With more and more companies moving to remote working environments, you’re probably asking yourself, can graphic designers work from home?
Now more than ever graphic designers have the opportunity to work from home or wherever they want in the world. While many companies in the past required their designers or teams to be on-site. That is no longer the case. Companies are now allowing designers to work from the comfort of their homes and sometimes even outside of the country.
While working from home can sound like an absolute blast. And in my opinion, it is. It also requires a level of discipline whether you’re working with a team or your own clients. In this article, I’ll go over some of the benefits of working from home, how to be the best graphic designer while working from home, where to find more remote jobs and some tools that will help you while you are working from home.
Why Can Graphic Designers Work From Home Now?
When the COVID pandemic began to hit the United States and other countries in January of 2020, it forced companies to keep their employees home to avoid contracting and spreading the virus. While graphic designers have always had the opportunity to work from home depending on if they were working independently or if their company allowed it. The COVID pandemic caused a major shift amongst the largest companies in the world forcing those companies to adapt to a remote working environment. This change has now made working from home for designers more available and more normal across the board. Many companies have realized that working from home has allowed their employees to be more productive while also maintaining a more balanced lifestyle. Companies have even stated that they have been able to save money by allowing their employees to work from home. This has created a big opportunity for designers as more jobs are listed with the option to be fully remote.
Benefits Of Working Remote
Working remote or from your home may be the new normal and there are a ton of benefits that come along with it. I can attest to some of these as I had previously worked remote before COVID. Three years later I have taken full advantage of the remote working lifestyle and started traveling around the world all while working a full-time job, writing, and creating content. Here are some of the benefits I have found while working remote.
Owning Your Morning Routine
Working remote or from home can allow you to establish and own your morning routine. For me, waking up for work in the morning used to consist of taking a quick shower, packing lunch, and rushing to catch the train with other morning commuters. Now my morning routine includes taking some time to exercise, completing a few personal errands, and learning something new before actually starting my full-time job. My new morning routine is now less stressful without having to rush out of my apartment allowing me to feel more comfortable before starting my workday. I am also very much a morning person and love getting that time back to do what I want.
No Wasted Time Commuting
As I mentioned before, in the morning I would rush out of my apartment to catch a train into New York City. From there I would catch two more subway trains, get off, and walk to the office. This usually took around an hour if all the trains were working correctly. If there were any train delays you could easily expect the commute to become 1-2 hours. This was done twice a day commuting back home to my apartment. In total, I was spending anywhere from 2 to 4 hours commuting. Standing on crowded trains, either listening to a podcast or thinking about work tasks. I don’t know about you but I value my time immensely and while I do enjoy listening to podcasts I much more enjoy working on those ideas. Those 2-3 hours spent in transit could have been spent putting the metaphorical pen to paper. Now that I am working remote, there is no wasted time commuting. I can now sit and concentrate without being distracted with the thought of leaving the office or rushing to catch a train and you can do the same working remote.
No commute means no wasting money on train tickets, subway cards, and office lunches. That means more money back in my pocket. I love to cook, hence the name Wellfed, and I have taken the opportunity to do more food shopping and cooking at home so I can save even more money. The money I save can now be used for items for my home office, treating myself to some takeout, paying bills, or saving for the future. And we all know how important saving for the future can be. As a designer, if you don’t have a full-time job providing you a regular paycheck you are left having to work on client projects which can be irregular. Working remote can help you save for many aspects of your life especially if you have long periods in between client projects.
Something I realized during the pandemic was that spending time with family and loved ones can be taken for granted. When you are living on your own, it can be to forget that your family and friends are there. With working remote all of that valuable time saved from commuting can now be spent with your family, friends, and loved ones. Rather than planning your commute back from the office, you can arrange to meet friends out. I happen to now live with my parents after moving away from the city and get to have dinner with my family every night. This may not sound like such a huge benefit but as I grow older I realize that there are very few things that matter in this life and I would say family time is one of those that do.
While I used to believe that I enjoyed my morning commute because it got me out and moving from my apartment, this is no longer the case. After some time I realized that commuting was actually somewhat stressful for me. I can remember a sense of anxiety thinking about what would happen if my director or boss emailed me while on the train and I wasn’t able to respond to it. In addition to having an elevated level of stress, I’ve now realized that I would be sick multiple times throughout the year. I attribute this to commuting on a crowded train and contracting germs during the colder seasons. While it sounds like I’m becoming a hermit while working remote, not having to deal with a cold every three months or so and feeling healthier than ever has been awesome. Less time being sick in bed means more time I can spend with friends, working on my podcast, or finding new clients. While some may miss the hustle and bustle of commuting into an office for work, I have come to enjoy the time gifted back to me by working remote as a graphic designer.
