I have been doing freelancing for the past 2 years in graphic and web designing and today I have earned 9 permanent clients and lot of other temporary clients.This freelancing has not only got me clients but also has improved my career graph in to a corporate trainer for international design schools and companies. When I started doing freelancing I was paid on each project basis but today I charge 6$ to 20$ per hour depending upon the requirement and I earn around 100$ a day. This is the power of freelancing.
Why I write this article is because a lot of people in my surroundings make a lot of enquiries about freelancing, and I cannot keep lecturing them about freelancing so I am writing this article for them also. Moreover, before moving into the article I would like to say this. All that I have written in this article are my own experiences and if you have any other thoughts you can share them in the comments box, and I also welcome that.
Lot of people around me ask me the following questions like “How to do freelancing?”, “Teach me freelancing”, and etc. I would like to say one thing to all of them that freelancing is not a subject or software to learn, it is something like medicine to be practiced. The more and more we practice the more and more experience we get and the more and more expertise we become.
2 years before when I too entered this field I too had the same idea of learning software then getting into a company, working for that company and getting settled. Openly speaking even I never imagined that I will become a freelancer or I did not even have any ideology of becoming a freelancer. I got a chance and I made use of it to the maximum extent, showed all my skill sets put forth all I had and today I am a freelancer, and I also earn lot more than if I would have gone to a job. Now let us see something about freelancing.
1. Get expertise in software
Once you have decided to become a freelancer you will have to practice the software a lot better than before.
You will have to sit day and night and practice the software, learn each and every tool, nook and corner about the software, learn to use the tools in different ways, try a combination of tools and options, do a lot of research and development in the software. If you cannot do it by yourself, then get help from tutorials available on the net or you can do blogging to learn more. But do not get addicted to the tutorials such that you can do anything only with the help of tutorials. You must use the tutorials to know about some new tools or updates in the software and to learn the tips and tricks.
2. Develop a portfolio
As you practice parallely you create your portfolio. Your portfolio shall contain all kinds of stuff, such as logos, business card, posters, letterheads, envelopes, banners, web templates, applications, games, models, photo editing, photo manipulation, your own plug-in, sample websites, icons, and whatever possible stuff you can do. Similarly do not practice only one particular style, get to know all types of design concepts such as abstract, jazzy, grunge, sleek, neat, professional, dark, typography, simple and etc. but at the same time do not forget to create your own style in designing, because we do not know the client’s preference. Sometimes they ask something and finally end up with something else, so it is better to practice all design concepts.
After creating your own portfolio, people must know that you can design. For that you will have to do publicity. How to do publicity? I did it in this way. I always carried my portfolio in my pen drive wherever I go show it to all of them who know me. Do not feel shy in doing this. Show it to all of them you know, your friends, relatives, their friends, at times I have even showed them to my friend’s friends whom I have met for the first time even at some parties or marriage functions. I ask you to do this because nobody else is going to do this for you. So when a lot of people come to know about you at least one person among that will have some requirement and they will come to you. This is the worm we have got to catch fishes. Satisfy that client you have got then that person will start recommending you to other persons and now publicity becomes a little bit easier. He may even get more projects for you. So now you have turned into a freelancer. The first project I did was a newsletter for two college students, who later brought me all of their classmates and friends. The next one was an invitation designed for my brother’s wedding, so wherever the invitation went they all came to know about me. This is how I turned into a freelancer.
4. Project Maintenance
So once you have started getting projects you will have to do project maintenance. This is very important part of freelancing after a good start up else you cannot keep up to the expectations. The first one you will have to do is create a client database in which you will have to have the following fields like Client name, Requirement, Project duration, Starting date, Date of completion, Approval from the client, Current Status, No. of days remaining, Actual completed date, Total value of project, Amount sanctioned/Advance received, and Remaining amount to be received and any other fields if required and keep them updating at the end of each day.
5. File Maintenance
The other thing you will have to do is file maintenance. The reason why you will have to this is you should not keep searching files when required. I have like this. I have folders named graphic designing, web designing, and 3ds Max. Inside each folder I have one folder for each client. Inside each client’s folder I have each requirement folder and inside each folder I have files which are very clearly named with dates in the name stating each update. I even have subfolders which has the raw files and output files separately.
6. Client Maintenance
There is always a saying about IIM B-schools in India that is “The gift of working 7 hours a day is to work 17 hours a day”. Like this the more successful you are each and every step in freelancing you have more challenges ahead. One such challenge is Client Maintenance. Once you go to see a client for a project you first clearly ask for the requirements of the client. If you do not understand any part of the requirement please ask them to repeat it and get your doubts cleared. Do not nod your head when the terms are still not clear for you, which will create problems for you in future. Then ask them about the duration of the project and check whether you can complete it in stipulated time limit. If you feel that you can’t then say them that the time given is not enough and ask them for more time if they do not give you time then do not accept the project, because this will act like poor shot selection in cricket. If they don’t have any time duration then calculate the time in which you will be able to complete it and double the number of days and say it to them. If they do not accept it then lessen the days but make sure that the time you are saying is always more than the time in which you can complete because the clients always have an attitude that “I am paying him so I need to extract as much as possible from him” so whatever good output you may give them surely they will ask for some changes. So that extra time is for making those changes. While you are in the business inception for a project itself clearly say them your terms and conditions. I have the following terms and conditions:-
• The Payment of the project
• Advance payment and the work will start only if the advance amount is sanctioned which is not refundable if the project gets cancelled in between. The reason why I say this is after doing such a lot of work they easily say that they did not like the work and they will cancel the project. After that they will ask their company employees to redo our design or they will decompile our files and copy our work. Finally we would have lost our time, energy, creativity, and our project also.
• If they have any update or change in requirement then they will have to pay for that also depending on the change. This is because they come to us saying a requirement, then slowly they would have increased their requirement. Therefore finally we would have earned lesser than the work we have done, and the client would have got his job done for a lesser pay.
• Ask for a letter from them stating that they have taken service or consultancy from you for such a task or requirement. This will help you to gain more clients.
• During the course of the project no raw files will be given and only after sanctioning the remaining amount also.
• Similarly they shouldn’t reuse or redistribute the design or decompile the files or use the scripts done by you.
7. Self Maintenance
If you are going to work in a company there you have got a employer to give you job, a marketing guy to get you projects, a solid client base to provide you salary, a project leader to maintain your projects, a system admin to maintain your files, a team leader to say you what has to be done. But here you are all in one and you will have to do every thing by yourself. So you will have to have the following skill sets in you:-
• Time Management
• Communication skills
• People Management
• Analysing of people
• Mind reading
Even the last two skill sets are not such important but the first three are mandatory. When you are in a job there you have other colleagues, who can help you or support you, motivate you, even at times share your work and particularly in companies there are departments and each and every department takes care of only itself, whereas here you are all in all. You will have to take care of yourself. The other basic qualities you need to do freelancing are:-
• Never give up attitude
• “I can comeback, I will comeback and I should comeback” mantra
At the same time do not allow your clients to take over you for granted and exploit you in the name of “client satisfaction”. Make sure that they do not take an upper hand over you.
So these are all that I have learnt in the past 2 years of freelancing, and I am really happy in sharing my experiences with you all friends. All the best friends.