Do you have an eye for design and the ambition to become an independent graphic designer? Starting a freelance graphic design business can be an exciting and rewarding venture, even if you're working on it as a side hustle.
To get you up and running, here are 10 essential tips that will help you find success and start gaining clients.
From project management software to setting prices to content marketing, this article covers everything you need to know to get your freelance graphic design business off the ground.
1. Have a Plan
Running a freelance business is a serious undertaking, and it should be treated as such. Even if you're primarily interested in a side hustle, it's important to have a plan that covers the basics of what you want to do and how you will achieve it.
A good plan should include elements such as: how much time you can dedicate to the business each week, what services you will offer and at what rate, how you will market yourself and your services, and how you will track and manage income and expenses. Having a plan allows you to stay organized and prevents you from having to make decisions on the fly.
For example, let's say you want to start a freelance graphic design business. Make sure to consider a few key points in your plan: determine which graphic design services you will offer (logo design, web design, etc.), set a rate for those services, decide how you will market your services, come up with a bookkeeping system for tracking income and expenses, and consider which online platforms you will use to manage client relations. By having a plan and being organized, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and headaches in the long run.
2. Set Your Prices
As a freelance graphic designer side hustler, it’s important to determine the right prices for your services. This can be a tricky process, as you have to consider what your time is worth, what the market rate is, and what you are comfortable charging.
It’s important to research your local market to find out what other freelance graphic designers are charging for their services. This will help you to set a price that is competitive but still allows you to make a profit. When setting your prices, make sure to include things like travel expenses and hidden costs, such as purchasing software or materials. You will also want to consider what your time and skills are worth, and how that compares to the services you provide.
For example, if you charge an hourly rate of $50 per hour and you are working on a project that takes 8 hours, you would charge your client $400. This includes all expenses and materials needed for the project, as well as your time. This is an example of pricing your services fairly by evaluating the time and effort it takes to complete the project
When setting prices, also make sure to have different tiers of packages and services, as this will allow you to cater to different budgets. Having options like “basic”, “standard”, and “premium” services will allow clients to select the package that best fits their needs and budget.
Overall, it’s important to be aware when setting your prices as a freelance graphic designer side hustler. Research your local market, consider what your time and skills are worth, and offer different packages to cater to different budgets. This will help ensure that you are charging a fair rate for your services and will help you to be successful in your business.
3. Determine Your Target Market
As a freelance graphic designer, identifying your target market is an essential part of running a successful side hustle. What specific kinds of clients are you looking to attract? Understanding who your ideal customer is will help you to a create service offerings, plan marketing strategies, and design your website in a way that speaks directly to them.
For example, maybe your niche is corporate branding and web design. You can then create a portfolio page on your website that specifically highlights your experience and capabilities in this area. Additionally, you can focus your marketing efforts on engaging potential clients who may be looking for this kind of service.
It’s also useful to think about who your top competitors are and how you can differentiate yourself from them. Ask yourself what makes you unique and how you can use that to your advantage when it comes to marketing and design.
By researching and understanding your target market, you will be able to focus your efforts and create an effective plan to attract the right clients. This will ensure that you’re making the most of your freelance graphic design business.
4. Build a Professional Brand
Whether you’re a freelancer or a side hustler, a professional brand is essential to build your graphic design business. Start by creating a logo, wordmark, and website that reflects your creative style. This will serve as the foundational visual identity for your business. If you’re just starting out, skimping on branding won’t do you any favors, so be sure to invest in a quality logo and well-designed website. In addition, create social media profiles for your business and use them to promote your design work.
To give an example, when I started my freelance graphic design business, the first thing I did was create a professional logo, business website, and social media accounts on Instagram and Twitter. I used these channels to promote my work, share tips, and engage with potential clients. Before long, I was able to expand my freelance side hustle in a way I would have never expected.
Creating an effective and polished brand is an important step in setting yourself up for success as a freelance graphic designer. With a distinctive identity, you’ll be able to showcase your portfolio and skills, and attract the attention of potential clients.
5. Build an Online Presence
It’s critical to establish an online presence as a freelance graphic designer. Not only does this serve as a way to showcase your portfolio and examples of your work, but it also serves as a source to reach new clients and promote your services.
First, consider designing a website for your business. This is an excellent way to showcase your work and show potential clients what you are capable of. Make sure to include a portfolio of work that you have completed and a bio that serves as an introduction to you and your skillset. Consider offering a contact form where potential clients can easily get in touch with you.
Another important tool to use is social media. This is where you can really start to promote yourself and your business in a more organic way. Create professional profiles on the major social media networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Post updates regularly and involve yourself in conversations related to graphic design. This will help you to establish yourself as an expert in the field and let people know that you are open for business.
For example, Kate is a freelance graphic designer who has been in the business for just two years. She decided to create a website that showcases her portfolio and also wrote a blog to become a trusted source for graphic design tips and tricks. She also regularly posts on social media accounts to promote her services and has had a steady stream of freelance projects since she launched her business.
These are just a few examples of how you can establish an online presence as a freelance graphic designer. Doing so will not only help to showcase your skills, but it will also make you more accessible to potential clients. Put yourself out there, and you will start to see the rewards.
6. Find Clients and Network
Finding clients and networking are key for freelance graphic designers trying to build their business. As a side hustler, the challenge is even greater since you have less time for marketing and outreach. Fortunately, there are ways to make the most of limited time.
The first step is to create a professional portfolio of your work and make sure it is easily accessible and visible. You can also promote yourself on social media, such as Instagram and LinkedIn, to let potential clients know you are available. You can join communities and forums related to graphic design and actively interact with their members. Additionally, you can attend networking events and introduce yourself to other professionals in the industry.
