How to become a freelance graphic designer is what I will be writing about in this article and the up’s and down’s that come with a freelance career as a graphic designer.

In my first blog post I went through the story of how I became a Graphic Designer and the challenges I faced along the way. I promised that I would give a more in depth look on “How to Freelance” from my point of view.

Last Day as an Employee,
First day as a Freelance Graphic Designer.

November 27 2017 was the last day I worked as an employee for someone, looking back this is one of the best things that happened to me, because of all the freedom involved with being a freelancer, but at that point in time things weren’t so optimistic for me.

I started worrying whether I could make it on my own, without the help of an monthly income. At that time my portfolio wasn’t the strongest, I did not have a lot of loyal clients that would give me enough work so I can make it. Luckily I had some extra money saved and that allowed me to be financially secure for a fair amount of time, until I was going to make it. 

Handle the pressure of not having constant work

The first and most important thing you have to understand about being a freelancer — Your workflow will fluctuate so you have to deal with it, and be able to handle the pressure of not having client work. If you cannot do this and you want a more stable income, getting a job is the right and wise way to go. 

You can also do both, I know people who have worked at banks and then came home to a freelance career of working late nights so they can one day afford to quit their job and pursue their dreams. This is a very good way to do it, but a pro tip would be to have enough runway savings that will cover up for your essential spendings until you build your way up the freelance ladder.

Think ahead 1-2 years

By the time you quit your job or just decide to become a freelancer you should have a portfolio with works. This means you have to think ahead and anticipate where do you see yourself in the next years. As you work, you have to ask yourself:

— Am I comfortable working within a team and growing together? 

— Is a 9 to 5 job all that I’m capable of? 

— It must be great to be on your own, but can I deal with the periods when there is no work?

These questions aren’t made up just for the sake of posting, this is something I constantly thought about back in 2013 – 2015 when I was a fulltime employee. My goal was to become a freelancer that could deal with clients directly and take matters into his hands.

I am the Captain of my ship, 

I am the Master of my fate.

Prepare ahead for what is about to come

The point is you want to already have at least a mid looking portfolio when switching from a full time job to a freelance career. Ask your company if they are ok with you posting work that you are doing inhouse into your portfolio, this way you don’t have to work on self-initiated projects and it’s a win-win situation for both you and your future freelance career.

As you do this you will notice that your work will start to get attention and you will receive emails and inquiries. Some of them will come from people who really are in need of a solution to their problem and some of them might disappoint you because the message will be “I need logo”.

Try to notice which of the platforms you are uploading on, brings you the most exposure and focus on that one. In my case Behance and Dribbble work best. I’ve had some very good clients from Behance, who still give me work to these days. But for me personally Dribbble has been the best tool for client work and the most rewarding financially.

Some other great tools to get clients are of course — personal website (with good SEO) or content that will bring traffic to it. Youtube is also a great platform to post videos of you teaching people, however you might want to think about what kind of videos you would like to post, in order to appeal to a not to general audience.

So to Recap:

When switching from a fulltime job to a freelance career, make sure you:

 — Have enough runway capital to support you at least for the next 6-12 months

— Work on your portofolio before you quit your job (at least 1-2 years before that)

— Consistency is key when posting online your works 

 At the end I would like you to read a quote of a great designer and published author that I just love — David Airey. Let these words sink in and next time you think about making the transition between a full time employee, with a job that you don’t really like to a freelancer, think about them.

Think about what it is you most enjoy, whether it’s a specific design nice, or maybe another profession. Do that. Even if all you can manage right now is a few minutes each day. Build that time up. A little more tomorrow, and the next day, until eventually you’re doing more of what you enjoy than what you don’t.

Eventually you’ll be good enough that you won’t need to look for work. 

People will look for you.

David Airey.


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