Master The Art of Social Media, Now!


“Follow me, I will follow you” – Wrong!

This is a rich article that will help you harness the social media game.

Some people have thousands of followers. It’s crazy when you look at it. Truth is, they can’t even engage properly with one.

If you care about the hype and appearances, you might think they have something interesting to say.

Then you start adding them to your network and the next thing you know is that your timeline is invaded by topics you don’t care about. That’s the mistake I made in my early beginnings on LinkedIn: my articles catered to the corporate world, not mentioning any art form. I felt bored and lost. Then I stopped writing to finally speak about what I really love. I engaged with people who showed the same interest in culture and arts.


As I was scrolling through my Linkedin messages yesterday I realized how much opportunities I missed because I was too busy or everywhere on the map. Change is good.

I use Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram a lot. Being proactive on social media is sharing a work that carries all my emotions and feelings. A few days ago, someone asked me in a tweet reply: How big is social media for artists, should he or she care?That’s a very good question and today I will break it down for you, based on my own experience.

When a music label signs an artist they want to know if it’s worth the ride because… artists are crazy. They want to know how many followers, subscribers, likes you have. Numbers make you bankable. It’s not about quality anymore. It’s really scary. Maybe that’s why we have shitty music everywhere, but that’s another story.


One thing I hate about Linkedin is its lack of messaging power. You need to get to the point quickly. People are busy, it’s hype to be busy. Sometimes the first message I get Is a person wishing me a great day and signing off even before the conversation has started. Duh!

Another thing I don’t get is why people are throwing emojis out like rice when they just met a person who wants to know them. A “Thumbs up” makes you look lazy and rude. Please don’t send emojis, have some conversation.

Ladies, I know your profile pic is the best ever and you know you look amazing, but don’t get an attitude for this. LinkedIn is not a dating site when someone like me shoots you a message it is on professional grounds only. I want to know more about what you do, not how you look.

Patience is everything. Post an article like this one, the first comments and likes will start popping later in a week or two. We artists are not well known to be patient creatures. It’s a thing you learn as you practice the medium.

I get zero return from LinkedIn groups. I don’t know why I keep posting my articles there. I am optimistic by nature I guess.

On the bright side, if someone likes your content it will make it visible to all his followers. When you comment on an article, it’s showing in your activity, increasing your exposure. Comment on others’ content, it’s paramount, you will then have a good reason to message them. You will have their undivided attention.

People want to know why they interest you so much. Don’t think that, just because a person is on LinkedIn, he uses it often. Check his profile, if he has zero activity: likes, comments. You are going to have dry conversations. I promise you. Why sending an invitation when you know the outcomes?


Twitter is the paradise of written content. I use it to get traction to my blog. My images only help me illustrate my point. Making the post more visual and increase the click rate.

I know visual artists who are not that big on Twitter but go check their Instagram…

SoundCloud integration on Twitter is perfect for musicians and producers.

I always ask my Linkedin contacts if they have a Twitter account so I can follow their real thoughts and reactions.

You should also use Twitter lists feature. For example, you can create a list of influencers in your industry and reply to their tweets, their followers will notice you.

Don’t follow back for the sake of it. I see an account with 30k followers and the same numbers in following. How do you manage these numbers of the tweet in your timeline? Just follow when you know you’ll engage. Forget about messages on Twitter, get their Linkedin or Facebook for that.

Don’t follow people before checking their activities. Same rule on Linkedin.

Being “verified” don’t mean anything. You can have 400 followers and have that status. What matters is: what do you have to say?

Consistency is also key on Twitter, you don’t have to post every day but if you post things off topics you will lose followers. I use Buffer to do the work of posting my articles, for other tweets I’d rather be as authentic as possible.


I love the “gram”, it’s so visual! I get most of my clients from it. I post a painting and I get the likes. I turn them into conversations and invite my contacts to like my Facebook art page where they will find my store.

I always reply to comments about my work and I make sure to return the favor. The Same viral effect, when you comment a pic you gain traction to your Instagram and also get new followers.

I also like tons of pictures every day, using them later as an inspiration source for my next paintings.

Again, all the videos giving you tips on how to get followers fast are ridiculous. Following 100 people a day and using tools to get rid of those who don’t follow back. How low can we go?

Send a message as to why you don’t follow back or just start chatting. It’s simple.


I don’t understand why my friends on Facebook don’t get my art. I stopped posting on my personal account. Your friends or cousins, family want to see pics of you holding cats, not your craft. It’s better to keep things separate, because as your reputation grows your inbox will be saturated by trolls or bots messages.

Don’t invite your friends to like your page it doesn’t make sense.

