Freelance Graphic Designer – This is How you get Clients

When transitioning from another career path to freelance graphic design or when fresh from design school / just starting out inexperienced and about going into the labour market, one question that seems to pop up often is “how do I get clients”? It can be a bit daunting at first, I know because I’ve been there.

My advice as a freelance graphic designer is to ensure you do a lot of local networking before transiting from a career path or before venturing into the design market.

Local Networking For Newbie Freelance Graphic Designer

The most reliable first client sources are ex-colleagues, friends and family because these are the people that know your natural giftings, interests and creative capabilities. They are the ones you show your initial designs too, for admiration or criticism and most likely the first to believe in your work before the rest of the world does.

Cheap Work:

Initially, you might have to do cheap work, I know right, we all hate cheap work and even hate free work more, well I do and I never did free work instead, I did cheap work. I believe people tend to place a certain iota of value on what they parted with something for, no matter how little, but I know a freelance graphic designer who did free work and they are ever grateful for the experience because of the gigs that came about as a result of it.

whereas some people are not willing to pay you anyway because you’re not some big name. So what happens when you have nothing in your portfolio? I suggest doing cheap work when you need creative content in your portfolio as a newbie. One good way to start is looking around for local businesses with either poor branding or no branding and agreeing to design or redesign their brand identity, [Logo, banners etc.] at a cheap rate. With an impressive portfolio, most people don’t even care to know your school grade so long as you show your understanding of design principles and it’s proper application.


Portfolio for Graphic Designer:

female freelance graphic designer

Your portfolio makes the first impression and its content is the yardstick that you’ll be judged on wether you’re a freelance graphic designer or not. Even if you have incredible grades in art college your getting a paid design employment or freelance gig will be determined by your portfolio content.

Qualities of a good portfolio:


It’s best to stay focused and not get excessively adventurous with your portfolio because busy designs can distract attention from the details the employer wants to find out about your designs. If you have a personal brand include it on the front page of your print portfolio while leaving the presentation pages as simple as possible.

Show examples of your workflow and process

This shows the level of research and thoughtfulness you put into the design.

Show your design In situ

e.g display a mobile app design on a mobile device

Display a poster with someone viewing it on a wall or someone holding it

If it’s a brand display it on a merchandise, stationary e.t.c.

You might not have a camera but you can super-impose your work on images using Photoshop, CorelDraw,  Illustrator etc.

This creates a more engaging and functional view of your work in the minds of a potential employer. See also “how To Protect your Intellectual Property from Theft”

Have a device or web version of your portfolio

This becomes very handy for you if you are a generalist, for instance, if you do print and web graphics and you’re being interviewed for a web graphic job you’d like to get the print graphics out of the way, this can easily be edited on your tab, website or laptop. We’ll have to talk about portfolio another time because it can be rather exhaustive but the bottom line is your portfolio can be the bridge between your getting a client/employment and your not getting work.

Use Fiver

This is a global online marketplace offering tasks and services, beginning at a cost of $5 per job performed, from which it gets its name. The site is primarily used by freelancers who use Fiverr to offer services to customers worldwide.

Starting up with Fiverr I’d advise you to sell templates, the reason being that if you’re getting a five dollar pay for work you cannot afford to give such work all your precious time your, instead sell things you can do in a jiffy very easily. A template does just that, as you can easily edit [change font, colours, slap another logo ] and sell to another person e.g web banner templates, Facebook banners, Twitter etc just get the dimensions and start creating ASAP. See also “How to Achieve Financial Freedom for Creatives”

The idea is to think up all types of design templates you can create, design like 5 varying designs of each, wash rinse and sell again. After you’ve gotten some impressive reviews you can increase your prices but you keep creating templates regularly for quick edits and reselling. You can create templates for portrait cartoon effect and all you do is replace the pictures and sell, you get the idea? just think up any design form that you do that can sell using templates. I shake my head when I see 3d models on Fiverr, they better not be sold for 5dollars.

Dominate Social Media

As a freelance graphic designer, you need to saturate your social media pages with your work everybody knows that is one of the best places to get noticed, but most people don’t know finding work on social media is an art

Search for keywords on Twitter

On your Twitter homepage, where the search bar resides click and type the following phrases when you are in search of clients as a freelance graphic designer. The phrases are linked in the “following phrases” change the result to all tweets so you can see related tweets typed within 24 hours, you can then reply “I design please DM me“.

I know I probably left certain things out whereas I can only share what I know, please feel free to share what you know in the comment section, I’d love to learn something from you too cause I don’t know it all, thanks in advance.