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5 Tips for the Entrepreneurial Freelance Designer

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A point comes during the career of most creative-type employees where they have to decide if they want to keep giving their time to their company or strike out on their own. Depending on where you work, the ‘stay’ option may often be a good call, but it’s also highly fulfilling to be your own boss.

If you’re considering making the jump to self-employment and business ownership, there are several realizations to embrace that will help you find success:

1. You Don’t Have to Do It All on Your Own

Designers are a special breed. They take a vague concept and give it tangibility, turning ideas into attractive layouts and images. That task requires vision and an ability to make ‘something out of nothing.’

It’s thus logical that the same types of personalities would want to control every aspect of their new freelance business. Unfortunately, the work required to run a business can take away from time to do what you do best — art and design.

Don’t be afraid to hire an accountant or lawyer to set up your LLC or S-Corporation. A bookkeeper can be your best friend when tax time rolls around. If you’re in high demand, you should even consider hiring fresh designers to help you with projects. You can always put the finishing touches on a project before it goes to a client.

2. Keep Yourself Focused

When big projects stack up, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Do you ever feel like you’ve spent an entire day checking emails and handling phone calls, without ever getting to the major tasks at hand?

Discipline yourself. Personally, I decide at the end of the day what my top priority is the next day. When I sit down at my desk, I knock out at least an hour of work on that project before even checking my email. Start your morning with real productivity and you’ll set the tone for your entire day.

3. Prepare For Deadlines

There’s nothing more stressful than falling behind on deadlines (or getting hounded by clients who are upset that you’re late). Keep on top of your schedule with a detailed calendar (Apple’s iCal and Google Calendar both sync between phones, devices, and computers).

Work ahead when you have free time, and you’ll reduce the number of sleepless nights you’ll spend working frantically at the last minute.

4. Seek Out Feedback

Especially for new business owners, constructive criticism is paramount. Don’t be afraid to contact peers in your industry and seek out their advice. From pricing to business structure, it will benefit you to compare yourself to other designers in your region and field, and most of the time, you’ll make friendly connections who are happy to offer feedback.

freelance-balance

5. Keep Your Life in Balance

Being an entrepreneur is demanding. In today’s world, it’s difficult to find time to shut off the phone or the computer and disconnect. Making time to get away from work is crucial, however, no matter how busy and overwhelmed you feel. Remember why you’re working hard to do this in the first place!

When your mind is cluttered and distracted, it’s difficult to devote your full talent to your art. Keep your own well-being in check, and everything else will fall into place around you.

What other ideas do you have for a budding entrepreneurial designer? Please leave us a reaction in the comment section.

 

Author: Christopher Wallace

Christopher Wallace is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, a leading provider of custom pens and other promotional products such as imprinted apparel, mugs and customized calendars. He regularly contributes to Promo & Marketing Wall blog.

4 comments

on this article: “5 Tips for the Entrepreneurial Freelance Designer”
  1. Thanks for those valuable tips. As a budding freelance web designer I am looking for all of the help and advice I can get my hands on. :-)

    • Hi Dion,

      sorry for my late respons, it’s a freakin madhouse here with deadlines. But .. glad you liked these tips, and yes, it would be very nice if I heard earlier of some of these tips ;-P Hope you’ll find some useful articles here on the gonzoblog?

      Have a great day, cheers & ciao!

  2. I would say really:

    Always manage your clients expectations and don’t over commit yourself. Ensure that before you agree to any work your client knows exactly what they are getting and how it will work otherwise you could end up with a client that sneaks features in all the time and you could be doing a lot more work than you budgeted for.

    Good contracts, design sign offs and procedures are so important. And always get a good percentage (40%+) upfront!

    • Hi Kevin,

      totally right! And of course there are more (much more) tips for (beginning) freelancers than these 5 points. You can’t fit them all in just one blogpost ;-P

      The contract/agreement topic I already covered in another post here on the gonzoblog: Why you should use a contract, .. always!

      Thanks for your time to comment, have a great day! Cheers & Ciao ..!