6 freelance graphic design business tips for side hustlers

Turn your freelance graphic design goals into reality. In the following article, we're going to show you how to turn your talent into a money-making business.
6 freelance graphic design business tips for side hustlers

Hero image by Firza Pratama

Graphic design is often a creative outlet that many people use to express themselves. Although some do graphic design as a hobby, it's possible to turn your creative pastime into a side hustle (or even a full-time career). However, not everyone knows how to start a freelance graphic design business. That's why we're here; we're going to show you how to turn your talent into a money-making business in the following article.

Let's take a look at everything you need to know about making the most of your freelance graphic design work.

1. Your clients won't always come to you

One of the most important things to learn when turning your passion for graphic design into a side hustle is how to find freelance graphic design clients. Chances are, you’ll likely have to go out of your way 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. 

2. Network on social media

As with any other professional, you can benefit significantly from networking with other professionals in your industry. For example, contacting other graphic designers can provide substantial insight into starting your own business.

You’ll also be able to collaborate 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.

3. Create a killer portfolio

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 improve other areas of your freelance graphic design skills. Keep these freelance graphic design portfolio tips to help you stand out and net you more clients.

4. Prioritize customer service

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:

  • Never missing a deadline
  • Offering multiple revisions if required by your client
  • Following up with them after a project to ask for their opinion on their overall experience

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.

5. Take your brand seriously 

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 day you first 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.

6. Implement a referral program

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 client discounts or adjusted freelance graphic design rates if they refer 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. 

Freelance graphic design doesn't have to be  difficult

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.

Share it!
Our team of career freelancers writes about best invoice practices, what makes a great client, and repeats the mantra, "never work without a contract." We're opinionated about the future of work and will always be on the side of freelancers.
More By This Contributor
Getting everything from your brain in one place
Moxie makes all your systems work together seamlessly with better software, education, and community.
hectic app logo