Graphic Design Newsletter
March 22, 2005

N E W S L E T T E R . M E N U








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Digitalthread - Digitalthread selects only the best-of-the-best web design firms, portfolios and websites from found links and online submissions to create an elite hub of design reviews and resources for the graphic design and web design community.

Logoed - Logo inspiration for designers.If you design a lot of logos, sometimes you may find it hard to get inspired, the best way of getting a instant creative boost is to look at good logos from other designers, not to copy, but to use as an influence.

Applied Arts Magazine - A virtual trip to this Canadian visual-communications magazine is well worth it. You'll find information about how to enter Applied Arts competitions, links to design resources, information about the current issue and more.

My Design Primer - A site to help people with designer-speak. This site was created to assist people in understanding the often confusing terms and ideas connected with printing and electronic media. With over 150 graphic desing articles to choose from, this is a quite useful graphic design resource.

News Today - Newstoday is your design gossip network. The site's homepage is divided into three different sections: regular postings from the site's editors (linking to hot new sites); a public forum for links; and an interactive public area where you can participate in spirited discussions with site visitors. - A great resource for wanna-be web designers or current web designers. Helping media designers & communicators understand how to use professional tools and design to enhance visual communication through web, print, and motion graphics.

Creative - Web site devoted exclusively to the business of graphic design.

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Best of Web Design

Children's Hospital Brother Jones Doot Doot Garden Altoids
Brother Jones Doot Doot Garden Altoids
Please Submit Your Work by Emailing Us.

Article One

by Rachel Goldstein

Determining how much to charge for your services is often one of the biggest challenges for a new freelancer. If you are a new freelancer, you have probably searched the Internet trying to look for average rates of professionals in your field. Don't even bother. I will let you in on a secret . now that the Internet is here; there aren't any "average" rates because demographics are too widespread. With this in mind, I will show you how to figure out what your rates should be by using a formula.

Start by figuring out what you want your annual salary to be. To determine your salary, you might want to pay yourself what you earned as an employee, or take a look at to find out what an average salary for your profession is.

For this formula, you will need to figure out what your overhead is. Overhead is an expense that cannot be found billable to a client, it is just a cost incurred by running your business. Please fill out the following form. If you aren't sure what your overhead is, then look back on last year's credit card bills and checking account statements.


Income Taxes (Use 45% of your annual salary)  
Office Supplies  
Postage and Shipping  
Accounting / Legal  
Office Furniture  
Dues & Memberships  
Health Plan / Medical Insurance  
Disability Insurance  
Retirement Savings  
Multiply by 12 to get yearly Overhead  

Now you will need to figure out how much of a profit you wish to make. I recommend between 10% and 20%.

Follow these steps to figure out what your hourly rate should be.

1. Add Salary and Overhead Together

2. Multiply Total By Profit Margin (10% - 20%)

3. Add Total (1) and Total (2) Together

4. Divide Total (3) by Billable Hours (2,000)

For example, if the following is true:

1. Salary = $30,000

2. Billable Hours = 2,000

3. Profit Margin = 20%

4. Overhead = $15,000

Then this is how you figure out the hourly rate:

1. $30,000 + $15,000 = $45,000

2. $45,000 X 20% = $9,000

3. $45,000 + $9,000 = $54,000

4. $54,000 / 2,000 = $27 / hour

The bottom line to your freelance business is that you want to make a good living. If your hourly rate seems too low then raise your rate till you feel comfortable with it. If several clients are way too eager to hire you as a freelancer, rethinking your hourly rate might be a good idea. On the other hand, if clients are very interested in you at first and then stop communicating with you after they hear what your hourly rate is, then you need to lower your rates. In other words, feel customers out to see whether your fees are correct or not.

If you have determined that your fees are too high then you might need to lower your overhead in order to lower your fees. Try cutting some of your unnecessary expenses in order to make ends meet. When you make the change over to freelancing, sometimes there is a little suffering at first. Don't worry; it doesn't usually last long if you know how to save when times are good.

Good Luck.

Article Two

Read Last Week's Newsletter for Part 1

What should you do if you have no professional examples to place in your portfolio? If you are in a situation where you don't have any professional samples to place into your portfolio, then you obviously have a lot of work to do. You might be able to get away with placing classroom projects into your "book", but you would have a much better chance with "real world" samples. Below, please find suggestions on building your sample-base.

There are several ways that you can build up your portfolio:

**First Time Give Away - Offer your services for free first-time orders. Seek out small business owners and offer your services for free. Explain that if they like your services the next consultation will come with a fee. If the client likes your work, you might have found yourself steady work or better yet, he might refer people to you. Remember to always finish a project by asking the client if they know of any potential clients that you could contact.

