Advise getting started basic freelance graphic work

I am looking for some advice on getting started doing freelance graphic work. I am a rising Junior in ID, and have not had much luck finding a summer job in any field. I am looking to work on building up my portfolio and graphic design skills while I have the free time. So I am looking for advice on getting started with some basic freelance graphic design jobs. Good places to look? Asking rates. Anything really from those that have experience. I have done previous work for student clubs at my college, but all of that was pretty much free. Most clubs asked me to put together flyers for them, but really wanted something basic almost as if it were done in MS word.

It was back in uni when i first got into graphic design - more by accident that through choice but it really has grown on me. The more strings to you bow the better imho. Developing the ability to silently sell a product beyond slick renderings and sketches is a valuable part of the design process, and oft overlooked i might add.

In all fairness the first few project commissions that i came my way were quite out of the blue. I knew nothing about graphic design beyond some basic typography and graphic studies we were taught at college. Half of the challenge of freelancing is having a bit of faith in what you are capable of, and pushing those boundaries and developing your skills beyond ID.

Just starting out means your portfolio will be limited, i would spend as much spare time as you ID classes allow creating a strong graphic portfolio. Quality reigns over quantity. Personally i would aviod using ID work unless the presentation boards are awesome. If you have no paying gigs at the moment create peices that would impress potential clients in the area that interests you most. Learn Adobe like the back of your hand. Subscribe to flickr pools and rss feeds for good design inspiration sites. Soak it all up.

Its a doddle these days to set up a simple portfolio site. If you get freaked by html Coroflot is an option but for $10 buy your own domain name as a blogspot account and set up a one page portfolio. Its pretty easy to use, create all your elements in photoshop and upload jpegs into the interface. This can be done for nothing but professionaly speaking " … " looks a bit un-pro. You also get a custom email address to boot which again gives you credibilty.

In terms of finding work, you should have no excuses whilst being a student… You will no doubt be surrounded by thousands of people and businesses. Drop into places with a business card and a small sample booklet of some work. Chances are you will be working for way below the average hourly rate for a graphic designer. That could possibly open doors. Buy coffee for folk. Leave business cards. Friends of friends are key.The best way to get work is always networking. Just get out and speak to people, dont be afraid to tread on toes.Read up on Geurilla marketing. Get to know other graphic designers, we all share the passion and are usually willing to help.

Design gig websites are an option, but be aware that there will be maaaany more designers than projects. Use google to find a few. The good ones charge a subscription fee normally. Avoid bidding sites like the plague. Ditto spec work (you only get paid if your work gets used ). There is a big difference between this and working for free, contact charities and organizations close to your heart and offer your services for free in exchange for expericence. And karma. Can pay off if you get it right.

Hourly rate is a tricky thing to get right. Research into rates. Set yours just above what you realistically want for the job. Only once you have some experience behind you will be able to feel comfortable about what to charge. Harsh perhaps, but any money you earn whilst learning the ropes is a total bonus.

You mention that most people only want MS word-esque things doing. That is usually because they have only working knowledge of such software. It is up to you the designer to sell your abilities. Illustrator takes time to learn, so sell that. You can make people look good… tell them that!

Just remeber that graphic design is not ID. Whilst there are many similar processes only a few cross paths…There are numerous discussions about similar topics within the forum, dig around. The web is full of GD forums discussing just this.

Good luck!

ben_greenwood thanks for the tips. Luckily I have been using Photoshop, Indesign, and Illustrator for about 5-6 years now. I do have some work samples from this past years studio and a little bit of graphic work that I did for those student clubs. The biggest thing I guess is finding work and those connections and also moving from doing Free flyers to paid flyers if possible.

My suggestion would be to find your local small/new business owners association and attend one of the meetings. These are the people that need graphic/industrial designers such as yourself. Entrepreneurs typically can’t quite afford the boutique design firms, so having someone with your particular skill set could be very beneficial.

Just a thought.

Just be careful with this and make sure you are paid what you are worth. Entrepreneurs sometimes also do not understand the value of design and want to get these services for a much lower rate. Just make sure you do your home work on the company and ask for a flat fee upfront.

good point from PackageID. Smaller jobs for clients i havent worked with before are asked for 100% upfront and bigger stuff i wont take less than 50%, with full paymet upon completion or at specific dates to keep the cashflow sweet.

Social networking sites are a great way to find work, offer your services to bands, Djs and promoters if flyers are your thing, but be cautious of the payment situation. is a great resource with a huge archive, dig around Noisy Decent Graphics , this guy really does speak some sense…

Thanks ben and the rest of you all, really good advice