Freelance Files | Before Step One

freelance files_before step one

For those of you who follow me on Instagram and found your way to this little piece of cyberspace, you may remember me posting that I had the "First step to starting a freelance design biz" post ready to go, but then I remembered that there's a very integral piece of the puzzle that I over-looked. Thanks for your patience.


I missed this when I first started out.
Or at least in part.

You have to be doing design. More than that, you have to be doing the design for which you want to get hired. First for practice, then so potential customers can be assured that you can do the work you say you want to do. (***There are some caveats to this that will be explained in a later post.)

ONE: This is the part that stinks: you are going to have to work hard and do "fun" work on your own time.

The following are examples of how to accomplish this:

  • 100 Day Projects. I first heard of this via the great Michael Beirut. I've seen the most growth from doing things like this, even if I don't make it to 100. I highly suggest being strategic with this. For example, I lettered 100 Scripture Verses and it took awhile to unteach people that I do more than letter cute things.

  • See a logo or a sign in the wild that's not great - redesign it.

  • Want to get into branding coffee shops? Make one one up! Create everything that coffee shop might need. Mock-ups are a beautiful thing to build out collateral (fancy word for the stuff of the brand - business cards, coffee mugs, signage, etc. etc.)

TWO: You HAVE to share. This is the worst part because social media screams in our faces that we're not as good as everyone else. But I guarantee you, that there are plenty of people worse than you too.

  • Share your work with friends and family and ask for feedback. Be prepared to not be defensive. (*Note for myself.)

  • Share your work with designers who are further along than you and ask them for critique. You'd be surprised at how many will be willing to do this for you.

  • Share your work with the world. Choose one place to start (Instagram, Pinterest, Dribbble, Behance, a portfolio website.) Trust me, I don't like social media just as much as you, but this is the new "market place." This is how you bring what you have to offer the world out in public. We can't escape this new way, so just embrace it.

This means you have to let go. You have to let go of perfectionism and knowing everything. Just post and post often. Do a little thing each day, or each week, as you have time. My BFF, Seth Godin says this, "A small thing repeated is no small thing."

In summary, you can't even start thinking about about freelancing if you're not doing the work and not sharing it. But I believe in you. Start small. Be faithful. It all adds up.

I'd love to answer your questions, so please leave them in the comments!

Kayla Phillips is a freelance graphic designer based out of Peoria, IL, but available worldwide.