Freelance Industry Report…the big news and beating the blues.

by . October 15th, 2012

Casting an eye over the 2012 Freelance Industry Report, you could be forgiven for thinking  that Designers have it pretty good, particularly in comparison to freelancers in other industries.

The findings illustrated that in comparison to the likes of photographers and illustrators, designers appeared more likely to be paid on time. Elsewhere, they were shown to have less of a struggle in managing time and staying productive, whilst the majority of Designers asked (17.2%) were capable of charging $70-79 per hour for their services. So far, so good.

Notably though, amongst the myriad of positive stats, you’ll find that Designers share a number of challenges with their fellow freelancers, ‘finding clients’ and ‘the feast-or-famine’ nature of work appearing almost universal problems in the freelance community. To a lesser extent, so too was ‘maintaining work/life balance’.

Whilst there’s no the definitive antidote to these problems, there are steps you can take to temper them. Here are a few tips…

Ways of finding clients

Word of mouth marketing of course still plays in an important role in attracting of potential clients, but it’s worthwhile embracing social media if you haven’t already, this helping to enhance the process of referrals.

Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn all provide access to a wealth of potential clients. I can vouch that a social media presence works on the selling front, as I’ve bought many a graphic print myself,  having had come across a designer’s work on Twitter…mainly of my beloved Liverpool FC (That’s the Boston Red Sox’s owners English soccer team).

Apps and sites like Tweetdeck and Listorious can meanwhile make your Twitter use more efficient and targeted to finding clients. Elsewhere, there’s the myriad of job sites that this very site can point you to.

A professional looking site with a portfolio showcasing your work is also important, as is the process of networking, even if you’re not the most comfortable with it.  All these methods, in combination with referrals, can help ensure you’ve got a pool of potential clients to sell your wares.




Beating the feast-or-famine cycle

Selling you work and services doesn’t come naturally to everyone, especially cold-calling, I was awful at it, resembling a mumbling Woody Allen on the phone. Hence, I now work in-house.

Marketing yourself continually can help stave off potential lean periods though, be that via cold-calling, prolific social media use, or showcasing your work via your own website. Essentially, a targeted and multifaceted approach to finding clients is interlinked with beating the feast-or-famine cycle.

It’s worthwhile putting half hour or so aside daily in order to do some marketing, outreaching to new prospective clients around your current work commitments. This shouldn’t infringe on your working day too much and could pay dividends later down the line.

Aiming for the bigger clients is also a good tactic, as these are more likely to provide a steady stream of work with bigger, on-going projects.




Maintaining work/life balance

Glancing over the assorted stats, maintaining work/life balance is a conundrum faced by many freelancers. This is a problem largely driven by the nature of your clients, but a bit of outsourcing and organisational software can help in countering these woes.
Online accounting reduces some of the rigmarole involved in freelancer finances, removing the complexity that can be involved when using a DIY software package and a separate accountant. Meanwhile, project management software available via the likes of Trello offer a tidier alternative to the post-it note, whilst simultaneously providing online collaboration with clients, ensuring that you’re kept up to speed with their often ever-changing demands.

Ultimately, the clients are the master as I know from my own time spent freelancing, but embracing technology and a little bit of outsourcing can save time



All in all though, the freelance life looks a pretty good one for Designers. Take steps to address some of the challenges and your freelancing life should be tickety-boo … (It’s an odd little expression we use back in the UK).

Mark James

About the Author

Mark James is a UK based writer who specialises in freelancing in small business. He writes regularly for Freelance Advisor and Crunch as well as a range of soccer sites.