Tagged: freelance

Free eBook: The Freelance Handbook


This is not an in-depth, step-by-step guide to becoming a freelance designer. Instead it gives you the broad strokes, with plenty of things to think about and act on.

I’m about half way through reading the 115 page PDF and I must say, there’s some really great advice in this eBook—even though the illustrations are stuck in the 80s 😉

Advice: Building the best graphic design toolbox

There is no perfect set of tools for graphic designers. We’re all unique, we all work in different ways, and budgets always come in to play. I’ve put together a breakdown of major factors when building the best graphic design hardware and software toolbox based on my experience. Consider the following as a guide, rather than a set of absolute rules.
Design Toolbox

Keep it simple

I’ve been a graphic designer for 30 years, using the Macintosh the entire time to produce work for some great clients. I’ve worked for ad agencies large and small, a design firm, printing companies, and I’ve freelanced full and part time. Over the years I’ve learned a few short rules as it pertains to building my design toolbox and getting things done—and it has held true everywhere I’ve worked. Those rules are: keep it simple no matter the cost, don’t get caught up in software trends and gimmicks, buy a little more than you think you need, because you will grow into it. The following is more specific advice for building your design toolbox. (more…)

Reading between the lines with new clients

Bad client aheadOne of the most exciting and difficult periods of the designer/client relationship is the very beginning. There can be quite a bit of anxiety at the start, because neither of you know what to expect.

The best bit of advice I can give you is to trust your gut, because where there is smoke, there is most often fire.

Jeremy Tuber sheds some light on what I mean with an excellent article detailing an experience he had with a new client. While his experience may be extreme (or not), it illustrates the idea that you have to read between the lines when meeting with a new client for the first time.

8 Great Web resources for freelancers

Freelance resourcesIf you’re new to freelancing, or even a seasoned veteran, you can never have too many resources, answers, and free advice available.

I’ve found the following Web sites to be a fantastic resource for advice, resources, and in one case, a little light-hearted laugh on a tough day with clients. FreelanceSwitch – FreelanceSwitch is a community of expert freelancers from around the world contributing to a blog which covers a vast array of topics about life as a freelancer. AIGA – Founded in 1914, AIGA remains the oldest and largest professional membership organization for design. Guerrilla Freelancing – Provides straight, to the point advice and tips for the guerrilla freelancer. Freelance Folder – A community for all types of freelancers, entrepreneurs, work-at-home business owners, and web-workers. Smashing Magazine – Along with all the great resources and inspiration, Smashing Magazine offers a fantastic job board. Fuel Your Creativity – The place to turn to when you’re having one of your “I’m-going-to-implode-if-I-don’t-get-an-idea-soon” moments. Fuel Your Writing – An offspring of the original Fuel Your Creativity. Being A Starving Artist Sucks – Some great advice for freelancers, wrapped inside a big dose of humor. If you have another great site for freelancers, feel free to share in the comments.

12 times when you should say no to a client and run for the door!

Yesterday’s video post titled When is it time to dump a client brought some thoughts from (TGM reader) RhymingDesigner on when to just say no to a client. Saying no to a potential client is difficult to do, especially when you’re first starting out, or the economy has brought the stream of new business to a halt. But saying no can actually improve your situation in some cases, by freeing up time, creativity and not putting yourself in a difficult situation later. Here is his list of 12 times you should say no to a client:

  1. They expect you to drop what you’re doing and meet with them today
  2. They ask for a discount right away
  3. They balk at paying a deposit to get the work started
  4. They balk at signing a contract
  5. They want to change several terms of your tried-and-true contract
  6. They can’t give you a clear idea of what they want (“Just start!”)
  7. They want to pay next to nothing, with the promise of some big jobs in the future (the oldest trick in the book?)
  8. There is no point person (so they will be reviewing the work by committee)
  9. They have no offices or at least appearance of stability
  10. They have a track record of going through designers like crazy (and the old designers were always at fault)
  11. There doesn’t seem to be much respect for your expertise
  12. Your gut reaction is that something’s just not right (trust your instinct and bolt for the door)

In my experience, #6 is the most deadly. You accept a job and everything appears on the up-and-up. The client is looking for something completely fresh, so has no restrictions or thoughts on what the piece of work should look like. You end up spending countless hours coming up with multiple concepts only to find out that they had something very specific in mind, and quite frankly, it sucks!

How much to charge for design work

The never-ending, no right-or-wrong answer, how do I figure this out question that every new freelancer has. Design: Talkboard has an article that covers some of the things you should consider when trying to come up with your hourly rate. In addition, you may wish to take a look at some links I wrote about in the past that may help you figure out your hourly design rates. You can read them here, and here.

Pricing essentials for designers

Following up on my previous post about how much to charge, I have another link on the subject. When figuring out how to charge a client for creative services, designers have several different pricing models to choose from. How do you select the most appropriate one? This article by Shel Perkins expains each category of pricing, including:

  • Time and Materials
  • Fixed-fee
  • Licensing: use-based
  • Licensing: royalty
  • Hybrid
  • Free

Designers: How much to charge & how to get paid

One of the most often asked questions by new designers, part-time freelancers and those wishing to make a go at freelancing full time is what to charge. It’s a tough spot. Charge too much and you don’t get the work, charge too little and you end up with a bad taste in your mouth from eating frozen burritos 3 times a day. What I find the most is that most designers don’t charge enough. I’ve heard of people doing entire Web sites for $1,000, brochures for $300 or charging a whopping $25 an hour. This is insane! Here are some helpful hints on figuring out what you should charge: How Do You Rate?, by Neil Tortorella This article is pretty in-depth and covers all the bases with regards to taxes, lifestyle, etc. The Art of Business: Finally, a Design Contract for the Little Guy, an interview with Shel Perkins and Jim Faris, members of the AIGA, which discusses the benefits of getting a contract with a client. Ms. Perkins is largely responsible for drafting the official AIGA Standard Form of Agreement for Graphic Design Services. Freelancers: Get Your Money, by Rachel Goldstein A great little article covering the most important part of pricing a project, which is getting paid!