The market out there is fiercely competitive, and newcomers can find it particularly hard to adapt to the new rules of the game, build their name and reputation, and attract a loyal customer base.
However, challenging doesn't equal impossible. By adequately preparing yourself and learning how to face the challenges, you can successfully overcome them, and build yourself a career in the world of graphic design.
Making a career change is never easy. Most of the time, it feels as if you're leaping out of your comfort zone, and the fear of what's expecting you may be unsettling.
While being cautious is generally beneficial for the success of your new venture, low self-confidence and negative self-talk can hold you back, keeping you focused on stress, anxiety, and fear.
Your inner dialogues can make a real difference when it comes to whether your freelance graphic design career is going to be a success. Depending on how you approach challenges intimately, your fear can be both your greatest obstacle, as well as a source of energy and resilience, essential for success.
One of the first steps towards succeeding on any freelancing journey is accepting your fears, and learning how to use them to your advantage.
You can't be a master in your job unless you have an adequate set of tools. Fortunately, graphic designers have a wide variety of tools that they can choose from, no matter how deep their pockets are.
Some of the tools are quite pricey and can end up being too expensive for those who are just starting up. But, for every expensive tool out there, you can find a free alternative with similar features and functionalities.
For example, even though Adobe Photoshop is the gold standard when it comes to working with photos and images, open-source and free of charge Gimp can serve the same purpose. In essence, it does a perfect job when it comes to image editing and composition, photo retouching, creating icons, art for UI components, etc.
When you need precise design, Gravit Designer can be a perfect alternative to Adobe Illustrator, and you can also use it for free if you can settle for 500 MB of cloud storage. When it comes to font design, you can opt for Font Forge, and customize or create your fonts with a tool that doesn't come with a hefty price tag.
Another crucial thing that you need to think about when starting your freelance career is creating your own personal brand. Think about the clients that you would like to attract and build an image that they would find appealing.
Start with creating a website so that you can direct your potential clients to it. Your site needs to show your unique value and be a clear representation of what they'll get if they choose to do business with you. Try to make it aesthetically appealing and functional at the same time, so that your site visitors can navigate it intuitively and smoothly.
Think about having a blog on your website. You can optimize it for search engines and use it to attract more qualified traffic, at the same time building your brand and its reputation. Besides being a promotional tool, your website should be the place where you share some helpful tips and advice that are relevant to your audience.
While an online presence is vital for your success, don't forget to market yourself locally too, using print materials to complement your digital strategy. Think about promotional materials worth investing in – an attractive business card can serve as an example of your style and skills, and one that your prospects can keep and remember you by.
One of the best-known platforms for landing a graphic design job is Upwork, but the entire experience there may seem overwhelming.
On some lesser-known platforms, such as Giggrabbers or Workhoppers, you'll face less competition, so your chances to land a job are higher.
Consider registering on platforms such as Fiverr, TopTal, Freelancer.com, 99Designs, and Hubstaff Talent. You can read the reviews and explore the advantages and disadvantages of these platforms and decide which ones you should take your chances with.
Also, don't be shy to talk about your career challenges in your own private and professional circles. Use every occasion that you may find appropriate to inform people of what you do – you never know who might need your services, and it only takes one satisfied customer to get word-of-mouth started.
During the first days of your freelancing career, managing your time may seem like the most natural thing in the world – after all, you're your own boss now, and you can enjoy all the benefits of a flexible work schedule.
Unless you master your time management skills before your workload starts to increase, you may find it hard to achieve work-life balance or even deliver your projects on time.
Make sure you manage your time wisely from the early days of your freelance career. Many software solutions can help you keep track of the time it takes to finish your projects and each one of your tasks so that you can invoice accordingly.
Tracking your time will also help you organize and plan your workload better so that you never miss a deadline.
If you follow the steps above, you’ll be well-equipped to enter the competitive market of graphic design and give it your best shot. Do keep in mind that your chances for success are higher if you continue to grow professionally, so try to keep up with the recent trends and never stop learning.