Graphic design gigs sound like an easy way to make a living. However, the reality is different for everyone. For some, it’s all jobs and no rest, while for others, every single gig won seems like a lifesaver.
Surprisingly, this has nothing to do with talent. Even with a graphic design degree (and all the skillsets you may need), you’ll keep yearning for real opportunities if you ignore the business aspect of your freelance career.
Because everything, from job search to payouts, happens remotely, you may want to spend more time familiarizing yourself with the order of activities and fortifying your online presence.
Down the road, most graphic designers face challenges maneuvering the job industry. Add to the fact that you’re working in a vacuum (all alone from home) plus, you’re likely to lag for a pretty long time.
In essence, this job requires you to be more proactive than you imagine. For instance, you must stay up to date with industry news, identify the best places to search, and optimize your freelancer profile time and again to increase your chances.
With lots of moving parts, you must watch out for everything or suffer frustration your entire career.
Best Practices to Win Graphic Design Gigs
Online graphic design jobs are not any different from other remote jobs. The hassle (and job search) process is almost the same across all industries.
Below are some best practices to follow:
1. Build Networks
Freelancers who do not network get locked out of opportunities. To make online connections:
- Be active on social media sites and professional networking sites like LinkedIn.
- Join online forums and hang out with freelancers like you. You might even meet potential clients.
- Link with previous clients. Pitch for jobs from people you’ve worked with before.
- Join your website’s freelancer community. These groups allow you to ask questions about graphic design gigs and learn from other experienced designers.
To connect with other experienced designers, start by joining one of these platforms:
- The American Institute for Graphic Arts (AIGA): AIGA is arguably one of the designers’ most prominent chill spots. This group organizes local events and offers plenty of learning material and resources for newbies.
- Graphic Design GoTo: This is a Facebook community for freelancers seeking gigs, design resources, and networking opportunities.
- The Graphic Design Subreddit: This group offers valuable graphic design tips and samples. It is the perfect place to throw any questions you have about design.
Lastly, you could build a website or blog. Though this looks like a long shot, creating an informative blog can mean quality leads in the long run. Still, it takes patience and dedication to win gigs through this method.
2. Search for jobs in the right places
Searching for jobs in more than one place increases your odds a great deal. Freelance websites are not the only place to source jobs. Numerous other platforms offer graphic design gigs, as we shall see later in the post.
Do not limit your potential to a single freelance website while thousands of opportunities await out there. You never know; maybe your best chance lies elsewhere.
However, the online job search process can be trickier than you think, with so many factors to consider. Make sure you understand how a website works before committing to any project(s).
3. Build a convincing portfolio
After a grueling hassle for potential clients, you must also convince them that you are the perfect fit for their project. Most prospects will analyze your profile to see if your talent matches their needs.
Your freelancer profile should feature everything, including:
- Your name
- An intro about yourself
- Your skills and competencies
- Your experiences and strengths
- The specific graphic design services you offer
- Plenty of samples
- Links to social media pages and professional networking sites like LinkedIn
- How much you charge for graphic design jobs
Remember, a strong profile wins every day. Do not compromise on quality and detail when building yours.
4. Optimize your profile
To win gigs, you must be visible to clients. The best way to achieve this is to position yourself as the remedy to their problems and do a little bit of SEO (or search engine optimization).
Though SEO doesn’t guarantee gigs, it aligns your pages to client searches.
Here’s how it works in a nutshell:
If you list your services with the exact keywords as clients look them up in search engines, you are more likely to appear in their searches.
Other ways to improve SEO include:
- Adding plenty of samples and naming them with relevant keywords,
- Updating your profile time and again to match client needs,
- Using the right freelancer title, etc.
In other words, optimizing your freelancer page(s) makes it visible all over the internet and internally–in your freelance platform. This increases the likelihood of getting booked for work.
5. Add plenty of samples
Brand new relevant samples are the best way to demonstrate that you understand the latest in graphic design.
It also helps clients gauge how well freelancer’s skills match their specific needs, aiding them to make more informed hiring decisions.
