Creative service providers – do you ever feel like you’re either completely overwhelmed with client work or don’t have enough at once? Successfully crafting my studio’s “project cadence” to a place that fit my lifestyle and vision for Hello June was one of the biggest keys in supporting my reduced-hour workweek and ensuring that I am able to pay myself a consistent salary, regardless of my business’s income.
Here’s what my project cadence looked like before and how it looks different in 2022.
Up to 8 clients at a time (yikes! works for larger agency-style studios but it’s a small team over here!)
Projects were booked a couple weeks up to a week in advance
Multiple website launches only a week or so apart (stress city)
Multiple clients sharing the same start date
Similar project milestones aligning too closely (i.e. multiple brand concepts due around the same time
Guaranteed project timelines without a deposit
Not planning for or taking time off/working on the weekends
Here’s how things look different.
We only take on 1-2 projects at a time (this has been life-changing)
We book out at least 1 month in advance (now we have a nice long runway for our onboarding process & in-depth creative direction questionnaire)
We usually only launch 1 website/month max (it’s an intricate process sometimes and we like to have all hands on deck)
Clients never share the same start date
We space out start dates so similar project milestones are not being shared between clients (this allows all of my/the team’s creative energy around a specific type of design to be poured into one client at a time.
Deposits are what lock in our clients’ project timelines, always with wiggle room especially for web projects (these deposits for future projects help spread out my business’s gross income so I can pay myself a consistent salary)
I take about 7-8 weeks of time off per year and I’m OOO every Friday-Sunday
The benefits are obvious – my clients get my clear mind, my focused strategy, and my 1:1 time, and I get to truly dive deep in each client project and devote all of my creative energy to each and every client in the duration of their project. Layering brand and web design clients together allows me to fully switch on my “brand design brain” for one client while the other gets my “web design brain” (no competition there!)
If you’re a creative service provider feeling like your project calendar is running away with you, here are some questions you can ask yourself.
How many hours per day do I realistically want to work, and when do I want those hours to be?
When do I want to be unavailable? (During the week or OOO time during the year, planning for vacations/mat leave/etc.)
Do I/my team prefer to have a lot of projects happening at the same time or do we like to focus on fewer/one at a time?
Does my pricing level or structure support fewer projects at a time? Is it more profitable for me based on the hours I want to work to take on fewer clients at a time?
What type of 1:1 time do each of my projects need from me/my team?
What type of creative energy does each of my projects need from me/my team?
How do I want to feel when I wake up on a workday? How do I want to feel when I wake up on a weekend? How am I feeling about both of those right now?
There’s no one right or wrong way to go when it comes to planning out how many clients you want to work with at a time – it truly depends on your energy, the size of your team, your income goals/markers you need to hit, and how many hours/week you want to work.
I’m curious – how many clients do you like to work with at once? Shoot me an email at email@example.com to have a good old-fashioned email exchange about this!