For me freelancing has been going on since the beginning of time. Well…not quite. I have been doing advertising and design for over 25 years and was using press lettering and rubber cement for paste-ups. You are probably wondering what those are so I have a link to another article I did on the very subject.
Anyway, back to the real issue.
Age is a concern with many freelancers I know and with those who are always wondering if they are capable of continuing because of their age. The biggest question is “How can you compete with everyone else?”
As you guessed there is no real answer except to say the following:
- Watch the Trends.
I don’t use trends in any of my work because, trends come and go, but some companies rely on them. Go to the bookstore and read current copies of any advertising or graphic design publications. Usually in the magazine section.
Learn the words used today if you are not sure what they are and understand the stages of how the work is done.
Design blogs (yes like this one) can help you learn more about the field you are working in and give you some inspiration to continue. Connect with others in your field or relevant fields to learn how they are doing and how they do it. Some will share, but be prepared to find out that many will not.
You can also join or at least attend some local design groups on Meetup or other places that you can find on social media.
- Get Software Updated
As I mentioned; I used rapidographs and xacto knives when doing comps, but I quickly learned how to use Photoshop and Illustrator to advance my knowledge and skills. This was out of necessity once I realized doing it by hand was not going to work especially with long distances.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on Photoshop since there are other comparable programs that do the same thing at less cost, but get something and start learning it if you haven’t already. If you need help there are lots of groups on-line and on-site that can help. Some free and others for a cost. You can find these on-line with other Art & Design classes.
Keep your ego at bay. What does this mean? It’s real simple. A lot of groups or on-line ones will have guys who may be considerably younger then you, so you need to realize they are there to help.
Sometimes we look at younger guys and think “What the hell do they know?” Well the answer is…more then you at this time. Show them respect and they will show you the ropes. A very simple trade-off.
- Consider Your Experience
Depending on your roles in past jobs, you probably have experience with dealing with different types of projects at the same time or time management. This is one of your strengths, so you need to use it to build your business.
How many people have you dealt with in the past? These are your connections- if you still keep somewhat in touch, so get on the phone and see what business you can drum up.
You are also familiar with meetings and brainstorming sessions and that shows more of your management skills to prospective clients. It also shows you are good with large groups of people and can handle the session to keep it from getting out-of-control.
Persistence is another part of your experience. Knowing when to fight and when to step-back. Persistence can help you move forward and bring in new clients. This is a key when starting a new job or project.
- Accepting Constructive Criticism
This is probably one of the biggest problems with many freelancers today – constructive criticism. I have heard it and experience it from freelancers who feel they are being personally attacked; as though they are the know-it-all of design. The one thing to understand (and you probably do) is that the client is usually right. Not always, but usually.
The one thing experience has taught you is that you know how to handle criticism and when to battle back with the fact that your experience has shown you better ways with advertising and design. Let the client say what they want and then respectfully explain why their ideas may not work.
Experience and wisdom will always win over immaturity and lack of knowledge.
- Start Learning or Re-Learning
Sure we all get rusty if we haven’t used software in a while, but now is the time to start removing the rust. Get back to the programs you know and start practicing again. Perhaps you want to learn some new software? Well; I have a place you can go to learn more and it is Creative Live for classes in a particular field you need or just a refresher course.
You can also go on-line and find free courses on You Tube for your field. Do anything you need to get updated and out of the past to help you gain new clients and grow your business.
Last but not least. Change the words you use to describe yourself. Everyone seems to like the word ‘seasoned’. Personally I have used in myself, but find there are other words that are much better and put you in a different place then most older freelancers.
I use “Hardened Advertiser”, but there is also Advertising Tough, Veteran Advertiser or even Established Advertiser. I used the word advertiser, but you can use Designer or whatever word fits your experience.
Hopefully this will help to set you on the right path to your success. If you have any questions please email and I will answer or just post a comment and I will respond.
To Your Success. Please let me know if you have any thoughts or ideas about this post. Thanks.