I’ve taken a bold step into the industry on my own. Since going solo, I’ve been thrust into the deep end and I’ve followed a somewhat steep learning curve. Although the lessons I share with you in this article today is not specifically design related, they have played a part in my graphic design journey.
Image credit: Leonie
8 Tips to Help You to Become a Better Freelancer
I hope through sharing my experiences with you, you will be able to benefit from it as your embark on your own journey as a freelance graphic designer.
1. Be a Go-Getter
We all know that doing a good portfolio website with your work is a great way to publicize yourself to the web audience. However, one good portfolio website among the thousands on the massive World Wide Web can easily be lost and go unnoticed. Nothing comes easily. You must do other forms of promotion in order to actually gain a larger clientèle.
Don’t slack off after one day of promotion. Keep the momentum and continuously involve yourself in discussions, advice columns, forums, and writing guest articles. If people know your name and who you are, they will more likely take a look at your portfolio and know what you can offer them.
2. The iPhone – A Designer’s Handy Tool
The recent must-have item everyone is clamoring to get a hold of – the iPhone, is indeed a must-have for designers.
Image credit: YouLookNiceTodayPhotography
On top of being a means of communication, the iPhone is a handy tool to jot down ideas wherever you are, take pictures that inspire creativity, an excellent social networking tool, for easy access to your emails and blog, to schedule meetings with clients as well as to play games and relax a little.
3. Time and Effort – The Recipe to a Great Blog
Starting a blog is easy, but maintaining a blog that has substance is an entirely different matter. You have to consider many things like what content to write and how often to update your blog. A well written article takes more than a few hours a night to complete. There’s research to be done, actual writing of the article, editing, doing a second draft, a final proof read before any article is even close to being ready for publishing.
Image credit: ampotter
The technical aspects aside, there’s also the problem of content. The topics to write about can be a challenge in itself. Some days, article ideas are plentiful but there are lull days where creativity evades you. If you hit troubled waters with a ‘Creative Block’, check out our previous article – Ways for Freelancers to Get Inspiration for Design Work, on how to be re-inspired.
4. Evernote – Jotting Your Creative Blocks Away
One way to beat the lack of creativity is to keep a journal of article ideas when your creativity is running high and you are brimming with ideas. Evernote is a very useful software that allows you to do just that. It even allows you to include photographs in your notes that can encourage more inspiration on the topic you’ve thought of but didn’t have the time to expand on.
The best thing about Evernote is the ability to sync to other computers and mobile devices so that you can easily continue working on the ideas no matter when or where inspiration hits you.
5. Step into the World of Networking with LinkedIn
Linkedln might seem uninteresting and boring at first glance. However, it is actually a very useful networking tool. LinkedIn has many active groups in its network and you will definitely be able to find an interest group that suits you. It is a fantastic way to interact with other people, share ideas with them, ask for their opinions, gather information and a great place to get answers and ask questions.
Besides having various interest groups, it has a slideshow feature that allows you to display your work on your profile. This will help to widen your audience and promote yourself and abilities. There is also the option to display twitter updates and blog activity which is a bonus.
6. Don’t Become Obsolete – Constantly Upgrade Yourself
All software is constantly being upgraded. Likewise, we should constantly upgrade ourselves so that we don’t become obsolete. No matter how much we think we already know, there is always room for improvement. Even little things like reading RSS feeds or contributing to a forum will always offer you something new and refreshing. There are tons of good tutorials out there.
Image credit: bradwenner
Even if you’re an expert, there isn’t just one way of doing things and there’s always someone out there that may be better than you or know a trick or two that will help you do things faster or more easily. In order to sharpen your mind, constantly do your own research, keep experimenting and exploring new and old tutorials. Books are also a good source to keep upgrading yourself; you can relax with a good book in your down time with your favorite drink or snack.
7. Embrace Local Businesses
Making a name for yourself in the web community is important and great. However, don’t rely solely on clients online. Connect with your own local community and build your reputation with them as well.
Image credit: bradwenner
Face to face businesses are just as important as the international market. In fact, some clients like to work on a more personal and upfront manner and prefer face to face meetings and discussions.
8. Time Card Your Working Hours
As mentioned in an earlier article regarding custom quoting – Freelancer Custom Quoting: How to Quote per Project by Secretly Charging per Hour, it is important to know how to gauge the amount of time you’d require to finish a project. Making a record of how long each project takes you to complete will allow you to better organize the amount of time you need on a project as well as how to accurately calculate the per project quote you can give your clients in the future.
Image credit: Sonya Gallardo
Like some work places that have employees track the amount of time they work with a time card, keep a record book with not just how long the project takes you but also lists the specific job details and what was required in the project.
Life as A Freelance Graphic Designer
There might be more aspects to consider when stepping out on your own but these are the more important ones I’ve picked up in my experience as a freelance graphic designer. If you’re new to the industry, our article – A Beginner’s Guide: Stepping Into Web Design Industry might give you more pointers on top of the ones I’ve mentioned in this article.
This industry requires you to be constantly learning and improving, what have you learn since embarking on your freelance career? If you have other tips to share with your fellow freelancers, feel free to leave a comment with us.