Last year I took on a grand total of zero design clients.
I had no idea what my work schedule would look like once my son was born in April, so I cleared my schedule until I could wrap my mind around client work again.
Thankfully I still had other income sources through courses, coaching clients, and the Elle & Company Library.
Now that I’ve found my footing, I’m itching to dive back into design work and help creative business owners with their brands and websites in 2019!
And while my 2-week process isn’t feasible during this season, I do have a streamlined 8-week process that I’m excited to implement this year.
1 | The inquiry stage
The process begins with the initial client inquiry, primarily through the contact form on my website.
Once I see the inquiry in my inbox, I reply to the email with a Calendly link to schedule a 20-minute call.
Hiring a designer to build a brand and website is a big investment, so the purpose of this initial call is to set my prospective clients at ease and give them a glimpse at what our working relationship will look like moving forward.
I ask them about their business, outline my design process, discuss my availability, and answer all of their questions.
It’s much more personal than communicating via email, and I’ve always found that clients are more likely to book once we’ve each had the opportunity to get to know each other better.
2 | The booking stage
After the initial 20-minute call, I send a follow-up email with available project dates and a link to a custom proposal that’s setup through Honeybook.
The proposal includes:
An outline of the design project
My client contract
And an invoice for the first payment
It’s all online, so prospective clients can easily view the proposal, sign the contract, and pay the first invoice all in one simple step.
Once that’s complete, their project is officially booked in my client calendar!
**In all transparency, I do receive compensation for mentioning Honeybook and any commission I earn comes at no additional cost to you. But I never recommend tools that I don’t use, love, and believe to be extremely beneficial!
3 | The prep stage
Once Honeybook sends me a confirmation email that the contract has been signed and the first payment has been made, I set up a new folder in Google Drive for my client.
This folder acts as a “homebase” throughout the project; a place for both of us to have easy access to client homework, design drafts, final files, etc.
The first item in that folder is my client homework questionnaire, a multi-page Google Doc with questions that help me prepare to design a client’s brand and website before the project begins.
Because most of my clients book their spot in my design calendar a couple months before the project actually starts, they have plenty of time to complete the questionnaire.
And because it’s a shared Google Doc, I can easily check in and view their progress.
I have master copies already created for my client homework questionnaire, so I create a copy of that Google Doc and drop it in the folder.
I share the Google folder with my client in an email, along with another Calendly link to schedule a prep call where we review the client homework before the project officially begins.
How to Organize Google Drive for Your Business
12 Google Doc Templates to Make Your Business More Efficient
How Client Homework Revolutionized My Workflow
A Helpful Step-By-Step Guide for Creating Client Homework
4 | The project stage
Now onto the fun part: the design!
Because I work with one client at a time, I’m able to pour all of my efforts into the design of their brand and website over the course of 8 weeks.
I find it helpful to focus on one aspect of the design each week:
Week 1 | Inspiration
I always start a design project with an inspiration board for visual direction. I gather a variety of images into a digital collage and pull from the color scheme, patterns, textures, and subject matter to build out all of the elements of the brand.
Week 2 | Logo
A logo is one of the most recognizable aspects of any brand and often informs other design decisions like fonts, graphics, patterns, and more. So I like to design the logo first. I create a primary logo, but I also design a few variations to give my clients more versatility.
Week 3 | Brand style guide
Once the logo and logo variations have been finalized, I build out the rest of the brand by choosing fonts, a color palette, an illustrative style for graphics, and more. A brand is most effective when it’s consistent, so I outline all of these elements in a brand style guide that my client can refer back to as they put their brand to use.
Weeks 4-5 | Collateral
The brand comes to life as I design 5 custom collateral items for my client. These items can range from business cards and stationery to presentation slides, infographics, T-shirts, or pricing guides. I work with my client to help them choose these collateral items ahead of time and it’s always one of my favorite parts of the project!
Week 6-7 | Website
After the brand and collateral items are designed, I move onto the design of my client’s Squarespace site. My client provides all of the photos and copy ahead of time, which speeds up the process and allows me to work efficiently in the platform.
Week 8 | File prep + final walk-through
I wrap up the project by saving all of the logo variations, graphics, and collateral files and adding them to Google Drive for easy access. I also meet up with my client in Google Hangouts to walk them through the backend of their new Squarespace site, and I record the meeting so they can refer back to it in the future.
Throughout the project timeline, I communicate with my client via email to let them know what I’m working on each day and provide drafts of new designs.
We also meet up often over the phone and on Google Hangouts to discuss concepts and revisions in more detail.
5 | The launch stage
The brand, collateral items, and website are complete on the final day of the project, but my clients usually wait a couple weeks to officially launch their website and share their new visual identity with the world.
This is helpful for generating hype and building up excitement for my client’s business, and it also gives them time to familiarize themself with their website, order collateral items (if they need to be printed), and make sure everything is consistent.
On launch day, I like to celebrate the occasion by revealing the project on my social media accounts and sharing a behind-the-scenes look at the process on my blog. It’s a fun way to highlight my client and all the work that went into the project!
Related post: 11 Ways to Create Hype Around a New Launch
I’m currently taking clients for 2019!
So if you’d like to work together to create a stunning first impression online through a beautiful brand and website, please contact me. I’d love to chat with you!
And if you’d like to see my process in action and walk through the steps to create your own one-of-a-kind brand, join me on the blog throughout the month of February for my annual 4-week Brand Challenge!
I’ll be sharing more information in the coming week, but enter your email address below to stay up to date and be the first to receive more details.
What does your client process look like? What apps and systems do you use to make it more efficient?