freelance designer

Ultimate guide: How to be a Successful Freelance Designer

Want to become a successful freelance designer? Here’s everything you need to know!

In today’s world, a lot of people are taking to be a freelancer. Be it any field, and freelancing is available everywhere. It is quite good to work as a freelancer in the industry or niche of your choice. Being a freelancer is not an easy job, but it can be exciting and fruitful if you are passionate about what you are doing.

What is freelancing?

When you work as a freelancer, it has its own perks over a full-time job in some company. Though having a full-time job gives you a kind of security and means a fixed income source, working as a freelancer also has its advantages. One of the best things about freelancing is that you are your own boss.

As a freelancer, you can select projects according to your choices and preferences. You can work as per your own will. Not just this, you also have the freedom to decide your work schedule.

What does a freelance designer do?

freelance graphic designer
Image by Alltechbuzz/ Pixabay


One of the most popular fields to be a freelancer in is graphic designing. A lot of people take to graphic designing nowadays. Especially there’s a big craze for graphic designing among youngsters in the present time.

A graphic designer or freelance designer is one who assembles images or motion graphics to create a piece of design. It can be said that they are visual communicators who create visual concepts by hands or computer software.

There are a lot of people nowadays who choose to become freelance designers. If you are a freelance designer, you can create graphics for printed, published, or electronic media such as brochures and advertisements. Being a freelance designer gives you a lot of freedom.

If you are also an aspiring freelance designer, you need to take the right measures to be a successful freelance designer. If you haven’t gone to school or college to learn graphic design, you can enroll in graphic design courses. There are many institutes offering courses in graphic designing for those interested in the field.

How to be successful as a freelance designer?

1. Make yourself a brand

freelance designer
Image by Nick Adams/ Unsplash 


No matter whether it’s a full-time business or freelancing, all of them need a name. When you plan to be a freelance designer, one of the most significant steps you must take is thinking about how you will be deciding a brand name for yourself.

As a freelance designer, you have to decide everything for yourself as no one else is there to help in your work. Making yourself a brand or deciding a brand name is supposed to be done at the beginning of your career as a freelance designer.

In every business, especially in freelancing, word of mouth is one of the important factors that determine your success as it is one of the primary ways you get clients and projects. But, there should be a brand name for you as a freelancer to make people or clients suggest you or refer more clients towards you.

An important question that all freelancers have to consider is whether to use their own name as their brand name or decide on a separate name for their brand or company. Well, it all depends upon what you are planning for the future.

If you plan to be a freelance designer and have a one-person business, then it’s a good idea to use your own name as the brand name. But, if you are planning to grow your freelance business into a business of many people, then decide on a separate brand name.

2. Look for clients

Freelance Designer
Image by Fauxels/ Pexels


If you really want to be successful as a freelance designer, you need projects and clients. It is only when you have clients and work to do that you will stay in the industry. When you are just starting your career as a freelance designer, the most important thing that you need to do is to find your first clients.

Are you thinking about why it is necessary to find clients? Well, you can’t call it a business until you have clients. And, not having clients means you are not a freelance designer. Just giving your freelance business a name and building a portfolio won’t make you a freelance designer. You need clients to be a successful freelance designer.

When you get your first clients as a freelance designer, it boosts your confidence. It gives you momentum and encouragement to do your work as a freelance designer with all your heart.

There are various ways for a freelancer designer to find clients:

A) Freelance job sites


There are a lot of websites online from where you can find clients for your freelance business. You have to look for clients in your niche. Some of the websites where you can find clients are Upwork, FreeUp, and TopTal.

B) Through personal network:

Whether you are already working as a freelance designer or you are just a student, you must have a personal network related to your niche. You can look for clients among the people in your personal network. Those people can even introduce you to your potential clients.

3. Build a portfolio

freelance designer
Image by Kerde Severin/ Unsplash


Whether it’s a full-time job or freelancing, the portfolio is an important factor that affects the possibilities of you getting the job or clients. A portfolio is like a mirror of your personality, as it tells about all your experiences and skills.

Many freelance designers in the market are yet to find clients and work just because they haven’t finished their portfolios. If you don’t want to suffer like them, build a portfolio that highlights all your best works to prompt the clients to hire you.

Whenever you plan to buy something, the first thing you consider is the qualities of that product. If the product is of good quality, only then it prompts you to buy it. The same is the case with clients. They will hire you only when they find you appropriate and able to handle the project.

4. Treat your clients well


When working as a freelance designer, your work doesn’t get over after you get clients. In fact, that’s where your actual work begins, as those clients will stay loyal to you only when you will treat and serve them well.

