Graphic designers use design elements to convey ideas in an effective way to their audience.
Graphic designers are fortunate enough to have the flexibility to work from home or a studio/office. Due to the coronavirus pandemic many designers have started freelancing from the comfort of their home. This has given rise to many people learning graphic design to work from home and hopefully make a full-time income.
In this article I assume you have learned (or are learning) the basics of graphic designing and have made up your mind of pursuing a graphic design career.
In this article we’ll discuss:
- Qualities of a Remote Graphic Designer
- Work from Home Resources/Tools
- Where to Find Remote Graphic Design Jobs
- Benefits of Working from Home
- Common Myths of Working from Home
Qualities of a Remote Graphic Designer
There are note-able differences between a graphic designer who chooses to work remotely compared to an office-based one.
Despite this, the qualities of a good graphic designer remain the same as they have to be a good communicator, multitasker, and punctual in their work.
Being a graphic designer you should remember that you might not spend the most time choosing the right colors or finding the perfect font combination. As a graphic designer, the most important skill is to be good at communicating effectively with your clients.
As a remote designer, you probably won’t see your client face-to-face all the time making it even more difficult to understand their needs or get your message across.
This makes it crucial to polish your communication skills because without good communication you won’t understand what the client wants and they won’t know how to tell you.
What is effective communication?
Effective communication means getting your message across in a way that the receiver can easily understand and give feedback on.
This means you should speak in such a way that the client is able to easily digest the information. This includes not using any technical jargon, guiding them through the process and using the appropriate method of communication.
Jargon is language that is hard to understand for a person with little to no experience in the field. Many graphic designers, including myself, are guilty of this.
You have to remember that you’re the designer not them.
Business owners might not know what contrast, leading or tracking is no matter how important it is for the overall design to work. Clients would use phrases like:
“Make it pop more.”
“It looks too dull.”
“Add some kick to it.”
It is a graphic designers’ job to ask follow-up questions to further clarify what they want. More experienced designers might understand what they are looking for;
Example, making it “pop” might mean that the client wants you to add more contrast, if the design is “too dull” you might have to tone down the saturation and adding some “kick” to it could mean adding more design elements or illustrations.
Guide them through the process
Before you even start designing you should educate your clients on what to expect at each stage of the design process.
As a professional graphic designer you should have a solid brand design process which you can use as reference when working with clients.
This will help your client to understand how the process works and be able to respect your time and efforts. It will also make them feel at ease as it removes any doubts or uncertainty in their minds.
Use the correct method of communication
With an office-based job you would have access to material that will allow you to present your designs effectively. You can print them out, present them on a slideshow or arrange a meeting.
However, when you are working from home you don’t always have access to these things. It won’t be possible for you to get feedback on a print as it would require you to send it to the client to check it out himself. As a work-from-home designer you might be working with clients from all around the world.
If you’re located in U.K. it wouldn’t be possible to send your prints to someone located in Spain.
It would be more appropriate to contact them on Zoom and present your designs on a slideshow.
As graphic designing becomes more competitive overtime, it isn’t uncommon for most of them to multitask. This could mean going back to back from Illustrator to Photoshop, or InDesign to Adobe XD.
When working from home this becomes a more demanding task as you would have to juggle more responsibilities at the same time. You’ll often find yourself cooking dinner while making that one last adjustment or trying to calm the kids down while giving a presentation.
You’d have to be capable of doing multiple tasks at once to become a successful remote designer.
Most people would think that working from home gives you the freedom to wake up whenever you want and start working when you feel like it.
It is true that working remotely allows you to have a flexible work routine but it is critical for you to always deliver on time.
Punctuality is important and you should learn to prioritize your work and give time to what’s important. You might have to sacrifice some leisure time to meet the deadline and sometimes you should enjoy the weather and allow for some “me time.”
Being punctual is all about finding balance and making sure your client gets the work and you get paid.
Work from Home Resources/Tools
When working from home you might want to get used to some things you didn’t know you needed.
Most of the time since you won’t be able to meet your client face-to-face, arrange meetings and present your designs to them in real-time you would have to use some apps designed to help you.
