Following on from my post about breaking into web design, I’d like to talk about how to be a successful freelance designer. What qualifies me to talk about this? Well that would depend on what you define as being successful. Success in the freelance world is all about keeping busy, avoiding barren patches and retaining clients – which is something I have thankfully managed to achieve.
Over the past 4 years I have established a method to my work, a set of rules that have formed my working code which have now become habit…
- Communicate Well And Often – in my opinion this is the single most important attribute a freelancer has, I value it higher than quality of work. If you effectively communicate on all levels this can alleviate the fears of clients. You need to communicate, what you do, how you do it and the way you work. Communication is often the key to retaining clients and being re-booked.
- Work Quality & Consistency – you don’t have to be the world’s best designer to make a freelance career, what you need to do is be consistent. As with any industry there are requirements for all levels of capability. If you continue to produce work at a consistent level, this will define your standard and it takes the risk away from hiring you.
- Maximise Your Possibilities – if people don’t know of your existence then it doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do, you won’t get booked, you won’t get any work. Get your folio online, start using services like Twitter, LinkedIn, comment on blogs, keep in touch with everyone you meet – hand them a business card – you never know when they might need your services or know someone that does!
- Be Adaptable – all agencies and clients differ in the way they like you to work. You need to adapt to their methods and quickly. You may be asked to do things that may not be your niche from time to time, if you effectively communicate this but also adapt to the requirements then this will reflect favourably on you.
- Use Your Initiative – hugely important in the design world. There will be times where if you’re working in-house there will be no-one around to answer any questions you may have. You need to take the initiative in these situations and use your experience to make the right decisions.
- Be Pro-Active – when you’re closely involved in a project you will see opportunities to aid your project, you need to recognise these as early as possible and capitalise on them.
- Listen To Your Instinct – there are good clients and bad clients, you need to work out which category any potential new clients fall in to before you agree to work with them, this is usually a lot easier than it sounds. Look for signs in early communication you have with a client, whether it’s on the telephone, by email or even face to face – the signs are almost always there to see and they’re not usually hard to spot. As soon as the alarm bells start ringing you need to take action fast, your instincts are usually spot on.
Hopefully these methods may help you out with your freelance career. They’ve kept me busy over the years!