Freelance Graphic Designer
This is the continuation of series: Things I Learned as Junior Graphic Designer and 10 Things I learned as a Senior Graphic Designer. We learn all the time and it never stops. Being a Freelance Graphic Designer is an interesting journey of new relationships and gaining new skills.
I will never have enough
I learned that no matter how many new skills I gained or how much I improved my website it will never be enough. The industry is changing very fast and you have to keep on going. I thought that once I become a freelancer, I will be able to relax a little and just keep taking more projects. But once I learned web design I had to learn WordPress. Once I learned WordPress I had to learn how to add custom coding to my website. It is never ending. But that is what make me love my job so much. I will never get bored and I will always stay busy.
It is OK not to take all the projects
Some projects seem challenging from the beginning. For example: the client is not happy to pay the 30% deposit, wants a 2-week job done in 2 days, doesn’t want to sign your contract or is negotiating the price with you for a month. To those, I kindly say I am sorry but I can’t do it for you right away.
It also happens sometimes that they don’t really know what they want or are not ready yet. For example, some people think they need a website but they have no idea what to put on it or do not have any text for it. I try to discuss then, other options, that are more simple for the client and will definitely be cheaper for them like a social media account that might be more than enough for a start!
You need someone smarter than you
There are some things I just learned to give up on. For example, I do my basic SEO for my website but I don’t want to spend too much time on it. It doesn’t make me happy and it will never be as good as if I gave it to a specialist.
I learned to keep the record of all projects like: invoices, proposals, contracts, work in progress files and of course the final designs. It helps me to be faster every time I start a journey of a design project.
I also learned to pay more attention to documenting my budget. I keep the record of all business expenses and income. When I started writing it all down I realised that I have a lot of unnecessary expenses that seem small as they are only a few bucks but when you add up everything it costs a lot! I could finally see clearly what my income actually is (don’t forget to add this coffee you drink every day!).
My services are not for free
Once, I got my trading license and started working from home, all my colleagues, friends and family suddenly needed a logo or a website. On the beginning I was helping everyone but in short time I decided that I cannot do everything for free. It was taking too much of my time and I needed to pay my bills.
So I started to show them my proposals and added to it a discount. They were excited to see my process and were very often surprised how much time it takes.
Another idea, that I implemented, was that I did not take money but I happily accepted gifts for my future baby. Some people exchanged with me what their business is offering and that was super too. It made it much less awkward in the family and surprisingly everyone felt happy and more comfortable. Me, because I didn’t work for free and my close ones because now they were feeling like they really bought something.
I always used calendars and liked to stay organised. You can read here about few apps that help me with that and I can’t live without it! But now, I took it a step further and started to look in the future months as well. I make sure that my clients are well informed of my schedule and I try not to take more than 2 clients at the same time. I also try to book all projects in advance to keep a good cash flow.
It is not as much what I learned but what I decided from the beginning when I got the trading license. One advantage of being employed was that I could use all the software from the office. The first thing I did, when I started freelancing was buying the licensing for Adobe, Microsoft, Antivirus and much more. I did not even try installing stolen software as it would take too much of my time and efforts and I believe that it would make me look less credible.
It is great to be your own boss
It is so fk great to be your own boss. I cannot even explain all the difference in one post. The most important for me was that I did not have to do any more things that I didn’t feel comfortable with. I don’t have to do anything that is unethical or doesn’t seem right for some reason. I choose my projects to fit my passion and I work with people who share the same values. Even when someone is not nice from the beginning, I just simply refuse the project.
You have many bosses
On the contrary, to the previous point you also need to have in mind that now you will be dealing with many new bosses. It will not be just one but your every single client. So I learned the most valuable lesson that sometimes it is just not worth the money. I try to work with people who love my work and I love the time spent with my clients. It is very important for me that every single one of my boss leaves with a smile.
Love your job
As always, in every part of my career growth I learned again how much I love it. I love the freedom to be creative. I love to wake up every day with head full of ideas. I love the moment of thrill when I have to meet the deadline. I love the chills when I discover something new or something beautiful. I love that this job makes me feel smart because every day I learn so many things about design, brands, people and relationships.
What did you learn as a freelance designer? Maybe as a client, working with one?
Contact me if you have more questions or leave a comment down below if you loved it/hated it.