Design For Chummies: How To Become A Freelance Graphic Designer

You’ve got the talent; now you’re ready to start taking on clients as a freelance graphic designer. But how do you get started? What should your website look like? What’s the right way to communicate with clients? How do you find work and manage projects? 

The good news is that there are answers to all these questions and more. So grab your sketchbook, pull out your pencils, and let’s get designing!

How To Start Your Freelance Graphic Design Career – YouTube
Starting a freelance graphic design career requires building a strong portfolio.
Developing proficiency in design software is crucial for creating high-quality work.
Effective communication skills are essential when working with clients and understanding their needs.
Networking within the industry can lead to valuable opportunities and collaborations.
Continuous learning and staying updated with design trends contribute to professional growth.
Managing time and setting priorities are vital for meeting deadlines and maintaining work-life balance.
Pricing your services appropriately involves considering your skills, experience, and market demand.
Taking calculated risks and stepping out of your comfort zone can lead to new opportunities.
Building a personal brand and online presence helps in attracting clients and showcasing your work.
Embracing challenges and learning from failures is a part of the journey towards becoming a successful freelance graphic designer.

Step 1: Learn The Basics Of Graphic Design

Learning the basics of graphic design will help you become a better designer.

Study design! Learn the principles of design, color theory, and typography.

Understand how important it is to know your tools. Learn how to use Photoshop, Illustrator, or Indesign (or whatever tool you prefer). Understand vector graphics vs raster graphics and how they affect your designs or printed material. 

The more knowledge about your tools the better! It’s like having a superpower that makes you work faster and better!

Know how important client relationships are in the creative industry. They are everything! A good relationship with your clients means less stress on both ends it helps them trust you and gives them confidence in what they’re paying for from day one; which ultimately benefits both parties involved in this equation called “the perfect project.” 

If there is anything else we learned from our years working as freelancers? It’s that communication between clients and designers goes hand-in-hand with successful projects.”

Building a successful design business might seem daunting, especially if you’re new to the field. However, don’t worry – our article on how to hire a freelance designer when you have zero clue will provide you with essential insights and tips to navigate this process effectively.

Step 2: Determine What Makes You Stand Out As A Graphic Designer

To become a graphic designer, you must first determine your niche. What sets you apart from other graphic designers? Are you more creative or analytical than your peers? Do you have the ability to solve problems creatively? Once you’ve determined this, it will be easier for clients to find and hire you.

When choosing which skillsets are most important for a freelance graphic designer, there are three main areas on which they should focus:

  • Artistic ability
  • Communication skills
  • Organization

Step 3: Find Your Target Market

The third step in the design for the chummiest process is to find your target market. There are two parts to this: identifying who you want to reach and developing a strategy for how to reach them.

You can identify your target market by asking yourself, “Who do I want to work with?” Your answer will usually involve thinking about what kind of projects you want to take on and which clients would be the best fit for your skillset, personality, and interests. 

Some people may want a more established clientele while others may prefer working with new or start-up businesses. Once you’ve identified your ideal project type(s), it’s time to research!

When researching potential clients, pay attention not only to their business goals but also their demographic info as well: age range, gender balance within leadership positions, etc., so that when pitching yourself as a freelance graphic designer who specializes in designing custom logos for technology startups focused on area 51 aliens that have been living among us. 

Since the 1950s (okay maybe we’re getting carried away here) but regardless! 

It’ll help you understand where these people hang out online so that when it comes time for contacting them later on down this road it won’t feel so foreign because at least then we know where our audience lives (and breathes).

Step 4: Create An Online Profile

Once you’re ready, it’s time to get your work out there. You need a portfolio website that showcases your best work. 

There are many ways to do this, but the most common is through a blog-like website where you post images of your designs and provide some background information about them (you do know how to write, don’t you? If not, take some time now to learn).

To help prospective clients understand exactly what kind of designer you are, it helps if your portfolio includes examples of work in different styles. 

Try to include as much variety as possible: logos and icons for companies; branding materials for charities; advertisements for local businesses; editorial graphics in magazines or newspapers; and social media graphics on Twitter or Facebook pages.

Making the decision to pursue a freelance design career isn’t always easy, but it can lead to fulfilling opportunities. Learn about my personal journey and how I decided to become a freelance designer to gain valuable insights and inspiration.

Step 5: Develop Relationships With Other Artists And Clients

While you’re building your portfolio, you should be networking with other artists in your industry. You can find them on social media like LinkedIn or Twitter, and you might also have mutual connections that you can use to introduce yourself to them. 

Once you’ve made contact with someone, send them a message explaining why they should hire you for their next project. If they don’t respond right away (or at all), keep trying until they do!

When it comes time to start pitching jobs, make sure that your client knows how much experience and skill sets are behind the work that’s about to be done for them. 

You want them to feel confident about hiring someone so new; telling them about the relevant experience from previous jobs makes that easier for both parties involved: the client gets a good product in return for their money while also supporting up-and-coming designers who need this sort of work experience in order get better at what they do.”

Step 6: Bringing It All Together To Keep A Steady Stream Of Clients

Create A Website, Social Media Page, And Portfolio.

To attract clients, you’ll need to make sure that potential customers can find you on the web. If you don’t already have a site where people can reach out with inquiries, create one today. 

