It’s tough out there in the world of freelance design and getting commissions is no easy feat, especially when you’re just getting started. Here are five quick tips to help you get those freelance payments rolling in...
01. Get yourself seen
It may sound obvious, but if you’re looking to branch out and go freelance then you need to let the industry, and potential clients, know that you’re for hire.
The first step, if you haven’t done so already, is to get yourself a web presence to showcase your design style and portfolio. Use a tool like Squarespace, WordPress or Drupal - the first one's a good option if you have zero web skills. Check out this full selection of the best web builders to find the software that works best for you.
Most importantly, you need to clearly highlight on your page that you’re available for commissions - you'd be surprised how many freelancers don't think of this. Add this statement to your site or blog, as well as your personal social media pages, and make sure it's the first thing people see. If you haven’t many projects to showcase yet (or have too many that use the same skill set), get creative with a few self-initiated projects so you can show off all of your abilities as a designer.
02. Promote yourself
Once you’re happy with your portfolio, the next step is to promote your work. Brush up on your marketing skills and get your name and freelance status out there with some effective social networking.
Avoid the hard sell - no one likes being spammed. Instead, try to form organic online relationships with potential clients and agencies and join in with the design discussion to show your expertise in the industry.
Social recommendations also count for a lot, so ask your peers or any designers you may have previously worked with to help spread and endorse your work across the internet.
And remember that networking isn't just digital. Get out there in the real world and start handing out physical business cards, all the while following our networking tips for designers.
03. Be proactive
Approach agencies, brands you’d like to work for or even your local butcher if you spot that their branding needs a much-needed facelift whilst picking up your sausages!
Also, take a look back through your inbox and spot any potential clients that you may not have thought of before - perhaps you did some freelance work for a company two years ago, or there was that job you never got but built a good relationship with the person that interviewed you. Be imaginative with your client ‘hit list’ and don’t leave any avenue unexplored.
04. State your costs
Before embarking on a marketing mission, you need to be sure of your hourly and daily rate so that potential clients know off the bat how much you’re likely to charge.
No matter how much you need the work, it’s important to be realistic with the client when you take on a job how long that will take and what the fee will be, otherwise you may find yourself struggling to meet the demands of a very unhappy client.
Don’t forget that there’s also a range of online project management tools out there, such as Basecamp and Producteev to help you get organised and meet all of your deadlines.
05. Build on your success
Once you’ve completed the work, make sure you’re not the only one shouting about how brilliant it is. There’s nothing better than a shining endorsement from someone who’s worked with you to help build your personal brand reputation.
Ask your (satisfied) client for a quick quote about the work and their working process with you and then add this to your online portfolio or blog before posting on your social networks. Remember, the more people endorsing you, the more buzz you can create about you and your work.
Words: Natalie Brandweiner
Natalie Brandweiner is an online journalist for MyCustomer.com, covering social media and marketing, and has a keen interest in design.
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What are your secrets for getting freelance commissions? Hit the comments!