To be a successful freelance designer requires discipline, talent, and the ability to manage tasks at hand in macro and micro levels. It takes the combination of certain personality traits to do well in the field of freelancing. And since this is a long range business, you have to make sure that you have those traits to make it. Here are 10 of the top traits you need to have to be a successful freelance designer.
1. Capability and Experience
It is not enough to have talent; you must have experience. Experience supports your talent. If you do not have enough experience, you can gain some by self-studying design. There are actually several online tutorials that can assist you in mastering design on your own.
2. Prioritization Skills
Freelancing requires deadline-driven designers. You must be able to prioritize your works and deliver it on time. Here are some prioritization tips:
- Activate your calendar
- Jot down notes
- Schedule your projects
- Do not accept overwhelming projects with short turnarounds (unless you have ample time to do them)
3. Self-Marketing Skills
The ability to sell your work as a designer is a must when it comes to freelancing. You must be able to talk to your clients about yourself and your capabilities in the design industry. Here are some effective marketing moves to take note:
- Talking to clients through Skype or other form of online communication
- Deliver designs with a friendly email
- Explain how your designs will help your client
4. Effective Communication Skills
Effective communication skills are essential for any job, but especially for freelance designers as you don’t always get to meet your clients face-to-face. To communicate with clients effectively, you must:
- Understand the project/job description clearly
- Clarify any unclear parts/requirements in the project
- Immediately inform clients if problems occur
- Answer clients’ questions as prompt as possible
5. Accountability and Discipline
Unlike full time employment, you do not have a supervisor when freelancing. No one to tell you what to do, when to do it or how to do it. You are 100% on your own. That is why you have to be accountable for every action that you make – for every project you accept. You have to stay committed to your clients, otherwise, you might ending losing them and tarnishing your name as a designer. Here are some tips to establish a good working environment when freelancing:
- Schedule your activities
- Have a comfortable work space where you can work effectively
- Set a fixed time to work like it is your full-time job
- Avoid distractions
6. Effective Time Management
Time is a very important asset for every freelancer. The way you manage your time determines the number of clients you can serve and the quality of work you can deliver. This is why it is imperative that you master the art of time management. To effectively manage your time, you must be able to:
- Choose and schedule your tasks for each client
- Have high time expectation
- Estimate the time you have for each project
- Use digital tools like mobile apps to track your time
- Use time management techniques
- Stay motivated
7. Efficient Financial Management
The most difficult part about freelancing is that you don’t have a fixed paycheck every end of the month – your income depends on clients’ payment schemes and how well you manage your finances. Most freelancers experience financial hardships. Among the most common problems that freelancers experience are:
- Unreliable flow of income
- Poor business management
- Poor tracking of income and expenditures
- Issues on taxation and pricing
- Other payables like insurance
- Mix match of business and personal money
As a freelancer, you have to keep track of your income and expenses. It is advised to keep a record of all your clients and their outstanding balances. Make sure that you update each sheet every time payment is made as well as be cautious when accepting clients.
8. Organizational Skills
Good organizational skills are important to succeed as a freelance designer. You need these skills to keep track of your clients’ records, timeline, communication logos, project descriptions, invoices, quotations and other important office paperworks. To effectively apply your organizational skills, try these following tips:
- Keep a record of everything. For example, job or project descriptions per client, timelines and corresponding prices
- Schedule everything. Each project’s timeline is different and often varies
- Declutter your working station, whether it is your dining table, home office or your bed
9. Take Criticisms Well
Learn to take criticisms in a constructive way. Remember that each critique is just an opinion. Take them positively and use them to improve your work. To succeed in the field of freelance design, you must be able to capture what the clients want, how they want it, and transform their needs into creative designs. Their feeedback may not be the nicest thing you want to hear, but take each comment in stride and improve yourself based on it.
10. Coping and Evolving Skills
Design evolves, as well as technology and techniques. What’s new today might no longer be new tomorrow. The market and its demands continue to evolve and you have to be aware of these changes. You must adjust yourself to cope with these fast-paced changes; otherwise you will be just another designer.
Never stop learning. As long as there are inspirations to draw from, there are endless design possibilities that could come from your imagination and creativity.
Freelancing is an exciting but tricky sole business. If you don’t have the honed abilities and the right traits, it will be hard to make it in this industry. Thus, before diving into freelancing, ask yourself first if this is really what you want and if you have the above mentioned traits.
However, as quoted by Sylvia Plath: “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt”. Advice for designers is trivial. Every designer must have confidence in themselves and their work. So, go out there and get to work. Do not doubt your abilities to become a successful freelance designer.
Nevertheless, if you are a freelancer who has just started your design path or you already have an extended portfolio of your works, we would love to feature your designs on our website, Designs.net.
On Designs.net, you can design and sell your own designs as your very own Designpreneur! (Designer + Entrepreneur). If you sign up right now and upload your designs, you will receive 100% payout until the 31st of July. Even after that, you will be guaranteed a 70-75% commission for every sale you make on our website. So what are you waiting for?
Watch our video below and learn exactly how you can become a Designpreneur at Designs.net.