What to Know About Freelancing
August 20, 2014
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Almost every creative graduate does freelance work at some point, so you may be wondering how to go about it. Freelancing, which is the act of working on a project for a company without being employed directly by that company, gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to the hours you work and the jobs you take on. Here's what you need to know about freelancing to help you stand out from the crowd.
Specialize in Something
Instead of being a jack of all trades, specialize in a specific area of design. You could find your niche in Web design, print design, lettering, typography or corporate design. Then, get really good at that one specialty to the point that you are the go-to person for it.
For example, Jessica Hische started out as a general graphic designer, but is now known primarily as a lettering expert after starting a blog on which she designed a drop cap a day. Later, she became known as "Drop Cap Girl," and has since been hired by large companies, including Starbucks, to design lettering for them.
Do the projects that pay the bills, such as reworking logos and editing photos, but also create projects as examples of the work that you'd rather be doing. For instance, if you prefer to create brand identities, then rebrand a company as a project for your portfolio. Your portfolio should showcase the work that you have done, but it should also showcase the kind of work that you would like to do — even if no one has paid you to do it yet.
Create a Website
Portfolios are necessary, but websites such as Dribble and Behance also serve your competitors. Having a personal website creates space for you to display your own work with your own special style without any competitors lurking on the next page.
Create a Contract
This contract should include the work to be done for the client along with your hourly rate. If you have any trouble with clients later, this document is your golden ticket that shows the client agreed to let you do the work.
Create a Project Brief
A project brief outlines the goals and objectives of the project. Ideally, this brief is for you — not the client — because it keeps you on track. For instance, if you are creating a brand identity for the client, you won't simply write, "Create a logo, patterns and layouts." Instead, the brief should explain the unique style of the client, what the brand identity should reflect and the client's likes and dislikes. For example, if the client wants red in the logo, include this detail in the project brief. This is your reminder to try the logo in red, and if it doesn't work, then you can offer an alternative.
Don't Rely on Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Word-of-mouth marketing might not attract clients outside of your social circle. Get out there and mingle. Take business cards with you everywhere you go. Go to networking events such as NetParty, which is for young professionals. Or, attend creative talks such as CreativeMornings. Surround yourself with people you aspire to be like and work with, and then give them your card.
Set Some Hours
Create regular work hours so that you can maintain a "normal" life. If you don't, then you'll run of risk of working all the time — or not working often enough.
Freelancing can be a roller coaster ride at times. There will be highs and lows, but being able to work for yourself, keep the hours you want and take on the type of jobs that excite you is a very big advantage to the lifestyle. Are you thinking about freelancing? Leave a comment explaining how you plan to approach it.
Photo credit: Flickr