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How to be a Freelance Designer in Dubai

August 24, 2014

How to be a Freelance Designer in Dubai

Freelance vs Business

Portfolio/Website

Have you ever walked into a cafe and just admired the artwork on the walls, the look of the menus, and just how the art just brings the whole place together? The nicest cafes are those are able to do that. Living in Dubai, you’re bound to have walked into a place that just captivated you, even for a moment. And let’s face it, all those factors influence our decision on whether we like the place (plus the food!). That ambiance that is created is the work of a designer or a team of them. It is their artistic streak portrayed in everything you see. More specifically, a digital designer.

The term “digital designer” doesn’t do the designer justice considering the plethora of skills they may possess. However, all skills require the use of computers and other technologies that are always rapidly changing. Not all designers can do everything, much like any other profession, so they all have their specialties. Some may be experts in web design, others in digital imaging, animation, and even 3D modelling. No matter what path the designer takes, all the senior more now stable ones agree on one thing: doing freelance design work was tough!

Why get into freelance design?

You may feel like venturing into this area because you’re not putting your creative skills to use. Most designers ended up being in their profession because they just loved to be creative even though at first it didn’t pay the bills. Doing freelance work means you have more time to do other things, you control your time, and you can also do a more lucrative day job. That being said, working as a designer can be very rewarding, as an artist and in terms of money, if you can find the right clients.

How do I to find design work?

Most designers find their clients through colleagues, friends, and family. Your work should speak for itself for people to start referring you to their contacts – word of mouth does wonders for most. It can all start with a “oh, I have a designer friend!” Being active on social media helps too. Stating that you’re a graphic designer or digital designer on your Facebook profile will make people aware of what you actually do and you’d be surprised with the number of requests people have. However, there’s still a chance that you won’t get any leads.

A more formal approach to finding design work in Dubai to use sites like Dubizzle. Just list your services and watch your phone ring off the hook! However, you may face some issues with commitment from some clients and the client base might not be what you’re looking for if you’re looking to work for corporate clients.

Another way to find high-paying clients is to list yourself on communities such as Behance or Elance where you’re formally listed as a designer and people will contact you through the appropriate channels.

What do I need to get started?

Every designer has agreed that having a website is of utmost importance! Designing your own website is a perfect way to show a prospective client the abilities you possess – you’ll do your best work for yourself, right? Your digital portfolio should be clearly hosted on your site and should be regularly updated. Also be sure to have your digital CV as one of the website pages of your site to show the experience you hold – and of course, be creative!

What should I watch out for?

As a freelancer in any field you will run into legal issues. There may be cases where the client doesn’t pay you or their might be copyright and property ownership issues. These issues are the reason many people have opted to use controlled communities such as Elance and Behance where all transactions are monitored and some are even held in escrow to ensure payments are made. You can even opt to create contracts that all parties abide by.

What can I do after freelancing?

Freelancing gives you experience that is unmatched by someone trying to move up the ladder one rudder at a time. Freelance can then eventually turn into starting your own business. Design agencies are popping up all over Dubai, mostly in Free Zone areas so you can retain control and ownership of something you’ve worked so hard to build. Once setting up shop, you can call on your clients you worked for when you were freelancing to join you (the goods only, of course).

Author
Henri Hazougi

Henri was born and raised in Lebanon and studied at University of Saint Joseph. He is an avid fan of extreme sports and RC car racing. He is fluent in French and Arabic, he has traveled extensively throughout the region and Europe for both for leisure and business.

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