Many new graphic designers dream of working for themselves, the lure of freedom and unlimited creative potential can overwhelm the senses at times. It is important for young, enthusiastic designers to know however, what sacrifices may actually be involved.
As a young, novice designer, I dreamed of working for myself. Oh, the potential I have to operate my own business. Wait; did I just say “business”? Yes I did, the fact is that freelancing, whether part time of full, is actually a business, and a lot of work. Not to discourage anyone, but the truth must be revealed, the hyped up glory of working from home is not always as glamorous as we may like to believe.
Below I will outline some basic steps that anyone who desires to work from a home office as graphic designer freelancers can follow to improve their likelihood for success.
1. Before you jump right in to the world of freelance design, you must become an expert at what you do.
Not everyone just out of school will have the technical know how and design skills to sell themselves to clients who will actually pay what the work is worth. Find your niche, if you are great at logos, market as a logo designer. If you are great at designing web pages, market as a web designer, and the list goes on. Now you very well may be good at a variety of design genres and that is even better, just make sure you are honest with yourself about what you can do.
2. Network, Network, Network.
As with any other venture in life, it’s not necessarily what you know but whom you know. Talk to your family and friends, tell them you are designing freelance and ask them to help spread the word, this can sometimes be an intimidating endeavor, but one that is well worth the anxiety and uncomfortable stares.
3. Join your local design organization, many exist and there is sure to be one in which you fit.
If possible join as a student member as many offer discounts. Go to their meetings and luncheons to network and get advice, you never know you may find some contract work or even a job worth accepting. Also, volunteer for the organizations’ events, this is a great way to meet other professionals and earn respect.
4. It is always important to be patient, stay positive and work hard.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have endless jobs falling into your lap, it takes work to get work. Many a designer has worked part time and even full time jobs while building freelance careers. You may be the exception but you would be one in a million.
5. Don’t take on a project just because it is a project.
You have to establish a value to your work, as an entry level designer you cannot charge $100 an hour justifiably but you can charge what you are worth. A good average for beginners is somewhere in the area of $25 an hour. By demanding a reasonable rate you will be able to create more lucrative job opportunities for yourself. A client who is not willing to pay your rate is not a client worth working with; if they are looking for a bargain then they will get what they pay for. If your work is worth the price then you must always stick to it.
Graphic Design can be a fun job, but it is still a job and should always be taken seriously. Deadlines are deadlines, whether you work for a large corporation, a mom and pop design house or for yourself. Always be professional and the work will come.