Get the Most from Creative Professionals, Part 5

This article is a continuation of the discussion from Get the Most from Creative Professionals, Part 4. The first post in the series is here.

Managing the project
Once you have briefed the creative, signed the contract, and paid your up-front fee, it is time to step back and let the creative person do their job. They should keep the project on track and meet your deadline without your provocation. If you hired the right person, you should now be able to fully focus your energies on your other projects and leave the professional to do their job. If you have to hand-hold or constantly check on the progress, you are either micro-managing (who, you?) or you have not hired a professional.

At the same time, the professional creative will always keep you informed about project changes, and will not contact you unless additional information is required or they have hit a snag. Let them do their job. That’s why you hired a professional in the first place.

If you are feeling the urge to constantly check in, you are disturbing the process for a professional and frazzling the nerves of a newbie. Put your faith in the professional, and if the deadline slips, it’s time to hire someone else!

When you hire a seasoned person, they have been in business and stayed in business because they met deadlines and satisfied their customers on a regular basis. Leave it to the professional, and if they fail to meet a deadline or fail to keep you informed about the project, then they are in breach of the contract. You can deal with that bridge, should you ever come to it, and if so you will be very glad you put it all in writing. If you hire the more experienced, seasoned professional, however, you are far less likely to ever see that bridge!

Pay Your Invoice on Time
This is the most often over-looked *tip* on how to find and keep the best creative people available for you. We all have expenses to pay, and creatives are no different. A client who routinely pays quickly and respectfully is noticed and remembered, and given preference over clients who hold off paying. There are some large corporations who believe it’s an *honor* for anyone to contract with them. I bet they scramble when they want to hire a seasoned professional who has the choice who to work for!

If a creative met your deadline, pay back the favor by making sure their invoice is processed in 30 days or less. Yes, you get brownie points for every day less than 30 that the payment is received. OK, maybe not. 😉 However, I guarantee it will get noticed, AND the next time you call with a tight deadline, you will be glad you did!

Have some comments about hiring professional creatives? Put your comment below…

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If you’d like your question answered, please click on this link to submit your question via email. We look forward to helping you with your presentation and illustration questions!

Get the Most from Creative Professionals, Part 2

This article is a continuation of the discussion from Get the Most from Creative Professionals, Part 1.

How long should it take?
Ok, if you need your project completed tomorrow morning and it’s already 5:15pm, then you probably know that your deadline is insane. Unfortunately, everyone experiences this kind of insanity every once in a while. However, if this type of deadline is more the rule than the exception at your company, it’s time to get some better time management tools. With such tight deadlines, it’s best to call someone you’ve worked with before who can hit the ground running, and you should expect to pay a premium for a rush job. It’s the cost of doing business on the bleeding edge. If you need to save money, start by planning projects well in advance to keep costs down.

However, if you have no set deadline, but don’t want to be caught in a never-ending project, either, then start with a reasonable deadline for the project. Do some research or ask your seasoned creative professional what is a reasonable deadline to design, review, tweak, and have a final review for your project before you sign on the dotted line. They will be able to guide you to less expensive options, if the timeline works for you.

If additional outside services are required, such as printing, add the outside services to the project timeline. For instance, a brochure may require photography of your product first, then design, then printing, then mailing. Allow two weeks for the design and then add the time for photography, printing, and mailing. A seasoned designer already has photography, printing, and mailing house contacts they trust, unless you have specific companies you prefer to work with. If you have such preferences, let the designer know that when you first approach them for the project.

Also, if the designer estimates that the project will take 8 hours, do not assume that those 8 hours are consecutive (i.e., 8am to 4pm). The truth is, the creative process is rarely linear. First, it’s not uncommon for the creative person familiarize themselves your project, then they will go off and do something else, while having your project in the back of their mind. Psychologists call this subconscious processing. Most creative folk will think about your project, on and off, 24 hours a day, until they have met your deadline. Lucky you, you are only paying for the time when they have resolved the creative issues and actually put the pieces of the puzzle together for you!

The person who sits down and does only what you asked them to do in a consecutive timeframe, without any other creative input (such as a copy center employee), is a production person…not a creative professional. Expect to pay this person much less, and get much less, than the person who is adding value to your project by using their creativity.

Have some comments about hiring professional creatives? Put your comment below…

Ask Questions!
If you’d like your question answered, please click on this link to submit your question via email. We look forward to helping you with your presentation and illustration questions!

Get the Most from Creative Professionals, Part 1

As an avid networker, I belong to a variety of professional organizations and their email lists. Often, questions come across these lists that highlight how little is known about working with a creative professional. These tips are designed to help you decide who is the best person to hire, and how to get the best (creative) work out of them.

What to look for when hiring creative professionals
Creative professionals do tend to be right-brain dominant, so they think and work differently than those who are left-brain dominant. As a result, the creative process is quite often is non-linear. However, a good professional will not bother you with those details, and you will never have to worry about them managing their own creative process. Successful creatives regularly meet the deadlines and address your project objectives, regardless of how they work.

If you are going to pay someone good money to create for you, it makes sense to seek out professionals who have experience and have made a living doing this for at least a few years. Yes, less experienced creatives will be eager and charge less per hour, but that’s the catch: inexperienced creatives usually take longer and make more mistakes than a seasoned pro.

Like most professions, the longer you’ve done it, the more likely…

A.) You are going to continue doing that kind of work and be available in the future

B.) You have been there, done that, and learned the hard lessons

C.) You know the smartest and fastest way to accomplish the project objectives, and…

D.) You will be mindful of meeting your client’s needs within their budget and endeavor to establish a long-term relationship (because you intend to stay in business). That makes sense, right?

So, look for the seasoned person with experience using the skills you need. You’ll save money and headaches immediately, and in the long run. Keep in mind that a creative organization, such as an agency, may have been in business a while, but their staff may be full of newbies who are stumbling through the projects. Take the time to find out how long the people you are interacting with have worked in their industry.

When you hire seasoned professionals, you are also paying for all their experience, which is ultimately less expensive than having others learn their job on your dime.

Have some comments about hiring professional creatives? Put your comment below…

Ask Questions!
If you’d like your question answered, please click on this link to submit your question via email. We look forward to helping you with your presentation and illustration questions!