Let me know if you heard this one; ‘I don’t know what I want’, Or my personal favourite ‘You have free reign to do what you want’. Then you go out, put in the time and work to produce your masterpiece for it to be criticised because it didn’t quite ‘hit the mark’.

Well…here is where a great brief comes in. If you can provide your client a brief that will help answer all your relevant and also irrelevant questions, then you will have no issues in hitting that mark the first time around, leaving room for refinement.

Here is how you do it:


  • Research your client look them up if they already exist.
  • Email them or even better, meet them, have a coffee and a chat to get to know them.


  • Be Outrageous
  • Be Creative
  • Be Challenging.


  • What emotion are they selling?
  • What animal do they see themselves as?
  • Is there a company they idealise?

The list can go on and can be as out there as you want it to be. It’s these questions that will assisting you in understanding your client


When you submit your brief to the client, make it easy for them to fill in.

  • Have open and closed questions.
    A Closed example would be: Would you like this font? Yes or No
    An Open example is: How does this font make you feel?
  • Give the client some choices
    To help narrow the process down you can provide the client with some choices to choose from, this will allow you to identify their likes and dislikes.
  • Provide Examples
    There are two things you can do here. You can provide examples for the client to choose from or sometimes have the client provide examples of what they like, perhaps a website, logo, colour scheme or font.


Lastly, make sure you communicate your findings and brief results with the client. Doing this will ensure you and the client not only share the same vision but will also help you clarify anything you were unsure of.

Please feel free to use these tips as a guide, to help you in creating your own client briefs.

Remember, all clients are different, so this is where researching skill comes into play.

One bonus tip for the road


  • Put the common questions in the front  for example, Name, Business Size, Requirements, Demographic etc. and the add the open and close questions after, so that it can be customised according to your client




As a designer finding inspiration is always a challenge. But look in the right places and you can find some great tools out there that you can put in your utility belt to use later. Simply by utilising some of your down time, you can find some great sites out there that can assist you in creative inspiration.

These links are not just beneficial to the designer but the client as well. How many times have you asked a client, what colour theme they are after? when you could easily send them a link to colour swatches, saving you time of back and forth with the client. Or asking a client, what inspires them? and be able to show them by creating a mood or vision board.

Below are some great websites to help you get started, these sites are here to help you kick-start some design inspiration or concepts for your next client.



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is a great site if you are looking to explore colour pallets. It’s a great assist when it comes to finding the right colour relationships or combination colour schemes. Saving this site in your favourites would be great in your every day design needs.


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Obtaining royalty free images can be costly, so above are some of the great sites where you can obtain some amazing imagery. Something to remember, with respect to the photographer or supplier of the images, please ensure you return the favour in providing a credit to the artist.

Always remember as a designer your work is on show, be mindful of the images you use in your clients work. Copying images off google and using it as your own work or worse, your clients work can be harmful to your client and their business not to mention your business and your reputation. If a client wants something specific that you can’t supply without having to pay for the image rights. Make the client aware of the cost involved and ensure they are willing to pay.

Sites like https://stock.adobe.com/, https://www.istockphoto.com/ and https://www.shutterstock.com/ supply some amazing imagery at a price. Before you buy, you download the image as a preview; yes it will have watermarks on it, but use it as a place holder for the client to decide if it is the right image for them. Once they have agreed on the cost, then you can purchase the user rights.


Feel like you need to enhance your skill set. Beside the obvious https://www.youtube.com, there are some free tutorial sites like:

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Accessing tutorial like these allow you to explore different techniques, lean new shortcuts in in your design processes and improve your skillset. Alternative to free, you can also subscribe to https://www.lynda.com. Though lynda.com is a subscription site, there are a lot tips, tutorials and skills based training courses you can benefit from.


One of the best ways to impress a client is to have a mood board or vision board prepared. The client will be able to see and understand what you envision for their brand and also allows them to be a part of the process. Mood or vision boards are a collection of images and text samples organised in some way that help explore the desired overall look and feel or tone of a project. A mood board is not essential for every type of project but for major projects including web sites and applications, marketing campaigns, and in developing a corporate identity system they can be invaluable brainstorming and guidance tools.

Some great site for where you can create mood or vision boards are:

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There are plenty of tools out there to assist you in becoming a great designer. The web is a great host for a lot of the world’s design inspiration. But also look outside of the online space. If you can’t find a picture you are after in an image library, grab your camera or phone and try and create it your self. If you can’t see an icon that a client or you require something specific then try and draw it and re-create it in Illustrator.

As a creative, you have the best tool on hand and that’s your imagination. So get started, there is a lot of inspiration in the world out there to ensure you are delivering greatness.



With all the commoditised design sites out there like Fiverr or 99Designs, Wix, Weebly or Squarespace. Trying to operate a design business can be tough. It’s never about wether you can do the work these days, it’s more about how much is it going to cost!. But the reality is that all businesses are going to compete and so should you. There are ways you can overcome the struggle, ways you can stay ahead of the game. What is everyone offering? and What can you offer that everyone else hasn’t thought of yet?

When speaking with designers, clients/business owners, the common topic of conversation is currency. From the designers perspective “the client wont pay my rate”‘ from the client/business perspective; “For that price I can get multiple design options” or “This site is offering design for $XX”. Design is a competitive market now and as designers and independent business owners we have to think smart.

So why should a client hire you when they can pay $50 for a logo or other design work? You must have the answer to this question and be able to explain it to your prospect, or they will put you in the same box as those other services.

