DON’T ASSUME. We all know what that makes out of you and me.
One of the biggest differences between being a freelance graphic designer and a staff designer is that the freelancer doesn’t always have control over the vendor chosen to produce a particular job. I’m specifically referring to a printer. Many times I have to deal with a printer that either the client has contracted or one that the agency for whom I’m working for has chosen. And that’s all fine and dandy. My advice to all freelancers is to be aggressive, pro-active and insist that as the designer you get yourself involved with that vendor as early-on in the project as possible. Request that you talk directly with that vendor – most importantly with the production department and not just the sales representative – or if you’re working with an agency, work very closely with their production manager. All too often we’re requested to design and fulfill a project not really knowing all the exact production expectations. And that should never happen.
DON’T ASSUME that whatever you design can be produced. The chosen vendor may not have the capability. Or, the design is not within the budget that was quoted. By involving yourself early-on everyone wins. The freelancer doesn’t spend unnecessary (and potentially unbillable) hours re-designing or re-working a project to fit specifications they were not unaware of, plus the client receives exactly what they were expecting without any production delays or cost over-runs.
This may all sound simple and part of the natural design/project process, but trust me, it’s way too easy to assume it’s not necessary only to have a simple project turn into a freelancers nightmare.