Hello, amazing creative!
“How do you protect your reputation and how do you make sure the work you produce for your clients is used exactly the way you intended it to be?”
You’ve created a brand identity for a client’s business. You’ve redesigned a client’s home and styled everything to perfection. You’ve written amazing copy for a website…
Whatever your creative job is, you put your heart, soul and expertise into the project. It’s customized or tailor-made and your client loves it. But once it’s all signed off, you let your client out into the big wide world with the work you created. Your work is totally on its own unprotected by you.
What happens next to it can actually make or break your reputation, and you need to protect your reputation.
Reputations take years to build and can be ruined in a moment by an unwhitting client.
How do you make sure that your reputation is completely protected once your work goes out into the world? How do you make sure that your clients use the work in the way that it was intended?
1. Never add links
Never link to your clients’ websites on your portfolio or on your own website, especially if you’re a designer or a copywriter.
Once you link your portfolio to your client’s website, your client may have changed the copy, may have fiddled with your design work, or might have displayed your work in a less than professional manner. Which means the work that you’re showcasing no longer exists in its original and optimal form. You risk that your work’s been turned into a Frankenstein, a hybrid, or a dog’s dinner, but your name is still attached to it because you’ve linked to it in your portfolio.
You have no control over external content, so don’t link unless you are 100% confident that your work is appropriately represented.
2. DON’T GIVE SOURCE FILES
This is a controversial one…many designers will give their layered source files to clients on request. But I would strongly recommend against this. Again once your work is handed over to your client, they may decide to fiddle with your designs, change things and generally deviate from the designs you produced; and your reputation can be decimated with a click of a button.
The problem is that many people think they are creative and have good taste, but when it comes to professional best practices, they are clueless. Once you allow a 3rd party to alter your work through source files, your reputation is in their hands. Your name will be attached to work that your were not responsible for.
I understand that clients want control, choice and longevity from the work your produce for them. They don’t want to constantly be coming back to you for minor changes or extra assets, which is why they may ask for your source files. Instead, I suggest you deliver your work with a few variables and templated designs that they can add their content too, without having access to the source design files.
If you must hand over source files, make sure the key design components are fully designed on a single layer and therefore untouchable.
What are the best ways to protect your repuation and showcase your work optimally?
💛 USE MOCKUPS
If you are a visual creative, mock up your work in scene-creators and mock up templates. You can either create these yourself using smart objects in photoshop or you can buy pre-created mock ups from design marketplaces. This ensures your work looks exactly as you intend it to be viewed. You can highlight your work to look its absolute best.
For writers, mock up web pages, social media posts or print media images with your copy. For web designers, take screen shots of the site before hand off and mock them up on screens and devices.
Keep control over how your work is viewed. Your reputation depends on it!
Take photographs! Have a properly styled photoshoot of your work, products or physical designs. Professional photos are worth their weight in gold!
Use these on your website, in your portfolio or on social media, so no matter what your client goes on to do with your work, it doesn’t matter because you’ve got photos to show other people exactly what you’re capable of and how good your work looks when it’s done.
💛 GUIDES & TRAINING
Thirdly, give guides, training videos, style guides or brand guides on how to get the best out of the work they have paid you for. Teach people how to use your work.
That way, at least there’s some kind of framework for them to be working around once they’re on their own without your guidance.
💛 Give options
Give plenty of options when you’re delivering files or work. Give them a range of colour palettes. Give them a range of icons. Give them a range of template styles, so at least they have options available to them as they go forwards, and they’re not tempted to tinker and fiddle with your original artwork.
💛 Ongoing Support
Finally, you can offer a follow-up session or a concierge service by which they work with you continuously after you finish with them. Offering an ongoing maintenance service or a concierge service is a great way to bring in more work from an existing client, and it’s also a great way to make sure that your work continues to be optimized.
I hope these tips were tips useful for giving you some ideas on how to protect your creative reputation.
If you’re looking for more business mentorship for your creative business, I would love you to have a look at the Creative Business Hub.