How I Became a Freelance Graphic Designer

June 29, 2015

You might be wondering, “How do I get there? How can I start my own freelance business and work from home – doing what I love?”

There were many risks and opportunities I took that have led to where I am today in my freelance career, and that's what I'd like to share with you — How I became a freelance graphic designer.

The Early Years

About 8 years ago in my junior year of high school, I had the opportunity to attend a technical career center for interactive media half-day.

I had been designing for the fun of it at home working on my own stuff, but this was when I really started to find my passion for design.

It was while attending this career center that I worked with a few clients pro-bono doing websites, logos, posters, and those type of projects.

And in doing those client projects it hit me…

I could be a graphic designer – as a career – and make money!

After Graduating High School

Following high school I went to a two year college for the same thing – interactive media and business.

This was when I really started to experiment with the idea of freelancing. I asked around, and I ended up taking on a few small projects here and there.

Of course, while attending school I also had to get a part-time job, where I ended up working in the print department of an office supply store.

I went these next two years experimenting with freelancing, working a part-time job, and doing my school work.

Fast forward two years – fresh out of college – there I was, still working a part-time job and freelancing on the side.

I had built a very small presence online over those past couple of years, and at that time I was only working with a few clients. To me, that was a lot!

I’d go into my day job, and I had this client work building up at home. It’s all I could think about. Not to mention, I couldn’t help but feel like my time was being wasted standing behind a Xerox printer, slaving over the “Start” button, while some customer is passing time shopping for a stapler.

So I did it… I put in my two weeks notice and made the jump to freelance full-time.

I knew that there would never be a better time to take such a risk. I still lived with my parents, so expenses were low.

Making this jump to freelance full-time not only fueled my passion for design even more, but it forced me to work my butt off, because I was no longer employed.

I’m completely responsible for my own income, which is a very scary feeling, but, also quite liberating.

Working Full-Time as a Freelance Graphic Designer

Another two years had passed and I was still freelancing. I had made some considerable progress, but I still wasn’t earning a livable income, and this worried me. My fiancé and I were considering getting our own place, and I had to be able to pull my half of the money to help support us.

This was when I began stepping outside of my comfort zone. I started putting my blog to use; sharing design tutorials and my experience with freelancing.

That brought a little attention to my site, which landed me the opportunity to guest post on another well-established blog – Graphic Design Blender – which is now Millo.

It was putting myself in front of thousands of people, finding my voice, and ultimately taking a major step outside of my comfort zone that sky-rocketed my freelance business.

After several more years of continuing to show up every day – here I am. I'm so proud to call myself a freelance graphic designer, and I love designing logos and t-shirts every day.

My Advice to Those Starting a Freelance Career

My biggest piece of advice for anyone looking to start a freelance career is to first validate the idea.

If you find out that you can’t stand working with a client one-on-one, or that you don’t feel like marketing your own business and putting yourself out there, then you’re not going to enjoy it.

And if you’re already freelancing but are having a hard time taking your efforts to the next level, then look at where you’re at and see where you’re struggling.

Has your monthly revenue been slowly decreasing? How about client work – is it sparse?

If you feel like your freelance business is starting to flat-line, what can you do to jump that hurdle and get back on track to growing your name and your revenue?

I break up my freelance business into four principles:

  1. Identity
  2. Focus
  3. Marketing
  4. Process

Evaluate your brand, consider focusing what you specialize in, find a new way to get your name in front of the right people, and for the sake of your business, figure out how you’ll actually operate and work with clients.

These are all things I share on my blog, Your Freelance Career, and it’s things I’m going to specifically dive into in my future videos and posts. So I hope you consider subscribing for more videos.

I’m here to help you succeed, so if you have any questions whatsoever; about graphic design, about running a freelance business, or even about me or my story, let me know in the comments below.

See my latest work and more on Instagram @BrentGalloway