Freelance Design Jobs You Can Do Anywhere You Want
This post is about freelance design opportunities that reach 6 figures income. Jokes aside, read and see these examples yourself.
- Types of Freelance Design Jobs and Brief Explanation
- Web Designer
- Graphic Designer
- Marketing Designer
- Brand Designer
- UX/UI Designer
- Fashion Designer
- Digital Artist
- Icon Designer
- Lettering Artist
- 3D Designer
- Prepress Designer
- Freelance vs. 9 to 5
- Freelance Gigs vs. Remote Work
- What’s the difference between Remote and Freelance?
- How much can you earn freelancing?
- Where to find freelance design jobs?
Types of Freelance Design Jobs and Brief Explanation
In most cases, a freelance web designer's main responsibilities include both design and coding of websites.
It looks like a complex combination at first sight, and it’s challenging to do both on a decent level. However, those who design awesome web pages and deliver them as a fully working website deliver more value to their clients. Meaning they usually get higher rewards for their work.
Oftentimes, you will be required to re-design the existing website. This means you need to apply your knowledge and skills related to the latest trends, best up-to-date practices, make sure it works and looks ok on all possible screen sizes, etc.
Sometimes, you can stumble upon jobs or small projects like setting up plug-ins, changing website settings, creating a separate module or a plug-in, or even managing a website technical issues and process on a part-time basis.
Web design is there for decades. It’s still being searched by business owners, companies, and startups despite a good amount of web constructor solutions and people who wanted to cancel web design for years.
So the jobs and projects are still there, and it’s possible to find a gig. Moreover, the knowledge base is so rich and accessible as never before. It’s relatively easy to fill in the blank spaces within things that you don’t know about Web Design to find a gig that suits you.
It’s a massive and broad area in the freelance design world, and you can’t even say it’s a niche. Like web design, or I’d say, even bigger than that, the graphic design combines multiple disciplines and a lot of knowledge.
A Graphic Designer may be required to design:
- an Apple Watch band,
- design game characters,
- create a fashion collection,
- design social media campaign across multiple platforms,
- remodel storefront,
- create digital art,
- design a logo,
- and more...
Freelancers can do all these and similar types of projects. I’ve even heard a story that one freelancer was involved in designing the first Apple Watch. I don’t know for sure how true is that, but I know that many highly recognized brands like Coca-Cola and Nike designed their logos on the side using freelancers, and these logos cost a fortune now (search for proof).
As you can see, graphic designers can focus on different areas, not really related to each other. Because every sub-area has lots of specifics, and it’s tough to know everything on a decent level.
I’ll go a little bit deeper on some of the sub-areas as separate types of jobs below.
You can stumble upon such requests as business cards, brochures, packaging, flyer, and letterhead design, but actually, it’s more than that.
A freelance brand designer can make a message of a company, or a business delivered creatively. This means it will be easier to memorize, love, interact with a brand for potential consumers.
It’s important to remember this value before applying for a freelance gig or a job as a brand designer.
A business or a flyer design in isolation might cost pennies. Still, a business's message to communicate through these printables or any other brand deliverables is the real value.
Many people on the Internet ask if it’s possible to be a Freelance UX/UI Designer. From my own experience, I can say that it’s not so common as Freelance Web Designers or Graphic Designers, but you still can find decent gigs in this area as well.
Why it’s not so common to be a Remote UX/UI Designer?
At first, nobody knew what it is and how it is different from Web Design before the Apple Keynote, where they presented the first iPhone.
Soon after that, UX/UI Design became a very trendy area, and everyone wanted to transition to it because this is where the real money is. Well, sort of...
As soon as it became a trendy topic, pretty much every internet company and startup wanted to hire someone to fix their User eXperience and design that's pleasant to an eye User Interface. Not many companies, especially startups, saw it as a long-term job, and they hired freelancers to iterate on their products.
2-3 years later, it went more in a corporate direction and became more official. So most of the UX/UI Design jobs now are full-time or part-time. Basically, companies realized that they need someone in charge of their customer experiences, interface performance, competitive analysis, information architecture, and other smart things that’s good to have in a digital product business.
However, companies and startups still want to hire freelancers to build new features and side projects that are not related to their main business.
Some startups do not have enough funding, or they’re bootstrapping. So they’re looking for freelancers without long-term commitments to building an MVP or the first working prototype. Some even want to build a concept and present it to investors.
Freelance Fashion Designer seemed too specific and far away from what I understood before discussing this type of design job with other designers and researched the topic.
Actually, almost every apparel-related job can be done remotely by a freelancer.
