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Resourceful Designer podcast: Offering tips, tricks and advice for starting and growing your graphic or web design business.

You Need A Thick Skin To Be A Designer

Hey there, fellow designers! So, let’s talk about something that doesn’t get brought up nearly enough in the design world – having a thick skin. Yep, you heard me right. And I’m not talking about physically thick skin, although that wouldn’t hurt either, considering the long hours hunched over our desks, right? I’m talking about the ability to handle criticism and difficult clients without taking things too personally. So, grab a cup of your favourite beverage, settle in, and let me share my thoughts on why being a designer requires thicker skin than you may think. For the full story, be sure to listen to the podcast episode.

I’ve been in this industry for over three decades, and let me tell you, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. I’ve had clients argue with me, yell at me, and even (believe it or not) threaten me with harm! It comes with the territory, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Most clients are awesome, but every now and then, you encounter someone who’s a bit more vocal about their opinions. That’s when a thick skin really comes in handy.

Now, if you work for an agency or a company with a design department, you might not need a thick skin as much. After all, someone else might be fielding the direct client interactions. But if you’re running your own business, like me, then a thick skin is absolutely necessary. Your clients expect results; if they’re not happy with what you’re presenting them, they might not hold back.

I wasn’t always great at handling criticism. When I was younger, I used to take any criticism super personally. I was what you’d call the ultra-thin-skinned child. If a teacher raised their voice at me, cue the waterworks. But as I’ve grown in this industry, my skin has definitely thickened. I’ve learned to see criticism for what it is – feedback on the work, not a personal attack. And that, my friends, is a game-changer.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s tough not to take it personally when someone disapproves of something you’ve poured your heart into. But here’s the thing – design is subjective. Not everyone will like what we do, and that’s okay. If a client doesn’t resonate with a design I’ve presented, I see it as an opportunity to try again or, in some cases, realize that I might not be the right fit for them.

At the end of the day, my goal is for my client to be happy. I create designs for them, not for me. If they pick something that’s not my personal favourite but it’s what resonates with them, then I’ve done my job. And that’s a win in my book.

So, to all you budding designers out there or those thinking of starting their own design business, remember this – you’ll need a thick skin to thrive in this industry. It might be a challenging ride for you if you can’t handle criticism and difficult clients without taking it personally.

But hey, you’re not alone. There’s a wonderful community of designers out there ready to offer support, advice, and even a place to vent about those challenging clients. If you’re looking for that kind of camaraderie, join us at the Resourceful Designer Community. Together, we can navigate the challenges and celebrate the wins of being a designer.

All right, fellow designers, keep those creativity juices flowing and stay resilient. Until next time, keep designing and stay creative!

CLICK HERE to download a PDF transcription of this episode. This transcript was created with the help of AI and transcription tools. It has not been edited for errors or accuracy.

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Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

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