Freelance home design is an exciting and challenging career. You get to work from home, set your own hours, and help people design the spaces they live in every day. What’s not to love? However, many designers find it hard to break into this field. It’s a small industry with limited market opportunities, which makes it difficult for new designers to stand out. But don’t let that discourage you! The more competition there is the harder you have to work to succeed. So before you start searching for clients and job opportunities, take some time to review these top seven mistakes new freelancers make when entering this field.
Lack of research and knowledge
Before you even begin to look for clients, you should do your homework. How many people work in this industry and how many of them offer design services? What type of clients are you looking to work with? What are their needs, wants, and expectations? Keep in mind that you will be working in a service industry, so you need to understand your clients’ needs and act accordingly. That means gaining an in-depth understanding of the freelance home design process, including marketing, contracting, and software knowledge. You need to be able to offer a complete service, from start to finish. Depending on the type of clients you want to work with, you may also need specific educational or licensing qualifications. For example, you may need specific certifications if you want to work with architects or engineers.
No portfolio or lack of professionalism
One of the first things potential clients will notice is your website and portfolio. If you don’t have any samples of your work, or they are of low quality, potential clients will instantly move on to another designer. If you have a website, make sure it is designed professionally and hosts examples of your work. Make your work samples as professional as possible. If you have low-quality samples, at least have a disclaimer letting potential clients know they’re not your best work. If you don’t have any samples because you’re a new designer, make sure you have a portfolio planned out and ready to go as soon as possible.
Freelance home design is a service industry, and like any other industry, you will be paid for your services. However, many new designers are unsure of how to determine pricing for their services. In a recent survey, 79% of designers said they had no idea how to determine their pricing. The best way to determine your pricing is to look at your expenses and determine how long it will take you to recoup your money. Keep in mind, though, that you also have to account for taxes and contractor’s insurance. If you’re not sure how to figure this all out, a simple calculation might be to take your total expenses and triple it. That’s a good starting point to ensure you aren’t undervaluing yourself.
Limited network and marketing efforts
Freelance home design is all about networking and marketing. You can’t work on your own; you’re not a business yet. You need to be networking with other designers and potential clients. If you can’t find any local networking opportunities, look online for national or international groups. You can also look for online forums or groups where designers can share advice and tips. If you don’t have any clients yet, you need to find ways to get your name out there. You can do this through online forums, social media, or by joining organizations that may need design services. You can also reach out to local businesses and offer to do free design work for them. If a business likes the work you do for them, they may refer you to other businesses and clients.
No understanding of contracting laws
Freelance home design is a service industry and, as such, has its own set of legal issues. Before you accept your first client, you need to be aware of the laws and regulations that will govern your relationship. For example, you need to understand the difference between an hourly contract and a fixed-priced contract. You also need to know what to include in a contract, such as payment terms and timelines, so you don’t leave yourself vulnerable to legal issues. If you’re new to freelance design, it’s best to find a sample contract and have a lawyer look it over before you start accepting clients. This is a good idea even if you’ve been doing design for years.
Freelance home design is a rewarding career field. You get to work from home and help people design their spaces. Plus, if you’re good at what you do, you can make decent money. However, many designers make the mistake of diving into this line of work without doing their research or without taking the time to learn the necessary skills. If you follow the above tips, you can make sure you start off on the right foot with your new design career.