How I Became A Freelance Designer And Earn $15K After College In Six Months

 Hi, I’m Willem.

I’m a freelance designer and developer who makes $15K+ per month at my part-time job, working from home. I started freelancing after graduating from college in late 2016 and have been doing so ever since. In this post, I’ll share with you how I became a freelance designer (and later on, a developer) and why I decided to go down this path.

How to Make Money as a Freelance Graphic Designer
1. Successfully transitioned to freelance design post-college.
2. Achieved earnings of $15k within six months of starting.
3. Detailed insights into the journey from college to freelancing.
4. Strategies employed to establish a successful freelance career.
5. Valuable lessons learned for aspiring freelance designers.

1. Stop Procrastinating

You need to stop procrastinating and start doing the things you need to do to be successful. You might be thinking, “I can’t possibly get a job right now! I have no experience. I don’t know what kind of designer I want to be yet!” 

But remember: your goal is to become financially independent as quickly as possible, so that means starting now. The sooner you start, the more time and money you can save in the long run because you won’t have as much debt or student loans hanging around your neck like an albatross (and trust me they stick around forever). 

If there’s something that’s stopping you from taking action right now (i.e., fear), then this post will help address those fears head-on so that we can get down into business mode together!

Discover how to venture into the world of freelance design with confidence and without any unnecessary risks. Explore our guide on Becoming a Freelance Graphic Designer without Taking on Any Risk to pave your way towards success.

2. Start Building Your Own Graphic Design Portfolio

To start building your portfolio, you’ll need to come up with several different projects that show off your skills. You can create a variety of different types of projects for your portfolio and use them as examples:

  • Design a flyer for an event or party at school
  • Create a logo for a friend’s business
  • Use Adobe Illustrator or InDesign to design a magazine cover, newsletter, or poster

You can also choose to showcase some of the smaller things that might not seem like much but are still important:

How well do you understand typography? Can you use it correctly in both print and digital formats? Do you know how to format images correctly? These are all important aspects of graphic design that will help clients see how well-rounded and talented you are as an aspiring designer.

3. Use Social Media To Build Your Graphic Design Brand

Social media is a great way to build your brand and network with other designers. It’s one of the most effective ways to get your name out there, so don’t be afraid to spend time on this platform.

I recommend using Instagram as the best source of engagement for graphic design freelancers since it has more than 1 billion users. Insta-famous people like Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) have built their personal brands through sharing valuable content with their audience in many different formats: post photos, videos, GIFs, or even live video streams (think Periscope). 

You can also use Twitter or Facebook if you prefer another social channel but make sure that you keep up with them regularly!

Embarking on a freelance design career is a decision that requires careful thought. Learn about the experiences and insights that led to the choice of becoming a freelance designer in our article on How I Decided to Become a Freelance Designer.

4. Build A Website To Showcase Your Graphic Design Portfolio And Skills

You may have already built a website to showcase your portfolio, or perhaps you’ve considered doing so (or maybe even started). You should definitely take the time to build one if you haven’t already! 

A website is an excellent way for clients to get an idea of what kind of work you do, what your style is like, and how professional you are as an individual. It also allows them to see samples of your previous work more easily than if they had only seen it on LinkedIn or another social media platform.

The first step in building a great personal website is deciding what exactly will be included on the site itself. This part can be tricky because there are many different ways in which people choose their designs: some will opt for minimalism while others prefer a lot going on; 

Some prefer having lots of text while others prefer using icons instead; etcetera…this list goes on! I personally went for something similar to UXPin’s “personality” page (pictured below) with lots going on but not too much text – just enough so that viewers know exactly how experienced I am without overwhelming them (this was after all my first freelance job).

5. Create A Social Media Graphics Design Portfolio On Behance And Dribble

After you’ve created some designs, you’ll need to build your portfolio. Since there are so many platforms out there, I recommend starting with Behance and Dribble. These websites allow you to post your work and connect with others in the industry.

You’ll also want to use these sites as an opportunity to highlight your best work as well as connect with people who can help get additional exposure for what you’re doing on a regular basis. If someone likes something that they see from you on these platforms, chances are they will want to follow up with more of what they loved in the first place!

6. Start Networking With Like-Minded People

It’s important to find a community of like-minded people. You may be tempted to keep your freelance design business to yourself, but that’s not the best way to grow your skills and establish a marketable brand.

Here are some ways you can meet others in the industry:

  • Use social media and online forums to connect with other designers. You can also follow designers on Twitter or Instagram, who often post about design events and workshops they attend.
  • Attend events where fellow designers hang out, such as meetups or conferences. There are many on Eventbrite that target freelancers specifically!
  • Join design communities like Dribbble, Behance, and Skillshare where artists interact with each other daily (and sometimes even help each other out).

Hiring a freelance designer can be a daunting task, especially if you’re new to the process. Navigate through the uncertainties and make informed decisions by checking out our tips on How to Hire a Freelance Designer When You Have Zero Clue.

7. Go Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Look For Potential Clients

The truth is that you don’t just sit around waiting for clients to come to you. You should be proactive and find potential clients yourself. This can be very difficult at first but as time goes on, it gets easier and more natural!

When I first started freelancing, I spent a lot of time researching other designers and companies that were similar to the type of work I wanted to do. I found out their names, their websites, social media accounts, etc., 

Then reached out to them with an email explaining who I was and what kind of work they could expect when working with me (because remember: your portfolio should ALWAYS reflect the quality of work you are going to produce).

I didn’t hear back from all these people but one person did reach out after seeing my website and asking how much it would cost for him/her/them/etc.

8. Don’t Take Every Project, But Stay Positive About Rejections

Don’t take every project: When you start freelancing, it’s tempting to take every job that comes your way. This is a bad idea. You need to be selective about who you work for and what projects you take on in order to succeed as a designer. 

