GRAPHIC DESIGN CAREER GUIDE – Success Strategies
Your graphic design career can start in many ways, whether your a freelancer, a job seeker, or an expert graphic designer looking to grow your business, the strategies outlined below will provide you with timeless strategies that will help you gain traction and success, no matter where you are in your graphic design career.
Do You Need to Go to School To Be a Graphic Designer?
Careers in the field of technology have been in demand for years, and there doesn’t seem to be any indication that this trend will change in the foreseeable future. A graphic design career is a fantastic avenue for any creative professional.
Understandably, there are many people looking to get into a graphic design career on the creative side of technology, either through illustration, marketing, or visual design. But is it possible to build a life-long career without first getting some formal training? The short answer may be yes, but it does come with a few caveats.
It’s no secret that having a degree of some kind will likely give you an upper hand as a Graphic Designer.
There are still a few companies which demand a degree to even be considered for a design position. But as the Internet and technology grow, so do the perceptions of employers.
Today, there are more companies that are interested in seeing your established portfolio of work than in where you got your training. However, a graphic design career can be built upon little experience if you have the knowledge necessary to “cut through the noise,” and deliver for clients and employers.
If you are a beginner, and have no training at all and no idea where to begin, then your best bet is to evaluate two things:
Where your desire to be a graphic designer comes from, and what you are willing to do to achieve that goal. Why do you want to have a graphic design career?
If you want to become a graphic designer simply because you think you can make a lot of money, then you may want to look into other options.
While you can make a decent living, most graphic designers are similar to any other artist – they do the work because they love the work.
If you are creative and love the practical application of design for marketing and branding purposes, then you may be looking at the perfect career opportunity.
This isn’t about how good of an artist you are, but simply about the necessary mindset for success.
Of course, deciding not to go to school for professional training (no matter the reason) does not forgo the necessity to learn. Instead of school, you will need books, videos, online and in-person courses, and lots of practice on personal projects. This is the most common way to start a graphic design career, and honestly the most effective.
Remember that employers want to see a polished portfolio before you will be considered for work
So you need to be working on yours from day one. Start by deciding the type of work you want – conceptual, branding, video games, etc. This will help guide your personal education plan as well as what to include in your own portfolio.
Its important to have an idea of where you wan your graphic design career to take you even though it will likely change from time to time.
The biggest question most beginners have is “how long will this take?” It’s a good question, but the answer is very different for each person.
Consider that traditional schooling for this field takes 2 – 4 years to complete for a full-time student, and longer for part-time students.
Comparatively, learning on your on usually takes 1 – 3 years depending on your schedule and initial skill level.
There are no prerequisites or tests, just hands-on practice and the reality of applying for several positions until you find the right “fit.”
Arguably, the best road for many just breaking into the graphic design field is to work as a freelancer online for six months to one year.
This will allow you to get real experience with clients, learn new skills associated with both design and communication, and have more than just personal pieces to showcase in your portfolio.
This is the easiest and often the cheapest way to start a graphic design career.
However, it does require work to find and maintain these client relationships, and many freelancers start by making much less than those starting at junior levels in established companies.
The trade-off is one that every person should consider carefully.
So while it is possible to build a successful graphic design career without school, that does not mean it can be done without a lot of work.
Many jobs in the technology field require dedication and a love for the work in order to success, and graphic design is no different.
Whether you spend a few years in school or just one teaching yourself, be ready to put in some hours and hone your craft as a graphic designer.
Employers are looking to hire those who stand out – so work hard to do that! Keep reading…
10 Skills and Traits Every Graphic Designer Needs to Possess
Do you have what takes to have a great Graphic Design Career? The opportunities for graphic designers have never been greater. If you have any skill that people are willing to pay for, you can offer your services online. But you need more than one skill to be a successful graphic designer. There are also some general business skills and character traits that a freelancer needs to have.
Here are ten of the skills and character traits you will need if you want to be a graphic designer and create a lasting graphic design career.
1. Nerves of Steel (resiliance)
The first thing that a freelance graphic designer needs is rock-steady nerves. When you are a freelancer, there is no guarantee that you will have a steady flow of work. If you have had a steady income in the past, the lack of a guaranteed income that comes with freelancing can be very disconcerting. If you want to engineer a successful graphic design career, you will have to keep your nerve when the work dries up.
2. Sales and Marketing Skills
In order to have a successful graphic design career you will need to be able to sell, and selling is something that some people find hard to do. Even if you use a freelancer gig website to sell your services, you will need some marketing flair. There is a lot of competition for most types of freelance work. So, you are going to have to stand out from all the other people selling their services. If you want your graphic design business to take off, you will need to be able to sell yourself.
