Tired of your 8-5 job? You are not alone.
According to a study made by Staff Squared, more than 85% of people hate their 8-5 jobs worldwide.
With the statistics so high, most people have now turned to other income-generating activities. This has led to an immense shift from formal employment to freelancing.
As an aspiring graphic designer that wants to establish a career in this field, you are in the right place. In this guide, we will cover all the complex and technical information that you need to know about graphic designing as a career.
Why Graphic Design?
Freelance graphic designing allows you to work on projects that you enjoy and allows you to tap into your creative self. No more boring, repetitive tasks that turn you into a ‘robot’ worker.
It gets even better.
Freelance graphic design jobs pay well compared to other jobs in the market today. In addition, as a freelancer, you get the opportunity to set your rates and even choose the type of clients you want to work with. Amazing right?
Well, freedom and good pay notwithstanding, graphic designers are always in demand.
You don’t need a graphic design degree to get started in this field. While having a bachelor’s degree may boost your skillset, it is not a requirement in most graphic design positions.
Before we delve into how you can skyrocket your freelance graphic design career on Legiit, here are some quick facts about graphic design careers:
- A study conducted by Prospects shows that over 54% of graphic design graduates get into employment less than six months after graduation.
- According to the BLS, the median national annual wage for many graphic designers in 2014 was $45,900, while the top 10 percent of graphic designers earned over $77,490.
- According to Payscale, self-employed designers earn up to $20,000 more per year than those working in other settings. (learnhowtobecome.org)
How to start, maintain, and scale a freelance graphic design career on Legiit
Being a freelance graphic designer means that you’re responsible for your success or lack of in the digital marketplace. Everything is pretty much in your hands; you set your rates, make your bids, and look for and communicate with your clients. How well you’re able to execute these tasks will determine how successful your freelance career will be.
Luckily, Legiit is the most seller-friendly online marketplace out there. In addition, it is more niche-specific than Fiverr and other alternatives, making it easier for freelance graphic designers to find clients and establish a reputation.
But even then, success never comes overnight. You’ll have to be patient, disciplined, and very willing to grind your way to the top.
Here is a general overview of everything you have to do to build a successful freelance career on Legiit.
Create a professional profile
Credit: Superstar SEO
Creating a Legiit profile is the first thing you do after joining the platform. You’ll be required to fill in some personal, professional, and contact information and provide a photo alongside a brief description of yourself and what you do.
It may seem like standard procedure, but it’s one of those places that requires more than just filling in the required boxes. Remember, your profile is the face of your brand and often the first glimpses potential clients have of you. Therefore, it has to sell or at least plant the idea that you’re the graphic designer the client wants.
In your description, introduce yourself, your talents and briefly put forth your case. Mention your favorite areas in graphic design and describe why you think buyers should choose you. Try to sound as convincing as possible while using a friendly but confident tone.
With that done, it’s time to pick a profile picture, preferably one that captures the attention of potential buyers. A professional headshot is a great way to do this, but you can always use a smartphone photo in the absence of that. Don’t forget to smile and wear a confident, friendly face for your photo; it does your profile a lot of good.
Create your Graphic Design Service
After registering your account, the next step is to create a graphic design service. The process will first require you to provide a service title and service category/sub-category, which is extremely important to get right. Make sure that your service title is something catchy, like “Create beautiful digital designs.” The subtitle can describe that a little bit more, and you must ensure that your service is registered under the right category, in this case, Graphics Design. You can also add secondary categories if you have a core focus area.
You’ll also be required to provide pricing for basic, standard, and premium packages. Although you’re often advised to start small, the sky’s the limit if you trust your skills. Other important areas include a brief service description, where you can add customer testimonials and a youtube link if you’ve created a video for the service.
You also have the option of creating service extras to add to your service’s appeal.
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Build your portfolio
Your portfolio allows you to showcase your skill as a designer. Think of it as a gallery is to an artist; potential clients look around and use what’s on display to judge whether your skills are good enough for their needs.