You can use Facebook ads to boost a great post and invite the people who like it to like your page without adding them as friends. That’s awesome.

2 billion users on Facebook, if you are not into it, you better change your mind.

Create a professional page and post there.

Groups are very active, I always post my work into groups. In return I get likes and you already know the drill about likes.

Your page comes with all the information about your blog, site, and store. Growing your page’s likes should be your top priority.

Have your links ready to share.


I don’t use it! I think it’s for people who really like selfies and their facial features at every hour of the day. Plus it’s so complicated to use. I tried so many times to jump in. I gave up.


Start a blog. Write often. Everybody can write. You will spend 20% of your time crafting stuff and 80% marketing it. So many artists don’t write and it’s a shame because it’s a wonderful way of expression and your audience wants to know the reason you are doing that sorcery.

Be proactive. Content needs action. Share a lot. Repetition is okay, by posting the same old content you make sure everyone sees it. Trust me they will see it! Don’t stop because you think they don’t. You’d be surprised. Someone asked me about a drawing I posted years ago to ask me if it was on sale.

“500 is a huge number” as Pharell Williams stated in an interview. Imagine yourself performing in front of 500 people! Why do you want 100k people, if you can’t satisfy 500?

People ALWAYS have time for things they are interested in which is why I always give value first. Value is your content: articles, images, videos, links etc.

Don’t get mad if they don’t respond to your messages or emails, people have their lives. Sometimes they go into a lot and they will never tell you. Be patient and don’t ignore them, they need you, they don’t know it.

Be frank, messages can get twisted if a person is rude to you address the situation say how you feel. Stay polite, but don’t get fooled around too long. It will happen soon enough when you will ask the sale.

Ask every day but don’t ask for money, show the value! Ask for your work to be shared, ask if it has been seen, ask how it inspired people. Money is important but relationships matters. Make friends “god damn it!”

Don’t sell yourself short. People will not buy from you because you are expensive. People buy expensive sh*t every day, sh*t you don’t even craft. Don’t compete on the price, compete on the value! You don’t sell to someone who wants your art for $5 when you have spent nights crafting it and he tells you he’s on the first class flight to his next conference. Why wasting your time convincing such a person? Your work is great, you are great! Some people just don’t see the VALUE! Show them.

Be yourself! Thank your unfollowers because they remind you not wasting your time trying to please everyone. If I write nonsense and my English language is “good enough to put me in trouble” – as one copywriter once told me-, I will get this content off my chest anyway and introduce it to the person who cares. See how it flies, adjust and the next will be better.

Don’t buy followers, you are not that low standards.

You only need ONE like. That’s all you need. Cherish that like and start a conversation, you never know where new opportunities come from.

Drop me a comment in the section below. I’m Lionel Thomas, I make beautiful music for the eyes and I’m curious to know more about you. Tell me your story! Follow my blog, like my Facebook page. I’m also on Instagram and Twitter.


How To Become A Great Artist? 

The next Spiderman movie poster is turning people into trolls on the internet (photo).  

How Photoshop can be a double edged sword even for Hollywood? Illustrator Sam Gilbey just puts it so well:
“If you’re simply moving photos around though, you’re not going to get that cohesiveness that an #illustration can bring you. A skilled #artist can take all those disparate elements and weave them together into a beautiful composition, whilst capturing the aspirational ‘feel’ of a movie at the same time. Of course now the fantastic thing is that as an artist you can use #Photoshop to aid the process. The ‘problem’ is that you don’t need to be an artist to give it a try, or to understand how good compositions and colour palettes really work.”  
Ps: Corporate world, the same rules apply to your next marketing visuals. 😉
Read the full article here:

When Logo Design Comes Together, It Just Makes Sense


Long gone are the days when Paul Rand showed up at your office with just one logo proposition, and a shiny catalogue -with your brand’s storytelling in it-. If you felt the need for some modifications, he would tap your fingers saying ‘This is my job and this is THE solution for you. I know what I’m doing, I’m the expert here.’

This article’s photo is a logo design I’ve made for a client in the construction field. But the red dot, all the titles and the pic surrounding it wasn’t my design. I don’t want to generalize but most businesses are fighting against simplicity. The more they add the better. Sometimes, as much as you love your clients, you can’t keep them from making modifications. I will talk to you about it but also design’s best practices, cheap solutions/work and the role of designers.

Logo design is complicated, all access to the technology made it so.  As a consequence, it often goes wrong or misunderstood. When that happens -mostly based out of cheap work-, most businesses think that there’s nothing to add or change about their logo: ‘Oh we’re good! It’s perfect! Don’t even touch it’. A ‘sane’ designer will never step into your business and start saying: ‘Ok, let’s talk about this logo first…who did it? Seriously? It’s not good. Shall we change it, before doing anything else?’ I bet he/she would never have your business right?

