Graphic designers?

Babyt

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May 24, 2010
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#1
Heya i was wondering if there were any graphic designers willing to give me a TON of advice on starting out freelancing.. im in my last year of college and figure i can start freelancing on the side
BUT i have no clue about pricing, legal stuff and pretty much everything, because that is the one thing my classes just arent teaching.. and my professors just arent that helpful :(
thanks in advance :D
 

Michael Baturin

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Jul 11, 2007
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#2
I am not a professional graphic designer - but it is something I do as a freelancer along with web-design.
- Example site created by me for a Rutgers University Research Professor:
http://barrlab.rutgers.edu/ (keep in mind this website was updated since I left it years ago)

I have done a lot of websites - usually content and graphic driven - and I can tell you a few things when it comes to pricing/equipment/legals etc.

Pricing
You set the price - don't let the customer tell you what they want to pay. Layout a base fee + an hourly rate which matches your skill and experience level. Obviously over time it will rise with more experience. It's difficult for me to give specifics in dollars because I haven't seen your work, but I can tell you that for a 8-10 page informational website with graphic design, I charge $500 base and $100 an hour past 5 hours - usually resulting in around $1000 - $1500 per website.

Equipment/Software
I've designed on PC's and Macs and while the difference isn't drastic - the software smoothness and precision is better on the macs. I have used iMacs and would recommend them or Mac Pro's. An iPad 2 would be a good investment in the future as you could use it to display your work as a digital portfolio during meetings with perspective clients.

Though it is an investment, Adobe Studio Creative Suite - as I am sure you know - is best in the businesss. If you are strictly doing graphic design - Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop should be good enough - though they demand a good amount of investment. The Design Standard Suite includes all of these for $1299 - If you also need Fireworks, it is $299 alone. These things should be more than enough to run a freelance businesss of graphic design. - http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop/buying-guide.displayTab2.html

Legal
Draft your services - pricing - what you intend to do - how you are going to invoice for payment etc on a contract and always have the client sign it. This prevents not only a client refusing to pay, but also protects you from getting a client who stretches the assignment on forever - something scary I know in both this world and in my professional world as a businesss intelligence - businesss analyst as Scope Creep

I usually get 1/2 of the payment up front and the other 1/2 after I finish. I do not hand over the files until the final payment is received, though I let the client see the work on a temporary free site. After the contract is signed - I send them a questionnaire - usually through email that has questions regarding page names, colors, content etc. For graphic design only, it may look different - but the idea remains the same.

Marketing
Get on Facebook - Twitter - and other social media. Also go around to businessses you think you could help and give them your card and what you are looking to do. Since my web design and freelance is a sidebusinesss apart from my regular job - I take clients when I need some extra cash for a trip, iPad :))), etc Having something like an iPad 2 when meeting with clients adds not only a level of convenience and ability to show your work on a digital device, but also gives you an extra technical spark that potential clients are looking for in their web designer's persona.

Hope this helps - just make every opportunity you see a reality by acting on it. I was getting my car washed last week and thought it would be a cool place to do a website for. I decided to ask the owner if he was looking for a website to promote his businesss and gave him my businesss card. I haven't heard anything yet, but you never know. The more you put yourself and your work out there, the more you shall receive!
 

Babyt

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May 24, 2010
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#3
wow your FANTASTIC thank you citsur.. this answers quite a bit of questions.
i do have a decent enough macbookpro and adobe master suite already :) [required for my college]

would you suggest any book or website that gives the basic REAL LIFE pricing on other things also [logo, businesss card, brochure etc]?
 

Babyt

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May 24, 2010
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#4
do you know anything of app design?
im trying to find some operative c classes around me but there are none and it looks like ill have to travel quite a distance to find some [im willing though]
 

Michael Baturin

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#5
I actually can't help much in the way of reading or websites with helpful content. I've learned mostly from experience. Some generally good businesss books

7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen R. Covey
Good to Great - Jim Collins
Touchpoints - Douglas Conant

I have to warn I am a bit bias towards the last as it was co-authored by the recently stepped down CEO of the company I work for (who I happen to admire and look up to). All three are great general businesss books that cover main skills and methods of making yourself successful. None are specific to design. Definitely worth reading regardless.

Sorry cant help with app design. Something on my list of things to do and learn, but haven't gotten to it yet.