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.)

Can a freelance artist find work in a corporation?

From Freelance Artist To Production Artist

If you are a freelance artist looking for a more stable work environment, why not look for a position as a production assistant at a company? Since the job requirements are so varied for this type of position, artists with related skills and technical ability can often find a spot within a corporation in this type of entry-level design position.

How can you know if you are qualified to do this type of work? There are several ways to evaluate whether your skills are a good match for the corporate environment.

  • Read job descriptions. Check out online job boards and postings to see what the job descriptions are calling for under "production assistant" headings.
  • Check out a talent agency. Talent agencies can help you understand the requirements for the current job market and see if you have enough experience to get hired.
  • Consider schooling. If you think a career in this type of field would be interesting, why not investigate come college courses and degrees to see if they can help round out your current knowledge base? Talk with a career counselor at a school that has related programs, such as graphic design or advertising.
  • Use your network. Ask around and see if anyone you know is in touch with someone in this type of field. See if they'd be willing to talk with you for a few minutes about what their work entails.


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 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:
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.


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 is one of the most difficult parts of being a freelance copy editor?

The Editorial Eye

Freelance copy editors need to be able to understand the tone and voice that a company uses in order to fine-tune copy. Developing an editorial eye for this can take time. As a freelancer, you'll need to be able to switch this skill over from one client to another and make sure that you can stay on track with multiple projects. If you have more than one thing going, keep a set of notes for each client to remind yourself of any important points.

As a freelancer, you may find yourself working for a company as a contractor from time to time. In this case, you won't have to multitask in the same way, but you'll need to learn the style and voice of the company so that you can edit copy to their specifications. Learning and sticking to a company's particular style and voice is usually the hardest part of the job.


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 get ahead in as a freelance marketer?

Marketing: Specialize and Conquer

If you're in the marketing field, you already know how competitive it is. But do you know what to concentrate on so that you can get ahead? If you're thinking about doing any freelance marketing, you need to find something that will help you edge out the competition. One way to do this is to specialize in a field that's in demand. Things such as product development, research, and digital strategy are all areas that give the savvy marketing professional a chance to get ahead. Here are a few ideas:

  • Product development is closely tied to brand management, an arena that marketers can focus on almost exclusively. If you decide to go this route, you may wind up consulting with various companies as they develop and launch new products.
  • Research is another area where marketers can get a foothold. If you have a knack for numbers, this may be a good spot to concentrate on.
  • Digital strategy is all about how to position things on the web. Marketing professionals with good Internet skills might find this a good match.


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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