Self-activity without experience?

Hello everyone. I am a newbie and I have got few questions, but I want to start with a little preview.
I am graphic designer specialized on other things such as brand identity, logo design, brochure design, landing/small business website design. My skills are proper, not a high-top, but good.
My idea is to open own web-studio site with a portfolio and try to find clients online. My english is not perfect by the way. So, what do you think, is it possible to earn money on self-activity online like this? I dont have a network or friends online (only offline, but its very few).
What do you think about upwork? What is better in my case? Self-activity with own web-studio or upwork? Which way is better for the beginner (not in skills, but in online experience on finding clients)?


By self-activity are you referring to freelance work?

If so, freelancing really is a business, and running a business requires all the skills and time needed to run that business, like bookkeeping, taxes, promotion and finding clients.

That last thing — finding clients — is the hard one. They don’t just automatically show up. You need a way to bring them in — either through already-existing contacts, referrals or through some innovative kind of marketing. If you don’t have a workable plan for getting clients, the chances of succeeding are very small.

I don’t know too many freelancers who were able to make it without, first, working in an agency or studio or in-house situation where they could learn the ropes, make the contacts, learn the business and establish some credibility for themselves.

If you are a newbie, like you said, I’d recommend getting a job working with some experienced people before trying it on your own.

1 Like

Thanks for your helpful answer!

Yes, the marketing part - is the hard one. I have designer skills, but I am not sure about my sales abilities.

Marketing yourself is a skill that can be learned, and gets easier with practice. :slight_smile:

social media is a great marketing tool. I would look into showcasing your work there and trying to build a following (which can lead to clients) .

Don’t be discourage if you are starting out as a freelancer and you don’t have any job experience in the corporate world before that. Digital marketing is really useful. Moreover, you can set up your own portfolio online through a website or instagram (which is easier to get known). Best of luck!

What was a trickle
Has now become a torrent.
Weep at the carnage.

Oh, boy. I was just going to let this suggestion go, but I can’t.

Would you hire an attorney with no relevant experience? Would you let someone with no experience work on your teeth or, for that matter, even cut your hair?

The original poster mentioned being an experienced designer, but unless I’m misreading what you wrote, you seem to be suggesting that no experience is really needed. Client relationships are serious business relationships, so freelancing is no place for inexperienced beginners.

By no experience, I meant no experience in the corporate world. How is someone going to start a career in graphic design then? Not everyone can afford to go to graphic design school. many self taught graphic designers got their first clients online too through freelance by creating a portfolio.

By no experience, I meant no experience in the corporate world.

It is often discussed that Graphic Design should be a licensed profession.
As Mr.B mentioned, several professional careers with far less client consequences require some sort of required course of study. Hair grows back. Plumbers and electricians carry very heavy insurance policies just to be able to work. Lawyers have to pass a legal exam. All go through a certifiable apprenticeship program.

As a designer, you are responsible for your clients’ public facing imagery. If you mess up, the client is flushing money down the toilet, for which YOU are responsible.
It’s too bad Graphic Designers aren’t required to carry at least the same level of malpractice insurance as a plumber.

Young, fresh out of school designers don’t have the chops to be taking on clients they would only be practicing on by reinventing the wheel on a daily basis.

Some examples from my 20 year observation of the industry:

  • the designer that ended up paying a six-figure fine (yes a number followed by 5 zeros) for a client for using a photo image that was not only NOT public domain, but covered under Rights of Publicity for an Estate (do not mess with the MLK Estate, or the ROP of any person for that matter, living or dead, famous or not.)
  • the designer that created a logo for a business that resulted in a trademark infringement C&D suite just a couple weeks before the grand opening, resulting in the pulling of ads, the reprinting of marketing collateral, menus and place mats, and the re-branding of the actual store fit-out and exterior signage.
  • the designer who thought Live Trace would be the perfect way to enlarge their client’s portrait photo to billboard size, creating a ghastly paint by number effect that lasted not even a day on the billboard. Someone had to pay for that print and the billboard rental, and I bet it wasn’t the client.
  • an assortment of products by various people that had to be destroyed after the designer or end client was served with a C&D (do not mess with The Mouse, et al.)
  • end clients, or designers who released stock images to clients, who were served with 4-figure invoices by photo stock companies for improperly using images on websites without a web-specific license (do not mess with GettyImages, et al. Even an honest mistake still costs money.)
  • various and sundry IRS issues based on tax reporting and reselling.

Suing someone and being sued is part of doing business these days. Are you freelancers with no experience prepared for that? Have you taken the proper steps to protect your personal assets from a bad business decision that could bankrupt you?

Freelancing is a business and should be entered into as such. Your contracts are real legal documents. Your deadlines are real. Marketing yourself as a professional carries a certain weight of skill and experience. Client expectations based on all that (and more) are all legally binding.

All that stuff shouldn’t be scary if you’ve gone through the process of creating your business plan and taking steps to really run your business as a business. In the US, even a hobbyist these days has to report income made through their hobby.

1 Like

Maybe we’re interpreting the word “corporate” differently. Other than partnerships and sole proprietorships, most every client a professional designer does work for is a corporation.

©2019 Graphic Design Forum | Contact | Legal | Twitter | Facebook