Doing Graphic Design From Home
If you are looking for a career change, then working on graphic design from home could be a fun option. Graphic design is a satisfying career that lets you unleash your creative juices. The best part about a becoming a graphic designer is that you don’t need much equipment. A decent computer will do the job. A quality mouse and graphics tablet will also make your job easier, but the aren’t necessary.
Software for Graphic Design
The most popular tools for graphic design are still the ones made by Adobe, but there are other applications that are useful and that people can do good work with that cost far less. If you want to do photo editing work then the GIMP is a good piece of open source software that is free to use, and that supports a large percentage of the most popular Adobe Photoshop plugins.
There are still some that are designed with Photoshop specifically in mind, though, and if you can justify the cost then it is well worth investing in Photoshop and Lightroom. If you want to work with vectors, then Illustrator is useful to have.
While you are learning the ropes, you can use the student license of Adobe Creative Cloud (CC), which is a fully functional but far more affordable way of accessing the software. If you want to start earning money from graphics design, then you will need to buy the full version. Fortunately, there are tiered packages so there is no need to pay for apps that you are not using.
For simple graphics, even some professionals are turning to online/cloud-based apps these days. Canva is a versatile tool that will let you throw together vouchers, posters and even infographics in a simple and easy to use interface and download them as PDFs for easy printing. You probably won’t find yourself doing much detailed or bespoke work using Canva. Canva is useful for quick logo designs or promotional content, but nothing too proffessional.
These days, if you want to do layout work and not break the bank, you have the freedom to download and use Scribus. For vector work, there is Inkscape, and for fancy texts and charts, there is LibreOffice, which some veteran open source fans may recognise as being an updated version of Open Office. If you’re doing paid graphic design from home as a part of a team then you may want to look at something like OrangeScrum for project management.
Finding Graphic Design Work
Finding work as a graphic designer can be tricky. Searching for work online can be a very competitive marketplace, especially with other marketers under charging. This means that you can find people who will do quite skilled work for a very low hourly rate.
If you want to grow your portfolio, try working on getting good references from clients. If this means you have to work for free, then work for free. Work that you have done for yourself or for friends can be a starting point for a portfolio.
Although, paying clients will want to know that you can work to a brief, which is different to just working when inspiration strikes. You should pick some skills market/jobs sites to join and start building up a client base.
One of the easiest sites to get started on is Fiverr. This site doesn’t have the best reputation, as it started as a platform where everything costs $5. So to put it simple, everything was low cost, and well quality. Now the site has advanced, so has a lot of the content, as well as creators earning a lot more money. Just like most things, you pay for what you get.
So if you’re only willing to pay $5, don’t expect anything too special. Some sellers offer work based on a general template for very little money and charge extra for more customisation.
One of the downsides of Fiverr is that there’s a lot of creators from foreign countries who are willing to undercharge, to over deliver. This can make it very difficult to find good gigs, although it’s very possible. Another downside is that Fiverr takes an additional cut to your profits. Fiverr is a free platform, so this is only fair.
other freelances sites
It may be better to look at some of the other freelance sites, such as Freelancer, Upwork, and PeoplePerHour, which allow people to put in more detailed bids for work. These sites can be a little harder to get notices on, but they’ll be more beneficial in the long run.
Getting Work Through Competition Sites
Another option is to work on competition sites such as 99Designs. With this site, users can post requests for designs and offer a prize. Artists submit prototypes and ideas, and then the user specifies which design they like the most. They will then pay a prize and will have it tweaked to their liking.
This idea is controversial.
With some artists disliking it because it is essentially asking the designer to do some work for free. There are others who like the idea because it is similar to doing a tender or a bid in other industries. If you are new and do not yet have a portfolio, then it could be a way for you to practice. It’s also good for building up some good examples to put in your portfolio, and showcase your skills.
Do Not Work For Free
Whatever you do, try to avoid working for free. One of the biggest issues in the creative industries is that people devalue the skills that artists have. Since the barrier to entry for graphics design is so low, there are so many people who are willing to call themselves artists. The level of training, time and skill that it takes to become a skilled artist is not valued any more. When someone works for free, it devalues the skill for all designers.
do market research
Do market research and find out what a skilled artist would charge for a logo, poster, card, or whatever it is that you have been asked to make. If you are still learning your trade then yes it makes sense to charge less, but not too much less.
If someone expects you to “put together an image in a few minutes” and only charge you a small amount, so no. Always remember the only reason you can do work so efficiently, is because of all the practice you’ve put in. It can be tempting to help people because you think that the job is fun, but you do still need to make money to pay the bills.
value your costs
Your graphic design work needs to pay for the computer you do the work on, the license fees for any proprietary software you use, your internet connection, any stock photography sites you are a member of, any plugins you have bought, any fonts that you have had to pay for, and any tutorial videos or courses you have bought. It needs to pay for electricity, to replace anything breaking down with wear and tear, and also for your time.
value your skills
Value your skills and don’t let anyone underpay you. Always remember, the client can’t do the work themselves, or they would. If they want you to do a drawing as a gift, then what would a physical gift be worth? If they want you to make a cover for their book, then how much are they expecting to make from selling the book?
Graphic designs can be a rewarding career if you’re willing to invest a lot of time and effort into it. But it takes a business-like approach to actually make money from it. Think about how much time and effort you put into learning those skills, and start valuing them. It is hard to charge money for the work that you do, but it will get easier over time. Once you get a few paying customers, it’s much easier to get more. Once you get a reputation for working for free, you’ll find everything will be expecting you to work for free.