At first glance, the profession of a graphic designer seems to be the most attractive for creative people. However, the freelancer’s path brings specific challenges you must be prepared for. Today we will discuss the main hardships of freelance graphic designers’ careers.
Graphic designers are among the top most in-demand professions in the internet industry. Designers work with many objects, such as advertisements, websites, apps, book designs, storefronts, press, etc. In addition, graphic designers engage when clients need to design a brand style, logo, and visual concept.
More than talent is needed to build a successful career as a graphic designer. Professional skills and soft skills are equally important.
Anyone with creative ability can start such a career. However, there are some challenges to overcome and find solutions.
The path of a designer is winding and thorny, full of uncertainty. Every year the requirements for professionals are increasing. They need to be able to do a lot, understand the product they are creating from beginning to end, and at the same time, have time to find projects for themselves.
Freelance Graphic Designers’ Operational Challenges
A flexible work schedule is undoubtedly convenient, but only if people can manage their time. Unfortunately, the creative nature of graphic designers can cause them to lose track of time, extending an entire day on tasks that could have taken one hour to complete.
Being creative and passionate about a task is fine, but the clients always want their orders on time. Meeting deadlines is a vital part of a freelancer’s job in any field. Irrational use of time becomes a stumbling block.
Improper organization of one’s work time results in sacrificing personal needs, boundaries, and physical and mental health. Or on the contrary, the other extreme – is not being able to fulfill the client’s contract in a quality and timely manner. Both options harm their careers.
Tip: Use time management software, and create time limits for your work-time to keep your life and work balanced. Use tools to manage projects and communicate with clients.
Designers working on their own must understand that they must deal with more than just creative tasks. Freelancers have to advertise and offer themselves, especially in the initial stages. To build a serious career, they must be able to draw up contracts, and documents, make payments, and conduct business activities legally.
Projects are created in different ways, so every time, freelance designers need to organize and negotiate the time to complete, the cost of services, and the terms of cooperation in detail.
Tip: Study legal business practices in your country, carefully draft specifications and contractor agreements, and study convenient payment and invoicing methods.
Designers don’t have to be accountants, but they must understand how payments for services are made and conducted, how to pay taxes, etc. Another challenge in finance is the difficulty in estimating the cost of designing services. How not to inflate the price and scare away the client, but at the same time not to work for a cookie?
First, the salary depends on the graphic designer’s market – the USA, EU, Asia, or CIS countries. Also, the salary level increases in proportion to experience.
Tip: Carefully study the pricing policy of the market and the cost of competitors, exchanges, and stocks. From your experience, compare how much time it takes to complete UI/UX design tasks and how much you can spend on them in the future. Study the models of cooperation “pay per hour,” “pay per result,” etc.
The competition among graphic designers working from home is very high indeed. The availability of technology for remote work has allowed many professionals to move away from office work to free-floating. In addition, the demand for designers in the traditional industry has decreased. It is much cheaper for companies to hire a designer for a project than to keep him on the staff.
The growth of competition is also conditioned by the appeal of the occupation for young people. On the one hand, they can work creatively without submitting to the strict conventions of the offices, and on the other hand, they can earn decent money. However, as we know, high competition leads to lower fees.
Tip: Work hard to create the best portfolio that shows off your talent and makes you stand out from the competition.
Graphic Designers Career Challenges
Like any product, graphic designers must promote their services. Often there are difficulties with this since it involves more than just the design of their website, business cards, or contextual advertising. In addition, designers must learn how to communicate with potential clients or collaborate with platforms.
A designer’s career always has room for development and learning. Moreover, keeping up with trends and new technologies is not a privilege but a necessity amidst fierce competition and ever-increasing demand. A designer’s growth can be linear: beginner-experienced-virtuoso, etc. Interestingly, many years of practice do not automatically mean experience growth because one can draw icons for five years or pass from icons to branding. Transitioning to every new level requires increased complexity, knowledge growth, and evolution toward new directions.
Uncertainty follows freelancers along until they establish their permanent client base. Graphic designers often need more stable orders and consistent income. In addition to the lack of stability, career growth is also in question. How to measure it? How to make it move forward?
To grow professionally as a freelancer, designers need to get a lot of experience, build a steep portfolio, post their work on websites like Behance and Dribbble, follow trends and innovations, learn new tools and software, and jump over the top.
Soft skills should be taught more. And this is almost half of the necessary knowledge. So first, it is important to get the technical background, theory, and observation, then a lot of practice, and then to supplement this luggage with “flexible skills”: plan the work, present a solution, and so on.
Difficulties When Working With Freelance Designers
Anyone who has mastered a graphic editor can become a designer. Unfortunately, the conditionally low threshold of entry into the profession leads to many “professionals” on the market not having the best creative, professional, and personal qualities.
Before choosing a particular designer, research the market thoroughly, review the candidate’s portfolio, and ask for feedback from previous clients.
Unfixed Price Tag
A lousy expert doesn’t know the actual cost of the job because he needs help understanding and estimating the tasks and scope of the job. As a result, he can name one price that seems adequate, but the price tag can increase significantly during the work.
Write the cost and scope of work in the contract, stipulating all the requirements and deadlines.
Lack of Communication
Often freelance designers choose the “take-order-give-order” position. And this can lead to unsatisfactory results. Ideally, the client should seek a system of communication and interim reporting from the performer to ensure the result is consistent with the goal.
Use collaboration tools where you can track the project’s progress and make adjustments in time.
As a designer or as a client of a designer, what problems have you encountered? What solutions have you found? Please share in the comments.