July 26, 2010 Off

The Pros and Cons of Becoming a Freelance Designer

By in Design, Job Finding Tips

Freelance art direction and design work is a path considered by most designers at some point in their career. The thought of designing work for big clients while in your pajamas just sounds too tempting to pass up. You get the comfort of working from home, on your hours, and you only answer to yourself and your clients. You don’t have to please upper management – you are your own boss. You have a whole lot of freedom and you’re in control. But as with any job or anything in life really, there are both pros and cons. You should be aware of both and have a solid understanding of how to become a successful freelance designer.

First of all, you must have the personality to be a freelance designer. I know you might be wondering what personality has to do with it, but when you’re running your own business you have to be a certain kind of person to make it work. You should be able to work well on your own, be highly disciplined, productive, and have the ability to stick to time schedules without any pushing from co-workers or higher ups.

Secondly, you’ll need to wear many hats. You won’t just be a designer at home. You’ll be a designer/salesman/accounts payable/receptionist/marketing coordinator all rolled into one. Make sure you’re up for the challenge of keeping track of your expenses, dealing one on one with clients, finding ways to market your business and garner new clients and meet all your design deadlines.

Thirdly, stay on top of your finances. Seriously. You have to do the math as you go along and make sure you’re actually making a decent profit off your work. Charge an hourly rate that will allow you to still get clients but also cover all your operating expenses.

Make sure you have everything you need. This goes beyond your computer printer. You’ll also need all the office supplies a regular office would need like paper, staples, pens, file folders, company letterhead, business cards, envelopes and stamps, a business phone line, etc. A key element to being a professional freelancer is treating your work as if it were a company, not just a stay at home gig. It’s a lot of responsibility and you have to be up for it.

You should also have a plan for printing. Are your clients doing their printing through you? Or will you just refer them to a local printer that has a decent price? Make sure you’re taking your clients from concept to completion, so you feel like a full-service agency instead of just the designer.

Lastly, remember that freelancing isn’t like a year-round vacation. You’re going to have to put in the time to meet with clients face to face, sell yourself, sniff out new prospects, and get all your work done. Freelancing offers a great amount of freedom and flexibility but you have to be sure that you don’t abandon your clients when they need you so you can sleep in or go on a spontaneous vacation. The success of your freelancing business rests squarely on your shoulders. If you’re okay with that, then you’re ready to begin.

About: Ian:
Hi, I'm Ian T. I'm a York grad and a copywriter for Eden Advertising. I'm the master of procrastinating. I like to use parentheses (sometimes). I love the LCBO because wine makes me happy. I don't blog, I capture moments in time.

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