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

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.

 

 

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?!

My Latest Branding Project

This week I’ve been working on a branding project. Logo design, Business card and brochure just wanted a little bit of feed back from you guys if you can help I really like it, but an unbiased second opinion is always good!.

The client is a 1 on 1 high end teaching and project management specialist.  which looks better out of these two?  after looking at it for awhile my mind just boggles.

 

moving forward-2-02

Results of the t-shirt design poll and other various things..

Okay so if you remember a couple of weeks back I did a blog post on T-shirt design and what kind of things you liked minded designers like in terms of t-shirt design. Un surprisingly now I come to think about it the results came to animals.. Which makes sense seeing as my best designs and designs I’m currently working on are animals so I guess. If your reading this then you like my work, then there is also a good chance you like my animal designs. so lets just say my designs have made the response abit bias and the only way to get an accurate result would be to potentially guest post on another blog where perhaps the writer isn’t an individual with design styles that reflect the people who follow them. The results were interesting… that is all and thank you to all who kindly voted in my poll.

In terms of what I’ve been up to this week its been a crazy week. I’ve been a combination of working in my many jobs organising designing and re-organising my portfolio which I feel will never be finished because as soon as I create a new piece of work that I think is amazing I want to add it and I feel I need to learn that less is more make your decision stick with it and don’t agonise over it for hours. portfolio-2014

I also created the case for the portfolio which is an paper envelope that I have turned into a folder wrap and stitched the corners to make it look like material. I wanted to create something both eco friendly that challenges the way we see material things yes its essentially just an envelope but its the inventive idea and change of something simple that makes it compelling. although I must say the practicalities of paper in the rain aren’t great but it sure beats plastic and more to the point I could just make a new one!

This week I’ve also had some continuing freelance work which hasn’t been easy  as I’ve had two make a trip to the printers as my printer broke down which was incredibly annoying so not only did I have to do mock ups but I also had to print the final item. It’s surprising when you realise that to fix and or buy new ink for your printer that it works out cheaper to get them all done at your lovely local printers. Than It is worth bother to sort the thing out. I have a lexmark printer… it’s ok when it works but when it goes wrong and your test printing something and it has lines all over it. no matter how much ink your force into it. It’s still going to look this same. Anyway my printers did a grand job at a last min  (I mean I emailed at 11 o’clock at night and picked them up at 2pm the next day)  so if your looking to get a good print a reasonable price and good customer service visit www.sbsprinters.co.uk I would throughly recommend them.

In terms of my clients this week I’ve had response from a few previous clients which I’ve been prioritising. I had some interested from people over seas which is positive and all in all I’ve just been very busy!

ohhh and before I forget I went for a quick look in waterstones this week and brought a book I’d heard alot about.

“know your onions graphic design”

I’ve found it quite an interesting read it gives quite valid points about how you can become a better graphic designer and preachers that you can learn 25 years worth of graphic design experience so when I saw that I thought yea that’s something I could do with. its informative and entertaining and thats what I think I need in a book. its a good size for your to carry around so in that sense it’s also very practical It has a slip in the back so you can put notes and sketches in and all round I think it makes a great read. It’s not one of thoughts reference books that you will read a bit of and get bored. It makes you feel comfortable enough to read from start to finish and steps away from that occasional reference style. love it!.. not finished it yet but I brought it yesterday and I’m now half way through… good read buy it!

know-your-onions

 

 

blue tit in hat

A quick catch up #busy #busy #busy

I’ve had so much to do recently, I just haven’t had the time to update my blog. I’ve been working on a few things this month. Mainly self improvement and the way I can improve my design. Over the easter break I took some time out to soak up some inspiration in London.
I’m currently working on a new portfolio and I think its important to get together a collective of your current works. I only recently took a look at my portfolio and thought wow this needs updating.

