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 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.

   

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.

   
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.

   

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.

   
Is being a freelance copy editor harder than doing it for a company?

Copy Editing as a Freelancer

If you're thinking about becoming a freelance copy editor, be prepared for what clients will expect from you. Many corporate copy editor jobs have fairly clear roles, but as a freelancer, these lines tend to blur a bit. Copy editors can be called on to do a wide variety of things, and if you're working for yourself, it can be a bit challenging.

The typical duties of a copy editor involve things such as reviewing text for any errors in grammar, sentence structure, and tone. In some cases, the copy editor also serves as a "fact checker," verifying information or checking source material. As a freelancer, you may also be asked to format copy and do some layout work, which are responsibilities that you may not have had working at a corporation.

You can solve this dilemma in two ways. The first is to work with another person who has these skills. The other way is to take a class or find online training materials. That way, if you have a client with high expectations, you'll be able to take on the project with confidence.

   

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 started as a freelance professional?

Freelancing as a Career Choice

If you think you would like join the ranks of freelance creative directors rather than work for a corporation, consider the advantages of this type of lifestyle. As a freelance professional, you'll have a more flexible career, and you'll be able to call your own shots. This is appealing to many people, and it's one of the main reasons that people pursue the freelance lifestyle. In addition, the variety of work can be stimulating.

Making the leap to freelance work can make some people nervous, but if you do it properly, there's no reason for alarm. Take the time to get a good resume together and then sign on with a talent agency that will help you locate good freelance positions. This can be a big help, as you won't have to conduct your search alone. Talent agencies have relationships with many companies that use freelancers on a regular basis, so they can reach out on your behalf.

   

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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