I have decided to write this as I have been asked so many times in the past month how to be a Freelance Graphic Designer that I started to analyse ‘How the hell am I working?’
I have spoken to a lot of budding freelancers recently, and many factors seem to repeat themselves as to why it is not working for them. So I decided to write this in the hope that someone out there can take some information, and help themselves to achieving their dream of being a freelance designer. It is the best job in the world but how do you make it work for you?
The truth probably lies somewhere between luck and hard work, and looking deeper into it can either make you stronger – or more paranoid! So I thought I would take a look at what I do, what effects it has, and is there anything I can learn to improve my chances of survival in these difficult times. Starting as a freelance designer is notoriously difficult but there are many of us out there so it can be done. But you have to be prepared for difficulties, to spend, and to fail and succeed. Nothing worth doing is easy and never has that applied more than by going alone.
Having an interest in all things Design
What do I mean by this? Well, I illustrate, I design logos, I create websites, I produce the total range of printed collateral that most businesses need. Some would say a Jack of all trades, a master of none. I would argue I can offer a full range of services to a client who approaches me. If they ask for a logo, I can then offer business stationery, flyers, a website, email marketing and even a bit of SEO advice (We will come to this later). Having a full skill set, means I never have to send a client away to get another job done and invariably become sort of useful to them.
Never stopping learning
Over the last two years I have learned many things. A lot of stuff I probably wont use more than once, and some I will use day after day. But one of the most valuable lessons I learned, albeit by accident, is how to build a website properly. By properly, I mean with correct H1, H2, H3 tags, titles, descriptions, internal linking and where to promote it. And the best way I could practice was on my own website, well one of them – See here. So I rebuilt it from the bottom up. As most designers know, creating something for yourself is THE hardest job you will ever take on, but I think I helped myself but not focusing just on the design – but also the build. In having the distraction of making sure each page had good content with copy, proper internal linking, and fully optimising it I managed to propel my site high up the search engine rankings, purely using on-site techniques. It was good for me as a website builder, but even better when I popped up a few pages onto page one and suddenly the phones started ringing a whole lot more.
What am I trying to say? Essentially, I didn’t sit back and think, I’m a good designer, I don’t need to know about SEO, or how to market myself because being good, people will find me. Reality check here. They wont. Get yourself interested in what it takes to make a website work. It will be beneficial for your clients when you build theirs, and it is invaluable for yourself in building a pres