In my career, I have experienced almost all options available to a design professional. I have been an on-site contractor, an agency employee, an independent consultant with my own clients and working through other agencies, an in-house designer, an in-house design manager and director and most recently a business owner. I have worked hand to mouth living check to check and been a salary gal. I have hired dozens of full time employees and independent contract designers and I have rejected hundreds. Often for what seems like small or trivial reasons. I have hired outside agencies to supplement my teams or to work on their own projects where I didn’t have the in-house skills. Pretty much, I have experienced the full range of hiring and being hired
Over the years I have noticed that a lot of designers, including many converts from in-house design teams as well as those fresh out of school, don’t have the skills or knowledge to make effective sales — to get the project or to be hired into a team. These skills generally are not taught in the schools and if you spend a lot of your career in the corporation, if you had them to start, they get rusty. It’s often unclear what exactly should be part of a portfolio and what should be left out. Because so many projects are collaborative efforts, it’s sometimes difficult to know what the story should be to best sell your work.
I wanted to take the things I have learned over the last several years, especially the last few running a consulting firm, and share what has worked, what hasn’t and what I wish designers knew to be more successful. I am selfish in that I hope this information will inform and improve the skills of the people I am interviewing to work with us.
I have embarked on the process of writing a small book about this and have decided to preview much of the material here on my site and on Medium.
I have divided the book into 3 sections. Each can stand alone as a packet of useful information and I have included checklists and sample documents wherever it makes sense to help. I know when I first started working as a graphic designer, the blank forms in the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook were invaluable to me as a consultant.
Part 1 — This section will cover the consultative sales process and tips and tricks for closing deals on your UX projects.
Part 2 — This section is about selling yourself. What people are looking for in a portfolio, how to present your work and what kinds of things work and what kinds of things don’t.
Part 3 — This is full of information and sample legal documents to effectively run your consulting or freelance business and how to think about pricing yourself for a project or hiring subcontractors.
Much of this book is targeted to the consulting designer — individual independent and small consultancy — rather than the in-house designer but I believe that Part 2 will be useful to any designer regardless of the type of group they are working with or in.
I look forward to readers giving me feedback and sharing their stories about their experiences—good and bad—in selling their work and their portfolios to both in-house and in consulting.