How to structure your first client meeting

Let me paint the scene, after following all the steps outlined in the Inkbike guide to landing your first paying client, you do in fact…land your first client.

After demonstrating your value by presenting to them a quality, bespoke piece of work – you get a call saying that they have an idea for a creative project and they’d like to bring you in for the job.

Absolute result! But what happens next?

If you’re not sure, or have been through this process before but are interested in a different approach then this article was written for you.

The first thing you need to do is ask them to send you an email containing an outline of the work they require – another term for this is a ‘creative brief’.

Make sure they send you this brief in writing, and not just over the phone. We’ll get into why this is important later.

An exploratory meeting in person is super important for several reasons;It gives you the ability to build rapport and an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and enthusiasm for the project.

Remember, you are as much the product that you’re selling as the work that you create. Demonstrating expertise reassures the client that they’re in safe hands which can also give you a basis for later word-of-mouth referrals.Not every person that writes a creative brief is going to be good at it – there might be aspects of the job that they think are clear in the brief but actually require elaboration.

Things can be misinterpreted over email, and people can be distracted while on the phone – meet them in person so you can understand more than just what the client wants, understand what their goals are.

Your client might not be the best at articulating exactly what they want designed if they’re not a designer themselves. What they can articulate however, is exactly what they hope to achieve by having assets designed.

Use that information to inform your design to help ensure that you deliver a product that your client will be thrilled with.With any creative venture involving multiple people, it’s easy for different parties to end up with very different visions for what an end product should look like.

It’s even easier for these alternate visions of a perfect end product to reveal themselves until the moment that you show off your initial designs resulting in a self-confidence crushing silence from your client when you were hoping for gasps of awe.

This meeting doesn’t have to take long (not every client is going to be able to spare an hour), but it’s essential to cover certain topics…he said casually segwaying into the next section of the article…

This is where your brief comes in handy.

The easiest way to start your preparation is to figure out what you’re hoping to have agreed by the end of it, and that’s;

  • An itemised list of deliverables
    Get this signed by yourself and the client, it’s the most important document you’ll take away from this meeting because it’s there to protect you both. One the one hand it makes you accountable for the work that the client’s paying you for, but also it guarantees that you aren’t asked to create a whole bunch of additional content which is outside of the scope of what you agreed to be paid to provide;
  • An agreed price for your work
    Some designers will ask for payment to be made upfront, or for 50% of the cost to be paid upfront and 50% when the work is submitted. How you negotiate this is entirely dependant on what you feel comfortable with, regardless you just need to make sure that you agree the price upfront;
  • An agreed number of revisions
    This is mostly a safeguard to ensure that the number of times that a client asks you to make changes doesn’t get ridiculous. You don’t want to be 3 months past the deadline and still receiving emails from your client for ‘one more little tweak’ that takes up your time and doesn’t provide any income. If anything, agreeing a set number of revisions just encourages the client to be organised in providing their feedback;
  • An agreement on submission dates
    Though it seems obvious, it’s best just to clarify this to make sure that you’re both on the same page and avoid any stressy ‘where the hell is that asset’ emails in your inbox. Make sure you give yourself as much time to deliver as possible; delivering early = a pleasant surprise for the client, whereas delivering late is where things can get uncomfortable. I know which one I’d choose to aim for.

If meeting face-to-face makes you feel nervous, then it helps to have everything you’ve prepared packed into a presentation. That way you have visual cues to keep you on track, cover all your points and help convey key points to your client.

As any creative knows; design speaks volumes. Sadly, there are few things drier than a blocky PowerPoint presentation, and it can take AGES to make an attractive presentation using it. 

Thankfully, this month, I discovered a new tool for creating beautiful slideshows – Beautiful AI.

Much like Canva, Beautiful AI is an online-only tool that seeks to make expert designers out of us all by doing most of the heavy lifting. 

It’s got a series of smart templates with modern designs that make your presentations really pop. 

They seem like they’re just getting themselves up and running so at the moment their platform is completely free to use (likely to grow an initial user base). You just need to make an account and you’re good to go. 

Anyway, it sounds like I’m working on commission here but I’m really not (not that I’m not open to it Beautiful AI if you’re reading this – *finger pistols and cheesy grin*), I just think that this is too good of a free tool to not encourage people to take advantage of.

I was seriously impressed – definitely check it out.

Anyway…not sure where to start when putting all of the above into a presentation?

Don’t worry, I’ve created a template on Beautiful AI which you can follow to create your own. View it here.


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