popping back in here to update you on the varied changes that I've made.

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My Goals for Q2 2018: Ballast Notes

It seems quite fitting that it's writing my blog post about Q2 goals about half a month into the quarter. If Q1 was slow and steady for me, Q2 is shaping up to be quite the opposite. I've been rapidly picking up client work, and will likely be spending this quarter focusing more on clients' growth than my own, which has given me pause to tweak a few of the goals I'd already worked out. 

My theme for Q2 is "Be." Short and sweet, I want to really embody my year theme of Cultivate through not doing more than I need to, and working smarter instead of harder. Hustle can be exhausting, and I'm planning a wedding and picking up an additional career of yoga teacher this quarter, so I'm focusing on not being to hard on myself.

And without further ado, my goals!

  • Continue blogging and tie in with #BallastNotes on Instagram.
    I've loved blogging so much this past quarter, and really want to keep it up. I've also been coming up with separate, bite-sized wisdom to share on Instagram, and want to better integrate the two - bite-sized wisdom on the 'gram (and other social media - more on that in the next goal), and want to expand more on that for those interested in reading more on here. 

  • Tailor my audience.
    As Anchored continues to evolve, I'm consistently looking to tailor my audience. To see who my message connects with the most, and the types of people I love working with. And as I narrow this down, I want to work on better reflecting this on my website and other platforms. 

  • Create more social media consistency and share on all platforms.
    After focusing most of my social media time and energy on Instagram, imagine my surprise when I realized I actually get the most website traction from Facebook. This quarter, I want to be better at sharing unique messages on each platform, and to not take the easy way out.

  • Work on securing more retainer clients.
    Ah, the elusive retainer client. As I shift into more long-term planning for my biz, I'm looking to work more with organizations who want to use Anchored's services on a long-term basis. Although I don't want to put a number on the amount of retainer clients I want to score this quarter or year since that's out of my control, I plan to make some major steps to grow this next level of business.

  • Website refresh to attract my desired audience.
    As a tie-in to tailoring my audience, I want to slightly refresh my website by the end of this quarter. Although content will stay mostly the same, I'm planning to redo my homepage to better serve clients and display my work.

  • More of an overall weekly set schedule.
    I set the building blocks in Q1, but I'm ready to make habits in Q2. Continue with my morning routine, set days for social media scheduling, blogging, creating emails, etc. - leggo, y'all.

  • Set personal projects that are a better use of my time.
    One of my goals for Q1 was to create a personal project every month. I loved doing that, but a personal project I set it December didn't always work for that month ahead. This quarter, I would love to finish up an Instagram challenge, create a new workbook, and finish up a personal branding project - but we'll see what order they fall in.

  • Be more personal in my newsletters & set a schedule for this.
    I got my newsletter off the ground this past quarter, and I want for it to flourish this next quarter. An email mini-course might even be in the works! 

And, that's it for my Q2 goals! What are your thoughts? Have you tackled any of these goals in your biz? Let me know in the comments!

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    Setting Boundaries with Yourself & Your Clients | Ballast Notes

    Last week, I got a package in the mail that came with a bunch of paper in the box that was used as padding. The paper has been sitting on my living room floor for a few days, and my cat has taken it upon him to make a little bed out of the paper (I swear I'm going somewhere with this -- hang in there, cat haters). I often get annoyed with how my cat tends to prefer boxes and packing supplies over any toy I purchase him, but cats like things they can sit in or make a structure out of, because they prefer boundaries. Wide open spaces can freak them out, and they prefer a safe space where they can feel secure.

    And whether we like to admit it or not, humans prefer boundaries as well. It can be difficult to accept, but in creating boundaries and limitations in our personal lives and in our businesses, we can make ourselves more productive, and attract the audience we want. 

    • Set work hours.
      Yes, this includes set email and social media hours as well! If I've learned anything from working for myself, it's that multitasking does not equal being more productive. In order to really hone in your efforts, only work on business tasks during work hours, and set that boundary with clients that you're not available at all hours of the day -- because it will slowly drive you crazy. It's natural to feel like you need to always be available for client work, but it's not the best long-term move. 
       
