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Becoming A Successful Design Freelancer

Lesson 9 of 15

Looking for Your First Freelance Project


Becoming A Successful Design Freelancer

Lesson 9 of 15

Looking for Your First Freelance Project


Lesson Info

Looking for Your First Freelance Project

Let's start out with part three, which is getting your first project so this one I think is a really big one. Where do you look for work, right? How do you conjure up the other kind of half of this relationship you're prepared? You're ready to put it out there, but but how is this gonna happen? We're also going to talk about why I think you should talk to every potential client always on dh six clarifying questions that you're going to ask those clients to help figure out if it's a match, we're going to talk about the different types of engagements I know I'm actually still sort of confused about the difference between a w two an a ten, ninety nine I don't know, I feel like almost every time I have to look that up and and remind myself that I do grasp the concept, but we're going to talk about that we're going to talk about other types of engagements in some language around how thes, how your work may be structured on dh then we're going to talk about choosing clients are right for you...

. So my friend peter noel is going to come in and hey has some great advice, including advice about breaking up, which I think is awesome that he's willing to share that on, and I've definitely learned from the conversations I've had with him so far so where should I look for work? Two guys agonize about this question. Um, you're going to look everywhere you're like, you just got plop down in yosemite and it's your job to find a worm that lives under a rock somewhere. So you are going to go and, like, look under those rocks. No, not for me, maybe this one, but but you're going to explore, you're going to start exploring thie the layers of the onion that kind of are around you write like who you are, who you know who you know from the past and those kinds of things. So your first project it's time to get the word out, uh, you got to spread the word. I know that I've mentioned this a lot e think by this point you get it. But the projects aren't going to find you. If if you're home alone and wanting wishing for people to know right, you have to put action into that to make that happen. Right another way to get the word out and find your first project is to attend events like you guys were doing today I think it's so great that you're here I think this is the first and maybe many steps that you're going to take or maybe it's the first step or maybe you're not even sure you want to do it but you're just here to like I don't know is this business right for me but this is an event that that is theoretically aligned with what what it is that you want to dio but it's also a good idea to attend other events let's say that you want to dio uh illustration for food packaging right so you really like food and you're an amazingly talented illustrator I know we have adrian in the house on do you know she's fantastic at at toys and childlike children's illustrations but maybe she wants to diversify maybe she doesn't but but in the food example you know goto cooking conference or an event take a cooking class like immerse yourself around the people the types of people like jen had said earlier that you you want to make relationships with right um join groups are association so we were also just talking about make sure society here in san francisco I'm member of the edgy a of a member of the interaction design association although that may have collapsed but I'm still on their mailing list and I think even if you're not going to be an official member getting on the mailing list finding out you know age is american institute of graphic arts in the interaction design association and makeshift society here in san francisco they also have a group in new york our location in new york but it's for creative business small business people on they have a co working space that you can go work out of and they have a mailing list that I find really, really valuable it's lots of people who who work for themselves and are like, you know, I'm a photographer but I need models right? Where am I going to find models people put out akane makeshift society they find models it's great. So what are those things for you that you could be investing a little more time and energy into take classes you guys already doing that that's awesome um you know, but but again that's another way to find like minded individuals or people who are complimentary, right? And the other thing is and we talked about this a little you know, if you're going to take the if you're going to join the polar bear club plunge and just do it called, you know, make a kind of strong move and go into free lance you know, I think that's absolutely acceptable, but I think starting by moonlighting is a great way to get comfortable with doing it it's a great way teo teo establish relationships you know you might start moonlighting somewhere and then have that end up being like your main bread and butter client you know or that person's going to refer you so it's kind of a good way to dip your toe in before you're assuming like the full risk of of giving up a full time job if that's where you're at right now um so let's see all right your turn so no one has to do this up on stage with me but I want you guys to think about these things right? I want you to think about the people who you know who are the co workers passed in president right? Who are your neighbors? You know I'm on next door you guys on next door it's like a local web site for like a neighborhood bulletin board people post all kinds of stuff on there you know, I'm looking for a photographer I want to take family portrait it's as an example or I need a plumber which is not necessarily is applicable but but these are people in your community and so you know instead of you answering a blind ad on you know are submitting your resume blind to a potential opportunity it's that familiarity right and that thing that that is the foundation of the relationship that um, that can really work to your advantage, you know, maybe someone wants to hire someone in their own neighborhood. It's so much better. It's great, I want to invest in my community. Um, you know, people your family knows in the kid's assuring that worked out really well for her, um, social channels, so we talked a little bit about pinterest, and someone asked the question about facebook, was that from yeah, so the facebook question, I think facebook is a great way to let people know that you're having a different, you know, that you're about to embark on a different career path. It's awesome, I don't happen to use it for that, but I know people have seen it in my feet, and I know people do it, and you need to broadcast to your community, right? And like I said earlier, you know, I think people are going to step forward and want to help you, they may be very excited for you, you know, I think it's a courageous thing and and want to help you and be like, oh, yeah, you know, I definitely one over, you know, refer this person because I want to get that to happen for them, you know, I don't do a lot on twitter, but but twitter is really great for finding out what's going on with your peers and your colleagues and and striking up relationships with people and that's what you want to do that's the business development part of this right? Um lengthen we talked about the events that you can go to right? So we were talking about created mornings earlier I think created mornings is in one hundred plus cities right now it's a free breakfast lecture siri's founded by my friend tina roth eisenberg and there's one here in san francisco um and it's great it's a free breakfast lecture syria's once a month and the tickets their free tickets but they sell out like immediately and it's usually fifty to one hundred other designers and makers and creative people so go there have a cup of coffee you hear an inspiring talk on dure going to someone's going to say, what do you d'oh right? You're going to like I don't know but I have this elevator pitch but that sounds too crazy so I'm probably just going to say I'm the decider, which is totally fine and you know but then you're going to have a conversation and you never know right lincoln we talked about I don't know what something twice conferences great great other way to do that right