17 Tips For (Almost) Stress-Free Freelance Design Clients

This is the start of our journey together. You’re going to learn how to find and work with the best clients so that you can be confident about your freelance design career.

If you’re just starting as a freelance designer, you may have been too eager to take on any client who came your way. But now that you know more about what it takes to be a successful designer, here are some tips for working with clients:

How to Succeed as a Freelance Graphic Designer
Freelance design can be a challenging but rewarding career option.
Effective communication and project management are key to successful client relationships.
Freelancers should develop their niche, build a strong portfolio, and continuously improve their skills.
Maintaining work-life balance and managing stress are important aspects of freelance work.
Networking, pricing strategies, and time management are critical for building a sustainable freelance business.

1. Be Ready To Answer Questions

Your client has questions, and you need to be ready to answer them. They might ask how many revisions they get on a project. Or they may want to know what kind of fonts you use in your design work. You must be prepared for these types of inquiries with a well-thought-out response so that your client isn’t left feeling like their question wasn’t taken seriously by the designer or agency.

The same goes for questions from the client’s team members: if an editor asks about a font size change, be ready with an educated response rather than rushing off in search of answers yourself it will save everyone time (and possibly embarrassment).

If you’re looking to become a freelance web developer, don’t know where to start, and want a step-by-step guide, our blog post on how to become a freelance web developer can help you get started.

2. No Client Wants An “Ego” Designer

The art of being a great designer is knowing when you’re wrong. Your clients are not going to be thrilled if you tell them their ideas are stupid, but they will be thrilled if you can admit when you’ve made a mistake and make it right more quickly than anyone else could.

It’s also important for your clients to know that mistakes aren’t personal; they happen all the time in design. The best designers know how to handle them gracefully, even if it means admitting that maybe there was something better about another option after all. The key here is honesty and humility: don’t be too proud to admit when you’re wrong or ask for help when something isn’t clear enough in your head.

3. Don’t Make The Client Do Your Homework

It’s tempting to hand over the research and say, “Here, you do it.” That way, all you have to do is make some pretty pictures. But this is a terrible idea for several reasons.

First, clients don’t like doing their job for you. They might be willing to look at a few sites and pick out their favorite colors or fonts if they’re feeling nice that day but if it’s not obvious enough what direction they want things going in, they’ll get frustrated trying to figure it out on their own. 

And when clients get frustrated with design work that should be coming from you (and not them), it turns into another source of stress for everyone involved and no one needs more stress than they already have!

Second reason: The research process can take time away from working on actual designs or solving real problems with your client’s business model (which should always come first). You need time to solve those problems because that’s how you’re going to pay bills at the end of each month not by making pretty pictures! 

So keep researching while they do theirs instead of expecting them to do yours too; it’ll save both parties valuable time later down the line when things start getting stressful again dueling over deadlines missed due to a lack of knowledge needed to be shared between parties properly early enough.”

Are you a new freelancer in web design? Check out our guide for new freelancers to learn about some of the challenges and opportunities you may encounter when starting your freelance career.

4. Know Your Worth, And Add A Little Extra

You are an intelligent designer who understands the value of your work. You are not afraid to ask for what you need to do good work that meets the quality standards of your brand and clientele. As such, you should be able to confidently negotiate for higher rates when it comes time for freelance design clients to pay up and if they balk at this request, then you know they aren’t right for you!

The trick is knowing how much more money is fair and reasonable, which means doing research on what other freelancers charge their clients (a simple Google search will yield plenty of results), as well as asking trusted colleagues their recommendations on appropriate pricing structures based on experience levels/expertise/etc.

5. Your Client Is Not You

While it’s important for you to understand your client’s perspective, it’s equally important for them to understand yours. This can help alleviate some of the stress that can arise from trying to reconcile two different points of view. 

As a designer, I often have trouble seeing things through my clients’ eyes because they aren’t designers themselves and this makes it challenging to communicate effectively with them at times. But if we work together and create a common understanding of our needs and priorities upfront, then we’re more likely to stick with the plan as we move forward (even if there are inevitable hiccups along the way).

6. Don’t Hide Mistakes From The Client

It is a designer’s job to deliver quality work, and while that may not happen 100% of the time, there are times when something goes wrong and you need to own up to it. Don’t try to pass off mistakes as creative decisions or blame the client for your mistakes. 

Without open communication with your clients, they will never know what went wrong unless you tell them yourself (and even then they may not believe it). If there is an issue with their logo or design brief something that is outside of your control but could affect the result it is best practice to let them know immediately so they can make adjustments before sending anything back for revisions.

7. Show Your Process, But Don’t Overdo It

It’s easy to get excited about showing your process. You’re proud of how you work and want to share! But…but…the client might be intimidated by the massive amount of content or confused about what to focus on when you show them a huge chunk of work in progress.

Instead, consider using some simple visual aids for your initial meeting with them (like mood boards), which will get everyone on the same page without giving away all your trade secrets before you even know if there’s going to be a project at all! 

