INTERVIEW: How To Be A Freelance Graphic Designer
Yesterday, a friend asked if they could interview me for a class project.
I said, "Sure, what's the project?" He was taking an entrepreneurship class. Their final assignment was to interview someone who currently does freelance work.
So we jumped on the phone and I got to feel important for 40 minutes.
1. What services do you provide?
I'm a graphic designer, focusing on visual identity development and website design.
2. How long have you been freelancing for?
I've been freelancing for the past five years. Not full-time, but during my evenings and weekends.
3. What is your process when working with a client?
Once we've gone through the contract and payment details, we start by defining the problem. Which is actually not as easy as you'd think. "I need a new website," isn't a problem. It's usually something like, "Our customers can't navigate our site." Or, "We've been losing sales."
This is where a creative brief comes in handy. It serves as a reference tool further down the road so we can always refer to our original goals.
From that point, we go through a couple of exercises to determine a creative direction. This involves mood boards, competitive analysis, lots and lots of research.
Once we've established the vision, actually executing the work is almost easy. We may go through a couple rounds of revisions or edits and then I supply the final assets.
4. Who are your direct competitors?
Honestly, I don't know. I guess it would be any individual designers who specialize in a lot of different things. Definitely not larger agencies.
5. What was the most difficult aspect of being a freelancer?
Probably getting paid.
I'm kidding. Well, half-kidding. A lot of people don't understand the value of design and its role in marketing. I've had to educate clients on why I charge a certain amount for a certain type of project.
A better answer would be "finding new work."
Historically, previous clients and businesses will refer new clients to me. I don't spend any time on self-promotion or advertising my own services. Unless I'm in a conversation and someone explicitly mentions they might have a need for a graphic designer. Then I might chime in with a, "Maybe I can help."
8. If you opened a business what would be the biggest day to day challenges?
Managing people. I've always loved doing the work myself. Learning to assign roles to others while I have a specific vision in mind would be a challenge for me.
10. What is your biggest reward in working as a freelancer?
Partnering with businesses who are making a difference. I prefer working with people who are passionate about what they've hired me to help them with. It's easy to make someone look good when the work they're doing is fundamentally good. It's always exciting to be a part of that.