associations or group so I told you about the edgy and I x d a but you know, what about a chamber of commerce? Right? Like, if you wantto invest locally, like if he really believe in working local and and supporting your community, what are those other businesses? Right? Like, maybe there's, a bakery that's opening up and they need they need awesome food illustrations and, you know, and they love you, get to talking the lever style and that's great, right, um, and then moonlighting ideas. So, um, what could you d'oh, that that wouldn't jeopardize if you're currently employed? That wouldn't jeopardize, you know, your current business situation, but that would let you experiment a little bit, right? If you have kids, maybe your kid's school needs something. I feel like schools always need, you know, poster design for an event or something that, you know, photography done or maybe a video about about things or, you know something, right? Ah, personal project is another great, great thing. Tio dio a personal project, uh positions you as an expert in something right? Like it's a way to show off like the truth of your creative just expressions so not like the work that I dio for other companies, but this is the work that I do for myself, so you want to hire me? Because, you know, I've worked for other companies and that's cool, but you also probably want to know a little bit more about me and that's, a great way to show that off and it's self initiated, right? But it still is letting, you know, use your design skills or your creative skills, and you're producing, I think, as as makers of things we need to make things, you know, and sometimes when you're in a corporate job, it's just on a satisfying, you know, it might be the thing might never get made, you might end up working on the thing like forever nothing ever happens with it. Um, aah or, um, it might the thing might change a lot from what it is that you wanted it to be, because you have to collaborate and, you know, there's only business goals, and and so it might not feel like your work anymore, even though you've worked on in a really long time, right? So personal project is a place where you can just you can do your thing, you can do you right, um, and then, you know, project in your community, however else you show up in your community, you know, if you belong to a church or whatever it is that that is a place where you could offer your services, um, and start making things right. So think about this, right, the stone, you know, uh, make this list for yourself, and then, if you're willing to take the challenge, think of three steps forward that you could take from this right. Just three steps forward. No big deal. Check out creative mornings. Goto one um, you know, make a list of your co workers paston president, who might be able to help you pick pick three of these things on dh. Do one of them that's the challenge? Just do one. Take one tiny step forward, right? Okay, simple e mails. So please copy and paste these but but what happens right? You go to this event and you meet this you guys met today, right? Um and we've spent a lot of time together so maybe this is a little tio formal but let's say let's say you went to a conference and you literally talk to someone for like a few minutes and you want to follow up with them you got their business card and they got yours because you have a business card down that's so great but you could say something like hello steve it was so nice to me that the nearly impossible conversation that conference our conversation really got me thinking about the need for deeper connection and networking within the design community here in san francisco to that and I've just recently launched my freelance illustration practice and would love to be considered for any opportunities you may hear about a link to my portfolio is here I'm happy to answer any additional questions you might have and look forward to our paths crossing in the future right where did you meet? Right? Maybe you went to a conference and you actually met a lot of people you know and it's like who is that um something to spark their interest like I like to you liked me let's keep in touch in fact peter know who's coming in for this part of the class. I met him through the mailing list a makeshift society on dh. He needed help with something. It turned out that we we had a conversation about it, but then we were like, I hear cool like you're cool, and we had a lot a lot of similarities. Right? So what you want the person to know? Remember, I'm the freelance illustrator that you met kind of thing where they can see your work? Um, and then your contact information so that to keep in touch one what happens if you get a little further down the road and you actually had an initial conversation, right? Like, maybe you met apart. Maybe you want to in this example, maybe went to a gaming event and you met somebody, and they were like, oh, my god, I'm doing this game and I need three key illustrations of characters, you know. Let me see your stuff like let's talk. You could send an email that says something like hello, steve, thanks again for your time yesterday the project sounds really amazing and the kind of challenge that gets my ideas flowing. I find creating character based illustrations from scratch the absolute best part about doing my job hands down I can even see the opportunity to create an entire suite of lovable characters that bring the game to life let's schedule a call later this week and keep the conversation going. How does tuesday three o'clock work for you, right? So I'm showing genuine interest in we've talked a lot about that I'm also saying you said you want hillary key illustrations but I think this is bigger than that and and I'm bigger than that and here's the things that I could get excited about working with you on write what you want I want to talk to you again and then it's fine to say not just I want to talk to you again and like leave it at that and if that's all you're comfortable if that's okay, but it's also find it be specific house house you know, next tuesday or house next tuesday at three o'clock eso you know, I'm I'm serious about this is what you're saying there, so communication guidelines um followed immediately. I think we all I really love when we like e mailed someone and the emails right back um I think that establishes interest I think it it you know, when someone is going to potentially higher you, maybe they'd be melt like three people you know, and the first person that they talked to is actually the person who's going to win the job because you know, they need photography done by friday and it took you until wednesday or thursday to get back to them. And on tuesday they talked to somebody else and they got hired, right? So I think you know, this goes back to what sharon was saying, but how hungry are you write? Like, how much do you I want this job? And I want to do it and also I have a friend jonathan, who I feel like his quantum. He responds to e mails so fast and he has, like, a big job, and I know that that has had his job he's having to be on email all the time and he always emails right away and, you know, I really like that about him. I like that about him. I feel like it's just it's easy to talk to him and makes you wanna rely on him for things. And I think you can establish that with your with your clients to, um and in your business practices, right, so be authentic. We also had talked about this too, but but I really I have to find something that I care about when I want to do work and I encourage you to find that thing that you care about to whether it's in service of the business or in service of your own development, but it will make the work a lot better for you, it will go more smoothly, you'll feel more motivated on people will know that I don't know that you're, you know, when people are connected to something and, you know when they're not showing genuine interest, um, I think is important, giving people something to think about. So I'm not just saying, hey, great to meet you, I'm saying, like here's, where I think things were going on dh, then it's always the follow up, like, how when do you do that? Um and I think it's it depends on a little bit on the vibe that you're getting from the person, but it's absolutely ok to follow up when you don't hear back from somebody don't take that as a no, send them another note later, you know, and the pacing is really up to you, but but don't be annoying, but but send them another note.

