Getting Started: Freelance Graphic Design

May 26, 2008
By Aaron Sanfillippo, Hoffman Estates, IL

In today’s world, graphic designers are wanted more and more for almost any job, big or small. There are many opportunities to make money out there, and with the proper skills you can take advantage of those opportunities fairly easily with a few words of guidance.

To begin with, you’ll have to know what you’re capabilities are as a graphic designer. Are you a rookie designer, intermediate, professional? You’ll have to decide for yourself honestly so you know what kinds of clients you’re going to be able to talk to and what kind of jobs you are going to focus on looking for. What design programs are you familiar with? You can accomplish many jobs with PhotoShop, the most common image editing and design program, so that should be one of the programs that you know how to work with. One thing you don’t want to do is contact a client about a project that is out of your league skill-wise.

You’ll want to know what kind of projects you are willing to take on whether it’s web site design, logo design, flash animation, or illustrations, just to name a few. Each type of project take different amounts time so be sure to consider the amount of time (depending on what the client wants) you have. As you progress with freelance jobs you’ll find out that you need to make time for work and for your personal life. Try not to blend the two together; you don’t want to get your personal relationships in the way of your work and vice-versa. You’ll learn that you need to keep an organized schedule so you can balance everything out. Most clients want their jobs to be finished fast so they can move on with their own businesses. Others may not care too much, but you don’t want to keep them waiting on you.

Once you know what kind of job you want to focus on you can go a few different routes to getting yourself some work. If you’re looking for some quicker jobs you will want to look on the internet for job posting boards. There are many different websites that allow businesses and other types of clients to post their jobs online. From there you can contact them about the work and after showing them your previous artwork you may end up with the job! If you don’t choose to go through the internet, you can always talk to someone face-to-face from a local business.

As soon as you find your job you should agree with the client on how you will be paid whether it’s an hourly wage or a flat rate; most of the time you’ll end up with a flat rate decision with your clients. One of the most important tasks in freelancing is communication with your client. You should always keep your clients up to date with what you’re doing with their project; never let them feel like they aren’t cared about. If you do, you probably shouldn’t expect to get another job from them. With that said, never pull out the disrespect card. Not once during a project should your client feel disrespected. If you fail to abide by this rule you’ll risk losing their project or ever getting a project from them again. On the other hand, if you are respectful during your time with your client, you may be asked to work on something else from them. Keeping in touch with your past clients can lead to future work and you might even be referred to other new clients through the clients you have already worked with.

In the end, you’ll be able to make a good amount of money if you know what you’re doing. Some projects will push you to your limits and you might feel like you should have been paid more while other projects will seem like a steal. The only way to get better at what you’re doing is by experience and practice so run off to your computer and get ready to make some money!

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