How To Boost Your Freelance Design Career
Working as a freelance designer is great if you are doing it the right way. You need to find clients in order to make enough money to consider your work as being effective and of course, to make a decent standard of living. Otherwise, another type of paying job may be better for you. However, if you are struggling to make it on your own, here are some tips that may help you boost your freelance design career.
Let’s discuss them one by one and see how you may benefit out of each of these steps:
1. Create an appealing portfolio website
Your website is your personal ID card. It will also serve as the most powerful and effective example of how your work looks like, how skilled you are and what types of jobs are you good at. There are several topics we should discuss here and I am therefore going to start with the most basic two of them:
The domain name and the hosting provider
The first thing to look at is, of course, the domain name. Choose it wisely because it will be hard to change it later and start your SEO all over again. If you want to use the website strictly as an online portfolio and maybe for an adjacent personal blog, use your own name as the domain name. It will be easier for your clients to find you and you will be able to build a strong personal brand.
The next thing that your success may depend on, besides the content of the website, is your hosting provider. As you may already know, Google and other search engines value two things: the quality of the content and the speed of the website.
The speed is the issue you should solve once and for all by selecting the appropriate web hosting provider for your website. My first choice for a personal blog or a portfolio website would be SiteGround. They are reliable when it comes to speed and WordPress support and their uptime ratio is very high. You can read this review here and make up your mind based on actual data and reliable information.
Make sure you share valuable content with your readers
My first choice would be an industry-related blog. There, you can write everything you want as long as the topics are in line with your professional skills. However, if you only want to create a portfolio website with a limited number of pages, I suggest creating some green content that will answer some of your readers or customer’ questions. Let’s say you run a design consultancy business and you want to be as informative as you can about your business and what you can offer your potential client. You can create a page where you explain what consultancy is and how to get the best out of it. Here is a great example that answers the question the best. “what is consulting?”
Why is this a good example?
Well, your website is also important if you want to attract new customers and build a strong personal brand. You can reach out to large audiences through social media and advertising but you can also benefit from the organic traffic. The more valuable your content is, the more likely it is that the search engines will send people to read it. Also, one of the best ways to write about a specific topic in SEO terms is to answer questions people may have about it.
Create a top-notch contact page or contact area on your website
As a freelance designer, your main focus should be on finding new customers and landing new design jobs. So far, you’ve managed to create a compelling website that loads fast and shares valuable information with the audience. What you need to do next is to create an easy to access contact page and maybe share some testimonials as well.
If you take a quick look at your favorite websites, you’ll notice that most of them have contact pages with easy to complete forms that make it easier for someone to pose a question, ask for a quote or send you another type of message.
If you want to stand out from the crowd, however, you need to think outside the box. How can you do it? Well, let’s learn through the power of example. Take a look at Mission Restorations, a website that really nails the contact page idea, by putting it right on top of the main page.
2. Learn when to say “no”
Saying “no” to a client or a project is hard when you are struggling to make it on your own as a freelancer. However, it’s important to learn when to say it and how to say it.
While it’s important to be willing to learn new things, you should also consider what types of jobs you are good at and what your strongest designing skills are. Your reputation will not suffer if you say no to a client claiming you are already booked. However, you will have a lot to lose should you take a job you are not prepared for and fail to deliver on time or fail to deliver at all due to lack of skills.
3. Be true to yourself and show consistency
People are more likely to work with companies and professionals they know and feel they can connect with at a personal level. What you need to do at this point is sell out your own personal brand in the best way possible. This includes truthfulness and of course, consistency.
Make sure you are completely honest about who you are, what are your values, what are your strengths. Know that maybe some of your potential customers will not agree with everything but this will only help you select better who to work with and build a powerful, more solid, personal brand.
4. Know your numbers
Even though you are freelancing, you should treat this job as a business. This is the business that is tight up to your name and that will allow you to make a living. What do you need?
- A budget. Know how much you need on a monthly basis. Know the minimum sum you need to earn in order to meet ends with all your expenses and maybe, invest in the future as well.
- Your rates. In order to get to the aforementioned budget, you have to adjust your hourly or daily rates accordingly. Set a minimum rate. Do not go under that rate.
- Know how much you can work each day. Set your minimum and a maximum number of working hours and stick to the plan. If possible, work no less than the minimum amount and no longer than the maximum number of hours. You need money to keep your living standards but you will also need time to recharge your batteries. Based on this, accept jobs only if you know you will be able to deliver on time. Failure to meet deadlines may have a negative impact on your personal brand.
5. Sign a contract for every project
You don’t need endless legal agreements and tons of contract pages that cover every aspect of your projects. However, you will need something to ensure you that you will be paid and of course, that there are some obligations on your part and on your employer’s part as well.
Maybe at first, you will not be able to land official jobs and projects but as time goes, you’ll have to try to make your jobs more official. You will need proof for your portfolio and you will need insurance for payments.
Also, it would be best to set up a general agreement to state that your work is original, that you should respect your client’s confidentiality and vice versa. This legal agreement should also stipulate terms of payment, deadlines, the size of the project etc.
Starting up as a freelance designer may not be as easy as it seems at first, especially if you try to do it as a full-time job. However, if you are at least trying to do everything by the book, at some point, you should succeed.
Starting with your portfolio website and up to the legal agreements you will sign for each job, in particular, you can follow the steps described throughout this article in order to boost your freelance career.
Becoming more successful and building a strong personal brand should be always your two main tasks. Act accordingly and always look for more. Every day presents itself with an opportunity to take a step further.