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How do you keep going?

Discussion in 'Graphic Design Forum:' started by Neily, Jul 13, 2009.

  1. Neily

    Neily Member

    Hi Guys,

    I'm barely on the first rung of the 'design ladder' and have been getting odd bits of work here and there, but its very hard to keep my chin up!!

    How do you freelancers do it? Or, how did you do it when you first started?

  2. It took me a good 12 months to get noticed.

    It's all about word of mouth.

    One successful project could result in three interested clients. My first project created about 250 hits to my site a day just from saying "website by x", plus the owners of the company were chuffed and went around telling their friends.

    It can just be a lottery but it can also be a result of being professional and reliable.
  3. TheNoone

    TheNoone Member

    I have been teaching myself the basic concepts of design, and using design programs.

    TUTORIALS TUTORIALS TUTORIALS. If you want to get used to most of the tools
    in the programs you use, Illustrator,Photoshop,Indesign,Gimp,Lightroom etc.

    As far as my creativity goes iv requested alot of samples from sites.
    Flyers,Business Cards etc. and also Theres a thread on here somewhere
    that will give you a list of the great books you can use for inspiration.

    Im not any official, freelance designer whatsoever. I just design to teach myself
    although word of mouth, family, friends, friends of friends etc is a great way to get
    yourself out there, I dont currently have a portfolio of my work yet, Iv earned a
    considerable amount of money during the learning process.

    I dont think its just a case of, Computer on! Facebook for 20 minutes, and then think uhh have a dabble on photoshop, Its always the bigger picture, Like someone cant fit a lightbulb and call themselves and electrician

    and thats coming from a novice!

    Good luck!
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2009
  4. 10thWay

    10thWay Member

    Some good answers here!
  5. dogsbody

    dogsbody Member

    I'm thinking about jumping off the ladder me self!
  6. Minuteman Press

    Minuteman Press Moderator

    SEO, Customer referal, WOM and networking.
  7. NeedForBleed

    NeedForBleed Member

  8. Its a lot of hard work and mainly word of mouth. It does take time though..You just have to keep networking, pushing your website, advertising in the right places...

  9. Minuteman Press

    Minuteman Press Moderator

    Pauline - spot on.

    Needforbleed - should be needforacafetiere.
  10. JMCDesigner

    JMCDesigner Member

    I guess, telling people what you do ALL the time and handing out business cards ALL the time. You never know if somebody you're speaking to knows a friend of a friend who might want some work doing. I guess its one excuse to get out and socialise more! I'm just starting out in the self-promotion game. I have a ton of business cards, I just need to start meeting people and finding a niche!

    I think the more you target your audience the easier it can be. It would be silly for me to offer my Web Design to big corporate companies, they'd only hire big web design companies! I guess part of my target audience would be bands, I'm in a band myself and I get to network with a lot of bands. Only problem is the bands I meet don't seem to have any money :icon_thumbdown:
  11. JohnRoss

    JohnRoss Member

    Couldn't agree less. There are lots of reasons why 'big corporate companies' are great sources of work for freelancers of all kinds. They are made up of business areas, divisions, departments, subsidiaries, all with their own needs, many of which you or I have simply not thought of, an Extranet for a supermarket franchise chain, for example. They are constantly looking out for and testing new markets, and putting out new products. They try to keep their products differentiated - Coca Cola doesn't want you to think of Sprite or Aquarius in the same breath. They need to market in different places - Dublin is not the same as London, Canada is not the same as Australia - and to different segments (hey! Let's sell cocoa to TEENAGERS! Cocoa is cool!). They make lots of mistakes (think of all those things that only appear on the shelves for a few weeks, strawberry-flavoured Nestea shandy or whatever) and they don't mind. And most corporate business in fact is not aimed at the mass public but at other businesses or the public sector, so there is an awful lot of money spent on marketing motorway toll systems, or dialysis machines. I see a lot of opportunities for freelancers.
  12. JMCDesigner

    JMCDesigner Member

    Let me rephrase my answer..I couldn't possibly, or would want to, compete with the big web design companies. I'd love to make a website for coca cola as a freelancer. But it ain't gonna happen is it??? I'm trying to make the point that I'd focus my Business at realistic target audiences. Find my OWN niche and start small, as it were.
  13. JohnRoss

    JohnRoss Member

    Why not?

