The world of freelancing, up’s and downs. Guest blogger Sally Kellaway

   Having freelanced for a year or so and discovering so little information on freelancing as a graphic designer at University. I’m keen to hear from anyone who wants to share their experiences as a new graduate stepping into being a freelancer. At University the focus is solely on creativity (or at least it was at my University) but I feel there are little if not any resources that new graduate can turn to about learn skills, how to conduct yourself as a designer running your own business. From taxes to invoices to what you should charge your clients, to how you should even behave with your clients. So I’ve asked Sally kellaway who is soon to be a graduate to write a blog post on her experiences as a freelance designer and here is what she wrote for me.

The world of freelancing, up’s and downs.

So whilst at university I wanted to freelance, the thought of being able to work from home with no boss breathing down my neck, to me, was bliss. Get up when you want, work when you want, drink as many coffee’s as you want etc. I have been freelancing for a year on and off and I can confidently say that this is only half true, clients who want your services usually have full time jobs, so contacting them is never within the usual hours, I’ve been woken up by emails at 2am from a client asking to change something by 8am the next day…no…stop…nobody gets in the way of me and my zzzz. On the upside, it has given me a lot of experience both good and bad that I can take with me through my design career, it has also made me decide exactly what I want to do now I am out of University.

Here is a list of my pro’s and cons:

Pro:

Many coffees.

Lie in’s (sometimes)

Comforts of working from home.

Less stressful (usually)

Work around other jobs and commitments.

Go to the ‘office’ (your home) in your PJ’s-many wins here.

Cons:

Stressful, all the management, invoicing, work, contact, emails etc are on you solely.

Lonely, I’m not going to lie working from home on your own wares thin after a while and you end up singing/talking to yourself….eek. I missed working as a team and bouncing ideas off of each other.

If you get stuck you have to rely on Google and Youtube to help which is time consuming.

Awaiting payment, nobody EVER pays on time and you usually have to chase it up, so unless you have a steady flow of work or another source of income paying bills can be tricky. One week you are minted and the next your eating supernoodles-the ‘basics’ ones…

Winging it, you literally wing everything unless you have been on a course or something similar about freelancing. My uni only did an hour’s talk on the subject so I was left fairly lost and have learnt from mistakes-not that that’s a bad thing!

The constant battle between ‘the client is always right/paying your next bill’ and the shouting in your head saying ‘NO YOU ARE WRONG, I AM THE DESIGNER NOT YOU BAAAHHH!’ My advice when you get the eighteenth email saying ‘no it just doesn’t look right…’ Take ten minutes before emailing back, breathe, and trust me.

Don’t get me wrong freelancing is great for building your portfolio and when you get big clients you make big bucks which is so unbelievably rewarding, creating something from scratch on your own and seeing it come to life within a business etc. Here are my top tips on getting freelance work, the do’s an don’ts:

1.  Behance, create your portfolio, photograph everything professionally and tag tag tag the crap out of it so when people search, your work comes up.

2.Google invoicing and learn the professional in’s and out’s of it, also create  a template with your logo so people remember you.

3.Tweet about being a freelancer and again, tag tag tag!

4.Make yourself into a brand or even look like an agency, more likely to get work when you look like a professional business.

5.Have a logo and consistency, whether that’s a certain type, colour scheme or style such as humour, corporate, edgy etc. Again-be memorable!

6.Reply to emails straight away, in my experience the clients who have passed on my services commented on how fast I reply and get work done for them.

7.If you need to, get someone on board such as a web designer if you aren’t strong in that area, collaborating is great for getting better results of work.

DO:

Be professional at all times, freelancing is a grey area where you have to trust each other a lot with time management, payment and getting the work done.

Make it clear with a contract the work you are doing, time you are doing it in and what YOU expect from the client, you are employed by them but you are NOT their slave.

Have fun working where you want, starbucks is always good as inspiration hits whilst people watching in my opinion.

Try and make contacts through your clients, you never know who they know…

Do make sure you know copyright laws, don’t get caught out using someone else’s typeface as there can be a hefty fine for both yourself and your client.

DON’T:

Take days to reply to emails.

Don’t get the p**s taken out of you, many a time I haven’t received payment, it does come with the game as a lot of the time freelancing is done over email/the internet. If you can, meet the client somewhere public for a meeting/briefing.

Don’t be lazy with file organising; you may have more than one project on the go and need to be able to access files quickly and sometimes after the project is done. Clients come back wanting more when you’ve done a good job such as letterheads, web banners etc.

Don’t get underpaid, go by how many hours you think it will take to complete the job, then have around 4 ‘changes’ within the contract, anymore and the client has to pay by the change/hour.

