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 deal with difficult clients?

Graphic Designers: The Difficult Client

If you are going to be a freelance graphic artist, eventually you will encounter a difficult client. Having a plan in place to deal with this type of person can really help minimize aggravation and conflict. Here are some great tips for keeping things cool:

  • Recognize the warning signs. If you are getting multiple voicemails with last-minute details or unreasonable time-frame requests in the beginning, pay attention to this and try and head things off at the pass before the situation worsens.
  • Realize that the situation is temporary. Even if a client is being impossible, eventually the project will come to an end. Keep that in mind.
  • Prepare yourself for interaction. Make sure that before you talk to the client, you have the project specs in front of you so that you can refer to them if needed.
  • Build in a set amount of revisions for your projects. A client that can endlessly revise your work can be a real problem. Set a certain amount of revisions and then charge for those that go over.
  • Avoid losing your temper. This can be hard to do, but even if the client is totally off-base in his requests, losing your temper is unprofessional. Take deep breaths. Work out before your meeting. Do what you need to do to keep your cool.

   

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.

   
How can I get into freelance logo design?

Logos As A Specialty

If you're looking for freelance graphic work, one exciting area that you can focus on is logo creation. This specialized field requires a good ear as well as a good eye. Successful graphic designers know how to listen to a client to find out what they are looking for—and then deliver something amazing that exceeds expectations.

Many designers think that for a logo to be great it has to be complex, but many of the best are very simple. The logo needs to communicate with the viewer, and the graphic designer's job is to marry that concept with the direction the company wants to go with the look. This can be more difficult than people think. Truth is—it takes a lot of practice.

The good news is that the more logos you do, the more information and experience you will have. You may want to create logos for charities as a way of practicing. Once you have a portfolio together of sample logos, it will be far easier to sell your work as a freelance designer.

   

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 good tips for freelance artists when it comes to finding work?

Job Search Tips for Freelancers

If you're one of the many freelance artists out there looking for work, try to approach the search in an organized, methodical way. First, register with any talent agencies that represent your career field. Next, attend some networking events in the area to see if you can make any connections. Make sure you bring plenty of business cards and pass them out to everyone you meet. This is actually a good practice in general—you never know when someone is looking for a designer.

Another way to find clients is to utilize freelance job boards. It may take a little time to sift through the ones out there, but when you connect with a good one, it can bring you a lot of work. You may also want to join your local chamber of commerce and any industry-related groups in the area. This can be a great way to expand your reach and meet new people. With freelance work, you can often find clients just by asking around, so the more connections you make, the better your chances are of finding work.

   

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 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.

   

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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