15 Ways to Become a Better Freelance Designer

As a designer, you have the power to change the world. You can make people smile, think about things in new ways and even learn something. The best way to accomplish this is by gaining experience and becoming as good at your craft as possible. In this article, I’ll be sharing 15 ways that you can become a better freelance designer.

12 Ways To Be a Better Graphic Designer – YouTube
1. Embrace continuous learning and skill improvement.
2. Develop a strong personal brand and online presence.
3. Seek feedback and constructive criticism from peers.
4. Stay organized with effective project management.
5. Master time management to enhance productivity.
6. Cultivate a proactive and professional communication.
7. Balance creativity with meeting client expectations.
8. Adapt to new design trends and technologies.
9. Collaborate and network with fellow designers.
10. Practice effective client relationship management.

1. Learn How To Say No

The most important thing to learn as a freelancer is how to say no. It’s a fact that your time is limited, and you have to be able to effectively manage it for your business to flourish.

When I first started, I used to work on everything because I didn’t want anyone mad at me or think that I was unprofessional if I turned down their project request. But this was also my downfall because it meant that there were times when projects would get backed up and deadlines would shift back and forth until they became non-existent, not great for any client relationship!

Nowadays, instead of saying yes right away when someone comes knocking at my door with an offer, I take the time upfront before committing myself completely: “I’d love nothing more than getting started on this project today,” they’ll say. 

And then what happens? Well, first off there are always questions about how long things might take (and let’s face it it may not always be easy getting a good read on them). 

Second, the thing is often where we go over pricing details. Thirdly…well usually after those two things are done then comes all those other questions like what kind of feedback they’d like while working together through email or whatever means necessary during development stages so everything stays professional between us this also includes making sure there are no legal issues surrounding filesharing/copyright laws/etcetera.

Finally, lastly, if we’re lucky enough maybe even some sorta agreement has been worked out between both parties beforehand so everyone knows exactly what needs doing without any surprises later down the road! Now tell me honestly does all this sound fun? Not -_-

If you’re new to the world of freelancing and need guidance on hiring the right talent, check out our article on hiring a freelance designer when you have zero clue. It’s packed with tips to help you make informed decisions.

2. Understand The Value Of Your Work

Understanding the value of your work is key. When you can do that, you’ll be able to create a budget for yourself and set realistic goals for what you hope to earn each month or year. This will also help with keeping track of how much work is still left on the table and how much time it takes to complete tasks both of which are essential pieces to being a successful freelancer.

3. Give Yourself Deadlines To Create Accountability

Deadlines are important for freelancers because they help you to stay on track. Deadlines give you a sense of urgency and make it easier to be productive, efficient, and focused.

If you’re working on a project that is due in two weeks, it’s helpful to put together a schedule or calendar with deadlines so that each week builds up towards the final deadline. I would recommend setting weekly goals so that you can meet your deadlines at the end of each week (this will also keep some momentum going).

Curious about how people decide to venture into the world of freelancing? Discover the journey and insights of an individual’s transition in How I Decided to Become a Freelance Designer.

4. Make Contracts A Priority

Contracts are important for both parties involved in the project, so design contracts must be written clearly and concisely. There should be no ambiguity about what is expected from each party, how long work will take to complete, and how payments will be made. 

You should also include clauses that specify what happens if deadlines are missed or deliverables aren’t met as well as any legal issues related to intellectual property rights (copyrighting). As with other contracts, it’s best practice to have a lawyer review your contract first before sending it off to potential clients especially if they’re large companies or organizations where millions of dollars could hang in the balance!

5. Make Sure You’re Visible

Making sure that people can find your work is arguably even more important than the work itself. How would you feel if every time you went to a store, the name of the store was nowhere to be seen? What if there were no employees to greet you when you entered? Or what if they didn’t have any products on display?

Your website and social media profiles are like a storefront, both for showcasing your portfolio (the products) and providing contact information (the employees). They also allow potential clients to get an idea of who they’re dealing with before becoming a customer. Several things can help with this:

  • A logo that represents your brand
  • A business card so people have something physical in hand when meeting up with someone new
  • Make sure people know how to find your website – make it easy!

6. Develop Your Networking Skills

Networking is a valuable skill for anyone, but it’s particularly important for freelance designers. While you may feel like you’re on your own when you work independently, building relationships with peers and potential clients will help make your career as a freelancer smoother.

It’s also important to note that networking doesn’t have to be selfish you should use this time to give back as well! If someone in the community has something they need help with, see if they’d benefit from your expertise. 

This can take many forms: maybe someone wants advice on how much they should charge per project, or perhaps someone needs feedback on their portfolio website design; or possibly even just some encouragement when things aren’t going so well! Whatever comes up, being able to assist will help build trust between fellow designers and further encourage collaboration among all members of our community.

