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10 Effective Ways to Become a Successful Freelance Designer


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It's great to make money doing freelance design, but being a successful and well-paid designer requires a lot of dynamics and knowledge. Most of the time, we don't know or observe what we lack to manage the freelance design business well.

I usually get the most common question "I want to work freelance but how can I find clients, how do you find clients?" In this article, I hope to explain the necessary steps to answer this most curious question so that your freelance ship can sail and leave the harbor safely.

Another important topic I can't leave out is that the golden secret to growing your freelance business is to always keep up with new trends and new technologies and apply the information you gather to your designs. The secret to success is to take action and stay on the move.

1. Position yourself as a brand

It is almost impossible for any company or individual to succeed today without branding. If you don't want to be forgotten when so many good designers are out there looking for work, create a beautiful image and corporate identity for yourself that best describes your work.

The first way to show that you are a successful and memorable freelance designer is to manage your own brand.

2. Create an effective online portfolio

If you don't have an online portfolio, printed or online, which I 100% recommend online, where you present your work in an impressive and beautiful way, being a successful freelance graphic designer or web designer will be nothing more than a dream. Take some time and create a portfolio website or say bye bye to being a successful freelancer.

3. Make yourself a business card and CV

Your life will not always be spent at the computer or on the phone waiting for customers. To market yourself, have printed contact information to hand out when you attend events, conferences or at least gatherings of friends. Although some of you may not believe in business cards, you never know where the opportunity will come from. There's a reason why cool guys like CEOs still carry business cards or why someone like Elon Musk has his own CV!

4. Be bold, brave and pro

Don't be afraid to call people, offer your service, chase business by email or anything like that. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter where you come from, as long as you meet the timelines you gave your client and deliver a great job. Always be business-oriented and professional.

If you want to have a successful long-term freelancing career, be a problem solver, not a problem creator, and try to stay professional even if you lose money.

5. Be constructive in client relations

The whispering newspaper is still the most effective form of personal advertising. Gossiping or complaining about your customers can do you the most harm. Be patient and keep doing your job.

80% of the freelance work I do comes from referrals from my clients or people around me. Over time, you will see how the whispering newspaper can help you become a successful freelance designer.

6. Don't close the door to small projects and opportunities

You can start your career by taking small jobs, never do them with a shaky paw. Doing small jobs well will open big doors for you.

The first year I came to New York, someone found me online. He bought a website template and asked if he could optimize his images for this site. About 15 photos, logos and 6-7 icons. It would take me half an hour, but it wasn't the kind of work I would prefer. I decided to help the guy, I didn't ask for money. The story is of course as you guessed, he is still passing work. We did a lot of website projects, I buy all the current camera equipment with the additional money from his projects. (You can find camera and other equipment information and links in the description section of the video above.)

Small jobs open big doors.

7. Never underestimate yourself and your abilities

This point complements point 4. Make sure you believe in yourself. You will build a successful freelancing career.

But nobody is going to give a job to someone who thinks there are better designers out there. I'm never saying to be cocky, I'm just saying to always be confident, even if you know you can't do the project at that moment, take the job, you'll learn how to do it anyway or outsource it.

If you think the work is really good, you can change the price to something you deserve.

8. Create a network

Design is always changing fast, new techniques and styles are being developed every day. If you don't follow these developments, you may not see the light at the dawn of day 5.

Create a network for yourself, build a network on social media sites like Behance, Dribbble, Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and Instagram. Attend events that will feed you as much as you can in real life. Stay in touch with the people you meet here on social media.

It may take some time to make a name for yourself in the design world and social media and become a successful freelance designer, but social media will help you shorten the time.

9. Always practice

Nothing will help you build your confidence like constant practice. If things have slowed down a bit, finish the project you have in mind or unfinished. Go to forums, competitions or workshops or take courses to improve your skills, watch YouTube videos, i.e. learn new things to improve your skills in your spare time. Try to learn English, it is a must if you want to succeed internationally.

Your friends' jobs can also be a chance to try new things and build your portfolio. Occasionally you can offer your skills and services for free.

10. Don't wait for inspiration

Inspiration is one of the most important tools for a designer. I always carry a notebook in my bag or have my phone with me. Whenever I see an advertisement, a photo, a great building or a person that inspires me to think creatively, I write it down or try to take a picture of it. Pay attention to the details in museums, restaurants, shopping malls or places where you go to relax, observe new trends or collect small pieces of design. Stay alert like a cat for anything that might inspire you. After a while this action will turn into an effortless awareness. Knowing how to see is one of the most important qualities of a successful designer.

These are the 10 things I would recommend to you. There are so many paths to success in life, I wanted to give you a formula that has worked for me in my career. I have been working as a Freelance Visual Designer / Art Director in New York for 5 years, that is, since I first came here, although I have received offers from many big agencies, and these topics I have told you include the experiences I have gained so far.

I have one last suggestion for graphic designers who have just finished school and those who want to work as a freelance graphic designer / web designer, solve the test I will give below and finalize your decision according to these answers. Your answers to the questions will give important information about your readiness to become a freelance designer.

  1. - Can you run your own business on your own?
  2. - Do you have the motivation to work alone and train yourself?
  3. - How much money do you need to live on each month and pay your bills?
  4. - What area do you want to specialize in (logo design, t-shirt design, wedding photographer, website design, etc.)?
  5. - What kind of clients do you want to work with?
  6. - Do you have the ability to communicate easily with people?
  7. - How do you react to criticism or revision when your work is not accepted?
  8. - Can you work under stress?
  9. - Where do you want to be in 5 years
  10. - Do you have a plan B?


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