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How to Become a Graphic Designer: 5 Questions You Must Know

Dec 15, 2020
(updated: Nov 30, 2022)
Lesson duration: 5 min

If you are looking at getting started in graphic design freelancing, you’ve come to the right place! Graphic designers create content in all forms: from logos, letterheads, and full digital media packaging. Answer these 5 questions today to know if you are ready for freelance graphic design.

1.  Do you have the time for learning new skills?

Even for creatives who are transitioning into freelance, it can be a struggle to manage both the business and creative commitments. Whether you have formal training or experience to lean on already, you’ll still need to spend about 10-20% of your time learning new skills and technologies, so be sure to budget that in as often unpaid time. A great way to make yourself accountable to learning new skills while building your network is to join a freelancing community or online meetup with other professionals. 

2. Do you have previous work examples for a digital portfolio? 

Every graphic design artist needs their own personal website to show their work, and there are plenty of turn-key options to help you get your work visible on the web to potential clients. Remember that your personal website is your online calling card, and it needs to make it clear what value you are offering. Particularly with visual artists, using creative web design alternatives can be a great way to stand out of the digital crowd. 

If you are still developing a portfolio, it’s best to collect 3-5 very strong examples of the work you enjoy doing, and make those most visible on your site so you attract the right audience. Consider your visual style and find keywords that match either the audience or the aesthetic and be sure to tag your keywords. 

3. Are you comfortable saying ‘No’? 

Once you have a portfolio developed, it’s time to learn to say no to unpaid work, even when it’s for a passion project or organization. A lot of people move to freelance because they love the work that they do, focus on the companies who pay your worth. 

If a potential client is contacting you because they have already seen your portfolio and are interested, then it’s likely that they already know your work has value and should pay for the time and expertise that your portfolio demonstrates. Still, be ready for some creative criticism - it's never a bad thing.

4. Are you committed to making digital work accessible? 

Freelancers often have to think about the way they represent themselves and their businesses and work to get new clients. Consider how your portfolio is experienced by potential clients with disabilities as well, and make your work accessible to them

 This is more than just building a personal website or setting up a mailing list, you must be mindful about the way that you build online experiences so that anyone can take part - whether they are hearing, vision or otherwise impaired. Building accessibility into your graphic design portfolio this way makes it more usable for everyone, and is an incredibly hireable skill. 

5. Do you think you can overdeliver? 

Especially when starting out with new clients, it’s important that you exceed their expectations. People will come back for a good deal, but they’ll tell their friends about exceptional work. Getting your name correlated with a positive reputation that precedes you is the most valuable thing you can do to raise your worth and get the kind of clients you love working with. Repeat design work allows you to build out entire brand packages, an invaluable skillset for graphic design. 

If you’ve said yes to all or even most of these questions, then it’s probably the right time for your graphic design career! If you're interested in a graphic designer retainer contract, check out our article here.

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