How I Created My Freelance Graphic Design Business

You’re reading this because you want to know how I went from being a freelance graphic designer to running a successful business. In this guide, I will share with you tips that helped me get there.

The steps are based on my personal experience as well as conversations with other freelancers and entrepreneurs like me.

How to Start a Freelance Graphic Design Business – YouTube
1. Building a successful freelance graphic design business requires careful planning and strategic decision-making.
2. Creating a strong portfolio showcasing your skills and style is essential to attract clients.
3. Networking and building relationships within the industry can lead to valuable opportunities.
4. Balancing creativity and business skills is crucial for sustainable growth as a freelance designer.
5. Learning from the experiences and insights of successful freelance designers can provide valuable guidance.

1. Get Started With Your Friends And Family

It’s okay to start small. It’s also okay to start with friends and family.

Instead of charging your grandma $100 an hour, you could do something like design a logo for her business for free! If she likes it, she might pay you in cookies or cash.

You could also offer your skills as a consultant: “Hey there Mrs. Smith! I noticed that you have an old website that looks like it was made in 1997 by me as a sixth-grader at summer camp using Notepad on Windows 95. 

Email me back if interested in someone who knows what they are doing building you a new one (I am not currently taking any freelance clients but I think we can work something out).”

It doesn’t matter if you feel like an expert or not; just get started by taking on jobs from friends, family members, and acquaintances before branching out further into the world at large looking for paying clients.

Building a successful career as a freelance graphic designer requires careful planning and strategic steps. Learn how to take control of your path with our guide on Becoming a Freelance Graphic Designer in 10 Steps and set yourself up for creative freedom and financial success.

2. Go Through Every Job Listing You Can Find

It’s critical to go through every job listing you can find. You never know when you might stumble across that perfect client. And remember, it takes time and patience to build up your freelance design business.

Here are some examples of good job postings:

  • Company name
  • Company location
  • The type of work you want the designer for (branding, print materials, etc.)
  • Details about what skills and experience the designer should have (for example, if they need an illustrator or photo retoucher)

3. Create A Website Where People Can See Your Work

One of the most important things you can do when starting out is to create a website where people can see your work. Your website is your portfolio, and it’s also your calling card. It’s how clients will find out about you and what they’ll use to decide whether or not they want to hire you.

If a potential client finds your website, this makes him more likely to hire you the more attractive and professional-looking the site is, the better! Once you’ve created a great site with all of your best work on display, remember that it needs regular updates so that it doesn’t look dated or stale over time.

Starting a design career can be both exciting and challenging. Gain valuable insights from established designers in our article, The Secrets to Starting a Design Career: Tips from Top Designers, as they share their experiences and advice to help you navigate the industry.

4. Create A List Of Clients You Want To Work For

Once you have created your portfolio, it’s time to start marketing yourself. The best way to do this is by contacting companies that are in line with your expertise and brand. This can be done through cold outreach or by applying for jobs on established freelance sites such as Upwork, Freelancer, and Peopleperhour.

The first step is building a list of companies you want to work for and finding out more about them by reading their blogs and social media channels, subscribing to their newsletters, and checking out their competitors’ websites too (you never know where they might advertise). 

You should also consider getting in touch with industry associations who represent the kind of businesses that excite you most they’re often happy to point freelancers who are just starting out in the right direction if they’ve got any spare capacity on their project rosters!

Once I’d compiled my initial wishlist, I spent some time researching each one individually: checking out their website design style and tone; looking at what type of content they publish; 

Monitoring how many people follow them on social media, etc., learning not only about what makes each individual business unique but also general trends within my target market area (I was based near Oxford at this stage).

5. Make Yourself Known On Social Media

Social media is one of the best ways to market yourself and your business, so it’s important that you make yourself known on social media. When you post your work on social media, people will be able to see what you do and look at your portfolio. This is a great way for potential clients to get in touch with you or even just get an idea of what kind of work you produce.

You can also join groups on Facebook where designers share their designs and ask for feedback from other designers. Another way is joining a community like DesignCrowd where there are lots of graphic designers within one community sharing ideas, tips & tricks, and inspiration with each other all the time!

Using hashtags when posting things online can help increase traffic to your page which will allow more people to see who they are following which means they might click through onto someone’s website instead! #graphicdesigner

Don’t let misconceptions hold you back from exploring opportunities in the design agency world. Discover the truth behind common myths with our breakdown of the Top 15 Misconceptions About Working for a Design Agency and make informed decisions about your career path.

