Growing Your Business as a Freelance Designer

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As a freelance designer, you don’t get a job – you have to make one. It is a challenge to build your personal brand and stand out in a crowded internet marketplace. Here are some ways designers can find freelance clients and build their personal brand on the side.

Online portfolio

You should be able to showcase your work as a designer. Building a professional online portfolio is the first step to being an independent artist/ entrepreneur. The credibility and quality of your work are often gauged through this portal so it is important for it stands out. Linking your portfolio to your email, social media channels and business cards increases the exposure of your work and the more people see the better it is for you and your business. Adobe Portfolio is a great platform to showcase your work. Its seamless integration with sites like Behance, Lightroom, Photoshop, and illustrator makes it easier for you to quickly and simply build a website.

Dribble and Behance were built for designers who want to showcase their work and get feedback from a creative community. They are an excellent gateway to reach professionals in the industry and have your work seen by thousands of people who may eventually refer you to their peers, colleagues or others.

Have your designs speak for you. So when you fill up your public portfolio, make sure you showcase your best work. Once you are able to create an impact on the viewer, you will notice a significant rise in the number of inquiries about your work.

Freelancing is one of the career paths that rely heavily on referrals. Good designers who are able to produce high-quality work and who are reliable usually gets referred.

Here are a few good portfolio examples for you to get you started

Lotta Nieminen

Kimi Lewis


Internet market-places such as Upwork, angel list, design inc. etc connects freelancers with clients from all walks of life. Having the flexibility to bid on contracts and set your terms makes it easy for designers to find projects that interest them. Most clients prefer to work with skillful workers within the country they reside in. To have a higher chance of success, it is useful to write a proposal that tells the client about the kind of work you do and what you are able to offer to them. Working towards a top-rated status can also help you get access to the best paying jobs in the internet marketplace.

Building an online presence – Create content, start blogging!

Writing thoughtfully about your work and about the topics you are interested in is a quick way to garner credibility, awareness, and understanding viewpoints about your brand. This will also help you position yourself as an expert in your field. When you write about things you are passionate about, you imperatively are able to offer insights, opinions about the subjects you care about. Clients like to work with interesting people and having your personality shine through your posts is a sure shot way to gain their trust.

Building an audience takes time. Being patient, consistent and thoughtfully marketing your viewpoints are often encouraged when starting a blog. You work doesn’t end when you publish a post. Promoting your blog and posting it on various social channels will help you get noticed by professionals in the industry.

Networking – Find the type of people you want to work with and find ways to socialize with them. The best way to seek out clients is to go out to events and meet people. Socializing helps you make real connections with people that may turn into successful leads. Most organizations are looking to hire skillful workers they can trust and relate to so never underestimate the power of human connection.

Here are some places to start meeting people:

• Meetups

Online communities

• Classes

• Cafes

• Parties

• Slack groups/ Twitter

• Conferences

Once you are able to build connections and secure a client base then word of mouth comes into play in sustaining your business. This takes times, effort, great work and paying attention to the quality of your interactions.
With a combination of networking and word of mouth, you should be able to start getting offers that drive you and your business forward.

Getting freelance clients and building your personal brand takes time, effort and patience. But it is a highly rewarding career option if you chose to make it one. Here is a summary of all of the steps you can take to turn this idea into a reality.

• Build your portfolio: let your work speak for you. Make it as visually interesting as possible. Share it everywhere.

• Create a public profile on web spaces that help you drive traffic to your site. A few examples are Behance, Dribble, Red bubble etc

• Learn how to use and navigate your way through the internet marketplace. Use Upwork, angel list, and design inc to your advantage. Use these platforms to showcase your work and find clients that you want to work with

• Start meeting people. Go to events, Meetups and make connections

• Start blogging: write about things you are passionate about. Create content that inspires and educate audiences.

Iggy is a designer who loves experimenting with new web design techniques, collating creative website designs, and writing about the latest design trends, inspiration, design freebies, and more. You can follow him on Twitter

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