The graphic design field is one of the more competitive industries in modern business. As the proliferation of mobile devices and new internet-based mediums continues, the demand for versatile and talented designers increases. However, it could be argued that the number of designers entering the field is increasing faster than demand. As a result, it’s important that you find ways to differentiate yourself and procure long-term clients. And it all starts with developing and maintaining responsible habits.
7 Habits You Need to Hone
If your desire is to move to the top of your field and find success, you need to hone the following responsible habits:
- Always be on time. Whether meetings take place at an office, the local coffee shop, or via an online video streaming service, always be on time. In fact, aim to arrive five or ten minutes ahead of schedule. There’s no shame in being early and it gives you a chance to settle in, get comfortable, and prepare your thoughts without being rushed. If clients can depend on you to show up on time, their trust in you will steadily increase. This handy tool is pretty helpful if you’re frequently dealing with clients in different time zones.
- Have a routine. Regardless of whether you work from home or take an elevator up 25 floors to reach your office, you need a daily routine. It doesn’t have to be set in stone, but some basic structure does wonders. You know how your mind and body functions, so utilize the most productive times for the most important work. Having a routine ensures you’re maximizing your time and effort, regardless of how much or little work you have coming in.
- Protect your files. How much of your work related documents and files are on your computer? It’s safe to say 95-100 percent of your data is virtual. What would you do if you lost it? Well, that’s a very real possibility if you aren’t committed to regularly backing up your hard drive. Data loss is expensive and painful. Save yourself time by protecting your files on a daily or weekly basis.
- Make yourself accessible. How easy is it for clients to track you down, get an update, or ask a question? The most successful graphic designers are the ones that are easy to reach. Make yourself as accessible as possible to your clients. Give them multiple options for contacting you, including phone, email, and Skype. If they know they can reach you, they’ll be more likely to do business with you in the future. Most will even pay a premium for accessibility.
- Regularly update your portfolio. As you know, things are continually changing in the graphic design field. Trends come and go, software improves, and what worked last year is no longer effective. That’s why successful designers are committed to regularly updating their portfolios with new work. Any time you complete a new set of projects, immediately consider whether they need to be added to your portfolio. This is the only way to accurately showcase your work and show future clients you’re up-to-date.
- Gather feedback. One thing most designers – and freelancers in general – fail to do is gather feedback from past clients. However, research shows that customer testimonials and social proof are two of the most important components of establishing trust with new customers. Always ask for a three to five sentence review of your services, and be sure to request permission to post it on your site.
- Get everything in writing. If you’re in the business long enough, you’ll eventually get shorted, cheated out of paycheck, or treated inappropriately. While you can’t always protect yourself, you can improve your chances by getting everything in writing. Before starting any project, create a brief write-up with the scope of the project, estimated costs, timetable, and other pertinent details. This is something concrete you can fall back on in case issues ever arise.
These are seven habits that most successful freelance designers have developed. If you want to continually grow and improve, you should consider honing them as well.