The Power of Personal Projects
You might be asking, “But what do I do if I don’t have any client work at all, or if I just don’t like the projects I’ve done previously?”
That’s where the power of personal projects come in! A personal project is something completely directed by yourself. Dream up a pretend client and start designing for them in mind. Just start somewhere, anywhere, and if that means designing work for yourself, in your style, then do it! Or if you don’t mind doing work for free to build your portfolio, start designing for your friends. Ask around to see if anyone needs wedding invites designed, logos etc. Think about what kind of future project you want to be involved in, take the perimeters and adapt them to your personal projects.
If it’s hand lettering you want to get into, maybe you can do a series of hand lettering projects? For example, Noel Shiveley is legendary for having started off on his own through his personal project: 365 lettering project. His portfolio, though heavily self directed doesn’t deter him or make him seem less of an ‘artist’ because it’s not client based projects. If anything I give him even more credit for having so much direction and motivation without the driving force of a client behind him. The benefits of his self initiated projects has definitely paid off because from it he has build up quite the reputation and following online. Who’s to say you can’t get recognized online first, then start having clients flood in because of your personal project?
You can start building a portfolio and having a strong body of work, even without having a client.
Put it Online
The reason why it’s so key to have your work online is so that others can find and see your potential! There’s no good of having your work kept to yourself because firstly, it’s harder to convince someone to work with you simple by words- showing them visually is much stronger of an impact. Secondly- in this day and age, if you don’t exist online that means your unsearchable, therefore are pretty much non existent. Why cut out a huge potential to find your clients from online? Personally, 95% of my clients come through the power of the internet!
Check out which one fits your needs best, and just start posting. Key thought to remember: quality over quantity and consistency.
For the Fame of it
My two cents before I end this post is that fame and recognition doesn’t come overnight. It’ll take weeks, months, years of hard work and dedication before building a strong following, becoming internet famous etc. It’s the myth of the overnight success, as Austin Kleon puts it “"Overnight success" is a lot like "originality" — dig deep enough and you find out it’s a myth." Behind every internet famous designer, portfolio, success, anything really- it’s taken them years to build and become the person they are today. So don’t go comparing their highlighted reel to your behind the scenes. Work hard at building a strong portfolio for the sole purpose of satisfying yourself, and eventually it’ll pay off in some way or another.
Read Less, Curate More
Get online already and become even more searchable!I look forward to hearing your thoughts about today’s blog post. Also I believe we coming close to the end for these “Freelance 101” posts, I can’t think of any more topics to cover. Though if I’m wrong make sure to send me your questions! Next week we’ll talk about the do’s and don’t for freelance and I think that will round off the series fairly nicely.
Till then, x. Bee
I’ve never done a currently coveting only featuring one brand, but honestly I just can’t resist how beautiful and innovative these pieces look from Katamaku. I want all of them!!! I love how often Japanese designs blend minimalism with practical of everyday, eg. Muji. These beauties from Katamaku are made out of tent fabric, then folded to it’s form. I could really do with them, but sadly they only do shipping in Japan. (Seriously, sad face over here) From top left to bottom right; 1. credit card case, 2. pencil case, 3. document folder, 4. clutch purse
Drool! Either I need to make a friend in Japan to get them to ship them to me, or either they have to start shipping internationally, ugh!
Found via pinterest! @belindalovelee
So now that you’ve gotten your business plan down, and you’ve even got your contract template all prepped for your first few clients, you’re so close to almost being a legit freelance designer. Your next key task would be to get a damn good online portfolio together. It’s time to show the world what you’re made of!
Tailor it to your Best
When I first started putting my work online I was so embarrassed and incredibly nervous. I felt so very vulnerable, as if I was putting my heart on the line for the world to judge me; perhaps it’s because I see my design work as an extension to my very being. Over dramatic much?!
Though, it is kind of daunting to begin anything you’re passionate about, whether you’re starting your own finance business, or making your own line of clothing, I guess we all experience that feeling of being vulnerable. When you’re starting a business from scratch there’s always some kind of risk to it- be it money investments or your own ego(!). Putting your self out there is extremely hard, and so very nerve racking but let me say, from experience so far, it is so very worth it!
Start by looking over the work you’ve done in the past and ask yourself some questions. Which of them are your favourites? Is there a theme or style of some sort that pulls your work together? What aspect of graphic design do you love most? Who would be your dream client?
Let’s take my work for example. Even before I began designing, I knew I loved three things, 1. Branding and Identity, 2. Quality paper goods, 3. Quirky yet minimal designs. I then took these three loves and started producing work that fit within my vision and liking. The design style and cliental I want to draw to myself is the very work I put online for others to see. I only feature the work I produce which suits my design style best, meaning that I don’t put every client project up online.
