There are many different aspects to being a successful freelance designer. You have to manage everything from bookkeeping and marketing, to presenting and invoicing. There’s a great deal of variety to a freelancing career, but also a number of different areas to handle all at once. It’s often a good idea to compile some essential resources to speed up different aspects of the design process. Chosen carefully, resources can make a big impact on your productivity and success in each stage of a project.
This essential resource guide covers all six main steps of a freelance design project: pitching, organization, wireframing, production, presentation, and invoicing. We have hand-picked a selection of the very finest and essential resources for each of these categories. This will allow you to focus on the most important elements of a project: doing your best work.
Step 1. Pitching
The first step of most projects is pitching. This is often your initial contact with a client and so requires you to impress. Using a beautiful template allows you to lay out your ideas in a concise and compelling way, giving you the best chance of landing the project.
This beautifully designed A4 proposal template for InDesign includes 28 custom pages. All the graphics are included and the design is print-ready.
This proposal is perfect for pitching a branding and identity project. It makes frequent use of emphatic typography and includes 20 print-ready pages.
This print-ready proposal template for InDesign makes tremendous use of photographic visuals throughout. It lends itself perfectly for customisation, allowing you to quickly edit the design to fit your brand and the client’s project.
Step 2. Organization
Having landed a project, the first steps often include gathering inspiration and developing mood boards. These can then be shared with the client via a slide deck to communicate the potential design direction of the project.
Cassiopeia is a comprehensive PowerPoint template. It’s perfect for organising inspiration and presenting mood boards to the client. It includes master pages and over 60 slide designs.
Ambient is a beautiful presentation template with a focus on impressive typography. It includes over 80 slides and offers itself up for a number of different uses during the organization phase.
Thunder is a wonderfully clean and dark presentation template. The typography is simple and clean and the colors pop beautifully. It would look impressive against any type of app design inspiration or mood board.
Step 3. Wireframing
Wireframing is a necessity in almost any design phase. Whether it’s for a simple mobile app, or initial plans for a complex web-based product, these templates will have you covered.
These printable templates are perfect for the first stage of wireframing. They have you covered for any aspect of mobile product design and allow you to produce quick initial mocks with ease.
These more comprehensive wireframes are compatible with Adobe Illustrator and Sketch. They allow you to begin to produce more detailed mocks with 90 mobile screen templates included.
This mobile wireframe kit by molo allows you to wireframe at a level which is close to production. It’s compatible with Photoshop and contains over 1,000 user interface elements.
There are also some excellent wireframing resources for web design including:
Step 4. Production
Production is the main element of a project and covers the main body of design. By integrating a design kit or icon set into your workflow, you can produce even more visually-impressive results and in a shorter period of time.
Using a UI kit like Forma for web design allows you build upon an existing framework and develop the style into your own. Not only does it increase speed, it also helps define elements like h1 tags, notifications, and other user interface elements.
This mobile UI kit for Sketch includes 125 different screens spread across seven categories. It uses fully layered symbols and also contains a Photoshop-compatible file.
Almost every user interface and web design project requires use of icons. A set like this is perfect for quick implementation of icons which are consistent with your design direction.
For branding projects, kits like Branding Label Volume 2 can be great places to start and build upon. You can pull certain elements from the set like borders, typography and layouts and incorporate them into your designs.
Step 5. Presentation
This phase of the project is one of the most vital. It is the stage where you present your hard work to the client in the best possible way. This helps them understand the designs and visualize how they will look when live.
Whether you’re presenting work to the client, or displaying the work in your portfolio, this iPhone X mock is sure to turn heads. The photorealistic mockup includes Photoshop and Illustrator files and five different mockup variations.
Perfect for showing off your web designs, this minimalist mockup for Photoshop is delightful in its composition. It combines a simple aesthetic with beautiful background visuals.
Box and packaging mockups are perfect for showing off print projects or branding. This minimal mockup is fully customisable and includes six Photoshop files.
It’s great to show off branding and how it could potentially look in reality. This is made possible by using a stationary mockup like Craft. The organized layers form ten different template files with a changeable background via a smart object.
Step 6. Invoicing
Typically the final step of a project, invoicing allows you to sign off and receive payment. It’s important that invoices are both comprehensive and well-designed.
Templates like these allow you to give the client a lasting impression and improve the chances of them returning for further work.
This minimal invoice template for Photoshop is delightfully simple with a subtle but attractive color scheme. It’s easily customisable to align with your branding and invoice requirements.
This InDesign-based invoice template uses very little color and therefore is great for printing. The structure is clear and the branding placement is on-point and easy to customise.
This invoice template has a wonderful traditional feel. The colors are muted and the typography is a mix of serif and some more modern fonts. The print-ready template for InDesign allows you to easily edit brand colors throughout the palette.
AND CO allows you to handle invoicing with ease. It also covers contracts and expenses, providing an all-in-one solution to your handling of paperwork. This smarter workflow allows you to save time and spend longer focusing on the work you love.