There are many apps that help with online work but the most popular are Zoom and Google Suite.
Zoom is an online video platform that allows people to arrange meetings and video calls. It gained mass popularity during the coronavirus pandemic and was used for talking to friends and family, business calls and online teaching.
Graphic designers can use Zoom to invite people, arrange meetings and present their designs. This will allow you to explain your thinking process and get instant feedback from your clients.
Google suite is a great resource for anyone working from home as it gives you access to Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Calendar, Meet and Drive.
Google shared that G suite has over 2.6 billion monthly active users so you should definitely learn how to use it.
These products by Google are free to use and can be effectively utilized by remote graphic designers to arrange, collect and share their work.
Where to Find Remote Graphic Design Jobs
Most remote graphic designers prefer freelancing as it supports the idea of purely working from home.
Because of this, most freelance platforms are very popular amongst home-based designers. However, there are also some places you could look for remote jobs.
Here is the list of some places to find remote work:
Once you choose a platform to find jobs it is best to stick to it for some time and consistently send job applications rather than randomly searching and applying for every job.
Benefits of Working from Home
Since office-based jobs have been the only way of working many people might think that working from home would do more harm than good.
This isn’t true as working from home could improve employee satisfaction, which leads to motivation and thus, higher productivity. Both the employees and employers will be happy.
As an individual working from home you might notice the following benefits to your new way of life;
Working from home will save you from a lot of expenses in the long run. You won’t have to pay for public transport, you’ll save petrol and you won’t be buying food from outside during lunch breaks.
By working at home you decrease your cost of living which helps you save up money in the long-run.
We’ve all been through the hassle of waking up late in the morning and rushing through the day just so we can get to work on time. On top of this, dealing with tough colleagues and the work politics can really take a toll on your mental health.
By working from home you can prioritize your health by waking up more relaxed and stress-free. Also, you would be able to make more time to cook healthy meals at home or go to the gym.
Working from home removes the restrictions of a traditional workplace. There are no fixed 9 to 5 timings and no penalties for starting work late. You can wake up at your own time and schedule your work to whatever works for you.
Common Myths of Working from Home
Till now, working from home might seem like a dream come true for most people, no restrictions, better overall health, lower expenses etc. But many people tend to believe some myths revolving around working from home which might disappoint them later on.
It is better to realize and bust these myths earlier so you don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself.
You Are Your Own Boss
This is a very common myth of working as a freelancer from home. Many entrepreneurs try to sell people the idea to “be their own boss” by telling them to work from home as it allows you to “live your life however you want to.”
In reality, this is not true as clients are paying you for your services to get their task done so they are your boss. You have to follow and respect the guidelines they provide and take their instructions seriously.
Since a person is working from the comfort of his home you might think that this would always lead to higher self-satisfaction and thus, increased productivity however, that’s not always the case.
When working as a graphic designer from home you might notice yourself getting distracted more often. You might tend to family and friends often, you start doing chores around the house and you get caught up in some personal activities.
This is exactly why many people who are serious about working remotely have set-up home offices. This allows them to remove distractions and concentrate on the task in hand. It also helps to advise your family not to disturb you when you’re working.
More Leisure Time
Surviving through the 8 hours of your job might seem like a long stretch but working from home isn’t all that easy either.
Sure, you have an environment in which you’re more comfortable and at ease but this doesn’t mean you can work for 2 hours then watch Netflix for the next 5 hours. Working in any field requires discipline and the ability to complete tasks with focus and concentration.
Since you don’t have a fixed 9 to 5 job your time to work will vary according to how much work you have to get done.
If you have 5 pending projects that you have to deliver within a month you might have to work more hours daily. However, if you have only 1 project with a deadline of 3 months you might be able to allow yourself more leisure time and shorter working weeks.
In this day and age it is getting more and more possible for many graphic designers to work from home due to the shift from traditional to digital.
To be a successful remote graphic designer you have to be a good communicator, multitasker, and punctual. You should get used to the work from home lifestyle and avoid setting unrealistic expectations such as not having to work as much or having more leisure time.