So you wanna start your career in fashion design as freelancer and figuring ways to make some money with your sketches or designs in a way you enjoy and stuck where to start!
A few years ago, exactly in a place where you are today.
Lots of mixed feelings, excited to show my talent and make some money. I started browsing internet up and down looking for how to get started and couldn’t get enough clarity. I had to struggle on my own wishing for an advisor or mentor.
I know how it feels and you doesn’t have to worry about it anymore. I’m here today to pump you up to kick start your career in fashion design as freelancer right now. I’m gonna take you through the step by step process of pre-preparations, opportunities, managing time and money, how much to charge as freelancer and the year plan to get you started as a beginner. I will take you through everything you need to know about freelancing.
Since this is a very big topic, I divided in 5 articles, in which this is the very first post! Here I talk about what exactly is fashion freelancing that you need to know.
What is Freelancing and how can I make career in fashion design with freelancing?
In my words, freelancing is doing a service for someone in a price you both agree on for a particular time or project.
You might wonder:
How is freelancing different from a regular job?
Well, we all know job has regular commitment and dedication, where freelancing is lot flexible and can work on your own timings. Sounds fun right?
The main point people miss about freelancing was, you are actually in charge of searching for work! Which means freelancing involves work + Business.
Anyone can become an artist but making that art sell is where the biggest task comes. Whoops!
I advise it would be great to have a part-time job at initial years.
Pro’s and Con’s about career in fashion design as freelancer.
What I like about freelancing is flexible timing and can take off whenever I wanted. But, freelancing is less secured and sometime you may end up with zero projects for months (no big deal if you got a part time job or any other passive income ways). At times you feel so lonely since we work alone without any colleagues (don’t worry take a break and meet a friend or make friends with like-minded online and talk to them).
Career in fashion design as freelance: what are the opportunities?
Opportunities in freelance fashion design:
Fashion design involves 3 stages. Which are Design, develop, sell.
Freelance Fashion Designer:
- As a fashion designer, you can start designing for particular clients, which involve taking orders from clients, design for them, make a garment and deliver them.
- Design a collection or fashion line and sell online or local boutiques and stores.
- Become a costume designer by tying up with event organizers, theater art managers, short film makers, movies and celebrities.
Tip: Target the most influential people in your locality and get noticed by designing for them. However reaching them is no difficult with twitter.
One important thing is being a freelance designer; you are limited only to local market. You can design from miles away but shipping the product to the client ends up a lot.
Skills required to become a freelance fashion designer:
- Good forecasting knowledge,
- knowledge about client personality,
- Great color sense,
- time management skills (time plays a major role because you really got less time and act quick when dealing clients),
- good sketching abilities to preview your design before they are actually made.
Market places for fashion design to sell your fashions
- Nineteenth Amendment share your designs in store before you actually made a product, once the design gets 10 orders in 45 days, the company will make the garments for customers and you will be paid for the design.
- Etsy http://Etsy.com sell your designs directly to clients.
- Not just label
- Make money designing t-shirts
Few ways to get started
- Find local popular personality and get noticed by making them wearing your dress.
- Design for a celebrity and promote yourself to gain exposure.
- Look for local fashion shows or events and participate.
- Sell your works in local exhibition.
- Design a mini collection and sell online.
- Design a friend wardrobe.
- Start designing for family or relatives or friends.
- Design for an occasion like birthdays, wedding.
- Apply for competition and gain exposure.
Tutorials and references:
- How to design a dress and make it done.
- How to dress for body types
- Design a collection the outline
- Design a collection the concept
- Design a collection 2
- How to sell your collection
Freelance Fashion Illustrator:
If you have excellent drawing skills, this is a great fit for you. Don’t get disappointed if you have average skills, internet is a gold mine to earn and brush up. As a freelance fashion illustrator, you can work anywhere related to fashion, beauty and media.
Fashion designers or apparel merchants, boutiques sometimes need illustrators to showcase their concept and to create lookbooks, illustrate runways.
You can also find opportunities with Indie pattern designers, make up products and apparel related, packaging, advertising, designing graphics for blogs and websites, print design at textile houses or tees.
The best thing about illustrator is you can work for the people from anywhere in the world.
- Good communication
- Excellent drawing and visualizing skills
- Understanding concepts
- Software knowledge
Few ideas to get started as fashion illustrator:
- Sell your art in form of calendars, mobile covers, printed tees and so on.
- Make personalized illustrations
- Make portrait of influential people and tag them and get noticed by them and fans.
- Submit sketches to submission sites to gain exposure.
- Sell a service on freelance sites
- Check with local schools and give part-time drawing classes.
- Make blog kits and sell
- Collaborate with textile designer and design prints.
Sell your fashion sketches here:
- Threadless create your free shop and start selling.
- 15 places to sell your design work
- 250+ places to sell your art
Tutorials to improve your skills
Freelance Fashion Stylist:
If you are more of fun type, have good communication skills, loves travelling and can adopt easily with people, then this is perfect for you.
As fashion stylist, you can work for fashion show, could be shopping assistant, wardrobe consultant, can work for movies, advertisement, photography stylist and so on.
