What it takes to be a Freelance Graphic Designer

What it takes to be a Freelance Graphic Designer

It seems as though you’re wondering what it takes to become a Freelance Graphic Designer. Well, you’re at the right place. Read below to learn more about the process. 

Being a Freelance Graphic designer is a choice many have made in the recent years. People are tired of working their standard 9-5 jobs, looking for more flexibility in their schedules as well as the jobs they are taking. Switching to a freelancer sounds like a great opportunity for most, but many don’t understand what follows. In this article, we will cover some of the key factors in becoming successful as a designer:

    1. Understanding the Ups and Downs
    2. Building Your Portfolio
    3. Networking
    4. Finding Clients
freelance designer
Image from UnSplash

1. Understanding the Ups and Downs

Being a Freelance Graphic Designer sounds great in theory, but is it right for you? Sure, you can set your own schedule and find the clients for whom you want to create, although that comes with a price, as does it all. Just remember, as a freelancer designer, you are the whole agency, from start to finish.

When you set your own schedule as a freelancer, you’re really deciding when and how often you get paid. Starting out, a freelancer usually does not have enough clients to fill their time, so you’re left with the decision to build your portfolio, learn, and take control, or as many starters do, take the time off and enjoy the free time. The thing that most designers don’t realize is that all of your time is crucial to succeed. Just because you don’t have clients, doesn’t mean stop working. Instead, head to YouTube to grow your skills or better yet, update that portfolio you’ve been wanting to do for quite some time. Every minute of your workday should be devoted to building your business and making what you have to offer compete with those in a similar field.

Although there are tough times, a freelancer does get to choose the client base with whom they work. This means that if you enjoy working on website design or animation, then you can target your job search to cater those skills. This will, in turn, help you succeed and grow, yet can be limiting. As mentioned above, it is very important to keep learning new skills or bettering the ones you have. You will find that sticking with your comfortable skills will leave you without work for periods of time. Since you are acting as a full agency as a freelancer, it’s best to offer a wide variety of tasks you’re good at, so clients will return with more work.

2. Building Your Portfolio

We have all heard time and time again that having an online presence is important to clients. But what goes into this portfolio and how do we use it?

When designing your online portfolio, make sure to have the following sections:

  • ABOUT: Tell about yourself and provide a contact form.
  • PORTFOLIO: It is best to have a page dedicated to your work, then individual pages below.
  • CASE STUDY: Breakdown one of your past jobs to show your process.
  • RESUME: Whether it’s a link to your LinkedIn or simply your resume on the site, employers want to see your experience.
  • SOCIAL: Dribbble Instagram, LinkedIn,etc.

However you decide to design your website, make sure it is shows off your skills. You want a client to know exactly what you’re capable of when they visit your website, and also in a timely matter. Don’t expect people to stay on each page for too long, so create compelling imagery that attracts the employer you’re trying to target.

3. Networking

Oh, the dreaded word: Networking. It can feel outdated, or even useless, but networking comes in all forms. The idea is to talk to as many people that you can and spread the word about your services, but without being pushy.

There are many places to find traditional networking events, like MeetUp, for example, but networking can be easier than that. Start by printing your business cards and keeping them on you at all times. This will help you when you meet people out and about. Where might these places be? Anywhere you go. Be it the coffee shop you frequent or the next time you’re at the airport watching people go by, you can start conversations with people in almost any situation.

But what do I say? This can be hard at first, but remember that in the end, you’re still just talking to human beings, so start the conversation as you normally would. Most people don’t react well when they feel as though someone is trying to pitch them an idea or service, so gradually make your way to that point. You’ll get the feeling of when it is right to bring up what you do, but make sure you are paying attention to the other person. Don’t focus too much on yourself. And lastly, always follow up!

4. Finding Clients

So you’ve created your website, started networking, and now what? Clients aren’t just falling into your lap, surprise! The best way to find clients these days is to create multiple online portfolios on various sites such as UpWork, Dribbble, 99Designs, etc.

On these sites, and others like them, you’ll add your previous work and experience and start applying. When writing your cover letters to clients, make them personal. Sure, you can create a rough template for certain areas like “Branding” or “Web Design,” but be sure to call out one or two lines the employer wrote to ensure them that you read their posting and aren’t just rapid firing your applications. Clients want to know that you’re committed throughout the whole process.

Now that you’ve learned the basics, go put them in action! I would love to learn more about your thoughts and process, as well as what has worked for you in the freelance design world. Thank you!

Let’s Work Together


I’m here to chat no matter where you are in your process. Whether you’re just getting started or wrapping it up, I can assist you in many ways. So with all of that, let’s get working!

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