Angelynn’s freelancing tips

Presented at: MIMC Freelancer Panel: “So, You Want to be a Freelancer?”
Moderator: Alen Yen, President, Interactive Factory
Panelists: Dan Berube, NoisyBrain.com; Jessica Bergonzi, Division Director, The Creative Group; and yours truly, Angelynn Grant, Designer/Writer
Tuesday, October 30th, 2001, 6:30pm – 8:30pm at Interactive Factory

  1. Don’t be shy: Go to professional events and lectures and meet people.
  2. One person’s castoff is your meal ticket: Call or email old teachers/mentors and ask them to pass along any jobs that may be too small for their studio.
  3. Don’t be too choosy but don’t be too cheap: Accept small budget jobs when work is slow but never underprice yourself or do work for free (unless it’s a charitable gift).
  4. Ginkgo biloba + OCD: Keep all business email; try to be organized, but, most importantly, keep it all and back it up.
  5. How can you miss me if I never went away: Go out to walk/jog, go to a gym or yoga classes, or go grocery shopping (or all three!) in the late afternoon, early evening, so that when you return, you too can have that “honey, I’m home” feeling.
  6. Time is on your side: Hang around a long time – eventually people will know you and send work your way.

Setting up a contract for your services:
The AIGA provides help with this, even for nonmembers (although you should seriously consider joining this and/or other professional organizations) with a sample PDF agreement. About.com has a few good articles, including this one titled Writing a Great Webdesign Contract. (You can adapt that for print and other design projects.) And here’s one more tip gleaned from a graphic design contract template no longer available on the web: ask for 25 to 50% upfront, but also offer a 5% discount if the remainder is paid the day (or week, if you think that’s too stringent) of handing over deliverables.

Health insurance: Look into the Graphic Artists Guild or the Small Business Service Bureau – both have plans that include health and dental coverage, but require yearly membership dues. In the end, it might just come down to biting the bullet and buying a plan from an HMO, with a high deductible if the premiums are too prohibitive and you’re in good health. No matter what, though, you don’t want to end up having your accident/illness become a burden to your parents/family/friends just because you didn’t want to budget for health insurance!

Tax help: I recommend TurboTax Home & Business or Deluxe (if you are skilled with Schedules C and SE).

Good luck and pass your castoffs along to me!