Tips for Freelance Designers Who Want to WIN Projects Online

Friday, March 2, 2018

A quick tip for freelance designers who want to win projects online. Do you do work on UpWork, 99Designs, GIG, Fiverr, or Freelancer? If so, this post is just for you!

There are a few things that will help your potential clients REALLY like your work and make YOU stand out from the crowd.

Know what the client wants

1) If you participate in any kind of contest for design work READ the directions. ASK questions. IF you deviate from the project brief requirements only do so by explaining your choices and ALWAYS include at least one (1) design that CLOSELY follows their requirements. Yes, I understand you are a designer so you think you know better but if they wrote it-- there might be a reason why it's in the brief. Color is one example of this. I have seen a lot of designers completely disregard EXACT hex code color requests. WHY?!

Get Feedback

2) Ask for blunt feedback, even if you don't handle criticism well. When I hire designers I do not coddle them anymore. I did at first with nice polite requests - -and I still say please and thank you but I'm very blunt about what your design is lacking but I also provide very positive constructive feedback when you do well AND praise you publicly. If you don't get it or are unsure why your designs are lacking, ASK. Many clients will not tell you because they either don't know anything about design or because they are too afraid to be honest. If that is the case, email me. I will give you strong feedback to improve your work.

Don't SPAM. Combine variations in ONE image.

3) If you make multiple designs that closely match but have deviations like color, typography, or a minor illustration change do NOT submit them as multiple entries. This is EXTREMELY annoying for clients. If your design is something they like they can not easily compare your work and if it sucks they have to take the time to negatively rate or remove every one of your submissions. It's spammy to submit the same design with a minor tweak 2, 3, or 10 times. DO NOT DO THIS. Don't. Instead, almost every platform allows multiple submissions at once! This is great because It shows the design but the variations paginate. Plus the client can simply rate it once. Now, if they say they like that design --- of course you will submit more similar variations BUT not the first time and not for simple revisions. Each time you make a submission, do it all at once. Ok so, what is the best way to do this? Your FIRST submission should be a lined of version of the deviations all in one design image. I personally like when they are lined up vertically because it shows up better in thumbnail previews and you get more space IF it is a logo with horizontal text. For Vertical designs like websites or logos with the image above the text you will want to do horizontal rows of your comparison images. You can make multiple rows if you have more than 3-5 designs (depending on size).

Look at your work

4) QA your work. Do this on your own. Do this with a friend or spouse. Just make sure you give it a good looksie. I had an art professor once (for a painting class) that told me you need to step back from your painting at least every ten minutes to truly see the whole picture. She meant it. Literally you stand up, take 2 to 5 steps BACKWARDS and look at it from a distance. This may be hard if you have a tiny screen, so get a better monitor when you can. The point of this is to see the whole work, all at once, from a distance. Get some perspective. Spell check. This works for design too. If you have a website design zoomed in so you can only see the header area or footer but it's a long page... you're not getting perspective. Print out the design if you have to. Put it up on the wall and use a marker to mark it up (this is better if you have a cork-board.

Have fun and get feedback

5) Have fun with your job. Be open to feedback. In fact, ENCOURAGE feedback. Too many people are PC these days and afraid to truly tell you what they think. They think the design is your baby and by saying anything negative it will hurt the baby. It wont, it will make the baby better. It will polish the baby and refine your design (enough with the weird baby metaphor) into something great. Accept criticism. If you immediately feel defensive when hearing something negative about your work, SHUT UP. THINK. REFLECT. Then speak, if necessary (preferably not much other than thank you). Talk less and listen more. This is hard. I know. Just shut up and ask people to be super honest. Say it like that, "hey! I have a new design will you critique it for me? I want a great design so it's very important to me that you are EXTREMELY honest. You will not hurt my feelings, if you see something you don't like just say so." If you feel the need you can also clarify with, "I may or may not use all of the feedback you provide but I will take it to heart and consider it for my work" If you do that you need to follow up to reiterate, "Please though, be blunt." It may sting at first. It's a skill that most GOOD design colleges start you off with early. I hated it at first and now love it. It's hard and icky feeling (at first) but important if you want to be any good. You will receive feedback all the time and you need to be open to it.

Use common patterns or hire a UX person

6) Design (other then the science and pattern side of it) is fairly subjective and open to interpretation but most PATTERNS are that way because they have been tested and WORK. Don't always reinvent the wheel. When in doubt, work with a UX person.

Ok that is all the tips for this morning. More later! Hope that helps someone. Please provide ME with feedback. Did you like this post? Hate it? ;) Let me know in the comments.


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