Sourcing clients is freelance 101, right? However, it doesn’t hurt to have a quick refresher especially as the competition seems to only grow larger and more widespread. As the field becomes more accessible, how do individual designers and firms get their work seen and, more importantly, commissioned, at a time when freelance marketplaces such as freelance platforms have thousands of designers competing for work? 

First things first, do what the apps and platforms can’t do. 

Selling clever design, nuanced thinking, and positive human experience—that becomes a freelancer’s greatest assets. We like to think creatives are unique, and they are, but similar crowdsourcing trends are happening across the board, with apps and companies offering cheap-to-free alternatives for everything from guided meditation to dubious medical diagnosis. Consumers are accustomed to cost-efficient options, but the reality is that these alternatives only provide for fundamental, rudimentary needs – quick fixes if you will. The adage says ‘You get what you pay for,’ and that’s absolutely true.

Secondly, be smart with your outreach.

Personal connection is still super important. With a sea of freelancers posting on platforms and sending emails, sometimes sending messages asking to meet for a cup of coffee can be the make or break. It gets easier—one job often leads to another. Reach out directly to people you’d like to work with and see what happens. Care about the work that you do but, at the same time, don’t take your designer-self too seriously. And don’t be shy about money.

Stay active with your creativity.

If you have a side hustle, don’t think you have to hide it from you work as a freelancer. Sharing all forms of your creativity can often act as a great business plan. There’s no pressure surrounding it yet potential clients can keep an eye on your aesthetic tastes, skills and growth. 

Your social media presence needs to be strong – sorry!

Sharing your work publicly is a very important part of the design process. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but it’s incredibly helpful. Furthermore, overcoming the anxiety that comes with vulnerability helps to build networks, gather feedback, and feel connected to both designers and viewers alike. Sharing your work can also act as a reminder that the design process is iterative, so there’s always room to improve or modify a project. There are a lot of designers out there, but staying true to your style will drive opportunities your way and serve as an advantage that allows you to pave your own path. 

Help out the community. 

Taking on a design project for a friend or colleague can come back as a large corporate brand project in a short matter of years as friends rise in the ranks along with their career paths and move around to different companies, they put you forward with the strong recommendation because they have been through it with you before and trust the relationship. 

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