7 Resources That Helped Me Build My Freelance Graphic Design Business
In May of 2005, I started my first design job.
Since then I've worked as a landscape designer, AutoCAD drafter, illustrator, photographer, graphic art teacher and website designer. But mostly I've worked as a graphic designer, and each of those previous roles are encompassed in the broad world of graphic design.
Since I just finished Designer Aloha: How Graphic Designers Can Hire, Help and Fire Clients to help graphic designers improve their relationships with clients, I've put together a list of 7 resources which were hugely beneficial to me. If you are a graphic designer just starting out, or a creative professional who is officially cutting the corporate chain to freelance, then congrats! I'm glad you're on your way, and invite you to use the following references to help you jumpstart a successful freelance career.
Are you looking for a thorough overview of freelancing as a creative professional? Start with the Creative Class.
Paul Jarvis’s Creative Class
Hands down, the best investment I've found during my freelance education, is Paul Jarvis's Creative Class. It's a series of videos with worksheets that take you through the idea of your purpose, positioning, pricing and your process. I continue to go back every year and review the classes to keep my mind fresh, and I'm looking forward to seeing new classes coming in the fall of 2017.
I highly recommend you look into joining the Creative Class if you're serious about being a freelancer. Paul has been a creative freelancer for over 20 years, and has taken an absurd amount of time and effort to package loads of information into clear videos with action steps.
You can sign up for Paul Jarvis's Creative Class here: https://creativeclass.io/?ref=63
A Reference Book that Covers EVERYTHING About Freelancing
The Freelancer's Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Have the Career of Your Dreams—On Your Terms
Written by the founder of the Freelancers Union, Sara Horowitz – this book goes over everything from taxes to contracts to getting paid and more. The paperback version is a thick tome, but the layout is well designed and user-friendly.
After you read it, keep it close to your desk for a reference. It's a huge time-saver and will answer most if not all the questions you have about starting a freelance career.
You can get a copy of the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Freelancers-Bible-Everything-Career-Dreams-ebook/dp/B009RY9NZS/
Handling Money as a Freelancer Isn't As Hard As You Think
The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed: The Only Personal Finance System for People with Not-So-Regular Jobs
There's only one book you need to read to get clarity on how to manage finances as a freelancer. Written by Joseph D'Agnese and Denise Kiernan, The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed sketches out a simple approach to managing your money as you juggle your business.
I've read this book three times, and it's well worth you spending a weekend afternoon reading and implementing. In this book, you will learn how to create accounts for monthly and annual expenses, and gain clarity on how to manage your irregular income with regular bills.
You can get the book from Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Money-Book-Freelancers-Part-Timers-Self-Employed-ebook/dp/B0036S4D7O/
Strapped for time? Gain insights on starting and managing your creative business as you work.
The Fizzle Show Podcast
The Fizzle Show is a podcast I listened to heavily during 2013 and 2014, as I turned the dial on my freelance life from being a part-time to full-time gig. The show continues to grow with interviews from creative professionals, entrepreneurs and individuals who have actually built creative businesses.
If you're busy with a full-time job and are just interested in learning about starting a business or freelancing, listening to The Fizzle Show is a convenient place to start.
You can start listening to the newest episode or start back at number 1 here: https://fizzle.co/show
2 Books to Help You Think About How You Market Yourself
Both of the books below have areas that blend together. Both have helped me greatly, and I can't tell you one is better than the other. But I can tell you, reading both will change the way you think about marketing yourself, your products and how you will position yourself with customers that help you grow your business.
80/20 Sales and Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Working Less and Making More - By Perry Marshall
You can buy 80/20 Sales and Marketing here: https://www.amazon.com/80-20-Sales-Marketing-Definitive-ebook/dp/B00CGNRVHE/
Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even if You Hate Marketing and Selling - By Michael Port
You can pick up Book Yourself Solid here: https://www.amazon.com/Book-Yourself-Solid-Reliable-Marketing-ebook/dp/B004EWGB12/
Wisdom About Being a Creative Professional
James Victore’s Dangerous Ideas + Burning Questions Archive
I've been watching James Victore's videos for 2 years. He has hundreds of videos that make up his Burning Questions series which discusses perspective on being a creative professional, handling clients, making your mark and his trademark Feck Purfection. His videos have been very helpful to me, and synchronistic with seasonal and new themes I have in my own growing design business.
You can watch his archived Burning Questions series on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/user/JamesVictore
I also invite you to subscribe to his Patreon page to his new series called Dangerous Ideas. The subscription costs only $1 a month to access the weekly videos, or more if you want extras. His weekly videos average around 10-minutes and are loaded with viewpoints on being a graphic designer and creative professional in present times.
You can subscribe to Dangerous Ideas here: https://www.patreon.com/JamesVictore/posts
Managing Clients As Your Business Grows
Designer Aloha: How Graphic Designers Can Hire, Help and Fire Clients
After years of studying and learning by trial and error – the one thing I've done well is manage my clients. I've found great clients to work with, some of which have been working with me since 2009. I've found ways to help my customers understand design better, how it benefits their endeavors, and continue to evolve in how I can help my clients throughout the design process.
You can buy my ebook Designer Aloha on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Designer-Aloha-Graphic-Designers-Clients-ebook/dp/B0716HMFJV