Only show as much as necessary until you feel comfortable enough with each other that they can ask questions and learn more about what goes into making their vision happen and then show them what makes up those parts of the process so they can see just how amazing it is that we get paid for doing this stuff instead of working at Starbucks (not that there’s anything wrong with being a barista).

Are you making mistakes as a new web developer freelancer? Our blog post on 9 mistakes new web developer freelancers make and how to avoid them can help you identify and overcome common pitfalls in your freelance work.

8. Make Sure The Client Knows Why You Are Doing Things A Certain Way

For example, if you are using a certain color palette because it will help engage the viewer’s attention, make sure that your client understands this. If they ask why you chose a particular typeface, and the answer is because it creates a specific mood that matches the message of the design, then explains all of this to them.

The point here is that if you want to be successful in creating great designs for clients who don’t have much experience in design or artistry themselves, then make sure they understand how these decisions affect their final product – even if only on an intuitive level.

9. Use Simple Language And Avoid Designer Jargon When Possible

You must keep your client from feeling overwhelmed by the language and terms you use. If you’re a designer, it’s easy to fall into the trap of using terminology as shorthand for clients; but if you can avoid it, do so. This goes for both technical terms like “SVG,” “3D,” and “fully responsive” (all of which are used in this article) and more abstract ones like “user experience.”

If your client doesn’t know what SVG is, they won’t be able to understand why it’s important that their logo is in this format rather than some other one. And if they don’t know what UX means, they may feel intimidated by your desire to improve their experience on the site—or they may not even realize that improving an experience is something designers do at all!

10. Don’t Try To ‘sell’ The Design, Just Push For Solid Decisions Based On Creative Thinking 

Here’s the deal: they’re hiring you because they want your expertise, not just the design. So don’t try to ‘sell’ the design, just push for solid decisions based on creative thinking and knowledge of the business objectives. (This is why you must understand their business.) 

You’re not being paid to be friends; you’re being hired as a partner. They need good work from you and if they are open and honest about their expectations, then so should you be with them! Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make sure you understand the client’s needs before getting started designing anything. 

And don’t be afraid to push back if something doesn’t seem right or wrong with what they have asked for in terms of scope or budget requirements…if it isn’t going well then do something about it now before going down a path that won’t end up with either side happy with results later on down the road when it comes time to deliver the product back out into the world!

Managing freelance design clients can be challenging, but our blog post on 11 tips for successfully managing freelance design clients provides practical strategies for building positive client relationships and navigating difficult situations.

11. Don’t Skimp On Your Pricing

You need to be confident that you’re providing a valuable service and charging an appropriate amount. You should price yourself based on the value of your work, not the hourly rate you could get elsewhere (if it takes you 1 hour to design something that would take me 2 hours, don’t undercut me just because I have more experience).

Don’t undervalue your time by taking on too many projects at once or working through lunch breaks. If a client asks for something “last minute”, consider whether they really mean it or if they just like dicking around with freelancers and wasting everyone’s time (and then charge accordingly).

12. Don’t Pretend Your Emotions Don’t Exist

The third and final tip for dealing with a client’s emotional baggage is to avoid pretending your own emotions don’t exist. When a client gets upset, it’s tempting to think that you could just ignore them or get rid of their annoyance by not making eye contact. However, this approach can lead to more frustration in the long run because it doesn’t address what’s causing the problem: their feelings.

Instead, try acknowledging whatever emotion they’re experiencing by calmly saying something like “I’m sorry you feel that way.” This nonjudgmental response will usually make them feel heard and supported and if it doesn’t work right away, then at least there’s still time left before the deadline!

13. Don’t Snoop Around The Client’s Website If You Can Avoid It

Don’t snoop around the client’s website if you can avoid it. Staying away from your client’s website will be easier if you have a third-party software or system that lets you know all the information that clients need to provide for their projects, such as contact details and descriptions of what they want to be done.

If this is not an option for the time being, try not to go looking through their social media profiles or other websites where there might be sensitive information about them (like wedding plans). Remember: Your job is to make them happy by doing what they want and giving them good advice, not becoming friends with them.

14. Don’t Tell Clients They Can Pick One Or Two Options To Revise

If you do, you run the risk of them picking just those two, and then leaving your feedback unanswered. And if they do answer your feedback with revisions that aren’t what you asked for which is more likely than not you’ll spend hours redoing their revisions when all you wanted in the first place was an acceptance of your suggestions.

It’s better not to give clients this option at all. Tell them from the very beginning that any changes will be done entirely by them (no exceptions). This way, when ideas don’t go over well with your client, it’s not on track to become a long-term issue between clients and freelancers

15. Don’t Talk About How Much You Wish You Were Doing Something Else

This is a big one, and probably the most important piece of advice on this list. It’s such an easy trap to fall into when you’re feeling down or stressed out, but resist the urge to vent! 

The last thing your client wants to hear is that they’ve hired someone who hates their job and wants to be at home with their kids instead of working on the project they’ve paid for. You may think it makes them feel better because you can relate, but trust me they won’t be thanking you for it later.

As AI technology continues to advance, many freelance writers may worry about job security. However, our blog post on why freelance writers need not worry about being replaced by AI argues that there will always be a demand for human creativity and storytelling in the writing industry.