Transitioning from a full-time job to freelance graphic design can be challenging. Learn from the experiences and advice shared in How I Went from Working Full-Time to Being a Freelance Graphic Designer to make your own journey smoother.

7. Find A Mentor

In the field of design, there are lots of people who have become successful at working freelance and building their businesses. You can find people like this on social media, in your area, or online through various freelancer networks and forums. The best part? They’re usually willing to help out others who are looking for guidance (and some even offer services where you pay them for advice).

Find someone who has the skills that you want to learn whether it be design-related or business-related and ask if they’re willing to mentor you along the way. Make sure that both parties agree on what kind of relationship will form between the two: 

Will it be strictly professional? Do they expect anything from getting together from time to time? What specific topics will be covered during these sessions? Once everything is set up and defined, then begin working closely with each other as often as possible!

8. Read Often And Vary Your Topics

Reading is one of the best ways to keep up with trends and make sure you have a wide knowledge base. You can read books, blogs, and magazines on design.

Readings can help you learn new skills or improve your existing ones by giving you inspiration and ideas to try out in your design projects. Reading also helps people understand different cultures, countries, industries, and companies better which allows them to design more effectively for those particular audiences when necessary.

9. Set Clear Financial Goals

Setting clear financial goals is one of the best ways to ensure that you’ll be able to cover your expenses and keep enough cash in your bank account. It’s also a good way to ensure that you can meet all of your professional goals for income, savings, and retirement. 

However, it’s important not to set unrealistic financial goals for yourself or your business. If you’re having trouble meeting any of these financial goals on time or at all, then it may be time for a change in strategy or perhaps even some professional help from a tax accountant or financial advisor.

10. Keep Learning But Don’t Get Overwhelmed Doing It

Learning is a lifelong process, but you shouldn’t feel like you need to learn everything all at once. A better strategy would be to focus on the most important things first.

I recommend starting with this list of 20 Ways To Become A Better Freelance Designer, and then working your way down from there. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed with all the new knowledge and skills that are coming in at once, take a break. Take a walk outside or spend some time playing with puppies whatever it takes for you to relax before resuming your studying efforts.

If learning new things sounds intimidating or overwhelming for any reason (maybe it reminds me too much about school), I recommend trying out one or two tips at a time until they become second nature before moving on to something else.

The world of design agencies might come with misconceptions. Get a clear understanding of the truth with the insights provided in our article on Top 15 Misconceptions About Working for a Design Agency.

11. Set Aside Time For Dealing With Overhead Tasks

Being a freelance designer can be a lot of fun, but it also comes with some overheads you might not have considered. For example, you’ll want to keep track of your finances so that you know how much money you’ve made each month and how much is owed to others (like clients). 

You’ll also need to keep track of how much time has been spent on individual projects and what percent of that time was billable versus non-billable (i.e., working on other stuff instead). Finally, many freelancers find themselves having to do their bookkeeping because traditional accounting firms don’t offer services for the self-employed or small businesses like ours.

While keeping tabs on these factors might sound daunting at first glance, we assure you that it becomes second nature after just a few weeks on the job!

12. Educate Clients With Proposals, Invoices Even Email Signatures

You’ve probably heard the saying “You don’t get what you don’t ask for” before, but it’s true: your clients need to know how to contact you and what they’re paying for. They should be aware of how much time goes into each project, when their invoice will be due, and whether or not they can cancel their contract at any time.

It’s also important that your client understands how to pay you and communicate with you effectively. A good designer who wants repeat business will find a way to make these things clear in their proposals or invoices.

13. Start A Design Blog And Continue To Post Regularly

If you spend some time on design blogs, it’s easy to see how they can have a huge impact on your career as a freelance designer.

First, they’re a great way to show off your work and get feedback from other designers. It’s also a great way to build up your portfolio (and make sure it’s always current). This can lead to more work in the future, especially if you get involved in the community of designers around you.

Finally, design blogs help keep everyone connected and that includes potential clients! I’ve personally gotten jobs through following someone’s blog or seeing their posts on Twitter or Facebook. And when I’m not working directly with clients, it offers plenty of motivation for me during those “mornings after” where I feel like giving up because my inbox is empty once again!

14. Develop Your Design Critique Skills And Join A Critique Group

One of the most important parts of being a designer is learning how to critique others’ work. It will help you become a better designer and help your clients be successful with their projects. But what exactly is critique? Critique is feedback on something that’s already been done, but it can be positive or negative.

It’s important to understand that there are many different ways to give good or bad critiques, some more helpful than others. 

For example, Positive Criticism – This type of criticism is given to improve on existing designs or ideas by giving suggestions for improvement; this type of criticism should always be accompanied by suggestions for how something could be changed for it to function better as part of a larger project (or even just on its own). 

