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A Guide to Becoming a Freelance Artist Without Prior Experience

Do you want to be able to work from home and have control over your own hours? Becoming a freelancer is a growing trend today!

The pandemic showed us that even as a full-time employee, there’s no guarantee that you’ll have your job forever. While the same applies for freelancers, you at least have the upper hand of looking for more jobs and clients. A lot of times, it even pays a lot more than regular jobs.

If you are looking to become a part-time or a full-time freelancer but have no prior experience, here’s what you can do to start your own portfolio.

Start your own website

One of the best ways to get started as a graphic artist or any professional art job is to start your own website. You can use it to feature all your past and future works. What’s great about this platform is that it is extremely accessible, and it helps you reach a wide range of clients. Studies found that 64 percent of freelancers find their clients online. It can help get your foot out the door for more exposure.

Nowadays, you don’t necessarily need to know how to code to have your own website either. There are websites with builders that are easy to use, such as WordPress and Squarespace. All you need to do is change the colors and upload your work. If you have a larger budget, you can buy website themes for more variety.

When uploading your work online, make sure that you add your watermark and copyrights. The internet makes it easier for others to steal your work, but a watermark can prove that it was originally yours. Similarly, you can promote your website and portfolio on social media and other similar platforms.

Partner with others

If you want to have your own published work, you can collaborate with other online professionals. Various online networks connect artists with writers and social media experts. Some writers collaborate with artists to turn their stories into comics and visual novels. You can even look for those publishing their own books and offer to create their cover art.

As with all things, make sure that you have contracts drafted that explicitly say that the work is credited to you. Some would even have your name mentioned in the final output. Unfortunately, some people only want ghost artists, and they might prohibit you from using your own in your portfolio. Read the terms of each agreement carefully before partnering.

Create for your niche

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A lot of novice freelancers would cast a wide net in the beginning. It’s just enough to get reviews and some references. While this is an effective way to get started, you can also narrow down your specialty. From here, you can start creating some sample works that you can show to possible clients in that niche.

For instance, you want to work on UX and UI design. What some people do to practice is by picking one existing website or application and improving it. See what creative aspects of their current design can be improved and add your own twist to it.

Experts say that having a well-defined niche can improve your marketing ability. If you already have a certain type of audience in mind, it is easier to create sample works that fit their needs. Being too broad might not always work in your favor because the samples you will provide might not apply to the project they are working on. Choosing a niche can help you make tailored art for them and their industry.

Edit past work

If you were a former art student or previously had personal projects in the past, you can still use them as your portfolio. They may be for school, but they are still art created by you and reflects your personal style. Works don’t necessarily have to be paid or published to be counted in your portfolio.

You can take this a step further by improving on past designs that you made. Is there something that you feel can be better? Then make editing or recreating your work as your next project. Not only does it make your art more updated, but it also shows that you are constantly improving as an artist.

As with anything regarding freelance life, make sure you aren’t giving your work out for free. Don’t sell yourself short because there are a lot of clients who would take advantage of that. For big projects, make sure that a downpayment is done beforehand. Don’t do work for free, especially if it’s something complicated or takes a lot of time.

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