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Evening all!

Hi there..
Long time lurker and reader here, thought it was about time i signed up and contributed!

Also wouldn't mind some input as i'm feeling a bit disheartened with the world of design lately! I work part time as the sole designer for a small retail company and about a year ago decided to try and start freelancing on the side. I've been doing bits and pieces of freelance work since but nowhere near as much as i need/would like. Most of the work i've got has either been through people i know or from responding to ads on places like Gumtree but it seems to be getting harder, not easier to get work. There are so many people out there that want design work for free or for peanuts and in almost every ad anywhere that i come across, the person or company is not serious about getting the job done properly and paying a decent rate for it. Then there are all of those 'designers' out there who are feeding this problem by offering work for such ridiculous prices... i've seen their Facebook pages offering logos for £8 and people are actually praising and recommending them and complementing their dreadful designs! They actually think this stuff looks good and think £8 is a fair price for branding their beloved new business!

I just don't know how people manage to compete with this. I have been working in design in some capacity for 5 years but i don't feel confident or 'good' enough to approach agencies for work. In an ideal word i'd have a client base of small businesses that provided a regular stream of work. I'm about to get some flyers printed to drop into local businesses to start with but other than that i'd love any encouragement or suggestions!
Thanks all and i look forward to getting involved around here.


Active Member
Welcome to the forums!
Your best bet is to not scour gumtree and places like that for work. Figure out what kind of freelance work you want to do, create a few personal projects based upon that certain thing, and then find art directors and companies you can email with some work samples and tell them you are available and looking for freelance work. You'd be amazed at the power of word of mouth. I have not received ONE freelance commission from elance or any sites such as that because 1) there are designers willing to do an entire project for $50 and 2) I value my skills more than that.

Sean Lee-Amies

Welcome to the forum! Glad you decided to jump in and get involved :)
How long have you been freelancing? I can tell you that from experience you're not going to get a whole lot of work until you've built up some credibility and that takes time. Some times a lot of time, it depends on your professional network, how well you have leveraged it and the market potential for new work. Of course there are a lot of other factors to consider, but it is by no means an easy feat.
I believe it is very much a case of having to work your way up, unless you start out with some fantastic business contacts, which is usually not the case. Do the work you do and impress everyone you work for, eventually they're going to start recommending you to others. You might get some low tier, low paying clients to begin with but sooner or later you're going to build up enough work to be able to start turning it down and filtering out the clients you don't like. When this happens you'll be able to charge more, and slowly you'll be able to grow your freelance business. If you rely on sites like gumtree, People Per Hour etc, for too long then you're going to be stuck doing the same old stuff forever, with the same type of clients that don't value your work.
The internet is great for securing work, but you need to ensure that you utilise any local opportunities. Most companies, apart from the cheap-skates, will prefer to work with someone locally, rather than over the internet. There's an instant level of trust that is shared from two people who live and/or work in the same area, compared to someone who lives 100+ miles away, or in another country.
Going back to the internet now, how are you making the most out of it? People love to work with others who inspire, encourage, impress or help them in some way. Get your name around on the internet a bit more. Do you use social media at all? All of this can help to establish yourself as a high quality professional, who creates amazing work, never misses deadlines, is easy and fun to work with and who is genuinely interested in helping their clients. Once people know this about you, they will throw money at you to work on their projects.
Perhaps all of this sounds overly simplified, but I believe it's merely a case of simple goals that require a lot of hard work to achieve. Don't give up, do your best and know where you need to improve to succeed!
Gaining freelance work is initially pretty difficult, but I found that showing my passion for graphic design actually (to a certain extent) advertised the services I could offer. Take time to talk and build relationships up with new acquaintances and keep contact with friends... you never know (as Shauna said) who will be your next client.
I think graphic design naturally fits in so many different aspects of our culture, so don't be shy to say what you do for a living!
Thanks for your replies everyone, you've given me things to think about.

The thing is i would rather work with small businesses than design agencies but i think i may do a big email spree to some local small businesses. I stay away from sites like elance, PPH etc as they are the worst of the worst, but there are occasionally genuine businesses on Gumtree looking for designers which is why i give it the time but there's also so many time wasters to wade through. Also, i try not to be a dick where possible!

I have been freelancing for about a year and i totally understand that it takes time but i feel like i haven't really made any progress so far. I have one semi regular client who is a local digital design agency but other than that it's all just been bits and pieces. Sean, i appreciate what you've said regarding locality which is why i was thinking of doing a flyer run around local businesses. I have twitter, FB, instagram etc but don't get any work from them, i think i could probably make better use of social media.

I'm sure there are good clients out there it just seems to be very tricky to find them!


Active Member
If it's any consolation, it took two years of part time freelancing before my career took off. And it's been 5 months freelancing full time and I'm just now starting to take off. Just getting featured on DesignWorkLife today has upped my exposure so much that I can't even keep up.
Basically, hang in there and just keep making good work. Promote yourself and get your work out there. If you find a local company that has a dated logo, approach them and offer them a deal, like a discount on logo design if they want it in exchange for a service they could provide: example, a printing company in exchange for promo printing.
Hey floriographic,
Welcome! The issues you are facing are common to most designers, but even living legends such as Saul Bass or Massimo Vignelli had to start somewhere, right?
The first gig for a local store is a great opportunity to start building a portfolio. Word of mouth is also precious in order to create a customer's base, indispensable to make a living out of this job. What I noticed though is that clients tend to recommend you to people like them. So, if there is a category of customers you don't particolarly appreciate or you don't want to get stuck with, you might want to look elsewhere (once you can afford it).
Crowdsorurcing platforms are definitely affecting our field; I am trying to understand how. Someone says that these websites are doing good designers a favor, because crowdsourcing attracts people who wouldn't be willing to pay good money for good design. On the other hand, it's a missed opportunity to educate some entrepreneurs on the importance of valuable visual identity. We as designers should help each other; at the same time, I understand that we are so many that the less experienced of us don't have many opportunities to build a first portfolio. These websites might give them this opportunity.
I also believe that mastering various styles is beneficial for designers. On your website I saw that you are into the Retro, Victorian Era style - very trendy right now. But I also saw some corporate logos, and this is good. Like shaunalynn wrote, you never know what kind of needs your next client could have.
This forum community is a good place where to get some feedback on your work and an always increasing awareness of our role in society. If I were you I would stay!
Gianluca, thanks for checking out my site. This is a debate i often have with myself... whether to stick to and work at one style or many. I feel like a lot of the successful and well known creatives have a clear style and that's part of their success as people go to them for that particular style. Like with Shauna, clients obviously go to her for that distinctive hand lettered look (amazing by the way, very Jessica Hische!). I love and am inspired by lots of different designers and styles though so i would find it hard to work within the boundaries of one.

I did a mass email to lots of local design agencies this afternoon and have already had a few nibbles so hopefully this will be the start of something positive!
This is what good writing is made of; interesting, engaging, intelligent and well-written content. This is exactly what I see in your post. Thank you.

Sean Lee-Amies

I think that when you're starting out and you don't have a huge client base, it's best to work on building that up by promoting that you are capable of fulfilling lots of different clients requirements, instead of developing and promoting a singular, personal design style. Once you've got a steady income and a reliable client base, I would then develop a personal style with which to "wow" clients with, like Scotty's new website, and attract better paying work.