Firefly Pointer Fiberglass Jacket: Tips for freelancing graphic designers

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tips for freelancing graphic designers

  • Ad a watermark or a sample mark on the ad or banner so they can see the design but can't use it. You can remove it once you receive payment. 
  • Don’t undersell yourself to clients.
  • Explain your process in simplest terms.
  • Your client is not always right and it is okay to respectfully disagree.
  • Having great customer service goes a long way.
  • Always have the client deposit a certain percentage of the money up-front. Get it done by using this free website to generate invoices
  • If a client is angry with you, do not respond immediately to them; give yourself a few minutes to cool-off.
  • Strive to get long-term clients and referrals.
  • Always be professional.
  • Save all your emails between you and the client.

  1. Speculative work. Requests for you to do speculative projects seem to be as old as freelancing itself. Simply put, this is being asked to work for free in hopes of landing paying work down the road. Unfortunately, that paying work seldom materializes. So, it’s best to avoid falling into the spec work trap in the first place. Learn how at the NO!SPEC website.
  2. Pro bono work. While there are plenty of noble causes that are in need of your time and money, be careful about the amount of pro bono work that you do. After all, you do have bills to pay, even if you’re a very frugal freelancer. And you can’t pay them with the photographic work you just donated to the ABC Foundation. So, next time you’re asked to be the ABC Foundation’s volunteer photographer, why not make referrals to paying clients part of the deal?
  3. Get money up front! More than a few of us have learned that promises to pay for a completed project are just that – promises. And you can’t pay your bills with promises. So, don’t get burned. Get a 50% deposit up front, then start. The exception to this rule applies when a) you’re working with an established client who you can trust to pay in full when the job is done, and b) the job doesn’t drag on for months.
  4. There’s a good reason for overtime pay. Ever had one of those jobs that ate your evenings and weekends? And, when it ended, did you feel like it devoured you too? That’s what overtime pay is for. If the job is a big rush that needs to be done by Monday – and it’s Friday afternoon – double or triple your usual rate. If nothing else, it will get your clients thinking about better time management.
  5. No, I don’t get paid when you get paid. Pay me now. This one seems to happen to freelancers who take subcontract work from advertising agencies. They do it super-fast, their contact at the agency is delighted, and then they wait for a whole year before the client gets around to paying the agency. Sound like a scenario worth avoiding? Add this verbiage to your subcontracting agreements: “Client’s obligation to pay [name of your business] when payments are due is independent of Client receiving payment from the Client’s Customer.”
  6. Define the jobs you won’t take. Are there businesses and industries so abhorrent that you refuse to work with them? You may decide that doing work for entities involved in gambling, pornography, or tobacco don’t square with your values. If that’s the case, then make it your business policy. If payment never follows through report them on

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