A Freelance Graphic Designer’s Guide To Getting On Top

As a freelance graphic designer, you’re constantly looking for ways to level up your skills and grow your business. That’s where we come in! We’ve collected graphic design tips across the web, curated them, and put our spin on them. In this blog post, we’ll teach you how to:

How to Make Money as a Freelance Graphic Designer
1. Building a strong online presence is crucial for freelance graphic designers.
2. Effective branding strategies can help you stand out in the industry.
3. Overcoming creative blocks is essential for continuous growth.
4. Understanding client communication through tailored emails enhances client engagement.
5. Proper pricing strategies ensure fair compensation for your skills.
6. Utilize resources for expanding your knowledge and career opportunities.
7. Strategies for growing your freelance business include financial management and client expansion.

Create A Website

Creating a website is essential for any freelance graphic designer. It’s the first impression a client will have of you, and it’s also a way of showcasing your work in a way that isn’t limited by what fits on social media. 

A website gives you control over how people view your work, as well as provides an easy-to-remember web address where potential clients can find all of your contact information. 

Most importantly, having an online presence helps build up your brand as a freelancer in an industry where trust is key; if someone were searching for “best logo design companies in New York City” and found two different portfolios with nearly identical logos (or even just vague descriptions), which would they choose? 

On top of that, businesses are increasingly moving towards digital applications such as e-signing contracts rather than paper copies; if you don’t even have an online presence at all, no matter how stellar your portfolio may be otherwise!

Crafting a strong online presence is essential for freelance graphic designers. Learn how to optimize your visibility with our comprehensive guide on getting on top of the industry through effective strategies and branding techniques.

Get Your Domain

A domain name is what you type into the address bar of your browser to get to your website. It’s usually something short, easy to remember, and generally matches your business name. 

For example, if you run a graphic design practice called “Spring Studio” and want people to find you online, it would make sense to register “springstudio.com” as your domain name (or something similar).

A good rule of thumb is that most domains are available with all possible letter combinations (a-z), numbers (0-9), and hyphens (-). This can make things complicated when deciding on a suitable domain for yourself or client projects so I recommend using one of these tools:

Build A Portfolio

To attract clients, you need a portfolio that shows off your skills. However, don’t just toss any old work into the portfolio you want to curate it carefully so that it showcases the best of what you can do. A good rule of thumb is that if anyone could have done what you did, then there isn’t much point in showing it off as part of your portfolio. 

This means not just choosing the best designs but also selecting those which showcase more than one skill and show how versatile you are as a designer.

Are you struggling with creative blocks in your freelance journey? Gain insights from experienced designers and discover how to overcome creative hurdles with our article on bursting through creative blocks and regain your inspiration.

Start An Email List

We all know that building an email list is important. But let’s be honest, not all email lists are created equal. A poorly-targeted list will do more harm than good for your business because it won’t help you convert customers into paying ones. 

This can happen if you have a huge number of subscribers who aren’t in your niche or industry, or if the information you send them isn’t relevant to their needs.

For example, let’s say you’re a freelance graphic designer who creates logos and brand identities for small businesses. 

You could send emails to everyone on your list with messages about how they can create better branding strategies by enlisting your services as a logo designer or brand identity specialist but unless those people need this service. 

They’ll only be annoyed at being spammed by someone they don’t know (and probably don’t want) getting in touch with them when there’s nothing new happening on their end!

Make More Than One Income Stream

Diversifying your income is a great way to stay afloat. It gives you options if one source of revenue dries up, and it can be a stepping stone to other streams. For example, you may want to start with a single graphic design client and build on other projects as well as consulting work overtime.

Keep Track Of All Your Expenses

Keeping track of your expenses is important for taxes and other business accounting, as well as being good practice in general.

The most common way to keep track of expenses is through an app (like QuickBooks or Mint), but many freelancers use pen and paper instead. If you’re going to do this, make sure that you record all your receipts so that they can be scanned into the system later.

Make sure you keep track of everything from office supplies to meals eaten at work—even if it seems like a small thing at the time!

When it comes to designing logos, the choice of fonts plays a crucial role. Explore our list of the 15 best fonts for logos that will help you create memorable and impactful visual identities for your clients.

Schedule Your Time Wisely

People who have been freelance for a while will tell you that the best way to ensure success is to schedule your time wisely. If you’re trying to balance work and personal life, this can be difficult. 

You’re probably still working on your regular full-time job during the day, so it’s hard to know exactly when you’ll have time in the evening or on weekends to focus on freelancing.

