For many, gone are the days when you would get a job at 22 fresh out of college or university and then proceed to work in that company for the next 40 years. Retire, collect a pension and sail off into the sunset.
In today’s gig economy it’s much more likely that you’ll work in multiple roles and positions often having to resort to having a main job and a side gig or two to make ends meet while you establish yourself. For instance, I know many women who worked at an ad agency in their creative department working 30 to 35 hours a week and then picked up some design work on the side. I worked on a side project for a website that rated survey sites.
The work is usually flexible and you can bid on projects you actually want to work on. I wanted to share some of the lessons I learned while working on these side projects while establishing my self as a freelancer designer.
Tip #1: Build Up Hours and Credibility
When you first start you’re going to want to get on a platform like Upwork or even Craigslist. This is the easiest way to find clients. Full disclosure, most of the jobs aren’t good. Expectations are high and wages are extremely low. If you’re just starting off on one of these platforms bid low on projects and explain you’re wanting to establish yourself on that platform. As you get more reviews and clients you will gradually build up your rate.
Artists always talk about how they don’t work for free. Fair enough I’m empathetic. There is nothing worse than having someone offer you a gig and say they’ll pay you to DJ in beer or they’ll pay you for your design work with exposure. Bugger off.
I don’t suggest you give away your work but working for lower than what you might expect is a great way to start building up your portfolio, making a little scratch and getting those much needed reviews on your profile. If you’re worth your salt (you’re good at whatever it is you do) and you deliver good work you will get paid well but you have to put the work in.
Even most CEO’s had to put in their time, working menial low paying tasks. Were they more talented than sorting mail? Sure. No gives a crap, the only way to charge more is to be in demand. One great way to create demand is by getting clients.
Tip #2: Ask For More
Wait, what? You just told me to work for less than you want to. At the start, yes. As you build credibility and respect from your clients don’t be afraid to ask for a raise. Too many people wait for their clients to give them a raise, spoiler alert it rarely happens.
Tip #3: Become Diverse
Nothing allows you to charge more than being multi-talented. If you’re an adwords expert being able to pick up the ball on a clients social media is a game changer. Keep moving, keep learning.