Top tips for graphic designers - how to go freelance

Wed 2 Dec 2020

Whether you’re taking your first steps as a graphic designer, or looking for a new direction in your career, freelancing is a move that’s certainly worth consideration. If you’ve recently decided that it may be right for you, here are 5 key tips to how to make sure you start off strong: 

Find your niche, no matter how niche 

As a graphic designer you’ll constantly be working towards a style that feels uniquely yours – and seeing that style evolve or shift as your experience grows. However, that’s not the only way to carve out a niche. Ask yourself what else you’d like to be known for. Do you want to specialise in brand identity? Social media content? Website design? Think as broadly or as narrowly as you want, but the answers to these questions will help you decide where you need to first expend the most energy. 

Hit the ground running 

While it’s understandable (and important) to spend time creating a strong website, portfolio, and identity for yourself, be cautious about dedicating too much time on preparation versus actual practice. Unless you already have another means of income, the most vital aspect of starting your freelance career is to secure your first freelance projects. Besides helping you pay the bills, they’ll provide you with fresh portfolio material and real experience around how to run your business. 


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Never stop networking 

On a related note, one major aspect of going freelance is the need to network. Your first freelance gigs may come from friends, course mates, or acquaintances, but to build on that momentum you’ll need to make your brand as visible as possible. From Instagram to Twitter, or even Reddit and Twitch, find places where you can network with potential clients, peers, and anyone else in the creative industry. Showcase your skills, contribute to conversations, and establish yourself as a reliable professional. 


Falmouth Flexible collaborates with acclaimed organisations, professors and alumni to deliver our online MA in Graphic Design. Our course delivers the experience and networks needed to accelerate your career, far beyond graduation:

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Master invoices and other paperwork 

As you land more projects, it’ll become increasingly useful for you to gain a solid grasp of the more administrative side of freelancing. For example, you may want to consider whether you prefer to create invoices yourself or use invoicing software (offered by a variety of companies, from QuickBooks to PayPal). Establishing these templates and processes will make it easier for you to create a workflow that’s as efficient as possible. 

Make your process crystal clear 

Finally, never underestimate the importance of communication. Lay out your usual timeline with clients, explain the reasoning behind your dates, and ensure that their expectations align with what you bring to the table as a graphic designer. Factor in time for reviews, revisions, and discussions – leaving as little room for misinterpretation as possible. While it’s impossible to plan any project too tightly, foreshadowing any potential points of confusion proves your expertise while making everyone’s job more straightforward. 


Serious about graphic design as your profession? Our MA in Graphic Design is 100% online and flexible to your current commitments and responsibilities. Designed with your entrepreneurial ambitions in mind, the course is specifically equipped to help you achieve real-world success: 

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