Web design

How to Get More Work Without Working More

For those of you thinking of trading your 9-to-5 job for a more relaxed and independent work routine, there’s never been a better time to take the leap to working for yourself. Freelance writers, photographers, designers, illustrators, and all kinds of entrepreneurs are now going solo with great success. What’s more, they seem to be getting more clients and more work without having to work longer hours. Some work half the time that a full-time 9-to-5 job would require, making double the profit as well as a name for themselves in today’s highly competitive, but rewarding, market. What are their secrets? Let’s have a look.

Collaboration

Getting more work doesn’t have to mean working more, as long as you collaborate wisely. Why not combine talent and energy with other artists and freelancers that have that certain something you might be missing? At times, working alone can prove quite the struggle, not to mention the expense of having to constantly invest in education or new tools. Even established artists often need to collaborate in order to save money off printing, promoting or showcasing their work.

Keep in mind, it pays to be wise when you’re looking to collaborate. Instead of going around asking your friends to join forces with you, think long and hard about what your specific vision, goals, style and budget is. Just because you like someone, doesn’t mean you would enjoy working together. Choose someone whose work you really admire, someone whose style matches your own, someone who shares the same goals as you and, of course, someone who could add to your knowledge and skill. Do some research and get in touch with artists you admire—this will not only lead to a successful collaboration, but it will also offer you free exposure, deeper linking to your website and more effective marketing overall.

Resources

The right resources can go a long way when looking to get more work without working more. Your first stop should be Timothy Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich. Published in 2007, Ferriss’ book was featured on The New York Times Best Seller List for more than four years and has sold millions of copies for a good reason. The information found here is useful to anyone thinking of going independent, from bloggers to artists.

ux-book

You may also want to have a look at Susan Weinschenk’s 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People (Voices That Matter). It’s a great resource for increasing effectiveness and usability of your work, as well as finding answers to questions regarding your audience.

Networking

One of the secrets when it comes to getting more work without working more is effective networking. Social media allows you to become an overnight sensation, as long as you go about it the right way. Get in touch with other designers you know and admire, organize events, set up a blog, submit guest posts to respected blogs and blogs in your niche. Market yourself efficiently, fatten up your portfolio and link to it from everywhere.

Also, ask your clients to mention you in their newsletters and to link to your website or Facebook page. Having a strong online presence and a good reputation among clients will generate more work down the line that will be better-paid, less demanding and specific to what you do best. However, you need to stay organized when new projects start streaming in. Delivering orders on time is crucial to maintaining your business.

Get Out There

Collaborate wisely, make good use of all your available resources and network as much as you can. Market your services and deliver top quality design, on time and with a smile, and your goals will become reality in no time.


Header image created using Flat Design Office Desk 02 by Blue Lela Illustrations.


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Web design

8 Ways to Get More Attention to Your Design Work

Starting out as a freelance designer, one of the biggest challenges is getting consistent work. Clients aren’t exactly easy to come by, especially without an established name or brand.

One of the best ways to grow your design business is to simply get more exposure for your work. Getting exposure could mean adding clients to your freelance business. Below are 8 effective ways to get more attention to your design work and to ultimately help you grow your freelance business.

1. Share Your Best Work

The first and most significant step of getting more attention is becoming a curator. You have to share your absolute best work and only your best work. Each design, screenshot, or wireframe you share is a tiny advertisement for your freelance design business.

2. Build a Solid Portfolio

The major misconception a lot of designers have with the rise of design networks like Dribbble or Behance is that you don’t need a portfolio anymore. While this may work for some, it is increasingly challenging.

Building a portfolio has a number of benefits. Here are a few:

  • Keep all your top projects in one place, without distraction.
  • Write case studies and explain the reasoning/thinking behind your work.
  • Create a blog and write about design and your place in the community.
  • Share more information about yourself and your methodology.
  • Direct all traffic from other networks, sites, and any other press you receive to your portfolio.

3. Promote On Multiple Networks

Places to promote design work.

Marketing is key for any successful business, freelancing included. Sharing your work on various networks is just another great way to drive traffic, and potential clients, to your portfolio.

