Hello there, amazing creative!

This week, we talk about how to set up a design project that keeps you on track, keeps your client knowing what’s happening and get everybody the absolute best result at the very end?

Learn pro tips on getting organised, identifying your creative process, setting up a client project and getting the best results. Creative business management doesn’t have to be hard – follow this steps to avoid hassles and stress. Set up a smooth, easy-to-follow design process.

So, what do I mean by ‘design project’? It could be one of the following:

💡 a photography project

💡 an art commission

💡 a graphic design branding project

Just think about this through the lens of your own creative output. I’m talking specifically through the lens of my own business which is strategic branding design and backdrop design.

🟡 # 1: Preplan

The number one thing to setting up a design project is to pre-plan and be organized before you even speak to a client or before you even start any project. In order to do this, you need to know your own creative process.  What is it going to look like when a client first engages with you and inquires with you, all the way to when the project is finished and delivered? It’s imperitive you know your own process from A to B.

You need to know each and every step from your own behind-the-scenes process, and all the steps that involve your client. If you don’t know this before you start, then how on earth are you going to communicate this to your clients? How on earth are you going to keep everything rolling smoothly and with ease if you don’t even know what you’re doing? Our clients look to us for guidance. Therefore, we need to have a very clear process of what it looks like to work with us from start to finish.

💡 What are the basic steps that you take at each stage in your creative process? 

💡 How long does it take you to get the whole project done from start to finish?

💡 How long is each section of the creative process?

💡 What are the deliverables you’re going to be offering your client?

💡 How much that is going to cost your client?

Be clear on what you do, what you deliver and the price your client pays for it. If you’re not clear on those basics, you may find yourself doing extra work towards the end and not getting paid for it. You will feel awkward asking for money. And that’s a scenario that we really want to avoid.

🟡 # 2: Set Up a Progress System

Secondly, you need to internally set up a project management software or a platform where you can actually see how far along you are in the design process.

Personally, I use Asana. I set up an Asana board with each column representing each stage in the creative process. Which is why you need to KNOW your creative process or you’ll be unable to map it out. And as I go along the project, I move my client’s ticket along that board. This keeps me on track and knowing excatly where I am in the creative process.  I take notes within their tickets, so I never have to go scrolling through emails and hand-written notes trying to find information.

Of course, once you know your process and you have something organized at the backend to help you set your project up and keep the project flowing smoothly, then you need to communicate this to your clients.

 You don’t have to tell them everything. They don’t need to know the internal workings of every stage in your project. You really don’t want that because that can lead to client micromanagement and you need to avoid that at all costs!

But you do need to tell them what’s pertinent to them:

💡 How do you like to communicate? 

💡 How many times a week or month will you be getting together all of the deliverables?

💡 Are there any review and revision rounds? When will these happen?

💡What can they expect to be delivered at each stage?

 

🟡# 3: Proposal & Onboarding PDF

I suggest you put together a proposal and welcome guidelines that you send to knew clients or prospective clients before you onboard them. This is roughly a five or six-page PDF laying out what it’s like to work with you and what to expect. 

 It also includes information about what the project will entail; I tailor it to the client, depending on what we’ve talked about in the discovery call. And then I’ll lay out the scope of deliverables and the price for that.

 I will lay out exactly what happens each week, when the reviews happen, how we get together to make those reviews (which for me is on Zoom. Telephone calls or emails simply aren’t enough for thorough communication)

 In addition, the PDF will have an abridged version of my Terms and Conditions, a Refund Policy and a link to booking a chat with me. I always hyper link my PDFs. You can’t put all the legal information in the  PDF so you want a link to your full T&Cs, plus you want to ensure contact with you is a simple click away.

 

🔑TOP TIP

I highly recommend you use email as your primary contact tool. I know some people like Slack or Microsoft teams and you’ve got to decide what works for you, but an email I find is the most commonly used form of communication. Work out which communication method workd best for YOU and encourage your clients to use that only.

This applies to those clients who randomly message you on WhatsApp or FB Messenger. The communication can get lost and disojointed. Always bring it back to your prefered method of communciation so you can keep track of it.

But the top tip for using email is that every time you send an email out, start a new email. 

Do not just hit reply to the last email, because you’re going to end up with an email thread that is so long, and could cover a couple of weeks. You’re going to get lost; you’re going to lose track of who said what, information will get overlooked and muddles start to happen. 

So make sure you have a new email every time you contact your client. Of cource, they may hit reply to that email, that’s absolutely fine and you may reply once back on that email thread.

But the rule of thumb is ‘New Topic, New Email.’ Keep everything clean and clear cut.

Of course, this is the bare bones of what I do. I go into this at a much deeper level in the membership program for my members of the Creative Business Hub.

But this should give you an idea of how to set up a design project that’s effective and brings the best outcomes for everyone.