Landing Your First Freelance Job


Working in the creative industry. It’s tough, there’s a lot of competition, you sometimes doubt yourself, but hell it’s rewarding. It’s also one of those lovely industries that doesn’t narrow you down to a 9-5 office job.

Although when graduating and in search of your first role within the industry, 9-5 is the most common position to get yourself into and hey… GOOD! Take that role, get all the experience you can get, you’re going to need it. Monday to Friday working within a design job isn’t THAT bad speaking from experience and it also gives you a lot of time to work on your side hustle.

A great way to make extra money and still practice your creative passion is freelancing. I have been working full time design roles and freelancing since I’ve graduated and I can tell you that I have learned a hell of a lot about my specific creative discipline not only through my office job but through the clients I have worked with on a  freelance basis.

Sooo… How does one freshly graduated creative land their first freelance gig? 


My first word of advice would be, in order to succeed within the freelance environment you must have the discipline to actually use your own initiative to complete work outside of an office or working environment… it’s easy to get distracted in your own home or in a coffee shop but you must be driven and passionate about your clients project. So before you take on any client’s project, make sure you’re in the right head space to do so.

Secondly, before you start reaching out for freelance projects lets give the portfolio a little brush up shall we? I would suggest 6 of your best projects that you feel really shows off your work and potential. As much as a nicely printed portfolio is aesthetically pleasing, it’s not going to be much use in this situation so you are going to need to take your portfolio ONLINE. No matter what you’re discipline, you may be a writer, photographer, film maker or a graphic designer… you’re work can and should be displayed on your very own little part of the internet! I have found that platforms such as Adobe Portfolio (free with the creative cloud), Behance, WordPress, Vimeo, squarespace, and the list goes on and on are very helpful (and most of them are free). Play around, some platforms are more suited to other disciplines more than others.

Now that we have established we are in the right head space and we have a banging online portfolio… let’s get some work done! As a creative student or graduate you will know all about the importance of networking… your lecturers won’t let you forget it and I’m telling you, it is very important. Good old fashion networking can be from a drunken chat in the pub, to an interesting conversation at a creative event or even that simple word of mouth, that before you know it, can accidentally lead you into a paying freelance gig… and that is in fact how a landed my first paid project as a freshly graduated creative (have a little look on meetup to talk with like minded people and get socialising).

But of course, I completely understand we can’t be social butterflies 24/7 to try and grab our next job, it’s time consuming and if you’re at the pub it can also get really expensive really fast… yet again bringing me back to your online presence. It is easy these days to find yourself a freelance gig online using the multiple platforms that the wonderful source that is the internet has to offer. Here are my four most effective methods that worked for me:

GUMTREE: Writing a simple advert on gumtree landed me regular work with a marketing agency and a fashion company. Write a professional post that sells you and your work, make sure it’s in proper english (or whatever language you speak) and attach some good photos of your work as well as providing a link to your online portfolio.

FREELANCER: This website is international and you can find sooo many jobs on here, from writing people’s blog posts to designing a logo you will find a brief on this website. How it works is you create your profile with all the essential information on it and then you ‘bid’ on projects. You bid by offering them a price and writing a short description on why you are the best candidate for the work… SELL YO’SELF, YOU GOT DIS!

PEOPLE PER HOUR: This website is very much similar to freelancer… Same applies, you create your profile and you can apply for jobs suited to your work. In addition to this you can post hourlies, which is posting your services for a certain price, for example ‘Logo Design & BrandBoard All Inclusive – £80’. (very good for web designers)

JOB SEARCH: Simply applying for job positions that are on a freelance basis. General websites like Indeed, Totaljob, LinkedIn, etc display freelance jobs all the time, so while you’re at it, you may as well drop the company a CV!

So there you have it… This is how I landed some of my first freelance jobs and I hope that  my experience can help you! And on that note I’m going to leave you with three more key bits of advice to anyone who is still trying to grab their first freelance job:

1 – Take your time with applying or bidding on a freelance project, use correct grammar and really sell yourself… it’s the least YOU deserve.

2 – Find a project like minded to you. If you’re an illustrator and you are applying for web design jobs then lets be a little bit more realistic here… The projects I have landed really suit me and my working style.

3 – DONT give up… It’s always hard at the start and it can be a bit discouraging but don’t be afraid of a little rejection because after a bit of hard work those rejections will turn into job offers and you’ll be flying… Everyone was a beginner at first.


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