When adding samples, remember to name them appropriately. This will help align them to customer searches, make them more visible, and even get you more gigs.
6. Stay up to date with industry news
Industry news may be anything that impacts your career either negatively or positively. Being in the know prepares you for the future.
For instance, being the first to know when a new graphic design gigs platform rolls out can give you a competitive edge.
Relatively new websites tend to offer plenty of jobs with little effort. Also, existing freelancers face less competition because the website isn’t crowded with talent just yet.
Lastly, these platforms offer a steady job supply which is good for your career.
7. Learn new skills and get a graphic design degree
Learning new skills exposes you to new job opportunities. Do not stop at what you already know. Strive to learn more about graphic design. If possible, pursue a degree as you continue working on small gigs.
Often, employers vetting candidates get caught between two or three similar profiles. In such cases, a degree can give you an edge over candidates who don’t have any certifications to show their prowess.
According to findings from job-ad analysis software, most clients prefer candidates with no less than a Bachelor’s degree. Of the 53,000 graphic design job posts analyzed, a whopping 78 percent had a degree as the minimum requirement.
Where to Find Graphic Design Gigs
So, where do you find well-paying graphic design work? How do you transition from uncertainties to a steady supply of jobs? After all, what good is a job that doesn’t guarantee enough earnings to fend for yourself and your loved ones?
a) Freelance websites
Bunny Studio is a perfect example of a freelance website linking clients to talented designers like you.
To join a freelance website, you must pass a test, build your portfolio, add samples of previous works, and then work your way to premium status. All these take plenty of effort, time, and perseverance to achieve.
b) Use job boards
Job boards like ProBlogger and Hubstaff Talent are excellent places to meet potential clients. Such platforms allow you to bid for jobs directly. You need to have a ready resume template, a powerful cover letter, and links to relevant samples to qualify.
Organize everything up front to ensure a painless bidding process. Also, update your portfolio time and again to continue appealing to your client’s changing needs.
c) Post your work in Design Template Markets
Design template platforms allow freelancers to create and sell their templates. This approach helps you to earn an extra dollar even when not at work. It also increases your visibility because you get to showcase your best work.
Client’s who find your templates relevant and impressive might buy them. Some standard design template websites to sell your work include:
- Creative Market
But these platforms are not only a place to sell you content. In some cases, customers who buy templates will likely invite designers to handle more significant projects in the future. This is a clever way to build a robust graphic design career and get access to more gigs.
d) Network with others
Working from home can make you a loner and seclude you from others. If you do not make real connections with people, you’ll have a problem winning jobs down the road.
Meet up with other designers in events, link up for coffee, etc. Go out and check out what others are doing. Who knows, ideas from your design buddies could be the start of a continuous flow of jobs.
e) Pitch for jobs from direct clients
Another way to look for jobs is to identify prospects and send proposals. Strategic pitching can attract a brand’s attention and win you more graphic design gigs.
Before pitching, be sure to do plenty of research about the client. That way, you can suggest an idea that addresses their pain points and even win them over. Lastly, learn more about the company to ensure you only pitch when opportunities are nearby.
f) Create social profiles on design websites
High-ranking design websites like Behance and Dribbble can help you improve your online visibility.
These platforms have proper SEO and often rank well in search engines like Google–maybe even more than your profile does! By creating a profile on these websites, you are more likely to drive search traffic to your portfolio, whether you’re active or not.
Such platforms were created for designers who would like to share their samples and receive ratings from other experts. Besides offering plenty of helpful reviews, it might also lead to meaningful referrals.
Your graphic design career will be a lot more fun and rewarding if you brace yourself to win more opportunities.
Though it takes time to start enjoying top-tier jobs, you can pace up the journey by networking, pitching for opportunities, and searching in more than one place. Also, remember to update your portfolio in all graphic design websites and optimize them to match client searches.
Lastly, if you are already a Bunny Pro, check out this guide about making your profile visible and getting invited to more gigs.
If you are not yet a Bunny Pro, start from scratch. Create a new account, take the test, begin adding samples, and work your way to the top.