May 27, 2022

Becoming a Freelance Graphic Designer in 2021

By B&SC Blog Team

Becoming a Freelance Graphic Designer in 2021

Graphic design is a critical part of almost every business sector, from corporate branding to healthcare to manufacturing. In the last few decades, digital marketing – the bread and butter of many graphic designers – has become an active part of most marketing strategies.

Graphic design is about visual communication. It adds the creative edge that brands need to stick out in a sea of competition. It is also a career option that allows for freelance freedom, meaning you can be your own boss. So, what does it take to start a freelance graphic design business in 2021?

7 Crucial Steps to Become a Freelance Graphic Designer

1. Gain an Education

As with many career paths, it starts with getting the right education. New technology ensures that there is always something to learn as a graphic designer.

Ideally, you would work towards a degree – associate or bachelor’s – in this field. At Bryant & Stratton College, our associate graphic design program provides you with a well-rounded education and the skills necessary to find success in this growing industry. Classes can include:

? Typography

? Digital illustration

? Imaging technology

? Career development

We teach you the basics of design, digital art, and even running a business. You will take individual classes in-person at a Bryant & Stratton College campus.. Many freelance designers start their education in high school by taking communication, computing, and art classes.

Whether you choose to work toward a certification or a degree, you’ll want to study critical software tools such as:

? Image editors (such as Photoshop)

? Digital design programs (Adobe Creative Suite, such as Adobe InDesign)

? Vector design programs (such as Adobe Illustrator)

? Publishing programs

? Digital and mobile art programs

These programs provide the infrastructure that freelance graphic designers need to be effective. From creating brochures, posters, logo designs, and more in these programs, you will have the essential graphic design skills to make you competitive in the market.

2. Brand Yourself

The one thing you’ll find behind every successful business venture is a solid brand. Branding is especially important for a graphic designer because it tells potential clients what to expect from you. In addition, it creates a distinctive impression that separates you from the competition.

Branding affects how people view your company, generates new business, and raises your professional value – but it can also have the opposite effect if done incorrectly or not at all. It starts with developing your brand identity using tools like:

? A mission statement – What is the goal of your business, and how does it reflect on your clients.

? A value proposition – What sets you apart from the competition?

? Visual elements – Brand elements include many things you will design for clients, like a logo, brand colors, and graphic images that represent the business.

? A social media presence – Social media is one of the essential marketing tools for any brand, so make sure your brand is on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other relevant social networks.

Once you have your brand established, make business cards for any in-person networking events you may attend. Next, don’t forget to set up a website to give your new clients a place to go online to see your work and learn more about your business.

3. Build a Portfolio

A portfolio highlights your work and provides samples that demonstrate your skills. It is something that students build on their own to showcase work to others or potential employers. Portfolios can be both print and digital. A print portfolio can be taken with you as you visit new clients to showcase your talent.

Making an online portfolio part of your website is an easy way to show others the work you’ve done. It helps to build your brand and generate organic searches, as well. It is important to keep your portfolio up-to-date as your career progresses.

4. Find Your First Clients

One of the best ways to land that first client is to start with family and friends. If you have a family member or friend who runs a business, ask them if you can do some design work for them. You might even offer to do those initial pieces for free for some publicity or social media shares.

Also, check out local businesses. Offer to redesign their logo and give their brand a fresh look. Barter your design work for their services. For example, you might approach a local printer and offer the work for free printing to get your own brand assets. You would just pay for the supplies.

You might also offer to do the work up front, and they only pay if they like what they see. Either way, you are creating an asset you can use in your portfolio. If they don’t buy your designs, change the name and use them as industry samples.

There are freelance broker platforms that will find clients for you in exchange for a percentage of the pay, too. That can be a good way to get work you can showcase, as well. You might also benefit from entering design competitions. Again, this can be an investment but one that pays off in more exposure.

Also, market your skills on social media platforms, including LinkedIn. You can go on LinkedIn to find clients, too. The social website boasts in having 11 million active job postings.

5. Master the Business Side of Freelancing

Being a freelancer means you are a small business owner, which comes with administrative duties that you must master. Things like:

? Creating invoices

? Developing proposals

? Doing tax paperwork

It’s not the most glamorous side of the design business, but it is important. If you get a degree in graphic design, your studies will likely give you a foundation for running your business. If not, you can take individual courses to learn critical aspects of marketing and accounting.

6. Build Your Network

Knowing how to use networking effectively can be a great tool for your professional advancement, one that saves you time, effort, and worry. Networking gives you access to opportunities that you might not have found otherwise.

Your network has the potential to provide you with insight into various sectors, information on what potential clients are looking for, and advice on how to grow professionally. In addition, networking allows you to build your personal contacts and grow your social circles both locally and online. Knowing who to partner with on a project and when to reach out to your network can be the key to career development and increasing your clientele.

7. Land New Clients

Everything from branding yourself to building a professional network comes together to help you land a new client or design job. Freelancing means you are always looking for ways to expand your business interests and clientele.

If you land one or two loyal clients, you can use that as a stepping stone to get new ones. Word of mouth advertising and referrals are free and one of the most powerful ways to find new opportunities.

You might also have to consider ways to market your business, such as online ads, design platforms, and joining industry organizations. Continuing your education gives you new skills to use and keeps you current on the latest technology. These are things new clients will look for when wanting to hire a freelance graphic designer.

Start your freelance graphic design career off right with an associate degree from Bryant & Stratton College. Visit our website today to find out more about career opportunities available to our students.

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