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10 Tips for New Freelance Designers

Melyssa Griffin

3 min

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10 Tips for New Freelance Designers

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10 Tips for New Freelance Designers

Wednesday already?! This week is flying! Today, I thought it would be fun to create a list of things that would be useful and informative for anyone looking to start a freelance design career. Feel free to share your own tips (and questions!) in the comments. I’d love to hear ’em!

  1. Create a quick elevator speech about what you do. Now that you’re working for yourself, people will have lots of questions about your new gig. Stuck on what to say? Think about how you bring value to your clients. My friend, Maya, has an awesome tip on how to do this.
  2. Create PDF documents you can send to potential clients rather than typing out your pricing and process every single time. Email templates are also useful and ensure that each potential client gets the same information.
  3. Create a contract and stick to it. When I first started, I created PDF documents that my clients had to print, sign, and scan just to give back to me. Talk about an inconvenience! Now, I use an online software called Contractually that makes it super easy to make and send contracts to clients.
  4. Don’t forget that you now have to pay quarterly taxes (including an additional self-employment tax), which is usually 30% of your income. Create a separate savings account to easily funnel 30% of all earnings out of sight and unspent. Also, save your receipts! There are TONS of things that are considered tax write-offs.
  5. To get clients, start establishing relationships. One of the best ways to do this, in my opinion, is to start a blog. A blog is an excellent way to attract clients, because it ups the chance that someone will stumble onto your design site, since you have more content for people to discover through a search engine.
  6. It’s really not the end of the world if you have a difficult client. It sure can seem like it when you’re working with them, but don’t fret, their project will eventually pass. On the bright side, working with them is probably teaching you something, too. Lean on your support systems if things get tough. Oh, and above all else, be professional, even when things are hard. Being rude, passive-aggressive, or disrespectful to a client will never help anything.
  7. Choose your clients carefully. You may want to take on every client that comes your way at first, but your sanity is much, much more important than making an extra buck. If it seems like you and a potential client will run into problems or aren’t the right fit, it’s probably best just to say no.
  8. Create a routine and set your working hours. When I first started out (and even sometimes to this day), I worked sporadically and without even realizing it, would spend 15 hours behind the computer. This isn’t healthy. Establish a routine to help you get into the groove. Finding balance can be one of the most difficult, but most important aspects of freelancing.
  9. Don’t feel guilty for doing your job. You might run into situations where a client asks you to do something that wasn’t part of the deal. But it’s small, so you’ll do it for free. You don’t mind at first, but all of a sudden that one good deed turns into you running a charity rather than a business. Don’t feel guilty about asking for what you know you deserve. Money talks can be nerve-wracking, but clients will embrace your professionalism and respect you for it.
  10. Don’t do it alone! Find other freelancers to chat with throughout the day. You may not have co-workers, but it’s important to have people you can talk to about your work, even if it’s a group of Twitter friends you check in with every now and then. You may also consider renting a co-working space, where you rent a desk somewhere and work alongside other freelancers. If you’re like me, having a pet helps, too. 🙂

What tips would you give to a new freelance designer?

p.s. How I Organize and Plan Blog PostsA Day in the Life

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