Every freelance graphic designer will have times between projects when they think they've nothing to do. In fact, when you're a freelancer, there is always something you can do to help improve your business and yourself as a designer.
Below are five suggestions of stuff to try when it's a bit quiet. None of them need take up that much time and may go towards helping you get new clients and projects.
1) WRITE A BLOG POST
That's exactly why I'm writing this now! I'm currently waiting for clients to send me content for two projects, so rather than sitting here watching random Youtube videos of dancing kittens, I thought I'd do a blog post.
Writing a blog is great for your website's SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) as it show Google and other search engines your site is being regularly updated which moves it further up the ranking in search results. It also give you a chance to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise to the world, which is always a good thing.
2) WORK ON A PERSONAL PROJECT
We all love doing stuff for our clients but every now and again it's just so nice to do a personal project for no other reason than the love of designing. Whether it be a typography poster, a photography project or designing some logos just for the fun of it, you can flex your creative muscle free of anyone's brand guidelines and briefs. It's a perfect way to show your skills and express yourself. Don't forget to then put it on your website to show potential clients what you can do.
3) LEARN SOMETHING NEW
If you've no projects pending then you can use the time to go online and read up on a new skill. It can be something as simple as following a few Photoshop tutorials online or buying a book on something more in depth like CSS. You have to be honest with yourself and admit the weak points in your skill set, then go about resolving this. There's nothing wrong with not knowing something and every new skill you learn makes you a more proficient designer and able to do something new.
4) GET SOME INSPIRATION
We can all easily get into a creative rut, I've been as guilty of it as anyone. When you've time to spare, go and find some inspiration for new ideas. It can be something as simple as browsing through sites like Pinterest or Inspiration Feed, or you can go one better by getting outside for a walk and taking some photos (it's always good to have a library of your own shots to use on projects). You need to expose yourself to new things to keep fresh so when the next design brief comes in, you will have lots of innovative ideas to bring to the graphic design table.
6) WORK ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PROFILES
Social media is a great tool for advertising your business and raising your profile in the industry but it does require a bit of regular effort and housekeeping to make it work for you. Take a little time to tweak your profiles, be it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other and make them stand out so people can find you. Little things like ensuring you have a profile photo, whether it's your lovely mug or your logo, can help. Check the profile or about me text that describes you and your business is correct and keyword rich. Make a nice background or header (you are a designer after all) and demonstrate good brand consistency across them all. While you're there, check for any dodgy spam accounts to block and have a tidy up.
So you've decided to go for it and take that step into the exciting world of freelancing and one of the first and, in my opinion, most difficult things you need you need to do is think of a name for your business.
To help you along, I've put together my five top tips of things to consider when choosing your business name, compiled from my own experience and research into the subject.
1) HAVE THE NAME MEAN SOMETHING TO YOU PERSONALLY
Whilst there are many business name generators out there on the web, your business name needs to mean something to you personally. It should either say something about yourself, your business or, if you're going down the abstract name route, have a connection or story behind it. Clients will often ask how you got your business name and just saying, "I just picked a random one" doesn't really demonstrate your creative skills to them.
2) MAKE SURE THE DOMAIN NAME IS AVAILABLE
You'll want the domain name of your website and email to match your company's name, so once you've got a few potential names the next thing I suggest you do is use a "Who Is" lookup tool such as whoislookup.com to check and see if it's available.
3) PRACTICE SAYING IT OUT LOUD
This one may sound a little strange but you will find yourself answering the phone and talking about your business a lot. Just pretend you're answering the phone using your business name and even try it out on people. If the name is long, tricky to say or easily misheard then you should consider another one.
4) ENSURE PEOPLE CAN SPELL IT
One of the names I initially thought of for my business was Flex Creative. I thought it was easy to say and (at the time) the domain name was available. Then when I spoke to someone about it the thought I meant "Flecks" rather than "Flex". This kind of issue could cause your potential clients some confusion and result in you losing business due to them not being able to find you online. Make sure your business name can only be spelt one way and isn't susceptible to misspellings.
5) LIVE WITH IT FOR A FEW DAYS
Once you have what you think is the perfect name for your business, the last thing I suggest you do with it for a few days is... Nothing! Just live with it and keep saying it, looking at it and talking to people about it before you decide to go ahead and use it. The reason for this is that hopefully your creative empire will be around for a long while and you will be looking at, saying and typing your business name every working day. If you find yourself getting fed up with it after a few days, have another think in case it's not right one for you. But, if you still love it, then go ahead and register your domain name, design your logo and go get those clients!
Malcolm Roberts is a Worcestershire based graphic designer, blogger and lover of all things creative.
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