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.)

How can I find work as a freelance production artist?

Finding Work As A Freelance Production Artist

If you are looking for work as a freelance production artist, networking will play a crucial role in your search. The more people you can connect with, the better your chances of finding your way into the field. These days it takes more than sending out a resume to get hired.

Since there is a good deal of competition for work in creative jobs, coming in and working your way up is a good way to get started. Production assistants are generally considered "entry-level", so this type of job can serve as a launching spot for a career in advertising or related fields. Finding work can take a while if you are just beginning your search, but connecting with a good talent agency can help you find something more easily.

Be sure to take advantage of social media as well. Sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn can be good for letting people know you are looking for work. They can also be a place to post information about your background and experience.


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 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.


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.

What are some tips for leading a team as a creative director?

Creative Directors: Leading A Team

Creative director work is extremely stressful—you are responsible for bringing projects together as well as setting the direction and tone for them. In order to do this well, you'll be relying on a team of people underneath you to perform to the best of their ability. How can you do your best to motivate these people? Here are some good tips for keeping your creative team on track:

  • Provide specific feedback. People need feedback in order to improve. Try to be specific and non-judgmental when you speak with art directors or copywriters about things they could be doing better.
  • Accentuate the positive. Be sure that you aren't only communicating the things that your team can do better. People perform well when you notice the good work that they do and comment on it.
  • Listen. If you truly listen to those working for you, it can be beneficial to everyone involved. Sometimes the best ideas come from people who are brand new, so keep an open mind.
  • Be clear. The better you communicate your expectations to the people you work with; the more likely they will be able to execute your projects.


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
Mary White