First Freelance Gig

As a graphic design student, I have yet to do any paid work for clients. All of my work has been student work. Last year for one of my classes, we worked with a client to do a rebranding project. To my surprise, yesterday I got an email from the owner of the company asking if I would be interested in doing a freelance project. I’m pretty excited to work with a client, and to have my first paid graphic design project.

Any tips on being successful at your first freelance project?

  • Don’t underestimate the importance of thorough research.
  • Don’t conceptualize at your computer.
  • Don’t undercharge because you are relatively inexperienced.
  • Don’t forget you are in business to make a profit (and pay taxes).
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Discuss the project with the client and get a feel for the scope. Get a copy of the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines and use that to write up a contract. Get a partial payment up front and don’t begin work until they sign the contract, agreeing to your terms.

Remember that their first priority will be to reach their customers. Graphic design is about the customers - creativity needs to serve that goal.

Good for you!

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Take a deposit.

Do not debate with a customer regarding changes or attempt to tell the client what he/she should or should not like. Do what they want, do it quickly, get paid.

No emotional attachment to client work. It’s their piece, not yours.

Thats a rather poor attitude to have. Sure it’ll cost you less time and energy, but will cost you greater in the long run when all of your clients have not seen positive results because you didn’t try to steer them in the right direction.

Emotional attachment isn’t required, but a level of professional responsibility is.

This will be my downfall until I get more experience and confidence lol.

Thanks for all the suggestions guys, I will try to keep them in mind.

Not Undercharging doesn’t mean you’re billing doesn’t have to match your skill level per se.

For example, I remember working for peanuts (nearly literally) when I first graduated. I was under charging just to get the customer, (thinking, hey there’s no overhead, I already have the software, right?) and it took me years to realize it’s all about my time, being able to sustain myself, and I’m offering a highly valued service that many are incapable of.

Remember, this is, or will be, your livelihood. The majority of the population has little to no artistic talent. It terrifies them. Businesses will be be relying on you to put their company on the map. From branding, to marketing campaigns. You’re worth big bucks. Not for the art in itself, but for the revenue that your clients will receive from having a new sign, a website, a menu, a logo - you name it. Everything you make, you get paid for, and the client can profit from.

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^That’s assuming they have the skill and experience to realize the client goes to a designer to increase their own profit margin, and know how to deliver the goods. Far too many students who never get the opportunity to work for someone else in the field never find out that it isn’t about their own personal Art. It’s about the clients’ bottom lines. Every designer’s first real world job is supposed to open their eyes to that fact (since the schools coddle a “be artistic” attitude.)

Yes. It’s unfortunate that many schools do this, but it’s common — especially those universities with design programs embedded in their fine arts colleges.

Artistic and creative skills are necessary is this field, but they’re only part of a means to an end — not the end itself.

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