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
Build your Hourly
Now that you’ve gotten your business plan/dreams down on paper, you’ve got to determine how much to charge. This is probably the hardest part determining how much your work is worth! I personally bill hourly and would suggest to price yourself that way too. Simple because changing a flat rate can really screw you over at times- with some clients it might only take 12 hours to design a logo, and with others 25 plus hours. Therefore if you bill yourself hourly, firstly your clients will respect the time you put into the work, and also personally you’ll be more accountable to working productively. It’s so hard to give a ball park of what exactly to charge because it’s honestly different with every person, depending on your experience, living standards and the area in which you live. My advice is for you to do some research online to figure out how much people are charging at about your level of experience. Also take into account that if it’s your first year or two freelancing probably charging $150/per hour won’t get you very many clients, if any at all. A couple of great post that really go into the detail of it all, and can help calculate your hourly is over at The Design Trust or Vale Design.
The one thing I can say about pricing is that you need value yourself- the work, effort and time you put into it. It took a long time for me not to feel nervous about pricing myself high. Learn to see your own self worth, and value to work you do. I see great designers out there that are designing and charging only $20USD for ready made logos on Etsy. I don’t want to hate, but first off, that’s just lowering the standards and prices for good design by providing such ready made logos. Secondly, ready made logo services are for boring companies like Vistaprint, who actually don’t really care about design- they’re like the corporates of the fast food industry- undercutting all worth and value for quality food. Ready made, cheap prices= undercutting yourself and the design industry.
I think the first time where I realized I should be pricing myself quiet a lot higher was when I realized that my work is pivotal for a company’s image. As designers we play a huge part as to how others view and see the company. That value we give to a company is really unmeasurable and can make the world’s difference for them. If it places such value on a company, why shouldn’t we learn to value our own work. The busier I got, I started raising my prices and realized that people were still willing to pay, because my work was worth it! I did undercharge at the beginning, but the good thing about that was I got to build my portfolio and experience the industry. Though, my confidence in myself as a designer has grown significantly since then and I hesitate far less quoting on projects. When you show your potential clients how much you’re worth by pricing yourself higher, they will also see and value your work for what it really is, hopefully too.
Read More, Internet Less
1. Handbook for Pricing & Ethical Guidelines by Graphic Artist Guild
The GAG’s purpose is to promote and protect the social, economic and professional interests for all creatives alike, graphic designers, illustrators, animators, etc. They aim to improve the working conditions and raise the standards for the entire industry. This book is as it suggests- a guideline for pricing and ethical rights as a designer. All I can say is it’s saved me from selling out myself far too many times!
It’s so very important to love and value ourselves, outside and inside the world of design. I’m telling you guys this in hopes of helping the ones that are just starting off, so they can just skip the step of a lack of self worth! Or maybe it’s just all a part of the journey?
Let me know your thoughts, and pass this on to a designer friend who needs to hear this! Also thanks to all of you out there reading this and for your wonderful feedback thus far. Ps. If you have any other freelance questions you’d like me to answer send them my way!
Head on over to Provencial Magazine to read an interview about why I chose to become a designer, and in it all the importance of rest. Key point from the interview: “Rest is what keeps you grounded in your craft.” Kind of feeling narcissistic quoting myself, lol, but I promise it’s good stuff. Read it here.
Provencial Mag is inspired by the simplicity of life, on how to bring the calm productivity of the provencial life into the hustle bustle of the busy city. They just started a kickstarter campaign to get their online magazine into a quarterly print, it’s absolutely going to be beautiful. Make sure to check it out.
Thank you Grace for interviewing me and letting my words and work join the beauty and talent on Provencial Mag!
I’m a sucker for anything hand written/drawn (hence my whole blog and style!) but these labels have just won over my heart. It just makes me want to start my own farmer’s market stall, not for the sake of food, but for the very reason that I can design the packaging and labels on them. Food’s just more delicious with yummy labelling!
Find me on pinterest @belindalovelee
Wow guys! I just want to say thank you for all the positive feedback I’ve been getting in response to the series, Freelance 101. So very encouraging! Last week we talked about Them ‘Dollar Bills’, and the week before on ‘How to get Started’. I’ve never seen myself as a wordy blogger type of person, but to my surprise my words are making a difference, so thank you all.
This week we’re going tap into some of the more practical parts of freelancing, the real nitty gritty parts which are so very crucial.
Get Dreaming and Planning
First off, whether you’re opening a shop, restaurant or you’re choosing to go freelance. One thing in common across all these start-ups is that you need a business plan. You’re probably thinking, “damn, you did not just get all academic on me.”
Trust me, I use hate all forms of business plans/ goals, bullshit academic like things, just the word ‘business plan’ itself seems so daunting. But what changed my mind to actually being excited about making a business plan, was when I started thinking of it in a different light. Think of a business plan as just ‘dreaming’ and planning how to achieve those dreams. At least for me, my mind suddenly makes the switch of doing something seemingly tedious into something fun; dreaming is easy!
A business plan is really important because it helps get your dreams from your mind on to paper- giving you an overall map as to which direction to head towards with the actions and steps to get there. It doesn’t need to look like a 5 page essay, mine simply looks like scribbles and a brainstorming map.
A couple of quick questions that come to mind are: What’s your mission statement? What services will you provide? What clients are you targeting? Who’s your niche? Where do you want to be in 3 months, 2 years, 5 years, down the line? Find out what defines you, and what doesn’t define you.
For me, my clients are start-up business, young couples, creatives alike (bloggers, food stylist, etc) from 20-55 young, trendy individuals that like quirky, minimal, illustrative designs. I want for them to not have a carbon copy logo, but a logo that really speaks to their personality. So it is in my very concern to get to know them and their business well! In 3 months time, I want to continue building my cliental and gaining recognition online but also in publications. Something I want to aim for is to get more hand lettering and illustrations into magazines, books and such. 2 years down the line, I want to have a stationary store of some sort running online (or better yet in the physical) where I can sell my own line of products, while still building my repertoire as a great design studio influencing the design world around me. Something that isn’t what I aimming or planning to do, is have my business turn into an agency. I don’t plan on hiring other people to work under me. Why? Simply because of preference, I just don’t want to see myself growing as an agency but more so as an independent designer. That is just the tiniest glimpse into my business plan but I thought it’d be helpful to share!
Read More, Internet Less
2. The Freelance Handbook by Computer Arts
This magazine-book was on sell early January 2012 in the UK alongside with the other magazine-book I suggested last week from Computer Arts, it’s not print anymore but you can get it online. It’s great, because it’s short and easy to read, bullet-point form kind of writing with step to steps to freelancing!
What are your thoughts on your business plan? Let me know what you think because I would love to hear them!