The RM10K Lesson All Designers Should Know

Continuing with our series, Rtist is interviewing some of our creative talents to find out more about their journey, what makes them tick and how they are faring throughout as a freelancer in the creative industry.

Penang-born Kaze Ng is very proud of her roots. Graduating from the prestigious Goldschmiedeschule mit Uhrmacherschule Pforzheim in Germany, she is currently working as a full time freelancer doing social media digital marketing. She moved from Penang to KL for more opportunities in the field, and has been doing a fantastic job at it.

How did you get into the design field ?
My family is in the clothing industry, so since I was young, I’ve had an ambition to become a fashion designer. Currently, I play two different roles; working as a fashion jewelry designer, as well as doing social media management and digital marketing.

When do you decide to jump out of a full time job? What made you come to that decision?
Working in the corporate world hasn’t been a good experience for me.

In my first company, I disliked the office politics, and felt really left out from the rest of my colleagues. I didn’t want to deal with that anymore. The second company provided the promised task at hand, which is very different from what I applied and interviewed for. For the third company, I worked with a great team with a great environment, but I didn’t receive my salary for 4 months.

How do you catch up with the current trend?
I love spending hours and hours on researching the latest trends. I tend to follow a lot of Italian trends as they are the main fashionistas of the world. Another way is by getting feedback from all our clients. Designers nowadays have to also follow celebrities and influencers to know and keep up with the trends.

My favorite source of inspiration is that I love doing outdoor activities to get more ideas.

Do you think Canva decreases the needs of social media designers? What do you think about Canva?
I think Canva is for small - medium businesses with a limited budget to hire a designer. It doesn’t decrease your need of finding a social media designer, as you’re constantly challenged to prove to your clients that you can do better than all the ready made templates on Canva.

Where do you normally get your freelance jobs from?
My jobs mostly come from referrals or satisfied clients who refer their friends. I also run my own Facebook page and spam it with my content so that people know my portfolio and what I do.

What are the current market challenges?
One of the biggest things is probably that the agency throws their price, or cut down on prices in order to get clients. I have experienced in the past of clients requesting for RM50 flyer artwork. I believe that most clients prefer getting a good price rather than going for quality work. Some agency throw price, cut down on prices in order to get clients.

What are some of the challenges you’re facing now?
I constantly get clients commenting on my designs, as though the designer job is very easy for everyone to do. I also have clients who send me requests and messages at the wee hours, which is honestly ridiculous to me.

How would you overcome these challenges?
I prefer to keep my brand reputation, than give in my professionalism to clients who do not appreciate designers hardwork.

Time management is very important. Learn to differentiate weekdays and weekends. I will not reply to any word text during the weekend. I also normally will plan content one month earlier to get things done.

Be empathetic and straight forward to clients. Be transparent and straightforward to the client, what is your working style and design fee. Tell the client what is your value to them, and they will respect you. Communicate with clients like friends, while being nice and professional.

Did you face any fees collection problem?
I paid a lot to learn from the mistakes I have made. RM10k is an accumulated amount that I have lost within a 2 year period which is when I started offering freelance services.

Lesson 1
Contract.
I started by thinking that it will be a fast paying project where it is a hassle to draft a contract. The client disappeared after the job was done.
Total lost : RM2k

Lesson 2
Deposit / Full payment
I had a case where it was a digital marketing project. I took a 50% upfront payment and I set up all the funnels and audience for her. The day before the project ended, she asked me to readjust some visuals. I did. The next morning, she kicked me out of the Facebook Business Manager and blocked my phone. I did not get the remaining balance. The amount of the project was below RM500.
Total Lost: RM3k

Lesson 3
There was a middle person for this project. He hired me to manage the social media platforms for one of his clients who resides in Singapore. When I joined the project, it was still at the branding stage, where another branding company handled all the designs: logo - packaging - labels - menu . etc.

The project went very wrong from there onwards. The client did not like everything the branding company was providing and kept delaying the timeline. The client was very fickle-minded, kept changing her opinions, and couldn't give a proper answer. The branding director couldn't convince her with their concepts. So in the end, there was so much argument and the client decided to ask ME to design their branding.

I told the middle person that the contract needs to readjust as I am not supposed to be doing all this - he reassured me that I will get paid extras for all the extra-long hours. I trusted him, so I did the work. Branding designs are done. The design approval contract was signed by her. A few days later, the middle man told me that the client canceled the contract and decided to not pay for everything. And a few weeks later, the accountant of the middle man no longer works in the company and the middle man stops replying to my messages.
Total lost : At least RM7k

How do you make sure you won’t fall into the same traps again?
Signing a contract is very important. You should state out all the terms & condition when discussing with the clients.

Always collect deposits before you start, there are a lot of different ways like 50/50, 30/70 and project base. Having a contract in place can definitely secure designers and lower the risk of fee collection problems.

What are your upcoming milestones?
I’m planning to open up my own agency for social media management. I’m also planning to publish more designs for my jewelry website.

What are your proudest accomplishments?
Definitely seeing my design on the big screen. When I was in the fashion design industry, I was required to design a jewelry collection before the exhibition in Hong Kong and Thailand 6 months ahead of the current fashion trend. My design was shown to sellers, buyers and wholesalers. Within the 3rd month, I started seeing my designs being copied by a brand, and even being sold in some Chatuchak stores. I also got featured on the jewelry front page: https://www.instagram.com/ipeekyouboo/ which definitely gave me more than my fair share of exposure.

Why did you join Rtist?
I joined Rtist when they just started and finished their website. I was one of their online marketers managing their Facebook ads. They were deciding whether they want to do Facebook ads or SEO. I was doing their Facebook ads. I also got a few referrals from Rtist, which really works great.

Want to know more about Kaze?
Find her portfolio link on Rtist: https://www.rtist.com.my/wdreamers

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