Let me introduce you to the objections that pop into your clients’ mind when you send them ‘change’ alerts:
-Some designers like to throw their peers under many buses, the only reason they need to do this is to find -to their dismay- that somebody gave a concert -and actually got paid- before them. Ego situation.

-We already registered the logo ‘we went through the cumbersome trademarks registration process, and we paid huge amount of money for it. Money we spared from the previous cheap logo work, and which was well invested.’

-What has been done before is not garbage, ‘we’ll stick to this identity no matter what you say. Even if you bring proofs that it’s really NOT working’

-Even if there are some changes to be made, we hope they are going to be small and the work will be cheap. Changing a logo is easier than creating it from the ground up right?

After the concert, you -designer- are hired for another job, maybe the webdesign part. Which is cool. Things get complicated when you start looking for elements -not crafted by you- to incorporate them into your design: fonts, colors, proportions, positions and space etc. This is the moment you start asking  ‘Can I get the graphic charter?’…silence in the room, you’ll raise eyebrows and put yourself and your fellow designers in trouble. For a reminder, the graphic charter is a 50 or 60 -sometimes more- pages document which contains every technical parts of your identity. All its rules. For example, black and white visuals. Fashion industry uses a lot of them. For your next ad campaign, will your logo be visible when placed on a black and white photos? Where exactly should you place it? All the answers can be found in the graphic charter.

There’s a war outside still raging: expensive vs cheap logos.
I’m not against cheap solutions. Why investing huge amounts of money and efforts in your identity when you can: do it yourself, watch a tutorial, run google for examples, ask feedback on forums. No need for fancy designers. Again, I totally agree and I know your thoughts:
-Cheap is good, especially when you are just starting your business and you are very busy; you think there are other top priorities investments: equipment, offices, exploitation bills, salaries. Design is a ‘fanciness’ you can’t compromise your business over. Clever Google searches will help you find the next freelancer vying to make the most out of your hard earned money.

-Designers are copying and pasting stuff around and make it looks like it’s total sorcery… come on! This is not as hard as programming a financial app or building a marketing plan or even doing your taxes. It’s just pixels. Cheap service.

-Your audience will easily forgive your amateurish look, because these are your baby steps, everybody starts somewhere. If they are really interested they’ll value what you have to say rather than how your business looks.

-No need for storytelling, because there’s no story yet that matches your logo except the first letter it represents which is the same as your business name’s first one. No designer will come in your office and start opening a PowerPoint presentation which will explain your vision, how it will fly for years/decades to come in your customers mind. The strategy, etc.

-Why bother registering a temporary logo? When you’ll have the budget you’ll do that. First thing first.

-Your website and logo are not linked. This upper left side of your layout is where your logo will stay, you just have to tweak its color a little bit and you’re done. Again the audience will focus on your content, not the design. They’ll skip the logo.

-If you change your identity your audience will get lost and it will have a negative impact on your sales. This is what you’re most afraid of.

I think Design is all about team working. Cheap logos, make the next designer you’ll hire spend more time second guessing the color you’ve used, and then realize that it’s not the same on your business cards – plus I know there are thousands of them left in a box somewhere in your office- , don’t come with a vision, a glimpse of a strategy and a favorable ground for a successful branding. They don’t come along with this graphic charter bible I told you about lately which will solve all your future visual and graphic issues but will also keep you from adding irrelevant elements to your identity. They are doing more damages than good and you’ll feel very limited the day you will want to push all your brand experience further -if there’s any yet-. You’ll start the work all over again, and spend more money in the process.

In conclusion: branding is the bridge between logo design and marketing efficiency. Designers? I see them like conductors: they write the partition that triggers the emotional responses you need from your audience, sit down next to you and nail the brief, work with you to make sure all your modifications are done without drifting you away from your vision, tell you a great story, get in touch with your printer when something goes wrong, talk with the branding experts and marketing team, give you a vision and a competitive edge ahead, make you feel different, are aware of all the possible things you can do with your logo and some that you can’t. What’s designing a logo compared to all this? Just the tip of the iceberg.

Does it make sense? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. Do you consider Design as something fancy or helpful for your business?

No, You Can’t Have The Original Files For Free

Screenshot 2014-12-06 00.20.33
I knew it was going to happen. Even though it’s not the first time, this is leaving me aghast.

