Lesson 5: Don't take feedback personally
If you deal with client feedback as part of your freelance profession then I’m sure you’ll have experienced this at some point: you’ve spent hours on a particular idea or piece of work, painstakingly making sure it’s the best it can be and then BAM! The client completely dismisses it and wants a new approach.
Whenever this happens to me it’s genuinely akin to getting punched in the gut, it’s an almost instant visceral reaction that for a long time I had a hard time dealing with, I still do.
What I've come to realise though, is that although a client may not like a piece of work or idea I’ve put forward: it doesn’t mean that idea is a bad one, it’s just not quite right for this particular project.
It’s an important distinction because if you treat every bit of feedback as a personal attack on your skills and abilities then this can quickly spiral into a feeling of self doubt about all the work you’re producing.
Instead of dwelling on negative feedback try to move past it and get to work on a new idea, you still might think it’s not as good as the original but ultimately that’s the client’s loss, not yours.
Lesson 51: If you're booked for the day: bill for the day
When I’m freelancing for agencies rather than direct clients, usually what happens is they’ll request to book me for a set number of days at a set rate per day. All pretty standard stuff.
There are occasions however, where I’ll finish all the work set out for me before the set number of days are up, leaving me with nothing to do for the remaining time.
As a fledgling freelancer, whenever this situation came up I’d just bill the client for the days worked, rather than the days booked, I assumed that was the way it worked. The more this happened though, the more I realised that actually, the client will have set aside a budget to book me for that number of days, and if I came in under that, they’d just pocket the remainder and I’d be left scrambling to try and book something else in to fill the time slot which, at such short notice, is nigh on impossible to do. I realised that I was the only one losing out because of my own productivity.
To help protect against this issue nowadays, I’ll always explain to the client that for scheduling purposes: as soon as a booking is confirmed, all days are then billable. Mentioning this ahead of time ensures everyone is on the same page should the situation arise, and it means I won’t be left out of pocket should the booking end earlier than planned.
Lesson 64: Don't email in anger
As someone who’s worked in design for a fair while now I’m no stranger to frustrating situations. The seemingly innocuous phrase “Make the logo bigger” is enough to make even the most zen designer boil over and flip the nearest table.
No matter how frustrating a situation is, no matter how much I want to instantly reply with a list of why something is a terrible idea, it’s important to do one thing first: cool off.
If you find yourself in a rage, there’s nothing to be gained from writing an email while you’re in that state of mind, it will only exacerbate any issues that are there and cause further problems down the line.
Instead, a useful trick I’ve learned is to close the email window and instead open up a blank document. Write down your response in the document, let your frustrations out (like listing the 101 reasons why a logo shouldn’t be made bigger), and then close the document and walk away from your screen.
Take a break, do something completely different and step away from the situation before doing anything too hastily, you’ll only regret it further down the line. Sending an email in rage mode is never ever productive.