Hello fellow creatives. I’ve been learning + growing a lot recently, but I’ve also been struggling with self-doubt + chronic perfectionism. Sometimes I get so hung up on minor imperfections that I literally CRY when I miss a detail or make things worse by trying to fix it. Some people wear perfectionism like a badge that indicates high quality work, but honestly, trying to be perfect doesn’t propel me forward—it holds me back.
Clients love my work and I hear very few complaints from them. However, their biggest concern is always about time. Time is moneyand great work consumes a lot of it. Although my work is often received with positivity, the lingering question remains: why did it take X amount of time? For obvious reasons, I no longer feel the need to tell my clients how long projects take or charge them by the hour. Hourly rates are far too constraining + anxiety inducing for the designer and the client. Nonetheless, as a perfectionist, constraints are always necessary. Thank goodness for deadlines, am I right?
I used to believe that in order to meet the client’s needs, I either had to cut deliverables and risk losing the job or try to do everything on their budget and risk the health of my own business. Neither of those options were great and I’ve learned that there are far better alternatives. Trust me when I say, constraints are good for the client too. If you can exercise and enforce constraints as a perfectionist, you will thrive. On the other hand, if you do not put limitations on yourself AND the client, you will suffer in an ongoing cycle of endless possibilities. So, take my advice as someone who has experienced this cycle numerous times:
1. Please don’t charge by the hour. Instead, charge based on the value you are providing for your client (see points 6 and 7).
2. For goodness sake,
have a contact. This will protect both you and the client—plus it introduces an extra level of professionalism.
Put a cap on revisions (one or two max). Any revisions requested that exceed the number stated in your contract will cost X amount per revision.
4. Include an ongoing
late payment fee in your contract so you aren’t chasing down clients.
5. On that note,
don’t send the final files before receiving your last payment. Once the client has everything, they need from you, there is no longer incentive to pay on time.
6. Create an outline of agreed upon deliverables (or an outcome) and a note stating that
anything requested outside of the original agreement will cost extra.
7. Or better yet, instead of selling
sell a result (shout out to October Ink, Wayfarer, and The Quickie Podcast for helping me understand value-based pricing better).
8. Learn when to call the project good enough and walk away (aka, don’t get hung up on the details like me)

a note to the consumer of creatives services: not all clients take advantage of creatives. In fact, I believe that very few people intend to take advantage of anyone. If you want to avoid unintentionally taking advantage of a designer (or anyone offering creatives services), start with your perception of their industry. The designer is a professional trying to operate their own business. They are not a starving artist who is taking on freelance work as a side hustle. They are educated in their craft and operate programs that require special training to understand. They produce valuable outcomes that will enhance your company. They deliver real results based on metrics. They create content to help you stand apart in the competitive world of advertising. They are problem solvers and good is not good enough—they want your business to be the best it can be.