The Role of The (Freelance) Designer

Things are getting busier and busier here at Pine. It's something that I am really grateful for and certainly something that I never take for granted. I struggle to find the time to work on my business, which is something that a lot of self-employed people are guilty of. I've recently finally had a few moments to reflect on my role and think about what it means to be a freelance designer who works alongside clients on a daily basis.

I've had some brilliant feedback from regular clients over the past few months. This feedback has re-affirmed to me that the hard work is paying off. They might come as a fleeting “this design is brilliant!” or a “thanks for turning this around so quickly” within a email chain but the kind comments really help to keep me driving forward.

My idea of what it means to be a designer/creative industry person has changed over the years. I once thought that you need to be pushing the limits of creativity to succeed as a designer but I've learnt that it simply isn't the case.

To people outside of the creative industries the role of a designer is often misunderstood. Yes, we sometimes draw pretty pictures and yes we do often create posters, logos and business cards.

I thought I'd share my thoughts on what it means to be a designer and work with clients on a freelance basis.

So here's a breakdown of how I see the roles of the freelance designer:

To act as a sounding board for creative ideas:

Designers are creative people by nature. This trait means that when a client approaches us with an idea we are not only able to say “yes this will work” or “ hell no, that's a crazy idea” but we're able to offer a pragmatic route to turn the idea/concept into a tangible design outcome.

To react quickly to project briefs:

As freelance designers we don't often get the luxury of long timescales for projects. The work is so diverse that we often have to jump between projects and clients on a daily basis. Being able to adapt quickly and move from brief to brief is something that is really important and takes time to master.

To become an extension of the client's team:

This one is something that I particularly enjoy. Becoming an extension of the client's team means that your views and skills are respected. I pride myself on being integrated into the team of my regular clients. We speak on a daily basis and my skills are always respected. On the flip-side, when I don't quite hit the mark on a project (it happens, no one is perfect) they are open enough to let me know. This just makes me work harder to achieve the expected outcome!

To be a good communicator:

This one is pretty important. It's not just about communicating visually through the work that we produce. From experience, when you work within a wider team as a designer you can sometimes get away with just churning out the work and letting the project managers communicate directly with the client. However, as a freelancer you also wear the project manager hat so communication is key.

To allow clients the time to work on their businesses:

Let's circle back to the start of this blog post. I mentioned that I rarely have time to work on my business at the moment. This is also something that I often from my clients too. In this respect, a vital role as a freelance designer is simply to take some of the burden of creating marketing and communications campaigns away from the client and allow them the time to push their businesses forward.

As always. If anyone has any questions for me from about freelancing, or if you're a prospective client then get in contact. I'm always happy to chat.

- Chris.

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