Image by Lukas Bieri from Pixabay

There isn’t a business in this world that is easy to run. And, if you believe that having a freelance business means that you don’t have to invest serious effort as other business owners, you are wrong.

This type of business requires a lot of time, patience, and work to kick off. Actually, the most difficult part is to get the ball rolling as a freelancer since many clients would much rather place their trust in a brand or a well-known company.

So, many freelancers, especially in the design realm, believe that once they find a few good clients, they just need to sit back, do the work, and enjoy the results.

But no, that’s never a good idea. As a designer, you should always look for new ways to improve yourself and thus grow your business.

When you are a freelancer, losing one client can sometimes lead to a total disaster. That’s why you need to try to constantly grow as an expert and thus better your business.

If you want to know how you can do this, keep reading.

Build your website

As a designer, you need a great online image. To be precise, it is wise to have a website where you can present your projects, allow people to see your portfolio, and learn every important bit about you and your business.

However, you shouldn’t be stingy when it comes to the creation of this website. This website is dedicated to you, so it needs to be spotless. After all, it is the face of your business, so it has to be as good as possible.

Many designers have this kind of website where they leave details about their skills, credentials, experience, pricing plans, and so on.

You should do the same. Having an account on freelance platforms isn’t enough if you want people to take you seriously. You need to approach this as if you were trying your best to build a brand. This time, your freelance business is the brand you want to make as recognizable as possible.  

Before you actually purchase anything, do a thorough research when it comes to web hosting service providers and domain names, and try to be smart with your budget. Why spend through the roof if you can find a cheap domain name, right?

Take out your calculator

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Never forget how important it is to log each transaction that goes in or out. You need to keep track of all transactions, no matter the amount.

As a freelancer, you most likely won’t need someone to run the books for you. However, that doesn’t mean you should neglect finances. You should put the same amount of effort into your finances just as you put into completing your clients’ projects.

For instance, you can use one bank account for day-to-day life. That account will be used for spending. The second account is the ‘taxes account’ and, obviously, it’s only used to pay taxes. Finally, it would be wise to have one more account where you save money for rainy days or retirement.

To sum this up, it needs to be mentioned again that no dollar is to be neglected. This means that no fees or earnings are too small not to be recorded. For instance, if you are using PayPal for money transfers with your international clients, you should use a reliable international PayPal fee calculator.

Every dollar that goes through is important. Neglecting any amount can potentially lead to a disaster. This is one of the more serious mistakes you can make as a web designer.

Over-deliver

It is clear that making your clients happy is your top priority. But, if you really want to grow as a graphic designer, you need to make them extra happy. After all, that is the only way someone serious and willing to pay a lot of money will find out about you.

Bear in mind that it doesn’t matter if you found your first clients through your personal network or through useful platforms, you need to put in extra effort if you want to find more opportunities for new work.

This is fairly simple to understand since designers who over-deliver get more repeat design work, more design client referrals, and thus make better progress.

This doesn’t mean that you should prioritize a client over another client or that you need to put little to no effort on one project and over-deliver on another.

You just need to show how serious you are. Once your designs start becoming recognizable, you’ll start making valuable connections. And you will find clients who are willing to pay more, so you won’t have to hunt for quantity in order to make decent cash. Instead, you will look for quality.

And that is how your hourly rate starts rising along with your business.

Have your way with words

You may be a great designer, but if you can’t write a decent proposal, you won’t land any decent work opportunities.

First of all, in order to find a client, you need to write great proposals. The second thing you need to learn is writing invoices. And you also need to know how various contracts work.

Many freelancers make the mistake of underestimating the job posting. To be precise, a good freelancer sees an easy gig and thinks how a sentence or two would be enough for a client to reach back and get the ball rolling.

No, many clients make first (and most important) impressions when they read your proposal. And, if they see that you didn’t really put much effort into it, they think that you won’t put a lot of effort into their projects.

That is why many great freelancers get rejected. So, be thorough and show interest in the project. Offer examples of your work and even ask the client if they need advisory services.

This is how you will find high-profile clients and land good gigs. If you are looking for great jobs on social media platforms, you need to be interesting and professional at the same time.

That is, when reaching out to people, make your messages as clear and concise as possible.

And when you start targeting a lot of clients, seek help from technology. For instance, if you need to send 50 invites on LinkedIn but don’t have time or patience to do that manually, take advantage of software solutions that offer the LinkedIn bulk invitation feature.

In other words, you also have to be efficient when looking for work. That matters too as it can save you a lot of time in the long run. 

Accept changes

You may have the credentials, you may have the skills, but if you aren’t willing to adapt to changes, you will be gone in no time.

History is proving time and time again that adaptive skills have been the leading criteria for survival. And, if you want to grow and survive, you have to adapt.

New trends pop up every day, so you have to be willing to accept them and adapt to them.

The field of graphic design is prone to changes, there are always some developments and updates in the software industry and the way people want their designs to look.

This is challenging, but you need to adapt to each change and use it to become better. That is the only way to grow.

Bonus tip: Stand out from the crowd

Yes, this is easier said than done, but you need to do everything to set yourself apart from your competition.

The graphic design industry is a highly competitive industry with hundreds of thousands of new designers showing up every year.

In order to stay ahead of your competitors, you need to produce great design but also be as creative as possible and set a specific tone among your design-pieces.

Being the black sheep in this field is sometimes worth millions. And sometimes it is better to realize that sooner than later when you start competing with the more prominent names in the industry.

About the Author

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Mirko Humbert

Mirko Humbert is the editor-in-chief and main author of Designer Daily and Typography Daily. He is also a graphic designer and the founder of WP Expert.