The most successful freelance graphic designers let their portfolios do much of the selling. If you don’t know where to begin, here are a few tips for putting together a great graphic design portfolio
- Curate your best works, ideally, your most impressive 10-20 designs. If you’ve mastered different types of graphic design, it’s equally critical to include all kinds of projects in your portfolio. That way, you showcase both your skill and versatility to potential clients.
- In this day and age, you’ll primarily be using an online portfolio. Therefore, make sure that you pick the right platform to showcase your work. Luckily, Legiit allows you to do this on the platform, but you can also invest in a simple WordPress, Wix, or Weebly website. Nothing inspires confidence and communicates professionalism to potential clients like a custom URL.
- Don’t over-embellish your portfolio, but rather, let the work speak for itself. Make it easy for potential clients to look through your work by creating an online portfolio that is clean, easily navigable, and displays your work at the forefront.
- Show some of your non-client work. I mean, your creativity is most free when you’re designing for fun. This makes your side projects the best way to flex your creative muscles and showcase experimental ideas. It also adds an individual personality to your work.
- Include a professional case study to communicate your unique process of solving design problems. You can also include recommendations from some of your previous clients.
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Build positive relationships with clients
If your portfolio is impressive enough, clients will come calling. However, that doesn’t mean you’ve made it, at least not yet. Your success henceforth will largely depend on your ability to build positive, long-lasting relationships with clients. After all, who doesn’t want a one-thousand-dollar client that keeps coming back for more?
The first step to building a strong relationship with your clients is by delivering quality work. Your clients only sought you out because they’re convinced you can produce some real quality. So, make sure you impress in every single one of your projects. It’s like a drug; great results give clients a good feeling, and they’ll keep coming back for more.
But even then, make sure you deliver on time. Quality work is great, but it won’t inspire as big a smile if it’s delivered 48 hours past the agreed time. When negotiating with a client, make sure you ask for enough time to complete the project to the best of your talents. A good strategy is to ask for a day or two more than it would normally take you to complete a graphics design project. For instance, if it takes you three days to design a business card, ask for four or five days to complete the project. This gives you more than enough time to complete and deliver quality work.
But what if even then, you can’t finish on time? This is where communication comes in. Good communication with your clients is essential to building positive relationships with your client. Something urgent and unavoidable came up? Talk to your clients. Do you have questions regarding the projects? Don’t hesitate to ask. Do you think a different design would do a better job? Please explain to them and why you think it’s better. That way, your client is always in the loop. Just don’t overdo it, or you risk sounding nagging.
Still, on the topic of communication, you should also be on hand to respond to client requests and suggestions. But, again, it’s a two-way thing, so don’t just check into Legiit messenger when you have something to say; regularly check to see if your clients also have anything to say. Maybe they have new suggestions for the project or want to know how far along you are. Whatever their reason for reaching out is, you have to be on hand to reply.
Market your services
Being a great graphics designer doesn’t mean much if your marketing is poor, especially when starting.
Keep learning and improving your skills.
Success in freelancing is all about growth; you settle, you lose.
If you’re to reach the summit of graphic design and stay there, never stop learning. Use every order as an opportunity to learn, take online courses, or join a design school around you and keep up with the trends in this ever-changing industry.
What skills will you need for your graphic design career?
To succeed as a graphic designer, you have to be good in more than one area. The following are some of the skills you will need to master for you to execute perfect designs:
Using Graphic design software
As a graphic designer, it is no question that you need to master the use of specialized graphic design software like Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, and Canva, among others. These tools allow you to create appealing visual concepts for different projects, be it web design or visual elements like posters and banners.
A picture is worth a thousand words. While that might sound cliché, your ability to capture, edit and use original photos will set you apart from the herd when working on graphic design projects.
If you are aspiring to be a freelancer, capturing and editing your own images means that you’ll no longer have to rely on stock imagery for your work. And if you are going to work in a studio, having original images adds more value to your client since they don’t have to hire a dedicated photographer to get the shots needed.
