A freelance designer's guide to surviving as a solo, creative entrepreneur in the South African climate. I won't lie... It has been somewhat of a tough year, with some hard learning curves. That is the reason for this post though. Giving you as much information as possible to help alleviate the learning process and hopefully assure you have less stress to deal with and more potential clients to work with.
The image shows the basic principles of Art. The building blocks to Design. There are 8 basic principles you'll need to familiarise yourself with. Although Design principles may seem a bit more complex, Thorough knowledge of these will assure you effectively deliver quality work. You can view them all here: The principles of effective Design. I can't stress these basics enough. The 8 principles include balance, alignment, emphasis, proportion, movement, pattern, contrast, and unity. For this post, however, I'll be focusing on my own freelance journey and some insight into my recipe for success.
The most important part of your freelance journey is sufficient planning. This will assure that you reach your goals and stand on your own two in no time.
By focusing on your own marketing, you'll learn how to offer the service to your clients.
The most vital part of your journey is establishing your identity. What do you offer that sets you aside from other creatives? Work with that. I personally offer a diverse skill set. That means I save clients money on outside sources. Understanding the demand is first and foremost your main objective.
Then, "brand" accordingly. Create your footprint and push your service! Creating an effective look and feel for your "persona" helps tremendously. It sets the bar for your level of professionalism and in turn, gets you more professional clients.
Consider yourself an entity that is completely removed from "you". Your design process will flow much easier. Below are the fundamentals you'll need to effectively get yourself and your freelance career started. Remember, the foundation is EVERYTHING! Take the time to effectively do your own Corporate Identity. Try creating a basic brand bible and set guidelines for yourself. This will come in extremely handy in the future.
Below is a checklist of what you'll need to create pre-launch:
Once you have established the basics and laid down your foundation. You'll need to figure out how you get to your clients. This phase does take some testing and time, so be patient. Consider your end-goal. Getting a constant flow of clients without needing to constantly push your brand.
The industry is somewhat saturated due to the tools available to everyone. Keep in mind that you are a professional and not just quickly dipping your feet in the water to feel the temperature. If you take the time to establish and fine-tune your brand. Your marketing will be peanuts.
I'm going to give you my marketing process so you have an idea of how to do your own. This should also be taken in steps and yet again, as with your brand establishment. Be considered as laying your foundation.
This is the process to follow to effectively lay a good digital footprint:
Let's not beat around the bush here. Both designers and Companies have flaws. I have spent my freelance career ironing these out and found a few solutions that make life easier for everyone. Now that you have your clients, how do you go about actually doing the work?
I have a few tools I use to make life that much easier. Please also understand, your site serves as a place for terms and conditions aside from just displaying your work.
Through my experience, I have found charging an hourly rate for any and all projects makes everyone's life easier. Not all clients like this concept. However, many projects tend to go above scope and end up taking much more time than what was initially quoted.
Below are a few pointers that will help you iron everything out: