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.

   
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.

   

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 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.

   

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 be sure a talent agency is a good match for me and my skills?

Make It A Good Match

If you want to use a talent agency to get freelance work instead of looking for design positions on the web, it can be a great way to find work. One of the key things to consider is whether the agency is a good match for you. Trying to sign on with a design agency that doesn't meet your needs is a waste of time, both for you and for the company. How can you know when it is a good match? Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Find out who they represent. Designers may want to pass on agencies that work primarily with other fields. If you can't tell from the website, you can ask if they have relationships with any design agencies when you speak with a representative.
  • Make sure you are qualified to work in positions that you would get through the agency. If you are just starting out and the agency works primarily with high-level freelancers, it may not be the right place to find work.
  • Be sure you are comfortable. Talent agencies run a service. You should feel comfortable with your representative and be able to communicate your needs easily.

   

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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