Here are some ideas if you’re interested in Freelance Fashion Design opportunities
- Fashion Illustrations: for the purpose of art presentation, schematics for accessory (how to use and/or features), and product illustrations;
- Technical Design: Creating Tech Packs, Technical Flats, or assisting with product development;
- Fashion Graphic Design: packaging, brand logos, website or social media graphics;
- Stylist: curate wardrobe for special events and photoshoots.
- Fashion Designer: assist a client in creating their collections;
- and more...
Basically, as a Freelance Digital Artist, you sell your art on your terms. It means either creating and selling physical or digital artwork. Or you can even combine and do both.
You can sell art on your website or marketplace platforms that provide some traffic, and you pay the commission from each sale of your art.
There is one more way how you can monetize your digital art. It’s quite new, and I can’t say if it’s proven because of so much noise around it right now.
Anyway, it’s creating NFTs. I’m not gonna go too much into details here. Basically, if I understood it right, it’s your artworks that are encrypted using blockchain technology. It means that it’s a unique artifact as collectibles in the real-world (i.e., Mona Lisa) that you can sell on specific websites.
It requires some investments to actually crypt your artwork, but the reward can be massive if it gains a lot of interest.
Some people have made millions on it already.
Again, I don’t know if it's complete hype or some of this info is correct, but that’s something that you can try to do. Big rewards have risks involved. This is not financial advice tho.
As a Freelance Illustrator, you can base your income on selling illustrations similar to Digital Artist that I wrote about above.
Also, it can be a more traditional way of doing client work and provide your services as a freelancer to businesses that require some unique illustrations for a variety of mediums.
You can create illustrations for
- Promo materials and social media campaigns;
- Book covers and music album covers;
- Editorials, media outlets, publications;
- and more...
Your role as a freelance illustrator can be independent. You can work in teams with other creatives as Graphic Designers, Fashion Designers, Web Designers, UX/UI Designers, and pretty much everything related to any kind of graphics.
Some important skills might be required as understanding the pen tool and how to create vectors properly.
This might seem like a limited type of job, but actually, you can achieve great success working as a freelance icon designer.
Icon Designer is a very specific and challenging type of design work. One of the challenges is that you have a limited canvas to create something meaningful on it. It’s not only challenging but beneficial at the same time.
Constraints like this teach you to be focused and disciplined before achieving the same level of perfection on a bigger scale.
One example is Pixel art. This is where you literally have a limited amount of pixels you can operate on, but it creates real value and easy recognition if it's done right.
Another good example is creating App icons for platforms like iOS and Android.
I’ve followed a company of a few guys that started building their Dribbble profile with highly detailed and neat app icons in skeuomorphic style (trendy at that time). They’ve gained a huge reputation and then built their way into Interface Design, applying their skillset from an Icons Design background. Now they operate as a Digital Product Agency with clients like Netflix, Adobe, Opera, SalesForce, and more.
Creating libraries of icons or custom packs for specific projects is a good way to work with clients. You can sell your icon packs and libraries independently on your website and marketplaces.
The most recent and jaw-dropping example is about a guy who’s sold an iOS 14 icon pack for $280K in four weeks. You can read this post and learn more about his experience.
Being a lettering artist requires a lot of work before you can make decent artworks and income.
By some calculations, I found online it can be around 1-2 years before you can create something really cool and sellable. Of course, it depends on your level of commitment and involvement in this craft.
The cool fact about lettering is that you can’t really fake it. Most of the value here comes from exclusive work. And what you can see is exclusive rights and license on using your work.
Here is a story of one hand-letterer (at that time) who has sold 5 items of his work for 5 figures.
3D visualizations might be super difficult, energy, and time-consuming. I know that because I was studying it for about a year back in the days.
It requires having powerful hardware and sometimes uses render farms. 3D software is expensive. The projects can be very lengthy. Although, it’s quite rewarding.
You need to know your niche. You can work on modeling game characters, CGI for films, or focus on the architectural side of things.
All of these are quite large niches. So you definitely need to pick one.
3D Specialists can easily earn 6 figures whether it’s a job with a monthly salary, a combination of gigs, or even you have a big collection of 3D objects that you’re selling on marketplaces or your site.
The main area of activities of a Prepress Freelance Designer is preparing graphic design files for printing.
Here are the tasks that might be required from Prepress Designer
- Check font spacing — checking on leading, tracking, and kerning of text;
- Confirm image size and resolution — making sure that print items have 300 DPI and more or according to specs in your project,
- Ensure color accuracy — checking on color mode of the document, changing it to CMYK, and making sure everything looks ok;
- Define bleed and crop marks — basically, checking on the edges of your design and where cuts should be made, and where are the page boundaries once things are printed;
- Take care of imposition — arranging all of the pages of your design onto the paper order to print faster and reduce paper waste;
- Create high-resolution PDF;
- Know at least the basics of print design software (i.e., InDesign, CorelDraw...)
