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5 Ways To Kickstart Your Freelance Graphic Design Career
Starting your freelance career as a graphic designer is a challenge of its own, especially to fresh graduates and other newcomers. They lack experience and connections of their own and have to work hard to build their reputation on this competitive market.
Even salaried experts who are transitioning to freelancing can find it hard to adapt to the new rules of the game and to jump-start their careers on their terms, attracting a loyal customer base.
However, you can improve your odds for success by learning how to overcome the challenges you'll face and adequately prepare to jump-start your career in the world of graphic design.
Here are the five essential steps to prepare yourself for the change.
1. Get familiar with bureaucracy
Being a freelancer means being self-employed, and besides doing what you love–in this case, graphic design, it means a lot of hard work related to legal regulations, crunching numbers, and finances.
Start with learning about the rules and regulations of owning a small business in your location, as well as any needed work permits that you might have to obtain. You'll need good advice on financial planning, as you will have to find a way to manage your taxes and bookkeeping.
If you find these matters are stealing precious time that you would instead use on something more creative, you should consider outsourcing some of these tasks or getting support in completing them.
2. Have the right tools
To be an expert in graphic design, you need to have adequate tools. Fortunately, in this field of work, there is a variety of tools that you can choose from, no matter the depth of your pocket.
You know by now that some of these tools are quite expensive, and if you're starting up, purchasing all the tools you need can add up to quite an investment. But, for every pricey tool out there, you can find a free alternative with the same or similar functions.
For example, if you need to make precise design, Gravit Designer can serve as a perfect alternative to Adobe Illustrator. Besides, you can use it for free if you can settle with 500 MB of cloud storage.
Adobe Photoshop is standard when it comes to working with photos. Still, the free of charge and open-source tool Gimp can serve the same purpose, and do a perfect job when it comes to image editing and composition, photo retouching and art for user interface components.
If you want to create your fonts, you can opt for an open-source too, Font Forge, and stand out with your design.
3. Brand yourself
Your odds for success are much higher if you plan to brand yourself right from the early days of your career and build an image of your business that your target audience will find attractive.
With a clear idea of who your ideal customers are, start to build a robust digital presence, tailored to resonate with the needs of your customers. Begin with creating your website to be a clear representation of what your customers will get if they do business with you - aesthetically appealing design that is perfectly functional at the same time, and that your visitors can navigate intuitively and seamlessly.
Except for your website, consider blogging as a way to build your reputation and increase your visibility. To achieve these goals, all the content you post on your site and your blog need to be SEO friendly. Learning how to rank higher on Google searches or hiring an expert to help you out with these matters will be highly beneficial.
4. Find a gig
Upwork is one of the best-known platforms for finding a graphic design job. Still, you don't have to limit yourself to this platform alone, especially since the entire experience on this platform can seem overwhelming.
There are some other, lesser-known platforms, where the competition is not so fierce, so your chances to land a gig are much higher.
You can consider freelance platforms such as Giggrabbers, Wokhoppers, TopTal, Fiverr, 99 Designs, Freelancer.com, and Hubstaff Talent.
As each of the platforms has its advantages and disadvantages, try learning more about them so that you can choose the ones that suit you the most.
Apart from searching for a gig on the online platforms, use other ways to reach out to your potential clients. Your private and professional circles are often the ones where you can find your first client, or that can at least refer you to a client that needs your services.
And remember, several satisfied customers are all you need to get word-of-mouth started, so use this resource to your advantage.
5. Take your payments seriously
Working with clients can sometimes get tricky, especially when it comes down to payments. You'll need to polish your negotiating skills to get adequately paid for your work, as well as have clear procedures in place to be taken and treated professionally.
Consider each one of your design jobs as a business transaction, so treat it as such, and sign a contract with your client. Your contract will provide more detail regarding the obligations of both parties, and protect your rights if any issues come up. Use the contract to define the number of optional designs you'll present, the number of revisions, and to protect your intellectual property rights.
Before beginning with any project, agree on the payment terms and make sure you include them in your invoice. You can also charge interest for late payments, take a deposit, or agree to be paid in instalments. Use the tips above to prepare yourself for the competitive world of graphic design and kick start your career.
About the author
Michael has been working in marketing for almost a decade and has worked with a vast range of clients, which has made him knowledgeable on many different subjects. He has recently rediscovered a passion for writing and hopes to make it a daily habit. You can read more of Michael's work at Qeedle.
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