16. Do The Research Necessary To Determine How Much You Should Be Charging

We’ve all heard horror stories about projects that are overbooked and underpaid, but there’s a way to mitigate this risk by doing your research before you sign on with a client. Researching the client’s industry, their competitors, their previous work, and their budget should be part of your regular process when talking with potential clients. This will help you get an idea of how much they’re willing to pay for certain types of work.

You can also ask questions like: What budget do you have available? How much time do you need to complete this project? How many revisions are included in this payment? Are there any special terms or conditions that apply (e.g., no outsourcing)?

17. Do Create Systems That Work For You, And Stick To Them (At Least Try To)

The last tip may seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning: do create systems that work for you and stick to them at least try to. For example, if you have a client who always asks for three rounds of revisions, why not create a sample calendar invite with the subject line “Client Revisions?” You can also include an attachment with all of their instructions as well as a sample of what they want. 

This way when they call about their second round of revisions, you can immediately open up your calendar invite and get them going without having to listen to any explanation from either party. There are many different ways this could be applied to your freelance design career. For example:

  • Create a document that has templates for invoicing clients (if needed)
  • Create folders within Google Drive where all correspondence is stored in separate folders by month or project name/client name (depending on how strict you want to be)
  • Create checklists based on projects so that you’re never caught off guard again!

Final Thoughts

Here are some final thoughts you can take away from this article:

Your clients aren’t your enemies they’re your patrons! If you treat them like the latter, they’ll be much more likely to act like the former. There are plenty of ways to make sure that you’re getting paid for your work, but if all else fails, don’t be afraid to ask for a deposit before starting on a project. 

This way, if something goes wrong and the client decides not to use your services anymore (which should never happen), then at least they have already paid for half of what they owe you. If they still refuse and cancel on their end after beginning work together, then it’s probably time both parties parted ways amicably.

Remember: no matter how frustrating or annoying clients maybe sometimes, there are always worse things in life than dealing with an overzealous designer who wants nothing more than perfection when dealing with every single pixel on their website design!

Further Reading

5 Ways to Find Your Niche as a Freelance Designer: This article provides tips on how to discover your niche as a freelance designer and market your skills to the right clients.

How to Make 6 Figures Freelancing: If you’re interested in boosting your freelance income, this article offers practical advice and insights from successful freelancers who have achieved six-figure earnings.

Tips for Healthy and Stress-Free Freelancing: Freelancing can be stressful, but this article provides tips on how to manage your workload, stay organized, and maintain a healthy work-life balance.


How do I become a successful freelance designer?

To become a successful freelance designer, it’s important to build a strong portfolio, develop your niche and target market, and network with potential clients. You should also stay up-to-date with industry trends and continually develop your skills.

What are some common challenges faced by freelance designers?

Some common challenges faced by freelance designers include finding clients, managing time and workload, setting prices, and dealing with difficult clients. Freelancers may also struggle with maintaining a consistent income or finding work-life balance.

How can I price my freelance design services?

To price your freelance design services, you should consider your experience, skill level, and market demand. You may also want to research industry standards and competition to ensure your pricing is competitive.

What tools and software should I use as a freelance designer?

The tools and software you use as a freelance designer will depend on your specific needs and preferences. However, some commonly used tools include design software such as Adobe Creative Suite or Sketch, project management tools like Trello or Asana, and communication tools like Slack or Zoom.

How can I manage my time effectively as a freelance designer?

To manage your time effectively as a freelance designer, you should establish a schedule, prioritize your tasks, and set realistic deadlines. You should also try to minimize distractions and take regular breaks to avoid burnout.

How Long Will It take?

This is a difficult question to answer, but I can give you an estimate based on my experience with similar projects, your budget, and the number of hours that I think it will take me to complete your project. For example, if your project is $1,000 and you need 50 hours of work done on it, then we’re looking at $20 per hour (plus taxes).

What Is The Best Way To Find Clients?

There are lots of different ways you can find clients, but it’s important to be choosy. If someone seems sketchy or if their website looks unprofessional, don’t work with them! It will save you time and stress in the long run.

How Do You Manage Your Time?

I use a client management system called Basecamp that allows me to organize all my work into tasks and projects for each client and then keep track of how much time I spend on each one by recording how many hours I spend on each task within that project. 

This helps me make sure I am billing them correctly for all the work I am doing for them. You can also use something like Trello or even Google Sheets as an alternative solution here if you don’t want to use Basecamp specifically (though personally speaking, using Basecamp has been great).

What Is The Difference Between A Freelancer And An Employee?

A freelancer may have some advantages over an employee, such as more flexible hours and less paperwork. But there are also disadvantages: you don’t receive any benefits (like health insurance) or paid time off, your payment may be lower, and you won’t receive a paycheck every two weeks you must wait until the end of the month before being reimbursed for your work.

On your end, if you hire someone as an independent contractor who would otherwise qualify as an employee under applicable law (i.e., if they perform services on behalf of your business instead of through their own business), then they will not only be entitled to certain benefits but also subject to additional laws that apply only when they are working in this capacity (for example, state laws governing minimum wage).

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