The Art of Freelance Design in 2020 and Beyond

The Art of Freelance Design in 2020 and Beyond

Freelancing is far from being a new thing in the business universe, but the remote work market is not the same as it used to be only a few years ago. 

Today, the number of freelancers in the US alone reaches almost 60 million, but the global figure is much higher than that. 

Graphic designers embraced freelancing and quickly turned it into a valuable source of income. Design has become a big deal in the Internet era and professionals in this field can expect to earn $30 per hour on average.

But how exactly is freelancing in 2020 going to look? You will have to compete with top-level professionals from all over the world, so do you know how to prepare for it and impress potential clients?

It’s a complex topic, but we are here to give you a clear overview of the art of freelance design in 2020. Let’s check it out!

Crucial changes in the freelance design market

Work With A Freelancer

Freelancing is influencing entire industries and forcing people and organisations all over the globe to think and behave differently. 

There are lots of new things going on out there, but we need to highlight five features that strongly impact the freelance design world as well. 

1 – Corporations rely on freelancers 

Only a few years ago, freelance design work used to be limited to online platforms like Upwork and exclusive deals between clients and remote employees. 

The situation changed lately, and now you can see many corporations using the services of freelance employees. 

Some reports even claim that over 30% of Fortune 500 companies are relying on Upwork when searching for new employees. 

2 – Specialised platforms for every niche

Top 10 Freelance Sites

We all know that major online platforms attract thousands of graphic designers worldwide, but now we can witness the rise of specialised freelancing networks. 

That way, freelancers in almost every niche can count on websites that gather premium clients and high-end projects. 

In terms of graphic design, such platforms include the likes of Upwork, Awesome Web, and Freelancer. 

3 – Freelancing is getting more competitive

Another thing you need to know is that freelancing is getting increasingly professional. 

Once upon a time, experienced graphic designers could count on easy recruiting procedures because the competition was not so severe. 

Jake Gardner, a headhunter at the Australian essay writing service, says things have changed recently as more and more talents turn to gigs as the primary source of income: 

“It means that getting a job is not that simple anymore, especially if you don’t have a strong portfolio and enough experience.” 

4 – Mobile is quintessential

Do you know that more than five billion people have mobile devices? 

Smartphones are the most significant trend of all, and you need to keep that in mind if hoping to kickstart a freelancing career in 2020. 

The point is to focus on mobile-responsive design and learn how to use tools that can make you a more skilled professional smartphone design-wise. 

5 – Soft skills matter

Being a super-creative professional is not enough anymore. 

On the contrary, graphic designers need to develop a robust set of soft skills because it’s the only way to communicate their ideas clearly and concisely. 

In other words, freelancers who don’t know how to explain their ideas are not likely to win over new clients in 2020 and beyond.

How to reach out to potential employers

Client Understands

Now that the freelance design market is changing, we get to see that other aspects of the business are changing simultaneously. 

That includes the way graphic designers (and all other freelancers for that matter) need to approach potential clients. Generally speaking, we can identify three highly specific trends here:

1 – The importance of specialisation

The days of all-around players are long gone. 

Today, a graphic designer has to specialise in earning new projects. 

You can’t just go out there and say something like: “I’m a freelance graphic designer.” 

Such a tactic does not work anymore because there are thousands of people doing the same job. 

Instead, you need to focus on a specific segment and distinguish yourself from less agile peers. 

For example, you could specialise in visual identity design, motion graphic design, or art and illustrations. It’s the only way to stand out from the crowd of competitors. 

This is precisely why Upwork, the largest freelancing platform, added a section called “Specialised Profiles” to the dashboard. 

They know how important it is for a freelancer to display specific sets of skills, so they give diligent professionals the chance to showcase different talents separately.

2 – Show your work, don’t describe it

This one is not the latest business trend, but lots of freelancers still don’t realise that employers want them to show their portfolio/work instead of describing it. 

When you present the ideas and quantify the results of your previous projects, you prove that you can deliver products that are both beautiful and functional. 

3 – Give them something to remember you by

Creative Resume Design

Another way to impress recruiters is to give them something to remember you by. What does it mean? 

It means telling a story about your career that can make you different and memorable. 

For instance, you can say that you left a very safe corporate position because you believe in having the knowledge and skills needed for a successful freelancing career. 

Such a story sounds great because it proves that you are a talented, hard-working, and self-confident designer who is not afraid to face challenges in life and work.

Keep an eye on graphic design trends

Another thing you have to be aware of is that graphic design is going through changes as well. 

While some clients prefer evergreen design techniques, the majority of employers are willing to experiment with new trends and alternatives. 

This topic requires a post of its own, but we can briefly mention some of the most notable design trends you should follow in 2020.

3D compositions

As graphic design tools are getting increasingly powerful, more and more brands are eager to play with 3D effects and create realistic layouts. 

Of course, there is always the possibility of combining 3D effects with traditional 2D elements. 

Shiny metals

This trend does not apply to all brands and projects, but it does appear in so many graphic design works lately. 

Shiny metal elements, gold, in particular, are an excellent solution if you want to emphasise the prestige and exclusivity of a brand. 

Alternative fonts

Every graphic designer knows that serif, sans serif, and similar fonts are widely accepted and popular among all sorts of clients worldwide. 

However, the new trend is to feel free to play with alternative typography and create lines of text using many different fonts. 

It makes the product more versatile and colourful, thus helping brands to leave a stronger impression on the target audience.

Bignord Vintage Fonts For 2019

Line art

Animations have always been a big deal in graphic design, but now you can walk the extra mile and turn it into the line art composition. 

It can be defined as a simplified version of illustrations that you can use to present complex concepts more clearly and directly.

Combinations of drawings and photos

You can probably figure out already that 2020 is all about reinventing traditional graphic design styles and patterns. 

In such circumstances, it’s not surprising to learn that many designers now tend to combine drawings and photos. 

It creates a notion of the real-world environment augmented with simple sketches, a feature that can make the product very interesting if executed properly. 

Don’t forget geometric design

Although it may seem outdated and straightforward, geometric design is intricate and trendy among clients. 

This is precisely what makes the geometric design so powerful – it brings a notion of sophisticated simplicity, which is what the audience loves about it.

Primary graphic design tools to use in 2020

Adobe Creative Cloud Tools

If you want to be a super-productive freelance designer in 2020, you need to use the state of the art tools. 

The platform you choose depends on the peculiarities of your project and style of work, but we can recommend you the top 10 ultimate tools for graphic designers to improve workflow. The list includes the following programs:

– Procreate

– Clip Studio Paint

– Ron’s Brushes

Adobe Creative Cloud tools

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Illustrator

– Astute Phantasm for Adobe Illustrator

MacBook Pro with touch bars and touch ID

– Pad Pro + Apple Pencil


Freelance design work sounds so easy – you get to search for job announcements online, showcase your portfolio to potential employers, and complete the projects assigned by new clients. 

But in reality, the story is much more complicated.

The world of freelancing is continually evolving and forces you to figure out the changes happening in and around the graphic design market. 

In this post, we discussed how the art of freelance design is going to look like in 2020. You could learn the following details: 

  • Crucial changes in the freelance design market
  • How to reach out to potential employers
  • Primary graphic design tools to use in 2020

What do you think about the future of freelancing in graphic design? 

Have you noticed any other trends that could impact the business in 2020? 

Share your ideas in comments – we would love to see it!

Author Bio: John Trogdon is a web designer and a blogger at John specialises in writing about design, but he is no stranger to other subjects such as self-branding and personal development. John is the father of two lovely kids and a passionate long-distance runner.

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