I have decided to write this as I have been asked so many times in the past month how I became a Freelance Graphic Designer that I started to analyse ‘How the hell am I working?’
The truth probably lies somewhere between luck and hard work, and looking deeper into it can either make you stronger – or more paranoid! So I thought I would take a look at what I do, what effects it has, and is there anything I can learn to improve my chances of survival in these difficult times. Starting as a freelance designer is notoriously difficult but there are many of us out there so it can be done. But you have to be prepared for difficulties, to spend, and to fail and succeed. Nothing worth doing is easy and never has that applied more than by going alone.
Having an interest in all things Design
What does this mean? Well, I design Logos, I build Brand Strategy, I create websites, I produce the total range of printed collateral that most business need. A Jack-of-all-trades if you like, a master of none. I would argue I can offer a full range of services to any client who approaches me. Starting off with logo design, I can then offer them business stationery, flyers, a website, email marketing, and even a bit of SEO advice. Having a full skill set, basically means I never have to send a client away to get another job done and invariably become sort of useful to them
Never stop learning
Since going out on my own it has been vital that I continue to grow as a designer and keep up to date with the latest trends and techniques available to me. Over the past year I have learned many things. A lot of stuff I probably wont use more than once, and some I will use day after day, project to project. But one of the most valuable lessons I learned, is how to build a website properly. By properly, I mean with correct tags, titles, descriptions, internal linking and where to promote it. The best way I could practice this was on my own website, so I have been re-building it from the ground up. As most designers know, creating something for yourself is THE hardest job you will ever take on but it will pay dividends in the long run.
Network. Network. And Network some more
A lot of my clients are referrals – recommendations from clients I have worked for who told their friends that I was good and good value for money. But I had to get out there and meet people at first. I didn’t just do this on my feet, I started to use LinkedIn which is by far the most under-rated social network out there. Speaking to legitimate business people who own businesses and seeing how my services could benefit them. It’s a lot of work and a lot of time – but its worth it.
It works for me. If something doesn’t happen, a lead doesn’t materialise, a job doesn’t come off, then don’t kill yourself over it or become negative. Have a cup of tea or a cigarette and move on. Its onwards and upwards. Ignore it, learn from it and take something from the negative.
Surround yourself with the right people. It’s always good to run in the right creative circles as a freelancer. If I’m too busy, I can always recommend someone to a client who gets in touch or if I need advice I can talk to them. This works vice versa also and I’ve often been recommend by other designers who cant take them on. Without getting out there and meeting many people none of this would have happened.