Oct 30, 2018

Graphiq's Guide to Freelance Design

Being a freelancer can be great. However, with freelancing also comes inconsistency and uncertainty. Here is a guide to improve your freelance living.
Ingrid Vervik Salte
Content Manager

First of all, every freelance designer should have an online portfolio or a website showcasing their previous work to prospective clients. This site should include an introduction of yourself, a contact page and an overview of previous projects. If you don’t have one yet – stop reading and get to it. Behance, Dribbble and Webflow are great platforms for you to get started. Once your portfolio is out there you can start approaching clients and booking projects.

Getting clients  

As a freelance designer, finding new clients takes up a lot of your time. You are probably familiar with job marketplaces such as Upwork, where you can submit applications for freelance projects. These platforms are highly competitive and designers outbid each other for contracts which often results in working for a lower rate than merited. Constantly searching for new projects and submitting applications that are often declined, can be pretty discouraging.

This is where Graphiq comes in. Our platform is based on bridging top design talent with great companies. As a Graphiq designer, we bring the projects to you. This way you can spend less time finding clients and more time designing great work, for a rate that you deserve. We balance the number of designers in our collective to the demand on our platform, to ensure that all our designers get projects on a regular basis. As part of our collective, you also have a support system around you to guide you through the design process. 

Working with a client

The collaboration with a client is a general process, whether you have gotten the client through Graphiq, Upwork or any other platform. Before you can get started with the project you need to sign a contract with the client. This should set a framework for the project and establish timeline, budget and deliverables. You compose the contract together with the client, and once both parties have agreed with the terms and signed the contract, you can get going with the design iteration process. Working through Graphiq, contracts and terms are automatically handled by our platform, so the only thing you need to focus on is the project scope and timeline.

First you might want to do some research on your client and the market they operate within. Having insight in common design traits within the sector, the visual identity of the competitors and who the target groups of the client are, helps you get an idea of what the client wants. This research compounds the basis for a mood board. You can do this traditionally with sticky notes, sketches and print outs, or digitally using tools like Mural or Invision to easily gather inspiration and ideas, including photos, fonts and colors.

After gathering and visualizing inspiration, you can start creating some rough sketches of your ideas. Choose a couple of sketches that you find potential, refine and digitize them. The digital sketches should be composed in a document that you present to the client. Let the client review and give feedback on your presentation, and take this into account when further refining the concept. Remember that this is an iterative process with feedback and refinement until designer and client are satisfied with the result. Communication is key.

Once the deliverables are completed and ready for launch, you can invoice your client for the project. Invoice.toFreshbooks and Fiken.no are handy tools you can use to easily compose an invoice depending on the location of your core market. Depending on what was established in the contract you can invoice based on a project price or an hourly rate. If you are invoicing based on an hourly rate, you need to refer to an overview of hours spent. I recommend using Timely or Toggl to manage your time and track your hours from the very start.

Following up a client

Although you have delivered a project and been paid by the client, the collaboration may not be over. It could be beneficial to follow up and provide support to the client after a project is done. Maintaining the relationship with the client could result in getting new projects. Many clients prefer to work with designers they have hired before, and they may also recommend you to others. However, you should not work for free. If a client needs assistance that far exceeds the terms of the previous project: start a new project, and jump back to start.

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