There are a ton of social networks these days though. Finding the right one for your work may be a challenge at first. Here are the top three networks for designers and creative people.

  • Dribbble: Show and Tell for Designers
  • Behance: Showcase & Discover Creative Work
  • Instagram: Capture and Share the World’s Moments

4. Collaborate

Collaboration is a great way to expose your work and style to a whole new audience. Working with other designers can also sharpen your skills.

If you have the time and ability, look to jump in on a collaboration this year. It is a great way to learn, grow, and improve your design business.

5. Create Side Projects

In 2014, side projects were encouraged by designers everywhere. Some of the most successful side projects turn into sustainable businesses for people.

Not only are side projects a great way to take a step back from your work, but they are a good way to attract new attention to your work.

Designers, developers, and creatives alike all share a passion for their work. Take some time in 2015 to start a side project and see where it takes you.

6. Write

Having an active voice in the design community can help you become an authority. Not only will other designers respect you, but clients will too.

Write about your process. Write about the challenges you faced in certain design projects. Write about the unique aspects of your business.

You can really write about anything. Just make it your authentic voice.

7. Get Involved

Design Communities DesignerNews

Participate in design communities like DesignerNews and the CreativeMarket Forums. Actively jump in to conversations about where design is going on Twitter. Attend meetups and connect with other designers in real life.

These are just a few examples of how you can get more attention for your design work without specifically promoting it. Writing is one thing, but jumping in on the conversation and having a voice in the design community can help build trust and authority even more.

8. Teach

One of my favorite articles by Nathan Barry mentions his respect for Chris Coyier as a teacher. Nathan shows how Chris improved his skill set at the same pace as him, but since he was also actively sharing his process he built a business in the mean time.

Take the time to share your experience this year.  Not only will it improve your experience as a designer, but it could help grow your business.


Mike Moloney is the owner of FilterGrade, a cool little shop offering Photoshop actions and resources to photographers and creatives. He also shares more photo editing and photography tips/resources on the FilterGrade Blog.

Header image created using 36 Hand Drawn Sunbursts & Stars by GraphicsFuel.

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Web design

Guide To Boosting Your Freelance Career With Pro Bono Work

People who are new to web design and development, writing or any other sort of creative work have little to show in their portfolio. And that’s a potentially major problem as thousands of experts with strings of portfolios are already out in a saturated market. What advantage could a newcomer have over someone who’s had years of experience and a reputation to boot?

Well, you can always go pro bono to build up your professional portfolio first. Want to know how? I’ve put together a quick guide on how to leverage pro bono work to gain more work.

What Is Pro Bono?

Pro bono is basically work done by a professional for free for the public. But in the freelance scene’s context, it’s for a freelancer’s image. Pro bono work is tricky. I say tricky because there are two different opinions on this. There’s the professionals who hate pro bono work and the ones who are for it.

The group against pro bono work feel that artists are getting ripped and selling themselves short of what they are worth. Alongside that you have many clients that prey on beginners to get free or extremely cheap labor.

The professionals are right; you should never ever sell yourself short. Hate on these predators (for lack of a better term) however you want, but why not you use them to your advantage instead?

The Sad Truth About Starting Freelancing

Only the experienced ones are given the high-paying projects. It doesn’t really matter if you are an experienced developer, designer or writer, if your online profile is basically zero, you’re out of luck.

You need to have an online presence.

When I started writing as a freelancer, 5 months after finishing university, no one wanted to work with me because I didn’t have any published articles online. I only started getting work because I did one free work. After which, I was recommended to and by people.

If you are new to the scene, I highly recommend selling yourself short (that’s a sentence I never thought I’d ever write). Suppose a project’s budget is around 00. If you think you can offer a 25-50% price slash, do it. If it’s a project that can be accomplished in just one day, you could even offer your services for free.

There is a catch though. Being the lowest bidder might give the impression that you are a low-quality worker. To turn this to your advantage, explain your situation: you are offering to work for less because you are new to the scene, but your client should expect no less than exceptional work.

