We all know the freelance life can be tough sometimes. The great thing about being a freelancer is you are your own boss. Likewise, the worst thing about being a freelancer is you are your own boss. There’s no one to blame when things go wrong. Having a problem with a client? You have to be the one to solve it and work it out with them.
At the end of the day, we can all use a little more humor in our lives. From getting paid late or for exposure to office vs freelance work attire, here are 21 freelance memes to cheer you up the next time you’re frustrated with a client, along with a few tips to avoid the situation from the beginning.
As a freelance designer, how many times have companies approached you for design work in exchange for “exposure”? Too many to count! Exposure doesn’t pay the bills and your work has value. The next time a client reaches out to you, push back and mention how busy you are with other paying clients who value the design for their company.
This was will make you chuckle. What your friends think you do as a freelancer: Relaxing while eating takeout at home with your feet propped up. What your parents think you do: Spend hours on the flatscreen TV playing video games. What society thinks you do: Hundreds of dollars flying out of your laptop. And then there’s what you actually do: A zombie working well past midnight on a client project.
Here’s one framed within a Venn diagram. A Venn diagram, also called a primary diagram, uses overlapping circles or other shapes to illustrate the logical relationships between two or more sets of items. Often, they serve to graphically organize things, highlighting how the items are similar and different.
When it comes to creative freedom, good pay, and extended deadlines, it’s impossible to get all three on a client project. But if you get too like creative freedom and extended deadlines, you might get paid by “exposure”. If you receive good pay and extended deadlines, you’re likely locked by brand guidelines. And finally, if you’re lucky to receive good pay and creative freedom, you’ll probably never sleep.
You know the saying, you get what you pay for? Well, it definitely rings true when it comes to design and creative work. The cheaper the cost is to create a logo, the less likely it is to be a good one that stands the test of time. This is why big companies usually pay agencies tens of thousands of dollars for a logo or brand refresh. The larger and more well-known a company is, the more is at stake with a logo redesign, the quality is important to them.
So the next time a client wants a logo for a nominal fee of $5 or $100, just say no. It says a lot about a client by how much they’re willing to pay for critical design to their company like a logo. They are likely to be more of a headache than they are worth.
We all know this feeling when the client finally says “Everything is approved.” You get that tingly feeling all over your skin and you can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
This one compares the life of a freelancer to the life of a full-time designer. Freelancer: Shower when necessary, maybe at 3:00 pm (because you’ve gone too many days without one). Full-time designer: Showering at 7:30 am is necessary.
This one never gets old! A freelancer as a skeleton because they’re still waiting to get paid by the client. Here’s a tip to avoid this from actually happening to you: Get paid upfront before you start working on a project for a client.
Whether it’s 25%, 50%, or 100% paid upfront, agree on some percentage of payment so you’re not wasting your time on a client who isn’t serious and doesn’t plan on paying you. Don’t forget to also write and send a contract to the client, detailing every aspect of how you will work together including how you want to be paid further.
When the final payment from the client keeps getting delayed because of just a “few more changes”. Similar to the previous meme, to help avoid this happening to you, specify how many rounds of changes are included on a project in your contract. Also mention in the contract that for additional rounds of changes, the client must pay an extra fee. Once a client needs to pay for small (or huge scope creep) changes, they may think twice about emailing you.
Another reality vs expectation meme. Times I actually have work (almost every day) vs how many times people think I have to work (almost none). It used to be that when you said you worked at home as a freelancer, suddenly all your friends and family think you’re doing nothing all day. What they don’t see, is how hard the freelancing life can be.
This one is much more culturally relevant as of late, ever since the inauguration of President Biden. This little meme of Bernie Sanders in a mask and mittens can be seen everywhere on the Internet, including this one it being 4:45 pm on a Friday when a client finally sends you the revisions you’ve been asking for since Monday…
Oh, how frustrating it can be when clients are reaching out asking for a quote, when they haven’t even bothered to provide all the necessary information. These clients are just price shopping and unfortunately, there will always be someone willing to do the job cheaper. So instead of trying to compete on price, try to explain the value of working with you as a freelance designer, instead of someone else.
When working as a full-time designer for a company, it’s easy to complain about the number of unnecessary meetings. There are even meetings about meetings! Whereas as a freelancer, you might actually miss some of those meetings for the social conversations.
Another company vs freelance meme. At the office, you might make the effort to put together a clean, professional outfit. But as a freelancer, the running joke is no pants! And a lack of laundry.
While we’re on the subject of work attire, here’s another one illustrating getting ready in the morning. The 9–5 office designer: A sleek, professional suit in black. The freelancer: In pajamas, holding a cup of coffee, next to her cat.
Here is one mocking clients who have no idea what they want. We’ve all had at least one client in our life who had no idea what they wanted but wanted it right away, like yesterday.
This one will make you look twice. When you start working with a new client, you review the brief, and immediately you have no idea what they what want or what the business goal is. You are as confused as the way this car is built.
If you’re confused by the brief, take time to go over it in a meeting with the client. You want to make sure you have all the information you need at the start so you’re designing solutions for the right problem. The last thing you want is to finish designing for the client and then they realize it’s not at all what they need. Ask questions and over-communicate, you’ll be glad you did.
Expectation versus reality. You know those beautifully put together desk setups you see on Instagram on YouTube? That’s what they show you on social media but in reality? A freelance designer’s desk is more likely to look chaotic, like the setup on the right.
How design is actually made: Hours upon hours of strategic thinking and designing on the computer. How clients think the design is made: We just click a red button and DONE. If only that were true.
It actually is beneficial to explain your design process to the client, especially when you meet for the first time. The more they know about your thought process, how you make design decisions based on experience and reasoning (and not personal opinion), the more respect a client will have, your work, and they’ll understand what they are paying you for.
Change the color. Make the logo bigger, can we change the size? When everyone is an art director.
It’s important to learn how to set up healthy boundaries as a designer. Educate the client on what good feedback is. For example, we don’t like blue because our competitors use it and we want to stand out from the rest of the industry. Not make it red because I don’t like blue.
That funny yet terrifying moment when the client says “I want this done by tomorrow”.
This can easily be avoided or compensated fairly from the start with a proper contract put into place. If a client wants a rush job, this should be outlined in the contract as well as a notice that they will need to pay a rush fee. If they aren’t willing to pay more, then they will need to extend the deadline.
Last but not least, let’s talk about discounts. You see the original price and the sale price… There is a one-cent difference. While it might not go over well if you adjust the price on your invoice by one-cent, it’s worth having a conversation about money upfront so you don’t have to deal with the dreaded “discount” question.
From curating portfolio projects, creating a killer website, to the best ways to market yourself, now you have a better understanding of how to find and land your first freelance design jobs. But what if you want to go beyond?
In our course The 6 Figure Freelance Design business, we share the step-by-step business-building roadmap. Through weekly mentorship calls and done for you business templates and resources, you’ll have everything you need to build a profitable freelance design business.
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