The digital nomad movement is a fully-fledged cultural phenomenon with developers, designers and freelancers galore cashing in. While the glitz and glam of traveling the world and using a few digital skills to pay the way has some serious plus-points, there are a few things that require careful consideration before laptops are placed in rucksacks.
Freelance designers and design agencies often ask themselves this very question. Before answering this question let’s first look at it from the other side- What message are you sending by the number of designs that you are presenting, and what is the client expecting of you? I have sat through meetings on both sides of the spectrum.
Combined with the rise of crowdsourcing and online talent marketplaces, the rise of the nomads means that marketing managers have direct access to talented freelancers all over the world who are often cheaper, faster while offering the same quality as agencies and in-house teams.
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The design and creative agency model is suffering: simply said – clients want more work, faster, delivered to a higher standard than ever before and they don’t want to pay anywhere as much for it as they did twenty years ago.
Design agencies have been scrambling to deal with this in different ways, some have grown the agency to spread the costs over a larger number of clients, some have innovated new products or services. There has also been a noticeable growth in the number of niche and deeply specialized agencies while others have done what was once the unthinkable and become open to free pitching – one of the industry’s biggest bugbears.
Hiring a freelance designer is often the most efficient, effective, and impactful way to create branded work that underpins your marketing efforts. It can also be an exhausting and stressful job, especially if you’re doing it for the first time.
Finding your first designer or building a network of freelancers who you can rely on is time-consuming and sometimes hit-and-miss, whoever you hire might not meet your expectations no matter how much energy and money you pour into a project.
Freelancers of every denomination are all too familiar with feast and famine cycles; from weeks of solid work and long hours, to periods of intense thumb-twiddling, the cycle can challenge even the most stoic self-starter.
For designers, the cycle means going from intense work with a client that needs everything immediately to relatively sparse days with little work.
It’s very logical why this happens, the intense work means unopened emails, LinkedIn connections ignored and neglected marketing efforts – it’s because you didn’t have time to nurture your contacts. Combined with long lead times, you can sometimes end up without work for weeks at a time.
So how do you manage the feast and famine cycle?
You’ve done your market research, developed and honed your product and you’re ready to start selling, so what’s your go-to-market strategy? A ‘build it and they will come’ approach won’t cut it these days so you’re going to have to invest in some marketing.
If you’re a startup or a smaller business working on new product development, you’re going to be under the pump and facing financial pressures, so it’s important to make the most out of your marketing budget.
When it comes to creating a brand identity, working with a design agency to create anything from logos to packaging can often mean spending tens of thousands of dollars, which will stretch many small business or non-existent start-up budgets.
When you’ve got a limited budget, every penny counts. Instead of asking ‘can I afford a design agency?’, you should ask: ‘how do I get the best branding and packaging design for the budget I have?’
Did you ever dream of travelling the world? Seeing the endless tea fields in Sri Lanka, exploring the cultural heritage sites in Vietnam or standing on the ancient grounds of Machu Picchu? Can you imagine that many 20-something year olds are doing exactly this without giving up their career?
The professional nomad is a new breed, they’re an explorer, adventurer and a creative professional all rolled into one, gathering inspiration from the wonders of the world around them.