A few tips for freelancers

Young designers and people who have never worked on freelance ask me a lot about how to find clients and projects. I want to give you some recommendations.

1. How to find a client

  1. Create an account on Behance. Yes, first of all Behance, after Dribbble. In my opinion Behance can help you to find a new project and followers much faster than Dribbble, if you will create a trendy case with a really decent work inside.
  2. Promote your work in social media. You should find right groups/channels and suggest your project for publication. In Russia we have a lot of groups in vk.com and Telegram. Do you follow my design channel in Telegram? If not, you can subscribe here. We make selections of awesome websites from around the world everyday.
  3. Join groups in Facebook where people are looking for designers for their projects.
  4. If you still can’t find clients, you should write to studios and agencies which have the similiar level and vision on work process and disscus with them an opportunity to work per project on your terms.
  5. Also I don’t recommend to show the project which you don’t like in your portfolio. Because for sure people will ask you to create something like that.
  6. If you have an audience in social media you can post an information about your recent works or availability for new projects.
  7. But the best way is networking. You can be a successful designer and make a lot of money even without website, Behance and Dribbble. Because almost all clients usually advise or return to designers who created stuff for them before. Maybe this experience wasn’t awesome for them, but they know what to expect.

2. How to give a right scope

I think this part is the most difficult both for a freelancer or designer in agency. Bellow I will describe things which work for me:

  1. Sell scope, not time (in my case I have more profit).
  2. Learn as much as possible about the business and people who will make decisions. Ask questions and speak more with client before the start, it will help you to understand people and their goals. Often you can’t work together, but you understand it too late.
  3. Estimate the number of pages. You need to understand a complexity of every page. Define the number of hours that you plan to spend on each of them.
  4. Split pages for logical blocks and iterations. For example: 1. Main page; 2. Inner pages; 3. Mobile & Tablet version; 4. Styleguide etc. Usually it works good for both sides: you show layouts and get payments almost every week.
  5. Add 30–50% of time to your scope. It will cover the time that you will spend on comments from client, possible f*ckups and mistakes in scope.
  6. I recommend to take a 50% of payment before every iteration and 50% after.
  7. You can show your scope list to client, it will help him or her to understand the cost. Maybe he will ask you to delete/merge some pages or make them more simple without some features.

3. How to present your work

People who work with me for the first time usually say, that they are very surprised. It happens because of my presentations. Here are some tips:

  1. Everytime you show a design to client for the first time you should have a presentation.
  2. Firstly you should remind him all the information that you discussed before. On the first presentation I show moodboard with different visual styles and client can choose our design direction. On the next presentations in the beginning usually I show previous layouts/versions before new pages, you need some old slides, because it will help client to feel your speed and to remember the old information. The first presentation is about moodboard and design direction.
  3. In presentation I’m always trying to speak about client’s goals and how we will achieve them, things that we discussed before, references and popular examples. It makes your speech more clear, understandable and convincingly.
  4. It’s difficult to find the perfect time for presentation for all people in a team, that’s why I usually make a walktrough video, where I share my screen and show the presentation accompanying my speech. After I send video, PDF and PNG files to client with recommendation to start with video.
  5. Create a presentation template and improve it everytime, it will save your time in future. Usually I change only the main color, font and client’s logo. Also I usually use only two styles for presentation of layouts: in Macbook/iPhone and full size layout + full length layout are standing together. Second style also is perfect to show page script too.

4. How to work effectively

Often I hear a lot of stories like that: a designer spends a lot of time on project and when it is finished client says «No» to result. And they start to discuss visual style, colors, typography, blocks, script of pages, iterations etc. Here is what I advise to do to prevent it:

  1. Start working with a presentation where you show two visual styles (moodboard) and client will be able to choose which he or she likes more.
  2. After that create Look & Feel (1,5 scrolls for desktop and 2–3 layouts for mobile). Here you can show the design languauge and the direction which client chose on the first step. It will help client to feel new design. An important thing here is the explaination to client that he approved visual style on this step. It will help you not to discuss typography, colors, buttons and other things in future iterations. It’s easy to create another Look & Feel in the begining then to make a whole redesign of all pages after.
  3. Make prototypes if you need them. Lately I’ve been making only a script of page by grey rectangles, where client can see all features and their priority on a page.
  4. If you are 100% sure that you will need only 2 days for an iteration, I recommend you to say that it will take 3–4 days. It will save you from possible f*ckups or some unexpected things. If you will be ready earlier, just send it earlier, no problem.
  5. You need to discuss how you will work with client’s comments. I do only two iterations where I work on it. Always discuss all comments with client, because 70% of them are just someone’s opinion and it’s easy to change them. Another 30% can help you to see things from different side and make your design more effective. I always help clients to rephrase their comments. Try to talk more with them and suggest a solution verbally firstly.
  6. Keep in touch with your clients, they should know your current status almost everyday.

That’s all guys. I hope you found it helpful. If you have any questions, please ask me, I would be happy to answer ✌🏻

More about me and my works you can find on the website gavrilperov.ru