More and more people are making an effort to get away from the tedious 9-5 lifestyle and be their own bosses. Designers are in a commanding position in the market, and there is no shortage of job offers in this exciting and dynamic field. However, the competition is fierce and freelancing is far from being a hobby or vacation. There are many surprising lessons to be learned and it preferable not to do it the hard way. Those who mean to climb up the career ladder must display due diligence and a whole lot of determination.
A steep curve
Making baby steps in the freelance design business can be intimidating. Many freelancers struggle to strike a work-life balance and avoid burnout. Not having a boss to loom over you has its advantages, but there is a lot of ground to cover before you master your design skills and produce stellar products. In a sense, you both have to stay on top of trends in the design world and be unique. Generic templates, cheap web tools, and stock photos are not the best way to pull this off. On the other hand, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with CMSs, as well as conversion rates and SEO terms and strategies.
Finding (the right) clients
Shortage of clientele is one of the biggest hurdles on the road to success. Still, there is no need to accept just any job that comes your way. Namely, having too many clients is a double-edged sword because it dilutes your focus. Everything you do is a stepping stone to your goals, since you include it in the portfolio. This elevates the demand for your work and allows you to charge more: It is your chance to stand out in the overcrowded market. Try to specialize as much as you can as that gives you a powerful edge in the freelancing arena. Steer away from bad design requests and shady clients.
Money shortage is closely related to the aforementioned problem. The freelancing landscape is full of peaks and valleys and a steady stream of money is not guaranteed. In fact, many freelancers are forced to find other ways to make money online and diversify the income. Apart from this, what helps is managing your cash flow and cutting the spending. Furthermore, it takes some time to get the pricing right and be satisfied with the ratio of work and payment. Naturally, you can try to shorten the time it takes to complete the project or increase the price. Just refrain from boosting the prices for no apparent reason.
Not all projects are created equal and they have different time and labor requirements. Decide whether the particular offer is worth it at all. Likewise, assess when you want just a one-time paycheck and what are the clients that show promise in terms of long-term collaboration. Websites that are made for under $1000 are often of poor quality and do not hold great opportunities. As a general rule, 10 clients that pay $50,000 per project are better than 50 clients who pay $10,000. And albeit U.S. dollar is a standard in the global market, do not forget that you may have to work with different currencies.
At last, remember that time is your prime currency. It is highly advisable to come up with a daily or weekly schedule, and sticking to it, which is often a harder part. Streamline the communication with the client if needed and utilize project management solutions that keep everyone on the same page. Moreover, bear in mind that working with people across different time zones does create problems. Fortunately, a bit of common sense, compromising, and planning can make up for this. Finally, make your time worth it in more than one way and secure acknowledgments and testimonial.
Brave the design wilderness
In freelancing, things are not as simple as maximizing the profit and minimizing the amount of work. Always think of your future and build the career block-by-block. Make a name for yourself and you will be able to make a fortune in due time. Chose carefully who you work for, and do not sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity. Above all, make your product better, and be prepared to embark on the journey of constant learning. Once you get a financial footing and solid portfolio, it will be much easier to navigate the freelancing jungle.