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Finding the Right Design Gig

Finding the Right Design Gig

Mike Lenhart / ArtBistro

Most of us, especially as freelance designers, come up with the challenge what types of gigs to go after. There are times when the jobs come rolling in and we don’t really have time to differentiate between them. That can be a really good thing. But, there are also times when the jobs aren’t rolling in so much and we have to decide what to do about it, and most importantly, what projects to go after. It can be a challenge, but there are many ways to go about it.

The Small Stuff

Sometimes we can go after the smaller design jobs, such as business cards or letterheads. These types of gigs are usually available, but the clients need to know that you can do it. Many folks don’t know that there is an art to designing the correct look-and-feel of a professional business card and usually they’re pretty impressed when we do it. We’ve all seen really bad ones.

Depending on the complexity of the card or letterhead, a nominal fee can be charged. Just don’t get involved in the printing, unless you want to add that cost to your fee. It’s better to help the client find a good printer and shoot the files over to the chosen vendor.

There are some good online printers that do a really good job and don’t charge as much as a professional printer. Business cards and letterheads are usually one-off jobs, but they can be very helpful for some extra cash in a hurry. You can meet potential clients for this gig at all those networking events you go to.

Show Me the Report

Many of us like to design larger documents, such as annual reports or event programs. They can be really fun, but are very important to do correctly and professionally. An annual report is a big deal to companies since the data inside shows how they did in the past year and want to appease the shareholders, if they have any. It’s a hard business to get into, since it’s hard to reach the companies at times and there are a lot of people out there clamoring to get the jobs. They pay pretty well, and if you do a good job, you’ll get more out of it.

Event programs are a little less time-consuming and can yield a lot more to your creative nature. Non-profits and other institutions have annual events or fundraisers, for example, and you can get a fun job out of them. You can even get a good gig on some poster design for events. Just be careful, though. Try not to do it for free. You can find these gigs by looking through old annual reports you find or event programs you get. Just contact the company or organization and ask about it.

What About the Freebies?

OK, there are times when there will be a pro bono job thrown your way. A lot of non-profit organizations like this and you may find yourself in a position to accept it. Of course, there are also those times when your friend or family member would like something designed and, of course, they don’t expect to pay for it. That’s OK. Think about the portfolio and what a good job can add to it. Just be careful, though. You don’t want to find yourself with the reputation of always doing something for free. It may be a good idea to limit your pro bono jobs to 1 or 2 per year.

Also, let the client know that this is being done for no fee and that you hope to get a paying gig from them sooner or later. It’s good to ask and you deserve to ask. If not a freebie, sometimes you can do a job for a lower, or special, rate. That’s fine, just keep track of what you do and always track your hours. It’s good to know how long these discounted or free projects take.

Finding the right gig can take time and can be frustrating. Just dig and go for it. You may have to make some phone calls or ask other contacts you have for referrals, but make the time to do it. It’s always good to practice up on all of your design skills in busy times or slow. If you have to bite the bullet and take a job that is not the best for you, just do it. Give it your best work and things will pay off in the future.

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