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How to be a freelance graphic designer?

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Are you looking to find detailed and accurate information on how to become a freelance graphic designer? This in-depth analysis will try to provide you with all the information you need in order to understand better what the role and daily life of a freelance graphic designer consist of, also analyzing the applications that a graphic designer can find in daily life.

Furthermore, in the article, you will discover the gain that a visual communication professional can expect, with an in-depth analysis regarding the courses that can most help you acquire fundamental knowledge and skills to become a recognized and accredited graphic designer.

How to get started?

The first point to this guide on how to start being a freelance graphic designer is: don’t sell out to earn a few more dollars. If you aim downwards, you will receive only customers of the lowest quality, forever. They will contact you only to obtain requests for quotes from people who will not want to pay you the right price for your experience and your skills gained in the field (applies to all jobs freelance. You have to be sure of what you do and your skills).

The goal of a freelance graphic designer is always to have new clients.

They have to be looking for you and asking for you and not the other way around. Are you sure you can do it? Now I’ll tell you how. A great way to achieve this is to make contacts and collaborate with:

  • Communication agencies
  • Web agency
  • SEO agency
  • Freelance colleagues (app developers, graphic designers, SEO experts).

In this way, you will not have to spend most of your time looking for new orders anymore because your partners will send you the jobs to be done. You will only have to think about offering the best possible service and getting paid the right and never selling out.

One thing to watch out for is partnering with only one vendor, as you may experience revenue issues if relationships break down. To avoid getting to this point, also follow these practical tips.

Focus on the work you do best and are passionate about it.

Doing a freelance job does not only mean working as a web designer, developer, or graphic designer, but you will also have to take care of:

  • Create and prepare quotes
  • Prepare invoices
  • Sell your products or services
  • Draw up contracts that protect your work
  • Forge collaborations
  • Attend events and network
  • Make yourself known online on social networks
  • Promote yourself on your blog
  • Write guest posts to promote yourself on other blogs in your niche
  • Open your personal projects

A very useful tip is to specialize in a niche, for example:

  • Graphics for ecommerce
  • Graphic design for B&B websites

If you also have developer skills, you might want to consider creating WordPress plugins for managing image galleries.

Try to credit yourself as an expert in managing and using graphics programs: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, etc. However, you will probably already have a favorite program that you feel most comfortable with. Use it and practice as much as possible. Let others know. By doing so, you can appear as a professional in a certain sector and become an expert in it. You don’t have to be good at everything. You just need to know how to promote yourself from the start. 

Here are some tips:

Publicize yourself and let people recognize what you do and what you excel at.

If you don’t want to struggle to stand out from the competition, what you don’t want to do is: promote yourself as a handyman graphic designer.

Create your own brand to make yourself known and to let those who still don’t know you know what you do. The image you give of your personality and your own “style” on every smallest creation is fundamental. Offer free material (guides, eBooks, video tutorials, audio tutorials, podcasts, and interviews) to download for free in exchange for an email. The material must be of high quality in order to be useful in solving a specific problem.

Here are some examples of resources that you can download for free based on the niche you want to target:

  • Here’s how to create a graphic from scratch
  • Here’s how to create graphics for a b & b
  • Here are the graphic elements for ecommerce

Attend events in the industry or related to your profession.

Do not be shy. It is not mandatory to participate in events related to your interests (web design, graphics, programming), but following the events offer the opportunity to meet people in your sector, with whom you could collaborate.

You can attend many events, many are free, or you can use a portion of your income to attend courses related to WordPress, SEO, and Web Marketing near where you live.

Create your portfolio site.

When you forge alliances, collaborations, or when companies or freelancers who need your skills take an interest in your blog, you need to highlight how they can contact you and the list of your best jobs.

Work for free.

One challenge you may come across early on is giving value to your customer portfolio. To enter important companies, you can:

  • Select the companies or agencies you want to collaborate with
  • Contact the boss or the PR online, through the institutional website or LinkedIn or Facebook
  • Give the willingness to create a graphic that is relevant to them for free

Follow the same path from step 1 to step 3 and select other freelancers you would like to collaborate with.

This process of acquiring new contacts will help you to increase the knowledge suitable to understand also:

  • How you work in a team, and what tools to use to collaborate remotely?
  • How to manage a customer?
  • How are deadlines met?
  • How to prepare a contract and how to protect yourself?
  • How are technical problems solved?

Once you have acquired the new skills, you can ask for a higher price, but above all, the companies you have worked for will begin to entrust you with paid jobs

Get testimonials from clients you’ve worked with.

You can derive other important benefits from the people you have worked for. Ask to leave comments on the work you have done for them on your profiles. You can post these testimonials on your portfolio site and your online profiles, but they must all be true. You will therefore have to put some data of these people so that others can verify and be sure that the testimonies are true.

Don’t underestimate the choice of a good accountant.

To choose a good accountant, you don’t have to take into account the lowest price, but what he knows. Example: I had to explain to my accountant what Google AdSense was, he didn’t know what PayPal was, and he couldn’t figure out what tax position he had to put me in as a freelance web designer.

