I got good grades, did good chores, said good things, had good manners and felt
good when I was referred to as the “good” one of the family.
… Even though it meant playing small, keeping quiet and never pushing back.
Even though it meant feeling small, silent and stuck.
It was in stark contrast to my brother, who was unleashed as an off-the-charts bad boy. My bro didn’t give a fuck what people thought about him. He said what he meant, didn’t soften or shut up for anyone, and did things the way what he wanted. No apologies. He was wild.
This dynamic is not new. For a long time, women have been told by society to be quiet, and many – maybe even most – of us have grown up having the good girl complex reinforced and rewarded.
“The ‘good girl complex’ is made up of widespread social behaviours internalised by young women. From childhood, many women are socialised to please others, at the cost of their own wellbeing or needs.”
This quote highlights how gender can act as a restraining force, especially for women.
Which brings me to business – in particular your design business. Because I see you:
People-pleasing, agreeing, and scared to push back on your clients.
“They’ll hate me!” You might worry. (But I doubt it. And if they do? They’re not the sort of people you should give a fuck about anyway.)
“They might bad-mouth me to potential clients.” You might stress. (And they won’t. But if they do? You better believe they’ve pulled the same shit with other service providers – and everyone knows about it.)
But I’m here to tell you don’t have be small and quiet in order to be successful. You can drop the good girl act and be fair and kind, while still making sure your clients respect you and your process.
Here are five places to get started.
🙅♀️ When you client pushes back their start date …
I get it. Sometimes life gets crazy and things happen out of our control. Which is why it’s reasonable to allow your design clients to push their start date back a week. Once. And once only.
If they want to push it back again after that, that’s when you’ll need a clause in your contract that covers your butt and demands a rescheduling fee of $xx (normally 20% of the project).
And if this scares the fuck out of you, remember that your time and schedule is just as important as theirs.
🙅♀️ When a client wants something urgently …
Repeat this mantra: This is THEIR emergency. Not yours.
Make it clear in your welcome kit and terms and conditions that you are not available for urgent work. You can borrow this line from my client communications templates: I’m not available on weekends, and it’s very rare for me to be available urgently at short notice.
If they keep pushing (and you’re willing to do the work), inform them that there’s a rush fee of $xx. My rush fee is 25% of the project cost for urgent projects. Then stand firm.
This is their emergency. Not yours.
🙅♀️ When a client doesn’t give you enough info to complete your project …
Don’t start the project until you have enough info. Seriously. I know it’s awkward to ask for more, but you’re not a mind reader.
If you’re feeling gutsy, tell them that. Let them know straight away that you don’t have enough, and they need to provide more info.
To help pave the way (and be kind AND strong), give them a solid example of the amount/type of information you need before you can get started. Then wait for it.
🙅♀️ When a client changes their design direction midway through the project …
Call them out. Record a loom video talking through their brief answers and relate their responses back to your concepts, showing how you strategically created a design that aligned with their vision. You can even articulate how your designs have been crafted to talk to their target market (showing off the other ways your designs hit their brief successfully).
If they still want to change the design direction, let them know that you understand,
but it’ll cost them $xx to create concepts with the revised direction.
And do NOT fucking feel bad for them. Don’t be guilt-tripped into doing it for free.
This is a new project. Treat it as such, ’cause this change in direction is completely on them.
🙅♀️ When a client starts ghosting you at invoice time …
Don’t put up with it. Don’t hand over the final files until you’ve received that final payment.
And if the client disappears when it’s time to provide final approval, include a clause in your contract that states payment is due upon final approval or in four weeks, whichever comes first. Make them read, sign and agree to this before starting the work.
And if they STILL ghost you, charge them a late invoice fee. That gets bigger every single day that invoice remains unpaid. Include that clause in your contract while you’re at it.
And when you feel like a bitch for having a rock solid contract that saves your ass …
Remember you can be good and strong. It’s okay to push back and demand respect. This doesn’t make you difficult – it makes you a strong woman. And that’s something to be proud of, lady.
All the love,
If you want more ANNA in your life, this is how you can get it….
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