What It Takes to Be a Freelance Graphic Designer

graphic designer always has the option of freelancing. Many small businesses hire freelance graphic designers to design their business cards, menus, brochures, fliers, t-shirts, and other visual materials. The primary reason small businesses gravitate toward freelancers over advertising agencies is freelance designers are more affordable – and freelancers don’t push small businesses into long term contracts.

Here are the tools and procedures necessary to make it as a freelance graphic designer:

Computer, Software, and Printer

Research all available graphic design software programs and choose one that will serve as your primary program. This program should be as thorough as possible and encompass all of your basic needs. Additional software can be purchased later.

Have a computer that is compatible with the graphic design software.Invest in a high quality printer that is able to print a wide variety of media. Freelancers who can’t afford this purchase in the beginning can opt to use a printing company until they can purchase a high end printer.

Portfolio/Business Cards

Assemble a portfolio to show prospective clients. Portfolio designs can include graphics created for past clients, or sample designs. Include a wide range of designs so clients can see your true abilities. Add to your portfolio as new designs are created.

Create business cards that are eye-catching and show off your talent. Hand them out to anyone you think may need your services, or to anyone who may know an individual who can use your services.

Marketing/Finding Clients

Advertise your business. Freelancers who want to work in their local area should place ads in neighborhood newspapers and list themselves in the business section of the phone book. Mail-outs should be created and sent to local businesses. The mail-outs should be professional, yet creative, and they should mention the services offered – menu design, business cards, logos, posters, advertisements, t-shirts, and so on.

Freelancers who want to target online business should set up a website that displays a portfolio of their work. Online freelancers should place online advertisements, peruse the Internet job boards daily, apply for projects, and make online contacts through forums and social networking sites.

Fees and Payment Options

Freelance graphic designers generally negotiate fees with clients on a project by project basis, yet all freelancers should have a general idea of what they charge per type of media produced—or have an hourly rate they strive for per project type. This rate serves as the freelancer’s guide, or base, and this is generally where negotiations begin. Freelancers must decide how they will be paid. Options include upfront payment, payment after product delivery, or half upon project acceptance and the remainder upon delivery.


All projects should be completed in a timely manner and meet the exact specifications of the client. After the project is complete and you’ve collected your payment, send out a thank you note to the client. Add the design to your portfolio and list the project on your resume.