Setting professional boundaries is essential for your well-being, a productive work process and building successful relationships with clients all while setting clear expectations for the design industry as a whole.
A lack of boundaries can not only lead to strain on your work but believe it or not — it can appear unprofessional. There are a number of different boundaries to set as a professional designer.
Throughout your design career, you may experience clients requesting discounts. It is essential to uphold the value of your services. Offering discounts can devalue your skills and expertise, suggesting that your regular rates may have been inflated in the first place. Sticking to your rates showcases professionalism and reinforces the value of your services.
Should a client ask for a discount, here is an example of a response:
“I understand that budget considerations are essential. Unfortunately, my rates are non-negotiable as they reflect the value of my work and my ability to deliver solutions.”
It’s important to outline the appropriate platforms that a client should contact you on. This looks different to every designer. Whether you choose contact through a work email or a dedicated channel such as Slack or a client portal, the appropriate contact methods should be outlined within your contract.
In the event of a client contacting you through a platform unauthorised for work [for example, social media], this should be addressed immediately.
An example of setting a boundary in a professional way is:
“I value open communication, however, it is important to prioritize a professional working relationship by focusing our agreed communication channels on project-related matters. This will help create a smooth workflow and timely project delivery”
Alongside outlining the appropriate contact methods, outlining the appropriate times to contact you is just as important. Outlining your working hours sets clear expectations for when you are and are not available for work.
This particular boundary also allows you to prioritise a work-life balance ensuring you have time for personal commitments and rest outside of working hours.
Having your working hours clearly outlined in your project contract sets this boundary and expectation from the start.
However, in the event a client continues to contact you outside of your outlined working hours, here is an example of a response.
“I appreciate your enthusiasm about this project, however in order to give the provide my focused attention I have designated communication hours. Kindly reach out during [specified hours].”
Sometimes designers receive the wonderful message of ‘signed off, no amends’. But sometimes, this isn’t always the case. It is crucial to outline the amount of revisions you would like to assign per project, as well as what will happen if this revision limit is exceeded.
Each designer and each project is unique, but outlining the revision limit allows you to set a fee for exceeded revisions to avoid back and forth amendments.
It is also encouraged to help your client give feedback. Ensuring their feedback is clear and detailed will avoid multiple small revisions and less back and forth amendments.
In the event of all provided revisions becoming exceeded and the client requests more smaller changes, here is an example of a professional response:
“Thank you for your feedback. As per our contract, the [number] of provided revisions has been exceeded. Let’s discuss your specific requirements in detail to address any extra revisions comprehensively and efficiently.”
Boundaries are the unsung hero of a successful design business. As designers, it is crucial to set boundaries to help you manage your time, be a true leader, stay loyal to yourself, and protect your inner peace which directly affects your creative energy. It helps the client view you as the trusted expert that you are. We often say to our students, “You are the captain of the boat. Not the client.”
Just as a ship needs a sturdy hull and a clear course to navigate treacherous waters, a designer needs boundaries to steer their business toward success. At The Brief Collective, we believe that setting and adhering to these boundaries is not just a choice — it’s a necessity for success.
Imagine sailing without a compass or a map. You’d be at the mercy of the waves, with no direction or purpose. Similarly, without boundaries, designers can find themselves adrift in a sea of client demands, endless revisions, and burnout. Boundaries are the compass and map that guides us, ensuring we stay on course and reach our desired destination.
The Brief Collective’s Commitment
At The Brief Collective, we’ve seen firsthand the transformative power of boundaries. They’re the unsung heroes behind every successful design business. We’re committed to empowering designers with the tools and knowledge they need to set these boundaries confidently. Clear boundaries empower you as a designer by promoting productivity, managing expectations, and safeguarding your well-being, ultimately leading to more successful client projects and fulfillment in business.
We often say to our students, “You are the captain of your own boat.” And as every seasoned sailor knows, a ship is only as strong as its captain. So, set your boundaries, chart your course, and sail confidently into the horizon of success. Your business, your peace of mind, and your clients will thank you for it.
At The Brief Collective, we encourage all designers to protect themselves, their time and their inner peace.
Check out our Contract Template in our Designer Campus Store to ensure you, your business and your clients are protected.