5 Steps to Freelance Graphic Design
The graphic design profession is one that best fits the open mind of a student. It is one that is constantly changing and influenced by a variety of environments. A freelance graphic designer must continually learn and adapt to new trends and technology. They must, also, remain open to the potential ideas and creative influences around them. Designers must develop their own personal style and then sell it. Freelance Graphic Design is a profession in which everything is personal. The company, the logo and the style all reflects a single individual that is trying to market themselves to the public. In doing so, they open themselves up to scrutiny and criticism. They, also, open themselves to the praise and reward that comes from succeeding in marketing a personal skill.
Freelance designers are students for life. They must stay up-to-date on pop culture and software in order to provide the best services possible. While it is not necessary to have a degree in order to be a freelance designer, it is recommended and offers an advantage over the large amounts of competition. Both certification programs and degree programs are offered to suit different time and financial needs. With or without a formal education, freelance designers should be familiar and practiced in programs such InDesign, Adobe Photoshop and many others. Perhaps the second most important education for a graphic freelance designer is the one that comes from magazines and other media. It’s paramount that a designer continuously researches the latest trends and popular designs.
After doing the homework, a beginning freelance designer should evaluate what they are drawn to in culture. This could help a designer pinpoint the style they excel at the most. With so much competition, a designer’s best weapon will be to have a superior skill, not a varied skill set. Once a designer has determined their best work and style, the next step is to create a company name and logo. These two influential pieces of the puzzle will work to determine the type of market and customers that a graphic designer attracts. They should be modeled after the designer’s personal and dominant style. Helping both the company and the designer stand out, an individual style and memorable name are personal decisions that brand a designer’s work.
The next step is to market the style, name and logo that have just been created. Business cards and portfolios will be a designer’s best friend. Business cards with your contact information and logo can be given to just about anyone and advertise the services you offer. These along with posters and brochures are excellent ways to advertise and should be easy projects that serve as examples of your own freelance design skills. An online portfolio is also necessary for most freelance designers. Prospective employers expect the ability to view the best of someone’s work online. Having both an online and tangible portfolio ready is the best way to be prepared for a prospective employer’s requests.
Once a designer has spread the word, the next steps are to find a place to work, a way to keep things organized and to have the paperwork and pricing ready. Some freelance graphic designers start out in the library, while others prefer loud background noise. The location is really up to preference and where the designer feels most comfortable. It is important to manage time and appointments accurately. Keeping notebooks and calendars updated are a good way to keep track of due dates, meetings and advertising time. Beginning designers should spend half of their time advertising while being diligent with their other obligations. It is also important to have the basic forms and pricing requirements available. A written contract that outlines the expectations of a project appears more professional and will also protect each party if necessary.
Even after developing some customers, it is important for freelance designers to stay on top of the game. Networking, practicing and paying attention will help a designer to stay employed and continually improve. Joining social media networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are good ways to keep up with continually changing trends and get your name in front of the eyes of potential employers. Starting personal projects or workshops are good ways for a designer to stay in practice and gain confidence for larger projects. A freelance designer also benefits from being open to their surroundings and paying attention to the details that work to create different environments.