Whether you have found your clients through websites or personal networks, you must complete the projects assigned to you efficiently. If you serve your clients well, only then will they be happy with you, and the client’s happiness is the key to become a successful freelance designer.

Treating and serving your clients well has many pros:

Getting more work– When you work well on your projects, there’ a great chance that the client will hire you again for other projects. More project means more work and more money, and hence your success as a freelance designer.

Referrals– When a client gets impressed by your work, he would not only give you more projects himself, he would also refer you to other clients. When other people in their circle need a freelance designer, they’d suggest your name to them, which is a great way to find new clients and success.

5. Market Yourself

When you start working as a freelance designer, one of the most important steps to find work and be successful is to market yourself. To find work and clients, you first need to reach them, and advertising and marketing is the primary way to do that.

Freelance designer
Image by Mikael Blomkvist/ Pexels

There are a lot many ways to market yourself as a freelance designer:

Creating a website– In this internet-friendly world, having an online presence is significant, as it helps a lot. All the businesses and freelancers have their websites where the clients and customers can better know their work.

Blogging– If you want to attract more clients as a freelance designer, start blogging. It’s a good way to market your brand as you can describe it in your own words. When your clients will read your blogs about your brand or work and find it fascinating, they’ll surely hire you.


Social media marketing– Social media is a powerful medium in the present world. Almost everyone has a profile on various social media platforms nowadays.

Not just for entertainment, social media can prove to be quite useful when it comes to working. If you have a presence on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn, you will reach more people and find more clients.

Asking for referrals- Don’t just wait for your existing clients to refer more clients to you. When you are a freelance designer, don’t feel shy and ask for referrals yourself. This way, you will increase the chances of you getting more work.

A few tips to get you started

1. Learn to manage invoices. paperwork, and proposals

When you become a freelance designer, your work is not just to complete the clients’ projects assigned to you. When you are a freelancer, it means you don’t have anyone else in your team, and you have to manage all your business on your own.

In a business where the company has various employees, the work is divided among people. But, when you are a freelancer, you have to do everything yourself. It would be best to learn how to write invoices, send proposals, and manage contracts.

It’s completely okay if you are not a pro at making invoices as there are many software available online that can help you with that. Some of the best software to create invoices are Freshbooks, QuickBooks, and Honeybook.

Freelance designer
Image by Gabrielle Henderson/ Unsplash

2. Don’t be too choosy in the beginning

If you are starting as a freelance designer, your primary goal must be to find as many clients as possible to get more work. While looking for clients, you should keep in mind that it is not too choosy in the beginning.

When you become too choosy about the kind of clients you want to work for, it decreases your chances of getting more work. When you become picky, you sometimes let good opportunities go and then regret eventually.

Remember that to be a successful freelance designer, and you need clients to boost your confidence and earn money. Your first clients are like your stepping stones, and if you keep turning them down because they don’t pay enough or for some other reason, your career will see a dip even before it starts.

When you are a newbie, you don’t have much experience to show to your clients, and no one will pay a first-year student as much as an experienced freelance designer. So, it’s obvious that people would pay you less at the beginning of your career as a freelance designer. When you don’t have testimonials to show, it’d be difficult for clients to hire you as it can prove to be risky for them.

3. Build a network

When you go to school or college, you make friends or network with your classmates. Similarly, when you start as a freelance designer, it’s necessary to get in touch with others in your industry or niche. Building a network with people is important for various reasons, and some of them are:

Meeting potential clients– As we discussed earlier, your personal network is a good place to look for clients. You never know who can be your potential client in your network or even introduce you to new clients.

Information about conferences– Attending conferences and workshops related to your niche is an excellent way to improve your industry knowledge. When you are in touch with people from the same niche, you get information regarding such conferences near you.

4. Collect payments on time

When working as a freelancer, you don’t have a finance team or accountant working for you who would inform you and keep records of your income. It’s all upon you to handle. As we already discussed, you are the one who’s going to manage the invoices and proposals, and payments.

Freelance designer
Image by Monstera/ Pexels

One thing to keep in mind when working as a freelance designer is that business is business, and asking for your payment is only a part of the profession. Never feel shy or awkward when asking for payment as you have earned it through hard work.

Softwares like Freshbooks doesn’t just help you to create invoices. It also collects payments and reminds people when their payments are due. It’s a part of your work to collect payments on time, and as a freelancer, you must do it.

So, are you working as a freelance designer? Are you a student aspiring to be a freelance designer, not knowing how to succeed in that field? Well, this guide will help you do all the things right. Make sure to follow all the above-mentioned steps to be a successful freelance designer.

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