1. ACKNOWLEDGE OTHER DESIGNERS THAT ARE BETTER
What does this mean? Well, unless you are the design superman, who you are probably not, else you would not be reading this article, there is always going to be a graphic designer that is better, more original or simply a better business man than you are. You should acknowledge these people and learn from them. Analyze their work, their thought process and how they present themselves online.
We are lucky we work in a business that is largely based on the internet, so we have pretty much unlimited learning resources. Join design communities such as Dribbble, Behance and DeviantArt. Not only are they good for viewing and posting projects, they also give you ability to meet new people, possibly even friends. Swallow your pride, acknowledge other designers and grow with their help.
2. PLAN YOUR DAY TO INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY
This is probably one of the most important qualities a designer should have. Plan your days, do not just wake up at 11AM and waste half of your day doing meaningless things. Be productive! It is really easy to get lost on the internet. Spend countless hours just browsing around, finding interesting things and allowing time to slowly drain away. I am not saying you need to work from 7AM to 9PM, far from it. We all need time to relax. I am talking about spending time on ridiculous things that are a distraction and help nobody.
I like to plan my day or maybe even a few days ahead each Sunday evening before going to bed. Set your goals for the week and think how you are going to achieve those goals. I am not saying you need to be a workaholic and spend your whole day in Photoshop or Illustrator, this might even have a negative effect. Learn how to manage your time and your work will improve from it as well.
3. THE POWER OF “NO”
This topic is easily explained in a few simple examples.
1. You just made an awesome logo design for a client. You present the logo to the client and he wants you to do some changes. But these changes will make your logo far worse and at that point you realize, that the client has no taste at all and is going to ruin your work.
Solution: First things first, try to reason with the client, use valid arguments. Make him realize your profession is being a graphic designer and you have studied and worked hard for years to get to this level.
2. You are working on a website for a client, but he wants to be constantly involved in the process and is making you do one million changes, all of them which you are doing free of charge. The website is taking longer than expected and your price was not set properly for such a project.
Solution: Explain the client your situation and try to reason with them. Either explain to the client so much changes will cost extra, or give them a limited number of changes you are willing to do. Keep in mind, this is also partially your own fault, because you did not explain the work process in the initial meeting, else this would not happen.
How to prevent all these problems before they even happen? Most of these problems can be prevented during the first meeting with the client. Explain your work process, the potential extra costs and what is included in your work. Think of every possible scenario and prevent it, before it can happen. If you think the client is nothing but trouble you always have the option to decline the work. Choose the work you want to do, it is better to do less work and more quality, than more work less quality. Trust me it pays off in the long run.
4. TAKE THE DAY OFF AND REFILL YOUR CREATIVE JUICES
Designing in your little corner for days and feeling burnt out? Take the day off and relax. But you think you can’t, because you have a lot of work to do and can’t afford to lose a day. WRONG! Designing things in a tired state is never a good thing. Your work suffers, your body suffers, your speed suffers and the finished product can never be as good. Be sure to tackle each project in a relaxed state with 100% of everything you got.
Remember each project you finish is a reflection of your skills and abilities. Future clients will take these projects into account and base their decision on it. One day is nothing compared to having a portfolio full of projects you can be proud of and you know you gave them everything you have to offer.
5. EDUCATION AND PERSISTENCE
I would like to start of this topic with a simple quote by Stephen Richards:
“If you do not have persistence then no amount of education, talent or genius can make up for it”.
I have a diploma, I know everything there is to know. Yeah, right. No matter what education you have, you will never stop learning and you will never stop improving. It is just the nature of this business and why we love it. It is changing and developing so fast, everyone needs to be on their toes and keep up with their education.
So what can I do to educate myself further?
Read articles, join design communities, attend technology events, have chats with other designers… If you do some of these on a daily basis, you will automatically be kept in the loop.
The other thing is persistence. In order to be a successful graphic designer you really need to be hungry for it. Seeing design as a chore and not a passion is a recipe for failure. Sure we all have projects we are not crazy about working on, but as long as you still love what you do, you should have no trouble in being persistent and pushing through all the problems you encounter on your way.