6. Respond To Everyone Who Contacts You

If someone emails or messages you, don’t sit on it for days or weeks. Respond promptly and professionally, even if their inquiry isn’t something that fits in with your business. 

You never know when an opportunity can come from an unexpected source, and it may be beneficial for everyone involved if the person feels like they can still rely on you even though there will be no collaboration between the two of you.

Everyone has bad days, but try not to let those moods affect how quickly or thoroughly you respond to other people who contact you through email or social media forums like Twitter or Facebook Messenger (or whatever other form of communication they choose). 

Be friendly while remaining professional at all times; this will help keep both parties happy with each other throughout the process of working together on projects as well as after they’re finished!

7. Visit Every Online Job Board Every Day

As a graphic designer, you’re going to be looking for clients almost every day. There are many different online job boards that can help you find new projects. Here are some of my favorites:


This is the best place to get paid design work done by paying designers. You pay a small fee and then bid on the job with other designers competing against each other until one person wins the project. It’s not exactly free but it’s completely worth it if you want something really great done!


While this site doesn’t have as many jobs listed as others do, it does have a wide variety of creative professionals who use this site regularly. You’ll need an account before browsing their listings so make sure you create one first before checking out what’s posted here!

Design Crowd 

Like 99designs but instead uses crowdsourcing instead of bidding wars between designers like in 99designs’ case where only one person gets paid per project (but there might be several additional contributors depending on how much money the client was willing to spend).

Elevate your freelance graphic design career with our comprehensive guide on The Ultimate Guide to Freelance Graphic Design Clients’ Success. Learn how to attract and retain clients, deliver exceptional work, and create lasting relationships that lead to a thriving design business.

8. Sign Up For Every Remote Design Job Notification Email List In Existence

Sign up for every remote design job notification email list in existence. There are many sites that allow you to set up an account and enter your email address, so they can keep you informed when new jobs are posted.


  • Find remote jobs

You can sign up at the bottom of their homepage. Just enter your name, email address, and a password—and then hit subscribe! You will start receiving emails daily (or weekly) with links to remote work opportunities around the web.

  • Remote OK

Signing up is easy on this site; just click on ‘Subscribe’ and fill out your details as prompted by the form that appears next (make sure you check off everything important so nothing falls through the cracks). After that’s done, go ahead and take advantage of all those awesome opportunities!

9. Don’t Limit Yourself To Only Looking At Job Boards

It’s never too early to start building your portfolio, so don’t limit yourself to only looking at job boards. You can find many jobs on, and you can sign up as a freelancer on,, or (be careful though there are scam sites out there). These sites are all great places to look for freelance work!

10. Don’t Be Afraid To Apply For Crappier Jobs At First Either!

Don’t be afraid to apply for the crappier jobs at first either! If you’re starting out and don’t know exactly what your rate should be yet, it’s better to have some money coming in while you are still learning than to have nothing. Also, the crappy projects can give you a great opportunity to learn.

One of my biggest pet peeves about freelancing is when people try and charge too much for their work. It might seem like an easy way to make more money, but it actually ends up costing more because companies will not hire an overpriced designer, so if you want those companies as clients then take this into consideration.

Also, remember that everyone negotiates their rates with each client – even established agencies negotiate them with big brands – so don’t feel bad about asking for a higher rate or paying less if they won’t agree on something else (such as more hours).

11. Build Up An Emergency Fund Before Quitting Your Full-Time Job

Your first month of freelance work will be the most challenging. You still need money coming in, but now it’s all on you to make it happen. 

To help ease the transition, save up a small emergency fund before quitting your job roughly enough to cover two weeks of expenses at your current salary level (you can use an online savings calculator like this one to help determine how much you’ll need).

Once you’ve built up that emergency fund and are earning a steady income from clients, start contributing more money toward retirement accounts (if applicable) and saving for big purchases such as new furniture or appliances. 

Once those things are taken care of and there’s no longer any reason for your bank account to dip below its goal balance, begin saving toward goals like vacations or moving cross-country, or whatever else might be in store for you!

12. Don’t Burn Bridges When Leaving Your Full-Time Job

Try to maintain good relations with your past employers. When you’re leaving a full-time job, it can be tempting to burn bridges by being rude or negative about the experience. 

But despite how much you might not want to work for them anymore, keep in mind that these people still have important connections in your field and may come back into your life again someday. You never know when a referral from an old boss could lead to an amazing opportunity!

As much as possible, keep things professional when telling people about your career change (former coworkers included). It doesn’t matter if their company screwed up or not—there are plenty of other companies out there who will appreciate your talents more than they did!

