Freelance design jobs may be a good supplemental or even a main source of income for someone who wants to work from home on their own terms. Anyone with a good eye for style and design software such as Photoshop or Illustrator can find jobs doing web design, logo design or even brochure design. In addition to earning money, you can have the satisfaction of seeing your work proudly displayed as an integral part of a business' marketing.
Since freelance design offers a great deal of freedom to the designers, finding jobs is a very competitive market. The Internet also allows businesses to outsource jobs to other countries, usually India, where designers expect far less compensation than would be considered fair in the United States. This means that unless your work is particularly outstanding, you may have a difficult time finding fair pay for your designs. Evaluate your work honestly, and make sure your services are worth paying extra for (or else you may find your work ignored in favor of cheaper designers).
Fair compensation varies widely depending on your skills and on the services you are offering. Most independent graphic designers charge between $10 and $30 an hour; large firms charge more. As a freelance designer, you will most likely be charging by the job rather than the time it takes you to do it, but you can estimate a fair price if you know approximately how long the work will take you.
There are a number of ways you can find jobs as a freelance designer. First, you will need to build a portfolio with work samples. People who are hiring designers want to see actual samples of the work you've produced. Once you have a portfolio to show off, some of the following websites may give you a good place to start looking for jobs:
- GetAFreelancer.com - There are dozens of new jobs posted here daily, and service providers can make bids in the hope of being selected for a job. This site is known for outsourcing cheaply, however, so you may want to leave it alone if you don't feel you can compete with $4/hour rates.
- iFreelance.com - like GetAFreelancer, iFreelance allows service providers to make bids on jobs. The pay is much better than GAF, but the competition is also generally more skilled.
- CraigsList.com - The "Gigs" section on CraigsList is frequently updated and may provide great job opportunities - just be careful of scams.
- 99Designs.com - This is a contest site, so you are not guaranteed to be paid for anything that you do. However, if you are good enough to frequently win, the prizes are often fairly lucrative.
These three websites combined with a good portfolio can help you get started as a freelance designer.
How Assignments Work
Once you have been chosen to supply graphic design services to some client, and you have agreed upon a price, that client should give you a general idea of what they want. You should create a simple mock-up and send it to them to see if they approve and want you to proceed. Continue refining the work, frequently sending them samples of what you've accomplished. You should expect to make a lot of revisions before the final piece is done. Keep in mind that what's important is what the client wants, even if it means making a change which is less aesthetically pleasing in your mind.
When sending samples of your work, you should watermark them and only send unlayered files so that they can't be modified. Only after you have been paid should you send the final, unwatermarked version. You may agree in advance to supply layered and editable files once the final version has been decided upon.
Pros of Graphic Design
If you are still debating about whether or not graphic design is the right job for you, here are some pros to consider.
- Flexible hours
- Can be done from home
- Opportunity for artistic expression
- See your work in action
Cons of Graphic Design
As with anything, freelance graphic design has its cons. Before starting, consider the following.
- Often needs multiple revisions
- Sometimes difficult to find work; work is irregular and not guaranteed
- Can pay poorly depending on your skill level and dedication
- Ultimately, you work for a client and not yourself
If you are thinking of taking up freelance graphic design, this overview should help you decide whether or not you should give it a try, as well as give you some good ideas of how to get started and what to expect.