how to become a freelance graphic designer

How to Become a Freelance Graphic Designer

Are you tired of leaving the house every day to go to a job that you don’t love? Are you ready to become your own boss? If so, you could become a freelance graphic designer.

If you have experience in the graphic design field, working from home as a graphic designer is an excellent way to make money.

As a freelance graphic designer, you’ll be in charge of your own business. Instead of putting in hours of work for someone else to take a cut, now you’ll be the one in charge of calling the shots.

As a work-from-home graphic designer, you’ll really be able to flex your creative abilities.

Graphic designers are often seen as visionaries, creating logos and designs for clients who are unable to envision what they want. At other times, clients will ask you to bring to life a very specific creation. Either way, a certain level of skill is definitely needed in order to succeed in this freelance position.

Freelance graphic design jobs are always a good pick for work at home moms because this kind of work is very flexible. You rarely need to deal with phone calls and there are no preset hours when you need to be tied to your desk. Instead, work whenever is convenient for you, whether that’s during naptime or when the kids are at school.  

Graphic Design Training

You don’t necessarily need formal training for this work at home job, but it does help. If you have outside experience or are looking to transfer some professional skills to a freelance work at home position, it will be easier for you than for someone starting out brand new. Still, if you have a creative eye or consider graphic design one of your hidden talents, you might be able to turn your skills into a profitable work from home position.

These days you don’t need a college education to be a graphic designer. If you haven’t taken any courses, start by enrolling in some online graphic design classes at a site like Udemy. This might also open up some doors for you in terms of starting to build a small but solid portfolio of work.

What Does a Graphic Designer Do?

A graphic designer works on anything that needs a keen, creative eye. This could include creating logos, flyers, business cards, advertisements, brochures, booklets, catalogs, posters, envelopes, packaging, and more. The list is extensive.

Today, the work of a graphic designer might also carry over into helping a company design web graphics for a website or social media page.

Working as a Freelancer

In order to successfully work as a freelance graphic designer, you need so much more than just creative talents and abilities. You also need marketing skills, organization skills, and business-savvy. As a freelancer, you’ll be tasked with marketing your business, finding clients, managing an ever-changing workload, invoicing, and accounting.

This isn’t impossible – plenty of people do it all the time – but it is important to have a good idea of what you’re getting into before you quit your day job.

Finding Clients

The success of any freelancer depends on one main thing – your ability to land clients. Without clients, you won’t be in business as a freelance graphic designer very long. While it can be tempting to spend hours and days fine-tuning a portfolio or building a website before you launch, don’t get too caught up in the tiny details to miss the big picture. Instead, focus on scoring clients as quickly as you can, even if you don’t think you’re quite ready yet.

Your first freelance design clients will be a huge confidence boost for you and they’ll provide the income and momentum you need as your business grows.

When looking for your first clients, scour the freelance job websites and get the word out to family and friends. Local businesses almost always have graphic design needs, and many would be willing to outsource this work to you if you can take it off their hands.

If you’re brand new, consider offering a discounted rate for your services so that you can get a few jobs to add to your portfolio. You don’t want to undercut yourself too severely or cause others to undervalue your work, but this can be a good short-term strategy for building your portfolio.

Building a Portfolio

While you’re in the process of finding those first few clients, it’s also time to work on building your portfolio. This is a sampling of past work you’ve done. If you’re brand new in the field and don’t yet have any work to show, create some samples to add to your portfolio.

The portfolio helps potential clients decide whether or not to hire you, but it isn’t absolutely essential for landing clients. Chances are you’ll find someone willing to give you a shot, especially if you’re willing to reach out to friends and family or people in your local area.

No matter what, don’t let a small portfolio keep you from launching your business. Too many freelance graphic designers never start because they’re afraid that they can’t work without a portfolio. Start small, put together some samples and then over time focus on adding to your portfolio as you grow your business.

Focus on Your Brand

The way you brand your own business is one way to showcase your talents and abilities, even if you don’t have a large portfolio yet. By creating an outstanding, eye-catching brand identity for yourself, you’re showing others that you can do it for them too.

As a graphic designer, this means you want to spend a fair amount of time designing a personal logo for your business. Design something that’s memorable and stands out while clearly communicating what you do.

After your logo, you should also make a professional-looking business website that communicates your services to your customers. Then build a social media presence that spreads the word about your work and further communicates with your clients.

Building your brand is a multi-step process that will take time. Just remember that clients are looking at this aspect of your business a little more closely than they might be with freelancers in other fields, simply because this showcases your specific abilities.

Running Your Business

When you run a freelancing business, there’s a lot more involved than just finding clients and doing great work. You also need to master the paperwork side of things, including work proposals, contracts, invoices, and payments.

This doesn’t need to be too involved at first. For instance, a contract can simply be an email correspondence in which you clearly spell out the details of the work agreement, including your payment terms. A payment platform like Paypal makes invoicing easy and also allows you to collect payments.

Read More: How To Start a Freelance Business From Home

Over time though, you may want to invest in more substantial software for running your business management side of things. While I have not used it personally, I know many people use and love Dubsado for client communication, proposals, invoices, and forms. If you want to keep detailed track of your accounting, consider Freshbooks or Quickbooks.

Bottom line – there are loads of options out there, so if there are features you want, chances are you can find software that offers it. Everything comes at a price, though, so consider what you need just to get started and then scale up as your business grows.

Get Used to Freelance Work

When you’re a freelancer, you can expect work to ebb and flow. Freelance graphic design is no different. Some months you’ll be slammed with client projects, and other times you’ll feel like you’re just barely scraping by.

To combat this, you need to always be on the lookout for new clients. Clients won’t just fall into your lap. Even when you’re busy, set aside a small amount of time each day searching for your next project. When this happens, you may find yourself overwhelmed with work from time to time. Over time you’ll build up a solid, steady client base who will bring you regular work.

Continue networking always and building relationships with the people that you know and that you’ve worked with. Ask for client references and feedback, especially from your first few clients. If you get good feedback, you can use these as testimonials. This goes a long way in establishing your credibility and helping you land new clients.

Succeeding as an Entrepreneur

After working for someone else, making the switch to freelance work requires a complete mindset switch. This can be a challenge if you’re just starting out as a freelance graphic designer, so be patient with yourself at first.

Designate time to work each day, even for a little bit, and slowly build your business as you find new clients. With the right mindset and skill, this is one work from home job that comes with big income potential and lasting work.

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Hi, I’m Bridget Sielicki. 

I’m a freelance writer and a mom of four. For the past 10 years, I’ve been working from home as a freelance writer, creating content for major brands like Hertz Car Rental, Bankrate.com, and Credit Sesame.

Working from home has been a dream come true for me. Now I want to share my expertise with you, so you can make money while you’re home with your own kids. Learn more here.

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