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

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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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

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

I love swiss #graphic design

As you all know I love Swiss Graphic design and this week I’ve been doing a bit of fun designing for this great little website called swiss style design.

You design a film of your choices and submit it to the website they will then show you design in a gallery with a host of all the other cool people who decided to join in. It’s a great idea and great for inspiration when you need some. particularly if you love this style any way, I’m sure you will love it!

…..anyway I did my poster based on Harry Potter and the philosopher’s (or sorcerers to my American friends!) it’s simple but that’s kind of what I like about it I choose blue because for me it just conjures up (pardon the pun) old fashioned idea’s about wizards robes and for me I guess I still have an in grained animation of Disney the sorcerers apprentice in my mind I mean who in there right mind doesn’t know that one! mickey mouse is more of less a world wide sensation.. any who take a look at this website its cool and who Knows I might see your poster sometime soon!

SWISS STYLE DESIGN

Harry-potter-and-the-philosophers-stone

 

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?

 

Design portfolios what is the norm? or is there not one?

I’ve been thinking about design and recruitment recently and the type of things that must go through there minds as they see a portfolio.

Things are getting more and more digital so does this eradicate the need for a print portfolio although I must say (PRINT IS NOT DEAD)… ahem… but it must be difficult when you have to compare one to another. in different types of medians we now have to view work.

In my experience I’ve been asked for various different things from supplying them with 5 to 6 pdf examples under 5 mb (which I’m sure most designers find quite hard when they want there work to be shown in the best possible light shrinking it down to a small size and not compromising the work quality is tough)

print portfolio

To just being asked to provide a link which is simple enough and makes sense for video and animation positions. But I ask myself are there print designers out there sending promotional pieces of work to companies in order to seek work and what is considered the norm or does the organized savvy designer out there just prepare for every eventuality and hope for the best.

animation portfolio

Its made me realize the other day recruitment is tough in the design industry… large amounts of people after one job being sifted through recruiters before you get to go on to the next round  and most of the jobs have a shelf life meaning there career is often uncertain and lets face it … its hard to find a stable job in the design industry because it feels like companies are always on the look out for hot new talent… (at least that’s my opinion anyway) being freelance puts your career in your own hands and puts you in control even when jobs are out of control and you can’t find any leads. I guess thats why people consider it as a career …. you know what to expect when you get out of bed in the morning!….. unless of course you are rudely awoken by the sound of a client ringing your mobile!…

portfolio image 2

Logo design

Creativity vs Cash: A graphic designers work flow..

It’s come to my attention recently that I haven’t really discussed what is going in terms of my work and freelancing for a while at current I have 2 clients. which they are both going pretty smoothly one only initial wanted me to do a logo and business card design and now I am doing there website as they are so happy with the results which is good. The other is a packaging based project which I am very excited to be part of.

It is great to have a clients that lets your creativity flow.

I mean some client already have an idea and a vision in there head which they want you to materialize other have absolutely no idea what they want and are happy to let you as a professional in your industry lead the way, as to what is appropriate for their target market.

Most graphic designer prefer the latter (at least you would think) although sometimes the one that know what they want can give you an idea if you can execute it correctly. So if this is the case then in theory in terms of money and turn over which one would you decide option A or option B

A. The client know what they want you can execute it much more quickly meaning that  your quote for the project would be better off because your shooting above your time scale.

B. The client doesn’t know what they want. You get the creative control but It may take you longer the client could be indecisive and therefore your turn over would be less if you gave a quote that didn’t take this into consideration

It’s a difficult option basically creative vs cash but this is the kind of world we live in and as a freelancer who’s constantly learning about new things every day. It makes me stop and think about projects option A or option B which is best for me as a designer one feels like the easy route and the other creative but maybe financial less.

Basically and this is the “deep” part everything boils down to our decisions and risks sounds psychological but maybe its true. are you a risk taker or are you safe and now from analyzing my client base I guess I’m the risk taker in option B. but the question is who has the better portfolio? and at junior level anyway surely its quality not quantity … maybe I will get to option A In the future… perhaps design and experience will change the way I design in the future who knows.

what I’ve been up to (freelancing mostly)

Well I’ve been freelancing awhile now and to be honest It’s now to the point where I get very little time to do my blog which I now decided needed a long over due update.

I’ve been working with a lot of food based clients over the few months some have been local and some have been not so local I’m enjoying this type of work and I think it is something that I am definitely going to continue with (provided I can find more food based clients who are willing to take me on!)

I’ve realized more and more that I am developing my own style its got to the point where I can look at my work and compare the similarities between each project (big or small)

The way I work is becoming more and more structured and even the everyday admin parts are becoming easier simple things like invoices ect are becoming second nature to me.

At the moment I am working on the development of my site at the moment as you can see my theme is not designed me. which as you can imagine as a designer frustrates me a little bit so my aim now is to customize my theme or create my own custom template which considering this. I’ve only ever predominately created websites using my own HTML/CSS I now understand why SEO is important and what It can do for me to be searchable to people.

Hopefully this will help me gain more exposure as a result.

I’m continuing to gain work from companies some I have consistent work with which helps me no end. I feel like I’m getting closer everyday but I know things take time and I’m to the point where I want things to be just right.

contracts!

well hopefully I am nearing the end with my current client who seems to be incredible relentless to the point where I have had to change my contract. changes here changes everywhere I never get a moments peace (although I do love it ) my partner thinks I’m being taken advantage of and to be honest I agree but part of me wants it to be perfect so when I’m given changes I just can’t help myself so… to save time (mine and my clients) I have capped a limit on the amount of changes and then anything above has to have an added price. I think that’s fair I’ve been reading up on a few handy little tips and hints as far as contracts go.

I’ve successfully managed to advertise my services locally (nothing special just local windows) but unfortunately I haven’t heard back yet *large sighhh…*

At the moment life is very hectic and with my partner looking for a new job and us looking for a new flat my mind has wandered abit admittedly I just need to hang in there.

On the other hand my boss has given me a fantastic job of designing their new home catalogue which I am very excited about it hasn’t come to ahead yet as I am holding out for our photographer to come in and take some beautiful photos.

things seems to have slowed down abit although I am generating abit of interest (I guess) modesty kicking in. people are starting to sit up and take notice of my blog which Is good news for me as I’ve started to get emails coming through!!

The one thing I don’t like about freelance is giving a quote and loving the project the client commiting to that work and then silence ….. the thing is in any other profession things would be different be because we are designers we are down at the bottom of importance of the list. which sometimes I get ( within reason I’ve seen some baaaaddd branding in my time) but its working it into your diary and then it not being there its so hard to plan things and trust me you do need to plan)

although I must say I’ve been having response from everyone from Bristol to Liverpool and I am really enjoying it. It gives my career a new lease of life which I never thought I would get back after graduation day.

Things are definitely on the up….. any way back to the drawing board…. and I mean literally there are logo’s to be done!