“Obviously, you are an expert at this.”

This is what a potential client told me in the first 15 minutes of our initial conversation. I have noticed in my 15+ year design career that if you do some subtle little things, clients instantly see you as an expert.

Here are my top 3:

#1 Talking money

Addressing money upfront.

Don’t put it off ‘till the end of the conversation. Go in with numbers in mind. The number for a minimum level of engagement aka the lowest number you are willing to work for. Know the approximate time frame of different price points and also deliverables. Make sure you can say a big number and shut up until you hear a reaction. And don’t be quick to backtrack. Ask questions with the intent of trying to understand what the client values.

Talking money means you understand business.

#2 Diagnosing without prescribing

Asking specific questions that give you information that will help your client make a better decision.

The quality of your questions shows your expertise. Come prepared with at least 3 of those. Never jump to prescribing solutions too quickly. Solutions should come from research. And, yes, first client conversations are also part of the research — but never all of it.

Take your time to understand the challenge.

#3 Don’t do it all

Specialise exceptionally well in one thing. That’s why they are hired.

I know that you are talented and you can do the illustrations and the logo design too. But this turns you from a brain surgeon into a general practitioner. So, focus on one thing and downplay the rest. Get hired, win their trust with your core skill and upsell the rest later.

Be a brain surgeon, not a GP.


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