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The Freelance Career

An Introduction of Freelance Designer

Making money online has gotten tougher in recent years. Google has made it so that only large websites with tons of backlinks and long, high-quality content typically rank well in the most competitive niches. Unless you are already established, it’s a lot of work to make money with blogs and websites.

But there’s one easy way to take advantage of the current climate, and that is to offer your services as a freelance designer!

Offering services is a great way to make money without having to compete with millions of other websites in a single market, and without having to spend huge amounts of money on ads. In fact, you don’t need a single penny to get started as long as you already have a computer, internet connection, and some basic design software. (Even if you don’t, there are workarounds.)

For example, you can rent a pretty decent laptop or desktop computer from a place like Aaron’s, use free internet at a library or coffee shop, and rent software through Adobe Creative Cloud for a few bucks per month. You don’t even have to have great design skills. It’s possible to make decent money as a designer with little to no existing skill.

Just watch a few tutorial videos on YouTube, and you’ll be creating basic graphics in no time! You can always move into more complex designs as your skills progress.

Ready to learn how to make money as a designer? Let’s begin.

Getting Started

Before you can make money as a freelance designer, there are a few things you must have. If you’re reading this, you probably already have all of these, or at least most of them. If not, we’ll talk about a few ways to get what you need without spending thousands of dollars upfront.

Here’s what you need, at a minimum:

1. A Decent Computer 

You can’t get away with using a computer with very low specs, unfortunately. Today’s graphics software packages all use considerable resources, so using a 10-year-old laptop with 4 GB of memory just isn’t going to work.

2. Decent Internet

Again, you can’t use really slow internet an expect to do well. Graphic files are often quite large, and a very slow connection is going to frustrate you very quickly. You need at least a 3 Mbps connection to be productive.

3. Design Software

Adobe Photoshop is highly recommended, as there is more support in the form of tutorials, add-ons, etc.

So what if you’re missing part of these things? Let’s talk about some of the ways you can get access to the things you need to get started.

Computer 

It’s imperative to have a decent computer if you want to design graphics because most software packages used by designers require a lot of system resources to function properly. You’ll need a decent processor, at least 6-8 GB of memory, and a good graphics card, at a minimum.

It’s also helpful to have a larger hard drive, as the files you’ll need to store on it will often be quite large. However, you can get around this requirement by either using an external hard drive to store a lot of your files or using cloud storage like Dropbox. Getting a decent computer doesn’t necessarily have to mean spending hundreds of dollars upfront.

A lot of people can’t afford to buy a new computer outright. Financing is probably your best option, but keep in mind that if you don’t have great credit, you’ll end up paying a lot more for your computer, because interest charges on options that don’t require good credit are usually very high. A lot of places will help you finance a computer without great credit.

Internet

Not everyone has access to fast internet where they live. There are still a lot of dead zones in the world, and sometimes it’s just not affordable to have internet, even if it is accessible where you live. Fast internet can often cost $100 per month or more, and if there are no affordable options where you live, you may think you can’t make money as a freelancer.

Fortunately, there are some options available to you even if you don’t live in an area with access to fast, affordable internet. The first option is using the mobile internet. If you have a cellphone, you may be able to use it as a personal hotspot in order to access the internet from your computer. You simply log into the hotspot as you would WiFi, or connect via Bluetooth.

Sometimes you can even connect to your phone’s hotspot by plugging your phone into your computer. If you don’t have a phone that has a hotspot feature, you may be able to get a dedicated hotspot device through your cellphone carrier. Many carriers offer these small devices, and you can often connect several devices to a single hotspot. Of course, you’ll have to be careful about how much bandwidth you use, as mobile bandwidth is often quite expensive, and even “unlimited” plans are never truly unlimited.

The second option is to use the internet at a place like a local college, library, coffee shop, or restaurant. Many places have free WiFi these days, although some do require a small purchase to be able to use it. Even very rural areas usually have some kind of free internet option.

Software

Okay, the software is a bit trickier, because aside from theft (which I obviously do NOT condone), there’s no way to really get the type of software you need for free. You could try to get by using free alternatives, but keep in mind that there won’t be as much support for free software. If you look for tutorials and add-ons, there just isn’t likely to be anywhere near the variety you’d find for software like Adobe Photoshop.

If you insist on using free software, I recommend GIMP: As far as free graphics software, GIMP is the most powerful option, and has the most support of any free program.

If you’re looking for power and support, Photoshop is the way to go. Fortunately, you no longer have to shell out hundreds of dollars upfront to buy the software. You can simply get onto a monthly plan through the Adobe Creative Cloud program.

Yes, it’s still relatively pricey, but for software this powerful and with the potential to make you as much money as this one, it’s well worth it. You can get Photoshop (with Lightroom) for $9.99 per month, or you can pay $49.99 per month to get all 20+ Adobe apps, including Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Premiere Pro and more.

