How to market your skills as an amateur professional

How to market your skills as an amateur professional

By guest author Dat Tran Over the course of your CreaTe years you will realize that there are agencies that make a living with the skills you acquire. Whether it is 3D modeling or web development, knowing how to market yourself will ensure that you practice your craft, gain real world experience and make money while doing so. Here are some tips! 1. Pick one marketable skill and build a marketable portfolio While you will probably have many skills ranging from 3D animation to rudimentary Javascript adeptness, pick one that you can actually build a product around. So stick with one or a few that are on par in terms of quality of work with competing agencies’ work. ‘ For example: you are good with Maya. Pick out companies or freelancers that offer 3D modelling. Compare your work to theirs and pick out your pieces of work that are on the same level: they become your marketable portfolio. If you don’t have any pieces of work that are comparable to what people have paid for, you should work on that before thinking of selling your skills. Once you have put together a few pieces of your work, present them neatly on a website. It can be very simple but make sure you only present your best pieces of work. Quality over quantity is the paradigm here. You’d rather have 3-5 pieces of quality work people would pay money for than 10+ pieces of work where half are just doodles. 2. Search for a market to penetrate and start your value proposition Research and put tgether a list of your possible clientele. Start with your existing network and then work your way outwards. For example if you offer print design services, you can go through your Facebook list and target small business owners, people in corporations that make decisions and general university / association-type networking communities. When contacting and propositioning you need to provide value before asking for anything. So for example if you have an acquaintance who works for a corporation who has a crappy logo and website design, whip up 2 drafts before contacting him/her. Tell him/her you are trying to build a service that cares about good design and this is what they can improve. You shouldn’t ask for people to consider your service before you show them what kind of value you can provide for them. Once you have worked through your private networks, you should already have a few clients (depending on the versatility of your product). If your product is more niche oriented (like 3D modelling services) you have to find a place where you can gather a list of clients to contact (for example this website). 3. Make a win-win deal Once you have gathered leads it’s up to you and your possible client to work out the terms of your arrangement. It is crucial here that you create a position that benefits them just as much as it benefits you. So if a small corporation wants to pay you €1500 for a website, you have to make sure it is packed with everything they would get for that money if they went to an agency. We are talking iterated design, usability testing, all files delivered in different formats and future support. It is a good idea to put together all terms on an official pdf and ask for a down payment. This payment should be approximately 25%-40% of your total retainer. Don’t be scared to ask for money. It is professional and sets the right expectations for all parties involved. It ensures that you take the work seriously and that you have money for all upcoming costs. It also makes sure that your client will work with you to finish the project as quick as possible. Dos and Don’ts Collaboration is better than competition. Don’t see other companies as your enemies, rather see them as your friends. If you are a web designer, introduce yourself as a freelancer meeting local web development firms that can work with them rather than a company that works against them. If you have a client that you think wants something out of your reach (whether they are too small or too big), give it away to friendly companies or freelancers that you know. They will reciprocate eventually and give you jobs and opportunities. Inform yourself about what you have to pay in taxes and what legal structure you have to setup. If

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you offer special products and collaborate with people you will want to register a firm. If you mostly work by yourself and work from gig to gig, you will want to register yourself as a freelancer. This involves submitting some forms to your local municipality and paying a small fee. Don’t lie and make yourself seem more established than you actually are. Companies sympathize with underdog college kids that are trying to make a living for themselves. As long as you keep it professional and deliver good work they will give you all the professional respect you would expect. Don’t lie. Always deliver 110% of what your client asked. Throw in something extra. Do a few drafts more than asked. This build goodwill and ensures that your clients are extra satisfied. With their exceptional satisfaction they will run off to talk about you during their next professional mingle and you will reap the benefits of over-delivering. Follow up on leads. It doesn’t matter who it is, always follow up on a lead. Whether it is your uncle you met on Christmas who said he might be interested in your print design or a random guy at the Kennispark, always send an e-mail after your first encounter and send of your portfolio to get your foot in the door.

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