My last piece of advice would be time management, especially if you are juggling more than one job, try not to get overwhelmed, you have all day not just standard office hours. Also, communicate with your client but gage whether they are more of a ‘I’ll leave you to it’ client or one that wants to be involved a lot. As annoying as multiple emails a day, the one’s who are more involved tend to give more feedback and you can get the work done to their exact specifications.

if you like what you’ve read and you would like to get in contact with Sally and view her work take a look at her behance profile and you can also tweet her on @srkdesigns

If you would like to share your experiences as a long term freelance graphic designer and help graduates understand this profession. I would love to hear from you send me an email to: thecreativeconundrum@yahoo.co.uk and mark the subject as “I’M A FREELANCER SHARE MY EXPERIENCE”

until next time budding designers,

Amy

Massimo Vignelli 1931-2014

New york subway design tribute

TheDesignAir

vignelli

Sadly, 27th May 2014, graphic design legend Massimo Vignelli passed away at the age of 83. The Italian born designer is most famous for his work designing the New York Subway map & signage as well as the graphic design of the infamous American Airlines identity that only until recently was one of the most iconic aircraft liveries in the world.

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Massimo and his wife Lella Vignelli, moved to America in 1966 from their roots in Milan. Massimo lived in New York and started the New York branch of a new company, Unimark, which fast became one of the largest design firms in the world. Massimo Vignelli worked in a wide variety of areas, including interior design, environmental design, package design, graphic design, furniture design, and product design.

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In 1971, Massimo resigned from Unimark, parting ways due to the dilution of the original vision the company had. On departure he opened Vignelli Associates with his wife. His…

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Get paid for your creative work with fun accounting software built for graphic designers

I’m interested on how accounting can be fun! better check this one out!

acclux

accounting software for graphic designers

Working as a graphic designer and freelancer is a fun job to do; you are working with different customers and different projects; and you spent the most of the time in your studio having fun with your creativity. As it’s fun to meet new people with new projects all the time, it comes with more than one challenge, number one is the huge amount of projects’ milestones and deadlines.  The other challenge that can be added is your accounting, which includes invoicing, payments and expenses.

Some graphic designers avoid dealing with the accounting side of their business because it is the complicated; but in fact your accounting can be as fun as your creative work if it’s done in the right way.

So how acclux accounting can help you to enjoy every minutes of your business.

Project and task management
The main challenge you will have as a graphic designer…

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What’s really wrong with Comic Sans?

I guess someone hates comic sans more than me!

Tweak Your Slides

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Photo Credit: eanur0 via Compfightcc

The short answer is nothing and everything.

The long answer is still nothing and everything, but let’s explore why. Comic Sans, which was created by Vincent Connare was never meant to be used in the regular system of fonts available on a Windows PC (Source). It was created to solve an incongruity Connare noticed while he was working on Microsoft Bob, the interface designed to make the computer-using experience more palatable to novice computer users (Source). Connare noticed that while the interface was a cartoon, the characters’ text boxes uses Times New Roman. This didn’t make sense to Connare, so he created Comic Sans based on the style of Marvel and DC comics. So, the purpose of Comic Sans was to fit a very specific interface and experience–the comic, cartoon, animated experience. It was not meant to be used for business…

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How to use your design skills to land a job. Stand out!!

a good piece on creative cv’s

Design and conquer

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Chen Zhi Liang designed this wonderfully infographic resume showcasing all the important qualifications and skills. Its a really neat design because of the clever usage of color and space. This article features 10 design resumes/cvs that definitely stand out.

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Printing a Good Business Card

how to print a good business card!

Bizwizid

Business Card DesignThe competition in business sector is more cut-throat than ever and even the recent slump in economy seems to have had no effect on that. The inability to print business cards or creating a poor one can have defining impression of your business on the minds of your potential customers. Anyone who hands someone a dirty and crinkled card gives a massive sign of unprofessional-ism. If you have an out-of date card, you really need to look into printing some better ones to improve business.

The first thing to be considered here is the kind of information to be included on the card. The basic use of a business card for a long time has been just the transfer of the important contact information. The basic info being your name, business name, job title, phone numbers, email, and website information .This is still relevant and useful, but a modern business…

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My Best ways to quickly and efficiently get freelance work done!

Okay I’m already apologising for my epically long subject title on this one, but I feel I need to share these facts, but in actual fact they aren’t the easiest thing to share… okay I’m confusing you know I’ll admit it… gosh I need to stop apologising this is just turning into an argument with myself!

1. folder organisation

Firstly one of my key tips I would say Is file organisation I have a section on my computer dedicated to my freelance work which sits various different folders for various different companies that I do work for. I separate them into projects in each folder and images. I’m not a naturally organised person I would admit that but I have practices to ensure I can find everything when I need it.

2. naming of files

Give each file and each change a unique number or reference this often happens with logo changes and after a long hard day at staring at a computer you think to yourself whilst looking at that thumbnail is that really the one I’m looking for because seriously they all look like identical twins

3. start from a sketch

You can never go wrong with a sketch if your start from a sketch with you idea you can usually be quicker in the design process when you go onto the computer you tend to get obsessed with tweaking and changing small things and you really just don’t get any where

4. Make lists and take notes

Some clients aren’t good over email’s. emails and texts can easily be misinterpreted and If you don’t question them and go off on a tangent then …. yea your wasting time and essentially time is money when it comes to freelancing. Making lists is all about work prioritisation what needs doing now what can be done later and who is your high priority client at this time.. Obviously they are all high priority but making a list and thinking seriously about what need doing can really help.

