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Are you turning into the client you hate the most?

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Every designer has that high-maintenance client who always needs their projects rushed to the highest priority.

You know, the one that calls at 4:30pm on a Friday needing something for a Saturday morning conference but who is still waiting for legal’s final review of the text? This is the client my bank account loves but that makes me cringe when I see their incoming call.

What words and phrases would you use to describe that sort of client? Unorganized. Haphazard. Poor internal communication. Prone to making mistakes. Lack of forethought or planning. Scattered.

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How do you make it on your vendors’ – printing companies, subcontractors, etc. – list of favorite clients (and therefore get the best pricing and customer service)?

Don’t become your worst client nightmare. Don’t mimmick your worst clients by being Unorganized or haphazard. Below, you’ll find a few ways you can be a star client for your vendors and subcontractors. And who knows? Maybe good karma will find its way back to you and bring you great design clients!

Give a Heads Up

When you are at least 80% sure you’re going to have a project, contact your vendor. Let them know what materials you anticipate needing and what the estimated due date will be so that they aren’t scrambling (and charging rush fees) last minute.

Provide a Sample

Printing companies in particular LOVE samples. It gives them an idea of what you need and what the end result will be. From this they can determine how they’re going to handle your project internally, and assign the best price tag. For digital media subcontractors, a picture, sketch, or sample for inspiration is worth 1000 words.

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Ask for their Input

You’ve hired this professional for their expertise. Let them help you make the best decisions on your project. Example: Ask your printing company for a substrate (paper) recommendation or your video specialist for the best file type for your website.

 Deliver as Promised

It’s the same philosophy as with your clients: “under promise, over deliver.” If you say you’ll have information to them on Thursday, have it to them on Thursday (or Wednesday night, if you can). If you can’t, call/email them and let them know what the hang-up is and when the new delivery date is estimated to be. EXPECT THAT THIS WILL ALTER THEIR DELIVERY DATE, TOO!

Be Personable

No one likes to be treated like a minion. Be polite, and if you’d like a long-standing relationship, get to know them. Ask about their day. Find a common interest (outside of work) and share information.

Show your Appreciation

Thank your vendors for a job well done. Send them a holiday card. Refer business to them. Give them a positive Yelp review. Recommend them on LinkedIn.

What else?

How do you communicate with your design vendors? Have you forged lasting relationships as a result of good communication? Have you been the vendor that has declined a project (or a client in general) due to their behavior? Leave a comment on this post and let us learn from you!

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About April Greer

April is the Director of Projects at Reliable PSD, a design-to-code company for designers, by designers. She’s the glue keeping everything together, organized, and right on time, and giving everyone a fantastic experience while she does it.


Leave a Comment



  1. I can’t believe how many people don’t get this! To me there’s no difference between a client, a vendor or anyone else. I try never to miss an opportunity to work the charm and as a result, things run smoothly, I get referals, life’s good. I even get served quicker at the bar. On the other side, I see plenty of people who dont operate this way and I see how complicated their lives become. And let’s face it, none of us were born graphic designers. Think back to when you were waiting tables.

    • Preston D Lee says:

      Andrew, I completely agree. If we could all pause for a minute and remember any situation we’ve been in where we’ve been the customer or client, surely we’ll treat our clients better. Walk a mile in your clients shoes.

  2. Well said, Andrew! Treat people as you want to be treated.

    Being pleasant and appreciative goes a long way toward great service, better pricing, and the willingness to prioritize you in your time of need.

  3. I agree with much of these article. In fact, we often provide actual ‘mock ups’ in addition to sketches, drawings and meetings with all our vendors. The end result is usually less complicated and smoother.

  4. Great article. I included it in my latest issue of Freelancing Weekly (http://freelancingweekly.com/issue-10) a once weekly, free newsletter of curated tips, articles and resources for Freelancers.

  5. ทำเว็บ says:

    Thanks for the article. I read the above post.


  1. […] Which means if you want others to stop treating you like this, you have to examine your own interactions and see if you too aren’t “returning the favor.” […]


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