In order to maximize the amount of time you put into networking, it’s important to create clear value propositions that emphasize how you can help your potential clients. For example, if you specialize in logo design, you can make sure to explain how you can help a business create a unique and memorable logo that reflects their brand identity.
By taking the right steps to connect with potential clients and demonstrate the value you offer, you can greatly increase your visibility as a freelance graphic designer. Through these efforts, you can build a successful business that allows you to turn your side hustle into something more.
7. Utilize Project Management Software
For those looking to get ahead with their freelance graphic design business, project management software is an excellent tool. This software will help keep track of deadlines, tasks, and clients. Plus, it allows freelancers to ensure that their clients are satisfied with the work they produce.
Project management software is essential to any graphic design business, as it helps freelancers keep their clients up to date, run efficient projects, and complete projects on time. There are a variety of project management tools available, and freelancers should consider which one best meets their needs. Some of the more popular options include: Wrike, Asana, Monday.com, Trello, and Basecamp. All of these solutions provide a range of features to help freelancers succeed in their business.
For example, Wrike is an all-in-one project management software that allows freelancers to assign tasks, track time, and collaborate with clients. This enables freelancers to stay on top of tasks and deadlines, while also giving them the flexibility to communicate with their clients quickly and efficiently.
Graphic designers should also consider using project management software to streamline their processes. By using software like Wrike, Asana, Monday.com, Trello, and Basecamp, freelancers will be better equipped to keep track of their projects and deadlines. This will enable them to focus on creating quality work and delivering it to their clients on time. Additionally, it will help them spend less time managing projects and more time being creative.
Overall, project management software is a great tool for graphic designers looking to get the most out of their freelance business. By taking advantage of these solutions, freelancers will be able to stay on top of their projects, collaborate with their clients, and complete their projects on time.
8. Establish Clear Boundaries With Clients
When you’re working as a freelance graphic designer, you’re offering a service, and as such, it’s important that you set clear boundaries with your clients.
For example, when you take on a project, agree on the scope of the work and timeline before you start. This gives your client a proper idea of the work involved and when the project will be delivered. It also ensures that you’re both on the same page and clears up any confusion or surprises that may come up.
Also, make sure that you clarify what kind of work you’re doing and who will own the rights to the design. For most projects, you’ll own the copyright to the design and your client will typically have the right to use it for certain purposes. Additionally, you should specify how much feedback you will accept from your client so that you can stay on task.
Finally, have a process for payment and invoicing. Establish when payment is expected and what happens for late payments. You can include language about late payments in your contracts to protect your interests. Most importantly, make sure that you are compensated for your work and that the terms of payment are clearly stated to your client.
By establishing clear boundaries with your clients, you ensure that they know exactly what to expect and that you are fairly compensated for your work. This will help ensure a successful work relationship and keep you both happy.
9. Promote Your Services Through Content Marketing
Content marketing is a great way for freelance graphic designers to market their services and reach a wider audience. Content marketing involves creating and sharing valuable and engaging content, such as blog posts, videos, podcasts, and infographics, that are tailored to the target audience. This content helps to establish the graphic designer’s industry knowledge, build relationships with potential clients, and showcase their services.
When creating content, freelance graphic designers should focus on providing helpful information that is relevant to their target audience. They should also share their content on their website and on relevant channels, such as social media, forums, and online magazines. By investing in content marketing, freelance graphic designers can build their reputation as a reliable and trustworthy service provider.
For example, a freelance graphic designer can create a blog post about the importance of branding for a small business. In this post, they can provide their clients with helpful tips and guidelines for creating a successful branding strategy. By creating content such as this, the graphic designer is demonstrating their knowledge and expertise in the industry, which can help to attract potential clients.
Content marketing is an effective way for freelance graphic designers to market their services and reach a wider audience. Investing in content marketing can help to establish the graphic designer’s industry knowledge, build relationships with potential clients, and showcase their services.
10. Invest in Yourself and Your Business
As a freelance graphic designer, you are a one-person business. As such, there are certain investments that you need to make in order to succeed. This could mean investing in the right software and hardware, taking classes, or hiring a coach.
Having the right tools is essential in your profession. Investing in quality design software such as Snapied and a powerful computer will help you work more efficiently and develop the highest quality designs. You will also need a reliable printer, camera, and scanner. Investing in these will help ensure that you are able to produce work that stands out.
In addition to investing in the right tools, you should also invest in yourself. Taking classes and workshops related to graphic design is an excellent way to stay up to date with the latest trends and techniques. This will help you remain competitive and increase your value.
You should also consider hiring a coach or mentor. A coach or mentor can help guide you in the right direction, giving you personalized advice and feedback. Having someone with experience in the field to help you can be very beneficial in your journey as a freelance graphic designer.
For example, a mentor can help you identify potential clients or projects and develop a business plan to reach your goals. This can be invaluable advice that can help you succeed and take your business to the next level.
By investing in yourself and your business, you can set yourself up for success. With the right tools, education, and mentoring, you can become a successful freelance graphic designer and develop a successful side hustle.
Starting out as a freelance graphic designer can be intimidating. However, with the right plan, pricing strategy, and mindset, it can be an extremely rewarding side hustle.
By having a plan and setting your prices, you can establish a clear understanding of what you can offer, who you can serve, and how much income you can realistically generate. Additionally, by building your own professional brand, creating an online presence, networking, utilizing project management software, and promoting yourself through content marketing, you can create a steady stream of clients to work with.
Most importantly, investing in yourself and your business can help position you for long-term success. With these 10 tips in mind, you can start and build a profitable freelance graphic design business.