Book review: Design Is A Job by Mike Monteiro

Design Is A Job was published in 2012, but is packed with timeless advice on taking control of your freelance life.

design is a job review

I read Design Is A Job many years ago, but re-reading it recently has made me realise how powerful the advice is. It’s taken me years of struggling and coaching to get to a point where I feel like I’m thriving rather than surviving. If I had listened to Mike I would have got there a lot quicker!

Co-founder of Mule Design and raconteur Mike Monteiro wants to help you do your job better. From contracts to selling design, from working with clients to working with each other, you’ll learn why navigating the business of design is just as important as the craft of it. Cultivated from his own experience, Mike packs this brief book with knowledge you can’t afford not to know.

One of the standout points that has really hit home over the lockdown is doing strategic, creative work rather than low value execution work dished out by clients. By getting involved earlier and talking to people about what problems they are trying to solve with their website design, I can add much more value to the project compared to being asked to produce a particular design.

Beware of clients who have waited to call you until they have a perfect diagram of what they need and want you to color it in. If they’re not coming to you for strategy and problem-solving, they’re not coming to you for design, they’re coming to you for production. And if you take on production work, you don’t get to call yourself a designer.

There’s also a really good point about our role in managing and educating clients (as frustrating as this can be) rather than getting salty on social media about how annoying clients are or that they “don’t get it”. Strong advice.

I reckon the wisdom in Design Is A Job could apply to pretty much any freelance career, not just design. Choosing the right clients, sticking to your process, being clear about scope and money and working well with others can make all of our lives less stressful, more productive and more prosperous!

There’s a free chapter available and it’s a short but wisdom packed read that gets straight to the point – highly recommended.