13. Figure Out How Much You Need To Make And Set Your Prices Accordingly

Another important factor is to figure out how much you need to make each month and set your prices accordingly. Your goal should be to charge enough money so that your business can cover its expenses, but not so much that it becomes difficult for people to justify hiring you over someone else.

If this is the first time you’ve had a freelance design business, consider lowering the price of your services at first in order to get some clients on board. Once you have enough experience under your belt and know what kind of projects pay well (or, rather, which ones don’t), then feel free to raise those rates!

As a general rule of thumb: if they can afford it and they want quality work done quickly and professionally…then go ahead!

Embrace the learning curve of your first year as a freelance graphic designer with insights from those who’ve been there. Our article, 12 Things I Learned as a Freelance Graphic Designer in My First Year, offers valuable lessons and practical advice to help you navigate challenges and build a strong foundation for your career.

14. Set Aside Time Each Week To Create A New Network Connection

To stay on top of your game, set aside time each week to create a new network connection, send a follow-up email, or touch base with old contacts.

You can also use automation tools like Rapportive or Salesforce to add people you contact on LinkedIn to an email list and send them periodic newsletters.

A great example of this is InVision’s Design Newsletter: it’s an excellent way for designers and developers to keep in touch with each other and be up-to-date on industry news.

15. Do The Math! Decide How Many Hours A Week You Want To Work

Now that you know how much it costs to run your business, it’s time to do the math! Decide how many hours a week you want to work and how many clients it will take for you to reach that goal and then find those clients!

Once I had my breakdown of what it would cost me each month, I was able to figure out which projects I needed in order for me to get there.


In this article, you have learned how to start a freelance graphic design business. You have learned that it is not as difficult as you may think and can be done in less than a month. I hope you enjoyed reading this article and if it helped you in any way, please feel free to share it with your friends or family.

I also want to thank my wife for all her support during the writing of this blog post and throughout the process of starting my own freelance design business!

Further Reading

How to Become a Graphic Design Freelancer Learn the essential steps to transition from a graphic design student to a successful freelancer. Gain insights into building your portfolio, finding clients, and setting your rates.

How to Start a Freelance Graphic Design Business Discover practical tips and strategies for launching your own freelance graphic design business. From branding to marketing, this guide covers the key aspects of getting started.

Freelance Designing: A Guide from Dribbble Dribbble offers insights into freelance designing, including how to find clients, manage projects, and balance your creative work with the business side of freelancing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you know the basics of how to create your freelance graphic design business, here are some answers to common questions:

How Can I Find Clients?

A good way to start is with personal connections and social media. Look for people who need help with their businesses and ask if they would like your help. You can also try posting on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter about what you do as a freelancer.

What Is The Best Way To Charge Clients?

The most important thing is that whatever price structure you set up will be fair for both yourself and the client. If a client pays more than they need to because they need your services quickly or because they think they have no other option, it won’t work out well in the long run. 

The best thing would be if all parties involved were happy with their arrangement! There are many ways in which this could happen: for example; you might offer an introductory rate for new customers who haven’t worked with you before (so long as these introductory rates aren’t too low), or perhaps there are discounts available based on volume/usage, etc., 

But ultimately though there should always be flexibility built into any agreement so that both sides feel comfortable signing off on things when appropriate across different scenarios from small one-off projects through full development cycles spanning months at least,”

How Should I Charge My Clients?

This is a very common question and it’s always a good idea to discuss your rates with the client before starting work. Some people prefer to keep their pricing structure simple, while others will have multiple tiers of service or different prices for small businesses versus large corporations. Whatever works best for you and your clients is what you should go with!

You can also add up the hours that would be spent on a project (or create a rough estimate) and put together an hourly rate based on that number, but be sure that this rate includes all the time necessary for working on the project including research, brainstorming, design work, revisions and communication with clients. 

If you don’t include these costs in your quote then this could end up costing both sides more money down the line!

You might have some questions about the article and how to get started. I’ve answered the most common ones below, but if you have more, feel free to reach out via the Contact page on my website or leave a comment below.

How Did You Come Up With The Name For Your Business? Why Was It Important That It Be Easy To Remember?

I wanted a name that would stand out in a crowd but also be memorable, so I decided on using my first initial and last name as the main parts of my brand name. 

Since they were both simple words (and letters), I thought that would make it easier for people who heard of me to remember who I was and what type of work I did if they saw my logo somewhere else online or in print–which turned out to be true after all!

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