5 Tips for Growing Your Social Media Presence

Social media is an ever growing, ever changing platform for anyone out there with an internet connection making it one of the most powerful tools for a designer to get their name out there. However, navigating it can sometimes be hard and creating a large, interactive following can seem impossible. But here are 5 awesome tips to chase that feeling away and grow your social media presence:

  1. Post similar content within your feed to create a brand if who you are. Have a purpose for each and every post.
  2. Follow similar accounts who have similar interests and content as you do. Build and interact with this community as much and as often as you can!
  3. Be sure to use hashtags on all of your posts! The maximum number of hashtags you can have on a post is 30, try to stick to 20 or less. Be very specific on your hashtags, using only hashtags that have 500k or less posts.
  4. Know when to post. Study your analytics to determine the best time to post, according to when your followers are most likely to see your post.
  5. Reply to comments within your post as soon as you can. Interact with your viewers!

Contracts for Freelance Designers

Too many freelancer designers rely on “handshake promises” and “emailed assignments” and that should change. Especially because neither of those things would hold up in court, should you ever find yourself in that situation. The solution? Contracts. For each and every project you work on, you should have contracts that address the payment, ownership, responsibilities, and restrictions of said project.

The first contract you should have agreed upon is a project contract. This type of contract contains:

  • The scope of the project
  • Any important deadlines
  • A payment sections – including how and when payments will be made, late payment fees, as well as additional costs for project changes
  • Who will retain ownership of the finished project – note here that clients will expect to own the completed product, but make sure the wording is correct and NEVER sign a contract that allows the client to own the “method used” to create the project
  • What is considered completion

* Contracts can be drawn out as more of a template to be used over and over again, so make sure to put the effort in right away, or even hire an attorney to draft it for you!

The next contract you most definitely NEED as a freelancer is an invoice. This is a contract between you and your client specifically for payment, and will include what you are charging for and the amount. To increase the odds that you will get paid, and paid on time, you should include a genuine “thank you” message as well as the fees for a late payment.

The last contract I will talk about is an independent contractor agreement. This is a contract that you will probably see this come through when doing outside work for an agency, but you will also give out on occasion. If you ever find yourself needing to hire someone else to help complete a project, make sure you have this formal agreement in place. This contract is very similar to a project contract, it will include:

  • A description of the work being done
  • Payment
  • Expectations such as deadlines
  • Final ownership

Like I have stated in previous Freelancing 101 blog posts, if you have more questions a Small Business Attorney is the best person to seek advice from.

Legal Obligations for Freelance Designers

With graduation quickly approaching, my peers and I have started the job search, and with that has come one of the greatest debates: to freelance or not to freelance. I blogged about the Pros and Cons of Freelancing earlier, but there are a few more components to consider. For example, how do I do it legally?

Screen Shot 2019-03-12 at 3.12.59 PMFirst things first, you will need a Business License. It should be noted that the type of licenses you will need depends on your location, as differences in states’ and cities’ laws mean certain places require certain licenses. For example, some places will require a Home Occupancy permit if you work out of your home. But, most places only require a general business license. Check out your state’s website to find more info on this.

Screen Shot 2019-03-12 at 3.13.14 PMNext, you will need to Register your Business. There are four different categories of business entities that you can register as. The first is Sole Proprietorship, which means you are running a business as an individual; you will usually register a “DBA” or “doing business as” name with this entity. Under a sole proprietorship, you are personally responsible for any business liability – meaning your house or your car is at risk, should you face any legal consequences. The second entity is a Partnership, which as the name suggests, means you are doing business with a partner. Under this category, you have a little more legal protection and a lot more requirements for tex reporting. The next entity is a Limited Liability Corporation, aka LLC. An LLC can be formed by a single person or multiple parties. At this level, the owner(s) will now have full legal protection of their personal property in the event of legal action. The final business entity is a Corporation, which requires extensive filing and taxation documentation, and is often doubly-taxed.

You should know that a corporation is the least often used by freelancers, sole proprietorships and LLCs are more commonly used. Most often, freelancers will be advised to register their business as an LLC because any personal liability is eliminated. With that being said, a Small Business Attorney is the best personal to advise you on the type of business entity you should register as.

 

Is Freelance Design The Career for Me?

When listening to my peers dreaming up which sector of the design field they would love a career in, a majority think freelancing is the way to go. I personally think freelancing makes a perfect career for some, but not for all. Like with all jobs, it’s important to think about the aspects of freelancing that contrast with the positives. Take a look at my list below, and let me know what you would add to your pro v. con list!

