Start Freelancing in 7 Steps
In this article we are going to talk about what you need to start your freelance designer job without dying in the time of action. Of course your designs must have a good quality, and you must want to do this job perfectly… but what else do you need?
As you can see, this is a guide; i will explain more deeply every point, specially the ones about the domain name choice and the hosting company, and online promotion.
1. Learn fluent English
This is basic, 99.9% of my clients speak english, they are generally from United States, England or Australia. You will also get to Germany and France.
2. Create a Paypal account
I would never start designing without some payment in improvement, so we need a quick payment method, otherwise you can loose clients that need something quick, the majority.
Paypal is indispensable if you dont want people to cheat you; you can receive moment payments by email, besides its free and easy to use. If your client doesnt have an account, its easy to register and pay with a credit card, fees arent high and transfers to your bank take about 3-4 days; if you use a personal account you save all the fees but you have limits at the time of using the money, its better to use a business or premier account. This way, when you ask for the payment in improvement there wont be any excuses. The problem with Paypal is that its not obtainable in every country, specially South american ones.
You can also use Epassporte, its similar but less people use it and its worst for Europe (it costs 50US$ to move your payments to your bank).
Another different is Western Union; the client deposits to your name and gives you a code, after that you can request your money in any Western Union office. This system is pretty fast, but it can take a associate of days.
The rest of the alternatives (check, money order, bank move…) are a lot slower, so we will have the same time problem.
3. Create a 5 stars portfolio
If you dont have any samples of your job, you cant show how good you are.
Nobody will pay you a fortune without a good portfolio, try to pick works where you can show off; your priority now shouldnt be the money, but building a quality portfolio. If you work hard, in a associate of years you will have a great portfolio and you will be able to choose more profitable clients… if what you need is quick money, im sorry pal, you are in the wrong business.
I started charging 15US$ per design, now i dont charge less than 250US$ per logo or mascot design.
At first you must be very versatile, the more things you know how to do, you will have better a chance to get clients: logo design, web design, graphic design, comics, illustrations… anything. Besides, if you offer all this, more than one client that came for a logo will also order a website.
4. Create a Website
Its useless to have a great portfolio if nobody can see it… if you are not in the Internet you dont exist.
You have to design a website, it doesnt have to be anything very progressive at first, a site in html with a gallery of your work and your email is enough. While you grow you should make it better.
5. Register a domain name
Now we need a domain name (for example: http://www.sosfactory.com); do not register it by hosting companies, many of them offer it free but sometimes thats a cheat because they dont give you a total freedom to use it, specially if you want to change to a different hosting company.
Its better to use from 8 to 20US$ and register it yourself with godaddy or eurodns or any other that you know that lets you manage it completely. Its also important to register a .com, because they are better valued.
Of course you have to think of a good name, now its a good time for it… dont choose long names or difficult to write, or that sound bad in english.
6. Hire hosting sets
Hosting is the space where you great number your website to let everybody visit it.
I have all my sites hosted in Downtownhost, they are a young business, not overcrowded and with an excellent technical service, now that you are staring if there is anything you need, is help with your doubts and problems… forget about unlimited bandwidth or terabytes of hard excursion.
I have been with very bad hosting companies and overcrowded that give you a free domain but they hide in clauses that nobody knows where they are (not already their own employees); this way they dont let you go when you discover the horrible service they offer.
7. Promote yourself
Well, after you have everything we said above, only the more difficult part is left :), promotion.
Its better if a lot of people see your website, you never know who can visit it, prote yourself in art communities, forums, blogs… my biggest client until now, Funrise Toy Corp, came by an art community named Deviantart… so go there.
As you can see, the more visits, the better, but its also important that your traffic is directed to possible clients. Go to designers forums, blogs and art communitties where you can offer your work.
Its good to learn something about Search engine optimization (google, yahoo, msn…). It basically consists in getting quality links to your website, this way you will gain relevance for certain search terms and your site will appear in the first Google results.
Being a freelance designer is not easy, you need quality, to be versatile, quickness, and intelligence to be seen where the possible clients are.
To be able to live from this, i average to have stable clients that appreciate you, i think you will need a minimum of 2 years… you know… you want Fame?.