Baby Steps to Becoming a Successful Freelance Designer

There are lots of you out there.

Designing as part of a company but not really happy that the work you’re producing is what you want to do for the rest of your career? Ready to head in a new direction?

Freelancing is a perfect fit for creative-minded people who can’t simply switch on their creativity at nine and turn it off at five. Often creative people come up with their best ideas as soon as they wake up or just before they nod off to sleep (sometimes even while they are asleep!) which is why they don’t fit so well into the average work day that’s imposed on them.

Harness your creativity and become as productive as possible by choosing your own clients, picking your workspace and deciding when you get things done.

These are the baby steps you need to know to set yourself up as a full-time freelance designer.

Get branded

To be taken seriously as a freelancer you need to get your brand strategy down and decide who you want to design for. Having a niche can really help when it comes to creating your own brand, as there will be a more specific audience to target.

If you’re a specialist you’ll know what kind of design will impress. You can then use this knowledge to create a relevant logo that will influence potential clients.

Create an online portfolio

If you haven’t got your own website to display your work on, you’re behind the times, friend.

A vital component of being a freelance designer is using your own website to showcase the kind of work you do, as well as using it as the ultimate branding tool. Potential clients want to see the kind of work you’re used to completing and how suited for their design job you are.

…And a print portfolio

Along with an online portfolio, it’s also handy to have a print portfolio that’s up-to-date too. It will be harder to update and distribute, but if a potential client wants a face-to-face meeting and to see a copy of your portfolio, you need to be prepared.

Along with a print portfolio it would be worthwhile investing in business cards and taking along a copy of your CV.

Network

As a freelance designer, fellow freelancers are your allies. Even though they’re essentially your competition these are the people who’ve been in this business the longest, and who you should be taking notes from.

If attending networking events isn’t your thing then there’s always social media. If you feel like LinkedIn is a bit too stuffy for your liking, many writers, designers and musicians thrive on Twitter, where they’re able to jump right into someone’s stream of consciousness with their own ideas.

Start small

Temptation to start your business with a bang is real, but unfortunately the likelihood of this being pulled off effectively is unlikely.

Start with smaller projects that are few and far between to whet your whistle before you go for the full-time freelancing gig. Transitioning between your current position and becoming a freelancer will also give you plenty of time to get sorted with the niggly bits and pieces, such as setting yourself up with HMRC and planning your pricing system.

So before you take that offer for a design job that’s going to take up the next two weeks, think about how you’re going to get your next job while you’re so busy.

Learn to manage your time

For freelance designers time is everything. If you’re unorganised you might forget to buy new tools, or even worse, forget an important deadline. You might not consider yourself suited to organisation but the reality is that without it you’re going to struggle to not let everything get on top of you.

Being able to manage your time effectively won’t happen overnight. There’ll probably be a string of useless methods and to-do lists before you finally find a way of working that suits you, and keeps you motivated.

Unfortunately, to find what works you need to go through what doesn’t, so don’t lost patience when a buggy app or a confusing notebook system gets in your way – it’s all part of the process!

Are you on the road to becoming a freelance designer? Or do you want to dip your toe in the water? Leave us a comment in the section below with your experience.

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