How to Become a Freelance Graphic Designer

How to Become a Freelance Graphic Designer

How to Become a Freelance Graphic Designer

Although every young designer starts their journey from the same place, taking suggestions from the veterans in the industry goes a long way in treading the first few steps.

From there on, you have to write your own story.

There are a lot of young creative minds trying to set their feet in the freelancing graphic design business.

However, in a market that is already at saturated levels, it is not easy to leave a solid mark.

The right skills, expertise, intelligent moves, and of course the spark of luck is what is required to reach your goal.

What is a freelance graphic designer?

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A freelance graphic designer is a creative professional who produces a design using visuals, acting as their own boss when dealing with clients.

Their job is to assemble images, graphics and typography creatively, using technology, tools and computer software.

These graphics visually communicate ideas and information to the consumers/clients.

The projects taken by graphic designers usually include developing company logos, company letterheads, brochures, postcards, greeting cards, invites and more.

They are also engaged in creating pages for social media like Facebook, Google+, web advertisements, web pages and application pages for companies, and any related on-screen design.

What makes a successful freelance designer?

Here are a few tips that will help you in establishing your career as a freelance graphic designer:

Get professionally qualified

freelance graphic designer

Though creativity is a natural flair, technical education is a must in any field. There are some steps one has to go through before starting as a freelance designer.

Get a formal education – Undergo a formal training in the field of graphic design, web design, or visual communication.

  • A college degree or an associate degree would be helpful in knowing the fundamentals in this area. Design software like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are requisites for any independent graphic designer to learn and master. This can be accompanied by new tools and application knowledge as a supplement.
  • If a college or a diploma course does not seem feasible on financial grounds, do your own self-study using textbooks and the vast sea of knowledge on the internet. Some great options for self-learning are Treehouse,, SkillShare, Kelby One, Creative Live and more.

Specialise into a Design Niche

Types Of Designers

The arena and scope of graphic design websites are vast, and therefore, it is better to specialise into a particular stream.

Secondly, with the market being flooded with designers of this niche, specialisation could give you the edge in the competition. For example, some young professionals could opt for web design, multimedia, print, animation, and advertising.

Weigh all the pros and cons before taking the plunge into your field of specialisation.

Keep reading and learning

Even after the completion of any formal training, keep reading about the new design tools and applications that launch.

It gives an insight into the industry changes, makes you more confident and gives clients a better impression if you are updated with the latest innovations in the design field.

Keep practising to improve your expertise.

graphic designer

Stay updated with tools and technology

The recommended tools for application by freelance designers’ are:

  • Adobe creative cloud programs – These include Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Muse, and InDesign
  • A reliable operating system – Use a good platform where designs can be made, applications can be downloaded and design programs can be run efficiently.
  • Pantone Colour Matching System – The colour schemes of this system are incredible and they should be used to keep the colours consistent.
  • A notepad and pen – This should be accompanying the designer everywhere he goes. Rough sketches and points can be noted to use for ideation later.
  • Tablet – Though optional, this device comes handy when on the move or when quick illustrations have to be made.

Start small

Millennial Freelancer Tools

As a newbie, it is best advised to start with lower means, keeping a low profile.

One can easily start from home to save costs and look into the various avenues of freelancing sites.

Investments should be made step by step once the revenues start flowing.

In this process of starting small will help you discover your talent and then you can specialise in working in that stream.

Grab any graphic designer job, however small, that comes your way, as it is your next step to the level ahead to becoming one of the famous graphic designers!

Market yourself well

Graphic Design Portfolio Template

Make an attractive graphic designer portfolio of your work, highlighting your strengths and achievements.

Since it is the designing world, it should be strong enough to grab attention.

Also, try expertise in one field. It could be postcard developing or business cards or any other field you enjoy working in.

Try and create a niche, so that when a company is looking for someone to design business cards, it is only you that come to the mind.

So basically – Leave an impact.

At this stage, one has to put the best foot forward and try and deliver better than the client’s expectations and much before the deadline.

This will leave the customer impressed and happy and would recommend your work to other organisations in future looking to find a freelance graphic designer.

Dare to dream

It is not the most qualified, that are the most successful in the field. Knowledge is necessary but how to employ it, and how creatively you can design is what makes the best stand out.

Do not be afraid to take risks, challenging projects and nail gritting deadlines.

Deliver good work and charge for it.

Be confident in yourself and let it radiate in your personality and work.

Who knows, after a few years, your story might shape the future of other young designers.

graphic designer

Stay updated

This is a highly vital point in this competitive and constantly challenging scenario where technology is being ‘developed’ and ‘dumped’ every minute.

You have to be aware of the advances and developments in the design arena.

Listen to people, be alert, sign up on the social networks, meet the peers in the industry, read design journals, and make a note of any interesting design you spot at any public place.

You can use your creativity on it later.

In conclusion, the freelance design market is a hard niche to crack.

It requires significant dedication, skill and business/marketing intelligence to make a name for yourself, and build enough credibility to earn a comfortable income.

The results are worth it, though, working from home in your pyjamas is only part of the dream!

Freelance Graphic Designer
  • Sharon says:

    Hi, I am thinking of changing careers from a science background to graphic design. At the moment it is an interest as I see almost all graphic design is based around the Adobe suite and it is shockingly expensive in the long term. Is there an effective way of gaining the skills and practicing them without using Adobe?

    • Stuart says:

      Hi Sharon – honestly, there are other tools out there that can do a similar job, but if you want to get hired by a studio, I think it would be expected to have a core knowledge.

      I guess you could start with some tutorials or online courses on the Adobe suite, or alternatively, sign up for a month of a paid plan and really push yourself to learn as much as you can in 30 days.

      Hope that helps.

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