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How To Become a Freelance Graphic Designer

Graphics designer working on computer

The work of a graphic designer is not easy, and you can spend hours or even days before you complete a simple project.  But the rewards are worthwhile.

Similarly, working as a freelance graphic designer is flexible. As a freelancer, you choose to work on projects that you enjoy and set a schedule that suits you. Again, you have the privilege of being your boss and negotiating your pay too.

In this blog post, I have outlined some tips on how to become a freelance graphic designer. You can also read about how to find leads and start your own business.

What Does a Graphics Designer Do?

Develop Visual Ideas

Graphic designers work on various projects such as advertising campaigns. They can also work with large cooperatives to rebrand or create product packaging, magazines, and brochures.

Creatives develop these visual ideas by the use of illustration, typography, and imagery. Graphic designers use special application software to organize these elements.

Preparation – What Do You Need to Become a Freelance Graphic Designer?

Have you decided to join thousands of creatives to become a freelance graphic designer? Whether you are starting or upgrading, you must ensure that you have the best hardware and software to help you to work more successfully.

Of course, you can start training or working with whatever you have and plan to improve as soon as you can.

Equipment

Of course, you will need to have tools for your work. Selecting reliable equipment can help you save on repair costs. Some of the equipment graphic designers must have included computers. 

Additionally, you must consider the type of processor when buying a computer for graphic design.

The ideal laptop should have at least 4-8 GB of GDDR6 memory, a 16-inch screen, and graphics. Some of the best devices to purchase are Apple MacBook Pro, Lenovo ThinkPad P1, Acer ConceptD 7, Dell XPS 12, and more.

ThinkPad P1 Gen 3 (15”) Mobile Workstation

A good desktop for a graphics designer must have graphics and a minimum of 8GB RAM. Examples include Apple Mac Pro, Intel-based tower Mac, Dell OptiPlex 7780, HP Envy 32, Corsair One Pro i200, and more. 

Processors to consider include AMD Ryzen 9 5950X core 16, 7 5800X core 8, Intel i9 9900X, Intel i9 9960X and more.

Software

The graphic design application software you choose can make the difference between the success or delay of your project. Whether it is for a blog or a marketing campaign, the software you use will determine the outcome. Whatever your design, you must make it stunning to captivate an audience.

Some of the best graphic programs include the following; –

Adobe Photoshop 

It is a robust package that offers a wide range of graphic design capabilities. The design tools are compatible with both mobile and web platforms. Adobe also has creative cloud tools that include Content-Aware Crop, touch, stylus input support, and more. Not to mention, Adobe is an Open-Source GIMP software that you can download and install for free. 

CorelDraw Graphic Designer Suite

This application software has an easy-to-navigate user interface and robust editing features.  The content exchange tool gives you access to thousands of digital images, vehicle templates, fonts, and more. 

In addition, this application software allows you to move from desktop to tablet mode to support touch features. CorelDraw Graphic Suite can export about 48 file types and open 38 different files. You can choose to pay from any of the three categories available.

Workspace

The place you choose to work from must provide the right conditions for your graphic design work to succeed. You can start from a quiet place such as a library.  Even so, some individuals like loud music and creativity in their work environment.

The bottom line is to work from a comfortable space where you can access any of your equipment with little effort.

Training and qualification

There are various ways you can qualify to become a graphic designer. One such way is to go to university. The other option is to enroll at a college or work as an apprentice before joining the thousands of creative freelancers to work online.

Even after you have trained and qualified to become a graphics designer, some customers will look for experience. You can build your portfolio during and after your training to show your design skills. In light of this, you can then develop your blog to host your designs.

Further, you can find an internship or entry-level design position before you start working on paid projects. Work experience enhances your skills and helps you build your network.

Market Your Designs

As a freelancer, you need to find various strategies to market your graphic design services and attract prospects to your work. Some creatives can get lucky and find jobs by simply showing their friends what they do. Equally, you can start marketing your designs by creating a portfolio and joining networks.

Create portfolio

A work portfolio, also known as a “professional portfolio,” is a way to present a detailed collection of your best work to prospective employers.  It should contain the following: –

The resume – this should include your professional summary, contact data, education, and work experience.

Your skills – list down your abilities concerning graphic design and other relevant expertise needed to work, such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and more.

The biographical information – jot down information about yourself, such as your professional title, accomplishments, and career goals.

Join/build Networks

One of the best ways to advertise your skills or market your designs is through relevant networking clubs such as the Chamber of Commerce or Business Association.

Your list of networks can include your friends, relatives, people on your Facebook and email list, and previous employers. 

You can also find like-minded individuals on LinkedIn and them to your network or join their creative groups.

Choose your Niche; Graphic Designer

Graphic design is a crowded and cutthroat industry. Nevertheless, you can attract clients and deliver quality work if you specialize in a specific area. Of course, you may already have discovered your niche during training or internship.  But if you haven’t, you can focus on what you enjoy doing.

Here are some areas of graphic design you can consider specializing in to help you stand out from the crowd.

Packaging 

Marketing companies look for creatives to design various packaging for consumables brands. You can specialize in creating attractive designs for products like juice cartons, soap wrappers, and more. 

Visual identity

Branding is an exciting experience and a competitive niche too. Nevertheless, there are numerous opportunities for creatives to earn cash. You can create logos, imagery, typography, and color palettes. Branding is one of the highly paid niches in graphic design.

Content marketing

You can choose to specialize in the traditional marketing space and select to work social media assets, brochures, pamphlets, digital guides, and more.