The budget is fixed, the project settled: leaflet creation. You put yourself to work, send the first drafts and final design weeks after that. Multiple modifications kicking in, because simple projects are not always that simple, who said a leaflet creation was a piece of cake? Week 3, you still pursuing your payment, the client is out of town for the weekend, and wants to make many print test runs to see / ‘make sure’ that everything’s OK. You arguing that it’s useless because the files aren’t in the proper resolution anyway. They’ll be when the final payment will get cashed in. Another modifications…okay… week 4 you see the cash..send the files. Then you get a final request: “can we have the original editable files of this project?”

This is the “are you kidding me?” part. If you slam your laptop, you’ll be out of business so you better take a walk, come back , make some tea and maybe write a blog post while you sipping it. The client call you -while you are writing-, furious, and the conversation goes like this -God, the tea does really help- :

“I thought that I was paying for the originals! Usually that’s what happening” the client says
“I’m sorry to hear that but these are the wrong practices in my field of work, we ‘usually’ charge for the originals, if it wasn’t the case there would be no designers, just clients trying to do some bad work with native files” the designer replies
“But…you didn’t tell me this before!”
“Well, you did tell me this at the very end of the project…”
“That’s impossible I’ll tear your leaflet up, you can keep the money anyway!”
“It would be a shame if you did, after all these ‘free’ modifications and back and forths on the design made for your business, design that you really liked and that will get you many new clients by the way.”
“Seriously, if I gave this job to my printer, or someone with a computer, I’d get the originals”
“Printers are not designers, computer owners are not designers, a graphic designer isn’t just someone running in a wheel with a computer , Photoshop is a professional tool that takes an entire life to master…”
“Keep the money, I’m done with you, I thought it was a friendly gesture.”
“We are a business, a communication business, this is our business…we pay our Photoshop membership (among other things) with this money so thank you…”

I hear you saying ‘oh you are not flexible, give the client what they want, this is business in Africa, this is how you are going to gain exposure, bla bla bla’. Don’t get me wrong, I wrote a post about the clients and how some may think they are king and can command to designers to do cartwheels in their garden.
Let me put it down, and I mean every words: the clients have a great nose for fear and desperation.

Yet so many designers have been scared to say NO to their clients. Fear? Reputation? Money? That’s why this job got downplayed, disrespected and under estimated. I think it can change by starting to doing it right.

The cook will not giving you the restaurant’s recipe away for free, the architect will not give you the blueprint of the house for free, the company you buying your computer from will not give you the patents for free. Why the hell you thinking designers are different? Just because you see them zoning, freelancing and knocking doors trying to make a living make you think they are desperate, craving for the money and that gives you the right to be ‘king’.

Let me charge you for this, please.

Comment Booster Votre Réputation Et Celle De Votre Entreprise Avec Linkedin

//* this article first appeared in French, but the English version is coming soon. I felt that this blog should be in French too, since it’s my native tongue 😉

Les règles et façons de faire les affaires ont changées. Notre monde est de plus en plus ouvert et connecté. Aujourd’hui, nous communiquons à l’aide de smartphones branchés non-stop sur le net, pourvus d’un grand nombre d’applications –parfois installées à l’avance-. Facebook, qui est un réseau social mondialement connu, prends beaucoup de notre temps. Nous y passons environ une heure par jour, sinon plus! Nous communiquons aussi régulièrement sur WhatsApp, Viber ou même Skype. Certaines réunions, sessions de travail se font via Skype. C’est désormais un fait : les « App » sont entrées dans nos habitudes.

Le problème des applications précédemment citées est qu’elles sont souvent utilisées dans un cadre familial ou amical. Où pouvons-nous trouver une atmosphère plus professionnelle en ligne ? Envoyer un CV? Faire connaître notre entreprise ? Augmenter notre popularité ?

Dans cet article je vous introduirai LinkedIn, un immense réseau socio-professionnel. Je vous montrerai son interface principale. Dans un prochain article je vous donnerai quelques astuces qui vous permettront de gagner une forte présence professionnelle en ligne.

Les origines

Fondé en Mai 2003 par l’américain Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn est un réseau de professionnels où vous pouvez trouver et contacter les personnes dont vous avez besoin.
Il s’appuie sur
un fort principe de confiance entre les membres. En effet, on fait des affaires qu’avec les gens qu’on connait, qu’on aime et dont on a surtout confiance.

Quelques chiffres
LinkedIn est le plus grand réseau professionnel au monde, il compte 300 millions d’abonnés répartis dans plus de 200 pays. Bien plus important que son rival Viadeo, qui lui ne compte que 50 millions de membres ; on estime que 2 nouveaux profils s’y créé toutes les 2 secondes dans le monde.

