At some point in any designer or creative’s career journey, they find themselves ready for a shift in the types of clients and work they attract. Those first few years running your design business can often be often super busy, scrappy, and filled with a diverse range of clients and projects, all to develop your skills and gain experience.

We get it! Starting and growing your design business is a journey that’s ever-evolving. Once you’ve reached a point where you’re starting to own your skillset and speak with confidence about your offerings, it’s time to start a mini “rebrand” for yourself. It’s time to attract the premium clients that you’ve dreamed of since the start – the ones you can charge whatever you desire for each project, no questions asked.

Before you can attract a premium client to your business, you must take a good hard look at your own brand. The question you need to ask yourself is: is my brand one that a high-end client would trust with their brand and vision?

We’ve outlined a few of the key areas of your business that you need to assess and refine in order to upscale your clients and projects.

Your Own Brand + Mindset

Let’s start with the big picture. Does your own brand send a message of quality, innovation, or expertise? This is really the big key to attracting the sort of clients that come knocking at your door.
Review your key client touchpoints: your website, your lead magnets, your social media feeds, and your brand photography. Ask a friend or a few designer peers to list 5 words that come to mind when they look at these brand elements of yours.

Oftentimes this starts with shifting your own business mindset. In our opinion, it is totally worthwhile to book a few sessions with a business coach, design mentor, or to purchase a business mindset course to help you rewire any limiting beliefs you might have about your capabilities for greatness or growing your business.

Tally up all of the experience you’ve accumulated over the time you’ve been designing. Outline some of the mistakes you’ve learned from, projects you nailed, and systems you’ve put in place that show you are NOT a newbie and that you have the industry insight and knowledge that comes with experience.

Another great strategy for breaking free of a limiting business mindset is to join a mastermind or collective of designers. The best ones are paid, though there are free versions of these out there as well such as joining a Facebook group. Having a support system of designers to cheer you on, give you feedback, and remind you of your worth is truly priceless.

Finally, consider adding elements to your website or content creation that position you as more than an expert on design, but on branding as well. Most premium clients want to feel like they’re hiring an authority on how design impacts the overall brand experience. Study up on branding and add that as a service, and a topic you write or talk about.

A Premium Portfolio

Your portfolio is the key to convincing a premium client that you’re the one for them.
Hear us out: you should NOT post all of your work in your public portfolio. Think of your portfolio as your “Hall of Fame.” Showcase only the work that your ideal client would resonate with. For premium, upscale clients, you need to make sure that your portfolio is home to premium, upscale project examples.

If you don’t have 3-4 “premium” projects for your portfolio yet, make them! It really is that simple. We wrote an entire blog post here about the value of personal projects, and this is a perfect example of why they are so great! A fictitious project still shows off your design skills and allows you to target the type of client you want to work with.

For each project in your portfolio, provide some text that gives the background of the project and shows off your knowledge of the industry or niche you’re designing for. This positions you as an expert in branding and design for your clients.

Pro Tip: Make sure that your portfolio includes mockups of the work you created so that your designs are contextualized for real life. By using elegant, premade mockups like the ones we offer, you save yourself considerable time and you nail the brand aesthetic you want to attract.

Your Social Media

Be ruthless in the critique of your own social media aesthetic. Does it reflect the elegance and refinement of premium brands? It is truly incredible what a cohesive, refined, value-driven social feed can do for the success of your brand speaking to your ideal client.

Make sure you’re using a social platform scheduler so that you can preview your next few posts. This is an easy way to make sure your feed looks the part. Then, evaluate what sort of content you’re putting out into the world. Check out our posts on how to use Instagram for your design business, and content ideas for designers.

A Refined Client Experience

Are you providing a refined experience for clients? You want to offer a 5-star experience for clients that makes them feel catered to, seen, and taken care of.

This starts from your very first interaction to the final touches. To help your system flow efficiently, and to ensure you never forget any of the “small touches” that make your business stand out, we recommend investing in CRM software like Dubsado or Honeybook.

By using one of these programs, you can make sure that your client gets a premium experience in the following areas:
Project Proposal
Welcome Guide

Another element to a premium client experience is going above and beyond simple brand collateral. Yes, tangible deliverables are the foundation of your design business, but offering high-level implementation strategies for those deliverables will set your system apart from the rest. Consider adding a brand strategy guide to your packages. This will position you as an expert and  allow you to raise your prices accordingly.

Upscaling your design business truly starts with you. Reframe the way you think about yourself and your business and the rest will fall into place.

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