**Nonprofit Organizations - Volunteer your services for free to local community organizations where you live. This is a great way to build up your portfolio. Look in your phone book for religious, educational, social, and political organizations. Most nonprofit organizations would be thrilled to get something for free considering their budget is probably pretty tight. Try to negotiate into the deal that as payment you would like to have your business name and phone number on the finished piece (and if you have a website url, this should be printed on the finished product too). This is very fair. This might be a great way to drum up business and get a great sample for your portfolio at the same time.

For example, if you offer your design services to a church. There are probably a dozen small business owners in the congregation. Maybe one or two will take notice and ask about you.

**Friends and Family Members - Who better to help you than people that you love and trust? On a sheet of paper, write down all of your friends and adult family members. Do any of them own a business? Do any of them control the hiring process with the company that they work for? Volunteer your skills out to your friend or family member. Make sure not to get yourself into a situation where this friend expects you always to work for free. Explain up front that this is for free only with the first project. Again, try to negotiate that your business name, phone number, and website url are printed somewhere on the finished product. If your friends and family members don't have any business for you, ask them if they know of anyone who could use your services.

**Hire Yourself First - Surely your own business could use your services so hire yourself. If you are a designer, you can create promotional materials for your business such as business cards, promotional brochures, letterhead, etc. If you are a writer, maybe you can write up promotional literature for your business. Of course, I don't know what your profession is, but try to find a way to put yourself to work.

**Dummy Samples / Mockups- As a last resort, you can create fictitious examples of your work. This could work for all professionals, but I am more familiar with this in the design industry. Create dummy brochures, newsletters, logos, and other pieces to demonstrate your range of skills. If you can show a potential client with mockups that you have the talent that they are looking for, then go for it. (For Designers) Even though this seems such a waste of your time, you can use these documents as templates for real projects that you will have in the future.

**Personal Things - (For Designers / Illustrators ) for special occasions you can design your own cards. If you have a yard sale, you can design the poster. Even if a neighbor is having a yard sale or a party, etc. ... why not ask them if you can design the cards or posters that go along with the occasion.

**Web Search - Do a search on the web for websites that you feel could use your service. Look for bad design layouts. If you consider yourself a web designer offer to redesign the website for free. If you are a graphic designer, offer to design this company's brochure or flyers. If you are a web marketer, look for nice sites that are hard to find in the search engines. Look for bad copy if you are a copywriter. Don't offer your free services out to everyone until you get a "yes" or "no" response; otherwise you might get ten "yes" answers.

**Write Articles - Write articles about your expertise and submit them to heavily trafficked web sites. Make sure that you are referenced in these articles. Something like this works best:

John Smith
Fake Company
Expert Web Designer

Some web sites won't let you have all of this information written as a signature on the article, but they will let you have a summarized version. If not, at least insist on your name and website address being added to the article.

**Become an Expert - There is a web site called All Experts ( and a lot of similar sites as well. That is a great place to network. This site is a hub where people ask advice of experts. Take advantage of this marketplace where others in your field can ask advice of you. If these people are pleased with your expertise, you might receive future gigs from them.

**Message Boards and Chat Rooms - Message boards and chat rooms attract individuals in need of advice. Take advantage of this. Just make sure not to blatantly market your services. This might infuriate people and you could get flamed or kicked out among other things. The way to network in this situation is to be as helpful and knowledgeable as you possibly can. If you are in a graphic design message board and someone is baffled about how to use layers in Photoshop … explain the process. You could maybe mention that you use Photoshop daily when running your design business. THEN at the bottom of the page use a signature. Find out about signatures below.

**Signatures - Every email that you send out should contain a signature. A signature is at the end of your emails and should look something like this …

John Smith
Fake Company
Providing Professional Brochures at a Discount Price!

You never know who will need your professional services, why risk missing out on a potential client?

**Post Your Resume and Profile - Yes, posting your profiles or resume on the freelance and full-time job sites is a perfect way to network. We have a listing of freelance sites here. Listing your profile with is where you should begin, of course. :-)

**Reciprocal Link - If you have a web site, ask for a reciprocal link from others in your profession or similar professions. For example, if you are a graphic designer, ask for reciprocal links from fellow graphic designers, illustrators, photographers, etc. I get more traffic to All Freelance from reciprocal links than I do from search engines.

**Introduce Yourself - Search and find other professional's websites and email them. Introduce yourself and your services to them. Let them know that you are available for work if they ever need to outsource. Ask questions. How long have you been freelancing? Where do you find clients? What is your specialty? Would they want extra work you have in the future? Etc.

**Place your site in directories and search engines - It is good to get your name out in searchable directories … this is much more preferable than to search engines that don't really pick up any good matches. I recommend going to the following web sites to get listed

* (a pay-per-click search engine)
* (a pay-per-click search engine)

For a listing of search engines to get listed in go to:


Next week, our topic is "Putting all of Your Best Samples Together". See you next week.


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