Make it look professional but do not be afraid to include fun elements as well (like a photo of your dog or cat). Also, make sure that all of your equipment is listed here as well: computers and software used for design work are tools that many customers will appreciate learning about before hiring you for their projects.

Are you worried about the risks associated with becoming a freelance graphic designer? Fear not – our comprehensive guide on how to become a freelance graphic designer without taking on any risk will help you navigate the world of freelancing with confidence.

Create A Consistent Posting Schedule And Newsletter.

A blog or newsletter is another great way to attract new clients while also keeping them interested in what’s going on in your life as a designer…and let’s face it if we’re going to pay someone thousands of dollars for their services, we want them happy! 

A blog or newsletter allows us both ways: You can showcase any recent projects while also giving people an idea of what kind of personality they’re getting when they hire someone like yourself.”

Making informed decisions based on marketing research is a skill every freelance graphic designer should possess. Check out our guide on how to make a good decision using marketing research to learn how to leverage data and insights for your design projects.

Creating A Successful Freelance Career In Graphic Design Takes Time, But If You’re Willing To Put In The Effort, You Can Do It

I’m going to be completely honest with you, becoming a freelance designer takes time. There’s no way around it. Some people have been doing this for years and are still struggling, so don’t think that just because you’ve made some good work and put together a portfolio you will suddenly become rich overnight. 

You’ll get clients, but those clients may or may not stick around for long depending on how well you do your job and how much effort you put into it.

Don’t get discouraged though! Every client is another step closer to finding yourself working with awesome companies doing great things (and getting paid for it). 

The first few clients I got were from friends who recommended me to their other friends and before I knew it there were two or three more waiting in line behind them; all of whom were willing to pay me more than what they would’ve had if they had gone through someone else which shows how valuable referrals can be when trying to make money as a freelancer!

Whether these referrals come from personal connections or friends of yours who know other potential customers or even strangers if your luck holds out it doesn’t matter where they come from as long as they do come through eventually 🙂

As a budding freelance graphic designer, understanding the basics of marketing research is crucial to your success. Dive into our insightful article on a beginner’s guide to marketing research to discover how research can elevate your design career.


Now that you’ve learned these steps on how to become a freelance graphic designer, you should be ready to put some of your new skills into practice. 

If you’re still not sure where to start or what kind of gigs are out there good news: we’ve got You can try our search bar below or browse all of our open positions at And when you’re ready, sign up and apply for your first gig!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources that you might find helpful for becoming a freelance graphic designer:

Rock Content: How to Become a Freelance Graphic Designer: A comprehensive guide with practical tips on starting your journey as a freelance graphic designer.

LinkedIn Article: How to Become a Successful Freelance Graphic Designer: Zeeshan Ahmed shares insights and strategies for achieving success in the freelance graphic design industry.

BrainStation Career Guide: How to Become a Graphic Designer: Explore this career guide to learn about the skills, education, and steps required to pursue a career as a graphic designer.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Graphic Design?

Graphic design is the process of visual communication and problem-solving through the use of typography, photography and illustration. Graphic designers are responsible for creating images that communicate a message or idea effectively to an audience. 

The term “graphic designer” may refer to either an individual who designs graphics or an entire team involved in graphic design.

What Does A Graphic Designer Do?

A graphic designer creates layouts for printed materials such as brochures, posters, and advertisements for companies or organizations; websites; logos; illustrations; photographs; television commercials; billboards (outdoor advertising). 

They also work on brand identity programs for companies which include logo design, stationary systems, packaging systems etc… These could be simple drawings from scratch with pencil/crayon or digitally created images using Illustrator software etc…

What About The Importance Of Networking?

Networking is an often-overlooked aspect of being a freelance graphic designer, but it’s critical. In fact, I’d say it’s more important than your skills (although those are pretty important too). If you don’t know any designers personally, try reaching out to other entrepreneurs online and offering your services for free. 

This way, you can start building relationships with people who could become clients or help introduce you to potential clients.

How Do I Find My Target Market?

Every business has a target audience a group of people who will benefit most from what they offer. Before jumping into a new project, think about who would be interested in using your design services and why they might choose you over someone else who offers similar services (i.e., cheaper or better). 

You may need some help on this one; reach out to some friends who know their way around social media marketing and advertising strategies; they’ll be able to give valuable insight into identifying the kinds of people who would be interested in hiring graphic designers like yourself!

How Do I Work With Clients?

The best way to work with clients is by having a good relationship with them. You should be able to talk about their business, what they want and how you can help them achieve those goals. If you have this type of relationship, it will make your job easier when working on projects together because they will trust your work more.

How Do I Calculate My Rates?

Your rate depends on the time spent working on each project, what services they’re asking for, how many revisions they require and if there are any complications during the process (like graphic design templates).

What If I’ve Never Done This Before?

That’s okay! Just start small by doing personal projects or working with friends who need some help in their businesses until you get more experience under your belt. 

Once things start rolling along smoothly from there then feel free to expand further into other areas like freelancing full-time or advertising design gigs online through sites like Fiverr or Upwork.

The best way to learn graphics design is simply through practice – so go out there and do it! There’s no better way than trial-and-error until something clicks inside of our brains which means we’ll be able to create great-looking designs without even thinking about how hard it was beforehand.

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