Web and graphic design is a great way to express your creativity through many different means. In the beginning you may think you can create beautiful work using primarily photoshop, but given the time and experience you will learn it takes a lot more to create breathtaking, visual masterpieces like a pro.
In this post, I will share my top 10 tips for newbie designers that will help improve your workflow, practices, and design techniques.
#1. Save as much money as you can before you quit your day job.
This is absolutely essential. The most dangerous decision you can make as a freelancer is to quit your day job without a financial cushion to fall back on. Your immediate success is not guaranteed and having some cash in your savings will allow you to live a comfortable lifestyle while building your business full-time.
You will also need to have savings put aside for business start-up costs. Registering a domain name, hosting your website, opening an online shop, design software, etc… All of this costs money!
#2. Still in school? Intern as much as possible.
Learning how other designers run their business is key to understanding how you should run yours. When you intern for others, you learn how to communicate with clients, set client boundaries, charge clients, manage projects, expenses, and more.
#3. Don’t niche your business just yet.
Every successful business owner will tell you to choose a niche for your business, but this is only necessary when you’ve been in business for a year or more. It’s best to try different things first! Corporate design, small business design, print design, and so on… It’s best to try as many different aspects of design as you can, then specialize in the areas you most enjoy.
#4. Create a solid business plan.
Create a solid business plan before you do anything else. This will keep you on track towards reaching your goals and it will help you stay focused. A business plan is essentially a map of your future, so it’s crucial that you put the time and effort into creating one. Your business plan should support growth and secure funding. It should help develop and communicate a course of action, such as milestones you hope to reach. It should include your target audience, your business structure, and so on.
#5. Make friends.
One of the best ways to make a name for yourself and get noticed in the design industry is to make friends with other designers! You can learn a lot from them, and they can provide you with some really great advice.
#6. Don’t compare yourself to others.
Do not, for any reason, compare yourself to designers who have been in the business for years. Everyone has to start somewhere. They once started from scratch just like you! Don’t make the mistake of comparing your level 1 to their level 5.
#7. Build a portfolio.
If you’re just starting out in the design biz, you likely have some extra time on your hands. Use that time to build up a portfolio of the kind of work you would like to do. If you don’t have any paying clients, create your own design projects! Self-initiated work is fine to use as an example of the quality of work you can deliver.
#8. Discover your main purpose.
Your business should always have a purpose. For me, it’s my love of using design to express my creativity. Freelancing shouldn’t just be about making money. If you don’t have a true passion for design, you may find yourself growing tired of it as the years pass. This can result in you resenting your clients and only half-heartedly completing projects.
#9. Practice, practice, practice.
Practice really does make perfect. If you don’t have any paying clients, use your time to get educated on the industry. Learn to design in a new software program. Learn to code for a different platform. Not only will this help you get comfortable with your tools so you can use them quickly and efficiently, it will also make you available for new clients and different projects in the future.
#10. Create content regularly.
Having a blog associated with your business website is always a good thing! Your blog will not only lead clients to you, but it will also help connect you with new designer friends. If you routinely blog about design, your articles will prove to potential clients that you know what you’re talking about.
Content doesn’t simply have to be blog posts. You can also create freebies and host giveaways occasionally. This will help bring in more visitors to your blog with the potential of creating much more business.
And there you have it. Do you have any design tips? I’d love to hear them!