Last year I knew I wanted to take freelancing as a career more seriously. Not for just work on the side or for extra cash, but to actually call myself a freelance graphic designer and make a living off it.
I knew I had to think big. Make a real business out of what I wanted to do: design!
So here’s how I took design from a hobby to a full-time profession:
Established a new (consistent) look
I use “look” instead of brand, because my business is just me. I don’t have a clever business name; it’s just my name.
For my “brand”, I use a simple branding method—I keep the same feel in design with a specific color scheme and font choice on everything.
Establishing a brand doesn’t necessarily have to be an entire branding kit with a logo, brochure, letterhead, and envelops.
All you’ve got to do is create a look so that you’re recognizable no matter where your clients are viewing your online profile.
For example: If a potential client is on your Facebook page – your cover photo should use the same colors and fonts as your website header and Twitter background.
(This obviously isn’t a strategy for every business; it’s just my current business decision. Who knows… maybe a year from now I could have a business name with a specific logo and brand.)
If you’re just one person or a small team, creating some sort of identity for yourself is important.
Figure out what you plan to do and who your target audience is. Take a look at yourself – are you elegant or edgy? This could help describe you as a brand… so apply it into your look!
The key is to stay consistent.
Finally got my business organized
Running a business can seem daunting, especially if it’s just a one person show like myself—Responding to emails, taking phone calls, sending contracts, invoicing, marketing, and designing… The list goes on!
I knew that if I wanted to take my business to the next level, then I’d have to get organized!
I created all of the necessary documents following my new “look”, and setup an easy to understand filing system for all of my business files.
Here’s an example of how I nest my files:
Documents > Invoices, Document Templates, etc.
Client Projects > Client Name > PSDs, Website, Inspiration, etc.
Resources > Backgrounds, Textures, Code Templates, Themes, Icons, etc.
Staying organized should also translate over into your actual projects: Naming your Photoshop layers, comments in your code, name of files and images.
Created a design blog
One of the biggest additions to my design business was the creation of my blog.
I’ve built a blog before, but not like this. I organized and planned for months! Establishing the look, purpose, and of course – the content!
I like to think of my website as my own online “hub”, because it’s a place for me to connect, learn, and stay creative.
Always creating stuff for my blog isn’t only going to help keep my creativity kicking, but over time it will generate traffic.
With my portfolio tied to my blog (which is generating traffic), it gives a better opportunity for increasing views to my work!
For me personally, running a blog is just an overall win-win situation!
If you think blogging can be a win-win for your freelance design business, find something you love that you could talk about endlessly and then start!
Tacked on a new service without having to learn any new skills
It makes complete sense – if you offered additional services, you’d have the potential to earn more.
Am I right?
I looked at the services I already offered and thought, “How can I make more with what I already know?”
It’s something I’ve completely over-looked this whole time… printing services!
I’m not going to go out and buy commercial printing equipment just to print my own work out of my garage.
Here’s what I did: I signed up for an affiliate account with a popular online printer. They offer me discounted prices so I can use their printing for my design services.
This is great for two reasons:
- I can personally be in control of getting client work printed without them having to worry. (Basically making me a “one-stop-shop” for my clients.)
- I make a little extra cash, because I get a tiny percentage of all my own sales through this affiliate printer.
Look at your own skill set and services—Maybe there’s something you’re over-looking as well… Cutout the “middle man” and make a little extra by offering those extra services yourself!
I’d love to hear other examples like this, where you can offer an additional service without having to necessarily learn any new skills. Leave a comment and let me know!
Are you taking it to the next level?
No matter what your business is, you can do the smallest of things to help take it to the next level.
If you’re thinking of taking your business to the next level, leave a comment on this post and share what you’ve got planned!
If you’ve already taken your business to the next level, I’d love to hear about your successes too!