Here’s What You Need to Know Before Becoming a Freelancer

There are so many tutorials out there on how to learn graphic design. No matter what your level of familiarity with graphic design, there is a tutorial out there for you. For some people, graphic design is a hobby. For other people, graphic design is their primary source of income. If you’re in the camp of people who work on graphic design as a hobby, you might be wondering how to transition from enthusiast to paid professional. Everyone’s journey on the path of becoming a professional graphic designer freelancer is different, but there are a few tips and tricks that can help you dive into freelancing as a graphic designer with minimal effort.

1. Understand what freelancing means to you

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all definition for what a freelancer is. For you, freelancing might be working on a few projects a week to cover a bill or two. For someone else, freelancing might be their primary source of income. One of the most important things that you can do is define what freelancing is to you.

  • What do you hope to achieve by freelancing?
  • Are you trying to gain some experience?
  • Or trying to make money from your hobby while keeping your full-time job?
  • Are you tired of your job and wanting to be financially self-sufficient?

These are all great reasons to transition to freelancing. Before you can take the next steps, you need to know why you’re freelancing and what your life as a freelancer looks like.


2. Define what success looks like to you

After you’ve defined what freelancing looks like for you, it’s time to build upon that and define success. Defining success means setting parameters for your goals. You can’t tell if you’ve succeeded if you didn’t carve out the exact meaning of success. Most people measure success by how much money they make. While this is a valid definition of success, it’s very vague. A better approach would be to set a goal for a certain number of projects and clients. By choosing to measure clients or projects, you are working towards creating sustainability and not just focusing on a specific dollar amount. One thing to think about, you can hit your financial goal with only one project. Once that project is over, you’ll still need to find a way to make money. Another way to define success is to have worked on certain types of projects. For example, you might say you want to have worked on 20 posters for clients within the next three months. Ultimately, what metric you use to define success is all up to you.

3. Outline a plan for managing your time

Once you have clear goals, it’s time to come up with a plan of action. Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • How much time will you spend on graphic design? Does this time include all graphic design work or only paid graphic design work?
  • Are you working alone or will you be working with a partner or team? How does this impact your workload?
  • How will you improve your skills while also making time for your freelance projects?
  • And what about promoting your business and gaining clients?


4. Break your action plan into smaller pieces

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. This is also how you should approach your plan to become a freelancer. Take a look at your goals and map out some small steps that you can take to achieve those goals. An example would be:

First, trying to gain clients for my graphic design business.

I will start by creating social media accounts for my business and upload designs from my portfolio. I would try to post three times a week. It would also be a good idea to engage with other designers to grow my community. After establishing my social media accounts, it would be great to create a blog. This blog will serve to help my community and allow clients to get to know me better.

This is a straightforward example of breaking your plan into smaller, more attainable steps. You’ll want to come up with something that is customized to your goals and what freelancing means to you. Do some research. Many people have similar goals as you, who can make some recommendations for actionable steps that you can implement to reach your overall goal.