“Trust the professional” is not only something I say, it’s also something that I do when it’s my turn to hire out work. I’m not a professional photographer, editor, marketer, etc. I need to hire others to do that for me. The older I get, the wiser I get, and trusting the professional that I hire is an area that I am so glad to have grown in.
My daughter recently asked me, “What’s your favorite thing to do?” There was no immediate answer forth-coming. After a minute of introspection, my answer: work.
I have no spare time. I utilize every minute of time I have to be productive in some manner. I don’t read fiction, I don’t hang out all day and do nothing. I work. I learn. I absorb. I design.
I was raised to be the best at whatever I set out to be, whether ditch digger or book designer. I’m not the best, yet. Being the best is never a solid thing. And truth be told, I don’t strive to be the best of the best, but I do strive to be my best. I do strive to ensure that the client’s design is the best it can be for its market and its budget — two ends that are often at odds.
And I have to say that when a client challenges my design concept, when a client says, “Well, let me see what the people in my group think,” my eye twitches a little. This is the client saying, “I don’t trust you, and I don’t trust my own judgment either.” Studies have proven that your general audience knows nothing about good design. It sounds crazy, I know, but don’t shoot the messenger.
When I see those threads on FB that ask, “Which design do you like better?” I have to literally force myself to keep scrolling. Because I know what I will find there: horrible, terrible, very bad advice. For some reason, everyone fancies themselves a designer these days.
Four years ago, I was guilty, too. So I get it. We have these images in our head that are perfect and beautiful and balanced and modern. But unless you know how to finesse the software, set your kerning, use the right tool for the right job, and have a good eye for design, you are not a graphic designer. Being a graphic designer goes way beyond just having a good concept. There are multiple layers of technical madness that have to be sifted through in order to arrive at a great, useable design.
If you believe in your product enough to hire a graphic designer, then trust her to do what you paid her to do. One of the top themes found in #designerproblem memes is the overbearing client. The one who basically dictates what she wants you to do. (Move this over .1”. Now make this bigger. Set this transparency a little lower.) Don’t be that client. I’m not saying there isn’t value in the client’s feedback. I am a huge proponent of “teamwork makes the dream work.” But I don’t like to be micro-managed. It defeats the purpose. And it stifles my creative zen and makes me want to refund the client her money.
Most of my clients are first-time authors, and “not trusting the professional” is a common theme I deal with. I know in my own life, I have had to let go of the reins, too. I used to drive my husband crazy with questions that sounded like, “Shouldn’t you do it this way?” This would then result in statements from him that sounded like, “Just do it yourself if you think you don’t know what I’m doing.” And so I would. And I would fail, lol. Through that failure, I learned to trust the professional. I don’t always understand why he makes the decisions he makes. But he does. That’s the joy of working with a professional: I don’t HAVE to know why! I just have to trust the professional.
If I’m blessed, then the professional I’ve hired WILL force me to think outside the box. And that’s a good thing, because that’s where growth happens.