Or if you don’t want to hone in on a particular style of design, perhaps you could focus on a niche cliental. It could be designing for small business, or doing web design for photographers in specific, or designing corporate branding. I think it’s important to know your style/target cliental, because that is what will set you apart from other designers. With this focus in mind, tailor your work for your online portfolio, so that it’s can be it’s very best.
Pointers for a Strong Portfolio
A couple of pointers to what makes a good portfolio:
1. Consider your target client- Have in mind who you want to design for and tailor your body of work with that person in mind.
2. Be selective with pieces to form a strong body of work- show your capabilities to design for different scenarios.
3. Have good photos- good lighting makes all the difference.
4. Have 6-12 photos per project- show different aspects of the project and it’s unique design elements.
5. Update it regularly- keep it fresh to draw new attention!
Read Less, Curate More
This time it’s the opposite. Put that book down, get your ass into action and start putting your work online! Don’t be shy. The important factor is to be searchable!
What are your thoughts of what makes a good portfolio? For part 2 of “A Good Portfolio” check in next week!
Found via pinterest @belindalovelee
Now that we’ve discussed the overall basics of freelance, how to get started, saving up to get started, the business plan and how to build your hourly rate, we’re getting into real serious stuff- contracts!
I cannot emphasise it enough. Get a damn good contract before you start any sort of work, even if it’s for a family friend!
A Damn Good Contract
For some reason people view the graphic design industry in this really skewed way, perhaps not intentionally, but there have been one too many times freelancer’s have gotten screwed over with spec work etc. (I’ll be talking more about spec work later)
I remember at the beginning when I first had a contract I was so nervous to give them out. I was so weird about it! I just felt as though I was doing my clients injustice and would apologize for getting all professional and technical on them. Crazy, I was. I guess in my head I thought I would scare them off or something.
But say for example if you were to buy a house, would you just shake on a deal, and feel that you’ve solidified your purchase? No. You’d want a written contract stating when it was sold, when you can move in, etc. Even if you handed over your money without a contract, you’d partially be like but don’t I get a written statement of some sort stating what’s mine, and what’s yours? Exactly. Just think of your design work as the house that you’re about to hand over, you wouldn’t just give it over so easily without a written statement, would you?
Today, I never start a project until 1. I’ve gotten a deposit and 2. I’ve gotten the signed contract back. Because so much of my business is online, and I deal with people via email, though they might sound friendly and all, when it comes down to ownership rights and money, things can get complicated. What better than to sort it all out even before you begin any design work.
Here’s a quick video (hilarious, but true) of what a feels like to do design work without a contract, and sadly sometimes even with a contract: The Vendor Client Relationship- In Real Life
The aim of a contract is to:
- Give an outline and help keep both you and the client on the same page with clear explanations and clear definitions; what they’re getting, prices, schedules, deadlines etc.
- Prevent miscommunications from happening, avoiding conversations like, “but I thought that price included x,y,z “
- Protect your rights and their rights, therefore your relationship with each other
- Make you look all the more professional
Internet Less, Contract More
Below are a couple of resources and contract templates to help you build your own contract. Read over it and tailor it to each of your client’s needs. Also make sure to understand what’s written, there’s nothing more embarrassing then them asking you what section 2 means when you don’t even understand it yourself.
Legal contracts don’t sound like a lot of fun and may take time to write up with every client, but it’s an important part of running a successful business.
I personally feel so much more confident as a designer with a good contract behind me. I’ve grown with more confidence to also send a contract over without feeling nervous. If a client isn’t willing to sign or read it, don’t work with them. Period. Their lack of willingness is only a foreshadow of the trouble to come. A contract has saved me numerous times from clients not willing to pay up! Now it’s become so part of my routine, I get more hassle free clients.
What are you experiences with contracts? Send me your thoughts and questions with regards to freelancing and other questions would you like me to answer!
Hope this was insightful.
August has surprisingly been a month of great weather over here in the UK. We’ve had literally a whole month of sunshine, a real summer! I couldn’t have been more in my element- well with the exception of being in the Bahamas. This month I have been inspired by nature itself. Nature and it’s Creator does do a good job at keeping me entertained!
1. Hydrangea overgrown!
2. We went for a walk through fields of wheat. It was so beautiful to see crops growing in their season.
3. Shades of green.
4. My amazing husband, Kerf Collection, made this live edge table for our home! Handmade straight from a piece of oak. Ohmyg, I couldn’t have married better!
5. Rose beds in full bloom.
6. Stealing my neighbour’s lavender, because they just smell so sweet!
7. This window is possibly the prettiest window I’ve ever come across.
8. Little cute pickings.
Find me on instagram to see more of my daily happenings @belindalovelee