Adventures in Freelancing

Congratulations! You just graduated with a degree in graphic design, web design or web development and now you are ready to take on the world and help make the online or offline worlds more visually stunning and cutting edge. Maybe you have already interviewed with companies looking for someone with your skills and knowledge, but as a creative person, you just aren’t into cubicle-surfing the hours of your work day. You want adventure, you want to make your own hours and pick and choose your clients. You enjoy the thought of juggling various projects, deadlines and other commitments from the comfort of your own home. You want to be a freelancer.

Freelancing your services as a web or graphic designer or developer can be a difficult road to take. For those who need the security of a steady income, freelancing may not be the ideal option. Clients may be project-based, short-term or long-term, but there are no laws protecting you if a client decides to discontinue your services. Freelancers are generally responsible for their own taxes, insurance and retirement accounts as well as finding clients and convincing them to pay for your services. The life of a freelancer is fun, fast-paced, adventurous and frustrating (and so much more!) and can lead into business ownership or consulting.

Finding clients can be the hardest part of freelancing. You can advertise your own services on freelance websites like eLance or oDesk or within the classifieds of your local newspaper or online at Craigslist. Responding to ads or gigs on these sites is where the adventure really begins. Many times, especially within classifieds, you will run across ads from a person who wants help with a website or design projects, and are willing to compensate you generously with things like referrals to friends, promises to share in profits or even allowing you to insert your own ad codes into the work you produce. Another hurdle are the jobs and gigs listed that are asking for (no-pay) interns, or actually say that their idea is a fantastic way to build your portfolio (at no cost to the ad poster, of course). Specialty freelance websites are not much better, but they do have to guarantee payment of some sort. Unfortunately, that payment may be less than you pay for a movie ticket or even a cup of coffee.

When you do decide to start freelancing, keep in mind that aside from the technical or creative skills needed as a graphic designer, web designer or web developer, a freelancer must also be a salesperson. This means that you have to attach a value to your work and to yourself, and be ready to explain why you are the best candidate for the job/project. Always remember to price your services competitively, but don’t undervalue your work. You will be judged not only on your portfolio and salestalk, but also on the amount of money you charge for services. So, if you charge too little, you may come across as inexperienced, and if you charge too much, you will find it hard to secure clients.

Freelancing as a graphic designer, web designer or web developer is an adventure of epic proportions. You do get to be your own boss, set your own hours and work from the comfort of your own home, or anywhere else that offers WiFi. You also get to face the challenges of finding and securing clients and managing other financial and legal issues that arise when you choose to work for yourself.

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