Sunday, December 28, 2008

Define your market

You've decided to become a freelancer. Now you have to define your market and what you will do.

As an artist, there are many areas that you can freelance in. As I mentioned in earlier blogs, the more areas that you can help people in (web, print, animation) the more you can earn. But you have to decide who your market is.

Is it the end user... the company that will print or post your work? Or will it be for "resellers" like ad agencies or graphic design studios?

Let's look at the end users, like the local business around the corner. 

The positives of working for the end user are:
You can bill a fair and reasonable fee.
Treat them fair and they will need your services over and over.

The negative is that they are not professionals in our field, so some of their demands or requests could be unreasonable.
You will have to educate them about a wide range of subjects that have to do with the production of their assignment


You can freelance for graphic design or ad agencies.
The positives are that their sales team will bring in the work for you.
They are professionals so they know what they are asking for.
Their account people will do all the leg work for you.

The negative is you will have to bill them a lower price so that they can make a profit off your work.

I like to work with individuals AND graphic design companies.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thinking about becoming a freelancer?

Some of you designers out there might be wondering if you will have a job next year... or next week. So perhaps you are thinking "WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?"

Well, you have a marketable talent and skill, so you are probably thinking about going freelance.


For the next couple of blogs I'm going to discuss the Business of Freelance.

What to do and how to do it.

The first thing that you have to do is register your name or business. This is not a "I'll make a few bucks on the side" type of thing. 

IF you are going to do it you will need to do it right.

You will get a tax ID number for your business. And you will need to collect sales tax from some of your clients.... we'll go into that later.

You will also have to get some kind of health insurance... we'll get into that later too.

You will have to get an accountant that will alert you to when your sales tax is due and take care of the tax forms.... or you can do that yourself. I don't.  I like running my sales, which income was taxable and which as not, then getting a form to sign. Simple and easy. 

There are several benefits of having your own freelance business:
1- You are not at the mercy of the company for your lively hood.
2- You can earn more money. (The first month I went freelance, I earned a lot more than I did as a salaried designer... and I was making good money, but I saw the potential to earn more)
3- You can take as many vacations as you want, when you want.
4- It's a great lifestyle... I loved being able to see my kids in their school shows during the day.
5- You can write off a portion of your house or apartment and lots of other things related to your business.
6- You can work your own hours... as long as you always meet your deadlines. My work day starts at 10am. I either sleep 'till 9 or I get up early and swim. Either way, after my coffee and newspaper, I'm ready to work at 10am. I will work in the evenings late, but that's my choice and my style.

There are some negatives too... I'll get to that later.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Losing money on a project but making money....

I'm finishing up a web site and if you looked at the number of hours that it has taken me to create it you would say that I lost money on the project.

And you would be right.

I created the web site, the client loved it and then on my own time, before it was launched, I did it again.


Because I wasn't happy with the "back-end" coding of the web site. Sure it looked great. Sure it worked with all the browsers. But I wasn't happy with the coding. So I spent 4 days studying, got myself a tutor for one of those days. Hit the books, did some research online and then in one day, I completely re-created the site.

The site now loads faster, but other than that you wouldn't be able to tell that anything was done.

So again.... why would I invest all that time, money and energy to "fix" something that wasn't broken.

I'll tell you... because in the long run I will make money by being more efficient with this new, higher level of web design that I can now offer. 

Bottom line: Keep honing your skills and give your clients more than they ask for. They will return over and over again and you will earn more. Being a successful freelancer means that you can't rest on your past skills... you have to keep up and ahead of the curve. Invest your time in learning new skills. It will pay off in the satisfaction department and on your bottom line.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Honing your skills

To be a successful freelancer you must always be at the top of your game... honing your skills and getting better in all your graphic design programs.

Last year I learned that Adobe was dropping their web authoring program GoLive in favor of Dreamweaver. Adobe bought Macromedia for their popular Flash and Dreamweaver programs.

Knowing that GoLive was going to be a thing of the past, I went about learning Dreamweaver. The transition was not as seamless as many would expect. But after studying and practicing, I made the transition.

Now, I've already designed many websites with Dreamweaver, but Dreamweaver is a very deep program and I wanted to take my skills to the next level.

The reason I'm bringing this up is that the more I know how to do, the more profit I will make on a project by not "outsourcing" portions of my assignment to others.

Bottom line... keep as much of an assignment "in-house" as you can and don't rest with your skill levels. There's always something new to learn.