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How to land your first freelance graphic design gig

Clients prefer to work with established freelancers they know they can trust rather than take a chance on a newcomer. So, how can you get your toes in the door and land that crucial first job?

There could be no finer group to ask than individuals who've gone through a similar interaction themselves and come out the other side grinning. So we did exactly that, and now we're sharing their ideas, best suggestions, and experiences with you.

How to land your first freelance graphic design gig
It's not what you know, but who you know

Leveraging your network is the best way to guarantee you land your first freelance contract. Anyone you've met or interacted with in the course of your design career is a potential member of your network. So get in touch with everyone, make it clear that you're looking for your first freelance gig, and emphasise that you're grateful for the help and recommendations they can provide.

How to utilise and expand your network

Your most essential contacts are your fellow designers, not big-name clients. The more people you know, the more chance you have of a door being opened, which then becomes this sort of viral network of opportunities. One job ends, another starts.

Make sure you're ready for your first meeting

However, pitching for your first job isn't just about you. You should also make sure you know everything there is to know about the person or company to whom you are pitching. If you do your homework on the company you want to work for, you'll be prepared to answer their questions before they even ask them. Examine their sector's competitors as well as those from other industries who target the same audience. Be astute!

Propose a pre-meeting

Building relationships triumphs over making a "blind" proposal. Request a face-to-face or Zoom pre-proposal meeting with people or the team. It makes you stand out and allows you to ask questions to ensure that it's a good fit for both you and them; it's a two-way street.

Persuade them that you're the best candidate for the position

Prepare a project outline to help you manage client expectations and hold yourself accountable during the initial meeting. Demonstrate to them that you know exactly what you're doing.

Create a standout portfolio

Regularly update your portfolio. Show clients what you've been working on; otherwise, how will they know what skills you have? Make a list of personal projects and projects you'd want to work on but haven't yet.

Maintain an open mind

Be willing to examine initiatives in areas and sectors you may not have previously considered. Keep challenging yourself, be optimistic, and treat each project as if it were the most important one you've ever worked on. Knowledge from these initial contracts will be beneficial as you progress in your freelancing business. Even the most mundane subject may be transformed into something extraordinary.

Don't get carried away

Rest is just as vital as working hard. You will be more efficient and your work will be of higher quality if you get enough sleep. While it's important to find and complete your first freelance project, don't go overboard and let the stress get to you.

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