Pros:

  • Higher earning potential; freelance rates are almost always higher than in-house equivalents.
    • Agencies/clients will pay more for specialist skills on-demand
  • You can set your own hours.
  • You can pick your own clients AKA do the projects you want to do.
  • Work where you want; at home, in a coffee shop, while traveling.

Cons:

  • You only earn when you work.
    • No sick or holiday pay.
  • You have to do all the admin work, like accounting or bookkeeping.
  • Some clients you will have to chase down for your payment.
  • You don’t have coworkers to bounce ideas off of or to collaborate with.

Girl Boss: Katie Murphy

Katie Murphy: dog mom, entrepreneur, and event planner extraordinaire. What started as a hobby for Murphy in high school grew into a passion and eventually developed into a successful event planning business. “Even from having people over in high school, hosting parties like that, I have just always loved it. So it was something I always wanted to start on my own and do, and have more control over it that way. Kind of create our own path instead of following somebody else’s – it definitely started with passion, that’s what carries me through.” And Murphy really does have total control over it. From packing for weddings and taking out the trash to coordinating design meetings and doing magazine interviews, she does it all. That’s what it takes to be a small business owner. Murphy’s parents, whom she credits for instilling the drive it takes to be an entrepreneur, owned a small business while she was growing up.
I asked Murphy why she chose Sioux Falls to start her small business, was it just our small town charm? “Sioux Falls is so supportive of small businesses… I’m not sure about this year, but in the past couple years, on the Forbes list, like the Forbes List, Sioux Falls is top three for starting your own business, just because of the community I think.” There’s also the fact that Sioux Falls growth has been exploding, not only the downtown businesses but all small businesses. And more specifically, the wedding industry. Murphy said, “the wedding industry has just taken off. I mean I got married four years ago and it was nothing like it is now. There’s more vendors, more trends within. People are really putting time into it… Our generation plays into that too.”
Speaking of our generation, Murphy and I also discussed a topic we know well: social media. In all fields, social media is a force that drives customers to seek out businesses. For weddings and events, platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram are where clients flock to for inspiration. Even though all social media outlets are important for promoting, Murphy ranked the top four for people in a visual design field. Rounding out the bottom is Pinterest, probably the most well-known for DIY inspiration, and as Murphy puts it, “a friend and enemy at the same time.” Topping that is Facebook, a more structured platform targeting an older generation. It’s always going to be important because “parents, they interact on Facebook, so we can’t forget about that.” A step up from the professionalism of Facebook is a blog or website, from the sentence structure to the photos posted, blogs are well thought out. “Blogs are really important,” says Murphy. “People look at those once they have passed the point of ‘I’m interested in this, I want to look at more.” Coming in at number one is Instagram, where the personality of your business gets to shine through, it’s the most interactive. “You can be like ‘hey, what do you think of this color linen with this floral arrangement?’ on the stories. We get much more interaction on there than anywhere else… On Instagram, we are much more playful and quirky.”
As a designer, social media is an important tool to market yourself, but also an essential tool to keep up with the current trends. Murphy believes “always exposing yourself to more ideas, whether you take ten minutes out of your day to Google trends in your design industry… constantly exposing yourself to more, being very open and realizing that everybody’s perception of beauty is different. You are going to have things you love and you like but somebody else is not going to like it. So being able to be flexible in your design, so that it applies to a broad spectrum of people.”
Being fluid is an important trait of a designer, but so is confidence in your work, “I think half of it is confidence,” says Murphy. But the biggest reason Murphy has continued to work with specific designers does not have to do with their design ability, but their response time. “With stationary things–save the dates, invitations, menus, all that stuff– it is pretty demanding on [the designer] because they look at it and go “oh Rochaelle is spelled with an ‘ae’ not an ‘el’” you know, these tiny little things but there is a time crunch to get it done, so I will send her something and she sends it back almost instantly… I know that’s demanding to say, but it’s true.”
To wrap up our interview, Murphy has one more piece of advice for anyone who might read this article –designer or not. “One thing I have learned this year, if I had to put it into one word, it would be perseverance. You are going to hit so many bumps and so many hard times where you are going to want to stop and going to want to quit because I will be honest with you, I have. But just persevere through those, through those moments because the reward is so much more rewarding when you had all that hard stuff to get through.”

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