Work as Freelance Designer

Work-At-HomeThe paradigm of the traditional 9-to-5 job appears to be shifting nearly as rapidly as technology keeps evolving. Reports of downsizing, corporate restructuring, and outsourcing are standard subjects of business news reports. How do workers adapt to these changing work conditions? Many are expanding their work options by becoming part-time freelance designers. Students seeking entrée into the workforce and other individuals who are not interested in joining the traditional workforce structure also are developing careers, income streams and experience as freelancers. This new work paradigm is seen and felt in industries throughout the world.

The Euro Freelancers Association’s reports that almost every fourth European person is working independently. Their studies show that this will be an ongoing work structure trend.


Why freelance

Many current and former employees are discovering significant advantages in becoming freelance workers. Miriam Salpeter, contributor to Aol Jobs identifies some reasons to start freelancing. Among the reasons she cites are:

  1. Change – According to Intuit, almost 40% workforce will be the people who will prefer freelancing career.
  2. Multiple income streams may be a better financial “insurance policy” as your financial well-being is not dependent on the longevity of one job or the stability of one company.
  3. Greater creativity – ”When you freelance, you have more opportunities to follow different professional paths.”
  4. Flexibility – “…you decide what jobs and projects to take on and you set your own schedule in many cases.”

Who are you

Before you start searching for freelance contract work online, order business cards, or tell anyone about your intentions, complete an honest assessment of your technical and personal skills.

  • List all technical skills – programming languages, web or graphic design, software development, desktop publishing.
  • Are you proficient or at least conversant in English? Much of the global freelance opportunities are dependent on the contractor being English conversant.
  • Identify your skills of greatest and least proficiency.
  • Determine your work style: are you most effective in the morning or late at night? Are you able to work independently or do you need frequent direction? How do you handle the pressures of short turnaround times for projects? How self-disciplined are you? Are you a good communicator?
  • What income do you expect/need to generate?
  • Consider gradually incorporating freelance work into your existing schedule. It is a fairly simple way to assess whether freelance work is a good career option for you.

Getting established

Being a freelance designer is truly a global experience. The European Commission recognizes that freelance workers are becoming a vast workforce of increasing influence and need. Yet it is interesting to note that the most successful and globally reaching freelance networks are typically based in the US rather than in the EU. The easiest way to begin a freelance design career is by registering with the three primary networking web sites: Elance, Freelancer and Guru. These online companies serve as conduits between individuals and companies needing specific project work done and the freelance workers available to complete those projects. Each of these resources has an internationally-wide client and contractor base. There are a few other online freelance sites but they do not appear to have the breadth of project/employer opportunities, easy-to-use web sites, or clearly defined payment terms.

Becoming a contractor with Elance, Freelancer or Guru is an easy process. You will create an online profile that includes contact information and areas where you will identify your specific skills, post a resume and add portfolio samples of your work. Note that much of the work you do as a freelancer may be restricted by non-disclosure agreements and you will not be able to post examples from completed projects to your portfolio page.

You may test the skills you wish to incorporate into your profile through each web site’s skills assessment (voluntary) options. Your test results help establish credibility that you have accurately stated your skills. Create a mission statement to let employers know the types of work you focus on and highlight specific qualities and skills to let them know what sets you apart from other contractors.

Bidding on projects

Some employers state a flat fee or an hourly rate and also a project cost limit – “…not to exceed”. You determine, based on the description of the job, what is a reasonable amount you will charge within the established parameters. There is bidding risk in two directions: under- and overpricing. The web sites can help you develop successful bidding strategies.

Many projects, repeat projects

Many freelancers work with a variety of employers and projects and also have repeat business from a nucleus of individuals or organizations who have used – and highly value the contractor’s work.

Income potential

Income flow will fluctuate as will the number of jobs being awarded to you. Your greatest chance for reliable income flow is to register will all three organizations and discipline yourself to check each website every day to monitor projects results of your proposals and identify/bid on new projects.

Freelance power

Freelancers are gaining in numbers and in respect. They are the specialized resources many companies turn to for project development, enhancement, revision and completion. This may be your perfect opportunity and the right time might be now. Entrepreneurship becomes you!