How To Start Your Own Freelance Graphic Design Business

How To Start Your Own Freelance Graphic Design Business


In a world where employment views are shifting from the 9am-5pm job preference to freelance, both fresh graduates as well as salaried professional designers are turning to the freelance world. The change can be exciting especially due to the feeling of being independent but with that mindset comes the fact that a number of people fall off the bandwagon and tend to fail on the first try.

Why? For many it could be due to a lack of a set authority especially since you’re the one setting your work hours, to others it could be that you have to deal with the actual customers which may be off-putting and to some, you just don’t have the perseverance to build a client list from scratch. At the end of the day, you need a whole lot of perseverance and motivation to build anything from the ground up. With proper preparation, both mentally and skills wise, you can build a successful career in the world of freelance graphic design.

Key to Success:

We’re going to identify a number of steps that may get you to thrive in your freelance graphic design business.

Step 1: Are You Motivated Enough?

The answer to should be a definite yes. However, any bit of indecisiveness, wavering or a lack of commitment could spell doom for you in terms of aggravation, frustration and finally, failure. Maintaining your initial enthusiasm isn’t the easiest but if your motivation is in check, you’re dedicated and are positive, this will be a rewarding journey.

Step 2: What Skills Do You Have?

At the start, you need to figure out exactly what you can or can’t do. It’s never a good quality to oversell because once again, you’re starting out your Freelancing journey. Be honest with yourself.

“Do you have the skills to compete with other professionals in your industry?”

Step 3: Increase Your Knowledge Base

There are very many online platforms that have online tutorials, articles and tips on graphic design. Learn more about the current scene in the design world. You can take up college courses on the same. At the end of the day, grow your knowledge and understanding of graphic design. It will help with being able to understand your clients and the market.

Step 4: Be Specific With Your Goals

We already know you want to have a graphic design business but what will make it stand out from what everyone else is doing? What will be the measure of its success? Where do you want it to be in the next couple of years?

Have a vision you’ll grow towards rather than just going freelance because it is trending and you happen to have the appropriate skills.

Step 5: Who’s Your Target Market?

Figure out the kind of clients you want to be in your pocket based on identifying their needs and requirements. Who and where are they? What kind of service do they need? What budget do they have? All these are questions you need to ask yourself. There are a number of online platforms for freelance graphic designers that you can join such as FreelanceMyWay, and Upwork.

While you’re identifying your target market, a look into your competition would be wise. If you know your competition, you can package your business in a more unique way. It’ll help you when you’re benchmarking in terms of making a price list; which is another thing you will need. You need to know how you’ll charge these clients; whether it’s an hourly rate or on a project-by-project basis.

Step 6: Create A Portfolio And Website

Before you even start to find your clients, create a portfolio as a freelance graphics designer. Choose your best work because quality beats quantity. If you have past projects, choose a couple of your best. If you’re starting out,don’t worry. Your creativity should come in handy with how you land the design projects. You could offer your services to the local non-profit or homeowners’ association or create portfolios based on something you’ve always wanted to (self-inspired projects).

Create your portfolio and put your name on the internet by designing a website that speaks of your work. There are many web hosts which include Bluehost, WP Engine, among others which are pocket friendly yet reliable.

Step 7: Get Your Name Out There!

Once you have your portfolio together, it’s time to get your name out there, if not in people’s mouths, at least in their line of vision. Social media helps validate your business. We’re in the digital age so your clients will definitely search for you and they want to find something. Wouldn’t you rather it was something positive? Keep your social media feeds up to date. Business cards too come in handy. You’re a graphic designer; you definitely know how to make your card stand out!

Step 8: Learn The Basics Of A Design Contract.

Here’s a few items that are a must-have on contracts:

  • Your contact information – Both yours and your client’s
  • The objective/scope of the project
  • Timeline and deadlines for the project
  • Payment terms
  • Signatures and dates – Both yours and your client’s

You can use this as a base before the phone starts ringing and your life as a freelance graphic designer starts to take off. Ultimately, you’ll add to it as experience identifies what’s missing with time and enlist legal help for guidance and tips.

Step 9: Get To Work!

You’ve done all the steps from one until this one, but suddenly you’re afraid of finally setting the ball rolling. Don’t be. It’s not uncommon to be afraid of those first project calls but you need to pick up the phone and make those calls, send out those emails regardless of the butterflies fluttering away in your stomach. Be confident in your new venture.

Remember to never stop learning. Graphics design is constantly changing so if you keep learning, your job will continue feeling fresh.