Plan/schedule time

Freelance creatives have flexible work schedules. It is easy for freelancers to dwell on a single aspect and neglect the other, which may cause delays on urgent projects. On the other hand, graphic designers also work extra hard to complete tasks on time. You can avoid these problems through proper time management and planning.

Weekly/Monthly schedules

Set times and targets for marketing and ensure that you follow the schedule. You can use a weekly calendar or an electronic organizer to help you manage your timetable. Sometimes, you may have to experiment for a while to find out what works best for you.

Prioritize projects

Sometimes you may have more than one task to complete. It is wise to deal with projects that require immediate attention before moving to the next job. In reality, you should only take jobs that you can deliver within the client’s specific time.

Most significantly, you must ensure that the critical goals and activities you would like to accomplish conclude within the set times.

Find Clients

You must find a way to get clients if you aspire to become a graphic designer who remains consistent in business. If you don’t have design work to do, it means you are out of business, and you become a hobbyist.

Therefore, getting your first client is an equally important task among the steps you take to become a graphic designer. Similarly, it is wise to know the entire process from getting a client to receiving your payment. It may include hints on how to submit proposals, ways to select your first customer, time management, and how much to deliver.

Proposals, Invoicing, and paperwork

A well-crafted proposal will attract quality clients. In this case, you need to take some time to write a compelling presentation when applying for jobs.

Clients also need to know how much your services cost. Your pricing should be based on production work and on design or creative work. Additionally, it is easier to price your service per project rather than per hour. Sometimes, clients will offer a price to which you can either accept, negotiate or reject. Ideally, it is best to set your minimum charges per hour and project.

You may also need to design an official invoice and contract form for clients to sign. Sometimes you may talk to a client and agree on the terms of the contract, but documentation makes you look more professional.

Avoid Being Picky

It is wise for newbies to search for easy-to-get jobs. Your first customer can boost your confidence and give you momentum, from which you can continue working as a creative.  You must avoid being picky during your initial job searches. You can start by selecting simple tasks such as designing flyers and ecards

Take advantage of clients who need designers with the lowest rate to find your first project. You may not receive much cash, but the experience is worth more and helps you get started on your journey of becoming a freelance graphic designer.

Overdeliver

The easiest way to get a job or referral from the same client is to overdeliver. Always create designs that exceed your customer’s expectations, not less of what is required.

Where Can Graphic Designers Find Work?

There are various freelance job sites where you can find graphic design jobs, such as Coroflot,  Awesome Web, Behance, and more. You can also find graphic design projects from your network.

Coroflot

Coroflot is one of the best websites for an entrepreneur to find work. The site offers opportunities to designers of all backgrounds globally. Additionally, the company allows businesses to access top talent and displays quality design work from thousands of graphic designers. 

Awesome Web

It is a freelance marketplace for professional graphic designers, developers, and people who need creative services. Awesome Web sends clients to your profile once you sign up and register on their platform. Customers find you and contact you through a message. 

Of course, you first have to share your profile and other information, such as payment details.

Behance, Graphic Designer

Behance is one of the largest social media websites where users can display and discover creative work. It is part of Adobe and used by graphic designers to showcase their illustrations, advertising, game design, and more.

This platform allows people with a need for your services to contact you.

Your network

You probably have an established network, whether you have been working an office job or have been a student for two or three years. You can tap into this group to start your freelance graphic designer career and expand your network as you grow.

By all means, it’s better to network through friends and relatives who may know someone in need of a freelance graphic designer than send out random requests on social media. 

Find Referrals

You can ask your first client to rate your work or give you a referral. Additionally, you should develop a habit of asking for opportunities after every successful project. You can also show your work to friends and people on your network and ask them to link you to work opportunities.

Brand Yourself; Graphic Designer

You are likely to attract businesses that want branding services if you brand yourself well. Whatever name you choose, ensure that it is catchy and easy to remember. Your brand name should give a hint at who you are or what you do.

You can use your name if your ultimate goal in becoming a freelance graphic designer is to remain a one-person entity forever. But you need a different name if your purpose is to grow a business much bigger than yourself.

Another significant point to remember is that your brand name needs to “fit” with your target audience and unique style. The name you choose is the same you will use to identify with your company’s website. 

Create Your Company

You can set up your company once you gain experience and confidence in your designs. Should you decide to create your business entity, you must have separate personal and company accounts. This separation will enable potential clients to make payments to your business account.

Some of the entities that are easiest to begin and less costly include an LLC. DBA (doing business as), corporation, and ADBA.

Grow Your Business

Passion and drive are the fuel that can drive your business to a higher level. It is by being passionate about what you do that brings out the best designs and happy clients. 

Vibrant website; Graphic Designer

You can highlight some of your successful projects on your website. Furthermore, you can also write blogs to display your expertise about what you do best to help attract more leads.

Industry awards

Take the opportunity to participate in industry awards to display your talent. These achievements can help you get quality clients and long-term projects.

Conclusion

The steps to becoming a graphic designer may not be the same for everyone. Some of the best creatives have taken years of practice, besides the formal university or college training. Even so, you cannot overlook natural talent when it comes to creativity.  Apprenticeship has also produced top-notch graphic designers who create work that stands out from the crowd.

Finally, to become a freelance graphic designer, you must begin with any project, whether small or big and keep moving forward. Over-demanding clients and projects should not discourage you from moving towards what you want to do best as a graphic designer.

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