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How to Become a Teen Freelance Graphics Designer

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When you're a teenager, your employment options can seem limited. Many high school students see it as a rite of passage to work in fast food or shelf stocking; indeed, according to Family and Child Development Specialist Patricia Nelson, the largest employers of teens are fast food restaurants and grocery stores. If these kinds of jobs are not for you, you need to find a way to make your talents into a job. If you have graphic design skills, being a freelance graphic designer is one way to do so. This is a realistic objective, provided you are experienced in design; getting graphic design clients is relatively easy, due to the high demand for graphic design.

Set up your computer for graphic design. Many professional graphic design programs, such as Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, are out of most teens' price range. If you cannot afford to dish out $1000 for software, download an open source equivalent such as GIMP, Inkscape or Scribus.

Set up your graphic design workspace. If you live with your parents, ask them if they will let you turn a room in the house into an office. If they do, move your computer, desk, and reference books into this room. Otherwise, clean your room, remove any posters or unprofessional looking decorations, and install a desk in this room. Once you have a desk installed, place your computer monitor, tower and keyboard on this desk, and install the three devices by plugging them into the wall.

Design your promotional materials. Design a poster (for promoting your business at school), a business card, and a website. Design your poster in a raster graphics editor such as Photoshop or GIMP; include a stylized graphic to show your design skills, and plain text to clearly communicate your business name, website, and phone number. Design your business card in a vector graphics editor so that it can be resized by the printer; include your business name, website and phone number on the card as well. Design the graphics for your website using a combination of raster and vector graphics editors; include a logo, a business name, and stylized buttons for hyperlinks. If you do not know html and CSS, put an ad on Craigslist to hire a web designer to code your website for you.

Distribute your promotional materials. Visit a domain name registrar and web hosting server, and purchase a domain name. Once your have done this, upload all your graphics to your web server. Print your business cards; either pay a printer to do them up for you, or print them out on your own printer using card stock. Put up your promotional posters around your school, so that any other students who need graphic design will think of you. Distribute your business cards to teachers and administrators, and tell them about your new business. Ask them to distribute these cards to businesspeople and managers they know personally.

Develop an invoice sheet using a spreadsheet program. Include several rows in the top right of the spreadsheet that state your name, the business name, and your address. Create a column beneath this that lists several different services you can charge for. Create three more columns after the initial one: one that lists the hourly rate, one that lists the number of hours worked, and another that lists the final price.

Look for work. Visit online classifies sites like Craigslist and Ebay Classifieds, and look for freelance gigs under the "graphic design" sections. These sites have different editions for different cities; if you do not know your own city's classifieds URL, go to the main website and look up your city. If you find a gig you are interested in, copy the e-mail address from the website and send an e-mail outlining why you want the gig and describing your services. Do not apply for any jobs where you would be working with adult material, since this could land your client in legal trouble.


Based in St. John's, Canada, Andrew Button has been writing since 2008, covering politics, business and finance. He has contributed to newspapers and online magazines, including "The Evening Telegram" and Button is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Memorial University in St. John's.

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