Design Freelancers is a excellent way to approach your career. As a self employment job it is not easy but it is very rewarding. Freelancing is definitely no walk on the beach. I share 17 important tips for design freelancers, based on my own experiences, my fellow freelancers and some readers. The list in this post may not cover all aspects of freelancing and the lifestyle. If you think you have some advice that I miss here, feel free to share in the comment area.
1. A solid, clear and vivid goal
To succeed you must have a clear desired goal in mind. You must have a confidence in yourself and in your ideas. How can you sell your ideas if you yourself do not believe in them? You must focus your energy and work hard towards every single step to achieve your goal. I typed my goals and every steps needed in a statement style, printed it on an A4 paper, and then I put on the wall near my desk. I am collecting some office or people images of successful designers. It helps to remind me to keep working hard and smart as those guys.
2. Develop a marketing plan
To prepare a breakfast, you do not need a written plan. To be a freelancer, you do not need a 40 pages written marketing plan. Freelancers should have a concise written plan, with a clear goal, and how to reach your target audience and the people who may need your services. You must choose marketing tools that your budget permits. You must fully understand what people in the target market wants, listening to their needs and interact well with other people. The most basic of marketing principle is providing services that people needs and wants.
3. Marketing and sales skills
Freelancing business is nothing without customer and sales. Marketing and sales skills are the two most important skills freelancers must have. You can have some degrees in designs and fanciest computer, but if no one is knocking your door to hire you, then you better rethink why you are in the business in the first place. You must have excellent written and oral communication skills, to help you sell your services. You need to make buzz about your freelancing business, write ads, press releases and story ideas.
4. Prepare a solid design portfolio
It is impossible for clothing retailers to sell without displaying their products, or at least in a catalog or image format. Designers are required to have a solid portfolio to convince potential clients.
5. Good finance skills
You work as a Freelancer to make money. It is important for freelancers to have the ability to handle the money well. It means you know how to fund and manage capital that you have, spending only when needed and make a wise decision with equipment and resources that you currently have. Having a large amount of cash does not guarantee a success. Look at the failed dot-coms with funding as much as $100 million.
6. At the right price
Do a research on friend’s rates and professional association websites. Don’t set the price too low and makes your client does not take it seriously. On the other side, don’t set the price too high and send your clients away. Have a right price structure for your service offering.
7. Be optimistic
As a freelancer, you are an entrepreneur. No boss will tell you what needs to be done. Only you think how to get the money for daily operations, keep looking for new fresh design inspiration, promote to potential clients and so on. Only you make the plan, execute or change when situation shifts. Freelancers need to be smart enough to know the time to go ahead and when to shop.
8. Time management
As a freelance designer mostly I work from my home office, coffee shop, book store or library. If I feel stuck, I consider to move to other place. It is not uncommon that I work in three different places on a single day. It is important for freelancers to be able to plan and manage your day. When you wake up in the morning you must have a clear idea of things you must do for the day.
9. Multi task
You must have a multi task skill. Freelancers must have skills to be a secretary (typing emails), marketing guy (sales visit) and bookkeeper (record income and expenses). Freelancers need to sell the design services, produce the design, deliver and get the payment. It is a lots of jobs for a simple freelance business. You simply need to know how to prioritize your task and manage time wisely.
10. Email subscription
Provide an email subscription mechanism. Ideally people should be able to subscribe via your website. Add a text “Subscribe: http://dzineblog.com” in your email signature. It should be in HTML. Unsubscribe link is a must. Keep the frequency low but regular so it does not seem like spam. You should mail out your new projects, monthly promotion, deals or bundles (corporate id bundle), tips, etc.
11. Write on other magazine websites and popular blogs
Prepare tutorials or ideas and submit to magazine websites and blogs. DzineBlog.com is happy to help promoting freelancers articles. Magazine websites and blogs are looking after fresh new ideas. They might get the order to design their cover.
12. Be social
There is a list of must-have social networking sites such as FaceBoook, YouTube, Flickr, etc. Freelancers can build profile and portfolio on social networking sites.
13. Quickly respond to clients
Freelancers must quickly respond to client’s email and phone. I always respond quickly to my clients. They appreciate this attitude. They feel they have my highest priority. They called me “a phone call away” and “a click away”.
14. Update your knowledge
Freelancers must apply the Japanese’s Kaizen method of continuous incremental improvements. It is simply a gradual and continuous improvement. At the end, any small or big improvements make a big difference. Industry standard softwares (Adobe, WordPress etc) are loaded with new features. Freelancers should include in their weekly schedule to try tutorials for existing and new softwares.
15. Schedule your backup
Nowadays external hard drive is quite cheap and affordable. Don’t risk yourself for hard disk sudden death. There are plenty of online options and automated backup softwares.
16. Stay on top of Invoicing
Freelancers should send invoices right after the job finished. The sooner it is sent, the sooner you can chase of it’s unpaid.
17. Don’t ignore your local area
Internet allows freelancers to in touch with clients from various parts of the world. It makes it easy to ignore potential opportunities to grow your business locally. Many designers are not targeting to local clients, it is an opportunity for you. Involve in the community to get exposure.
What is your experience?
If you have any advice for freelancers, feel free to share in the comment form below.