Freelance Design Tips

When it comes to Freelance Design, we've been there, done that, now serving 290 tips in 16 categories ranging from Art & Creative Directors to Working with Freelancers.

Know Your Users

Artisan Talent Tip: When you work on Web design jobs, you are working to please not only your client, but the users of your client's site. It's helpful to know as much as you can about that audience as you begin designing a site for them. For example, who is the target market and what kind of demographic information is available about them? (For instance, a site appealing to men in their 50s will have a different look from one appealing to women in their 20s.)

   
How can I learn more about Photoshop?

Photoshop Help

If you are looking to become one of the freelance designers that work with digital images, you will need to know Photoshop inside and out. There are many different ways to dig into all of the features. Here are a few suggestions for learning more about all this great program has to offer:

  • Practice/play. When you have a chance, try playing around with various features and see what they do. Much can be learned from just practicing.
  • Take a class. To learn more advanced features you will need to take more than a basic class at your local community college. Check out local colleges and universities and see what they offer at a higher level.
  • Get tutored. If you have a colleague or friend that is good with the program, see if they would be willing to tutor you. If you can tutor them on another program, it can be a mutually beneficial relationship.
  • Check out a book on Photoshop. There are many Photoshop books on the market, and they exist for those at all different levels. See if you can find one that will stretch your knowledge.
  • Try out a Webinar or tutorial. There are Webinars and online tutorials for all kinds of different Photoshop techniques. Here is a good place to get started: http://www.allgraphicdesign.com/pshop.html#links.
Honing your Photoshop skills can help you get graphic design jobs and make you more marketable as a freelancer. Try to advance your training and it will pay off in the long run.

   

Finding Web Design Jobs

Artisan Talent Tip: If you're serious about a freelance Web design career, you want clients who are serious about their Web sites. Many of the prospective clients out there are people who want the cheapest possible product, and don't have a good understanding of how much a quality designer can help their sites.

   
What are some tips for making a smooth transition from corporate design to freelance work at home?

The Freelance Lifestyle

Moving from a corporate job into a freelance design position can be a major adjustment. Some people have no problem making the change, but others find it takes a while to structure things so that they make the most of their time and energy. Here are some great tips for a smooth transition:

  • Set up a schedule. In the beginning, it will pay off if you manage your time very carefully. It doesn't really matter what the schedule is—you can adjust it as you see fit. The important thing is to think about how you're using your time.
  • Set up boundaries. If you work from home, it's a good idea to have a dedicated work space. If you live with others, you may want to use a room where you can close the door and block out any distractions.
  • Watch for issues. If you notice that every time you go to the post office you wind up being completely unproductive afterward, change your schedule. If having a television or radio in the room is tempting you, move it somewhere else. As you discover the things that are distracting, try to adjust them before they become a real problem.

   

Mockups and Prototypes

Artisan Talent Tip: At the mockup stage, it's easy to add features, switch elements, and even redo the whole look of the product. These changes get a lot more difficult when you're working with the real product. A team of Chicago designers might use a standard contract that includes at least one round of alterations at the mockup stage, to emphasize to the client that now is the time to change one's mind.

   
What are some things to consider before signing on with a talent agency?

Signing With A Talent Agency

If you are looking for freelance opportunities, you may want to consider signing with a career agency. These organizations will help you connect with work in the field—but there are a few things you should know before you hand over your job search, for example:

  • Does the agency require exclusivity? Some talent agencies don't want you signing up with anyone else. This shouldn't be a deal-breaker, but if the agency has this policy you should feel sure they will be able to help you find work.
  • Are there any hidden fees? Although career agencies will make a percentage of your wage if they find you a job, you shouldn't have to pay a bunch of fees to sign with them—or stay with them. Ask ahead of time.
  • Do they have connections in other cities? If you are looking for adventure and don't mind moving to take on work, you may want to see if the talent agency has branches in other cities.
  • What are the policies you need to follow if you have difficulty with a particular job or client? Ideally this situation will never arise, but if it does, you'll want to know what is expected of you.

   

Getting Paid for Graphic Design Work

Artisan Talent Tip: To protect themselves and get proper compensation for their work and skills, many designers recommend a series of milestones and payments. For instance, a partnership of New York designers might bill 30% of the final fee on completion of the prototype, 30% on completion of the first draft, and 40% after two rounds of changes. Only after the invoices are paid are the final files provided to the client.

   
What skills should social media managers have?

Managing Social Media

Are you curious about what it takes to become a social media manager? This type of position is up-and-coming, and marketing professionals everywhere are brushing up on their knowledge of tools such as Twitter and Facebook. Although social media jobs vary, many of them require some or all of the following skills:

  • The ability to set up and populate social media accounts on sites such as Ning, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
  • Knowledge of the etiquette involved in social media interactions.
  • Day-to-day basics, such as tweeting, maintaining fan pages, and keeping status updates current.
  • Connecting and interacting with people through social media accounts.
  • The ability to develop a long-term social media strategy that integrates with any current marketing platform.
  • The ability to work with other marketing professionals and explain social media strategies and how they fit into a traditional marketing campaign.

   

Elements of a Freelance Design Contract

Artisan Talent Tip: A good contract protects the freelance graphic artist by setting out the work to be done, the schedule of work to be delivered, and the schedule of payments to be made. A graphic designer should have a standard contract available for clients to sign, and should not do any work without a signed contract. You should also include a clause reserving the right to display a copy of the completed work as part of your portfolio.

   

Corporate Identity

Artisan Talent Tip: Larger organizations seek graphic designers to develop visual styles that will permeate every aspect of the company's work. Freelance graphic designers seeking New York design jobs, or jobs in other sophisticated markets, may be asked to demonstrate proficiency with corporate identity work.

   
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