Every client wants something different from their design; some clients want logos, others want websites and some are just looking for help with social media graphics or ads.

Stay positive about rejections: When someone rejects your designs or requests changes that don’t seem possible based on the brief provided by them, try not to get too down about it; remember instead that there are many other potential clients out there waiting for your services! 

Remember also that rejection is part of life it doesn’t mean anything negative at all unless we let it affect us negatively!

Unlock the secrets to achieving success as a freelance graphic designer by following our comprehensive guide: The Ultimate Guide to Freelance Graphic Design Clients’ Success. Learn how to build strong relationships with clients and create a thriving design business.

9. Don’t Give Up! Remember, It Takes Time! Keep Learning, And Keep Designing!

The most important thing to remember is that it takes time. It took me over a year of freelancing full-time before I reached $15K per month in income, and I’m still learning every day. 

If you’re new to the game, don’t be discouraged if things don’t happen exactly as quickly as you had hoped. But do keep at it, because there are ways for you to get started even when money isn’t rolling in yet!

The more time you spend on learning design and honing your craft, the better your results will be and this will help drive clients toward choosing to work with you instead of someone else who might offer cheaper rates but doesn’t have nearly as much experience or expertise as they could with their project. 

This can also increase traffic to your portfolio website and social media channels (which helps build up word-of-mouth referrals), which can then lead down another path towards building up future business leads into something more long-term like repeat customers or larger projects worth thousands each time they come around again later down the line!

Freelance design is an industry that is growing rapidly. In 2017, there were over 3 million designers in the U.S. alone and according to Upwork’s State of Freelancing Report for 2018, 55% of those freelancers work part-time on their own terms. 

That means that almost half of all designers today are not working in traditional positions as employees for companies but rather doing work on their own terms with flexible hours and schedules that allow them to live life without compromising their happiness or passion for creating things!

Are you new to the world of marketing research? Get started with our comprehensive guide: A Beginner’s Guide to Marketing Research. Learn the essential concepts and strategies to gather valuable insights for your projects.


I hope that this article has inspired you to take a leap of faith and start your own freelance business.

If you enjoyed the article and want more, leave me a comment below! If you have any questions about my experience as a freelancer, feel free to ask them below 

Further Reading

How a High School Grad Became a Top-Rated Freelancer in 6 Months

Discover the inspiring journey of a high school graduate who achieved freelancing success in just six months.

Top 5 Skills for Students to Make Real Money

Explore the top skills that students can develop to start making money while studying.

How to Become a Graphic Design Freelancer

Learn the steps and tips for becoming a successful graphic design freelancer and building a thriving career.

And here’s the “FAQs” section based on the semantic of the titles:


How Can a High School Graduate Become a Top-Rated Freelancer?

Becoming a top-rated freelancer as a high school graduate requires a combination of determination, skill development, and strategic networking. By focusing on honing your talents and providing exceptional value to clients, you can establish a strong reputation in the freelancing world.

What Are the Top Skills Students Need to Make Real Money?

To start making real money while studying, students can develop skills such as web design, digital marketing, content creation, programming, and social media management. These skills are in demand and can open up various freelancing opportunities.

What Steps Should I Follow to Become a Graphic Design Freelancer?

To become a successful graphic design freelancer, you need to start by building a strong portfolio, acquiring relevant skills, and understanding the market. Networking, consistently delivering quality work, and staying updated with design trends are essential aspects of establishing yourself in the field.

How Can I Turn My Design Passion into a Freelance Career?

Turning your design passion into a freelance career involves steps like refining your skills, building a portfolio, setting competitive pricing, and marketing your services effectively. Passion combined with professionalism can pave the way for a rewarding freelance journey.

What Are the Key Factors to Consider When Starting a Freelance Design Business?

When starting a freelance design business, factors like target audience identification, niche selection, branding, legal considerations, and effective client communication play a crucial role. Understanding these elements can contribute to the success and sustainability of your business.

How Much Do Freelance Graphic Designers Make?

This is a difficult question to answer because it depends on the type of work you do and the experience you have. It’s also dependent on where you live and what your living expenses are. You might be able to make as much as $90K per year as a successful freelancer but most graphic designers who work full time will earn between $30K-$60K annually. 

How much money you earn will depend on how many hours you work, what kind of job opportunities come up for designers in your area, and whether or not there are any tax breaks available for artists (like those offered by Artisan).

How Do I Become A Freelance Designer?

This is probably the easiest part: just start working! It doesn’t matter if it’s for free or with payment; pick up some new skills and get started! 

If someone hires you then great – go ahead and take that job! But if nobody does hire from scratch then keep looking until someone does hire…or until one day when no one needs anything did anymore…which means they’ve decided not to use their website anymore.”

Do You Need A Website To Be A Freelance Designer?

No, not necessarily. While having a website is advantageous, it’s not required in order to get clients and make money as a designer. A lot of my clients come from referrals and word-of-mouth. 

And when I do post jobs on online job boards like DesignCrowd or Fiverr, I usually get people messaging me through email instead of just going straight to my site (and this was before I had one). 

So while having your own site makes things easier and increases your chances of getting hired by new clients who don’t know who you are yet (or even if they do), an active social media presence with good reviews over time can also help attract new business without the need for such an outlet yourself.

Do You Need Experience In Order To Become A Freelance Designer?

No! In fact, some would say that not having any experience is actually beneficial because it gives you more room for growth and improvement (which will eventually lead to better-paying clients). 

The only thing that really matters here is whether or not someone likes what they see when looking at your portfolio – which means everything from how well put together it is visually speaking (like layout/design) all the way down to whether or not screenshots look good enough quality-wise where potential employers won’t hesitate hiring them based solely off those factors alone.”

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