5. Remember to take a break

Taking a break is important for your health go for a walk, go get a glass of water. Go and think about the designs rather than stare at the computer. Sketch just get yourself away from the computer just for a little while.

6. Have everything to hand

I have my trusty design books with me, a big bottle of water, a sketch pad, a note book and of course my laptop, but that kind of given. I live in a very small flat in London so I don’t really have a desk but I will sometimes go and sit at the dining room table or in the garden I feel like having one place to do my work is a bit ridged I’m a creative person and my surrounds reflect my design so be where you are comfortable but always remember to separate home life from work life.

 

 

Flirting with the freelance profession

learn what it’s like to freelance here!

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I’ve successfully branched into the realm of the full-time freelancer (success!) and I thought it apt to share what I’ve learned thus far. Since I’ve landed, I’ve been blessed by a constant stream of work flowing in from the great interweb and it still catches me by surprise. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t worry a little about future income. *I do have a chocolate habit to sustain and a future english bulldog to feed.

I know it’s still early days, but I would like to venture and say I’ll never work for a boss again if I can help it. Regardless of the fact that my personality renders me uber productive when I’m working by myself, I’ve learned that your boss’ ideals are very often different to your own and in the end, it all boils down to money, rendering loyalty pointless.

Instead I’m opting for a life of freedom, of creativity…

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coco, string, banana and drinks

okay yes it is a weird description for my latest blog post but I couldn’t really think of anything else to describe the week that I’ve had this week. It’s been a little crazy I will give you that. I’m kind of flitting between different concepts and ideas and target audiences to try and help my clients which is never easy but its something I love. Why may you ask well idea’s seem to follow better when I working on a multitude of different projects. I think it’s because when you work on just one project your one focus is there, you almost over look the best Idea you had. Where as when you are short of time the idea comes you execute it and its done it there and you either love the idea hate the idea and then just move on. I’m really surprised how this week has worked out I’ve had about 20 replies to my advert if not more! it’s crazy its a good job I love all this designing malarkey. My life at the moment is all about design even in my spare time I’m design crazy I think my partner is going to go insane. I think sometimes he thinks I have a better relationship with photo shop than him! haha no I’m only joking!

At the moment when It comes to advertising and how I’m getting so much work its all down to marketing. which I once had the pleasure to work in so needless to say I picked up a few tips even if it was only a design internship. so here are a few tips from me being pro active really helps:

1) gumtree- reply and post adverts

I really can’t stress how amazing this website is you’ve put me in connection with so many lovely local people most of which live right on my door step. which means we can have Starbucks meetings! love it!

2) twitter – #graphicdesign #freelance #seeksdesigner I’ve found so many people just by searching through hash tags on twitter you would be surprised how many search results come up you also have to hash tag your area too. I hashtag london

3) linked in – my linked in profile is filled to the max. which means you get picked up very easily in search results very helpful recruiters find you for positions.

4) Behance profile – max it out keep adding and changing things like other peoples work and follow other peoples work

5) WordPress – use tag search to find people who are looking for designs searching graphic design is a good way to do this plus you get to see lots of beautiful work and comment and talk to people in the wordpress community (which I’m sure you all do) and don’t forget to tag all of your posts I tag like a crazy person!

6) creative pool – I’ve had lots of people view my work on creative pool and I’ve even recently had my work featured on the homepage! people and recruiters can find you easily too.

7) fill out a profile on top website such as total jobs and monster and reed.

8) always ask for more work the worst that they can say is no and you can still feed that positive connection between you and your client.

and finally sit back and watch the work roll in and if it doesn’t be proactive call a couple of add check all the jobs board and if all else fails go sip a cocktail in your back garden! any one got any other tips please feel free to share!

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Places to go people to see!

Okay so this week has been a little bit of a weird week as I’ve been away back to Nottingham to see my parent only just got back. To which was pretty non stop the entire time which made things a little crazy on the freelance front. although I did see some good art at Nottingham castle which was fun.

So naturally here I am sat on a train with my handy mac computer and my latest copy of computer arts (The innovations issue!) getting things together for my clients because they need me and plus I pretty much give a dependable service. Last week I did a poster for a new girl band coming and the speed and quality of the work has (hopefully) ensured my long term freelancing with that client finger crossed the guy seemed really happy and did say and I quote ” I will have lots of work for you over the summer” so that seems promising.

I’m also designing a new logo for a smoothie company which is mainly linked with tropical fruit my main focus of that project is for the coconut to look less like an egg… and then we are laughing! but other than that its going well.

I’m also working in conjunction with a eCommerce clothing brand based in Glasgow who want me to design some t-shirts for them for there latest range of t-shirts and there is regular work in that for me which sounds good. so yes I’ve been very busy.

I would add some image to show you some of the work I’ve been up to but for some reason my images keep uploading strange they all look like tiny little ants in size : ( must get that fixed anyone know why this is happening please contact me?!