La différence avec Facebook
Il est important de distinguer LinkedIn de Facebook. L’un est un outil professionnel tandis que l’autre est plus ludique et personnel. Vous ne trouverez aucun jeu sur LinkedIn par exemple. Avez-vous déjà essayé de donner votre carte de visite à votre interlocuteur sans même l’avoir salué ni vous être présenté ? Votre carte finira, à coup sûr, à la poubelle. En ligne c’est pareil ; Certains ajoutent, à tort, des contacts pour augmenter leur nombre de connexions et ensuite exhiber ces records comme des trophées. Je dis souvent que Facebook est fait pour parler à son cousin ou un parent proche qui est à l’autre bout du monde, si vos correspondants ne rentrent pas dans cette catégorie : pourquoi les importuner sur le mauvais format ? Vous ne pouvez pas appliquer sur LinkedIn les habitudes que vous avez sur Facebook. Oubliez les photos, les vidéos YouTube divertissantes, les « selfies » et les derniers ragots. Le format a définitivement changé.

Comment ça marche ?

Lorsque vous vous rendez sur le site –– pour la première fois, on vous demande de créer un compte. Utilisez votre adresse e-mail courante et rendez votre mot de passe complexe en y ajoutant chiffres, lettres minuscules et capitales, ainsi que des caractères spéciaux. L’interface de LinkedIn est assez sobre, mais elle offre bien plus de possibilités de parler de vous et de votre parcours de la façon la plus professionnelle qu’il soit. En fait, là réside toute son originalité.

J’ai utilisé des encadrés de différentes couleurs ; je vous indique dans les paragraphes, en gras, à quoi correspondent chaque éléments (ex : cf. cadre vert). N’hésitez pas à revenir sur cette image tout au long de ce guide.

1. Votre profil

L’en-tête sur LinkedIn représente votre carte de visite virtuelle, vous y verrez : votre photo (1), votre nom (2), et bien plus important, votre intitulé (3). L’intitulé est votre phrase d’accroche, il doit décrire ce que vous faites et quel est votre valeur ajoutée en quelques mots. Lorsque nous ouvrons notre navigateur web, nous utilisons Google et nous y entrons des mots clés ; un bon exemple de recherche serait : expert en communication et marketing /réseaux sociaux au Cameroun. Ce sont donc ces mots que votre audience recherche et qui doivent être astucieusement insérés dans votre intitulé. Bien sûr, vous pouvez à tout moment changer et peaufiner votre accroche en allant dans la modification de votre profil à l’aide du bouton « Modifier » (4). Plus vous améliorez votre page, plus vous attirez les curieux et votre nombre de vues sur le réseau. Ce qui est génial, c’est que vous pouvez disposer d’une adresse LinkedIn personnalisée (5) que vous pouvez écrire désormais sur votre carte de visite.
La mienne par exemple est . Fini donc les CV statiques et ennuyeux en ligne, distribuez votre « site web LinkedIn » à tous vos contacts !

Mettez votre photo

Il est dommage de constater que beaucoup choisissent de ne pas mettre de photo de profil. LinkedIn est taillé pour du networking, les personnes qui cachent leur visage montrent –involontairement- qu’elles ont aussi d’autres choses à cacher sur elles ou leur entreprise. Rappelez-vous que la confiance est le maître mot de la politique d’utilisation de LinkedIn. Prenez une photo professionnelle où vous souriez, sur un fond neutre et éclairé. Une photo de buste est préférable. J’ai souvent vu des membres mettre une fausse photo d’eux et la changer à la dernière minute, je le déconseille vivement. Encore une fois, ne donnez pas d’emblée une mauvaise image de vous.

2. Votre carnet d’adresse
Dans vos contacts, certains utilisent déjà LinkedIn sans que vous le sachiez. Il vous sera possible à la fin du processus d’enregistrement, et à l’aide de votre adresse mail, d’importer tout votre carnet d’adresse Outlook, Gmail, ou Yahoo. C’est pourquoi je vous ai conseillé, plus haut, d’utiliser votre email quotidien. Vos contacts figureront désormais dans l’onglet « connections » (cf. cadre vert) et seront ajoutés automatiquement au carnet d’adresse de votre smartphone (si vous avez installé en plus l’application « LinkedIn Connected »). Vous recherchez une personne et vous demandez si elle est sur Linkedin ? Allez dans la recherche (cf. cadre bleu) et entrez son nom ou sa société. Je vous recommande aussi d’inviter les personnes de votre entourage professionnel qui ne connaisse pas du tout LinkedIn à l’essayer. En fonctions du poste de vos contacts, LinkedIn vous proposera d’en ajouter d’autres similaires (cf. cadre rose). Ne cliquez pas directement sur le bouton « inviter », allez voir leur profil lisez le bien et rédigez leur une invitation.

