Freelance Design Jobs Tips

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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.

   
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.

   

Logo Design

Artisan Talent Tip: One of the most common graphic design jobs is to design a logo for a client. Many new designers make the mistake of making logos too complicated -- swirling letters together, incorporating too many elements or colors. While some clients believe they can pay low rates to beginners for this work, executing a strong and effective logo involves hours of research, brainstorming, and experimentation.

   
What should I be doing to represent myself as a freelancer?

Representing Yourself as a Freelancer

If you work for yourself, chances are you already know that freelance design jobs can be challenging to find. Having some tools to help raise your visibility can be very helpful. Business cards are an important thing to have, and if you're a designer, you'll want to make sure that they look sharp. People will be evaluating your skills as they look at the card, so take the time to make them shine.

The same thing applies to your web presence. Whether you have a full website or just a blog, make sure that it's visually pleasing and represents your style and abilities. If you opt for an online portfolio, display only your very best work.

One tool that designers often overlook is their biography. If you aren't a writer, you may want to hire one to make sure that it reads well. Be sure to include a bit about your design philosophy and background. Some people limit the biography to schooling and job history, but that doesn't tell a potential client much about who you are as a designer.

   
What do I need to know to design a good logo?

Logo Design

You've probably already done a lot of logos in your work as a designer. They're one of the most common graphic design jobs -- which doesn't mean they're simple.

Besides being easy to read in both color and black-and-white, a good logo should be readable, immediately convey both the name and the image of the business, and not be easily confused with other companies in the same market or the same industry.

All this means a "simple" logo takes a great deal of thought! The end result may be a simple text treatment, but a good designer will take the time to find out a great deal about the client's goals and market before deciding on that treatment.

   
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.

   
What do I need to know to design good packaging?

Packaging Design

Great packaging can't make a bad product better -- but it can make more people buy it, at least the first time. That's why packaging design is a big part of many consumer companies' design budgets.

Packaging design covers bags, boxes, wrappers and labels. It also includes decisions such as "how much of the product goes in a trial size package?" and "what is the relative cost of this box vs. that box?" Packaging can be one of the more interesting freelance projects, but it also requires a good bit of knowledge and a thorough understanding of the client, the product and the market.

A few rules for good packaging:

  • Customers want packages that are easy to open.
  • Retailers want packages that look attractive on shelves and are easy to stock.
  • Customers want packages that fit the way they live -- for example, enough pasta for one or two people rather than nine.
  • While convenience is king, customers do care about green (recyclable) packaging.
  • Consumable products -- foods, pills, etc. -- may need to be packaged in ways that discourage product tampering.
  • Most retailers require bar codes suitable for scanning on all packaging.

   
What are 'integrated media'?

Integrated Media

For many freelance jobs, "integrated media" just means "we want a Web site and some print stuff to go with it." A skillful designer and a creative marketing team can go far beyond this in terms of getting the client's message and themes across to an audience. Some ideas to get you started:

  • Designing templates for client blogs.
  • Designing and executing attention-getting videos and posting them to Web sites such as YouTube.
  • Designing online games that convey a client's message while focusing on keeping the audience engaged and amused.
A successful integrated media campaign incorporates elements of audience research and public relations strategies along with traditional advertising and promotion.

   
What happens after I design a logo?

Corporate Identity

Next time you visit a fast-food restaurant, look around you to see how many visual elements of your environment are branded with the corporate identity. This work can include:

  • Letterhead and business cards
  • Guidelines for use of corporate logos
  • Web templates
  • Employee uniforms
  • Signs and interior designs
  • Corporate reports
  • Menus, brochures or other customer-facing literature
  • E-mail newsletters
  • Employee communications

   
What do I need to do to design good video?

Designing for Video

Designing for video presents some interesting challenges to those accustomed to graphic design jobs for print or Web.

First, you need to think motion. Even backgrounds often have either gentle movement or designs that suggest movement. Graphics conveying complex ideas will be more valuable if they move.

Second, you have a relatively small, low-resolution environment to work with. Stick to one design idea per scene or graphic -- too much information will not be processed by the viewer.

Video designers also need to be aware of the color limitations of standard video. Adobe Photoshop has an NTSC filter that will bring your colors into line with the ones that are safe to use onscreen.

Also be aware of the "title safe" areas, which make up just 80% of the television screen. If you try to use every pixel of space, you'll create visuals that can't be seen on all TVs. Leave a margin to be sure.

