If you have a vivid imagination and are visually creative, becoming a freelance designer could be the career for you.
It’s a competitive industry, but this guide will show you how to stand out from the crowd and be a successful designer.
Different types of design
Though they’re all based on visuals, there are a few different kinds of design work:
- Graphic design
- Fashion design
- Interior design
- Jewellery design
Graphic design – what kinds of job can you do?
As a graphic designer, you’ll use visuals to communicate messages, ideas, and to sell.
This is what’s involved in graphic design:
- Designing websites.
- Designing adverts, brochures, and other marketing materials for advertising agencies or marketing agencies.
- Designing marketing materials for businesses directly.
- Designing magazines.
As a graphic designer, you don’t need qualifications to find work, but you will need certain skills, such as being an expert in using Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.
Fashion design – what kinds of jobs can you do?
- Designing clothes for fashion shows: In this situation, the design of clothing is an art form. It doesn’t have to be something people will actually wear in real life, but it must communicate ideas.
- Designing clothes for people to wear: You’ll design clothes that people will buy to wear. You’ll need to know what the current trends are, as well as what the trends will be in the future.
- Bespoke clothing: You might design clothes for an individual, for example a wedding dress for a bride, or a tailored suit with a unique design for a man.
Whichever path you take, you’ll need to have a good eye for colour, shapes, and details, as well as more technical aspects, such as sewing and pattern-making.
Illustration – what kinds of jobs can you do?
- Advertising: Illustration to sell products.
- Technical diagrams: Illustrations to explain how something works in an instruction manual, for example.
- Book covers: You could design the front and back covers of novels and other books. There is an increasing need due to self-published authors.
- Leaflets, maps, guidebooks: You’ll need to design the layout, as well as choose the colour palette.
You don’t necessarily need to have a degree or other qualification to work as a freelance illustrator, but you will need a good eye for design and detail, as well as expert working knowledge in Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop.
Interior design – what kinds of jobs can you do?
- Choosing the right colours, fittings, and furniture for a house, office, or other building.
- Designing the style and layout of an interior.
- Design interiors using hand drawn illustrations or with software.
Like most other types of designer, you don’t necessarily need a degree or other qualification to make a successful freelance career in interior design, but you will need a good eye for colour and detail, be good at drawing, and have expert working knowledge of 3D design software.
Jewellery design – what kinds of jobs can you do?
- Design bespoke jewellery for a customer based on a consultation where you discuss what they want.
- Design jewellery to sell to more general customers.
You don’t need any formal qualifications to work as a freelance jewellery designer, but you do need to be creative and have technical skills to actually make the jewellery, including mounting gems and engraving metal.
What do the types of freelance design jobs have in common?
Whichever type of design you want to move into, working as a freelancer will bring with it new challenges.
You’ll have to get good at these if you want to be a successful freelance designer:
- Discuss designs and plans with clients, and change them if required.
- Negotiating prices and time scales.
- Make designs using hand drawing or design software.
- Complete work within budgets and deadlines.
How to find work as a freelance designer
As a freelance designer, you’ll have to put a lot of effort into marketing your services.
Here are a few ways to do it:
- Portfolio: This is essential to finding design work. Clients will only hire you if they can see you’ve done good work before.
- Website: Having a professional website will make you look more credible, and is a place to display your portfolio and somewhere to direct potential clients to.
- Networking: Attend business networking events to meet lots of potential clients. They’ll be more likely to trust you enough to hire you if they’ve already met you in person.
- Business cards: Hand these out to potential clients, as well as family and friends so they can give them to anybody who might need the services of a designer. Make sure to include your contact details, and your website address so people can see your portfolio.
Accounting as a freelance designer
There are various benefits to freelancing as a designer, from the freedom and flexibility to work with a variety of businesses and individuals to more take-home pay.
But there is one downside – accounting.
As a full-time employee, your tax is usually taken care of on your behalf in the form of PAYE.
As a freelancer you’ll have to keep a range of financial records and then prepare and pay a Self-Assessment tax return at the end of each business year.
Accountancy can be very confusing and can distract you developing your craft and finding new clients.
Getting tax and accountancy advice
With most accountants, you’ll pay them to do your year-end accounts, and then they’ll forget about you until the next year.
But for your business to be run smoothly and successfully, you’ll need advice on tax and accountancy throughout the year, especially in the early days.
Pearl Accountants is different
Pearl Accountants provides an affordable and specialist accountancy service designed just for freelancers.
Throughout the year we’ll be on hand to give you any tax and accountancy advice you might need, including things like:
- Take-home pay
- Which VAT scheme to register for
- Tax allowances
- Choosing between sole trader and limited company
- Running your business in a tax-efficient way
We charge for our accountancy services in a clear and simple way, which means you’ll never receive an unexpected bill, and you can get in touch for advice whenever you want without the worry of being charged a fortune like you would with many other accountants.
Get in touch for more information and advice
For more information and a free consultation call us now on 020 8582 0076