How to become a successful freelance designer we’ll talk about how to find your first client how to get paid and how to make great money as a freelance designer.
Where freelancers come to level up their business and today we’re breaking down exactly how you can become a successful freelance designer you don’t have to have years of schooling and you don’t need tons of expensive equipment all you need is some talent some hustle and this quick guide to becoming a successful freelance designer.
Six simple steps to becoming a freelance graphic designer as you follow these steps you’ll be well on your way to building a freelance design business and getting paid to do the kind of work.
1. Find Your First Client
As a designer, it can be tempting to focus on lots of other elements of your freelance design career your business name your company logo, or even which software you’ll use to do design work but literally none of this matters as much as finding your first design client because without clients you don’t make any money and without money your business.
On getting your first clients to get started here are just a few simple ways to find your first design clients
- Search freelance job sites like Upwork flex jobs or dribble jobs you can also use a service like solid gigs to automate your job hunting process.
- Personal network by notifying your colleague’s friends and families and former clients that you’re available for work there’s no need to be pushy here just making people aware often sends a few leads your way.
- Begin cold emailing and cold calling to establish a small base of new clients this method takes tons of time and energy but it will pay off if you stick to it long enough after you’ve got a couple of clients willing to work with you.
2. Brand Yourself and Name Your Business
Many freelancers debate whether to use your own name or a separate business name here’s our quick answer to that question if you plan to work solo for most of your career go with your own personal name as your brand if you want to hire and scale your freelance business consider going with a broader name most importantly remember you can always change this later don’t let yourself get hung up on these kinds of decisions.
3. Focus On Your Portfolio
As a designer, you’ll be tempted to spend a lot of time making your portfolio perfect instead take our advice and build a minimum viable portfolio is exactly what it sounds like a simple basic but high converting portfolio that you can set up in a week or less remember you can always go back and update upgrade or completely change your portfolio the key here is to get something online fast so you can use it to bring in more business here are just a few tips for building a powerful portfolio include just a few of your very best projects you don’t need a never-ending thumbnail gallery of past projects pick three to five of your favorite previous projects and feature them well in your portfolio make it easy for your potential clients to contact you your portfolio is not a place to show off your work it’s a place to convert potential clients into paying clients so make it really simple and easy to contact you from any page of your portfolio focus on clients, not yourself when building your portfolio it can be easy to talk mostly about yourself instead focus on your past clients and the results.
4. Over Deliver For Your First Clients
As you work with your first few client projects take the time to over-deliver and really do a fantastic job this will pay off in spades because freelance designers who over-deliver get more repeat design work and get more client referrals if you want your freelance design business to stay in business for a long time you’ve got to over-deliver for your clients especially early on a few ideas include delivering projects ahead of schedule adding bonus deliverables at no extra cost and over-communicating during the project.
5. How to Invoice and Collect Payments
Getting paid as a freelancer sets you apart from hobbyists who do design work just for the fun of it to learn how to best get paid for your freelance work.
here are just a few things you’ll want to learn early on how to write and send a contract how to draft and send an invoice how to collect credit card payments online what to do when a client doesn’t pay you can also consider using tools such as hectic bonsai or FreshBooks which will allow you to manage many of this billing and invoicing tasks all in one place.
6. Bring In Referrals As Often As Possible
Studies show that word-of-mouth marketing also called referrals account for five times more sales than paid media in fact in an article from Harvard business review freelancers making over 100 000 per year reported that 84 of their work came from word-of-mouth marketing but getting lots of referrals doesn’t come easy or automatically you’ll have to work for them start by asking for referrals from existing clients every time you have a positive interaction with a client remind them that you love to support their colleagues or friends by offering design services to them as well each time you over-deliver on the project ask for a referral every time you complete a project with a client ask for a referral.