So you’ve mastered your technique, perfected your portfolio, and established your brand. But how do you actually get work?
Several freelance designers have the skill, the talent, and the social skills for a successful career, but they just don’t know where to start.
That’s why in this post, we will be talking about how to find clients for a successful career in freelance design.
Table of Contents
Make your presence known
The first thing you need to do to find clients is to let people know that you’re available and ready to hire! No one will just magically get to know about you and your work unless you advertise and promote yourself.
This can be done online through social media accounts, an online portfolio/website, or on blogs. Make sure to highlight your skills and what you specialize in to make it easier for relevant clients to come to you.
Want to touch up your portfolio to attract more clients? Read our blog post about building a design portfolio to attract clients.
Advertise, advertise, advertise
Most times the clients won’t actually come to you so you will have to go to the clients. Look for small businesses or advertising websites made specifically for freelancers to put your advertisement on.
You can also try other advertising tactics like word of mouth and advertising through microinfluencers on social media.
Connections are everything
Sometimes who you know can be very important for your career. Connections are a great way to get your first job or new jobs through mutual connections. You might know someone who is already well-known in the design industry, has friends who are well-known in the design industry, or just heard of a job opening that is perfect for you.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone asking if they’ve heard of any clients who are looking for work in your specific niche or if they know of any job openings in your area of expertise.
The Desircle Community Slack is another great way to make connections in the design industry and find job opportunities. Specifically, the opportunities channel has lots of different opportunities for ambitious designers looking for clients or work!
Find someone to work with! Although you may have chosen the freelance career pathway to keep away from a regular 9-5 job and possibly the idea of working in an office with dozens of other people, having a partner may end up being good for you! You can bounce ideas off of each other and finding clients will be easier!
It doesn’t have to be an official partnership either. You can also have a more informal partnership where you both look for clients together or suggest places to advertise.
You both can put your skill sets together to form a union that covers a wider range of design work and therefore attract a wider variety and number of clients.
An amazing example of this is Sagmeister & Walsh, mentioned in our blog post about some of the most successful graphic designers. Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh came together and formed an amazing company that is very well-known for its work.
Note: This is a step to take as a more experienced freelance designer after you have made several connections and found the right person to partner with. This also might not be the move for you if you really don’t want a partner, formal or informal.
However, you never know what might happen unless you go out there and try!
Build your image
As an emerging freelancer in the design industry, it’s likely that you won’t automatically be known for your work, no matter how good it may be. That’s why you have to build an image of yourself. This means starting off small and working up.
Offer suggestions and advice to friends who might need it, startups, small businesses, or emerging companies. Transition into offering your services and what you can do to make their designs better. Starting off with smaller clients and building a good reputation among them will set you up for success for your larger clients.
Another thing you can do to build your image is providing free services to some of your more dedicated clients. This will show them how dedicated you are and how you really want to connect with them, beyond professional work.
Do this only for the clients that you are more dedicated to or enjoy working with.
- Make your presence known online through social media/portfolio
- Advertise on popular websites or locations like Upwork or Freelancer
- Connect with people in your industry
- Find a partner if it’s your style and work together to find clients
- Build your image as a freelance designer
Finding clients is never the easiest thing to do, whether you are in the design industry or a freelancer in another industry.
These tips should provide you with a sense of direction and give you a point from which to start. The rest is up to you and how you go through your journey as a freelance designer!
How did you find your first client? Comment down below!