There’s also special pricing for students, so if you happen to have a student ID card, you can get a better monthly price. For example, students can get the $49.99 plan for just $29.99. This is a significant investment, but you can always start with the $9.99 plan for access to Photoshop and upgrade later. The basic plan will be fine when you’re just getting started unless you plan to also offer video editing or logo creation, in which case you’d need other apps like Premiere and Illustrator.

Creating Blog Posts

Once you have your blog and you’ve given it a look and navigation you’re proud of, the next step is to start writing blog posts. This is very important as it’s what will give your site its value and it’s what will encourage people to want to visit your site and hope to come back time and time again. The problem though is going to be standing out in a sea of content from other websites and blogs.

To do this, you need to focus on offering something that is very high quality and that is consistently offering value.

As we’ll see later on, this is also good for your SEO. The key to remember is that someone has to want to read your content based on the title and based on their previous experience with your site and brand. If you constantly churn out content that is uninspired, derivative, or badly written then no one is going to bother to visit.

This is why the ‘optimal length’ for a blog post is actually around 1,800 words. That might seem a bit long but this kind of length is what will enable you to really dive into a topic and to offer some insight and discussion that can’t be found elsewhere. It lets you do a comprehensive overview of a subject and it lets you make your blog post into a resource that other people will recommend and share around the net.

Meanwhile, you also need to think about the title and the topic. If you are writing another article called ‘Top 10 Pec Exercises’ for your fitness website, then you aren’t likely to win over any new fans. Why? Because this subject and structure have both been done to death already!

People read the title and already know precisely what your post will be about and they’ve probably already seen the top ten exercises you’re going to offer. How is that providing value?

Here are a few:

“Bruce Lee on Self-Actualization and the Crucial Difference Between Pride and Self Esteem”

“The Outsider With the Public Voice: How Joan Didion Mirrored Us Back to Ourselves”

“A year Without Mom: A Gorgeous Graphic Novel About Separation and Reunion, the End of Childhood and the Tradeoffs of Happiness”

These titles are unique, fascinating and they beg to be read. What’s more, is that when you click on any of those titles, you quickly find that the same care and attention have been given to the posts themselves. Each blog post is between 1-3,000 words long, it is decorated with beautiful images and quotes and it is very well written. In other words, it’s offering real value for the reader and giving them something to enjoy over a cup of coffee.

How much more likely do you think that something like this is to generate discussion? Or to get shared? And how much more likely is someone to subscribe to that blog? It’s just so far superior when compared to an article on ‘The Top 10 Pec Exercises’. Of course, this doesn’t mean all your posts need to be highly thought-provoking philosophical pieces – they just need to be unique, inherently interesting, and different.

If it’s the fitness niche you’re interested in, then consider some of these titles like:

“World-Level Weightlifters Are Just Like Us”

“The One-Session, One-Exercise, One-Set Strength Plan”

“So, You Want to be a Lion?”

Again, all of these titles are interesting and unique and the posts are long, in-depth, and provide tons of value, also does this very well:

“Iron Core: How to Build a Punch-Proof Body”

“A Lifter’s Guide to Alcohol”

You can even consider the ‘clickbait’ articles used to generate traffic via social media. These articles use titles like ‘You’ll Never Believe What This Mum Does Next Shocking!” or they employ controversy. Either way, this makes the user curious and they want to click. You’re objective is to generate that same curiosity but then to deliver on the promise in the title by making sure your posts are actually as interesting and unique as they sound.

And keep in mind too that the point is eventually to convert your visitors into paying customers. To do that you need to gain their trust and you need to demonstrate your ability to provide value. Once again, the best strategy is clearly to create content that is interesting, unique, and in-depth. SEO and Other Ways to Market a Blog So as an internet marketer, you’re using your blog in order to sell products of various descriptions, in order to generate clicks or otherwise to drive people to your business model.

So you’re using your blog as a marketing tool. But in order to do that, you need to market the blog itself as well. One way you’ll do this no doubt is through SEO, also known as Search Engine Optimization. SEO essentially allows you to promote your website through Google by ‘optimizing’ it for search. One way you do this is by adding lots of content to your blog, as this is what people will be searching for when they type something in.

At the same time, you want to make sure that it’s the right people who are finding you and that means that you should be including the important ‘keywords’ right in your content: phrases that people will likely search in order to find what it is that you’re offering. So if you sell hats, then your ‘keyword’ might be ‘buy hats online’. You don’t want to repeat this phrase too often as it will make your site look like spam and it may get blacklisted.

Instead, then, aim to incorporate around 1-2% keyword density and to write naturally ‘around’ the subject as well. Posting lots of content is also a good move as is ensuring that your site loads quickly and works well on mobile – Google takes all these things into account. The other aspect of SEO is building a ‘backlink profile’.

That means making sure that there are lots of websites out there that are linking to you – and that those websites are relevant and high quality. Other ways you can promote your website include building a large following on social media (once again, the key to success here is to make sure you’re providing value) and to build a big mailing list so you can keep people coming back.

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