Here are the top 7 common mistakes that graphic designers make. These common mistakes could end up costing you clients, time, and money. Take a look!
1. The Time Management Balancing Act
Does drowning under too many deadlines sound familiar to you? Taking on too much and not balancing your time is a common mistake that graphic designers make. You’re not alone…we’ve all been there (me too) and thankfully there is a solution!
The most important skill you can have as a freelance designer is impeccable time management. You need to be able to balance your time, both between deadlines and actively working to develop your business and your skill set. Want to become a time management pro? Check out my post, 3 Time Management Tips For Balancing A Busy Life.
2. Undervaluing Your Work
When you’re just starting out as a freelance designer, it may be tempting to undervalue your work and take a less price on a project. I’ve got an easy recommendation on that topic. Don’t undervalue yourself and don’t be afraid to charge what you’re services are worth.
Put together a kick-ass portfolio of your pieces, do some recon and find out what other graphic designers are charging. Know what your client would be charged if they went to an agency or design firm. All of this information will help you value your design services at a price point that is competitive and fair. That’s not to say that you have to stick to set rates all of the time. It’s absolutely fine to be flexible on your pricing, but make sure that you’re doing it on your terms.
3. Choosing The Wrong People To Work With
This is a common mistake that I see freelance designers make all too often. Just like you shouldn’t undervalue your work, you also shouldn’t say yes to working with just anyone. We’ve all worked with those clients that are difficult, never pay on time, constantly drag projects out and take advantage of the agreed-upon revisions with ‘just one more edit’. Newsflash…the great thing about working for yourself is that you no longer have to work with someone like that! As a freelance designer, you are your own boss and can pick and choose the people that you work with.
Another AMAZING thing about striking it out on your own is that you can also turn down projects that you’re just not feeling. I absolutely encourage you to take jobs that excite you and ignite your creativity and turn down the rest.
4. Over-Promising & Under-Delivering
I’ll be honest, having confidence is something that you need to succeed as a freelance designer. But you also need humility. Be realistic about the services you offer and the skill that you can execute at. Don’t promise someone something that you know you can’t achieve…and if you’re just learning how to do something, say so. People respect honesty and you’ll find that some will even give you a chance to tackle some projects that might not be your strength if you’re upfront right from the beginning.
This also applies to deadlines. If someone asks you to do a massive project in a short amount of time, don’t be afraid to say no. If you know you’re swamped and can’t take on another project for a month, don’t take on more work. You aren’t doing anyone favours by taking on things that you can’t complete. Plan out the projects you have coming in and build in buffers. Just like a contractor would build in a contingency into a renovation budget, you’re going to want to build a buffer into your timelines. By overestimating how long a project will take, you’ll be prepared if any hiccups or unexpected issues arise. And if they don’t, you’ll be smooth sailing and ahead of schedule. It’s a win, win!
5. Jack Of All Trades, Master Of None
I’m going to keep this one short and sweet. Find your strengths and run with them. It’s so much better to be amazing at ONE thing than to be mediocre at everything. Over time you can build on your skills to become a master of other facets of your craft, but don’t try to be good at everything all at once.
6. Having Poor Presentation Skills
The quality of your work is only as good as the quality of your presentation skills. Whether is it’s your graphic design portfolio or a client facing document always, always, always use strong presentation techniques. Print branding booklets, tidy up mood boards, put together contact sheets to organize your content or concepts. The presentation is often something so simple but will have such a big impact on the way that someone perceives your work.
7. The Common Mistake of Not Proofing Your Work
Part of me thinks that this should be a no-brainer, but I know that it’s tempting to send files off to clients without proofing them…especially when you’re in a time crunch. This is a common mistake that everyone makes, not just graphic designers.
My advice – check your work. Step away from your work and review it again with fresh eyes. Have a friend check your work and then check it again yourself. Do whatever you need to do to ensure that you catch any errors in spelling, alignment, etc.