3. Votre activité récente et votre mur
Un profil dormant n’est pas intéressant. Ne le laissez pas dans cet état pendant des mois. C’est le contenu que vous postez chaque jour, qui constituera un élément clé de votre succès sur LinkedIn. Vous pouvez créer une dynamique sur votre mur (cf. cadre orange) de plusieurs façons : faire une rapide update de votre profil, une courte publication (avec ou sans photo) ou un article de votre blog ou que vous avez trouvé intéressant.
Sur votre mur figure toute l’actualité de vos contacts, vos changements de statut mais aussi ceux des autres, vous pouvez directement « liker », commenter ou partager tout ce que vous y voyez. Interagissez généreusement et astucieusement avec votre réseau, et vous verrez des portes s’ouvrir.

4. Vos messages, notifications, et invitations
Un élément important de votre interface (cf. cadre gris), surtout sur votre smartphone ; un petit nombre rouge au-dessus du d’une enveloppe, vous indiquera le nombre de message que vous avez reçu mais pas encore lu. Sur votre navigateur web pas besoin de cliquer pour voir tous vos messages, si vous laissez le pointeur de votre souris assez longtemps dessus, un menu déroulant s’ouvrira vous montrant tous vos messages récents. Vous pourrez alors juste glissez la souris vers le bas pour y répondre.
Les notifications sont représentées par la deuxième icône que vous verrez en haut à droite de votre écran c’est là que vous verrez des alertes quand quelqu’un : visitera votre profil, commentera votre fil d’actualité, un sujet que vous avez posté dans un groupe de conversation ou aura répondu à un de vos commentaires. Des invitations vous parviendront aussi (dernière icône à droite). Pour rappel : vous n’êtes pas obligé de les accepter. Soyez sélectifs, parlez à ou lisez attentivement leurs profils avant toute décision.

Nous avons vu ensemble les bases de LinkedIn. Vous découvrirez dans le prochain article d’autres techniques ; notamment comment créer un profil pour votre entreprise, prospecter de nouveaux clients ou rédiger une invitation persuasive à d’autres membres etc. Avec internet, les frontières et barrières sont tombées. Que vous soyez étudiant, à la recherche d’un emploi, chef d’entreprise, membres d’associations, vous avez besoin de mettre votre profil en ligne et maitriser le networking. La réussite de votre carrière et parcours professionnel en dépendent. Vous pouvez être informé de ce qui se fait de mieux dans votre profession via l’actualité de votre mur, suivre les leaders mondiaux et leurs travaux, faire de nouvelles connexions, participer aux débats dans les différents groupes de discussions. Il faut un certain temps d’adaptation pour maîtriser LinkedIn mais le jeu en vaut vraiment la chandelle. Après tout, si 300 millions de personnes –et plus– s’y connectent et échangent chaque jour, pourquoi pas vous ?

What Your Clients Will Say And Do 95% Of The Time

I never yelled at a client. It has never been part of my intentions when I first started my business. Yet, when that day came it was such a relief! As a young entrepreneur, the amount of passion, energy you put in your craft and how you care about your first clients is amazing. I dreamed big, -I still am- thinking about how I’d cater to my customers the best I could, making it the stepping stone of my company. At first, bad days were just about me being sad not making enough money to pay bills; then the reputation starts growing and you attract different type of clients. How you’re going to deal with them is important. A clear strategy is needed. Creative professionals always charge their services in two parts: the caution, to make sure everything will run well, keep the boat floating; and the final delivery payment. What happen between these two parts is sometimes drama. This is like Moïse opened the sea up and closed it at the wrong time, usually when you have the final payment invoice in your hands. Sadly our activity is more about figuring what will be the next silly idea that will pop up in our client’s mind, than the actual work on our plate. “The client is king” they say, “Long live the king” they chant… yes whatever?

//* Don’t read if you’re sensitive to spoilers // I knew a king that pissed me off so much for an entire season -or two-, and this got me wondering why somebody hadn’t kill him already. You know him well…

When you deal with complicated clients you are always on the verge. You feel it coming. This little voice inside your head will say “You fool! What’s going wrong with you? The amount of money on the table was not worth it. Why you took it?” Wish you left it to somebody who’d be able to handle all the pressure you’re in right now. I remember reading an article about Steve Jobs, it narrated how Paul Rand – famous designer of NEXT logo- , pissed off,  banged his fist on the table saying “This is my job! I know how to do it!”. I almost stood up and gave to my computer screen a round of applause. Strange to say, clients will respect you for that. Don’t be afraid, nothing wrong will happen to you – feel the salt of the sea in your mouth already?- 😉

Here’s what clients don’t know: the process of creativity is long, tedious and hair pulling.  Strategic choices -painful ones- have to be made, time is limited. Deadlines are dreadful. We -creative professionals- are suffering, because we care about every single details that will render the big picture well. They don’t see that, let me tell you why: because cheap, careless, do-it-for-the-money graphic designers came along way before you. They serenaded awful songs to them and they liked it, thy did this awful job you are now in charge to fix!

