1) Make Your Digital Portfolio Stand Out
Creating your designer’s portfolio is an ongoing process. You should always update it as you improve your skills and create new killing works. Review portfolios of other designers. How can you present your works differently? How can you make the experience more appealing? Maybe you can add some movement or interactivity? After you finish each project, invest your time in preparing successful case studies that will contribute to your trustworthiness. Also, take some time to regularly revise your portfolio and delete samples that don’t present your expertise. If you have a bunch of website designs in your portfolio, but you position yourself as a graphic designer — there’s a serious mismatch.
Extra Tip for beginners: If you don't have many client projects, make some self-initiated ones to get started, or make an offer for a free project.
2) Create Your Strong Personal Branding
Working as a freelancer is, in most cases, about creating a personal brand. You should be the best PR and marketing specialist for yourself. Once you build your personal brand, you make yourself stand out from the crowd and be remembered by others. Thus, a personal brand is always something worth investing. There are numerous steps you can take to build a persona brand: creating a beautiful landing page, creating your personalized logo, starting Instagram blogging, or creating your unique style that will be recognized in a few seconds.
Extra tip for beginners: the keyword in personal branding is personal. Don’t worry much about the fact that you need lots of time and effort to do it. Most successful designers often refine and even change their brand drastically yearly. Just keep searching until you say, “Wow! It’s definitely about me!”
3) Consider Joining Different Marketplaces
You can join one or two freelance platforms and wait for your first offers for weeks. However, you can also consider joining marketplaces like MasterBundles to get ongoing leads generation by selling your deals. Even if you’re already working full-time, it can become a great passive form of income.
Extra tip for beginners: selling your deals at such marketplaces is a great opportunity for young graphic designers who just start creating stunning things and don’t want to think about sales or self-marketing. Just fill out the Sell Your Deal Form and you’re all set.
4) Make Connections Online
Always connect. As a freelancer, you don’t want to suffer from emotional and informational isolation. One way to compensate for the lack of colleagues and face-to-face communication with clients is by making connections in the industry. Nothing but reliable and long-term relations are the key to landing clients. People are more likely to buy based on advice from their trusted community. You should consider joining meetups or conferences in your city, joining online communities, or becoming a speaker at different webinars. Luckily, in the modern online world, there are numerous ways to connect.
Extra tip for beginners: perceive every customer as your best lead and always connect after the work is done. You can also consider asking for people’s and clients’ emails to connect with them if you have special offers, insightful tips, or any updates on your services. Opportunities always come when you least expect them.
5) Create Revenue Streams
This is a golden rule for every freelancer — making Income streams a priority. To create a successful freelance business, you may need extra finances to cover promo and ads, make new offers, pay for your personal landing page, etc. Creating different sources of income is crucial to cover all the expenses and enjoy your freelance journey instead of desperately waiting for when customers finally pay you. Ask yourself: “What's one thing I can do to bring value to people and make a side income at the same time?”
Extra tip for beginners: invest some time in budget planning before you join any freelance platform. There might be extra expenses you should consider ahead. Also, remember about taxes.
6) Always Work on New Hard and Soft Skills
In the modern competitive environment, you should always add new hard and soft skills to your graphic designer’s profile to stand out. For instance, you can apply for extra courses in typography or even marketing and branding. Opportunities are numerous. Just look for what is the most relevant for you at this stage and what really attracts you. You should love what you are doing at the same time, become a multi-faced specialist. Also, soft skills are as important as hard skills. You should learn the mastery of talking with every new lead, just like you would talk to a client with a one-million budget.
Extra tip for beginners: take a look at the profiles of other graphic designers and create the list of skills that are most common. It will help you to see the area of improvement.
7) Always Ask for Reviews
Without reviews from your customers, it’s challenging to get new leads in design. Before buying a product, people look through what customers already say about it. Always spend extra time asking your clients to write simple reviews for your website or your freelance profile.
Extra tip for beginners: consider using Typeform, Google Docs, or Dubsado’s survey form (if you have Dubsado) to send your clients a brief questionnaire. It will be easy for them and takes minimal effort to fill in the form, and you get a profound review.
It's hard to define one specific way to become a successful freelancer as a graphic designer. Besides, the market demands and trends always change. These steps will give you a great place to start. You can become much more successful if you follow even just one of these steps. If you keep moving, success is just around the corner.