What I Have Learned From Clients

I’ve been self-employed for 18 years now, and I truly love being self- employed. What I love about it, though, may really surprise you.Key to Success It’s not just the freedom to work when and where I want to work. Or even the chance to work on a variety of projects. Or even how much I learn about my client’s products and services as I am helping them choose the best solution for their needs. Although all of those factors weigh in, there is something way more powerful about the work that I do with my clients.

What I love most about being self-employed is helping my clients figure out what they REALLY want and seeing their delight when the solution exceeds their expectations!

Having worked with big Fortune 100 companies and teeny-tiny startups, with mid-level managers and C-level executives, I have seen over and over that MOST clients have no idea what they really want.

That may seem shocking, but when clients contact me they THINK they know what they want. They ask for it directly. Then, I begin to ask them intelligent questions on how they want their idea implemented, and I really listen. I connect the dots and make sure I am understanding them correctly. That is often where the disconnect is revealed, if there is one (or more). Yes, professional butts have been saved. Repeatedly.

If they had hired a less-experienced person, then they would have gotten only what they requested, and would find out later that it was money wasted (for design and materials implementation). Heads would have rolled.

Some of my clients have been shocked when, upon realizing a disconnect so large it didn’t make sense for them to hire me, I suggested they use another vendor. I am not sure why this surprises clients. Why wouldn’t I do that? I am building long-term relationships with my clients! Steering them in the wrong direction just so I can make money would be short-sighted. Making sure my clients are successful is a win-win that helps everyone.

In addition, I pride myself in being professional, skilled, resourceful, reliable, and a huge asset to the clients who hire me. Creating a long-term, positive relationship with them is also a reason why they speak so highly of me. You can read some of their testimonials here. When you do, ask yourself: do we feel this good about the creative person we hire?

Case Study: Annette Pedersen

Reaching a Wider Audience
When Annette Pedersen decided to become certified in The Emotion Code, an energy healing modality, she knew it would be necessary to reach out to a wider audience. In order to attain her certification, Annette would need to provide at least 40 pro-bono sessions ~ in person, locally, and by phone. For Annette to connect with that many prospective clients, she needed a way for them to learn about her and decide if The Emotion Code would work for them.

A Healing Solution
It was clear that a website could help Annette reach more people. While she had previously created free sites for herself in the past,¬†Annette hadn’t been entirely happy with the results, and didn’t know where to begin with a new site. I had met Annette through social media, and was honored when she contacted Barry-Jansson & Associates to help her figure out the best solution that would be very cost-effective while she’s getting certified and building her business, but would allow her to grow a bigger site when the time was right.

After Annette contacted me, I interviewed her about all her preferences for the new site including color, layout, sidebar and blog features. She wanted something professional looking that would be easy for her to update. I recommended a free site that she would later be able to migrate when the time was right, that would connect to a branded Facebook business page. We also brainstormed site names and options. I took notes as Annette shared her preferences. Then, Annette sent me photos to use in the header and content of the site.

I searched template options that would work best, established the new site location, created the banner graphic using the colors Annette preferred. Some of the photos required photo editing including brightening and cropping. I created a profile image for the site as well as for the site’s favicon (that little image that shows up in the browser tab / navigation bar), for Annette’s blog icon, and for her new Facebook page. When I created the Facebook page, I adapted the existing site header to work as the new cover image.

By the way, the sweet calico kitty in Annette’s site header is very important, not only because Annette is able to help humans and animals. The kitty’s name is Dot, and she always sits with (or ON) Annette during The Emotion Code phone sessions! (Many animal healers report that they often have certain animals in the house who want to “help out” when they work.) Dot enjoys being Annette’s energy helper, so it made a lot of sense to include her in the header image.

Setting Her Up for Success
Based on our interview, I was able to guess many of the finer details, but I knew that Annette would have final say once the site was completed. I presented the completed site and FB page to Annette, and she was thrilled. Now all she had to do was add content!

To that end, I spent some time coaching Annette on creating new blog posts, adding new pages, tweaking her sidebars, and adding photos. Now she was free to move forward on her own. Annette reports that the site and FB page are working wonders for her connecting with potential clients. Coordinating her site and social media allows Annette to share healing success stories, and a way for potential clients to contact her easily.

What do you think? Visit Annette’s new site and click here to visit her Facebook page.

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…

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