    • Block out your time.
      If I didn't block out my time, I would never get anything done. I used to simply make a to-do list for every day, but I would usually only end up completing three or four of my five or six tasks. I now write out exactly how much time I'll spend on each task so it looks something like this:
      9-11 a.m.: Project #1
      11 a.m.-1 p.m.: Project #2
      1-2 p.m.: Break/Lunch
      2-4 p.m.: Project #3
      4-6:30 p.m.: Spillover time for projects that didn't get done


      Through setting up time this way, I a) ensure I only work on the tasks that really need to get done that day, and b) don't spend too much time on one specific task. It also makes sure I stay focused to maximize my time on that task.
       
    • Only accept clients that play to your business core values.
      When you're in a lean time of business, it's hard to turn down a potential client. But if they don't align with your brand's mission and values, what good will it do for either of you? They could work with a business more aligned to their needs, and you could find clients that better align to yours. If you're still figuring out what exactly your brand needs are, check out our Branding Your Biz workbook to dig deep into your business needs. 
       
    • Take time to create communication templates.
      Crafting emails to potential and current clients can take up much more time than you realize. By taking some up-front time to create email templates to base you communication on, you're able to have a solid base to build individual client emails off of. This may feel a little bit impersonal at first, but this creates a boundary that both saves you time and provides that you provide consistent information to every client. I love Canned Responses in Gmail for setting this up! 
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    Maximizing Your Time When Working With Freelancers | Ballast Notes

    As a freelancer and business owner, I know that time = money. I've always been conscious of how my time is spent, and it's one of the big reasons I made the decision to work for myself. I could never get over the concept of having to clock in a certain amount of hours when the work I did varied from day to day.

    And since becoming a freelancer, I'm still very conscious of how my time is spent -- both for myself and the clients I'm working with. Whether you're a fellow freelancer figuring out what to look for in new positions, or a manager that isn't sure the best way to communicate to freelancers, I wanted to outline some tips based on personal experiences: 

    • Provide a project budget, and build out a billing structure from there.
      This probably sounds obvious; but there have been several freelance projects that I've created proposals for that I had very little knowledge of the budget for. It's just like shopping for any big-ticket item -- if you don't provide a budget, you're likely going to be shown items that will be out of your price range. 

      If you start working with a freelancer that has a higher hourly or project rate than you expected, or if you go over the number of hours you wanted to allot to the project, you'll wind up spending much more than you wanted. And freelancers, it's best to iron out this information to ensure you'll get paid in a timely manner for the project and there won't be unexpected prices.
       
    • Determine turnaround times.
      At times, clients can expect you to work like you're in-house, turning around edits in a matter of minutes. Other times, you'll be waiting days for clients to respond to emails. Even though unexpected hurdles may come up, it's a great best practice to always provide a timeline and expected feedback and turnaround times. 

      For someone hiring a freelancer, it's also good to go over any pertinent deadlines on your end, so that the freelancer will be prepared and is ready to clear out part of their schedule for you.
       
    • Outline all of the set deliverables. 
      As a designer, I base the programs I use on how the design will be featured. I once was designing an infographic for a client that I assumed would be used on social media and email; it wasn't until the very end of the project that the client mentioned that it would be printed. Because of the printer capabilities, I wound up needing to reformat the majority of the project. If I'd asked up front how the files would be used, I would have gone about creating them in a completely different way. 

      Even though freelancers often assume the client will provide them with this information, it's not always the case -- and sometimes the client isn't sure what all details you need to know. It's important to bridge that gap and ask the right questions so there's no surprises at the end of the work.
       
    • Get all of the above in writing. 
      Last, but certainly not the least important point. Always, always create a contract. It doesn't matter if you're doing work for a friend or a Fortune 500 company -- a contract protects both the client and freelancer, and also ensures you're paid for your work! If there's any hiccups along the way of the project, the contract is always there for you to go back to.
       

    What do you think about this list of ways to maximize your time on freelance projects? Anything I missed? Feel free to drop your thoughts in the comments below! 

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