Support those who know less than you and demonstrate your skills without asking for anything in return.

It is hard work but one that brings surprising results. Helping those who have doubts or concerns in the field in which you can offer good tips will give you a lot of visibility online. People remember who helped them by offering their time and skills.

Attend groups where you can begin to make yourself known by giving your advice. Select web designers or similar groups who discuss related topics (web marketing, SEO, web usability, programming, etc.). When you see some questions that you can give a practical and comprehensive answer, take the time to answer them, don’t be superficial, and always humbly propose yourself. It will consent you to work even though you are not in the top Google results.

What makes a graphic designer so important nowadays?

Of course, an excessively in-depth analysis is not needed to understand that among the job offers available in the communication sector, one of the most requested resources in recent years is that of the professional graphic designer.

That’s right: whether it is communication agencies, media centers, or real advertising agencies, the professional graphic designer plays a fundamental role in communication.

Furthermore, in recent years, the number of companies that have internalized this department has also grown more and more, adopting figures able to take care of aspects relating to visual communication.

In fact, the applications within a business organization for professional graphic designers are truly varied. Think of all the companies that deal directly with the design and creation of the packaging of their products.

In these cases, both tasks to be performed within the company may be envisaged, for which the intervention of a professional graphic designer is required. As well as integration with an external supplier with more specific skills or machinery, with which the graphic inserted within the company represents the ideal figure to be able to dialogue.

The professional graphic designer employed in a communication office of a company demonstrates, on the one hand, an understanding of the commercial and corporate dynamics that are most important internally, but at the same time shows the propensity to intuit the technical aspects that can be limiting for the supplier.

Here the company graphic becomes the perfect resource to play the role of ‘bridge’ between the different languages ​​and needs, which, at times, can also be conflicting in the two actors.

Knowing how to draw in the ‘head of the customer.’

The role of the bridge is just one of the many aspects in which the graphic designer proves invaluable to a client or a company today.

By way of example, another of the increasingly requested soft skills is knowing how to deal effectively with the client, who is the first judge of the work of a graphic designer.

It implies, for example, that you must be able to tell your idea from the very beginning, helping the internal team made up of other resources or the customer to visualize, creating easily processable mental images, what the final result will be.

This skill is extremely important for all those who want to understand how to become a graphic designer appreciated, not only by other professionals.

Especially in the initial phase of a job, after receiving a brief, a good graphic designer is not only the one who uses the most advanced programs to study mockups that can leave the client speechless.

A good graphic designer is, first of all, an excellent psychologist who has put himself in the shoes of his interlocutor and is able, as a fine strategist, to anticipate objections and interpret their needs.

Furthermore, as long as the final goal of their work is already clear in the mind of the graphic designer himself, the latter needs to explain his work, making the client imagine with keywords how this will be able to bring a benefit to the business.

It will immediately help the project proceed more quickly, earning the graphic designer immediate ‘goodwill’ from the client.

How much can you expect to earn as a graphic designer?

Although we should all work for passion or in any case within a sector where we feel that our personal inclinations can help us make a difference, the economic aspect is certainly not to be neglected, far from it.

Especially concerning professions characterized by a strong creative aspect, it is important to give tangible value to one’s work.

There are still many who think they can have website graphics or a brochure created by their ‘cousin’ who is good with computers.

It is precisely up to visual communication professionals and graphic designers to be aware of their importance and how much this can translate into concrete economic value.

Much of the ‘big’ work has already been done nowadays, and the awareness of the importance of this profession has translated into an increasingly defined economic consideration.

Fortunately, the role of the graphic designer is increasingly receiving adequate remuneration, by virtue of its being indispensable for many organizations and customers.

Some recent researches allow us to identify a very clear range of figures within which a graphic designer with an employment contract or with stable clients, even in freelance mode, moves.

Annual earnings expectations range from 20-22 thousand dollars a year for a junior figure, up to 40 thousand dollars a year for senior figures or those who hold managerial roles in the visual communication sector.

How to become a graphic designer by choosing the right course?

Like many of the most requested professions on the market today, becoming a graphic designer requires a valid course of study, which can train a graphic designer capable of facing the challenges of the complex modern landscape.

There are various communication design courses available on the market, so many that you may feel slightly confused when choosing.

There are some objective criteria to evaluate the goodness of a course that helps you become a graphic designer, some of which certainly include the presence of practical aspects and the deepening of issues related to all-round communication, to develop those intangible skills that are so important.

Go for a school that allows a high level of training, where you can become a professional able to tackle the practice of the project in the different areas of graphics. 

Whatever your aspiration for your career as a graphic designer, you just have to start. Whether you choose a three-year course or a path that integrates an internship with courses to be followed remotely, this profession can reserve you a lot of satisfaction.

Keep everything that develops in pop culture.

Every good graphic designer always continues to study. Always keep up to date on fashions and turning points in the world of graphic design. Regularly search for the best of websites on the net in every niche of the industry, even the most unpredictable, to see which types of graphic designs are most popular.

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