The trick is figuring out how much time each project will take and then scheduling around everything else in your life including yourself! The most important thing is to make sure that you finish everything by the deadline. 

If there are two projects due back-to-back, try not getting stressed out about both at once: plan them out separately so one isn’t overwhelming or distracting from another.

Once again: don’t forget about yourself! Make sure there are enough days off in between big deadlines where your brain gets a break from thinking about design problems and can recharge itself before diving into another workflow session (or even better yet take some time off).

Hone In On Your Skills And Develop Them Further

Now that you’ve decided on your specialty, it’s time to hone in on your skills and develop them further.

There are three steps here:

Know what you’re good at and play those strengths up. If you’re a great designer but have trouble with clients, focus on finding work from companies where the client will be more hands-off and let you do your thing. 

If you need help expanding your design portfolio, take on freelance projects outside of what you’d normally do for pay. If there’s something else missing from your portfolio (like e-commerce design). 

Consider taking classes or reading books about that area of design so that when a client asks for something different than usual, they know they can trust you to deliver an outstanding product.

Figure out what areas need improvement and then tackle them one by one until they’re mastered.

 Don’t spread yourself too thin get good at one thing before moving on to the next big idea!

Enhancing your freelance graphic design business requires a deep understanding of client communication. Delve into our guide on writing better marketing emails to learn how tailored email campaigns can drive client engagement and business growth.

Don’t Work For Free Unless It’s A Charity Or You’re Helping Someone Out

You should never work for free, except in special circumstances. There are only a few reasons to work for free:

You’re helping a friend or family member who has no other options. In this case, consider giving them some of your skills and time in exchange for their assistance in getting the project off the ground. 

This is how I helped my brother start his own graphic design company I did all of his graphic design work (and still do) for him on nights and weekends because he needed help getting started. 

Now we both have successful businesses that wouldn’t have been possible without each other’s support!

It’s charity work. If you’re volunteering at an organization like Habitat For Humanity or a soup kitchen and they need help doing some sort of design project, then go ahead and offer your services as long as it doesn’t interfere with your paying clients’ needs first. 

But don’t expect any money out of this deal either way because there are plenty more people who can do these jobs than there are jobs available!

Cultivate Referrals From Clients Who Love Your Work

When you finish a project for a client, ask them for a testimonial. If they’re happy with your work, they will be more than willing to help you out by giving you positive feedback and recommendations. 

Word of mouth marketing is one of the best ways to grow your business and when it comes from people who have experience working with you directly, it’s even better!

Ask existing clients for referrals. You can do this at any time during or after the relationship; however, you mustn’t ask too early or too late to avoid seeming pushy or desperate (or both). 

A good rule of thumb is asking once every six months after completing an assignment together don’t wait so long that their memory has faded away completely but also don’t bombard them before they’ve had time to reflect on their experience with your services as not only unprofessional but impersonal as well.

Keep That Passion Alive With Things That Motivate You To Continue Freelancing.

There are a million reasons why you should be passionate about what you do, but passion is the most important. If you don’t love what you’re doing and want to do it no matter what, then there is no way that freelancing will work for you.

So how do we keep our passion alive? The answer isn’t easy: just keep working on projects that inspire your creativity and make you feel excited about life (and hopefully money too). The more time goes by without having a project or two in the works, the harder it becomes to find inspiration again.

If this sounds like an overwhelming task right now, try setting some goals for yourself that can help keep things fresh along the way. Here are some ideas:

Read About Other Designers’ Work Online 

Go out more often (for example at least once every week) with other designers who have similar interests as yours; meet them at networking events!

Also, try having lunch with someone who inspires them but has never done freelance before; this could be helpful because they’ll probably ask questions that could give insight into areas where maybe aren’t doing something right yet! It’s okay though because everyone makes mistakes sometimes – especially when starting new jobs!”

Use A Contract For Every Single Project You Take On. No Exceptions

Use a contract for every single project you take on. No exceptions. The contract should include:

  • The terms of the agreement (what you’re providing and what the client is paying for)
  • The scope of the project, including what kind of work will be included as well as deadlines for completion and payment

Payment terms the client may not be able to pay upfront, so make sure you set up some sort of payment schedule in case they can’t pay everything at once. This also gives you an idea of when they might expect to see certain pieces or parts completed so that they aren’t waiting forever while you finish something else first.

To excel as a freelance graphic designer, it’s important to price your services appropriately. Discover valuable insights on determining your worth with our article on how much should you charge and ensure that your skills are fairly compensated in the market.

Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew When It Comes To Projects

The most important thing a freelancer can do is find the right balance between clients, projects, and time. It’s good to be able to say no without guilt when appropriate.

