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Career Story: Self-Employed Graphic Designer

Self-Employed Graphic Designer

Job Title: Self-Employed Graphic Designer

Type of Company: Self-employed.

Education: BA, Communications, University of Connecticut

Previous Experience: I started in corporate marketing, then did entry-level graphic design at a college. I later worked as a graphic designer at a private school before starting my own business.

Job Tasks: I speak with clients to learn their graphic design needs. It may be for a business (company newsletter, brochure, business card) or for a social occasion like a wedding invitation, birthday party invitation, birth announcement or personalized note cards.

I create designs on my computer using design software programs, including Adobe InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. The software allows me to place the words and images, move them around, and put together an eye-catching result. I may print the final project on my in-house printer or coordinate with a professional printer for larger jobs.

I work with my clients in advance to determine how I will bill them for my services. In some cases we will set a per-project fee, and other times they will be charged an hourly rate.

Being self-employed requires me to be responsible for every aspect of the business. I keep records of my expenses and handle all of the accounting and tax information. At this point, I rely on word of mouth to attract new clients, but may soon have to become more aggressive with advertising.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: the best part of my job is coming up with a great and unique design, something that the client loves. I truly have FUN when I am designing something and using my creativity. I love the flexibility of working from home and owning my own business.

The worst part is feeling frustrated when I can't achieve a great design. There is also uncertainty in being self-employed. Where will my next job come from? How much money can I make this month? And keeping up with the expensive computer hardware and software is difficult.

Job Tips:
1. Explore all kinds of classroom study in the arts: typography, illustration, art history. I wish I were a better illustrator.

2. Be aggressive in meeting people and making connections. Hand out your business card wherever you go. Talk to everyone. You never know who will be in need of your services.

3. Stay on top of the latest design trends via magazines and online resources. Keep an eye on what other designers are doing in your field.

Additional Thoughts: I struggle with the business aspects of being self-employed. I hate to talk about money and I worry that I am charging too much. In the end, I usually do not charge enough! The number of hours I work right now are greater than when I was working 40 hours per week. The advantage is that I can do my work in my pajamas or at 10:00 at night when my kids are asleep.

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