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How To Work Within A Client’s Tight Budget

How To Work Within A Client’s Tight Budget

What do you do when the money isn't flowing in?

Thomas James | Escape from Illustration Island

As I mentioned in a recent article, Is Your Client Clean or Dirty?, I believe that some clients who are perceived to be difficult do in fact have innocent intentions. Unfortunately, bad experiences sometimes make some Illustrators unnecessarily fearful or defensive when they encounter new clients who send up possible red flags.

One example of this is a client who has a ridiculously tight budget when compared to the grand expectations they may have.

Indeed, some of these types of clients are interested in taking advantage of inexperienced or desperate Illustrators. However, sometimes the client is simply unaware of how much time, work, and skill is required to execute their projects, and especially of how much it will cost.

It can be tempting to turn down a project at the first sign of an unrealistic budget, but in doing so, you may be walking away from an opportunity for new business or even a lasting relationship. There are ways to work within a client’s tight budget without compromising your value as an Illustrator.

Here are some simple steps to try and make the most of a client’s tight budget:


It can be helpful to educate your client about industry standards and about the amount of time and effort it will take to complete the work that they’re asking for. This won’t always persuade them to pay what you’re quoting for the artwork, but it has the potential to start a productive dialogue with the client about coming to an agreement that is fair to both parties.

Offer Alternative Solutions:

An under-appreciated form of education is the art of offering alternative ways to meet their communication needs.

Believe it or not, many clients have not considered other, less expensive ways to get their message across in a visual way. For example, try suggesting ideas such as a Black and White or four color version of their original full color concept. If you begin this conversation, you just might find an idea that works just as well as, or even better than, the more expensive approach they were proposing at the start.

Next: Segment the Project →

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