When the focus is on pricing, there is always someone willing to do it cheaper. Don’t dwell on the person that offered your client the cheaper rate. You need to keep on in search of the clients that will pay your rate. Some clients are happy to pay a premium rate for premium services. There is a correlation between the rate and the type of client you attract.

Clients who’re looking for cheap services and not focusing on the impact their brand or product will have on their business don’t understand the value of a good logo, branding or website or marketing. It shouldn’t be about if it just looks good and it should never be about the fact that designers can do it because they have the tools and the client doesn’t. Clients should understand that it’s not just a good design, but an investment in their business, something that will produce results for them.

A Client that understand good design will not question cost, and more acknowledge what work you have done for that is going to bring in for them in the near future. But to every good there is the bad client, the one that think’s it’s too expensive, argue or negotiate the invoice with you and love to manage the design thinking. You can never really guess who you are going to get when you sign up client, sometimes is just too late.

Know your pricing and stick to it. Understand the quality you are delivering, but doing a little research you can see what everyone is charging and also see the quality of work they are offering. This will help you determine the value of your work. Don’t make the mistake of going too low, because even though you’re lower than the next person, to a potential good client (willing to pay the higher rate), will also determined your design skills based on what you charge. Cheap is never a good thing, because cheap is a perception of low quality and cutting corners. It’s it also a short term frame of mind.


When a potential or existing client comes to you, they are asking for a logo, a brochure, a website or something else. You have to ask yourself, “What do they actually need”?

Do they need:

  • to look more professional or re-invent their current look;

  • to convince potential customer, clients or prospects;

  • to attract new people;

  • to have a larger presence in the market

Brief the client in detail to find out the deeper need and the results they’re trying to achieve. This is also helps you determine:

  • what services you can offer;

  • what additional products or designs the client might need or want;

  • what to charge the client; and

  • build a trusting relationship with the client as you have taken the time to understand what they actually want and need.


What do you offer that those services and most other designers don’t? Whether you’re designing a logo or providing print or website design, you’re not providing designs off an assembly line or acting as an order taker at a fast food joint. You’re a consultant; you’re an expert. So act like it! Get to know your client’s business. Do your research in that industry. Have a phone, video or in-person consultation and ask questions such as the following:

  1. Who is the company?
  2. What is their Mission?
  3. Do they have Values and if so what are they?
  4. What does your company/organisation do?
  5. What services or products do you offer?
  6. What is the objective of the design?
  7. Who are your target audience?
  8. How do you want them to feel when they interact with your brand? (i.e., safe and secure, edgy and excited, exclusive and cool, etc.)
  9. Who inspires you?
  10. Who are your competitors in this space?
  11. Are these long term or short term goals?
  12. What is your budget or expectation of cost? (There may or may not be a solution you can provide within their budget, but you’ll find out up front, which means you won’t waste time putting together a proposal and chasing work if it’s not possible.)

It may seem like the Spanish inquisition but if you’re not asking these types of questions, then how can you create a solution? Remember, design is a visual way to solve a problem. You have to understand the problem before you can provide a solution.

So, listen: clients only care about what the work you do for them will do for them! They want results and want return on investment. Help the client understand how your design choices relate to their audience and their goals. When you go to provide an estimate, don’t make it simple put some detail into it, show the client that you have thought about it. Use the answers they give you to from the questions you asked them in the initial consultation.

See below as a basic example:

{Task involved in meeting requirements} $XX
{Any additional out of expense charges} $XX
{Address Time (cost for Urgency} $XX
Total $XX



Some clients may like companies like Fiverr or 99Designs because they get a lot of designs or unlimited revisions, etc. They think it’s better to see more designs than fewer. This is an incorrect perception—that they’re getting more for their money, that quantity is more important than quality. The issue with these is that too many options lead to indecisiveness. Most clients that use these sites have to fill in a brief and usually these briefs are never really filled out completely, hence why there are some many options and variable designs. The Client is unsure of what they are after and just want to see multiple options until they are happy with something that looks nice.

There is no understanding of the target audience, the message, the objective or what the client is trying to achieve. Or the client just has no idea what they wanted and really doesn’t understand their own target audience. Use these terms and reasons as an example or if you have already had a client come to use after using these sites, use that as an example, I know I have!. This can actually make selling your design services easier.


Some clients who use these other services are satisfied—until:

  • they realised that file type is wrong, or not packaged correctly, is not the right size or suitable for print.
  • the logo needs to be scaled up or used in one colour. The logos were not vectors because they were designed in Photoshop and not Illustrator.
  • the client gets a cease-and-desist letter from or, even worse, sued for infringement by a company with a similar logo design but different name, or by a stock image company as a result of the designer illegally using a stock icon. That could mean a license wasn’t purchased, or that a license was purchased but the designer wasn’t allowed to use it in a logo design. In these cases, the logo ends up costing the client much more money than they initially spent on the logo design—plus, quite possibly, their reputation.
  • the client gets a site build but with no education on how to manage it.

These are only a few examples of real-life situations where the clients are left to fend for themselves, they have existing needs not being met or new ones to be addressed, problems to be solve. Use these as opportunities for you to provide better deliverables.

The key to being a good designer is common sense.

Know your Value?, Understand the Business, Always Quality not Quantity and Ensure Delivery at all times.

Ask questions, Listen and be professional, when these key points in mind your client will see what choosing you over commoditised design sites is a better investment. There is no guarantee that you will win, but that is just the difference between getting a client that wants a cheap and fast design as apposed to the client that wants thoughtful and quality design solutions. Stick to your guns and don’t drop your rate for anyone. Clients speak to each other; the most common way of business return for designers is through referrals. If you offer a client a lower rate than normal, chances are you would end up doing it for the referred client. Know your worth!