Class Description

You need more than technical skills to make it as freelance designer. You have to know how to land projects and keep jobs over the long haul. Becoming a Successful Freelancer with Arianna Orland is your guide to managing the logistics of freelance life.

Arianna is a freelancer doing business in the saturated market of San Francisco and knows exactly what it takes to get and keep clients. In this class, she’ll cover the tips, tools, and strategies you need to have in place to be successful as a freelancer. 

This class covers:

  • Branding: Guidelines for creating a design language that’s right for you
  • Collateral: A roundup everything you need – website, business card, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Clients: Building your client list and keeping them happy
  • Finances: Keeping up on taxes and budgeting
  • Management: How to stay on top of your projects and time

Freelancing gives you the flexibility you won’t find in a 9-5, but it comes with a whole range of responsibilities. Find out how to prepare for those in Becoming a Successful Freelancer with Arianna Orland.


Will Vu

I watched the free live and can't help myself by purchasing this class. It's a valuable lesson from a humble and humorous Arianna. I love your presentation very much. Wish u the best. Thanks or bringing us this course, CreativeLive. !

Cherice Pope

Arianna gives real advice on deciding if the freelance lifestyle is right for you by describing what it's like, business skills you will need to learn, doing a gut check with yourself, how to get clients and promote yourself, and discussing a variety of experiences with other designers. She also goes in depth on differences between working at a company versus working with a company as a business. Her information is clear and wonderful. I greatly appreciate the time and effort put into making this valuable course.


Thank you Arianna for an informative course. Its heartening to know that there are other designers like me that don't come out of design school :) Your guests were a wealth of information as well, specially Peter's bulleted list.