I will write about these “design slaughters” in another article; for now let’s refocus on the designer-client love and hate relationships. This is the client’s job: lower your pricing, they are in for the “more bang for their buck”. They want cheap prices with unlimited changes, unlimited feedback’s and unlimited calls. The question to ask yourself is can you deal with all that? Here’s, in my experience, what they’ll throw at you:

“Let’s see how you do that, give us free samples to show to x, y, z decision maker in our office, then we’ll ball”
Dear client, the ball is in our portfolio. What you are calling free samples is “spec work”. We are not new to this business and if we crafted our website carefully with all our previous work in it. You should check it. Are you entering a nice restaurant and asking the chef to “get over your table in a hurry” and let you taste his/her special meal with this special sauce on it. You’d “buy if you like it. Deal?”. Not in this world. All you need to know about the menu is displayed at the front door. You know exactly what’s cooking there and you have testimonials all over internet to make a buying decision.

“We will advertise your business if you do this or that, we have an amazing network of new clients for you!”
If I could get a penny every time I hear this…
Dear client, this is not charity: I’m a creative professional. My agency is helping companies in advertising and communication fields! No one is better at self promoting than me and my business. This is what you hired us for, isn’t it? You are just saying this because you are hoping for a good rebate. Plus nothing will guarantee me that you’ll stick to your words, because nothing force you to do this in the future.
It takes time networking and promoting a business. If I’m in front of you it’s because you don’t have the time nor the expertise to conduct these tasks effectively. Here’s what will happen 90% of time: you will forget it! Few days later, I’ll be asking you “have you spread the word about my business lately?” I’ll get a vibrant no or a lie. Clients don’t have time! They are busy!  If you really want to help me, dear client, here are my business cards with my agency’s website address on it. Please do share and bring me referrals I’ll appreciate it. I’m already advertising your business on my website and at every meetings. Freely.

“Hey you owe me money remember few months ago we did so and so”
Dear client, where were you “few months ago” when we were awaiting your final payment? This is why we set up a caution. To allow us to work safely. Because we know that the business life is full of surprises. Bad ones. Just because you left a caution don’t mean we owe you money. Have you ever left a nightclub with your bottles at the bar and came few months later asking “where are my drinks? I left money here”

“This wasn’t considered as a modification to me”
Dear client, you know that in this craft we charge you for every modifications done after delivery. Why? Because we know perfection doesn’t exist. And, like us, you love perfection. We could still be on it at Christmas. Every time my stylus touch the tablet to change something for you, my time is involved. I could spend this time doing something else. Modifications are becoming downward spirals so easily when they are not restrained. We don’t want them to happen; that’s why during the process of creation we submit mockups, directions, sketches for YOU to choose. If you don’t know what you want in life it will cost you. The same goes in design and marketing.

“Could you submit other propositions for this work?”
Dear client, we are down for whatever, whenever you provide us the fuel to do so. We are running a business like you and our time -like yours- is valuable. It took us weeks to come up with a solution for you. Now that we are close to the delivery and the deadline is near, don’t ask us to work more. If you want more propositions, an additional invoice will be submitted. Fair enough?

“Are you down for the money or your client’s satisfaction?”
“Take no prisoners” type of question here. Dear client, you are playing with my feelings here. You didn’t hire me to be nice to you. I don’t ask you to like me because my work is NOT me. My ability is to build something out of the clay you gave me-client’s brief-. If I asked you the right questions, if my job has been done properly: the result is YOU.
I’m okay with client’s satisfaction. I’m always providing free tips, writing articles, interacting in forums and discussions. You could ask me questions anytime about your issues I’d be glad to answer them in my free time.
You have my number right? Let’s schedule a call anytime!

“Change the color: turn it green
Here I go “what type of green do you want? Do you have the specific code for that green?”
“Don’t know, but we know it should be green, it’s not the same green coming out of our Hp printer” they say.
“Have you calibrate your screen…? Have you consult your printer?  Do you know what will be the effects of that green to your audience? ” I reply.
“We have no clue” they snap back.
Dear client, designers are masters of colors. They know exactly how strong visual emotions go. If I chose this color charter for you, I really knew what I was doing.

