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how to become a graphic design freelancer

After working hard as an employee to build your career in the graphic design field, you’re ready to go solo and become a graphic design freelancer. 

Venturing out on your own can be an equally exciting and nerve-wracking endeavor. The good news is that with proper planning and preparation you can get your freelance graphic design business off the ground smoothly and set yourself up for long-term success.

Looking for freelance graphic design jobs?


Following are tips on making the transition to full-time graphic design freelancer: 


Freelance or not, the core job duties of graphic designers are essentially the same. Graphic designers create visual concepts to communicate information and messaging for businesses. The designs may be created by hand or computer software and the finished product may be found in print or on digital platforms. 

The work graphic designers perform may vary but might include creating posters, billboards, brand logos, marketing materials, presentation visuals, graphics for social media, and advertisements to name just a few. 

The difference for a graphic design freelancer is that you primarily work for yourself. This can allow for some additional creative control but it’s important to note that freelance work is still about providing a service to a client. Your work won’t be measured on how amazing your designs are, but rather on how well you serve your client’s needs.

Graphic designers looking to break into freelance should possess a mix of hard and soft skills. These include but are not limited to 

  • Proficiency in Adobe Creative Suite with emphasis on Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Acrobat 

  • An expertise in color theory, typography, and layout 

  • Strong communication and collaboration skills 

  • Keen attention to detail

  • Stellar organization and time-management skills

In addition to these core skills, freelance graphic designers must be also comfortable wearing many hats. As your own boss, you’ll need to lead several business functions, including finance, project management, creative execution, client relations, and marketing. 


Once you have decided to become a graphic design freelancer it’s important to establish both short-term goals and longer-range objectives.

Do you want to specialize in one type of design or are you interested in being more of a generalist? Are you hoping to work within a particular industry – like fashion or beauty, for example? Would you rather take on a few larger projects or several smaller ones? These are just some of the questions to ask yourself when thinking through your why. 


What’s your design style? What you decide upfront does not need to be set in stone, as it is important that your aesthetic evolves and adjusts to current trends and, more importantly, each client’s unique needs. But having an idea of what type of designs you enjoy creating can help you think through what kinds of projects to pursue or clients to market yourself to. 


It’s critical to create an intuitive client-facing website and graphic design portfolio that showcases a range of work that best represents the span of your capabilities. If you are looking to work within a specific industry or with a certain type of business, make sure your portfolio speaks to that audience.  

Beyond your top design samples, your website should also include a brief bio, your resume, and contact information. Make sure your website is user-friendly and easy for potential clients to navigate. Regularly update your portfolio so that it highlights recent projects you’ve successfully delivered. 


Freelancers enjoy freedom but often work just as many hours as traditional full-time employees. Getting your freelance graphic design business up and running, maintaining the daily operations, and doing the actual graphic design work can be a lot for one person to manage. As such, establishing boundaries between work and your home life is key to protecting yourself against burnout. Here are some habits to prioritize early on:

Set your schedule: Decide on the days and hours you ideally want to work, accounting for any personal responsibilities. For example, maybe you want to work 10-hour days four days a week. Or perhaps you want to be logged off every day by 5:30 p.m. Establish your routine, communicate any designated off-times with clients, and do your best to stick within those parameters. 

Design in a designated workspace: Most freelance graphic design can be done anywhere, so if your client does not need you to come into the office, make sure you have a space either in your home or a shared workspace that is free of distractions and designated specifically for work.

Don’t overcommit: When you first start your freelance graphic design business, it can be tempting to say yes to any job that comes your way. But this can create an unsustainable workload. And even if you can get all the work done, taking on too much at once can compromise the integrity of your work. Pace yourself and focus on establishing yourself as an excellent – and reliable – freelance graphic designer.  

Account for downtime: Not only is it important to schedule time to take a vacation to recharge your creative batteries, but it’s also prudent to plan for some lulls in your freelance business. Account for some workload peaks and valleys, and budget accordingly so that you have a few months of living expenses saved up. Doing so can be instrumental in alleviating stress so that you are prepared when you encounter an inevitable slower business stretch. 


Taking the leap into the freelance world often leads to greater opportunities – and greater responsibilities. But when you partner with the specialized recruiters at 24 Seven, we can take some of the work off your plate at no cost to you. 

Our recruiters are tapped into a wide network of businesses in the creative, marketing, fashion, beauty, and retail industries looking for both short- and long-term freelance graphic designers. We can help you find opportunities that align with your goals and areas of expertise. And once we’ve placed you on one assignment, we can start looking for your next role to help you maintain a steady stream of design projects and income. 

When you work with 24 Seven you don’t need to worry about contract negotiations with clients or invoicing, because we handle all that for you. Additionally, when you are hired as a freelancer through 24 Seven, you may qualify for benefits, including health insurance and paid time-off. 

If you’re ready to launch your freelance graphic design career, check out our available freelance positions and contact a recruiter today.