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 of the skills needed to be a production artist?

Production Artists: Skills Needed

When you're looking for freelance artist jobs it can be difficult to know whether you should specialize in web or print. Production artists are needed in both venues, and the skills needed often overlap. Knowing how to operate certain programs can help you be more marketable, whether you choose to do freelance work or look for employment at a corporation. To be competitive with others in the field, it helps to have a working knowledge of the following:

  • Computer programs. Examples of some of the programs that production artists should be able to use include: Photoshop, InDesign, Dreamweaver, HTML and Illustrator.
  • Computer graphics and animation.
  • Logo design.
  • Branding.
  • Color theories.
  • Typography.
These are just some areas in which it can be a good idea to have experience. College coursework and getting a degree are also desirable. Many production assistants have studied in areas such as advertising design, graphic design or advertising communications.

   

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.

   
If I'm thinking about a career change, what are some steps to take?

Switching Careers

If you have decided that it is time for a change in your professional life, you may want to speak with a career counselor to discuss your options. Career counselors can help you find a direction that will be a good match for what you want—and what your skills are. You may wind up going into business for yourself, or even going back to school to study something you have always loved. Once you decide on what you want to do, it will be time to think about where you can find employment.

Some career counselors can help you with this next step as well. Another option is to register with a talent agency so that they can do the job search for you. These places form relationships with companies that are looking to hire a freelancer, and this can be a great way to work yourself into a permanent position. Even if the job doesn't wind up being a long-term position, you will gain experience that you can use to move yourself up in the field.

   

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 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.

   

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.

   
Not finding the advice and tips you need on this Freelance Design Tip Site? Request a Tip Now!


Guru Spotlight
Sheri Ann Richerson