Whenever you notice an inspiring design, bring it with you and add it to your collection. Over the years, you will have hundreds of posters, brochures and other items stored in boxes and folders. Keep them easily accessible and get inspiration whenever you need it.
Books are an amazing source of knowledge and are essential for an ongoing learning process. Develop an extensive collection that contains books from diverse subjects, which can be educational, inspirational or technical.
Read designer blogs
I have learnt so much by reading blogs by great graphic designers. I can't stress how important it is to take advantage of the invaluable source of knowledge on the Internet. Also remember to use what you learn in your work.
Start your blog
Starting a blog will help you to get connected with other members of the graphic designers' community. You will be able to get feedback for your projects and learn from others' work. Writing articles for your blog will keep you aware of trending topics and new technology.
Be an active member of the graphic designer community
It is essential for a freelancer to join an online graphic designers' community. This will keep you in touch with what is happening in the design world, while also being an excellent source for critique and feedback. One disadvantage of freelancing is the absence of criticism.
Keep taking photos
When you find designs that fascinate you that you can't take home, take photos. A camera phone is a handy device for this, so just click and file it away for using later. My collection has pictures of shadows on walls, architectural designs, basically, anything that stands out.
Create fake projects
If I have spare time, I like creating fake projects for a fake company. I design the logo, brochure, stationery and even the website. This can be a good exercise for creativity and keeps designing fun. I enjoy letting my creativity run completely wild without the limitations of a client or a boss.
Redesign other projects
This is a good alternative to designing for fake brands. You can try your hand at redesigning graphic projects done by other designers, as an exercise to see what they did incorrectly and how you can make it better.
Redo previous designs
Go back and look at your previous designs. Your likely response will be criticism and disbelief that you actually did it. Don't get rid of it, instead redesign it.
Every once in a while, I make the concerted effort to attend lectures by other leading designers at local colleges or universities, and I always end up learning something new.
While attending lectures, I look for designers that work for a graphic design company with more experience and skills than me. Networking with designers of higher intellect and expertise is motivating and pushes me to work more and learn.
Brand style guide, brand guide, and brand book is very important for your brand. Brand guidelines is essential for smooth working of your business.