3. Negotiation Skills
You will need to sharpen up your negotiating skills if you want to be a freelancer. You will find that some people want you to work for next to nothing. You are going to have to resist the temptation to take that kind of work. When you do receive a serious offer of work, you may have to negotiate your price. Negotiating a price for freelance is a balancing act. If your price is too high, the buyer may walk away. If you pitch your price too low, you may miss out on better-paid work because you are working on a low-paid job. If your looking to builf a graphic design career, negotiating is necessary.
4. Thick Skin
Freelancers can’t afford to take criticism and setbacks to heart. You may get work rejected when you know full well that your work was good. You will also get customers who think they know better than you. To some extent, you will have to grin and bear things like this and put the customer first. You are running a business, and your trying to create a graphic design career, not a hobby, so the customer will always be right, even when they are wrong.
5. Communication and Networking Skills
Freelancers need to be good communicators. They need to be able to communicate with many different types of people. You will need to be able to build relationships with people you have never met. In some cases, you may not know your customer’s gender, age or nationality. Not knowing the person that you are dealing with can make communication difficult. You will need to adopt a friendly, professional tone, that gets your message across. Good communication is a staple of a graphic design career that is full of paying clients, and plenty of work.
6. Accounting Knowledge
Freelancers work alone, so they don’t have the back-up of an accounting department. You will need to keep your own accounting records. You will also need to understand the tax rules that will apply to your business. You may decide to hire an accountant, but you will still need a head for numbers. Even if you have an accountant, you will need to cost and prepare quotes for customers. Just because your choosing to start a graphic design career does not mean you only need to worry about design, that’s the easy part.
7. Graphic Designer – Time Management Skills
One of the biggest problems that a new graphic designer will face is time management. It’s very easy to get distracted when you are working for yourself. You must manage your time well if you are going to get all your work completed on time. And then, there are the marketing and admin tasks to complete as well. If you think that freelancing is going to give you more spare time, you may have to think again. There always seems to be something that needs doing when you are building a graphic design career.
8. Belief in Yourself
A little bit of self-confidence goes a long way as a graphic designer. If you don’t believe in yourself, you can’t expect customers to believe in you. So, you must be able to show your confidence in your own abilities when you are selling to customers. You will also need a lot of self-belief when things don’t go to plan. When work is a bit thin on the ground, it takes a lot of confidence not to quit being an independant designer and get a full-time job instead. You may have to take on full work on and off throughout your graphic design career, but if you love the work, how your doing it wont matter as much to you as it would others without the same passion.
9. Willingness to Learn
Whatever type of service you offer, you need to keep on improving that service to stay ahead of the game. If you don’t keep on improving your skills, another graphic designer will offer something that you can’t. Your core service may stay the same. Even so, learning new skills will allow you to expand your services and grow your business as a graphic designer. Improving your skills on a consistent basis is one of the key elements that makes a graphic design career distinct from a hobby or “side-hustle.”
10. Graphic Designer Stress Management Skills
The stress of freelancing as a graphic designer can be too much for some people. If you are not stressing because you have too much work, you are getting stressed by the lack of work. It is very important that you learn how to keep a cool head when you are a freelancer. You must manage stress and ensure that you get a sensible work-life balance to have a lasting graphic design career. Work-life balance is a must as a graphic designer.
More Than Skill:
Having a skill that you can sell is not enough to be a successful graphic designer. You also need to be able to run your own business and manage your own time. None of the above skills and traits are impossible to develop, though. A successful graphic design career requires many different skillsets and a growing knowledge of tactics and strategies. Keep Reading….
Design Tips for a Strong and Engaging Work Resume
If you are in the process of job-hunting and starting a graphic design career, whether your looking for contracts as a graphic designer, freelancer or as a full-time employee then you should know the best practices to help your resume stand out from others.
In order to prove yourself as a top-notch candidate, it is important to make your presentation as distinct as possible. This starts with a great and captivating resume.
There are a few design tricks that can enhance and add strength to your resume.
Implement a Distinct Style
The foremost tip to capture the attention of hiring managers towards your resume is formatting your document with an eye-catching style. The template must be clean and simple with a touch of sleek aesthetics.
There is no need to furnish it with bond, italics or all caps – they can be used only to add emphasis on certain parts. Choose a modern style of fonts that look attractive both on screen and paper. Remember, your graphic design career will be full of style changes and updates, so don’t get too hung up on style choices, just make sure they are distinct and memorable.
