Finding Work is like Fishing

Over the past year, I have really struggled with finding freelance design work. I feel like the process of finding clients is similar to fishing. You cast your line out and try to entice a fish (the fish being a client) to bite the bait you have put out there. If your lucky, you will get a bite. Once you get a bite, you need to set the hook and reel them in. Well, I’ve had my fair share of bites, but with no luck of setting the hook. This got me thinking.

What am I doing wrong? How did I not land that job?

I realized something. It’s not a mater of doing something wrong, but that I don’t have fresh bait at the end of my line to keep the fish coming back. My portfolio has been lacking new projects and fresh content. Instead of sitting around waiting for a client to get hooked on old bait, I need to add fresh bait.

What Can I do?

It’s time to break out the pencils, pens & paper. It’s time to start doing something for myself. It’s time to freshen up my portfolio. As creative designers, we have a need to always be creating something. So, instead of going home and sitting in front of the TV, I’m going to sit at my desk and create. It will take time, but eventually, I will provide myself with a bucket of fresh bait. Something more enticing for the fish I want to catch!

What about you? Are you putting fresh bait in front of your clients? Share you thoughts in the comments! I’d love to hear what you have to say.

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Don’t Get Screwed, Use a Contract!

Have you ever been screwed over for your work? Did you have your client or the person employing you sign a contract? Without a contract put in place, you might end up doing more work for less pay (or none at all). To avoid this headache, make sure to use a contract before any work begins. A contract is to protect both you (the service provider) and them (the client or employer).

Like most people starting out freelancing, I didn’t use a contract. Still, to this day, there are times I deal with the problem that some people don’t want to use a contract. BIG RED FLAG!

I want to keep this post short and leave you with the famous video from Mike Monteiro of Mule Design. It’s a bit long, but it’s completely worth your time to watch.

PLEASE NOTE: There will be some profanity in the following video!

Spec Work is Bad Business

Have you heard of spec work? Have you created a design contest asking for designers to create a logo for you new start-up business to award only one creative the price? How about crowdsourcing work? Have you entered a contest hoping your submitted design would win so that you would be paid? If so, I urge you to stop and stay away from Spec.

What is Spec Work?

Spec work (or speculative work) means producing a piece of work for a client without a guarantee that your submission will be picked out of other submitted pieces of work from others or without guarantee of payment. Many people starting out in the design industry want to build their portfolio and are easily trapped with this kind of work (myself included) because these types of projects are everywhere. This video does a great job explaining spec work and why it is bad business.

This video was created by the very talented Topic Simple.

What can you do about this?

Now that you have a better understanding, you can see why spec work is bad business. As a graphic designer, I use to think that these design contests or crowdsourcing sites like 99designs.com seemed like the perfect way to build my portfolio. I spent hours working on a logo designs and submitted them to only be left with nothing but waisted time and effort. One day I heard about a movement called AntiSpec, a community filled with professionals fighting agains spec work. I felt that it was my duty as a young professional to show my support. I joined and almost instantly felt empowered. No longer would I support design contests or crowdsourcing sites and projects! If you have been trapped like I was, I would strongly suggest that you stand up as well and show your support for AntiSpec! The best way to fight this kind of work is to not do it! Don’t give in to the urge of taking a shot at a design contest.

You want to build your portfolio?

If you need to build your portfolio, create some personal projects. Design some t-shirts. Do a case study and redesign an existing brand or company logo and showcase this in your portfolio. Search out some non-profits in your area and see if you can offer to design their website or logo. Maybe they have an event that needs a poster design. There are many ways to build a portfolio of work for yourself without spec work.

I would love for you to comment and share your experience with spec work and how you help to fight against it.

Selling My Instagram Photos

My photo “Morning Dew” from Instaprints.com

As I was browsing through my RSS feeds Monday morning, I read an article from Mashable that talked about a new service called Instaprints. Instaprints let’s anyone who uses the app Instagram upload their photos and sell them as framed prints, canvas prints, greeting cards, and more to a global audience. Reading this article came at the perfect time for me. My wife and a number of friends and family have told me that some of the photos I’ve been taking with Instagram are really beautiful and that I should have them printed on canvas or framed. So I spent a few minutes setting up my profile so that I can sell some of my Instagram photos.

As a graphic design, I’ve started to enjoy photography as a side hobby. I don’t have any fancy camera setup right now. It’s just me, my HTC Evo 4G Android phone (yes, you read that correct! I don’t have an iPhone like everyone else.) and my eyes focusing on some of the amazing things I see around me. I take photos of my family and our pets too. Doesn’t everybody? For now, I have a small gallery of flowers, landscapes and clouds in the sky. I hope to sell some of these photos and encourage others to check out Instaprints. Who knows, you may make a nice little side income from this service.

Visit my Instaprints.com profile to see the photos I have for sale.

Show the World your Passion

Ever since I was a child, I’ve always enjoyed drawing and creating art. Little did I know, I was developing a passion that I could follow for the rest of my life. There are many people in this world that don’t know which direction to take in life. Many of these people end up in a jobs or careers that they cannot be excited about, but others do. For me, I knew from an early age that I wanted to make a career around art.

While I was a typical teenager in high school, I found myself in some kind of art class every year. One year, I signed up for a class that I knew nothing about but the name of the class interested me. Intro to Graphic Design, what is that? What is Graphic Design? The teacher that taught the class wasn’t a graphic design, but she had friends who were. So I found myself learning a basic background to what Graphic Design was and that people actually made careers out of it. Now, I use to see logos, posters, book covers, and those big signs over roads they call bill boards. I didn’t know that graphic designers, illustrators, ad agencies, design firms and copyrighters were responsible for these visually interesting pieces of art that helped companies make names for themselves, or help sell their products. This was pretty awesome to learn.

We were assigned a project to come up with a name to a cereal brand that was our own, design a cereal box, and showcase this creation as our final to Intro to Graphic Design. This was the most exciting assignment I had ever had in my whole school career! To say the least, I was hooked! I wanted to be a graphic designer for the rest of my life & make this my career.

We where visited by The Art Institute of Seattle during this class, so that took the pain out of deciding on where I wanted to go to school. I had family in Seattle, so that was an easy choice. Convincing my parents that going to school for art and design was not so easy. I had to show them and prove to them that this was my passion! I did everything I could. I even tried to get a scholarship to The Art Institute of Seattle, but didn’t get it. They eventually gave in and helped me to send me out to Seattle. I graduated in 2 years and have never once felt bad about this decision.

My passion has lead me to a great career in graphic design. This passion keeps growing every day by learning new things or ways at solving problems using design. Helping clients and the people that employ me, is my greatest achievement. Anyone who isn’t sure of what they want to do for their career, I highly suggest finding your passion. If you have something you enjoy doing, pursue it! Take it to the next level and make a career out of it. If you love what you do, and have passion for it, you won’t feel like your working some stupid job that you could care less about. I promise! Show the world your passion!

Let me know what you’re passionate about. Do you make a career out of something your passionate about? Share your comments.