As companies focus more on digital, user experience design (UX) is becoming an increasingly-demand skill for graphic designers.
What is UX design, you ask?
Well, UX design is the process of creating products that provide the best experience to users. UX designers come up with products that not only look and feel great but are also easy and fun to use for customers.
A skill in UX design will help you create user-focused and pixel-perfect designs at the same time. You will also improve the overall user experience of every product you and your design team will work on.
Though often overlooked, typography is a skill that every graphic designer should possess.
What is typography?
Typography is the art or procedure of arranging letters in a way that is visually appealing, legible, and clear to the viewer. You are expected to learn skills such as picking fonts, kerning, alignment, and lead typography in typography.
So, whether you will be designing for the web or print, typography will help you capture your audience’s attention, build brand recognition, and make text easy to read.
Creating ‘bad’ typography can also be jarring, illegible and turn people away from a good design. Therefore if you are serious about a career in graphic design, make sure you invest some time in learning typography.
While learning coding might seem like a stretch, knowing coding languages like HTML or CSS will boost your chances at competitive design positions.
Of course, as a designer, you will not be expected to build websites from scratch. However, you’ll be able to communicate easily with developers and understand their lingo. You will also have a good understanding of what a developer can or can’t do when working on a project with them.
You don’t necessarily have to be an expert in these languages. Basic knowledge of how to work with the languages is enough. And trust us, a basic understanding of how these languages work can help you stand out easily and have an easier time working with programmers and web developers.
If you want to design for social media, it is useful to understand how different channels work. This involves learning how to size images correctly and how to use the right formats for different social channels.
In addition to this, it is useful to also keep up with the current trends on social media. This helps you understand how to craft better and trendy designs when designing platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
If you look up the definition of graphic design, you’ll see that it is “a craft that uses visual content to communicate an idea, concept, illustration, iconography or photography.” So the keyword here is “communicate.”
The ability to communicate will help you put your ideas down on paper and even reflect them clearly in your designs. What’s more, being a successful graphic designer means that you will also need to learn how to communicate with your clients and colleagues.
This skill becomes even more essential if you are thinking of working remotely. You require excellent communication skills to explain your thoughts clearly through email, phone calls, zoom, or Skype.
It may seem obvious, but having a creative mind is crucial for graphic designers.
As a designer, you will be conveying your ideas mostly through text and images. However, you will also be required to constantly develop fresh ideas for tasks and projects that get your clients closer to their goals. While it’s okay to adopt a unique style, being diverse and creative will be necessary as you take on different design roles.
And it’s not only about coming up with the idea. Creativity also involves brainstorming, balancing artistry with utility, and using different techniques to communicate and showcase your ideas.
Most graphic designers juggle several tasks and projects at once. Therefore, to succeed, you will have to develop good time management skills. Whether you will be working for a company, agency, or independently, your time management skills are key in building a successful career. How can you develop strong time management skills? Here are a few tips:
- Learn how to prioritize what’s important
- Develop a schedule and organize tasks based on their urgency
- Set defined goals throughout your work
- Use technology for accountability
Networking is vital to your success as a graphic designer. A strong network will give you insight and insider information on the trends, job openings, and different movements within a company or industry. After all, it’s so much easier to look for a job if you have so many ears and eyes looking out for information about the latest opportunities that fit your skillset.
One of the best ways to build a strong and expansive network is by being active on social platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook. Form good relationships with potential clients and keep in contact with previous project partners. Having more friends and connecting will often get you closer to your career goals as a graphic designer than you can do on your own.
Build a successful graphic design career today
Graphic design is a career that doesn’t require you to stick to an 8-5 job if you don’t want to.
As long as you have the skill and the will, freelancing on Legiit can be the well-paying full-time job you deserve. All you need is a good profile, an excellent portfolio, and effective marketing of your services. Couple that with some self-discipline, a little luck, and the desire to learn, you may well be on your way to being the hottest graphic design freelancer around.
But it all starts when you join Legiit today.