Keep the Most Valuable Parts Near the Top
The top third portion of your resume should be reserved for your most prominent skills and experience. You can impress managers by placing your LinkedIn profile below your name and contact instead of simple phone number.
At the same time, make sure that your LinkedIn profile is effective enough to provide a valuable reflection of your skills, accomplishments, and experience in order to start your graphic design career off right.
Create a Good Balance – Graphic Design Career Expert Tip
In order to make your resume more effective, create a perfect mixture of bullets and paragraph in the body of the document. Also, while adding your skills to the resume, make sure that you use the right order in mentioning them.
In addition, they must be written in a manner that is reflective of your expertise as a graphic designer, so avoid making silly and easy mistakes such as misspelling your own name or the name of previous companies you have worked for.
Be Selective in the Information You Include
A good rule of thumb is to avoid overloading your resume with too much information. A loaded resume does not help managers determine your fit for the position.
Instead of writing about your entry-level internships and basic projects, it is better to highlight the most relevant roles that are useful for the position you are applying for. This is crucial in a graphic design career; relevancy is key to getting any job whether freelance or employment.
Quick, hard-hitting points can make for a more interesting and effective resume, so optimize the information you plan to include.
The job-search process involves many steps and factors to consider. One of the most important ones is writing an effective resume. By following these guidelines and placing greater emphasis on helping managers make a decision, you can develop an effective graphic designer resume.
Before you send out your next resume to a potential employer, consider incorporating these guidelines so that your graphic design career is built for success.
If your looking for ready-made graphic design resumes proven to get results click here to access our startup kits. Not only can you use these resumes for yourself, you can also use the templates for your client work!
5 Tips for Increasing Productivity When Working from Home
Most likely your graphic design career will start from home. On average, more and more people are starting to work from home. While each person’s reason for working from home may be different, everyone often has the same struggles when they start to work from home.
Working from home gives people added freedom to work where and when they want. Many people may choose to open their laptop on the couch and start working while they have their favorite shows playing in the background. While this does sound like the ideal work situation, it is often a huge waste of time.
When people initially start working from home, they feel like they are just as productive sitting on their couch as they are in their work office. Typically this is not true. To increase productivity throughout your graphic design career while working from home, people must follow simple steps to maximize their time and efforts.
1. Create a Work Space
One of the keys to being productive when working at home as a graphic designer is to have a workspace that is devoted to working. Using a small bedroom that can convert to an office space may work best.
Most people may not have a spare bedroom that they can convert into an office, so the next best thing is to pick a room in the house and designate a section of it as a workspace.
The workspace should be somewhere in the home that is not frequently used by other household members. It should be relatively quiet, but still have ample lighting and good vibes.
If your looking to create a long term or lifelong graphic design career, your workspace matters, make sure you don’t skimp on the details and know that you can always improve and update your space as your business grows.
2. Invest in a Desk and Chair
Almost every graphic designer has been conditioned to do work in a chair with a desk. The human brain is trained and conditioned to do its best work when placed in front of a desk. To help maximize productivity, people must not overlook the importance of a desk. If the home does not already have a desk, it is important to invest in one.
Your graphic design career starts at a desk and will likely end there (if it does).
A desk should be large enough that there is enough space to work, but not too large that it takes up too much space in the home. When looking for the perfect desk, make sure it has room for storage and is at a good height to help increase productivity.
Also, try investing in an office chair. Look for an office chair that provides easy movement and allows for height adjustments. Finding the perfect height for a chair and desk can help increase productivity and make people more comfortable while working.
3. Use Good Lighting
Good lighting is key to increasing productivity. The best type of lighting is natural lighting, but this is not always an option. If the room being used does not have large windows, people may need to use lamps, ceiling lights, and desktop lights to improve the lighting in the room.
If possible, a desk should be positioned against a window to help maximize light and give people a great view. When a graphic designer can see outside and let the light from nature shine on their workspace, they may be more inspired to get work done.
This can help increase productivity and make people work harder and smarter. Successful graphic design careers are only as successful as the designer is motivated and inspired, great lighting helps to ensure you are both.
4. Use Motivational Tools
Motivation is one of the hardest things to find when working from home. When home, people tend to worry more about the things around the home that need to get done rather than the work that is right in front of them.
Graphic designers often stress out about taking a break to get the laundry done or stopping for a few minutes to get dinner started. This can completely interrupt the flow of work and decrease productivity.
