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Tips for designers to go from amateur to pro freelancers

Tips for designers to go from amateur to pro freelancers

Many designers find their happiness in freelancing. It is a dream job that almost anyone desires. But, just like any job, it requires hard work and talent. And, if you want to stand out from the competition, you might want to step up your game even more.

Freelancing is an industry that offers a vast amount of opportunities. But, there isn’t a set of instructions for you to follow to become a freelancer. It is a complicated path. However, there are some do’s and dont’s you need to know before starting your online career.

From time management to grueling demands, being a successful designer is certainly not an easy job.

This article concentrates on the essential characteristics of a professional designer. With these pointers, you can prevent amateur errors – ones that divert you from the road to success.

1. Discover an area you’re good at

What makes one a professional designer is the area he chooses to specialize in. Master one technique or style instead of many. It is always better to master one skill. It saves time and energy. That is the only way you’ll create exceptional works.

Not only that but, if you know what you want and what you’re good at, you’ll have a clearer view of what your goals are. Thus, you will attract the right clients.

Maybe you like maps and you like designing them as well. You can focus on designing cool maps for your clients. Do just that. Or only illustrations, or only posters. Specializing is better than trying to do everything.

2. Practice makes perfect

One key component of an excellent job is practice. The more you practice doing something, the better you get. Mastering Photoshop and other software is something you have to do to deliver outstanding results.

If you don’t have a good background in these things, you can always sign up for a course or watch Youtube tutorials. That way you’ll learn the skill step by step and at your own pace. Believe us, you’ll be thankful in the future.

3. Find your inspiration

The internet is wonderful to draw inspiration from. You can access the works of designers from all over the world. You can see their experience and the hardships they have been through. Perhaps you like some website’s design – try and copy their techniques.

You will know if you want them in your system or not. Either way, you’ll eventually come up with your creative idea. And, maybe that idea will improve the website or make it better. But draw a line when copying. Do not copy elements from sites as you may face a plagiarism problem.

You can also look at the best startup websites out there to learn how to structure a page, what fonts and colors to use. Big startups especially have teams of designers who A/B test everything and only the best possible outcome reaches production level.

4. Build a relationship with your clients

Clients create demands, and demands create jobs. The customers are, if not the most, essential part of a job. That is why it is necessary for you to to set strong relationships with your clients. Explore different techniques to attract and maintain loyal clients. Build a connection with them and watch as your pocket grows.

5. Time and Project Management

Another significant and essential part of a great freelancer is managing your time and projects. When you know how to work with the given time, you’ll have no issue managing multiple assigned projects. But, ensure you also relax as working always can lead to burnout.

And don’t let clients nag you non-stop with requests. Use a scheduling app to set up appointments with them and limit your interaction with your client to those meetings. Pro tip: don’t use open source scheduling software. They might save you some money, but you might also look unprofessional. If you’re familiar with WordPress, use a WordPress booking plugin that will save you a lot of trouble. Don’t use Calendly or other apps that host the booking form on their website. You’ll want the client to see the form on your website so that it looks as pro as possible.

6. Work Smarter

Define your projects immediately after you receive them. Calculate how and when you’ll operate. Manage tasks quickly. But make sure you manage them delicately. Set firm limits on how much you can do. Once you have done that, you will achieve more outstanding results. And not only that, but clients will be satisfied as well.

7. Don’t overdo it

One common mistake new freelancers make is taking as many jobs as they can get. This is a big no. You see, working on multiple projects simultaneously can cause you to fail to deliver your best.

Pick the job you can do, depending on your time and availability. That way, you will dedicate solely one thing and create extraordinary results.

8. Become A Brand

What separates successful designers from the rest is their approach to branding. Many young freelancers join this work to make a living. In contrast to them, professionals think about their future and the brand they are trying to sell. Pay attention to what you are selling and the story you create.

Trust, credibility, commitment are things your brand should have. Use marketing strategies to send a strong message to your audience. Get intimate with what and to whom you are selling your product.

9. Understand your finances

Knowing how to manage your money and finances is the key to any success. Freelancing and branding are all about working profit. Some days you will be flooded with cash. And, some days, you won’t. If you set and follow strict goals, you will avoid having this issue.

Many freelancers don’t think ahead and spend all the money they earn when it comes to financing. They hope for future profits to come and get them out of the dark. This is among the worst mistakes you can make. It doesn’t matter how much you earn, save what you deserve.

10. Patience is the secret

Many young and inexperienced freelancers quit when something isn’t working immediately. What you need to know is that great things require patience. This is especially important if you are trying to do something new.

As time passes by, you will be able to do the skill or job in half the time given and of much more excellent quality. What you now need to do is start slowly and learn things little by little. And you won’t even notice that time has flown.

If something is not working out instantly, you can always try a couple more times before calling it quits for sure.

11. Be The Change

Another crucial skill to have is adaptation and flexibility. It won’t matter if you have the best qualifications out there if you can’t adapt to changes and challenges.

Your abilities and knowledge to adapt will help you survive among the plethora of competition. Be open to the ever-changing market and consumer needs. Be what everyone needs.

12. Blend with designers

Communication is vital when starting. Reach out and talk to other designers. Learn from their experience. Ask for advice, and be open to criticism. With the help of the internet and social media, communicate with designers from all over the world.

Visit forums and other sites where fellow designers have discussions. Use any chance to talk and exchange knowledge and experience. This will help you in the long run.

13. Build your network and utilize it

When you become a freelance designer, it is also necessary to learn to bond and work with all kinds of people. Create a network of people you know and stay in contact with. A big part of branding is connecting to people. Give them and yourself a value. It is useful to do this if you want to move ahead in your journey to success.

14. Partner up

Freelancing does not equal individual work.

Hire or ask someone to help with your business. You can ask your friends or family or even hire exceptional people to sort your business.

When you’re doing more complicated projects and want to make sure you do them on time and of enormous quality, collaborate with another freelancer. Give each other tasks and obligations one has to follow.

15. Respect copyrights

When your business is on the rise, you need to pay attention to copyright. This isn’t limited to when you’re seeing the trademark symbol. You may use some images or videos in your project that have been found online. To avoid a lawsuit, buy the photos, and contact the video creators. Ask for permission before you use anything found online.

You can also credit the creators to avoid copyright strikes. Sometimes you can’t find the creator to get in contact with. In that case, the best thing to do is to avoid using that work completely.

16. Keep your portfolio updated

To bring out the best of your business, create a cool portfolio website where you will showcase the commodities you offer. Regularly update your portfolio. That way, new clients will be able to find and see your up to date works. An online portfolio is the best one you can have since it is straightforward to change and update.

To be a freelancer is better than working a 9 to 5 job. This is exceptionally liberating if you are working with design. You can choose which project to work on.

You can determine your work hours, and so on. But just like any regular job, your main goal should be to convey the best possible results. It is not about how fast you do it. It is about being innovative and flexible to mistakes and changes. Be wise and work hard

Written by Bogdan Sandu

Bogdan is a designer and editor at DesignYourWay. He's reading design books the same way a hamster eats carrots, and talks all the time about trends, best practices and design principles.

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