“Have you ever heard the phrase, "No news is good news."”

Have you ever heard the phrase, “No news is good news.”

Well it’s not true.

As a freelance designer, this statement couldn’t be scarier. The idea suggests that not hearing about a situation implies that nothing bad has happened. Designers: you know that feeling, right? It’s been two weeks since you sent those designs over to your client. You haven’t heard anything yet and you don’t know if you should be worried or irritated. Did they hate them? Are they just gathering feedback? I’m not going to get the rest of my payment, am I? No news is bad news.

And then there’s the other side. You’ve hired this great designer and you’ve paid their required 50% deposit. But it’s been three weeks now and this designer won’t respond to any of your emails. Their phone goes straight to voicemail. Maybe she’s sick? I hope he’s not dead. I’m not going to get that money back, am I? No news is bad news.

This happens WAY TOO OFTEN. I think I can speak for both sides when I say that it’s really difficult to trust after a business relationship goes sour. So here’s my advice: respect each other. If you don’t respect someone, don’t work with them! It’s simple.

Last week, Ross quoted Dan Stiles and referenced the concept of design as a service versus design as an art. That’s what most of us are doing, right? Offering a service? Whether you’re working for a firm or freelancing as a sole proprietor, you need to take responsibility as a professional. Stop blaming your “Type B personality,” your clients, or how your mother failed to raise and teach you manners.

So how, as designers, can we keep the communication going strong? How can we make sure we’re getting feedback and compensation?

  • Delegate: This is something that I’ve been learning a lot about lately. It doesn’t matter if you’re a one-person freelance business or a firm comprised of five individuals, you need to delegate. If you love designing/creating/inventing then maybe you shouldn’t be the bookkeeper. Don’t spread yourself too thin. It’s easier to let client relationships slip if you’re trying to take on six different roles.
  • Have a life: We tend to be nicer, as humans, when we take time for ourselves and maintain healthy lifestyles. Go on vacation. Schedule dinner dates. Romance your significant other. Have a hobby.
  • Stay Accountable: Find someone to keep you accountable. Are you staying true to your goals? Are you letting others take advantage of you? Is your attitude a positive one? Chatting with a fellow designer is a great way to stay focused.
  • Create a Contract: It’s for both the client and the designer. It protects the client-designer relationship while you’re working on the project. Use language that makes sense and include things that are important to you (and things you’ve learned over the years).

These are just tips. Not an all inclusive list. And when things go sour with a client? All you can do is learn. Perhaps the issue can be worked out but if it cannot, respect yourself enough to move forward and move on.