Design From a Distance
Graphic designers are usually local workers, and it is sometimes essential for the designer to be on site in order for a project to be completed. This used to be the case, but now more and more designers are doing freelance design from a distance. I have been experiencing this myself, as I am freelancing with clients from across the country.
Technology has intervened
A few years ago, no one thought that working remotely could be a practical way of working with clients. Personally, I have always enjoyed working face to face with my clients, because I enjoyed the interaction. I enjoyed seeing their eyes grow wide and I showed them what I have created, and how it delivered everything that they wanted, and in many cases, exceeded their expectations. Now, many of my interactions with clients are via telephone, email, or Skype. I still received the same reactions from the work that I delivered, but I don’t get the same satisfaction from words typed in an email that I do from a face-to-face interaction.
Why have things changed?
When considering freelance design from a distance, the economy is the main reason. There are also other outside factors as well, such as our desire to quickly expand our business and find paying clients when we are relatively new. We pour over freelance websites, trying to find just the right project that fits our abilities, we network via LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, and we network with other designers.
The economy is rough right now, and many people can’t find jobs. This has affected in-house designers, because they can’t find a steady job, so they are forced into freelancing to pay the bills, so they eat up a lot of the local work for the people that have chosen to be freelancers because they enjoy it. This causes professional freelancers to look anywhere they can for freelance work, forcing us to invent creative ways to find clients. Freelancing is no longer a local business. Some are lucky enough to have a large enough steady client base to stay local, but most of us are regional or even nation-wide. We can’t afford not to explore every income avenue possible to create a steady stream of work.
How has this affected the freelance design business?
We can no longer strictly focus on print design, but we also have to know website design, and have to be more tech savvy overall. We have to stay up-to-date on technology and stay relevant to the business. More people are concentrated on delivering content across multiple platforms, and every day someone comes up with a new responsive layout, or one that re-flows or restructures itself to fit different screen sizes.
When considering freelance design from a distance, we have to know how to connect with clients in different ways. Most of us are glued to our cell phones and email, and we are glued in front of our computers as well. There are all types of different services available so that we can run our entire business from the web. There are web invoicing services, services to send large files, project collaboration services, and more.
Is this a bad thing?
In my professional opinion, this isn’t a bad thing, but the way we do business is changing. No longer can we sit inside of an office downtown and wait for clients to come to us. We can’t expect people to flip through the phone book and call us. Now, we have to market ourselves online, worry about SEO so that clients can find us, use social media to promote ourselves, and we are having to go to greater lengths to meet new clients.
On the other hand, if we harness our new tools, we can effectively build our business from nothing to fairly successful without much money or effort invested. Google Adwords can put us at the top of Google search for roughly $3 per click, Twitter and Facebook can promote and advertise our services, LinkedIn can help us build professional contacts, and different freelance websites can help us to get business. This is great for the designers that have tremendous talent, because you can promote that talent easily. You can reach tens of thousands of potential clients for very little money.