Using motivational tools that appeal to each person can help people stay focused on their work. Some ideas for motivational tools can include motivational quotes, pictures, and background music. These things can all keep people focused on the work in front of them.
For example, if a person is working and saving to take their family on vacation next year, he or she may opt to hang up a picture of the vacation destination. This can help motivate them to get the work done so that the goal can be achieved. Having a successful graphic design career should be a great motivator, but creating winning deliverables for your clients should come first, without that motivation a graphic design career won’t exist.
To help maximize productivity as a graphic designer, the room in which a person is working must be very organized. If a room is cluttered, it can decrease the amount of work a person can get done. The same is true for a cluttered desk. Organization is the hallmark of a high-performing graphic designer and ensures a consistent graphic design career.
When things are organized, people often have an easier time focusing on what is in front of them. When things are cluttered, people tend to get distracted and confused by everything around them. The organization is essential.
If the room in which a person is going to work from home is not clean and organized, it is best to take a few hours to clean the room and organize it well before starting any work. This can help the work get off to the right start and help ensure that no important papers get lost in the confusion.
Working from home is a new and popular way to make money. More and more people are looking for jobs that allow them to work virtually.
While working from home comes with great benefits, it can also come with a lot of frustrations. Using these five tips can help ensure that your graphic design career while working from home is successful and productive.
How Much Should You Charge as a Graphic Designer?
At first glance, graphics may seem more like a luxury than a must-have item for every company. However, a closer inspection will reveal how logos and other deliverables can help convey positive ideas about a company and its products to its clients. In order to build a graphic design career, not just a job here or there, you must understand how to price your work.
When well-designed, they can be used to increase brand awareness, build trust, and even create an emotional bond between a company and its customers.
But how much should graphic design cost?
How much should you charge as a graphic designer?
Well, as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. This is an important notion to understand as a graphic designer. Truly understanding how much value you are bringing your clients is an integral part of nurting relationships and building a graphic design career.
You Are Selling Value. Not A Graphic.
If your client’s are just starting out in business they’ll most likely be too strapped for cash to invest in a professionally-designed logo. The bad news is, though, that most startups take this task upon themselves by simply using an online logo generator. These logo makers allow people with little to no design experience to create basic and generic logos in very little time.
To simplify the design process even further, logo makers come with a variety of stock icons and fonts that allow you to give a professional touch to your design.
Although the price may vary depending on which logo maker you choose, most services will charge between $10-50 dollars per design — some online services can even be used for free. The downside is, though, that designs tend to be very basic and generic, so if your client values branding over money they will likely be contacting you after using one.
While these sites may seem like a good thing for small businesses and bad for a graphic designer. More often than not, small businesses will be contacting you after spending money having used one of these “generators” before, unsuccessfully.
That means your pricing position is already strengthened, by having a client come to you ready to pay whatever it takes to fix the mess they got themselves into. Longevity in your graphic design career will be based upon your ability to continuously help clients in this situation.
Graphic Design Career Sweet Spot – Simple graphic design deliverables under $500
When it comes to pricing for simple graphics such as vectors, flyers or social media posts, freelance graphic designers often charge anywhere between $250-800 for a single deliverable or a “kit.” Designs are typically simple and consist of a company’s logo with a well-defined visual.
Anything beyond a basic design, such as complex patterns and letterings, will increase the price of the job.
A good freelance graphic designer will use the instructions a client provides them and create an attractive design which truly embodies their company. Normally this requires a client to be involved in the design process, so you should provide at least two concepts and two rounds of changes.
The finished product should look professional, smart, and unique.
Now, that’s how things should be in a perfect scenario. Unfortunately, this isn’t how it always happens in the real world. There are many clients out there who will try telling you that their last graphic designer was much cheaper, these types of clients should be avoided at all costs.
More often than not a bad client will cost you more than the job is worth, even if you need the money. That’s why most times it’s better to invest a little more time and money to find paying clients that you can offer consistent reocurring services to within the $500 range.
Short-term and long term contracts will help you lock in consistent revenue while providing a client with an affordable option. These contracts are a great way to ensure that you can actually build your graphic design career instead of feeling like your constantly working toward one.
Midrange Graphic designs between $500 to $1000
An intermediate logo design will often be worth two or three times more than a low-cost design, but comes with many benefits. You should create packages for your offerings, showing tiered options and the benefits each has over another.
Midrange designs tend to include extras, and allow your client to choose from multiple designs with the right to request as many changes as you need until you’re satisfied.
Some graphic designers will cringe at this wanting to limit revisions as it can be time consuming, however the burden of how much your time costs should be put on you not your client. Your margin should be reflective of your work.
