Thinking of starting a freelance graphic design career and not sure how to do it? Think that you have the potential of making it big, but don’t know where to start?
Remember, both fresh graduates and salaried professional designers are turning to the freelance world and with millennials nowadays being more interested in working on their own than for others, more and more graphic designers are preferring to take on multiple projects than just being stuck to one.
While the majority would like to think its as easy as 1, 2, 3… the hard reality is with so much competition, it’s harder to get in than sustain in the freelance business.
Here are 9 easy steps to successfully start your freelance graphic design career:
1) Check Your Software and Toolkit
One of the first and most important step to keep in mind is to keep your tools up to date so as not to lose out on clients who want the best of the best and are willing to pay for it as well.
Even an aspiring graphic designer should make sure that they’re using the proper programs as outdated software will only complicate the process for you and set you miles behind others.
Besides having the newest and best graphic design software, you also need to make sure that you know how to use it and how to use it well so constantly keep trying them and exploring different features.
To further enhance your skills plunge into as many how-to forums as you can so you can learn all of the fancy keyboard shortcuts that will further help you streamline your skills. And don’t forget to constantly sharpen your skills with new courses in graphic design!
2) Build Your Portfolio
Even with the best of tools, your potential client will not just take your word and offer you a job, he/she will need some samples so as to judge your work and know if you are best suited for his/her project. It is thus advised that you start building your portfolio early on and thus have a vast variety of samples available for your potential client.
It is key for new freelancers that they bring clients a vast portfolio as showcasing their work is the only way they can win their clients.
Even if you are just starting out, you can showcase your past completed projects and many mockups even if they have not been for any client. Make sure that if your previous work is a little lacking, you update your work regularly and have a selection of mock-ups that show your capability the best to your potential.
This task doesn’t have to be a daunting one as you can just use simple outlets like DesignBold and create a whole slew of images for all sorts of varying needs.
3) Create a Website
While a portfolio is a good way to impress your clients, it is really important to have a website in a graphic design career. In this day an age, many clients search for a designer online so as to be able to see their work first hand.
It is thus best to create your own website where you can direct clientele and they can see your work. As a freelancer, it is thus best to not only create a website but to keep building your own site where you keep showing off even those skills which are otherwise unused. This will help you sharpen your skills and brush off even the few flaws that you might have.
It is also important to not go overboard when developing your website and focus on who you are appealing to in terms of style. It is important to remember that when it comes to the graphics on your own page, a simple scheme will go a long way to highlight your portfolio.
A website which is too busy would rather complicate the matter for you as it will take the person away from your work and make him/her focus on the overly busy palette.
Thus, leave it simple and let your work do all the talking on the website.
4) Let go and take the all-important step
Once you have both your website and your online portfolio ready, it’s time let go and take the all important to start approaching clients and applying for freelance jobs.
It is also important to remember that the first few applications that you submit may be not easy and face rejections but you have nothing to lose and more importantly only things to gain.
There are also sites like Upwork that help you approach freelance clients and further streamline your search and make more impact.
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5) Take It to the Streets
While it is important to have an online presence, it is equally important to approach the people in your own area so they can approach you when they need you.
There is also something about physical graphics that attracts people, so print your business cards and make it count by adding catchy graphics on it so as they are impressed by it and keep you in their memory and keep the card safe.
By printing graphics on the cards, you give your clients something tangible to keep and the graphic with which they would remember you by.
Also, don’t forget to approach coworking spaces like myHQ in your area. Coworking spaces have many potential clients who are starting out and thus would be looking for graphic designers.
Further, if you are working out of coworking space your self, every future coworker and current co-space worker becomes your potential client and also your advocate to others who might be looking for graphic designer.
6) Don’t Be Stingy
While it is important to earn well for your work, it is equally important that you don’t become too stingy and ask for exorbitant price.
The client also has a budget and he and she will not cross is just because you want it. Thus, ask for a price which justifies your work and not something you wish to get. Remember, a customer will turn away faster if a designer who has limited experience and ample attitude asks for a price which is well beyond his worth and well beyond his budget.
It is important to build a reputation, especially when you are building your clientele. No client would recommend you ahead if you charge them high, have attitude and are not worth what you asked for.
Thus, ask for a fair price and let them know you are there for the entire process and that you will do whatever it takes to get the job done, right and on time.
7) Try All Sorts of Jobs
When you set out to be a freelancer, it is important to build your reputation from the ground up, build a clientele and thus take every job that comes your way.
When you start out, everyone starts with a vision and mission in mind and think they know what kind of clients they would work with.
But, in your pursuit, its advisable not let do of work, just because they are not to your liking.
Glamorous jobs would only come with time and experience and before that, you have to earn and sustain.
Remember a solid review from a lower-profile client also adds great value to your work and more you have such clients more you get to earn.
These clients would also stack good reviews for you and lead to more clients, they are also more likely land you better jobs with time and later on may also lead you to your dream project.
The reviews they will give will speak volumes for you and will only add quality and variety to your profile when you approach the next client.
8) Manage Your Time Wisely
Graphic design career just like every career has positives and negatives, with time you will get more clients and more projects, there would also be times when you have work and are desperately looking for anything you get.
At both these hours, it is important to manage your time wisely and not go overboard. Don’t take up a project if you can’t finish it on time and don’t take up a project if your client is not giving you enough time.
You will either not be able to deliver the project on time or would compromise on the quality which would not speak highly of you or your work.
9) Never Stop Learning
Last but not least, never stop learning and practising your art. Like any filed in graphic design career as well, you have to constantly keep up to pace about the latest updates and advancement in technology.
If you and your technology are outdated, your clients will slowly thin as they would move to others who know what is in demand.
Thus, always keep your self up to date and never stop learning what all is coming up in the graphic design industry.
The new skills will also help you improve and excited about your work and bring you more clients.
So keep these nine easy things in mind when you are starting your graphic design career as a freelancer and the journey will only get bigger and better.
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