I’ve been seeking the Advise of a creative director via linked in to give me some hints tips and ideas how to beef up my portfolio without adding too much in there. Because it dawned on me the other day, that you don’t know what is going to be around the corner and its always best to be prepared for whatever life throws at you. I one things for sure I intend to grow as a designer and to do that I need guidance of experience professionals who can get me there and to help me achieve my goals.

On top of that I’ve also produced a new cushion design this week my blue tit design has finally arrived on beautiful cushions I hope you all like it 🙂 you can buy it here

blue tit in hat

will update my blog soon with something more interesting … promise!

a fox in a box thsirt design

fox t-shirt design #ohhdeer

As most of you have probably seen from my slightly crazy twitter feed. I have been promoting my t-shirt designs the last post I did on this I only had two designs finished but now I’ve gone onto my third and final design. I hope you like it.

I decided to illustrate a sleepy looking fox that gives the impression he is coming out of the t-shirt not really sure why but for some reason I just felt the need to rhyme.

you can buy this T-shirt design here!

 

 

 

fox-upload

deer followers take a look at my Tee’s

This week I’m taking part in oh deers T-shirt competition I’ve decided to come up with fairly basic illustrative designs as I feel this is more a reflection of me! of course they are bright and funky and great for the summer time I’ve actually based them on several things I already have or influences *ahem* if you will.

Most of you will know this is my fabulous YCN competition entry which features quite heavily in my portfolio (salad cream).

I love food. I’m not going to lie its one of my passions and really I need to go on a diet but that’s another story! but in other news I mean people do prefer tomato ketchup over salad cream. At least they do in England anyway bloggers.

Buy my Ketchup T-shirt here!

do you dream in salad cream  ketchup-bottle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

as you can see there are definite influences there. I just Love this advert and if it wasn’t for copyright infringement with Heinz I would so put this on a t-shirt but unfortunately I can’t so here my illustrated version its cool its quirky its a little bit different and it gives that surrealist edge which I just love hooray for surrealism!  so competition meet competition and this means war!

Here is my second entry for the ohh deer competition.

One day I was at the pub minding my own business well playing the pub quiz (I don’t even drink!) having a humble coke and there I saw a smiling face staring back at me and I just thought i need to take a picture of this maybe it was just my artist way of thinking seeing things that clearly aren’t there (I repeat I do not drink!) but I saw something that summer day which lead me to produce this t-shirt and I like it. It’s cool it’s summery its a bit fun you can wear and the beach or just chillax at home in it.

I now have one more design to think of to add to this collection I think I’m going to have to go back to the drawing board with this one!

Anyway all that’s left to say is ….. Please please please re blog this post! share it on pinterest share it on twitter… or better still buy my T-shirt and help me out!! I would be so so happy if you did and further more if you do I will be more than happy to let you host blog on this page or give you free advertising on my posts of whatever just please….. share show friends.. be cool!

Buy my Ice summer T-shirt here!

securedownload-1sunshine T-shirt

how do you feel about doing a test piece of work? (freelance)

(how do you reply) This is a difficult subject one of which I’m not sure how to answer but I’m looking at it from  both perspectives.

A client come to you asked you to do a piece of work as a test to see if he likes what you can do. in a job based interview this is ok. but is it acceptable for someone who earns money on there pieces of work alone to do on a freelance basis? should a client take into consideration portfolio before he or she takes the plunge or does the client have a right to give you a test run.

I’ve done these test runs before and while for me it has been sucessful I’m wondering are there freelancers out there who will only give the ok when they have there deposit and no test for cash flow reasons can simply not afford to give away there work (if brief) for free?

I sometimes feel that the designer feels cheated they worked hard to get qualifications a portfolio and to ask for more… well to be honest I’m just not sure on this one.

I think sometimes its good to test the water it also gives the designer a chance to understand if they will get on with the client or if it will be doomed from the start by which time you aren’t at a point of no return.

If any of you freelancers out there see this post (and my lovely followers) please do share your experiences with me i’m interested to know how you have dealt with this situation and if this is something you have come across. Have you gone along with it or point blank just refused?