Do you want to be a designer, but don't think you know enough about design? Feel like you're tiny and worthless compared to the designers you admire? Do you doubt you could run your own business?
Well, then this post was written for you. Here is 7 pieces of advice I wish someone had given me when I was aspiring to be a designer:
1. Learn, learn , learn.
You don't have to go back to school to learn the ins and outs of design- I never did! What you need is an acute passion for learning. Read books and blogs on design and business, ask advice from other designers, take online classes, initiate your own design projects to get experience... Trial and error is the best teacher.
2. Believe in yourself.
You're on your way. Don't give up, just keep going.
3. Don't compare yourself to other designers.
They've been in this business for years now. They've had to go through the same trials you're going through, and they've had to learn the same things you're learning. We all start somewhere. Once upon a time, they were in the same position you're in now.
4. Get the equipment and software.
If you can, get yourself Photoshop and Illustrator. If you're really strapped for cash, start out with Photoshop Elements- the little sister of Photoshop CS6- to familiarize yourself with the basics. If you're going to be a designer, you're going to live in these programs. If you want to delve into the development side of things, TextWrangler for Mac is an excellent text editor for writing code.
5. Get some useful apps.
OfficeTime is my favorite app for time management and has helped me tremendously since the start of my design journey. MyPrice is an app that helps freelancers figure out what they should charge. iFontmaker is a fun app for designers that allows them to create their own font. And lastly, WhatTheFont allows you to upload an image of a font you like and helps you discover what it is.
6. Don't wait until you're ready.
You're never going to be 'ready' to start your own business, no one ever is. Know what I did? Same as most freelancers and entrepreneurs out there: I just dove in. Instead of hiding behind your lack of experience or financial comforts, just start your business.
7. Build an online portfolio.
Self initiate projects or work for friends and family- anything to build up your portfolio. Create a place online for you to store all of that work- even if its just on Behance. Anything will do to start with.
8. Join communities like Dribbble.
To gain valuable feedback on your work, join communities like Dribble or Hunie. It can be tricky to get invited, but once you're in there's a whole minefield of talented designers who will leave comments on your work and make suggestions on how you can improve it.
9. Talk to your family.
Tell them about your hopes and dreams to quit your day job and become a freelance designer. It's easier and much more fun to pursue your dream career once you've told your loved ones of your passion-powered plans and gained their support. I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for my boyfriend. Since the mere age of sixteen, he was the person I rang from my day job in the city when I would cry in the toilets because I felt I could offer the world more than what I was, and hated being stuck in a 9-5 job. He was the person who pushed me to pursue what I was passionate about. And he is still the person who picks me up when I'm feeling crappy about my business and tells me I'll be OK.
Surround yourself with people who will support your dream, and you'll make it eventually.
If you're self-taught, what is your top tip for beginners?