This type of feedback should never come across as unhelpful because it does not offer any alternatives that could potentially solve whatever problem was identified during the initial design phase (or earlier phases).

Constructive Criticism – Constructive criticism comes from someone who understands how something works and knows what needs changing so that future iterations will improve upon previous ones no matter who reviews them afterward!

Mastering marketing research is essential for a successful freelance design career. Explore our guide featuring 14 Ways to Master Marketing Research and gain insights that can elevate your design business.

15. Keep Yourself Energized By Taking Breaks And Setting Boundaries Between Work And Play-Time

Take Breaks; Taking breaks is important for any kind of work, but especially for freelancers. Freelancing can be rewarding, but it can also be stressful and exhausting. Taking breaks not only allows you to recharge your batteries so that you can continue working at the highest level possible, but it also helps prevent burnout down the road. 

Some people are good about taking regular breaks on their own; others need some encouragement from their clients or fellow freelancers (or even a self-help book). Whatever your situation may be, take regular breaks and make them part of your routine! 

In addition to taking regular breaks, I recommend getting up from your desk every hour to stretch or walk around for 5 minutes at least once during each workday this will help keep me awake while working through lunchtime hours as well as reduce eye strain later in the evening when I’m doing my most intense work.

Set Boundaries Between Work/Play Time; It’s very easy to let work bleed into other areas of our lives for example: if there’s something urgent that needs to be done right now, then maybe eating dinner could wait until tomorrow night. 

This type of thinking leads us down a dangerous path where everything becomes urgent. After all, we don’t want our clients (or bosses) thinking poorly about us due solely to whether or not we’ve met deadlines before…and often we end up sacrificing things like exercise routines or family dinners because those things simply aren’t “urgent.” 

While this mindset might seem productive in some ways (because hey!, you’re producing results), ultimately what happens is that over time these types of sacrifices add up such that eventually our health suffers (which then makes everything else worse)…so instead let’s try setting boundaries between working hours versus non-working hours so that you get enough rest at night while still having plenty left over during

Final Thoughts

You are now ready to become a pro. You have the knowledge, skills, and tools to become a better designer. I hope these tips helped you improve your freelance business. If you feel like this article was helpful, please share it with others!

Further Reading

How to Start Your Freelance Graphic Design Career: This article provides insights and tips on initiating a successful freelance graphic design career.

Tips on How to Be a Good Graphic Designer: Discover career advice and strategies to excel as a graphic designer in this comprehensive guide.

15 Tips on How to Become More Creative as a Graphic Designer: Boost your creativity and artistic skills with these valuable tips tailored for graphic designers.

People Also Ask

What Is A Good Portfolio?

A good portfolio should be a representation of your work and skills. It should be clear, concise, and easy to navigate. You can include multiple types of projects but try not to overwhelm the viewer with too much content at once. A good rule of thumb is one page per project or client so that people don’t get overwhelmed by all the information they’re trying to digest at once.

What Are The Best Portfolio Sites?

There are many different types of portfolios out there some focus on showing only specific samples while others allow you to show your whole body of work in detail. Some sites such as Behance even allow you to showcase other projects outside of just designing (like photography). There isn’t any one “best” place for everyone because it depends on what type of designer you are!

What Is A Freelance Designer?

A person who works without an employer or has multiple employers within a single project. Most freelancers are self-employed and set their hours based on client demands and deadlines; however, some freelancers may choose to work full time for one company with set hours to guarantee income stability (i.e., becoming an employee).

How Do I Find Clients?

For most freelancers, finding clients is the biggest challenge they face. You can start by looking at your network and then branching out to other social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

On top of that, there are many freelance marketplaces where you can sign up or post a portfolio of your work to attract potential clients:

  • Upwork (formerly oDesk)
  • Freelancer (formerly GetAFreelancer)
  • Behance Jobs

Why Is It Important To Have A Support Network?

This is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself, and it’s also something we’ve all asked at some point. As a freelancer, you need to know that there are people out there who will push you forward when things get rough. 

That being said, it’s not enough to just have a support network; you need to be able to utilize that support network whenever necessary. If your friends or family members aren’t helping in any way, then they’re not supporting your work they’re just enabling your bad habits by sheltering them from criticism or negative feedback. 

Only by having open conversations about how things are going can these relationships evolve into something truly valuable for both sides involved and remember: no matter how good someone else may seem at first glance (or even after years together), change takes time!

How Does A Freelance Designer Make Money?

Freelancers charge for their time and expertise. You’ll want to be sure you’re charging enough for your services so that it’s worth the client’s while to hire you, but not so much that they can’t afford your services.

 How Much Should You Charge? 

That depends on what other designers are charging in your area and the type of work. A good rule of thumb is to aim at least equal to what others are charging, though if they’re charging more than twice as much as you do, consider lowering your price range slightly.

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