How To Be An Amazing Graphic Designer While Working From Home
While working from home or remote as a graphic designer sure does have its benefits, with such great power comes great responsibility. To become an amazing graphic designer while working from home, there are four things you need to focus on. A solid design portfolio website, great communication skills, project management, and building trust with your clients or team. If this list sounds scary, don’t worry, these are all things that I’ve learned over time and you can too. It may take some practice but eventually, you will see that keeping these four points as the top qualities or traits you value as a graphic designer working from home will contribute to a successful career. In this next section, I’ll go over each point in-depth and how you can apply them to your design practice to become an amazing graphic designer while working from home.
Solid Design Portfolio Website
If you have read any of the articles on this website then you know that I always talk about how important your design portfolio website is. Your design portfolio website is the number one tool that will carry you to success along your design career. Whether that is working within a company, working for yourself, working from home, or remote. Maintaining your design portfolio website is and will always be a priority. Making sure your design portfolio website contains updated projects of recent work aligned with the type of clients you want to work with is just one of the many pieces to a top-notch design portfolio website.
Great Communication Skills
I firmly believe that what separates good designers from amazing designers is communication. Communication is what allows clients and companies to understand that you are more than just a talented pair of hands. It helps them understand that your ideas can be the solution to their problems. Let’s take a look at some of my favorite design mentors. Paul Rand, Natasha Jen, Bobby C. Martin, Michael Bierut, Paula Scher, and Brian Collins. Whenever I watch a lecture or listen to a podcast episode from them, I am amazed by the way they can articulate the impact design can have for their clients. Design is more than just simplified logos and pretty layouts. That is also why I started the podcast in the first place. So I could better understand how design can make a difference in our lives. If you haven’t listened to it you can check out all the episodes here, or on Apple Podcast or Spotify.
With all of that said, becoming a great communicator while working from home involves more than just talking a lot. It involves listening and responding so that your clients know you are on their side and they can rely on you to solve this problem. While it is helpful to have the confidence to drive the conversation along, it is equally valuable to remain quiet and just listen. Not only will listening to your clients benefit you by capturing their thoughts and ideas, but it also gives you the time to respond with thoughtful questions that can unlock missing pieces from your project.
Project management is something that I used to think I would never deal with as a designer and that I would leave those responsibilities to an actual project manager. Psst...no surprise here but I was wrong. Project management is a big part of being a graphic designer whether you are working from home or not. Managing your time as well as your client’s time during campaigns is important. One thing that I have started to do in all of my client projects is to set a complete meeting calendar at the beginning of each project. While some dates or meeting times may change, ultimately this helps me better manage multiple project timelines simultaneously. I include this calendar in my project proposals for all my clients and it has really helped me stay organized and grow as a graphic designer working from home. If you would like to give it a spin for your projects you can download my project proposal template here.
The last and final piece to becoming an amazing graphic designer while working from home is building trust with your clients. Building trust can be done throughout working with your clients but it can also be established before new projects. Adding client testimonials is a great way of establishing trust before working with new clients and something I talk more about in this article when building your design portfolio website. To build trust while working with your clients, you can do a few simple things that I have found impactful.
- Be responsive
- Use a video camera
- Go above and beyond
Being timely with answering your clients can go a long way. Even if it is just replying to an email as soon as you get it. It can show them that their business is valued and of the utmost importance when it comes to working with you. I relate this point to when I used to wait tables as a student. After greeting and seating your guests at their table you have about two minutes to get them drinks and menus. In these two minutes, to your guests, it can feel like an eternity’s worth of time and the same can go for your design clients. The longer you make them wait for a response, the more they may think you’re never coming back or that you don’t care about their project.
Use A Video Camera
Working from home means that you will be using a tool like Zoom or Google to conduct your video calls. With that, I recommend making sure that you are using your video camera at all times. Being seen and showing your face displays that you are attentive to your clients and you are listening which again is very important. When you are not on video, it can easily be thought you are not paying attention and potentially doing other tasks rather than focusing on your clients. Sure there may be some days where you are not feeling your greatest and everyone has those. Make sure you communicate that to your client but if possible try to make sure you are showing your face on camera.
Go Above and Beyond
I’d like to think that this point doesn’t need much explanation but going above and beyond for your client whenever possible can do wonders for you. Not only does it build trust with the client but it can also set you up for future work referrals or additional projects from the same client. However, it is important to do so within your comfort level and within the budget, you have set with your client.
Where To Find Graphic Design Work From Home Jobs
With this newfound way of digitally working due to the pandemic, finding graphic design work from home jobs is a lot easier. Not only are companies more willing to work with designers that aren’t in the same area as their offices. More and more companies are also hiring distributed teams made up of talent from all over the country. Only time will tell to see if this continues but for now, many companies are seeing an increase in productivity and output from their teams while working from home.
