If you’ve been considering chucking in your day job in favor of the freewheeling freelance lifestyle, you’re in good company. There are currently 53 million Americans participating in some form of freelance work. And of those who are currently freelancing part-time (moonlighting), 1 in 3 are seriously considering going full-time in the near future.
The impact Google Fonts has had on the web is undeniable. Since its somewhat humble beginnings in 2010, the 800+ fonts now hosted by the library have been viewed well over 19 trillion times. Of course, the likes of Adobe and others have followed suit with font repositories of their own. The difference is that everything Google Fonts has to offer is free.
The past few years have seen a wide variety of methods for creating web page layouts. CSS Grid is one of the newest and probably the most game-changing layout technique at our disposal. If you haven’t begun tinkering with it yet, now’s the time. It is a wildly different way of thinking about positioning content, and it currently has nearly full support across all popular web browsers.
It’s no secret that we do our best work when we’re prepared and comfortable. Yet, we designers often do things that aren’t conducive to bringing out our best. Whether it’s working in the wrong sort of environment or even being in the wrong frame of mind, we’re stifling our creativity. And sometimes we aren’t fully aware of it.
When you walk into a bakery, what’s the first thing you want to know? Do you care that the bakery was started back in the ’60s by the current owner’s immigrant Grandma? Or that the head pastry chef’s favorite dessert is a strawberry cheese Danish with the perfect blend of cheesiness, flakiness, and strawberry-ness? Or how about that the tiles on the floor are hand painted ceramic from a little town in southern Morocco? You’re probably bored already, aren’t you? Just shut up and give me my cupcakes, you might say; I’m late for my nephew’s birthday party.
Everyone has had the kind of clients that you wish you could punch – the scope creepers, the micromanagers, the non-payers. It’s very aggravating, but it is a long-established part of being a freelancer. But there’s a certain kind of client in particular who is as much a danger to him or herself as they are to you.
We’ve all heard the saying “a designer is only as good as his/her clients.” Some designers, regardless of skill level or experience, seem to always have the most interesting assignments that are creative, challenging, and highly paid, while others, who may have more experience, technical skill, or talent, get stuck working for peanuts on unfulfilling, low-level work.
In today’s freelancing climate, one of the best things you can do in terms of marketing yourself is to think in what I like to call “Test Terms.” What does this mean? When a food company is developing a new product to release into the market, they don’t simply travel in a straight line from recipe to manufacturing to stocking the shelves at the grocery store. What happens is they perform a series of tests, which allow them to tweak their product until it gets just the right kind of response they’re looking for.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I came of age during the 90s. It’s also when my design career started. So sometimes I find it rejuvenating (and somewhat amusing) to take a trip back to those days. Most of the time, it comes in the form of listening to some of my favorite music from the decade (grunge and Britpop, please). But every so often I get the urge to revisit some of those old web design trends.
As someone who’s worked on both sides of the freelancer-client fence, I give a lot of “insider” advice to designers on dealing with their clients. One of the most common problems I hear is that designers would love to be able to turn down their worst clients – the ones who pay late, don’t pay at all, or who just generally cause way more trouble than they’re worth. But the problem, these designers tell me, is that they just can’t.
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