This means if you must charge more to justify unlimited revisions, then charge more. A client should never have to be limited to a design that may not work for them even if it is a good design. It is your job as a graphic designer to create winning designs.
The benefits don’t stop there, though, because besides giving you a unique logo most companies will give you at least three concepts for each type of stationery. In order to strengthen your graphic design career you should provide custom concepts for every type of format you need. Whether it’s business cards, letterheads, or envelopes, your customers’ logos will look great in both their digital and paper formats.
Your client should understand that hiring a freelance graphic designer is a good way to get their money’s worth, as they can get a good idea of your talent before hiring you by checking your portfolio and customer reviews.
Logo contests, on the other hand, can give you a way to “templatize” your work into dozens of unique logo ideas for a client in little time. Contests will typically last a week or two, so you’ll have time to exchange feedback with the client. Contests are a great way to build a graphic design career, practically overnight.
Expert design services from $1,000-$5000
Once you’ve established your graphic design career, you’ll need act as an expert team to your new clients. Think of your services like a creative agency who can fulfill a company’s branding needs in every way.
When you act like an agency, even as a freelance graphic designer you will need to go the extra mile and offer you not just a logo or a flyer design but a complete ongoing branding package.
How does this work? Well, the best way to do this is to have a multitude of branding packages for every budget, but when it comes to high-end design you shouldn’t cut any corners.
Your clients get to work with an experienced graphic designer (you) to create expressive designs using the right combination of colors, patterns, and typography. There is no guessing here as each step of the way is monitored by you.
This ensures your client has a trusted ally in their business, dedicated to providing them result-driven graphic design deliverables on a consistent basis.
Although this strategy may seem expensive to your clients at first, the truth is that it gives your clients the best bang for their buck. This is a value-driven approach which is what most well-paying clients prefer.
At this level in your graphic design career you will approach a project from all angles and even do market research for your client to help them understand how thier brand can stand out from competitors.
With so many pricing options for graphic design, it can be very confusing to pick one. However, what you should remember is that the price isn’t as important as is what you’re getting for your money (value).
The best way to get understand pricing strategies is to understand how to create value and over deliver while staying profitable. This starts with knowing your expenses and aiming to value-price each project even if you aren’t offering packaged services.
5 Ways to Ensure a Successful Graphic Design Career.
If this the year you go all-in on freelancing freedom, and launch your graphic design career, now is the time to start stacking the odds of success in your favor. You too can become your own boss and build a thriving career as a designer, but you must be determined and strategic in your approach to career building.
If you want to enjoy the life of entrepreneurship as a freelancer, following are five ways to increase your odds of success:
1. Develop a detailed client acquisition and retention strategy.
It’s not enough to use freelance platforms like UpWork to find clients. You must develop a plan-of-action to find, engage, and keep private clients. Freelancers who develop their own roster of happy clients can survive everything from economic downturns to the traditional ebbs-and-flows of being an independent entrepreneur and go on to have a very successful graphic design career.
2. Create a series of value-add services you can offer your clients.
Whether you’re a freelance writer who offers blog post images or a graphic designer who offers logo creation, the key is to offer clients more than they expect. Value driven services are the foundation of creating a lasting graphic design career. Keep them coming back for more and you’ll soon become their go-to graphic designer regardless of how much others in your niche are charging.
3. Find a way to package some of the services you offer clients.
When you create a product you can offer as a repeatable service, e.g., blog posts in bulk to freelance writing clients, or social media templates and website collateral you make it easy for customers to purchase your services. You can increase your annual revenues and reduce your client’s business development headaches at the same time. This is what a graphic design career is built on.
4. Start thinking long-term if you want to increase your odds of graphic designer success.
In order to build a graphic design career, you must think long term. Stop thinking in terms of one-off clients and instead think about developing permanent, profitable relationships with business partners. When you stop thinking in terms of freelancer + client and switch your thinking to business partner + business partner, you build powerful relationships that help both parties grow.
5. Develop multiple streams of revenue if you want to become a successful freelancer.
Don’t depend on only one source of revenue or a handful of steady clients. Continually market your freelance services, work on increasing demand for your business, and look for market opportunities other freelancers ignore. When you create a variety of business opportunities as a graphic design freelancer, you increase the long-term potential of your entrepreneurial graphic design career.
Integrate these five tips into your business development plans and there’s a mighty good chance that this year will be your most profitable year yet. Becoming a successful graphic designer is hard work, but the rewards are most definitely worth the investment of time and perseverance.