There are two approaches when it comes to finding graphic design work from home jobs. There is the freelance route and the full-time route. I believe finding opportunities as a freelancer have become easier with the help of websites and platforms that have this goal in mind.
The websites above are just a few that are all focused on opportunities or project engagements where a company or business is looking to bring someone on for a period of time to assist with creative responsibilities. In addition to using one of these platforms, you can also leverage your network to find opportunities that will allow you to work from home as a graphic designer.
If we look to the other side of working from home as a graphic designer, there are more and more full-time opportunities popping up from companies that allow working from home. Companies like Twitter have moved to a completely remote working environment. Traditional website job boards such as LinkedIn have even gone as far as to incorporate a “remote” feature for individuals searching for new jobs.
Here is a list of companies that have switched to completely remote work:
You can click on any of these companies to see what jobs they have listed on their career pages and find a job that fits your goals.
Tools for Graphic Designers Working From Home
Now that you know the benefits of working from home, qualities you need as a designer, and where to look for a work from home graphic design job. Here are some apps and products that I have been using while working from home and can recommend to you as well.
- Adobe Creative Cloud
- Google Apps Suite
- Logitech MX Anywhere Mouse 3
- Logitech K380 Keyboard
- Roost Laptop Stand
- Skyroam Solis Lite Wifi Hotspot
- Apple AirPods Pro
Work From Home Apps for Graphic Designers
Slack is a messaging platform made for sharing and collaborating with teammates and clients. With slack you can send messages and share files that will allow you to get feedback quickly. I remember the first time I used Slack and I was very impressed with how natural it felt to have a conversation with a coworker. Slack offers a free tier so you can download and use it without paying for it. Slack is becoming more popular amongst organizations and chances are some of your clients and teammates are already familiar with the platform. You can download slack here.
Zoom is a video communication tool that you can use for meetings over video with your clients or teammates. Zoom makes it easy to present work over video with others. Zoom has become very popular recently and it is being used outside of the office as well for friends and family to connect over video. Zoom is also free to use and you can download it here.
Have you ever worked on a design team where you would kick the project off with everyone in one room brainstorming and writing ideas down on a big whiteboard? Well, Miro and Mural are both apps that have digitized that exact process. These are digital whiteboarding apps that allow you to invite clients or teammates all to the same board using a link so they contribute ideas, images, references, and more. I use these apps with all my clients and in my past full-time roles as well. More specifically, I use the free account offered by Miro. Integrating this into my design process has been great because it allows me to capture ideas from everyone I am working with during a project. You can check out Miro here.
4. Adobe Creative Cloud
If you don’t already have an Adobe Creative Cloud membership then I highly recommend you purchase a subscription today. You can use my link here for a 60% discount with your student or teacher ID. The Adobe Creative Cloud comes with all the apps and programs you will need to create amazing designs. Apps like AdobeXd come with the ability to share your work through the browser and also capture feedback for your projects.
5. Google Apps Suite
All of the Google apps are great for use when you are working from home. Google Calendar lets you schedule and invite clients to meetings. Google docs allows you to share notes and documents with clients where you can both collaborate and leave comments. Google Slides allows you to develop amazing presentations. And finally, Google Drive allows you to keep all of it in one safe place so you keep things organized and never forget where you saved those last documents.
Notion has become one of my absolute favorite apps that I open every day. Not only do I use it for my design work, but I also use it for other aspects of my life like managing Wellfed, coming up with ideas, personal finances, and more. For design, I use Notion to help manage the progress of my client projects. I have created a few different templates that help me keep track of time spent on a project while also calculating my estimated hourly rate to ensure I am pricing my projects correctly which can always be a headache for designers. If you want to check Notion out you can use the link here. You can also check out my free downloadable templates here to get started.
Work From Home Products for Graphic Designers
1. Logitech MX Anywhere 3 Mouse
While laptops come with trackpads to use for your mouse, I have come to find that I much prefer using a physical mouse while working from home and remote. Mainly because it is less strain on my hand and after long work sessions my hand would hurt after using the trackpad all day. The Logitech MX Anywhere 3 Mouse is the perfect solution for any graphic designer that is working while on the go. The best part about Logitech mouses is the configurability. The Logitech MX Anywhere 3 comes with configurable buttons on the mouse that allow you to bind to any keyboard shortcuts to them. This is amazing for swiping through multiple screens or apps while using your laptop, eliminating the possibility of losing what you were working on. Another awesome feature of the MX Anywhere 3 mouse is the size. The mouse is small allowing me to pack it into any of my backpacks or bags while I am traveling without taking any real space. One more thing to mention is the battery life on this mouse is insane. I have only had to charge this mouse once in the last six months of using it consistently everyday. Between the configurability, size, and battery life, the Logitech MX Anywhere 3 mouse is my absolute favorite mouse to work from home and travel with as a graphic designer. If you are a graphic designer working from home or remote I strongly suggest you check out the Logitech MX Anywhere 3 mouse. You can take a look here for the lowest price on the Logitech MX Anywhere 3 mouse.