   
Is there a book I can pick up for help with my freelance career?

The Freelance "Bible"

Long considered "the bible" of the freelance industry, the "Writer's Market" is considered an essential freelance guidebook for selling writing. A new edition of this freelance guidebook has come out every year for almost a century. The book includes more than 4,000 contacts for book publishers, consumer magazines, trade journals, literary agents and contests. With a subscription to WritersMarket.com, you'll have access to more than 2,000 contacts for newspapers, syndicates, greeting card companies, script agents and publishers and online publications. Inside the book, receive countless writing tips from successful writers on topics such as writing a query letter, overcoming writer's block, how to set your rates and how to survive and thrive in the freelance world. You an pick up this thick freelance guidebook at most book stores for about $50.

   
How can I design an effective catalog?

Catalog Design

Catalog design is one of the larger types of graphic design jobs, and often several designers will work on a single catalog, with an art director setting standards. Smaller companies may rely on a single designer. Be aware that freelance projects of this sort are time-intensive, and budget accordingly.

Basic rules of catalog design include:

  • The upper right corner of each spread should have a bestselling product in it.
  • Typography should be readable and consistent.
  • Pay attention to the order form -- a badly designed one can turn off customers or prevent the client from getting needed customer information.
  • Keep your pages consistent with the company's image and product line, yet varied enough to interest the reader.
  • Know the standard catalog formats and sizes, and pay attention to postal rates for different weights and sizes of material.
  • When in doubt, feature each product separately rather than photographing them in a group.
  • Be aware that each element in your catalog will be judged by the client based on how many items are sold. Resist the temptation to add "artistic" touches that don't add to revenue.

   
What are three questions I need to answer before designing an ad?

Ad Design

Advertising is an art and a science, and much could be written about how to design a good ad. Here are some questions to ask before you get started:

  • What is my product? This may not be as easy as it looks. You may get an assignment to promote a TV station's Friday-night lineup, only to discover that the client really wanted to promote the 8 p.m. show. Ask good questions.
  • What is my market? Ask the client for as much information as you can get about who their current customers are, who they're targeting, and what they know about those customer groups.
  • What is my medium? A Los Angeles graphic design freelancer may wind up doing more television work, while freelance projects in other markets may tend more toward print.

   
What are some very basic principles of Web design?

Web Site Design

Many of the principles of good design are the same whether you're designing a billboard, a cocktail napkin or a Web page. Yet Web sites also follow some different rules. This list may be helpful as a refresher for experienced Web designers and a starting point for beginners doing their first freelance jobs:

  • Web pages look different depending on what browser, computer and monitor you're using to view them. Good Web designers do not try to force their pages to look the same in all configurations, but seek to make their pages look attractive and readable to all users.
  • Web pages take longer to load when they have more text, images, or other media on them. Good Web designers think carefully about what a given element is going to achieve before adding its weight to the page.
  • Pretty much everyone knows how to read a book or a billboard. The Web is different. Users do more work to decide what they want to see. Your job as a designer is to make it easy for them to choose your site and get what they want there.
  • Web users in general don't like things that just look cool. They're there seeking a specific experience or piece of information. Unless your cool trick also gives them what they want, they'll hate it.

   
What is the best way to build a good career as a freelance programmer?

Freelance Programming Jobs

A career in freelance programming can be a highly rewarding one. However, as a programmer, it's best to take on work that reflects your best talents. Try to create a niche for yourself. Advertise your talents by perfecting a style of programming. Work with similar companies and build a strong portfolio.

   
What is electronic cold calling?

Electronic Cold Calls

If you really want to prove to prospective clients that you're Web savvy, apply for freelance Web development jobs Online. This is called an electronic cold call, which is similar in concept to the typical cold call done by phone. An electronic cold call is done by e-mail. Since you are applying for Online work, it makes complete sense. Also, it makes it easier for your prospective client to access links to your Online portfolio or Website.

   
How important are contracts in freelance work?

Rates and Contracts for Freelancers

Both employers and freelancers need to establish a pay rate and contract before working together. Make sure you are on the same page when it comes to quotes, standard forms, invoicing procedures and payment methods. Stick to rates and contracts that have been agreed upon! The fact is, we all get busy and information can slip our minds. It's best to have everything in writing ahead of time.

   
Will my proofreader edit as well?

