The freelance trend is gaining momentum and is drawing the attention of many designers who want to have more freedom and creativity than a job that could be restrictive and repetitive within a company.
By going freelance, you are your own boss, you set your own hours, and you work on all kinds of exciting creative projects. It's a great way to unleash your creativity and earn some extra cash on the side.
With freelancing becoming more and more common, many people can choose to go freelance. In addition, the ability to travel and work from anywhere is a great incentive to get into freelance graphic design.
However, working as a freelance designer can seem scary as there are many unknown factors involved. To help you take the plunge, here are 10 steps to take before becoming a freelance designer.
1) If you do everything, you do nothing!
At least, that's how your future clients will perceive it. That's why, even if you're going to take on different kinds of designs, it's essential for you to have a particular area of expertise in which you excel.
In fact, it is better to take a qualitative approach to your portfolio rather than a quantitative one. Make sure you master your chosen design niche and make it your "Unique Selling Proposal" to attract the right clients. Remember, if you do everything, you do nothing!
2) Have your portfolio online
Nowadays, a good graphic designer without an online portfolio risks going unnoticed. For this reason, it is important that you have one. Better yet, have a website to showcase your work as a sign of quality to potential clients.
3) Have your own workspace
Although a freelancer can work from anywhere, it is necessary for you to have a creative workspace that can put you in the right mood to be able to be more productive and offer the best to your clients. Some routines are even necessary to meet your deadlines.
4) Prospect as much as possible
The problem with being a freelance designer is that you sometimes have periods with a lot of work and others with a much slower pace. To help alleviate this stress, nothing beats prospecting for potential clients. Launching a cold mail campaign is the most recommended solution. There are many free tools such as Hunter, Apollo, Linkhelp, etc., which can help you find the official email addresses of your potential customers. Don't hesitate to send them a free consultation proposal or a free design to bait them.
5) Think “money”
Unfortunately, as a freelancer you won't have a steady stream of money coming in. It is therefore important that you set up a payment structure that allows you to have regular cash flow. Many designers utilise the famous "50% in advance and 50% at the end of the work", but e recommend setting up a system of payment by stages. For example, you can split your work into 5 stages and make sure that at each stage you receive 20%. This way, you will be sure to always have some money coming in, allowing you to be more comfortable.
6) Have a questionnaire ready for clients
Graphic designers know it better than anyone: Clients don't always know what they want. Worse, they may ask you the day before a deadline to change everything. That's why it's very important for you to set a list of questions that you will ask your future client. These questions will help you find out if the client fits your aspirations or not. You will also be able to better define the framework of your collaboration.
7) Have a CRM to manage administrative tasks
If you have a lot of work, administrative tasks can be a real burden. Iin addition to the design, you will have to spend time finding prospects, negotiating with customers, making proposals, creating invoices, updating your accounting, etc.
To remedy all this, there are CRMs that offer automation of all these tasks. You can ask a developer to create your own or use already available tools, such as ClientJoy. ClientJoy is a CRM used by freelancers to manage leads with an integrated proposal engine, manage emails and appointments, send automatic invoice reminders, and much more.
8) Share your work as much as possible
To attract the attention of potential customers, it is absolutely necessary that your work is seen. Social networks are your best assets and offer you free advertising spaces.
There are several sites that you should use:
- LinkedIn: where you will upload your certifications and past collaborations. This is important for your future clients.
- Dribble: which is one of the references for designers. This platform, one of the most popular among designers, lets you share your portfolio. It will also allow you to get feedback from a large community.
- Social networks (Facebook/Instagram/TikTok, etc.): Today, no one can "exist" without visibility on social networks. It is therefore important for you to be present. Even more, since videos have a greater virality than a static design, it would be interesting to share your work, your routines, and your achievements on social networks like TikTok or Youtube to attract attention.
9) Know how to look for clients
One of the biggest challenges when you start freelancing as a designer is finding clients. Your most important tasks are prospecting and knowing how to look for your clients. To do this, there are some simple tricks:
- Integrate into communities on social networks: You should know that the more you are integrated in the communities of designers on social networks, the more likely you are to find potential customers. So go ahead, post your work, comment and rely on these communities to attract prospects to you.
- Collaborate with other freelancers: By collaborating with other freelancers, you enter a "win-win" perspective. You will be able to rely on each other to connect with potential clients or to get feedback to improve your work.
- Monitor job boards: Just as there are more and more freelance designers, there are more and more companies looking for freelance designers. These companies tend to advertise via job boards. It is therefore recommended that you monitor these sites at least once a day.
10) Contacting agencies
Generally, if you have decided to work as a freelancer, it is precisely to avoid working in agencies. But if you decide to go this route, there's a difference: you won't be working IN agencies but WITH agencies.Agencies will always have clients with design needs that they want to outsource. That's why you'll have to target certain agencies and go to them to offer them your skills.