Whether you’re a web developer and designer, writer, illustrator or other type of creative professional, you know that generating clever ideas that you’ll clients will love is hard work. But you know something else. The more it feels like hard work, the less you’re able to create from a place of inspiration.
It’s difficult for many of us to do our best work under the familiar pressures of deadlines and the budgetary constraints of clients. And let’s not forget how the day-to-day pressures of running a business threaten to cripple our creative spirit.
Your clients don’t care about your pressures, the fight you had with your spouse, or your financial struggles. They care about the quality of the work you can deliver for them. And, of course, you care about that too. Otherwise, you’d have chosen another path in life. That’s why the really talented creatives know that for the health of their business and their psyche, they must commit to doing their absolutely best work—always!
That’s not as easy as it sounds. Sometimes we have to coax ourselves out of ruts. Other times we have to remind ourselves of some of the most important business rules. Regardless of your day-to-day challenges, here are six tips that will help you to thrill your clients every time. Are you up to the challenge?
1. Find your Motivation
I touched on this in 7 Tips to Unleash Your Creativity On The World. I believe wholeheartedly that you absolutely need at least one source of inspiration, something that lights that spark within you. Identify what that is and routinely seek it for renewal. It can be as simple as a CD or a song that pumps you up, or that brings you down so you can focus. It can be a day trip to the country, a week in a different country, or a book that takes you someplace far away.
Whatever that something is, it’s essential to seek inspiration and stay motivated if you’re going to thrill your clients with amazing work!
2. Find Projects where you can Excel
You know the kind of work you get excited about, and the kind of projects that leave you flat. I’ve seen talented people renew their spirit and unleash their potential with exciting projects and appreciative clients. I’ve also seen talented creatives burned out and apathetic with mundane projects that appeared to suck the life out of them.
It would be a perfect world if we could always and only do the most inspiring and amazing projects. But chances are you won’t have that freedom. My advice is to always actively seek out the ones that will light your fire. If you’re doing the same old thing day in and day out until it becomes rote, you won’t be giving your best, or enjoying what you do.
Find the clients and projects that excite you! The more you’re known for taking on exceptional challenges, the more these sorts of challenges will find you. Life is funny that way.
But keep it in perspective. Know that not every project will be the most monumental. Even “ordinary” projects are necessary for staying billable.
3. Look Back to Look Forward
We all get a little down on ourselves from time to time. One of my favorite remedies for this is to look back at work I’ve done some years back, whether it’s marketing copy I’ve written or articles I’ve placed. Looking back at how much I improve year over year affirms for me that I’m exceptional at what I do, and that I’m constantly achieving more and getting better. This helps me always want to do my best work and it can do the same for you.
Be sure to regularly take stock of your successes and reward yourself for your achievements.
4. Make the Most of Adversity
Just like looking back and enjoying your successes is good for your mojo, so is regularly working to keep a healthy outlook. To really master this, you must use life’s difficulties to your advantage. Rather than allowing challenges to cause you to lose focus or take you off your game, commit to use adversity to create something wonderful.
Let’s say a client disagrees with your creative direction, or you lose a significant account. How can you channel that into excellence? Sometimes frustration and disappointment can fuel us to do exceptional work—if we’ll harness and make the most of it. That takes us to tip #5.
5. Create for Yourself
Creative professionals are financially fueled by the work we do for our clients. We are governed by their schedules, their approval cycles, their business principles and their marketing parameters. That’s why you need to be sure to have a creative outlet for yourself. You cannot always exclusively work by others’ rules. That minimizes your talent and boxes you in. Ultimately, it will keep you from creating your best, most thrilling client work.
When as the last time you created something awesome for your personal edification?
6. Be an Excellent Client Manager
This is another topic I’ve covered here at this excellent design blog: Most Important Lessons for Creative Professionals in Managing Clients. If you’re going to create great work that also makes you commercially successful, you need to a top-notch client manager, from proactive and consistent communications to heading off trouble by watching the warning signs.
You absolutely cannot create thrilling deliverables that your clients will love if you’re out of synch with them from a management standpoint.
So stay focused, stay on top of your business, and stay creative. Remember that you alone are responsible for your success. Doing your best work—always—is up to you but it requires a serious commitment. Follow the tips above, from motivation to client management, if you’re going to create increasingly brilliant work—this week and for the rest of your career!