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5 Ways You Might Be Losing Creative Energy

Do you know what’s really killing your creativity? Have you ever surrendered to bad ideas just to get a project out the door? Do you reinvent the wheel with every new client?

I’m not talking about the productivity-killers we all know about — social media, email, or other typical daily distractions. I’m referring to less obvious, absolutely preventable design-mojo killers.


1. When you get too many project inquiries

I love seeing project inquiries in my inbox! The excitement wanes after reading through one too many that are a bad fit. Budget too low, deadline too tight, project type – too ugh. I used to get a lot of inquiries, and I’d dedicate a lot of creative time to filtering info and going back and forth with prospects who weren’t ready to commit. Giving brainspace to something that isn’t likely to come to fruition is a waste of creative energy.
Solution: Assess your website copy and your project inquiry form. Do you ask a specific group to engage with you or are you generically trying to attract everyone? Make sure you are saying no to the wrong people. You can do this by defining how you like to work, and by talking about your price points and availability on your website. Make your project inquiry form just hard enough so prospects show that they interested in working with you, not just price shopping.

2. When you ignore your gut

How much do you respect your gut? Do you listen when it tries to warn you? You know that little thing that goes uh-oh during an initial consult call? Mine is about 100% accurate – that is 100% of the time when I’ve ignored it – the project I accepted has gone haywire in some fashion.

Solution: Remind yourself it’s okay to be selective. It’s okay to say no. Don’t go into preliminary consults determined to get the job. Instead, use them to objectively assess whether or not this could be a good project for you. Is it portfolio-worthy? Is it strategic (will it attract other good clients)? Does talking to your prospect about their project idea invigorate you or drain you?

3. When you reinvent your proposal process every time you send one

How many times have you redone your proposals? Do you dread creating them? If you are like me, creating proposals is a hive-inducing affair that leaves me too tired for anything else that comes later. Combining too many project inquiries with reinventing the wheel every time you create a proposal wastes a lot of creative energy.

Solution: Create a master proposal document that you can use over and over. List every possible project option. Include common objectives, project processes and payment options. When creating custom proposals, make a copy of your master, remove the line items that aren’t relevant and send. After the client makes a commitment, fine-tune your proposal into a contract and hash out specific details.

4. When you involve the client too late in the design process

There’s a sweet spot at the intersection of what your client knows about their own business + your creative expertise. If a finished design concept is the first thing the client sees from you, you are missing an opportunity. Clients that are allowed to participate in the design process early on are more likely to trust and less likely to disrupt the flow of the process or pull apart a design you worked so hard to create.

Solution: Alter your design process to include clients in the very early stages of brainstorming, wireframing and styling. View their feedback, likes and dislikes simply as parameters that filter out the wrong direction and create a starting point for your design. Pour your creative energy into one design concept that your client will love and approve. It’s the finished product of your collaborative work together – no surprises, minor revisions, no drama. It really works!

5. When you don’t honor who you are

As designers, we have this amazing ability to create a foundation of trust and completely alter perception. On a good day, this power we have, it can transform a business. On a bad day, it leaves us discouraged and doubting ourselves. Are you setting yourself up for good days? Are you choosing clients who value and respect you? Are you clear about the kind of work that you do and don’t like to do? Don’t waste your creative energy on just anyone or anything.

Solution: Take some time, be introspective and really pay attention to how you like to work and interact. If you don’t like live meetings or lots of calls, you don’t have to do them. If you don’t like to blog, you don’t have to. If you love a niche, go after it. Don’t be afraid to be known for something specific.

Setup your business so it supports how you like to work and allows you to focus on what you love.

Can you identify with any of these scenarios? Where can you make small improvements and plug up the creative energy leaks in your design process?

Christine Thatcher Christine Thatcher is the founder of Better Looking Biz, a boutique design agency dedicated to helping visionary entrepreneurs infuse their personalities into profitable virtual platforms. She combines 20 years of corporate, agency and mid-sized business design experience to guide her clients through the web design and development process. She is also the creator of Designing to Delight, a design process course committed to teaching other designers exactly how to translate what a client says into a design they love.

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