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(ARA) – "Graduates these days may find freelancing either as meat and potatoes or whipped cream for their professional diet," says career services director Mary Kate Robinson at The Art Institute of Houston. Freelancing either provides the sole compensation (meat and potatoes) by working for multiple employers for different projects, or it adds to existing employment compensation (whipped cream).

Some graduates choose to be self employed by using specific skills to pursue work without a long-term commitment to one employer. Why? Freelancers will have many clients bringing challenges, interesting experiences and even perhaps a touch of the unknown.

Sometimes freelance work may not provide a constant stream of income. In order to maintain continuity of revenue, freelancers must take on many roles such as business developer, implementer of design, consultant, networker and marketer to keep the revenue stream coming. The freelancer does not have a large support staff, so most of the roles that must be portrayed involve effective communication. Successful freelancers must constantly be networking/marketing and selling themselves, always in the process of searching for the next project.

Some of the best freelance job opportunities come from professional associations, alumni, teachers, postings from the career services department and just plain recognition/visibility in the community. In essence, freelancers are sharing their skill set by all forms of communication, ranging from verbal and nonverbal presentations, an interactive Web page exhibiting work with satisfied clients available for referral, handing out business cards at a chamber breakfast/lunch or other event, and – probably most importantly – always sharing the passion of their work with everyone.
After freelancers have attracted the initial attention of the potential client, certain areas need to be discussed and covered – generally in a written contract – stating employer expectations, a timeline for completion, materials to be included and compensation – which may either be an hourly rate or project based. Often the freelancer requests a deposit of up to 50 percent and final payment due upon employer approval and completion. Communication is clear and misunderstanding can be avoided with a thorough contract.

Interestingly enough, some freelance jobs have potential to become full-time job offers.

"I did a small project for a company designing a logo," says Tim Spencer, a recent  Graphic Design graduate of The Art Institute of Houston, "which led to a full-time job offer with that company."

That is why, no matter what the size of the job, the freelancer should give 110 percent attention to time, talent and customer service as their next job may quickly come from a successful conclusion of a recent project.

After a designer or consultant builds a reputation, jobs may come more easily by referral, but in today’s marketplace even a veteran freelancer has to be visible; freelancers are only as good as their last project. And generally that is what the employer remembers most.

"Make the most out of every opportunity — whether it be your meat and potatoes or whipped cream — it may lead to the next job," says Robinson. To learn more about The Art Institutes schools, visit www.artinstitutes.edu/nz.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Author: Andy Quayle

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