How to Become a Freelance Graphic Designer


How to Become a Freelance Graphic Designer

If you’ve always had a passion for art, illustration, and other forms of graphic design, then you really do have a marketable skill. Whether you’re looking for a little side gig to earn you fun money through college or are hoping to make a full-time career out of graphic design, you can do it. There are so many businesses and entrepreneurs out there in need of a talented creative mind with the artistic skills that they are lacking.

Our guide on how to become a freelance graphic designer will offer everything you need to know to get started turning your passion into a paycheck.

Who Needs Freelance Graphic Design Services?

Before we get too deep into it, you need to understand that there really is demand for graphic design. It’s always been a need, and it always will be. So if any naysayers are telling you to get a real job, just point them to this list of people who regularly pay for graphic art.

Small Business Owners. More than 600,000 businesses launch every year. Do you think that every plumber, roofer, restaurant owner, and retailer has the artistic skill they need to make a good first impression? Probably not. They’ll need a professional who knows what they’re doing for logos, business cards, pamphlets, brochures, and more.

Web Masters. If you think there are a lot of business start ups who need your skills, wait till you hear the stats on websites. Almost 400 new websites are created every minute. By the time you finish reading this post, that means more than a thousand new websites will have been born. And plenty of them will need someone to design images, banners, and other graphics.

Marketers. Graphic designers are called upon for just about every form of visual marketing you can think of. There are about 341,000 billboards dotting the United States, and you can bet a lot of them had a professional designer behind the scenes. Vehicle wraps, posters, packaging, mailers, and branding materials are similar graphics that marketers employ on a regular basis that require an artistic eye.

Step 1: Skill Up

Learning how to become a freelance graphic designer obviously starts with being awesome at what you do. Whether you are self-taught or formally trained, what matters most to your clients is delivering high quality work consistently.

For this reason, you need to take an honest assessment of your skills and fill in what’s missing. The wider your skill set, the more marketable you are going to be to clients. For example, if a business owner hires you to design a logo, they may later look to you for help with an infographic or marketing mailer. You want to be in a position where you can say “Yes!” rather than “Let me train myself first”.

At the same time, you don’t have to know how to do everything. As a freelancer, you get to pick and choose your clients and the jobs you’ll take on. So if you really aren’t keen on learning how to design a car wrap, that’s perfectly A-OK.

This list isn’t exhaustive, but here are some skill areas to consider developing:

  • Logos
  • Image editing
  • Book and ebook covers
  • 3D modeling
  • T-shirts
  • Website banners
  • Social media images
  • Illustrations
  • Graphs and charts
  • Infographics

Step 2: Build a Portfolio

Building a portfolio is essential for anyone who is learning how to become a freelance graphic designer, perhaps more so than in any other industry. Images, logos, colors, and design are a big part of a company’s branding, so clients will want to make sure that your style matches what they are looking for.

Depending on where you’re selling your services, you have a lot of options for how to showcase your portfolio. Most online freelance marketplaces like Legiit allow you to attach images or files to your services. You can also put together a simple website using WordPress, Weebly, or Wix. What’s more important than what you use to build your portfolio, of course, is what you put in it.

Your portfolio should show off not just the different deliverables your can produce (logos, t-shirt designs, social media graphics, etc.), but also your range of different styles. Just because your preferred esthetic is light and flowery doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also showcase your work that has a heavier tone to it. The wider the range of styles you can design in, the more clients you are likely to attract.

Step 3: Find Clients

Obviously, if you are trying to learn how to become a freelance graphic designer, you need to know how to acquire clients. Here are several proven methods of finding freelance design work to land the customers who need your skills.

Use Your Network

The easiest way to start is with the friends and family you already know. In-person and on social media, let your circle know that you are offering graphic design services.

“But no one I know needs a graphic designer!”  you’re probably saying. That’s fine. But odds are that someone  they know does need your services.

Trust us. You aren’t going to have to go down too many levels of separation before you find someone in your network who is starting a small business or launching a website.

Reach Out to Potential Clients

You might be a stellar graphic designer, but you won’t make it far as a freelancer unless you also learn to be a good salesperson. Part of that involves reaching out to potential clients.

It’s not for everyone, but good old-fashioned cold outreach is a solid way to build your customer base. Your would-be clients are likely getting inundated with emails every day, so consider finding a way to stand out from the competition.

Walk-in marketing, phone calls, and snail mail are less common in creative industries like graphic design, so they can help you make an impression.  You can also start with the local businesses that you frequent already. Maybe your car mechanic has pretty outdated business cards. You could offer to come up for something fresh for them.

Once you’ve landed a successful client or two, word will begin to spread and you’ll get more and more referrals.

Join a Freelance Marketplace

One of the simplest ways to start getting clients is to join one of the many online freelance marketplaces out there. Legiit is frequented by thousands of business owners, entrepreneurs, and marketers every month. And plenty of them will need graphic design services for themselves or their clients. Anything from logos to e-book covers.

Legiit is a secure platform that connects trusted graphic designers like you to the people who need your expertise. And, since a large portion of our users are managing web sites for multiple clients, there is plenty of opportunity to build long term relationships and repeat business opportunities.

Create an account on Legiit today and get your freelance graphic design career started the right way.

About the Author


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My name's Ish--college English professor by day, interstellar copywriter by night.

The written word is my one true love (don't tell my wife!). I've been a writer at heart since as early as I can remember, I've been teaching writing for nearly a decade, and I've been content manager of a blog for the college that I teach at for about five years. What's more, I was the lead writer and editor for a table top roleplaying game that raised more than $100,000 on Kickstarter (just Google "Open Legend RPG" and you'll see what I'm talking about).

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