Creative Pro Tips: Managing Expectations and the $10k Blog

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Creative Pro Tips: Managing Expectations and the $10k Blog

Are you an interior designer or design professional?  Even if you’re not, you probably know a little bit about or have had experience with managing client expectations.  We really manage expectations on a daily basis, and one of my favorite spiritual axioms is that a resentment is really nothing more than an unmet expectation.  Wise, right?

I’ve had a few interesting conversations lately both with interior design professionals and potential clients.  The chat with the interior designer went something like this:  “I want to be more clear about the design services I offer.  Clients hire me and they think they’re going to get a whole house designed when the package I offer is really per room.  Then they’re angry when I don’t deliver.”  Unmet expectations!  What is the solution to this?  Communication is really the key, although I will be the absolutely first to tell you that people hear and see what they want to see.  It’s so true.  You could have a flashing neon sign that outlines exactly what a client will be getting, and they still have a vision in their head that they can’t let go.  If you’re an interior designer, or really any type of designer, you most likely offer a contract or scope of work.  This is important, because you always want something to refer back to when that unpleasant conversation comes up:  “Well, I thought you were going to do this, this and that too.”  So keep something written, or have clear, written terms on your site of what you will deliver.  You can’t force people to comprehend this, but at least you have something solid to base that discussion on should it arise.

The other thing I’ve noticed about potential clients in all areas of design is they truly have no idea what something should cost.  Like, none!  And trust me, I’m totally the same.  Like when it comes to cars.  I know a Maserati (okay ya’ll I live in South Florida so that’s the first car that comes to mind!) is expensive, and I know it looks good, but under the hood I straight up could not tell the difference between a Maserati and a Ford.  Like, no idea.  They kind of function the same, they get you from place to place, but really, what is the difference?  Apparently, I’m right, and it’s mostly under the hood, the unseen stuff.  So a client sees a room by Kelly Wearstler, and it looks amazing, but overall, it’s really just a room with some stuff in it right?  So why can’t you (insert your name here, designers), deliver the same room?  Interior designers, I know you feel me and you’ve been there.

So, I also had a great email convo (because that’s the only way I talk!) with a potential client.  She had sent me a message with a list of her requests.  She referenced some of the same blogs (eg. Gal Meets Glam, Barefoot Blonde, the big, big girls! – that pretty much everyone sends me {smile}) that a lot of people like.  She was super clear with exactly what she liked about those blogs (I’m going to go design-speak here – hovering rollover images, shoppable interactive posts, just tons of customized, out-of-the-box features).  Now, at first glance, a lot of blogs look the same (like the new Fords look a lot like Jags at first glance).  And going for general look and feel is fine (like, if a client in Minnesota likes Kelly Wearstler, if you’re an interior designer you’re going to give her some malachite and animal skin, right?  But it’s not going to be like, malachite hand-cut and smuggled in.  And it’s not going to be like, a real tiger throw, correct?).  Same with blogs.  Overall look and feel is important and totally attainable (eg. “I want a clean blog, splashes of pink, sans serif font”).  But the extensive customization, not always visible at first glance, is not always within our scope of work.

So, the really cool thing about this exchange was I gently pointed out to this client that with all of the features she was wanting, she was probably looking at about a $10k blog (oh yeah, and that’s on the cheaper side).  And you know what was just flipping awesome?!  She came back to me and said that she had been reaching out to other designers, and that was exactly in the neighborhood of quotes she was getting.  Like, she was so, so nice and she totally got it!  Instead of being like “What?!  No way!” she had done the research and realized that though blogs may all look really similar, when you start getting into a lot of customization, the price tag goes way up, way fast.


And that’s totally cool.  I gave her a few tips of things she could implement on her own, clearly she did not hire me because I explained I wouldn’t be able to provide what she wanted and I did not want her to be angry or disappointed with the end result, but it was such a fabulous and enlightening exchange.  I just really appreciated her being so understanding and able to “see what she couldn’t see” if that makes any sense.   We had a nice little chat and I hope she decides to invest because her existing blog is already really awesome.

So, I just have been thinking about this lately and I know if you’re any kind of creative design specialist you encounter the same issues, because sometimes the product you’re delivering is not necessarily cut and dried (like if you’re an office supply company, you’re delivering 100 printers, and that’s that).  But design is subjective so it’s harder to create a scope of work.  But I just wanted to share, if you’re considering either a blog, website design, or if you’re searching out the skills of another type of designer, like an interior decorator, shop around.  If you see a blog you love, see if you can find out who designed it (most designers add a link in the blog footer).  Get a quote from them.  If you go visit a friend and their house looks amaze, find out who did it, and call her.  Then call Kelly Wearstler (ha ha!).  The more research you do, the more understanding you will have of what something should cost.  Here at Little Blue Deer, I keep our prices well within reason.  I want to give clients a great-looking blog or website at price they can afford if they’re just a part-time blogger or small business owner.  But because of this, you want clients to understand that they won’t be getting a $10k blog.  So the best thing is a reasonable, well-informed client who has done her research (and I know all other creative professionals would say the same thing).  A good client makes a good designer which makes a great end product!

Are you an interior designer or creative professional who has had similar experiences (good or bad)?  I would seriously love to hear about them!  Leave me a comment, I’m with ya, my sisters!  And if you’re a client who is not looking for a $10k blog, check out our website design, blog design and logo design pages here to see what we can do for you!

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