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.)

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.


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 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.


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 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.


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.

How can I tell if freelance work is right for me?

Freelance Checklist

Are you interested in becoming a freelance creative professional? Before you make the leap into a freelance lifestyle, make sure this type of career path is a match for your skill set. Ask yourself some hard questions so you can evaluate whether you will enjoy this type of work.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Am I able to work with little to no supervision? If you're going to work from home, you'll need to motivate yourself to do the job. If you tend to get sidetracked, this type of work may be a challenge.
  • Am I comfortable interacting with new people? When you do freelance work, you'll need to be able to work with a variety of people from job to job. If you enjoy meeting new people, this can be a great choice.
  • Am I able to deal with some uncertainty? Working as a freelancer means less stability than working a corporate job. This doesn't necessarily mean you won't do well, but you have to be prepared for the fact that it can be less consistent.
  • Can I get up to speed on projects quickly? If you freelance for a company, you may wind up joining the team in the middle of a project. In this case, being a quick study is important.


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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