The abundance of freelance graphic design jobs made available through the web is almost unfathomable, and talented designers who can take advantage of this fact stand to make a pretty good career for themselves. But because the business is so competitive, the talent element really is crucial, as are promotional skills and a willingness to work hard. If your dream is to be able to work as a graphic designer and not be tied down to a boring office job, here is what to do.
1. Get credentials: Although a wealth of talent can make up for a lack of degree, newcomers to the graphic design field tend to do much better if they have some sort of degree they can put onto their resumes. Of course, degrees from recognized institutions are best. And one should consider getting a degree not just because it helps get work, but it also provides useful skills that all freelance graphic designers can use.
If you don’t have a degree and don’t care to get one, you can make up for it with a strong portfolio, good work credentials, and a professional presentation of your services.
2. Build a portfolio: Freelance graphic designers live and die by their portfolios. If you don’t have a good one, you’re not going to get far. It’s important to keep in mind that your portfolio should contain nothing but your strongest work. If you feel you don’t have enough very strong pieces to make a convincing portfolio, take the time to make some new ones. Having subpar items in your portfolio is only going to hurt your job prospects.
3. Professionalize your office: Even if you don’t plan to be doing all your graphic design work in one place, it helps to have an office that can serve as your home base for your business. Here you should have all the necessary supplies a freelance graphic designer needs, and it should be a comfortable work space where you will be willing to spend long hours. It’s best if this space is devoted solely to your work. This will help keep you on task when those deadlines are approaching.
4. Build a website: This is where the difficult parts begin. As a graphic designer, you need to have a great website. Even if web design is not your skill, prospective clients are nevertheless going to judge you based on how your site looks. There’s just no way around it. So take the time to build a site that looks good, and if you can’t handle it yourself you might want to hire someone to give you a nice-looking site.
Once your site is up, make sure it contains all useful information about you that your clients may want or need to know. Include information about your work conditions, and consider putting up a basic outline of your prices. And of course, your portfolio should go here as well.
5. Get active online: Only after you have your portfolio and website ready to roll, start signing up for the major online services connecting freelancers to clients. Focus on two or three sites that look promising, and build professional-looking profiles. Then it is time to start bidding on jobs. This will be a challenge at first, and it may be a while before you land gigs consistently, but keep working at it and you will be rewarded for your persistence.