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Freelancing Basics: Five Ways to Prepare for Your Next Design Side Hustle

Freelancing Basics
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The coronavirus pandemic has put many jobs at risk. Millions of workers were left jobless amid widespread business closures. Most employees are now hoping to keep their jobs for as long as they can. 

Such unemployment fears and the need for additional income urged many professionals to explore the world of freelancing. A recent poll from FlexJobs and Prudential showed that 24% of employees in the U.S. are taking on freelance work to supplement their income. This is equivalent to nearly 44 million American adults. Another survey from Monster showed that 44% of employed professionals are looking for side gigs to boost their earnings.

On top of this, freelancers are seeing a stable or even an increase in demand for their services since the lockdown started. This comes as more companies are looking to hire more freelancers even after the pandemic subsides. For instance, in the U.S., job vacancies for part-time and freelance roles rose by 25% in July since March, according to the latest data from staffing company GigSmart. Tech-related professionals and creative specialists like graphic designers, writers, and game developers are the most sought after. 

If you’re a budding graphic designer, this might be the perfect time for you to engage in freelance work and boost your earnings. In fact, top graphic designers can earn over $83,140 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But before you dive into freelancing, you might want to consider doing these five things first:

1. Test the waters.

Freelancing offers more flexibility and possibly, a higher income. This encourages some professionals to quit their day jobs and become full-time freelancers or start their own business. But before you make any drastic changes in your career, consider testing the waters first. 

Start doing your side hustle while you still have your full-time job. This provides you a safety net in case your freelance work won’t be a hit. You can do this by accepting small projects from your immediate network. Not only do you earn extra cash, but this can also help you in creating your business plan and establishing service rates. 

2. Invest in the right tools, software, and skills. 

Any graphic designer will need the best tools to succeed in a competitive freelance market. If you’re still working full-time, try to allocate a portion of your earnings to purchase a high-end computer and other relevant equipment. Consider getting a licensed software for photo editing, drawing, motion graphics, as well as cloud photo storage. These products seem costly, but they’re worth every investment.

Aside from investing in hardware and software tools, it is also important for you to hone your soft skills related to graphic design. Experts from jobs site Monster say that employers are looking for designers that are equipped with the following skillset: creativity, communication, typography, coding, branding, interactive media, and presentation skills. There are several online courses available for free; all you need to do is to devote some extra time to learning.

3. Start building your portfolio online.

An online portfolio can help you attract more clients and promote your services to a wider audience. Create a compelling social media account or a website where you can showcase your work digitally. Only display your most creative and innovative works. Try to showcase a variety of samples as well to promote your capabilities as a versatile designer. On top of this, consider incorporating some storytelling in your artworks to make them more unique and engaging. This can help you boost your brand and start meaningful conversations with your audience. 

4. Create a business plan.

Whether you’re planning to start a new design business or conquer the freelance world, establishing a business plan is extremely crucial. Set your objectives and identify your potential clients. Consider how you can market yourself and stand out from your competitors. Learn how to track your expenses and develop your pricing strategies to ensure continuous cash flow. Don’t hesitate to seek help from other professionals when it comes to these matters. 

5. Build your professional network. 

If you’re new to freelancing, one of the best ways for you to get clients is through referrals. Start expanding your professional network by engaging with fellow designers through social media, virtual classes, and online forums. Find a mentor than can help you navigate through the market and attract new clients. Also, maximize your current network by asking your friends and family to spread the word about your freelance services.

Taking the freelance route can be quite challenging at first. But with a little hard work and determination, it might be your biggest career break yet. 

Heather Breese
Heather Breese is a qualified writer who fell in love with creativity and became a specialist creator and writer, focused on readers and market need.

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