    JMC, if you are targeting up-and-coming bands because you see a good market there, fair enough, well spotted - I'd have thought it was too small a pool of clients to carve a customer base out of, but you could be right and I don't want to presume to tell you your business.

    But I wanted to make the point that large corporations are realistic targets, because they are big consumers. They have lots of projects, so they must need freelancers, as well as big web design companies (I admit I don't know this from experience of the web design world, but I do have enough freelancing experience in other fields that I'd be very surprised if I were wrong).

    I will also say that if you are getting established in any freelancing field, it's important to quickly acquire professionalism, i.e., the ability to identify and respond to clients' needs and requirements, and that is easier to pick up from clients who already know their requirements properly rather than just having a vague idea that they would, for example, like to have a cool website ("Dunno, maybe... black? With dark red text? Yeah, an' really, really dark photos. Usability? Wot's that, then?"). Plus, it's always frustrating when your hard-earned professional abilities aren't appreciated because your client is an ignoramus (makes billing so much stickier, as well - "Usability?. I din't ask for none of that").
  14. JMCDesigner

    JMCDesigner Member

    Why not? Because I'm realistic. I would not expect Sony to come to me in my little town of nowheresville and go "Here do this job for us we will pay you all this money". Sure man, big contracts are good and I'm not disputing that at all and it would be great to get them, bring em on. And I'd love to stride into their head office and slam my portfolio on their desk and go "I shall construct the finest website you have ever seen". Unfortunately my balls just aren't big enough :icon_blushing:. And to compete at that level you'd have to be s**t hot. I consider myself a fairly solid Designer but I'm not going to be in Creative Review or win any Design Awards with my skills!

    And to be fair I'm not trying to carve a customer base out of newbie bands, who want really cool websites with lots of dark red text and really dark photos. Its an area to go down for networking really. Looking at the bigger picture...they might know people, music shop owners, recording studios, music tutors, musical instrument shop owners, those shop owners might know other shop owners, band promo companies etc etc. The competition is so fierce as you know, you can't really berate me for trying a different angle can you?

    If you look deep enough into something there is always potential for carving some business surely? (score a point for keeping on topic?) And I can sympathise, ignoramuses are sometimes an unavoidable byproduct.:icon_Wall:

    I'm trying to keep positive and 'ahem' keep to the topic of the thread' :icon_tongue_smilie:'

    I have done very small amount of freelancing to be fair, so marketing myself and getting new clients which I'm still figuring out. I guess the good thing about this line of work is it can come to YOU from anywhere. Sat in the pub conversation "Oh you're a web designer, my boss at work wants the SEO looking at" or "that website you did for me was great, ring this guy he wants one".

    Just by networking, you're going to reap some kind benefit somewhere. Getting work from networking and meeting new people, making a name for myself and seeing my reputation grow. That's how I'd keep going.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2009
  15. matobo

    matobo Member

    Interesting conversation guys ;) Both points of view make lots of sense.

    Also wish I had the balls to go out and conquer though (from a ladies perspective of course...)
  16. JMCDesigner

    JMCDesigner Member

    Haa you could just go Boudica on their asses!
  17. reesedesign

    reesedesign New Member

    i got a ton of work after i did some FREE stuff for some local charities!

    I started out by doing free illustrations for a newsletter for kids in care.

    which went on to being paid for logos, brochures, banners etc for social services....

    then De Montfort Uni and the Local Council asked Social Services, who was designing their stuff for them, and thats how I got their business too!!

    my advice is to take on ALL projects, it can get you paid business in the long run!!
  18. JMCDesigner

    JMCDesigner Member

    Excellent ideas sir, I was considering doing some charity work to get some new leads.
  19. reesedesign

    reesedesign New Member

    im a girl!!
    miss please - not sir!!

    good luck tho!

    Sara. xx
  20. JMCDesigner

    JMCDesigner Member

    :icon_eek: oopsie, my apologies maaaaaaaaaaaaaaam *bows*

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