Are you planning to dive into freelance graphic design? Perhaps working in an office is no longer your thing, and you’d like to escape the 9 to 5 grind. You’d like to break out of the mold and explore your artistic side without limits.

Maybe, you have your eyes on the freedom and bigger paycheck that comes with working for yourself. Or you simply want to reignite a stalling freelance career before it’s too late. If that’s not the case, perhaps you’re starting out in graphic design but don’t know what to do.

It doesn’t matter why you are here; today’s guide shows you exactly how to kickstart a successful freelance career in graphic design. In a few paragraphs, we highlight the best steps to follow, no matter your level of experience.

Without further ado, let us start.

Get the Right Education and Graphic Design Skills

Many freelance graphic designers are self-taught and that’s great, but formal education helps you to broaden your skillset and ace highly paying jobs. This is especially true in today’s digital world, where you need technical expertise to reach the top of the profession.

A degree in graphic design, digital media or the like will allow you to learn a wide variety of skills in an organized setting. You can cover several verticals such as graphic design history, web design, photography, digital illustration and motion graphics all in one program.

If a formal education is not in the cards right now, consider going to school part-time. Take a few classes and begin working toward your degree today. Another option is an online degree program that will allow you to pursue a degree from the comfort of your own home, on your own time, and a reduced cost than an in-person program. This is a great option for full-time designer that would like to continue working while furthering their education.

At the same time, don’t forget to hone your graphic design chops by working on personal projects. Unlike in the past, graphic design is mainly a digital art today, meaning you need to know your way around useful graphic design tools such as Adobe Creative Cloud among others.

Additionally, aim to get some industry certifications, which can help you to stand out from the crowd when prospecting for more work. Remember that the competition is stiff out there, meaning you must keep learning to stay ahead of the curve.

Create a Graphic Design Portfolio

Have you worked on interesting projects in the past? Do you have a huge collection of personal work? If so, do you have a strong graphic design portfolio? Without a strong portfolio, you are leaving a lot of money on the table.

To showcase and share your best work with the world, you need a solid graphic design portfolio website. It doesn’t have to be fancy; a simple website with about us, portfolio, contact, testimonial and hire pages is sufficient.

Post your best projects on your portfolio, be creative and make it clear you’re available for hire. Further, you can use the blog section of your portfolio website to increase organic traffic to your website. If you drive relevant traffic to your website, you can easily convert visitors to paying clients.

Network on Social Media

A freelance graphic designer wants to have accounts on various social communities such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Dribbble, and Behance among others. Peers and employers alike frequent these social sites in search of inspiration and new talent.

Thanks to social sites, you can easily network with other graphic designers at any given time no matter where you are. The best part is you can quickly foster real relationships that lead to career growth down the line.

Social media is a ripe harvesting ground for graphic designers of all levels. Most of these social communities offer you awesome tools to showcase and promote your work with little effort. Leverage the power of social media to generate new business for your freelance career.

Market Yourself

Along with networking on social media comes marketing your services. You might have the best skills and a great portfolio, but if you don’t market yourself as a freelancer, clients won’t know you exist. All the best jobs will go to the astute graphic designer who promotes their services.

You can contribute as a guest author on top design websites such as WPVortex, participate in events and even pay for advertising. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it is legal, do all you can to get your name other there.

Additionally, considering subscribing to graphic design websites and job boards to receive job updates and industry news. To find hundreds of job boards perfect for graphic designers, search “graphic design job boards” in Google.

Further, don’t shy away from the idea of cold emailing (or cold calling) prospective clients to offer your services. With the right motivation and some persistence, you will have enough jobs to fill your schedule to the brim.

Sharpen Other Skills

Unlike the office setting where you’re working under a boss, you are responsible for the day-to-day operations of your freelance graphic design business. You’re both the boss and the employee. You enjoy the full share of profits but also shoulder heart-wrenching losses.

You are responsible for customer service, budgets, taxes, and other mundane operations. As such, you need more than just design skills and software prowess. For instance, you need excellent communication skills to close deals and keep clients happy.

You need great time and project management skills to ensure you deliver on time and within budget. Further, you need great money-saving habits lest you bankrupt your business. In other words, develop your soft skills to offer your clients an impressive brand experience.

Bonus Tip: Pay yourself a salary, save some more and invest in better graphic design tools.


Freelance graphic design is an interesting and lucrative career choice for creative professionals. It has a low entry barrier and the future is bright, meaning you should act right away. Just get the right education, create a portfolio and market your services like a mad man.