Projects Worth Pursuing

Of course you shouldn’t just accept any project you see. You need to be meticulous and make sure that the project will potentially lead to other projects.

If you are looking for work on job boards like Elance, Freelancer, and the like, be sure to only talk to project owners with a robust history of projects. That way, you can ask them to contact you for future projects if they like your work.

Another thing you can do is to contact businesses or organizations in your area and offer your service. Try contacting the following in your locality; usually they have very little requirements and you’ll not get too much feedback (or additional input) and will be left on your own to do your magic. Plus, if you do it for free, you can always ask them to provide a good testimonial for you or to recommend you to others.

  • Schools
  • Churches
  • Orphanages
  • Interest groups
  • Your favourite local band
  • Your favourite restaurant
  • Politicians (if you are feeling adventurous)

When selecting your organization of choice, there are 3 important things to consider:

Is the organization connected with other organizations?

Organizations like to keep in contact with other similar organizations e.g. musician bands and indie groups know of other similar groups and if you were to make one website for one group, word may spread quickly of your services within the community.

Does it have a good image?

Where possible, you should steer clear from organizations with a bad image. Doing pro bono work should steer towards developing a positive image for yourself, not ruin it before it launches.

Is there potential for growth?

If the atmosphere suggests that the organization you’d want to work with has a great potential for growth, hop in without a second thought. You’ll be riding to the top with them as they popular and bigger.

Note that these are mere guidelines, not rules. You may prefer to work with individuals first instead of organizations. That’s fine too as it helps add to your ever-growing portfolio, giving you the boost you need in a different way.

How To Know What Works

A lot of companies and experienced freelancers do pro bono work on a regular basis. For example, web hosting companies do a lot of giveaways, offering a year’s worth of web hosting and domains for free. While they are not getting paid for their services, they are getting back free publicity. The same can be seen in graphic artists who release business card designs, logos, icons, fonts, artwork and the like on design blogs and creative outlets like Behance, Dafont, DeviantArt, and Dribbble.

Why does this work? People love free stuff. They will flock to you. And that’s the kind of publicity you want, a positive one. For web designers and developers, one effective method of driving people to your site is by giving away free website templates which, mind you, you can also include in your portfolio.

Do you see the trend here now? The gateway to success is basically to give your stuff for free at first, because if people loved your product or work, you will eventually be led to people who are willing to pay for more of your work.

Say No To spec Work

Urgh, spec work. Do not mistake pro bono work with… spec work. Unlike pro bono work which will probably get you leads to better-paying work in the future, spec work is just downright evil. It operates like this: the client behind a project will ask many individuals (mostly freelancers) to produce a work based on a specific list of requirements.

The bad news is, they pick, and pay, only the one result they want. After investing all that time and effort into producing spec work, you might leave empty handed, with no testimonial, publicity or leads to future project. Never engage in spec work — you’ll just encourage them to prey on other newcomers if you do.

Pro bono doesn’t only work for people who are just starting freelance work online. This also applies to seasoned freelancers who are experiencing "rainy days”, days when projects seem hard to come by. Start building your portfolio now. Remember, always move forward, even if it’s just one small step.

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Web design

Guide To Boosting Your Freelance Career With Pro Bono Work

People who are new to web design and development, writing or any other sort of creative work have little to show in their portfolio. And that’s a potentially major problem as thousands of experts with strings of portfolios are already out in a saturated market. What advantage could a newcomer have over someone who’s had years of experience and a reputation to boot?

Well, you can always go pro bono to build up your professional portfolio first. Want to know how? I’ve put together a quick guide on how to leverage pro bono work to gain more work.

What Is Pro Bono?

Pro bono is basically work done by a professional for free for the public. But in the freelance scene’s context, it’s for a freelancer’s image. Pro bono work is tricky. I say tricky because there are two different opinions on this. There’s the professionals who hate pro bono work and the ones who are for it.

The group against pro bono work feel that artists are getting ripped and selling themselves short of what they are worth. Alongside that you have many clients that prey on beginners to get free or extremely cheap labor.

