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 type of freelance jobs can I look for to make some extra money?

Freelance Markets For Artists

If you are an illustrator who is still in school, it can be a challenge to know where to look for clients. Unless you sign on with a talent agency or have established connections in the industry—where do you look for jobs? You can't just walk into a company and get hired for one of the high-paying freelance animation jobs—you'll need some experience.

Here are a few simple things that you may want to consider that can help get you started—especially if you don't have a lot of items in your portfolio:

  • Artwork for CD covers. If you are hoping to do a creative project for your portfolio, why not consider designing a CD cover? Although this won't rank high on the pay scale, it can give you a client to add to your roster and another sample of your work as a freelancer.
  • Illustration for a kid's book. Try reaching out to authors who write books for children and see if any of them are looking for an illustrator to work with for their next project.
  • Create imagery for websites. If you are an illustrator that is computer-savvy, why not team up with a web designer to help create imagery for customers.
While it can be hard to find well-paid work at first as an illustrator, you can work on projects that will help pad your portfolio and give you some experience. Many people find that doing things like this while they attend classes in their field helps to prepare them for their career once they finish school.

   

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 freelance illustrators find work?

Illustrators And The Online Portfolio

If you think that there is no such thing as freelance work for artists—think again. Illustrators are still in high demand in the publishing and advertising fields. The problem is that most artists do not have a way to get their work in front of potential clients. Having an online portfolio is one way to accomplish this and showcase your best work.

What do you need to know in order to create an online portfolio? Here are some things to keep in mind if you are thinking about how to position your presence on the web:

  • Always be professional. Remember that this is a work site. Leave out anything that could be construed as "cute" or casual.
  • Provide contact information. Make it convenient for people to contact you. You may also want to add your social media links.
  • Use only your best work. If you aren't sure what your best work is—get a professional opinion from a talent agency or someone in the field.
  • View in several browsers. The way Web browsers display things is not always the same. Make sure your portfolio looks good in all of them.
  • Have a variety. Showcase your range if possible rather than adding a lot of similar material. It will make you more marketable.

   

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.

   
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.

   

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 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.

   

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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