The path to becoming a freelance graphic designer has always been to first earn a design qualification from a college or university and then (if you’re lucky) get a job at a design firm where you will hopefully work for a number of years before eventually becoming independent and set up your own design firm, and maybe take away some clients.
However, nowadays it is possible to take a different path to becoming a freelance graphic designer. In recent years, the Internet has opened up this field. Budding graphic designers looking to make a living while studying design, and newly qualified designers who have yet to find work, find paid freelance graphic design gigs rare. However, with multiple websites offering design jobs from all over the world, it has become possible for aspiring freelance graphic designers to opt for occasional freelance work both to start a career and to advance.
Obviously, no new designer will win a freelance contract to work on the latest Nike campaign or design a layout for GQ magazine. The path to such contracts will likely still be through a degree and then work at a design firm. But you will be able to find contracts to keep your freelance career going and build your own design firm. The internet and internet job boards give new designers the opportunity to build a small portfolio for themselves and build a small income stream. This in turn allows them to play in some of these larger contracts.
Online job boards like Odesk or Elance are the best places to find this type of job. There will be design and web design categories with hundreds of design jobs (updated every few minutes) for designers to bid on. For example, Elance offers two related categories, “Web & Programming” and “Design & Multimedia”, which will be of interest to designers. The contracts offered can range from full design jobs for emerging companies, including branding, stationery, stationery and advertising campaigns, to the most basic designs, such as business cards. There is also room for specialization. If you want to specialize in web-based graphic design, from websites to apps to software, there’s a category for that. Likewise, you may want to focus only on your company logo. Again, they will have their own category.
Once you know what you want to do, all you need to do is upload a few examples of your best portfolio, write a profile and bid on job opportunities. Because you start at the bottom and you don’t get any feedback or ratings from job site users, you may have to bid very low to compete with more experienced users. Even if you don’t have feedback, customers sometimes think it’s worth bidding on a new designer if the price is right. Do a good job and you will get feedback. Receive feedback and you will get more customers. Once you have a ton of clients, pat yourself on the back – you’re a freelance graphic designer!