Being a Freelancer has numerous benefits. It may be a relief not having a boss looking over your shoulder all day, but for some it is better to have a consistent income. If you have the skills, patience and commitment, becoming a Freelancer may be one of the most rewarding business moves you ever make--and I am not just talking $-wise!
According to Forbes, Freelancers will make up 40% of the labor force by 2020. What this means is that the market will soon be flooded with competitors. In order to differentiate yourself from the rest, you will need several tools to help you stand out. If you are interested in doing Freelance work as a Designer or Developer, here are five Tools you should consider:
1. iMac or Macbook Computer
In today's Designer world, a quality computer is essential. You will not survive without a computer that can quickly process all the information, large files and fast Internet speeds that Designers require. This leads most designers to the Mac OS. Not to mention, they work great with Adobe Creative Cloud! Having a powerful computer will allow you to create illustrations, work with type fonts, touch-up photos, develop websites and complete layouts. This is not intended to spark the age-old Mac/PC debate. This is only a SUGGESTION--Just make sure you own a quality computer! 🙂
2. Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription or Sketch 3
Without proper Software/Apps, you are not going to get very far as a Freelancer. Today, one of the most popular Apps for Illustrators and Designers alike is Adobe Creative Cloud. It gives you everything you need to design logos, websites, advertisement layouts and anything else you can imagine. This wide selection of versatile Apps is now considered the Industry Standard, and most designers use at least one or more of them on a daily basis. Adobe no longer sells their software in a box, so you must purchase online subscriptions which will allow you to stay up-to-date on the latest releases.
Sketch 3 is a rather new vector design software that is sweeping the nation. This new software goes far beyond creating digital illustrations--It is also an amazing tool for user interface design. The software has built-in tools that automate file exports, which are usually time-consuming and tedious. This means Sketch 3 will have an easier time making content available for multiple devices. The downside of Sketch 3 is that it it entails a steep learning curve for "newbies". The shortcuts and functions are different than those used in Adobe Cloud, and cause some initial confusion when first learning how to use the software.
3. A Sketchbook
Although we are living in a high-tech, digital society, it is sometimes difficult to spark creativity. In fact, many professionals suggest not start your project on a computer. Without knowing your end result, you will end up wasting your client's time, and in the end... may lose the client altogether.
Drawing in sketchbooks allows you to focus on putting your ideas to paper, thus making them easier to reference when talking to others, or your client. It can help you hash out unfinished ideas, view multiple layout options and formalize your concept. You will also save time by sketching everything out first--You don’t have to think about mouse movements or keyboard commands, so you can pay complete attention to your ideas along with other finer details.
Sketchbooks are also much more portable than a computer. They allow you to easily break them out whenever you are suddenly inspired. The ideas may not pertain to your current project, but they will now be readily available for quick-reference in the future.
4. Trusted Peers
While you may not think of other people as a "Tool" (or maybe you do? haha), knowing other Designers, Illustrators, Web Developers, Photographers and other Creatives is extremely important for a two reasons:
- Brainstorming: Having brainstorming sessions will give your projects the best chance of success. They will bring out fresh ideas that you may not have thought of on your own... and they tend to push the boundaries of creativity.
- Critiques: It is not easy to analyze your own work. Having a trusted peer's opinion of your work will only make your projects and skills better. Constructive criticism will bring your work to a higher level.
As your projects become more involved, you will need to collaborate with other professionals. Find a group of people you can trust with skill-sets different than your own, so you can collaborate on projects together.
5. Job Platform Service
Being a successful freelancer heavily depends on your ability to bring in Projects and Gigs. Using a Job Board service like the one at ectalentagency.com lets you apply for gigs that you never even knew existed. EC Talent Agency Network is much more than just a job service--It is actually a Social Media Platform for Freelancers that allows clients the opportunity to search for you by Location and Skills, review your profile/portfolio and hire you on the spot. Being a Social Media Platform, you are able to connect with other Freelancers, use Peer Review Groups, engage in Forums and meet other Freelancers just like yourself.
At the end of the day, there are many tools and platforms for Freelancers to utilize. However, these 5 Tools will definitely help set you in the right direction. They will help you grow in a career such as Freelance Graphic Design or Web Development. Now, all that is left is to CREATE!