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Freelancing is, for many, the ideal lifestyle. You get to choose your hours and clients, set your own rates, and pursue avenues that interest you. Thanks to the internet, setting up a freelance career in a creative industry is easier than it ever has been before.
Graphic design is one of the most in-demand industries. If you want to know how to become a freelance graphic designer but don’t know how to get started, there are a few things you should take into account. Here we’re going to look at some of the main things to consider when you embark on your freelance graphic designer career.
How to Become a Freelance Graphic Designer
Freelance graphic designers have never been in higher demand. Here’s how you can get your work on the market and build a freelance career for yourself.
Choose Your Niche
Graphic design encompasses a huge number of different disciplines. A classic graphic designer description often entailed preparing promotional materials like catalogs, leaflets, and print adverts. But the internet has opened up a huge world of different possibilities.
The need for professional graphic design for websites means that many freelancers are drawn to this area. But at the same time, there are many separate niches within the online industry – gaming, fashion, photography, journalism, or even the space industry and the latest Firefly launch. All these corners have their own separate motifs and needs.
By choosing one and focusing your attention on learning it inside out, you can position yourself as a professional with a particular set of graphic design skills. Focusing on a single area also makes networking far easier.
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Build Your Networks
No matter how talented they are, the hardest thing for any freelancer is building up the networks required to bring in a steady graphic designer salary. Finding customers is a challenge, but again, the internet is a great help here.
Social media and online forums are the ideal places to start tracking down potential customers. Once you’ve started making connections, it’s a good idea to stay in touch by phone or email, or even in person if possible.
As you build your network, you’ll find that positive referrals start to make up for a majority of your new and future customers. Mailers are a good way of maintaining visibility with previous customers, as is social media. And you shouldn’t only be building networks with customers. Agencies, as long as they are reliable, can be a great help in finding new customers.
It’s also a good idea to gain a detailed knowledge of your industry by following relevant blogs and websites. You can expand your network and learn more about your industry by staying on top of the latest developments and entering into conversations with fellow graphic designers.
Create a Solid Portfolio
When you’re starting, you’ll need a good online portfolio. Over time, you can add to it and display your success stories to future customers. But at the beginning, before you have a reliable customer base, there’s still plenty you can do to add to your graphic designer resume. This may involve a certain amount of free work for friends, family, and colleagues.
That said, it’s an investment in your future. Once you’ve got enough good work up, you’ll be able to start applying to agencies or contacting potential customers and showing them what you’re capable of. As you continue to grow, try and prioritize what goes into your graphic designer portfolio.
If you want to focus on gaming, for instance, any related work should be the first thing future customers see. And you don’t need to add every single job to your online portfolio. Some work may be simple bill-paying and could detract from a coherent online CV.
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Many of the best graphic designers out there are entirely self-taught. But at the same time, that doesn’t mean that you couldn’t benefit from additional courses and graphic designer education. What many freelance graphic designers may not initially be aware of is the fact that there’s more to graphic design than simple visuals.
Modern graphic design is intricately connected with the internet, drawing in aspects such as user experience and website design principles. These are often less to do with the aesthetics of your work and more to do with scientific evidence on how people react to certain things. It’s all stuff you could potentially learn yourself with time. But a good graphic designer course can quickly teach you the basics about these things, putting you in good stead when you start on your career.
Design Tools Are Essential
Any graphic designer probably has their own personal preferences when it comes to design tools. Programs like Photoshop and Illustrator are ubiquitous and can be relied on to handle a majority of design tasks. But at the same time, it’s worth your while ensuring that you’re familiar with a broad range of different tools and aware of their various strengths and weaknesses.
No two design suites are the same. By getting to grips with a number of different programs, you can broaden your range of skills, and consequently, the kinds of graphic designer jobs you’re willing to take from customers.
Develop Graphic Designer Skills through Personal Projects
Becoming a master of your profession requires constant learning and improvement. And while you’ll learn a huge amount through your paid work, you still need to be using your own time to develop your graphic design skills. Your own projects are a valuable space in which you can develop ideas, test techniques, and hone your craft.
Personal projects give you the freedom to experiment, as well as get familiar with the tools you need to do your job properly. They’ve also got the potential to develop into full-scale paid work if you show them to the right people.
Graphic design has never been in greater demand. Whether you want to work online or on more tangible projects, there’s a huge range of opportunities out there if you know how to make use of them. The above are some of the most important things any beginner should bear in mind when learning how to become a freelance graphic designer.
Want to learn more about freelancing? Take my free 7-lesson mini-course, Get on the Right Path to Freelancing right here.
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