Many of us consider the final product to be what defines the value and success of our work. When someone asks us what we do, we go straight for the portfolio. The proof is in the pudding, right? Well without a creative process, there wouldn't be any pudding. Without that secret recipe, there's no telling what you'll end up with.
Your creative process is the key to producing the same level of professional, amazing results every time. It's your guiding light. In order to harness its power, you've got to be intentional with it. Use these 5 tips to make sure your workflow is working its magic for you.
1. Write it down.
You can't expect consistent results when you've got an inconsistent workflow. Take the time to sit down and document your creative process, from start to finish. This process is what will help you make magic every time, but you can't rely on it until you write it down and know it by heart.
Writing your process down will help bring awareness and clarity to your workflow. It will allow you to be more intentional how you work and to nail down your own formula for success. I'm not saying it should be set in stone either. Your creative process isn't the Ten Commandments carved into a tablet. It should be a living, breathing thing that's constantly evolving.
2. Take notes.
When you find things that work well or—more importantly—things that don't work at all during a project, stop what you're doing. Jot them down right away. Yep, right then and there.
But, Melissa, I'm right in the middle of this thing and I can't be bothered with process now. I can do this later. I'll remember.
You may think you'll remember later, but you probably won't. Most likely, you'll forget and the issue will come up again in the future. Save yourself a headache later. Maybe there's a question you should have asked or that kickoff call really should have had an agenda. Whatever it is, write it down.
There's a hole in your process, and you need to document it now. Use a digital document on your desktop or an actual notepad beside you. Whatever works for you, jot it down. Trust me. Your future self will thank you.
3. Give it a chance.
It's all about the balance, folks, and process is no exception. You shouldn't be so stubborn with your process that you refuse to recognize its flaws, but you also can't constantly be revamping the entire workflow. You need to give the process a chance to work before you can accurately judge whether it does or not.
4. Ask questions.
It can be difficult to evaluate your workflow when you're so caught up in the details of the day-to-day. That's why it pays to ask for feedback. Survey your clients when you complete a project. Ask them how their experience was—what worked well and what could be improved. Testimonials can go a long way in reinforcing those strengths and finding the gaps in your process.
5. Own it.
People will challenge your process, constantly. “Can't we just skip the discovery portion? That's not in the budget.” Absolutely not.
You're the expert. You know the value of each part of your process. If it wasn't necessary it wouldn't be there. Don't compromise. If a client wants the magic they know you for, they've got to play by your rules. Stick to your guns.
Your creative process is a unique selling point for your brand. It's your magic formula. It's the key to producing consistently amazing results for your clients—the kind of results that will attract more dream customers. No one else does it exactly the same way you do, and that is your spark. Own it.