Getting Started as a Freelance Designer

If you follow the trade press, you’ll have noticed a depressing trend recently. The amount of space being devoted to announcement of layoffs, studio closures, and redundancies is growing every month. The concept of job security or new positions opening up is now a distant memory, and as a result, a design degree graduates and seasoned designers are opting to run their own design businesses.

Going freelance is a big step and challenge, but it makes sense to give it a try. The following tips will give you the edge you need to succeed as a freelancer:

Keep Your Costs Down

If you’re an experienced designer, then you probably already have all the equipment you need to do your job.  That means that your set-up costs will be minimal, but it doesn’t mean that working from home will be free.  You’ll need to consider increased electricity costs, increased heating bills, and the extra strain on your telephone bill and internet connection.

If you expect to be doing a lot of work online, or you’ll be building an international client base, then you might want to invest in a leased line, and make use of IP telephony (known as VoIP in the consumer world) to keep your costs down.  You don’t need to shell out for an expensive IP telephony package – even software based VoIP services such as Skype will do in the early stages.

Without Marketing there Are No Customers

If you’re an experienced designer, you’ll have an advantage over beginning graphic design degree graduates who think that a couple of pictures and some mixed media stuff from their A-level course makes them an expert in design.  Use your experience to your advantage.  Upload your portfolio to every site you can find that is related to your niche. Email all your old contacts and tell them that you’re freelancing now. Get some business cards printed up in your name, and get yourself out to as many networking events as you can.  The market is competitive, so don’t expect people to be falling over themselves to hire you.  You’ll probably encounter several nibbles and vague promises of work before a real job comes up.

Price Yourself Sensibly

Now that you’re in it to win it as a sole proprietor, you have to pay taxes and expenses out of your income.  You should price yourself accordingly. Don’t under-bid in the hopes of getting work – that’s likely to backfire and leave people wondering why you’re so cheap. You know you have the skills, so price yourself accordingly.  If people complain about your prices, point them to your portfolio and remind them that you have an office to run, a leased line to pay for, and a lot of equipment that doesn’t come cheap.  Just because you’re working from home, it doesn’t mean that you can do things for free. You can always offer discounts or “mates rates” to old contacts if you feel the need to reduce your prices later. Raising prices is difficult when you have already set a precedent for low rates.

About the Author: This article was written by Amy Fowler on behalf of Maintel, experts in IP telephony and leased lines.

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