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Secrets of a Bulletproof Creative Process

Secrets of a Bulletproof Creative Process

I was recently asked to provide a quote for a prospective client. They had already taken a hack at designing a logo for their business and didn’t want to “change the logo” but wanted me to “modernize it” and ” add some design finesse”.


I hate being asked to do this for several reasons.

One, accepting a project like this means your potential client wants to play art director. They don’t want you to be their designer, they want you to be their pixel pusher.

Two, this is the type of project you’ll never put in your portfolio… because it’s not your work. If you say yes to projects like this, it’ll be the least productive design exercise you could possibly do.

Three, it’s impossible to provide a quote! There are no measurable milestones in a project like this and therefore it’s impossible to forecast a timeline.

Disclosure: I did not take this project. Instead, I suggested another way for that particular client to get the work done for cheaper.

I rarely get requests like this anymore, and a main reason is because I have developed a very detailed system of pitching contracts to clients. People don’t understand the structured process that is involved in delivering top-notch creative services. It’s up to us to smother that misconception by always, always abiding by a detailed outline of our services.

To avoid ambiguous back and forth and eliminate miscommunication with your clients, it’s essential that you clearly articulate what services you will be offering your clients. 

To help you get started, I’ve put together this bulletproof guide for you to follow to ensure that you are giving your clients the most clear understanding of the work you are doing.

1. Project Summary

  • Summarize the client’s needs:  After offering your client a free consultation, use their words to summarize their needs. Use this description in the first paragraph of your contract.
  • Describe your service: Describe your service in a general sense and describe what you as an individual or a company are dedicated to doing for your clients.
  • Articulate the skill sets of you or of your team: Describe your skills and/or the skills of your team.

2. Scope of Services

  • Articulate the phases of the process:
    Typically, I break my projects down into 3 phases: Research & Ideation (20%), design (75%), and revisions (5%)
  • Overview of Deliverables: Clearly illustrate what the client will be receiving and when. 

3. Project Estimate

  • Pricing: Clearly outline your rates for each phase of the project, including research, design, and revisions.
Service Pricing Phase Hours Total
Research $60/hr Research 4 xxx
Design $75/hr Design 78 xxx
Design $75/hr Revisions 82 xxx


To help guide you along in this process, you can download a FREE guide.



About the Author

Drew Palmer is a freelance designer & entrepreneur based in Philadelphia, PA.