- Excellent style
- Highly creative
- Good communication skills
- Excellent social skills
Few ideas to get started as stylist:
- Style a friend
- Contact ad agencies and look for opportunities
- Get tie ups with photographers and find opportunities.
- Check for local fashion shows and work for backstage
- Be a personal stylist for celebrities
- Become a personal shopper.
- Apply for movies or short films
- Become product stylist
- Approach magazines and assist a fashion shoot
Freelance opportunities in development stage.
Indie Pattern Designer:
If you have great pattern making skills, you can opt for indie pattern designer and make sewing patterns and sell online or make custom patterns and sell to sewers.
You can also be an assistant at established pattern designer.
- Excellent pattern making knowledge
- Grading skills
- Digital pattern making
Ideas to get started as indie pattern designer:
- Make sewing patterns and start selling online
- Make a website and start your pattern store
Resources and tutorials:
- How to make basic blocks (digital) Ralph Pink
- Learn valentina (free pattern making software)
- Book recommended to learn pattern making from start to finish
If you are good at sewing then you can start sewing for clients or assist a designer.
Become a pattern tester for Indie pattern designer.
You can buy sewing patterns or hire a pattern designer to make patterns for you and sew collections and sell online.
- Excellent sewing and finishing skills
- Lots of patience and time
Ideas to get started:
- Make a mini collection of bags, ear phones or cute pouches and sell online.
- Participate in local exhibition.
- Sew for others.
Resources and tutorials:
Freelance opportunities in selling.
If you have good marketing skills, then you can make your career in freelance marketing.
- Become a PR and get paid promoting others business.
- Start affiliate and promote others product and earn percentage on sales.
- Start a fashion blog and expand. If you have quality content, people invites you for coverage.
- Become a reseller at Amazon like places.
- Become a virtual assistant (reach your favorite blogs and look for virtual assistant opportunities) or google.
- Work for ecommerce website as part time. (I worked at an ecommerce website as product manager (part time) and my job is to interpret the best selling products and approve to publish for sales. Check for this kind of opportunities).
Good marketing, social and communication skills.
References and resources:
- buy and sell at etsy
- start a fashion blog
- affiliate marketing
- virtual assistant
- 25 places to sell crafts online
Other opportunities in freelance:
If you master any particular skill and have enough experience, If you think that skill can help others then why not write an ebook and sell online
- Make a course and sell online.
- Start writing paid articles
- Become a mentor and teach online personally.
Resources and tutorials:
There are still many opportunities but these are personally tried by me and few of my friends when we are in college and looking ways for part-time income.
8 steps to start fashion freelancing right away.
Freelancing doesn’t happen overnight. Why on this earth people come to you, when they have lots of resources and how do they know that you exist and why do they hire you?
Firstly, people wants to know who you are, what you do, what are your capabilities, how you are useful to them and how do they reach you?
Once they get to know all these, they start to decide building trust on you to take chance and work with you. When they start to see your progress, they continue to establish trust and build relations and generate more leads and revenue.
To make all this happen, it takes around 6 months to a year for consistency (start today and by next year, you’re all set!).
Always remember, There is no failure unless you Quit! Never ever give up.
Task #1 Set up your workspace
Find a small place somewhere in your house, perhaps a corner and set up as your workspace. It’s really important and effective when it comes to productivity and makes you feel professional. Try to work from there.
Task #2 Get your professional email.
A simple clean email with just your name. I use Gmail but I found mail.com has really cool extensions like @designer.com @pr.com and so on. It’s worth a check, yet Gmail comes with lots of benefits like drive and all.
Bad example: firstname.lastname@example.org
Good example: email@example.com
Task #3 Paypal or Payoneer account. (both are free)
This is where people pay you money.If you don’t know how to get account, then here is the tutorial of paypal and payoneer. (this is my payoneer affiliate link. The reason I mentioned it here because if you sign up with this link, both of us earns $25 once you made your first $100 transaction. Its benefit for both of us).
Task #4 Make a killer portfolio.
Like all other jobs need a resume, fashion career needs a portfolio to showcase your talent and experience. Portfolio is an arrangement of your works in a visually pleasing way. Portfolio lets people judge your skill and experience. You can fill the portfolio with all the previous works but what makes it professional was, when you visualize a story from your work. Start with a theme, develop moodboard, derive few colors from it and make a color palette, show your style direction and finally create minimum of 5 designs inspired by your theme and colors. (don’t worry if it sounds rocket science. I’m planning for an article about portfolio very soon).
Resources and references:
Task #5 Set up your Social Profiles:
You need to have a professional social accounts (not the personal ones). The reason you need separate account was, you can’t upload your cute puppy photos or your fun outing photos in here, save them to your personal accounts.
All social networks are not for you! Select two or three according to you needs. Know the platforms and uses before you proceed.
- Facebook is for fun and entertainment. You may get likes but hard to get clients from here.
- Google Plus is for tutorials. All kinds of tutorials works here.
