I'm a former corporate employee who decided to ditch the 9-5 and start my own at-home business.
Now, with a lukewarm cup of coffee in one hand and a baby on my hip, I'm balancing #allthethings
THE sugar studios blog offers tips, tools and my own tried-and-true tricks for growing your beautiful business.
October 15, 2017
Starting your own freelance design business is a great way to make some extra income or maybe even make it your full time job!
To get started, there are some essential things you’re going to need.
I’ve put together a list of everything you’ll need to start your own freelance design business.
Apple is what all serious designers use. I love my MacBook Pro because I can take it anywhere and connect it to a large monitor for when I’m designing. You’ll want one with extra memory and speed because you’ll be saving some pretty large files and running applications like Adobe Creative Suite. When I was just starting out I bought a refurbished MacBook Pro and it saved me a lot of money. As my business grew, I swapped out my laptop for a new one every other year.
Cordless is the only way to go when it comes to your keyboard and mouse. Whether you use a desktop or laptop, you’ll want a wireless keyboard and mouse to keep you moving fast (time is money!). I love Apple’s Magic Keyboard and the LogiTech Performance MX wireless mouse. It’s more ergonomic for your hands than Apple’s Magic Mouse. Be sure to keep tons of batteries on hand because depending on how much you work, the batteries will need to be replaced every now and then.
In addition to your laptop or desktop, you’ll want to get an Apple iPad Pro for your freelance design business. They’re extremely flexible and lightweight. You can use Adobe programs on the iPad as well and even hand draw illustrations and custom calligraphy using a stylus pen.
Managing your projects and meetings can become overwhelming when things get busy. I love to keep my projects and meetings visible at all times on a wall calendar. This pretty acrylic calendar can be found on Etsy and will make any office space look chic.
Besides a computer, your second most important tool for starting a freelance business will be the Adobe Creative programs. Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are two tools that most graphic designers use. You may also want to consider InDesign for page layout. These programs used to be extremely expensive to purchase, but now they are offered at a reasonable monthly fee.
To drum up some business you’ll need to market yourself on social media. I use a few of sites to schedule my social media posts in advance. SmarterQueue allows you to post to Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter in advance and even repurpose posts. Planoly I use to schedule my Instagram posts and Tailwind I use to schedule pins to Pinterest. Without these tools I would be spending all of my time posting to social media.
Once you start booking projects, you’ll want to use a program to help manage each project, and a program to help you manage billing and invoices. I use Freedcamp to manage projects with clients and 17Hats to send invoices and quotes.
The worst thing that could ever happen to your business, is losing all of your work. Be smart about backing up and use an external drive and a cloud-based backup. I use a G-DRIVE 4TB external drive and it holds all of my files and runs automatic daily backups.
Making your desk space pretty and functional is a must for new designers. I’m in love with Kate Spade’s acrylic and gold desk accessories because they’re durable and stylish. Clear acrylic is very functional because it’s easy to find you what you need. You’ll need essentials for your desk like a stapler, document holder, scissor, trinket holder, pencil holder, and gold pens.
The Meelano collection features Italian leather desk chairs with a modern design. This is a must for new designers because you’ll be sitting at your desk for long periods of time and you’ll need to be comfortable. I love that these chairs comes in a variety of fabric colors and metal colors so that you can match the chair to your office decor.
Keep your followers engaged with this collection of free Instagram Stories templates.