Tips to help you start your career as a freelance graphic designer

5 min read

Career Trends: June 15, 2022
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS

Having a freelancing career is rewarding in it’s own sense, with having the ultimate control of your salary and time being one of its best perks.

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It’s challenging to start a freelance career, especially in the graphic design space. You’ll likely contend against stiff competition and demanding clients, or you probably don’t even know where to start. Freelancing is a totally different ball game from corporate employment, but it’s a rewarding career nonetheless. While you may lose some of the guarantees of a 9 to 5 job, like paid leaves, bonuses, and the like, having the ultimate control of your salary and time is one of its best perks.

Many have made successful careers out of freelancing. You don’t need online freelancing experience to start; after all, we all have to begin somewhere. Nevertheless, it’s great to have a guide to help you take the first step.

So, if you’re planning to pursue your passion, here are some tips to get you started:

1. Don’t Jump in Feet First

  • While this applies to any new career in general, you should be wiser when starting as a freelance graphic designer, especially if you’re transitioning from the corporate world.
  • While you have a steady stream of income and benefits when you’re at your 9 to 5 job, the freelancing industry does not offer any.
  • Instead, your salary will depend on the projects you take on for the month.
  • So, before you start, ensure that you have enough savings.

2. Build a Diversified Portfolio

  • If you’re going to ask people to pay for your services, you have to ensure that you have something to show.
  • There are also a million different possible projects out there, so it’s best to build a diversified portfolio that showcases everything you can do.
  • Your portfolio will show the client your work quality, style, and skill.
  • Don’t forget to place your portfolio in a public space.
  • It can be through Facebook or Instagram, or you can post them on specialised art platforms like Deviant Art or Pixiv.
  • A curated gallery of your finest work is the best way to advertise yourself, as they speak volumes about what you can do.
  • You can also post short videos of how you make your creations. By gathering as many followers as possible, you showcase your work to more possible clients.

4. Find Clients on Freelance Platforms

  • The best place to start finding clients can be freelancing platforms like Upwork or Fiverr, also professional networking platforms like LinkedIn.
  • Whatever platform you choose, you must ensure that your profile is set up properly.
  • After all, clients will want to see the skills and capabilities of the people they hire.
  • You should also join graphic designer groups on social media platforms that you’re on.
  • That way, you can expose yourself to fellow freelancers and might even land a client or two via referrals.

5. Be a Professional Communicator

  • When you’re running your own business, you should communicate professionally.
  • You must know how to effectively talk to your clients — ensuring everything is clear and nothing gets lost in translation.
  • If there’s something unclear in your conversation, ask for clarification.
  • You must also respond to messages and queries within 24 hours of a business day.
  • Remember your possible clients are also time-bound, so, if you want to get this project in the bag, respond on time.

6. Under Promise, Over Deliver

  • When you’re working with a client, it’s best to set goals you know are well within your means, plus some leeway for the unexpected.
  • That way, when you finish early, like two days, your clients will be pleasantly surprised.
  • Or, when your client asks for a minor revision, but for the fourth time, you can still do it for free without getting bad feelings from the client.
  • They might even refer you to their friends and associates, giving you access to a broader client base.

7. Have a Reasonable Workload

  • One of the missteps many new freelancers make is taking on too many projects.
  • When you’re finally landing clients, you might feel as if you can do everything and end up with deadlines that are too close to each other.
  • When that happens, you’ll have to rush the work you’re doing, which could lead to subpar work, missed deadlines, and dissatisfied clients.
  • You should always add a safety margin to your deadlines, ensuring that you don’t run into problems.

8. Take Feedback

  • Whenever you submit a proposal or finish a project with a client, you should always ask for their comments and suggestions.
  • Even if you weren’t successful in landing a project, knowing what the client thinks will help you improve your output and understand what they want and need.

Have you checked out yesterday’s blog yet?

Red Flags to Watch Out for in a Job Interview

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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