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3 tips on how to be a successful graphic designer

by | March 2, 2020

Profile photo of blog author Dawn Dais, Creative Director of Capitol Tech Solutions

Have you ever wanted a career as a graphic designer? Our team is always looking to hire the best and most creative graphic designers in the Sacramento region. Below are three tips on what we are looking for when we hire our graphic designers.

How can a designer ace a job interview?

Portfolio, portfolio, portfolio. As a designer, your portfolio does most of your interviewing for you. By the time you have a phone call or face-to-face interview, your future employer has already viewed your portfolio and liked it enough to move you to the next round. Without a strong portfolio you are not likely to have many face-to-face or phone interviews.

If you do make it to the next round and are invited for an interview, your main goal is to appear sane. This is not a joke. A lot of really talented artists/designers are also a little eccentric. This can make them difficult to work with. If you have been invited to interview for a design job and they have already looked at your portfolio, then you need to show them that you are not only talented, but also the kind of person that will be easy to work with.

Be relaxed and funny, assure them that you are comfortable working with others and that you aren’t personally offended when given edits to your designs. A lot of success in the workplace comes from just being the kind of person that other people like working with. Demonstrate that in your interview.

Our creative, easy to work with graphic designers can help improve your branding.

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Do you have any tips for freelancing as a designer?

Not to be a broken record, but portfolio, portfolio, portfolio. As a freelance designer, your portfolio is your biggest asset. You need to set up a solid website that highlights the breadth of your work. Don’t just tell them about your design skills, show them. Organize the site well and make it easy for visitors to get a good idea of what kind of eye for design you have.

At the beginning of your career, you might not have a lot of designs to put on your portfolio site. It’s okay to fill in your portfolio with unpaid or sample projects, just make sure your site has more than one or two designs. Work for cheap or free to build up a solid portfolio of real client work, as that will always look better than projects that are clearly just samples.

After you have a solid portfolio and you start landing gigs, you need to do your very best on every project. The key to a successful freelancing career is building up a clientele that come to you over and over again, because they know you will deliver. Sometimes the smallest projects will lead to the longest, most profitable client relationships. Do your very best on every single project, no matter the size or fee.

Word of mouth will be your number one marketing tool as a freelancer. Do right by every client, every time, and they will share your name with other people. A solid freelance clientele isn’t built overnight, but if done right, it will be built strong and support you for years to come.

Any tips on how to be a successful designer in your field? (communication, best practices, the creative process, etc.)

Offer quick turn-arounds and up-front pricing. A lot of designers do not work quickly. If you are able to offer a good product with a quick turn (on edits as well), you will have a lot of repeat customers. Up-front pricing is also an essential part of establishing long term clients. Evaluate the project and give a bid for the cost, then stick to that cost. Even if the project goes a little over your initial estimate as far as time. Giving a customer an invoice they weren’t expecting is the best way to ensure that you will not be hearing from that customer again. Over the course of working with a client some projects will take longer than others, but in the end things have a way of averaging out. Don’t let one project ruin a client relationship.

Always be quick to respond to emails or calls from clients. Even if it’s to confirm you received their message and will get back to them soon. In this day and age of email/text/messenger, there is no excuse for going radio silent on a client. Be responsive all hours of the day, even on the weekends or evenings. That doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to turn around projects on evenings or weekends (but you probably should when you are first starting out), but it does mean that you are letting your clients know that you received their message and are attentive to it.

Overall, don’t let the stress from a high pressure or edit-heavy job push you to make bad choices with a client. Put your head down and do the work that each project demands. Keep your clients happy and they will trust you with projects for years to come.

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