Graphic design is often a creative outlet that many people use to express themselves. You'll also learn a bit about psychology during the process.
But, it's possible to turn this hobby into a side hustle (or even a full-time career). Not everyone knows how to go about it, though, and there's a handful of tips you'll need to keep in mind when moving forward.
Not sure where to start? Don't worry, we’ve got you covered.
Let's take a look at everything you need to know about making the most of your freelance graphic design work.
One of the most important things to remember when turning your passion for graphic design into a side hustle is that you’ll likely have to go out of your way in order to secure new clients. This is especially true if you’ve never done commissioned work in the past.
Fortunately, it’s not as difficult as it may seem at first to get people interested in your services.
If you haven’t already, it’s strongly recommended that you create a professional website to showcase yourself as a designer. Not only will this provide you with a platform to host your past projects, but you’ll also facilitate people finding you on Google’s search results.
As with any other professional, you can benefit significantly from networking with other professionals in your industry. For example, reaching out to other graphic designers can provide you with substantial insight into how to get your own business started.
You’ll also have the possibility of collaborating with other designers on independent projects that you can use to convey your skills to future clients.
Establishing a social media presence has other benefits besides contacting other designers, though— there’s a chance that your audience will share or repost the content that you put on your platform.
In some scenarios, this can exponentially increase the amount of exposure your work receives.
Your portfolio should always be updated with your most recent/best-performing work (as long as your clients consent to you doing so).
As your skills improve, you should slowly cycle out your lower-quality work with newer projects so that the overall quality of the portfolio gradually improves.
In general, you’ll also want to ensure that your portfolio contains a wide array of content. This will greatly aid you in establishing your diversity as a graphic designer, an attribute that’s likely to score you more projects in the future.
It's also likely that expanding the type of projects you work on helps you improve in other areas of your graphic design.
While this is something that every graphic designer should always focus on, providing stellar customer service is especially crucial during the early stages of your freelance career.
Unfortunately, part of being ‘new’ as a freelance worker is having to put extra effort into making others in the industry take you seriously. Even if you’ve been involved in graphic design for decades, a lack of professional history could make people apprehensive when it comes to working with you.
Steps you can take to ensure your clients are satisfied with their experience can include:
If you’ve already started a website or business page, you could also request that your past clients leave a brief review on these platforms.
During the early stages, it can be difficult to see yourself as your own brand. The truth, though, is that you need to treat your graphic design brand as a professional business from the first day you begin working.
This means that you should avoid expressing personal opinions on social media, always be respectful when communicating with others, etc. Put simply, your actions should reflect those of a typical business.
As you grow, it may also be worth establishing an LLC to further protect your company.
Failure to properly manage your brand could easily result in significant bad publicity that impacts your ability to get future clients. In extreme cases, it could also get you blacklisted in your industry.
For instance, someone who treats their professional graphic design social media account as a personal account to discuss politics and off-topic content is likely to encounter complications down the road.
Referrals are a great way to acquire future clients. It also has the added bonus of benefiting your past clients.
A typical referral program offers new clients a discount if they mention that they were referred by a previous client. From here, you have the opportunity to offer repeat clients discounts if they referred others to you.
This structure isn’t definitive, though, and you have plenty of flexibility when it comes to how you create your referral program. Regardless of how you do it, having one will objectively benefit you as a professional far more than foregoing one.
But it doesn't have to be.
With the above information about how to make the most out of freelance graphic design in mind, you'll be well on your way toward giving yourself the best chance of success possible.
Want to learn more about managing the backend of your graphic design business? See how Moxie can help.