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Common mistakes designers make with clients – Part 8: Letting your client pool die

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This post is part 8 of a series. Read the rest of the series here:
Common mistakes designers make with clients – Part 1: Not signing a contract
Common mistakes designers make with clients – Part 2: Allowing a discount
Common mistakes designers make with clients – Part 3: Burning bridges

Common mistakes designers make with clients – Part 4: Working for family

Common mistakes designers make with clients – Part 5: Missing deadlines
Common mistakes designers make with clients – Part 6: Not asking for referrals
Common mistakes designers make with clients – Part 7: Neglecting to follow up

A little while ago, as I anticipated this series coming to an end soon, I visited Millo’s facebook page and asked what topics you’d like covered before this series is through. We covered one of them last time (when and how to follow up with clients) and today, I’d like to address one other question.

This installment was encouraged by a question asked by Pishon-Boboye Olayiwola. In essence the question is, “What should I do when I have no project to work on.”

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There are really two answers to this question. The first answer is, use passive income (here are 9 ways designers can generate passive income)as a way to stay afloat during client dry spells.

But the real answer is: don’t let your client pool die.

A very common mistake for all designers

I bring this up because I think it’s a very common mistake designers make. We get caught up in a project, get excited about completing it a getting paid, and somehow forget to look for a new client until we get the check from our current client.

This system leaves gaping holes in our work flow and, subsequently, our cash flow.

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The key to keeping your client pool full?

So how can you keep your client pool full all the time? Keep this in mind:

You are a business person as much as you are a designer. Don’t forget that creating beautiful designs and billing your clients is only half of your job. The other half is being an entrepreneur and a marketer.

Here are a two solid ways you can make sure your client pools stays full all the time:

  • Take time each day to devote to marketing your business. Whether you’re making cold calls, asking for referrals, or doing paid advertising, you need to dedicate even just an hour each day to marketing your design business. Leave a comment and tell me how you market your business.
  • Never be satisfied with the number of clients you have. Always be on the hunt for quality clients. Even if you’re currently over-booked, if a quality client comes along schedule them out for next month, or even the month after. I know a few designers who schedule out their clients 6-8 months in advance because they are so popular. The clients are willing to wait and it gives the designers some great job security!

How do you keep your client pool full?

I’m curious to know how some of you keep your client pool full and thriving. Leave a comment on this post and tell me how you do it!

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About Preston D Lee

Preston is an entrepreneur, writer, podcaster, and the founder of this blog. You can contact him via twitter at @prestondlee.

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  1. I agree with taking out time to market your business, using whatever methods find work best for you such as emailing, phoning, networking, skyping etc. As for scheduling projects in for clients 6-8 months in advanced – great if you can and if you can find and hang on to clients willing to wait that long – but for most of us, telling a client they may have to wait more than a month to get onto something would likely result in them looking at other options!

  2. Place a ‘for hire’ ad out. Anyone who’s willing to sit down to do cold calls, flip through hundreds of publications for any leads, could be a student on holiday, a bored retiree, a millionaire with too much time, if they’re up for it, hire them. That way you will have better time management, less stress and increase productivity.

  3. I think these tips are very useful not only for designers but for every free lancer professional. I’m an sculptor and think what you’ve written completely right. PS: Writing from São Paulo, Brazil.

  4. Hi Preston,

    Thanks for sharing the post. Social media has played a big part in building and maintaining current and potential client relationships. Twitter has been the biggest game changer for me. I’ve found that while people may not need your services right when you meet them, if you keep up the ‘drip’ marketing, they’ll ask when their ready.


  5. I read you blog about the mistakes done by website designers. It is quite interesting. But I have a question in my mind that is there any video about this blog, because videos can explain better than blog.


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