I receive quite a few messages from potential clients interested in working with me. And most of them do a horrible job of making me want to work on their project. I realize it can be hard to know what to say in that first message, so here’s a quick guide to help you approach a designer.
- Do use your real name. If the email comes from “firstname.lastname@example.org” I’m not going to take it seriously.
- Do mention your company’s name, or any additional details that might make me want to work with you.
- Do tell me how you heard about me. It’s always useful to know how my clients found me.
- Do mention a specific project of mine that you like, if there’s one. It helps to know that you’re not just sending the same message to 50 other designers.
- Don’t make too many typos or grammatical mistakes. If english is not your first language (and by the way, it’s not mine either), say simpler things or have someone else proof-read your message.
- Do explain your project in enough detail. Just pretend I’m a potential investor and you’re trying to convince me to invest in it. After all, even though you’re paying me I’ll still be investing my time.
- Do explain who it’s for and why you’re doing it. There’s a big difference between “we’re building a social network” and “we’re building a social network to help pharmaceutical companies streamline the testing process for new drugs”, even if both descriptions are technically correct.
- Do tell me your project’s scope before asking me if I’m available. I might be available for a quick teaser site, but not for designing a whole social network.
- Do understand that just like developers, designers have their specialities too. Don’t expect a single person to do your app’s logo, icon, UI, stationery, and design employee uniforms as well.
Budget and estimates
- Don’t ask for an estimate unless you’re giving me enough details to make one. I can’t count how many times I’ve received messages asking me “how much would it cost to design a website?”.
- Do ask me for my hourly rate instead.
- Do ask me how much one of my previous project cost. There’s no wild guess involved, and you’ll get a good idea of my price range.
- Don’t ask for a discount. If you don’t have enough money, just scale back on your requirements until you can afford me (or find someone cheaper).
And the most important…
- Do answer back even if you don’t want to (or can’t) work with me anymore. You never know, you might need my services in the future, so you might as well end things on a polite note.
I would estimate that about 1 in 10 emails I receive meet these criteria. So just by doing these simple things, you can dramatically increase your chances of getting a good designer to work on your project.