Approaching eight years as a freelance graphic designer, what have I learned?
Love the business
Freelance graphic designer is a wonderful job where you get to meet fascinating people, with diverse businesses, all with their own unique business needs. Embrace it, love it.
Get an accountant
Taxes and bookwork never get easier, I have an accountant. I still hate the bit getting it ready for him. The rest of the freedom and peace of mind is worth it.
Tell your imposter syndrome to get out. He, or she, is an imposter!
Never write an angry email
Just don’t. Calm down, pick up the phone, but never ever write an angry email.
Don’t be the scruffiest person in the room at a meeting. Because ‘you are a creative’. You are a professional in business looking for other business people to trust you. Show respect for your potential client, and the industry you represent.
How to behave in a meeting
If in doubt as to how to behave in a business meeting. Very simple. Shut up, and listen. If you are concerned at having to become a smooth talking, salesperson with charm dripping off your tongue, and that isn’t who you are, relax, selling isn’t so one dimensional. If you are introverted or awkward socially, but are clearly passionate about design, you’ll be fine. Your portfolio must be in great shape and you must be and act reliable. Turn up on time for meetings, always do what you say you’ll do in a meeting. People like and trust honesty, passion and skill.
Dealing with clients
Clients are fantastic. Every one of them different from each other. Every client’s needs are different. Every client’s way of working is unique to them. Incredibly important to remember design is a service industry. We exist to serve others. To advise, come with ideas, direct, and by far the most important, to listen. If the client isn’t sure what they want, we need to ask the right questions. And react to what the client has said. Explaining clearly every step of the way, our thinking behind each decision, without falling into marketing jargon.
Creative side projects
It is important for your creative wellbeing to have some creative outlets just for yourself. These let you learn and be in charge of your creativity, and in turn, make you a better designer for your clients.
Making the jump into the freelance world
If you are considering making the jump into freelance design it may seem scary. There is a mental switch when you become freelance. Becoming your own boss, and responsible for your own marketing. I recommend having some savings behind you. Too much savings though, and you might find yourself fiddling with that portfolio instead of getting out there and hustling for work. Nothing concentrates the mind like a bill that needs paying.