Take your design career to the next level with a freelancing mentor

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Have you been freelancing for a while now with less success than you had hoped for when you started out? Maybe you’re just getting started on the freelance scene and feel like a fish out of water. Whatever concerns you have  about freelancing, many of them can be resolved with a freelancing mentor.

What is a freelancing mentor?

The concept of finding a freelance mentor is not a new one. Plenty of freelancers do it. A freelancing mentor is simply someone who has found success as a freelancer and is willing to share their success stories, guidance, ideas, and suggestions with you.

Some mentors are paid, others ask for a slice of whatever money they help you make as a freelancer, and some just do it out of the kindness of their hearts.

Why do I need one?

You might be wondering why you need a mentor if you read blogs like this one on a regular basis. The truth of the matter is, even though we try to tailor our blog posts to your needs, there’s no way that we (or any other blog for that matter) can know the individual needs of each of our readers every single day.

We can guess – and, frankly, sometimes we come pretty close. But we can never know for sure.

A mentor can be your personal guide to the freelancing jungle. They can help you understand the ins-and-outs of freelance business: finding clients, deciding on rates, and building your brand. Because, let’s admit it, not all outstanding designers are outstanding businessmen or businesswomen.

If you’ve been struggling to get your design business off the ground, maybe what you need is a personal freelancing mentor.

Where do I find one?

I wish I had an easy answer for this question, but there are a million place you could potentially find a good mentor. You could leave a comment on this post (for starters) in hopes that you might connect with a potential mentor.

You might also consider looking in the following places:

  • Freelance Forums
    Forums that discuss freelancing can be one of the best places to find a mentor, ask questions, and get personalized answers.
  • Among your colleagues
    Perhaps there’s a mentor in your circle of trust already. If there’s a friend who always offers solid advice, perhaps you can approach them about establishing a more solidified mentor relationship.
  • Within your social networks
    If you’re anything like me, you interact with hundreds and thousands of people every month via social media. Use this awesome tool as a way to find your mentor.
  • At your place of work
    Many freelancers have yet to quit their day job. And many of your coworkers probably have a side-business just like you. Chances are, you can learn from each other.
  • In the classroom
    If you’re still a student, take advantage of students who are older, wiser, or more experienced than you. It’s likely many of your classmates are running side gig to get through school. If no students pull through, find a teacher who can become a mentor to you.

An attempt to connect you with a mentor

If you’re looking for a mentor, leave a comment on this post. If you’d like to give back (and maybe make a few bucks on the side) leave a comment on this post. I wish there were a better forum in which to do this, but if this post can be of any help in connecting freelance designers with a much-needed mentor, I’d love for that to happen.

Where else can you find mentors? Do you have a mentor? Are they really necessary? What do you think?

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About Preston D Lee

Preston is a web designer, entrepreneur, and the founder of this blog. @prestondlee

Comments

  1. I would love to have a web design freelance mentor as I’m just getting started with freelancing and am not sure exactly how to get the ball rolling.

    • Aquila JOnes says:

      I am in desperate need of a mentor. I have my own small business and it seems as though it is not moving in the right direction. PLEASE HELP!

  2. Me too, i am also looking for an awesome Mentor who can guide me to make a strong ground in the career of designing…

  3. I’d be open to it. Would like to look into cost and the mentor’s resume or track record. I’ve seen a few blog mentors out there but not specifically freelance mentors.

  4. I think I’m in the in-between category…I’d love to find an established someone who wants to share tips, tricks, experiences, how-tos, and ideas, but I’ve also enjoyed reasonable success in my short freelancing career and am willing to share tips that have helped me.

    I would very much enjoy a good forum/website like this that is specifically dedicated to freelance design, too.

    @Beau: Perhaps you should start one!

    • @April,

      I would appreciate any advice you might have from your experiences. Opening yourself up to learning can only be a good thing!

      • @Keith,

        View my portfolio and email me with any specific questions you may have. I’ll email you back with some tips I’ve learned and my answers to your questions.

        PS – Sorry about my slow response; I returned from traveling, had about a week of time at home, and am now preparing to leave again on Thursday for a 4th of July vacation. If I am non-existent over this coming weekend, never fear, I haven’t ignored you. I’ll be back home the next week and will be able to respond more thoughtfully and thoroughly then.

        April

    • Hi April. I know this is an older thread, but I would like to hear what have helped you with your business. Hope everything is going even better than a year ago :)

  5. Hmmm….too bad this blog/post is just for designers. I’m a B2B copywriter and am potentially interested in getting a B2B copywriting mentor. I’m posting this just in case any established B2B copywriters see this or in case anyone here knows someone who might be interested in being a mentor to a copywriter.

  6. Laurel Hanna says:

    I am on the hunt for a design mentor, freelance or otherwise. I’ve recently graduated college and will do what it takes for my career to take off. I’m in the Cleveland, OH area and would love for someone to help me out.

  7. I’ve been freelancing part time for a year now and I still have tons of questions ranging from invoicing to marketing. I’d love to have a mentor to reach out to. Especially since my ultimate goal is to freelance full time, but I just don’t know when to take the plunge! Although I don’t know if I can pay someone to mentor me, I think I would pay it forward and become a mentor in the future.