It’s not worth it to take on too much work. As a freelancer, you need to focus on doing your best on the work you have instead of trying to take on as many projects as possible to build your reputation yourself or get more clients. 

You will not become better at designing if you are overworked by taking on too many projects. Instead of focusing on adding as many gigs as possible to grow your portfolio and business, think about how much time each project will take and whether it’s worth dedicating all that time before saying yes or no.”

Make certain you have a crisis procedure in place. You don’t have to follow up with it, but it needs to exist anyway. That way, if something bad happens, you can handle it the best way possible without making things worse.

If you want to get on top and stay there, you need a crisis procedure in place.

You don’t have to follow up with it, but it needs to exist anyway. That way, if something bad happens and something bad is going to happen at some point you can handle it the best way possible without making things worse.

Here’s an example of what could go into your crisis procedure:

  • How do I handle clients who stiff me?
  • Who do I call if my laptop crashes and I’m not able to work? (Have phone numbers for IT support.)
  • What should I do if the police come knocking at my door asking about someone from an old job?*

Find A Way To Work From Anywhere, Not Just From Home

If you have to work from home or are just starting, I highly recommend finding a way to work from anywhere. Having the option to leave your house and get some new scenery will do wonders for your productivity; it also helps prevent cabin fever when you’ve been staring at the same four walls for too long.

You don’t necessarily need office space (although they are nice), but there are plenty of other places that can be used as makeshift offices: cafes or coffee shops, coworking spaces (if you can afford them), libraries, and even public parks!

Freelancing Can Be Fun As Long As You Know How To Do It Right!

Working from home is a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it means that you have limitless access to your computer, which can be liberating. But it also means that you’re stuck in abject isolation for 8-12 hours at a time with nothing to do but stare at your screen and play with your cat’s whiskers.

If you’re thinking about working from home as a freelancer, be sure to get outside once in a while! Get some fresh air and see what the world has to offer maybe even go somewhere new. 

You might find yourself inspired by something unexpected a beautiful tree or flower blooming on the side of the road could spark an idea for that client’s logo design project!


As a freelancer, you’re always learning. The world of design is constantly changing, so it’s important to keep up with trends and techniques. It’s also important to have a good speaking voice that conveys your passion for the craft of graphic design.

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources you might find helpful for expanding your knowledge in the field of freelance graphic design:

Dribbble’s Freelance Graphic Design Resources: Access a variety of articles, tutorials, and insights to enhance your freelance graphic design career.

Becoming a Graphic Design Freelancer: Explore this guide to gain valuable tips on becoming a successful graphic design freelancer, including building a portfolio and finding clients.

Graphic Designer’s Guide to Growing Your Freelance Business: Learn strategies for growing your freelance graphic design business with this comprehensive guide that covers aspects like managing finances and expanding your client base.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few FAQs (frequently asked questions) to help you get started.

How Much Money Do I Need To Start A Freelance Business?

The first thing to consider is how much money you have saved up, or can afford to invest in your business. The investment must be enough that it will last through the first year while you are getting clients and finding your feet as a freelancer.

Do I Need A License To Start My Own Freelance Business?

Yes, this depends on where you live in the world, but generally speaking, it would be best if you have some kind of certification or license before starting as an independent contractor. 

This may be something like having completed an apprenticeship program before becoming licensed as an architect or engineer etc., or even just having some experience working for someone else who holds those credentials themselves

Why Freelance?

Freelancing is a great way to earn money, build your brand, and have more free time. However, it’s not for everyone. If you’re looking for stability, a steady paycheck, and benefits that come with a regular job, freelancing may not be the best option for you. 

Freeling is also not for those who don’t like to work independently; freelancers are responsible for finding clients and completing projects on their own.

What Are The Top Skills Needed As A Freelance Graphic Designer?

To succeed as a graphic designer in any capacity (whether it’s print or web design), these five things are essential:

If you’re a freelance designer, chances are that you’ve been asked these questions before. In case you haven’t, or if it’s been a while since they were asked and you need to brush up on your answers, here’s a quick guide to some of the most common queries:

Where Do I Start?

There are three things to consider when starting. First, decide what kind of work you want to do (graphic design or illustration). Then choose which type of client will suit your skills and experience local businesses may be easier for new designers than national clients in larger cities like New York City or San Francisco. 

Finally, set up an online presence so potential clients can find you! This could mean creating an Instagram account for your illustrations as well as setting up an Etsy shop where buyers can purchase prints from their favorite pieces (or even request custom ones).

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