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Is it meant to be tough starting out?

I read a lot online, and the general view is that starting up as a freelance graphic designer is tough going for a while. Im certainly experiencing that myself.
Is there a point though where you go from struggling, to making a steady income? Is it a black and white change, or a gradual one. Does it take months or years?

Personally I have been going about 5 months and im at the stage where im making money, but probably still below minimum.
It's certainly a long slog and there will be plenty of peaks and troughs along the way. Building a regular client base is something that takes time and from my experience is never something that you finish. When I started out workload was sporadic but as I was doing good work for clients they came back for more when needed.

When pro-actively targeting clients I'd try to go for those that have a regular need; so for example a company that sends out regular newsletters or a retailer who often expands their product lines. Regular work is the key to regular income and if you spend all your time chasing companies that want a logo and then nothing else for the next six months you'll forever be chasing new clients.
Ha, some people do and good luck to them. However it's hard work chasing new clients constantly so just worth bearing in mind the chances of getting regular work when targeting potential client groups.