The professionals are right; you should never ever sell yourself short. Hate on these predators (for lack of a better term) however you want, but why not you use them to your advantage instead?

The Sad Truth About Starting Freelancing

Only the experienced ones are given the high-paying projects. It doesn’t really matter if you are an experienced developer, designer or writer, if your online profile is basically zero, you’re out of luck.

You need to have an online presence.

When I started writing as a freelancer, 5 months after finishing university, no one wanted to work with me because I didn’t have any published articles online. I only started getting work because I did one free work. After which, I was recommended to and by people.

If you are new to the scene, I highly recommend selling yourself short (that’s a sentence I never thought I’d ever write). Suppose a project’s budget is around 00. If you think you can offer a 25-50% price slash, do it. If it’s a project that can be accomplished in just one day, you could even offer your services for free.

There is a catch though. Being the lowest bidder might give the impression that you are a low-quality worker. To turn this to your advantage, explain your situation: you are offering to work for less because you are new to the scene, but your client should expect no less than exceptional work.

Projects Worth Pursuing

Of course you shouldn’t just accept any project you see. You need to be meticulous and make sure that the project will potentially lead to other projects.

If you are looking for work on job boards like Elance, Freelancer, and the like, be sure to only talk to project owners with a robust history of projects. That way, you can ask them to contact you for future projects if they like your work.

Another thing you can do is to contact businesses or organizations in your area and offer your service. Try contacting the following in your locality; usually they have very little requirements and you’ll not get too much feedback (or additional input) and will be left on your own to do your magic. Plus, if you do it for free, you can always ask them to provide a good testimonial for you or to recommend you to others.

  • Schools
  • Churches
  • Orphanages
  • Interest groups
  • Your favourite local band
  • Your favourite restaurant
  • Politicians (if you are feeling adventurous)

When selecting your organization of choice, there are 3 important things to consider:

Is the organization connected with other organizations?

Organizations like to keep in contact with other similar organizations e.g. musician bands and indie groups know of other similar groups and if you were to make one website for one group, word may spread quickly of your services within the community.

Does it have a good image?

Where possible, you should steer clear from organizations with a bad image. Doing pro bono work should steer towards developing a positive image for yourself, not ruin it before it launches.

Is there potential for growth?

If the atmosphere suggests that the organization you’d want to work with has a great potential for growth, hop in without a second thought. You’ll be riding to the top with them as they popular and bigger.

Note that these are mere guidelines, not rules. You may prefer to work with individuals first instead of organizations. That’s fine too as it helps add to your ever-growing portfolio, giving you the boost you need in a different way.

How To Know What Works

A lot of companies and experienced freelancers do pro bono work on a regular basis. For example, web hosting companies do a lot of giveaways, offering a year’s worth of web hosting and domains for free. While they are not getting paid for their services, they are getting back free publicity. The same can be seen in graphic artists who release business card designs, logos, icons, fonts, artwork and the like on design blogs and creative outlets like Behance, Dafont, DeviantArt, and Dribbble.

Why does this work? People love free stuff. They will flock to you. And that’s the kind of publicity you want, a positive one. For web designers and developers, one effective method of driving people to your site is by giving away free website templates which, mind you, you can also include in your portfolio.

Do you see the trend here now? The gateway to success is basically to give your stuff for free at first, because if people loved your product or work, you will eventually be led to people who are willing to pay for more of your work.

Say No To spec Work

Urgh, spec work. Do not mistake pro bono work with… spec work. Unlike pro bono work which will probably get you leads to better-paying work in the future, spec work is just downright evil. It operates like this: the client behind a project will ask many individuals (mostly freelancers) to produce a work based on a specific list of requirements.

The bad news is, they pick, and pay, only the one result they want. After investing all that time and effort into producing spec work, you might leave empty handed, with no testimonial, publicity or leads to future project. Never engage in spec work — you’ll just encourage them to prey on other newcomers if you do.

Pro bono doesn’t only work for people who are just starting freelance work online. This also applies to seasoned freelancers who are experiencing "rainy days”, days when projects seem hard to come by. Start building your portfolio now. Remember, always move forward, even if it’s just one small step.



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