Earning a living as a Freelance Graphic Designer


To some, the term “freelancer” can conjure a negative stereotype. The thought of dealing with a graphic designer virtually whose credentials are unknown is a turn off to some employers. Faced with a big project and tight deadline, few clients will turn to a faceless entity for the job. On the other hand, computers and the Internet have made it much easier for anyone to become a freelancer. Doing some things the right way will help a freelancer earn a good living and help to sway the hiring official’s initial doubts.

For the employer, there are disadvantages to hiring a freelancer. The person works off site and self-promotes by listing talents and past work. But the advantages often outweigh the bad. The employer does not have to pay benefits, supply equipment or pay for overhead that includes office space. The hard part for the freelancer is getting work and earning a reputation for excellence.


Some graphic designers branch out on their own to form a company and bring current clients with them. Or the firm agrees to the idea of allowing the artist to “leave” and become a freelancer while continuing to provide them work. This is a win-win scenario for just about everyone. However, it is not common.

No matter how you found yourself in the role of a freelancer, don’t panic. There is a lot of work out there but you need to learn to market yourself. One very good way to get work is from networking. If you haven’t already done so, get a free account on LinkedIn.com. The social media tool is primarily used by professionals to meet and “link up” with companies and individuals in various career fields. Find friends, relatives, past clients, anyone who can both verify your credentials as a graphic designer and link to them.

Next, search for and join groups in your career field. This includes desktop publishing, printers, other freelancers, computer graphic artists; any that pertain to the work you are capable of performing.

Go On Line

The next most important step is to sell your talents. Great way is to create and design a Website. Use your name or a company name if you created one as the URL. Make it simple if you can. Potential clients can remember a simple name much easier than one with several words or hard to spell names. Many services exist to purchase a domain name for a small yearly fee. Use the site to showcase your graphic design skills.

Don’t simply post your resume. Break it up into logical pieces for the Website. For example, take your desktop publishing credentials and write the services you offer in a paragraph. Add PDFs of past work. Do the same for all other skills, each one with a special page. Add a contact page with email and phone numbers. And, answer any queries as soon as possible.

You have created a static page so to keep it fresh, add a blog. Write about the industry, tips for graphic artists and any other topics pertaining to the field.

Join other social media sites by creating Facebook and Twitter accounts to use solely for your freelance career. Link the blog postings here, ‘like’ and ‘follow’ other graphic designers and design companies and share their content too.

Get Work

Search for jobs on freelance Websites. Many are out there and are free. Some charge a fee to join. But ask others in your LinkedIn groups for recommendations and start with those. Fill out the on line applications and start applying for work.

Start small and take as many jobs as you can handle. Try to turn in the work ahead of schedule and establish a reputation for high quality work.

Got Work

Now that you have a job, don’t make promises you can’t keep. If the client needs the assignment in a time frame you can’t deliver, be honest and say you can’t deliver a quality product in that timeframe. But think long and hard first. There is a lot of competition out there and the client may very well just move to the next graphic designer. If it means staying up all night, then do it.

As time goes by, your reputation and networking chain will grow, allowing more flexibility in the projects you take and the fees you can charge. Stick with it in the early stages and a successful career can follow.

Author Bio

Mary Parker is a graphic designer and writer at artworkabode. Her favorite blogs subjects are Graphic Design and illustration.  She loves sharing her knowledge with others.


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