Have you always been talented in the digital arts but aren’t sure how to put those skills to use? Are you currently working for a graphic design firm and thinking about breaking away to become self-employed? No matter what your situation, these five tips can help you get started in the exciting world of freelancing.
1. Take an Honest Look at Your Situation
Before you can get started, it’s important to honestly assess your situation and figure out how much time, money and energy you can devote to your new endeavor. A new designer with a family to take care of and no savings in the bank will be able to devote much less time than a designer with plenty of money, a lot of experience, and no kids to worry about. If your situation looks more like the former example, you can still work toward your goal, but you may want to hold onto your day job until you begin to make a profit.
2. Create an Amazing Portfolio
You’re probably already aware that a thriving freelance design business requires a great portfolio. Your potential clients need to see what you can do! If you’re just starting out, you might be worried about the fact that you don’t have many finished pieces to show, but luckily, experts agree that it’s better to focus on quality over quantity. Even if you haven’t worked as a graphic designer professionally, there are still plenty of possibilities when it comes to creating professional work. One option is to take a college-level graphic design class. You’ll be able to expand on what you already know, and you can use some of your completed pieces in your portfolio.
3. Take Part in the Local Community
Building a social media presence is crucial, but connecting with other local business owners in person can be equally beneficial. Not only can you learn about the various aspects of marketing your services from others who have done the same, but you can also potentially meet clients. Almost every business utilizes graphic designers. Attending a community meeting for local entrepreneurs is a great way to start networking.
4. Decide Your Pricing Strategy
Freelancers struggle every day with maintaining a profitable and reasonable price in a competitive market. You don’t want to sell yourself short, but if you set your prices too high, you won’t get any clients. Pricing is something you’ll always have to adjust over time, and it helps to do as much research as possible. Join graphic design web forums and engage in discussions with other designers to see what they’re charging for similar projects, but don’t be afraid to go your own way. Everyone is different, and only you can decide what your time is worth.
5. Envision Your Perfect Work Day
One of the benefits of freelancing is the ability to work whenever you choose. This can also be a major drawback if you struggle with balance. Being your own boss requires a lot of motivation. If you want to sleep all day, there won’t be anyone there to punish you, but there also won’t be anyone to blame when you begin to fall behind. Similarly, if you have workaholic tendencies, you’ll need to limit your work day to prevent yourself from doing too much. Burn out doesn’t benefit anyone in a creative field. To protect against both problems, set specific work hours that you think will fit with your lifestyle. Some people work better in the morning and others thrive at night. Figuring out what works and sticking to it will help you get into a groove.
Becoming a freelancer is a major endeavor with a variety of different challenges. No matter how great your skills are, you won’t reach every one of your goals overnight. Every successful freelancer has a different story, so you’ll need to allow yourself time to figure out what works best for you.