by Artwell Nwaila (@artwelln) Once again I throw on my freelance hat and share a few tips for people who are looking to use our convenient services. I’ve experienced both the freelance and the client side of the world, and it is with this experience I compile the list below to help you, as the client, have a decent relationship your freelancer.

You get what you brief

Because the creative is not situated in your office, they generally don’t have context. You need to make sure that you prepare a brief document with a clear project overview, creative requirements, mandatories, sizes and references. I always say, “Brief a creative like you are briefing a slower-than-usual moron.” Rather be annoyingly over-detailed than vague.

Respect time

When a creative accepts work from you, it does not mean that you own them. Agree with the creative upon the exact amount of reverts allowed, and the maximum project length upfront. There should also be a budget set for over time.

When I was a full-time freelancer, I had a client who took four months to sign off a logo. This partially insane, demonic client made change after change and, when we got close to sign off, she would seek approval from her senile granny, cross-eyed aunt and proceed to dump more changes in my lap.

Set and prepare the budget

What a lot of people fail to remember is that freelancers are trying to make a living, just like anyone else. So when you get ready to call a freelancer, make sure you have budget ready or don’t call at all. If there is one thing that is killing the industry is clients who pay deposits only or don’t pay at all. If this continues, we will see trends shifting to 70%, 80% and 100% upfront payments.

Don’t offer to pay in favors

I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked to do a quick design for cupcakes, movie tickets or chocolates. We are not that desperate; just like you, we need money to maintain our beards and thrift-shop hipster hats.

I once got a call from a bride who needed a photographer for her wedding .She then proudly offered to pay me by letting me eat at the reception. But, wait, there is more. When I declined, she proceeded to send me negotiated food offers.

Make sure your understanding is legally binding

In conclusion, too many times I’ve watched client/freelancer relationships fall apart due to unclear terms and conditions. It’s always advisable that you, as a client, should always have a set of documents that state Ts & Cs, NDAs and other such information. Just ensure that you don’t make us read super-long contracts; we hate reading. Seriously, don’t do it.


Artwell NwailaArtwell Nwaila (@artwelln) is a creative director at Offlimit Communications, as well as founder and publisher of the award-winning SA Creatives (@thesacreatives), a network intended to help creatives move their professional lives forward through showcases, news and a freelancer directory. His monthly column on MarkLives, “Creation”, is a humorous take on life in the creative world, seasoned with practical advice based on experience.


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