- Pinterest is mixture of Google and Facebook. People search here to learn, connect and share their works. You can easily get visitors and clients from here.
- Twitter is for networking and connections. It’s good and easy platform to connect with anyone and get updates. You cannot expect any visits or clients from here.
- Instagram is to showcase your work to the world.
- LinkedIn is a great platform for professional works and projects. People come here to search, connect and hire for projects. Especially LinkedIn groups are a great start to find projects.
- Quora is a question and answer place. This is the place where you can find what actually people looking for. Solve their problem, build trust and convert to clients.
So if you seek for exposure then Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Opportunities – LinkedIn and Quora, connections – Twitter, Facebook.
In freelancing, you name is your brand. You don’t need any additional logo or brand name. if you are more than one people, you need logo and brand name.
Task #6 Set up Digital Portfolio
Upload your portfolio to the best free portfolio sites.
If you are very serious about this career, then set up your own portfolio website. However it’s not difficult with wordpress but you need to pay for hosting and domain. I use siteground for hosting and Bigrock for domain.
You could hire a freelance web designer if you want to make things easy. Making your website by your own might take months but an expert can make it in a week. So you could save lots of time and work on something productive. There are also free places to make a website but they don’t look much professional.
Most importantly, you need to set up a disclaimer or terms and service page with all your rules about payment and how many times can a product be reviewed and so on. Not long list but 5 to 10 terms.
Resources and tutorials
Task #7 Build Network
The first mistake people do while networking was, they go for like minded and connect. That’s good if you want to learn together, but here we need business to handle. So go for people who are in need of your service or business and connect, establish trust and convert them to clients.
Awesome! But How?
Here’s my cheat!
Search for the people or brand who do the same work as you do, perhaps competitors.
Look for their followers and see who liked them. So these people are already interested in the same service you do. Now these people will be interested in your service too. So target them and connect. Voila!
Once you got enough friends, start a page and share your work, behind the scenes and so on.
Task #8 Find the work
By now, you have great social profile, own portfolio and enough people to support you. It’s time to start looking for work.
Look at Quora for any opportunities and freelance sites as I mentioned earlier in the opportunities section. Select few and get started.
Don’t be afraid to take projects which you are only 50% sure. This way you get the opportunity to learn and improve your skills and challenge yourself.
Fashion Freelancing: Managing Time and Money
How much do I charge for my freelance works?
Basically as a freelancer, you can choose from hourly based, project based or per month based depends on type of project. A sketch made in an hour might cost less than a product that was sewn in an hour. You need to consider time, materials used, effort and overhead cost. www.Yourrate.co helps you plan your hourly price.
Whatever price you agree on, it is good to charge on 3 installments. One upon order, the other before delivery and last after delivery.
Pay attention to spammers. One of my friend sold a digital product through paypal and the person who purchased it, falsely claimed he didn’t received the product and complained paypal and he got product for free.
Managing finance as Fashion Freelancer
Once you start to make money, if you don’t manage in a right way, you may never see any growth and end up where you began.
If you have previously read any finance books, you see this formula a lot, the secret recipe of growth from all successful people, which is:
Divide your income into 6 parts (no matter how small your income is)
- 55% necessities
- 10% long savings
- 10% invest in business.
- 10% fun and entertainment
- 10% education and learning
- 5% donate and charity
Sure you need to adjust and minimize your spending but by the end of the day, you get to see the growth and that’s the whole point.
A little adjustment today could bring a lot of difference tomorrow.
Time Management and Productivity as Freelancer
Without a goal and a plan, your work could be completely chaos and overwhelming and ends up achieving nothing.
Experts says, every successful business has 3 years of plan ahead. No matter how many times you change it later, you need a plan in hand before (at least for a year).
Planning your first year as Fashion Freelancer, A proven successful plan.
As a beginner, the first year primary goal could be networking and gaining exposure. Secondary goal should be earn your first money, perhaps $1000.
Break it into monthly goals.
- 0-3 months – getting prepared (profiles, portfolio, freelance registrations)
- 3-6 months – build friends and establish network (online + offline)
- 6-9 months – promote yourself and your work both online and offline
- 9-12 months – Make and sell a product or service and plan your next year.
Planning your week.
Adjust and arrange your day as per your need. Like example:
- Day 1: learn and improve your skills.
- Day 2: Network
- No wonder that we lost in social media, rather than spending every day, give a dedicated day for official chatting and build network.
- Day 3: Promote (your work and yourself)
- Day 4: Self day (have some time with family, friends and yourself)
- Day 5, 6, 7: work
Apart from these, plan a project every 2 or 3 months which compliments your goal like:
- Design for a local famous personality and make them wear your design.
- Design a mini collection and sell online.
- Design for a known person from your family, friends, relatives. (every business starts from home)
- Make a fashion art and sell online.
- Style a friend wardrobe.
Here I made a simple proven success plan for one year which helps you get started and was included in the freelance bundle. Feel free to download.
And yup, finally it’s the end!
Thank you so much for making your time and sticking with me till the end.
I hope this help you to get started with your career in fashion design and I would be very glad to hear from you through comments for any kind of further information.