Can you make the character / logo / design / illustration bigger?
How big? Let me tell you more about everything going on that canvas. In Design, elements works in harmony, they are “designed” like this. It’s how they work. When you ask something to be bigger or smaller, you are provoking the entire system to bug.

It’s 11 pm and I wanted to call you”
Dear client, you simply can’t. Like you, I have a life. If you reach me out of business hours, you give me the incentive to regret our collaboration -and hang up-. It shows me that you are selfish and self-centered. May be you think the money you engaged allows you to act like the Egyptian pharaohs?

Can you come to our office regularly?
Dear client, I came alone to this meeting but I’m not alone. I’m just the account executive and CEO as well. I’m working with a team. When you see me in your office it’s because we made our respective schedules work for that day. When I come, if you have a meeting, I’ll patiently wait in the lobby.

“Can you work with our interns on this?
Duuuuhhhh…No! We are only dealing with you because we know that your interns are not the decisions maker here. If you could spare us these useless back and forths, we’ll appreciate it very much. Thank you!

“Can I interrupt you during your presentation?”
Dear client, if you do so, my speech will be troubled. This PowerPoint presentation was gently nailed for you. We rehearsed it. Please, listen to what we are saying, it’s important. You can put your phone in silent mode, nothing is more urgent than this work we are presenting in front of you right now.

“We had your budget but it was used for another urgent matter.”
Dear client, what you are telling me here is that the work you hired us for wasn’t important. We spent time together on calls, briefs, feedbacks, and now the project’s start is rescheduled to a date you really don’t know. Next time you hire us the cost will be higher. Why? Because If we had to wait for you to be ready and in the mean time over clients came in and pay the right price for the right service.

“We could get it cheaper on Fiver or 99designs or whatever cheap sites out there”
Dear client, you don’t know enough cheap places you can go to :). It’s our business, we know very well our competition. If you want commodities, we can point you -gladly- to the right places -persons- for the job. Unfortunately, Epson, Adobe, Apple, Wacom, Western Digital, Dropbox, Internet providers and every technologies we work with on a daily bases don’t offer us cheaper products. Our employees need a pay, they have also mouths to feed.

“You are too expensive!”
Dear client, few months ago I was on the market for a new laptop. My aging laptop was bugging and that slowed my workflow and my ability to deliver. I wanted a laptop that last longer, more reliable and fast. I then made my researches online and I came to the conclusion that only Macbook Pros could give me that solution. Hell! These cats are expensive! But I know what I want. I know that I can’t sacrifice the quality for the price, I know that if I go for the cheap solutions I’ll be happy for few days / months, but when my laptop will start bugging again or I’ll change its battery regularly, I’ll surely regret my investment. What’s the point of paying the double or triple down the road, when I can pay big now? I want peace. I want sustainable solutions for my business. I want a great support. I want experts to provide me the best of their works. I’m ready to pay the price for this. No shortcuts. Are you?

“We’d like you to give us native files / codes for that project”
Dear client, you are asking for the blueprints. They worth money. We are the guardians of these blueprints. In case if something goes wrong you can fall back on us for guidance and help. Don’t ask us to give you these files because we know that you will give them to the competition or your interns, who will do -90% of time- an awful job, and after that you’ll come and blame us. As designers and creative we are responsible for every little things we put out in this world. Leave this power to us.

“We work without contract”
Dear client, a contract is not a punishment. It’s not a trick destined to trap you! It will protect you and us from those non sense conversations we will have in the future. I know that painful conversations are good and necessary. But they don’t have to be total non sense! We both agree to do the work based on common terms. The contract make sure everybody will respect his words. Please, sign this contract.

“Come on, be flexible!”
Dear client, we know where flexibility lead. You want us to work the magic out for you, that’s what we’ll do. But what about you? Are you flexible?

The path I took is not an easy one. I decided to bring my expertise to Africa few years ago. A continent where design has left -some are wondering if it has ever existed-, where all need to be done, where we are tired of non-development clichés like famine and diseases,  where people go overseas to buy great stuff they can craft locally and make it their own. Many have left, exhausted trying, some are still here because the love goes strong whenever difficulties and challenges arise. I’m bringing changes. It’s not because we are in Africa, that the sun is brighter, that we should do low level business, or flawed one. Look where it led us? Change is hard! It doesn’t happen overnight. We have stopped communicating to each others decades ago, now we are paying the price and can’t even recognize bad work when it happens. I love my clients, I really do. As a father loves his children and sometimes needs to find solutions to make them change when they go wrong. I’m not here to “play nice”, to “be nice”, may be my competition is. I go by the rule that you expect me to be real with you. This my business policy.