The Big Red Pen

Do you want your hired proofreader to make edits to the copy as well as proofread it? Typically, a freelance proofreading job involves only grammar and spelling corrections (and often with a big red pen!). Some proofreaders are happy to oblige and make corrections to actual text as well. You will just need to provide a soft copy, usually on disk, and agree to pay an extra fee.

   
How many freelance jobs should I take at once?

Avoid Burnout

It is a common mistake of freelancers to accept too many freelance jobs at once. It seems like the right thing to do at first (kind of like storing up nuts for the winter). But too many assignments can result in incomplete or half-hearted work as you frantically struggle to meet the various deadlines. A client certainly does not want to feel like part of an assembly-line approach. So take fewer jobs and do them well. This will ensure more work in the future.

   
Can I get into freelance desktop publishing?

Freelance Desktop Publishing Work

Over the past decade, freelance computer jobs have become very popular. Many professionals have turned to desktop publishing work. There are a number of small publications in need of layout and design work. You'd be surprised how many small towns rely on the talents of freelance desktop publishers to help create everything from supermarket flyers to newspapers. If you have a knack for computers and a good sense of print design, this may be a perfect opportunity for you.

   

Ad Design

Artisan Talent Tip: Besides knowing your product and your market, you also need the skills to excel in the media that are most in demand in your area. A Los Angeles graphic design professional will do well to know something about television and the movies, where a freelancer in another city may work mainly in print.

   
Is there a book I can pick up for help with my freelance career?

The Freelance "Bible"

Long considered "the bible" of the freelance industry, the "Writer's Market" is considered an essential freelance guidebook for selling writing. A new edition of this freelance guidebook has come out every year for almost a century. The book includes more than 4,000 contacts for book publishers, consumer magazines, trade journals, literary agents and contests. With a subscription to WritersMarket.com, you'll have access to more than 2,000 contacts for newspapers, syndicates, greeting card companies, script agents and publishers and online publications. Inside the book, receive countless writing tips from successful writers on topics such as writing a query letter, overcoming writer's block, how to set your rates and how to survive and thrive in the freelance world. You an pick up this thick freelance guidebook at most book stores for about $50.

   
What are the design challenges in an annual report?

Annual Reports

Annual reports are among the more challenging graphic design jobs. The designer must choose layouts and type styles that convey important information clearly while also representing a corporation's unique themes and image.

When you work on an annual report, you will most likely be working closely with the corporation's top executives and marketing team. They'll be more comfortable if you present yourself professionally.

Annual report expert Sid Cato says a good report meets these design standards:

  • A compelling cover that demands to be opened and read.
  • A photograph of the CEO with his or her letter.
  • Avoidance of megalomania in the use of CEO photos -- two or three in a report is fine, 10 is too many.
  • Use of high-quality paper stock.
  • Photographs showing the corporation's product being used -- not a can of soda, but someone drinking it.
  • Readable type sizes, including footnotes.

   
Is there a book I can pick up for help with my freelance career?

The Freelance "Bible"

Long considered "the bible" of the freelance industry, the "Writer's Market" is considered an essential freelance guidebook for selling writing. A new edition of this freelance guidebook has come out every year for almost a century. The book includes more than 4,000 contacts for book publishers, consumer magazines, trade journals, literary agents and contests. With a subscription to WritersMarket.com, you'll have access to more than 2,000 contacts for newspapers, syndicates, greeting card companies, script agents and publishers and online publications. Inside the book, receive countless writing tips from successful writers on topics such as writing a query letter, overcoming writer's block, how to set your rates and how to survive and thrive in the freelance world. You an pick up this thick freelance guidebook at most book stores for about $50.

   
Is there a book I can pick up for help with my freelance career?

The Freelance "Bible"

Long considered "the bible" of the freelance industry, the "Writer's Market" is considered an essential freelance guidebook for selling writing. A new edition of this freelance guidebook has come out every year for almost a century. The book includes more than 4,000 contacts for book publishers, consumer magazines, trade journals, literary agents and contests. With a subscription to WritersMarket.com, you'll have access to more than 2,000 contacts for newspapers, syndicates, greeting card companies, script agents and publishers and online publications. Inside the book, receive countless writing tips from successful writers on topics such as writing a query letter, overcoming writer's block, how to set your rates and how to survive and thrive in the freelance world. You an pick up this thick freelance guidebook at most book stores for about $50.

   
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