  8. I would love to have a Mentor, I’m an illustrator and I start Freelancing this year, and was definitely good, I worked on many books, IPhone apps, film, tv commercial, videogames and websites;
    Then I moved to USA and I’m kinda stuck right now :-)
    this is my website:

    http://alessandroveneart.com/

    If someone feel to share some ideas, or know how to bring me some work
    and maybe make a few bucks can mail me
    at ; venealessandro@gmail.com

  9. I’m an excellent designer/ art director who is not very good at sniffing out work.
    I would happily pay a reasonable fee for successful leads. Visit my 2 work sites if this is the kind of work you think you can use please gete in touch. My drawback is that I don’t do internet or web design.

  10. I have been working as an employed graphic designer for the past 5 or 6 years but left my job december last year and began my freelance career in March this year. I am currently working on a new website and brand identity but would like the opportunity to speak with somebody who is where I want to be and get feedback on how I am really doing. I realise that money and sucess will come with time but I would like to know that I am on the right track and heading in the right direction, doing the right things.

    A mentor would be great not only for some great advice and direction but also as a valid connection and colleague outside of my office and circle of non designer colleagues!

  11. Hi, I am looking for a mentor to help me in my web design career. I’m self taught and would benefit and appreciate any knowledge a mentor could provide to assist in getting to the next level.

    I’d also be willing to mentor people in Photoshop. No fees required. I would love to help someone build their skills.

  12. I am looking for a mentor. i have applied for different projects on odesk but no one seems to hire me. i just want my first breakthrough but its been days and now i’m kinda down. :(

  13. I need a mentor because business is sort of drying up around here and I know it is because of how my web site is laid out and the marketing text I am using. I have friends that have marketing companies but I can’t afford them and would not want to devalue what they do by asking them to charge me less.

    I have a lot of work experience but mostly as an inhouse person at design firms, magazines or corporate settings. Any help is appreciated.
    Thanks.

  14. I am looking for a freelance graphic design mentor specifically in fashion/luxury brand, print and web advertisement design. I manage OK by myself, but I’d love to know more about making the right contacts, most efficient and productive way to contact the appropriate art and marketing directors etc.,

    Thank you for your time!

  15. Hi! I am a freelance graphic designer based in Vancouver, B.C. I have been doing freelance work ever since I have graduated 2 years ago. I am hoping to see more success out of it. I focus in designing brand identities, print and packaging. Many people love the work I do, but I seem to be having trouble finding prospects and having the opportunity to working with them. Right now I am finding new projects. Other than asking previous clients for referrals, where and who else can I get projects from? Please help.

  16. Nilanga Liyanage says:

    Freelance Designing is much more interesting because it gives you much more freedom. But you must be smart enough to use that freedom more effectively where you can convert it to profitability. Freelance Designing is where you work for your self and by making your clients happy you could earn a substantial amount. By doing freelance Designing you can fix an Hourly rate which would be lower than the rate of an Advertising Agency, where the client may feel comfortable with you (since your overhead costs could be kept to a minimal). As a result this may enable you in delivering a High Quality Art work for a reasonable price where both you and Client may end up in a win win situation and client may not move away from you.

  17. Good afternoon,

    Hello, my name is Koriel Lewis I am a student that attends William H. Turner Technical High School of the Arts, and I am currently in the 12th grade. In being in 12th grade my high school has to complete a capstone research paper on our career strand of choice and my career is web design or graphic design. I am writing to ask if there is anyone in your company that would be willing to becoming my mentor?

  18. Hi there,

    I am a new web designer and starting a new web design business. I am looking for a mentor who has been successful at finding steady clients as a freelancer or small business owner with a limited budget.

    Please let me know if you are interested in becoming a mentor OR if you know of any sites where I could find one.

    Thanks!

  19. Hi am looking for a freelance web/graphic design mentor who caters to small business owners and women bloggers or women in general or someone that has a niche client based. I think out side the box not into the cookie cutter designs you see in blogs and i think thats putting some people off am at a cross roads because am not sure if i should give in and go with the cookie cutter look or stick to mine and not go forward with my business . I love designing i want to do this full time and i been trying since 2007! Help!!!

  20. I see this is an older thread, but here goes nothing. I am an experienced graphic designer/new web designer looking for a mentor to answer questions and give a little guidance on everything from web design/code questions to the business side as well. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  21. Hi. I see this is an older thread as well, but Im also looking for a mentor. I’m currently working full-time. but I’m hoping to go on my own one day, in the meantime I want to start getting projects but Im having a hard time getting prospect clients. Everyone loves my work and I have experienced with print, online marketing and web design. Any help would be appreciated.

  22. Hi.
    I’m looking for a mentor. I’m currently working full-time. I do have a freelance business, but I only get minimal work here and there, I’m looking to grow my clientele so maybe one day I could go out on my own and work for myself. I have 15 years experience in the design industry, I can design for print/web/retail//apps etc.

    I’m looking for someone that has experience in the business side of things as well and that will be able to meet on a regular basis.