2. Logitech K380 Keyboard
Powerful, portable, and inexpensive is exactly how I would summarize the Logitech K380 keyboard. This keyboard is the perfect companion for any designer or creative working from home or remote. The K380 keyboard is super slim and packed with awesome features that make it a joy to use every time I take it out of my bag. After trying other keyboards like the Apple magic keyboard and other portable Logitech keyboards like the MX keys mini, I still come back to the K380 as my preferred choice. The K380 is very light which makes it easy to bring with me while traveling and working remotely. The other great feature of the K380 is the programmable buttons at the top of the keyboard that allows me to use it with multiple devices like iPad mini and iPhone. While the K380 is not rechargeable it uses two AAA batteries that last a very long time. In the last 9 months of traveling and working remotely, I have only had to replace them once. The other great feature of the K380 is the price. This beast of a portable keyboard comes in at a whopping $29.99 which is amazing for your wallet. Other portable keyboards can range anywhere from $99 and above making the K380 a very friendly option for anyone looking to add a keyboard to their remote working setup. If you would like to check out the K380 you can visit this link here for the most updated price available. Pro-tip, if you are worried about throwing your keyboard in your bag without any protection, check out this inexpensive neoprene sleeve that fits the K380 perfectly for traveling.
3. Roost Laptop Stand
While I travel and work remotely my biggest concern has always been making sure that I don’t hunch over my laptop while working at a desk. Now I can admit that sometimes I am guilty of having bad posture and by the end of the day I regret it, I wanted to find a solution to avoid this. That is when I stumbled upon the Roost Laptop Stand. A portable, foldable, and light stand that elevates your laptop from your workstation to avoid hunching over your laptop while working. I have been using this laptop for the last 9 months and I now I make sure it is in my bag every time I leave the house. They actually just updated their design and released their V3 of the laptop stand. You can find the most updated price of the Roost Laptop Stand V3 at this link here.
4. Solis Lite Wifi Hotspot
Working remotely can sometimes come with the uncertainty of not knowing if you will have wifi available at your next stop. The Solis Lite Wifi Hotspot is the perfect companion to avoid these unwanted situations. The Solis Lite uses cellular towers to bring you wifi on the spot. There is no need to seek out any cumbersome SIM cards because the Solis Lite uses a virtual SIM card to connect in over 130+ countries with the cellular companies that Solis has contracts with. While wifi is not free, Solis offers affordable wifi plans such as a day plan for $9. This is the one I use the most. Purchasing plans and monitoring your wifi speeds are all made easy using the mobile app that comes with the device. And as with most of the products I recommend for working remote, this hotspot is small and portable. It also comes with the ability to charge devices with a 4700mAh battery. If you are looking for a reliable, easy-to-use hotspot, I would definitely check out the Solis Lite and be quick about it. This product usually doesn’t stay in stock for very long. You can check out pricing for the Solis Lite Wifi Hotspot here.
5. Apple AirPods Pro
The last product that I recommend for working from home and remote for designers is the Apple AirPods Pro. Having reliable headphones with you while working is key if you are taking calls with clients. Not only that but having headphones that sound good also helps if you like listening to music while working. I have had my Apple AirPods Pro for 2 years now and I love them. The best features of the AirPods Pro are the transparency mode and the noise-canceling mode. The noise-canceling mode tunes out any loud or jarring noises around you. The transparency mode allows you to still hear your surrounding making it perfect for the times you decide to use your headphones outside of your work calls while walking around or traveling. Recently the price for the AirPods Pro has dropped well below their initial $260 price tag. You can check out the most updated price for the Apple AirPods Pro here.
Need Help Becoming A Better Graphic Designer Working From Home?
Working from home or remote as a graphic designer has kind of become the new normal for now. However, achieving the ability to work from home may not come as quickly or easily as you think. With more and more companies coming online and hiring distributed teams with talent from all over the world, that means that the competition for these remote roles is also rising. If you are struggling to find a remote design job or clients you can sign up for a free 1-on-1 portfolio review with me here. During my 1-on-1 reviews we can go over your portfolio, your website, answer any questions you have on your mind, and figure out an actionable plan to get your design career moving forward. You can sign up for a free review here.