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.