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Successful Freelancing Guide: Top 10 Tips!
       


How to be successful, working as “Freelancer” or a “Freelance studio” ??
By Amit Dixit





We often get this question from designers, who are planning to go freelance or just have started working as freelancer or a small freelance studio, So I have decided to write an brief article; giving you - some of my inputs and tips on this ever intriguing question. As the matter in hand is quite subjective, So do use your own reasoning, see whether these tips apply to you and use them, only if you find them logical. The following tips are useful for freelancers or small studio of 2-4 members team, working in field of graphics, design, 3d animation, architectural visualization and computer graphics in general.
Financial security:

First of all, “Going Freelance” is quite a tough decision to make; mainly because of financial insecurity. So, it’s very important to review your own current financial standing and support system. Its better you have ample amount in savings, as flow of money is not very regular. Also, discuss your decision of “going freelance” with your family members, wife or guardian, to check whether they agree and will help you financially until you break even. It might sound funny, but it’s better to do a reality check. Remember your “Savings” will give you head start and peace of mind to work efficiently.


Projects In Hand:

This point doesn’t apply to everyone. Presumably while working in some studio/company, you got some projects on your own….what should I do? Should I go freelance? First of all self evaluate the advantage of working on your own with respect to your current job and working conditions. Consider your financial security as explained above. Also, check whether you can get more projects once current projects in hand are completed,… your networking etc. Don’t leave your current job without notice, and serious explanation, try to finish your pending work and offer to work independently on their projects; if Possible.


What’s In the Name??:

Presumably at this point, you are very much clear about your decision of working as a freelancer OR a freelance studio. Now, the question arises; what name should, I use for my studio? Or more importantly; should I use my own Name OR studio name like “xyzx studio”?? IF you are not traveling alone in the boat, than go for a studio name, which some what defines your “thinking” or “style of work” as a design teams, but it’s not compulsory. You may try to pick a striking or tech-savvy or futuristic or may be even animal name with which you can relate with. Incase of freelancer; choosing you own name over studio name have couple of advantage like; the client won’t expect you to have great infrastructure, less subsidiary work and after all you are building your own name, which will later benefit you greatly in getting recognition once you get well established. You may charge little bit more comparatively; while you work as a studio.


Self Promotion:

This is one of the most important aspects of freelancing. You have to promote your self online and offline, in a very presentable manner. And the first step you can take is to build your own professional portfolio website. Buy your own domain name and hosting space which looks much more professional, instead of using any sub-domain name on free hosting website. If due to financial or any other reason you wont be able to fulfill this requirement than, host your portfolio on any respectable website which offers free portfolio and image hosting service particularly for professionals in your own field without ads or less annoying ads. There are ample of free site available for hosting your design portfolio, one such site is coroflot.com. Do; email your portfolio link to your prospective clients. Describe the services you offer, advantages of hiring you, competitiveness of your rates, references, your skill level and specialization etc….(fact only)!! Besides self promoting your self online, you may also create an interactive CD/DVD for your portfolio and send it to your perspective clients.Remember, do not repeatedly mail or spam using any bulk mail delivering services and “Do not over commit and under perform!”
Another important thing you may do, is to participate in various Competitions; Not only they offer you handsome prizes, they also give you opportunity to display your talent while practicing your own skills, as well as a chance to gain recognition and acclaims.


Networking:

Man is a social animal, if you are not, than; “One tight slap”! On top of everything, this is “the Important” point; that from day one, you should start creating your network by socializing online and offline for getting more work. This also includes Joining various online forums, groups, business and social networking websites. The important thing is to interact with other people working in the same industry while making new association, friends, sharing tips and professional bonding. Other important thing you can do is to pass on your project to fellow freelancer friends, when you have lot of project in hand and cant squeeze another one;…ideally this will be two way process and you will also get projects from other end, when he/she (freelancer friend) have hand full of project and cant squeeze another one due to time constraints etc. This project reference or sharing can be practiced with many other freelancers as well; thus effectively forming a closely knitted professional group. This will also help you getting big projects by forming collaboration with-in your professional group, network or freelance professional’s friend circle or whatever you may like to name it. Things to remember here is; “Trust”, “Motivation” and “Relationship” are the main factors on which successes of your network depends.


Infrastructure:

Ideally – it’s always “Bigger the Better.” But as freelancer it’s not always possible to have the entire required infrastructure due to financial constraints. So, beside all the necessary hardware and software there are few things which have more importance and can be prioritize above rest; like – office stationery (visiting cards, letter head etc.), broadband internet, mobile phone and Fax Machine. Remember to invest on office infrastructure as you climb the ladder of success.



Organize and Time Management:

So, as a freelancer “you are your own boss” and this will have it own benefits but have lots of downfall, if you don’t manage your working schedule and Organize work in an efficient manner. You should choose time for you to work and off course; you must work everyday, just like in a normal job. Also, organize even small work related thing, for example; checking and shorting out emails, making calls to clients, feedback, paperwork, etc. There is one more point people usually don’t think before making the plunge into world of freelancing is: How do you cope up with loneliness? Whether you are “working from home” or “working from office”. Well, the answer for this is quite subjective and depends upon person to person, but few things I can suggest are; # working and keeping your self busy itself is a big neutralizer, # you may surf internet and explore & learn new things beside looking for projects # Socialize online/offline, both personally and professionally, # You may even play computer games :) etc etc..Use your own imagination!


Rate Card :

This is quite tough and very subjective to discuss about; what any professional freelancer could charge for his/her services, rendered to client?...as I am addressing this article quite widely - to people working in field of graphics, design, architectural visualization and computer graphics in general. And every particular niche has its own price rates. But some point you may like to consider, when you draft your Rate list/card are:
# Do some Market research (online/ offline)
# Ask fellow freelancers about their rates
# Your rates should be same, in your first quotation for every client. Than after; final rates may differ depending upon negotiations, type of work, extra work etc.
# Specify your conditions, extra charges if there are changes in design etc.
# Ask for feedback, if there is no answer from clients side after submitting your quotation.



Offshoring / Outsourcing VS Elancing :

This point apply to freelancers working from remote location. You are not a big company, so stop pretending to be one and it’s always better to avoid use of such term like off shoring, outsourcing etc. If you like to work for international clients while working remotely using internet than “Elancing” is more appropriate term to use. Be part of Global community of designers, rather than promoting yourself as cheap labor. Which mean, next time you email your perspective clients, you shouldn’t be explaining them the; benefits of outsourcing. Remember, you can only show the competitiveness of your rates.


Patience, Persistence and Handwork :

These three words are self explanatory, and beside above stated qualities, you must love your work and self driven. Also, remember one more thing – sitting idol doesn’t mean you are doing, noting at all; this time has its own importance. Taking time off from work is Good. On the flip side; you have to check all the closed doors and no stone should be left unturned…..Success is Just few steps away!!



For, now I am ending this article here and hope you will find some of my tips useful and logical. I will update the article, when have something more to share on this topic. Below; are some links, which you might find useful. Wish you all the Success!

Good Luck -




usefull links related to subject:

Coroflot : website for designers which offers free professional portfolio hosting - visit here!
biznik.com : Business Networking that Doesn't Suck - visit here!
Facebook CG-Group : Self promotion + Interact with fellow designers & Artists - visit here!
Elance : Online freelancing site + place to look for work - visit here!
2006 Salary Survey : architectural visualizers salary survey by CGarchitect.com - visit here!



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