    Regards
    Justin

  23. Hello my name is Rick Wilson, student graphic designer, illustrator, photographer and artist from the UK.
    I could use a mentor’s help in steering me in the right direction if freelance is for me.

    In the past Ive had projects working in radio design work and photography work within retail and promotional photography for band promotion and modelling agencies, along with social networking event’s.

    All great projects but not much money as most of the projects undertaken were “non-profit” scenarios. What I need is a stable fixed cash payment, which from where Iam now, Lead’s only to finding a design company that will take me.

    During this recession and not being able to find descent work or client’s who arnt willing to pay, I dedicate nearly all of my time to improving design’s and constantly keep myself busy updating work and creating my own projects, I just wish there was a way to do this whilst I wait for a job to come along. Iam good at escaping from the world into my own little creative corner, I’arnt so good with the business side of thing’s.

    My website gets near to 800 a month along with other online portfolios with an inter-linked network from one to the other, yet with all the hits nothing concrete is coming through from anyone interested. I have a part time job that keeps me going, I just wish I could do a job more meaningful that treats me right and which doesn’t dehumanise me.

    Anyway, see my website underneath and tell me what you think, any help will go to further improvement’s.

    http://www.rickwilsongraphic-designer.co.uk/
    Thankyou
    R

  24. Hi Rick,

    Who is your target audience? How does your website make them feel? What would they say about it? Is that what you want them to say?

    The first things that strike me when I see your website is the top left-hand corner of the site. I see 0s and 1s and I think programmer. Then I see the spider-like thing and I automatically, with the black background, think dark. Sci-fi, fantasy, comics, scary basements. So within 2 seconds, I’ve categorized you as a night-owl coder who blacks out his windows and likes the darker side of sci-fi.

    Then I get confused when I read your title and it says “graphic designer.”

    Next, as a fellow designer, I see 6 different fonts without scrolling down the page. Six!!! This means you skipped the planning stage of your website. Design (or find) a theme and stick to it.

    The main body of text is very hard to read because the justification creates unnatural spacing between the words. You also have a lot of text there and a lot of grammar mistakes.

    Check out this link of 50 great portfolios: http://www.graphicdesignblender.com/50-stunning-design-portfolios-you-must-see-before-redesigning-yours.

    Good luck in improving your website!

    April

    • Thankyou April, that’s very helpful, at this point of my life I still dont know which sector I want to work in, I enjoy illustrating and working for myself, I just dont know where it would fit in society, especially round where I live..
      I dont get much fun from doing client briefs, as an artist I generally dont like having to give my work away and being dictated what to do, even if its a good sum of money at the end of it. I love animated comedy sitcoms like “family guy” ect.. I always thought I would be more suited to working in something like that, or having the ability to create my own, I sorta have, but I dont know how to get into an industry like that :/

      R

  25. I am looking for a mentor too, hope you guys will help me up…

    dipustaika@gmail.com

  26. I am looking for a mentor of graphic design. I live in toronto.

    evaluo@rocketmail.com

  27. I would love to have a mentor, I have a graphic and web design business that needs some help :)

  28. Hey.

    Great article. It served as an answer to my Google question. I’d love to serve as a Graphic Design mentor. Please let me know if you guys have made any progress in this innitiative. Thanks!

    D

  29. Hey guys,

    Sounds like many freelancers or aspiring freelancers could use some guidance. Unfortunately, potential mentors don’t seem to be really eager to advertise their availability (at least, not publicly).

    So, an old yet still efficient idea just jumped through my head while I was scanning the many comments to this article : skill barter.

    Even if we’re not doing awesome in business these days, chances are we all have several skills we’re decent, good, or even excellent at (if you have none, maybe freelancing is not the best call for you). For those who carefully analyzed their skill set as Preston recommanded to us in several articles, we know what our strengths and weaknesses are. Now, we “just” have to find somebody to fill the holes (ideally, somebody with needs we can answer to, in a win-win situation, so we could build a co-mentoring, or even partnertship).

    What do you think?

    Kevin

  30. latrice says:

    I just recieved an associates degree in Web Design & Interactive Media so I’m just like standing not knowing what to do next so I would love to have someone mentor me on my road to success. Please contact me if you can share any knowledge or guidance I would appreciate it!

    LaTrice

  31. I am offering myself as a mentor. I live and work in Australia. I been have been doing web design for 17 years including the last ten, full time mainly doing interface design.

  32. Hi, I’m a struggling graphic designer. I’ve tried to step out as a freelancer, but haven’t been able to. I realize that my skills need a lot of refining. I specialize in branding and I’m learning front-end webdesign on my own. I have an interest in illustration also but I’m not confident with my drawing skills. I would really like a mentor to help me refine my skills and become a better designer. I want to create quality designs because mediocre works makes me sick. I’ve taken part in many design competition namely on 99designs but haven’t won any. I’m realizing there are still a ton of things I need to learn. Having a mentor who has experience who can help me avoid so many pitfalls would be a dream come true. I live in china and work for a graphic design company here. But the language barrier and difference in design styles is really annoying. Thanks in advance. please contact me at borne_1@hotmail.com if you are interested in being my mentor.

    Sam

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