Freelance vs. 9 to 5
Working remotely or being a freelancer is not the same thing as working 9 to 5. And by this, I mean everything is different.
You really don’t need 40+ hour weeks to work on projects and accomplish milestones. However, fewer hours doesn’t mean freelancers don’t have intense schedules, and those who stay committed to it are truly hardworking people.
Oftentimes, you don’t work on one project or one job for years, and each project, on average, lasts 2 weeks to 1 month. Of course, it depends on the service you’re providing or the products you make, market, and sell.
You can have time off any time you want, but also you can work on weekends if you feel like it or need some extra time to finish things up.
It’s very common not to have a schedule when you’re freelancing.
Your office space can be everywhere you want. It can be a permanent work desk in your room, a co-working space, and various coffee shops that you like.
Freelance has its ups and downs as everything else. It means you’re more independent, free from office rules and corporate cultures, you’re more self-aware, and make more decisions. At the same time, you have more responsibilities than if you’d be working in an office.
Freelance is less structured, and often, clients don’t tell you exactly what they want to achieve. It’s your responsibility to investigate this and discover all ins and outs of a project.
Freelance Gigs vs. Remote Work
Remote work is not exactly a true freelance. There are no strict borders between these two, and some people think it’s the same thing.
You can find loads of freelance opportunities online, but actually, those could be remote jobs. Simply because they seek long-term “candidates” and they have a list of requirements. Basically, it looks the same as a regular job but with the label “remote.”
What’s the difference between Freelance and Remote?
Clients who seek a freelancer usually don’t have any requirements. They have a problem they want to solve, but they don’t know how. A freelancer can solve this problem. The rest don’t matter.
Remote work is more like a traditional 9 to 5 job, but you have an agreement with your employer to work outside of the office, or they don’t even have an office, and everyone is remote from day one.
Most of the attributes like working hours, scheduled meetings, the way management works are the same as in an office job.
Often, the only difference is your location and the tools you use to replace person-to-person meetings and communications.
You can say it has more freedoms because obviously nobody is watching your screen behind your shoulder.
It’s harder to distract you from the tasks you’re doing because you can easily switch to do not disturb mode.
You might work from a different country with a different timezone, and it changes things even more.
However, remote work often has almost the exact attributes as office jobs.
Unlike a freelance gig, a remote job has a fixed salary. It can actually be a good thing for somebody. It’s a more stable life, you have a steady income, and you know for sure that you can pay your bills. It’s quite often that a remote job can be a stepping stone to a stable life, just like a regular job.
Also, it can be a bad thing in case if you want to grow, experiment, and build your portfolio. It’s easier to do so if you are a freelancer. Yes, your income is not stable, but it doesn’t mean it’s lower than if you work remotely on a company.
At the end of the day, it depends on you how you set up and manage your finances.
Remote jobs can have lots of rules and a strict schedule. So you are basically locked at your work desk, and your management expects you to answer any time they want to disturb you, or you have full days of meetings with your teammates mostly because that’s a company culture and rules applied to you.
The more meetings you have on your job, the more you tightened to your work desk.
Freelance, on the other side, gives your more freedom. Because you’re the one who makes a decision on how you want to work with your clients, what tools and software you‘re comfortable with, and what time or schedule feels more productive in your case.
Another key difference is that remote work is focused on the hours you spend on your work activities. The most confusing situation is where clients want freelancers to bill them on an hourly basis.
Some clients want to know your rate per hour and how many hours your work will take. Ideally, as a freelancer, you don’t have an hourly rate. Otherwise, it’s a remote job, you spend billable time working, and the focus is at the wrong place.
How much can you earn freelancing?
When talking freelance, you can say the sky is the limit. However, as a one-person company, you might stumble upon some limitations.
To be more realistic, I know that experienced freelancers earn somewhere between $3-7k a month. Some make $10k and more.
Your income depends on several key metrics
- The level of service you provide;
- Your sales funnel;
- How you negotiate deals;
- Your onboarding process;
- You’re creative process;
- and how you generally build relationships with your clients.
Side hustles and semi-passive income is also a good way to earn a decent income. You can sell merch, printables, digital graphic assets, build software and monetize it, create courses and write books.
Some guys make really good money with their blogs.
All those things add up, and you decide what empire you are going to build.
Where to find freelance design jobs?
Firstly, you need to find your prospects and understand who your client is. Once done, you can work on your online presence, portfolio, sales funnel, and networking.
If you’re stuck, that’s fine too.
Here are some of the places and ideas where you can find clients
- Facebook groups (hiring);
- Friends and other freelancers;
- Cold emailing.
Freelance is a different world, that’s for sure. It’s never meant to be one exact way to do your work online. No guides or courses can actually teach you to do it right. Your practice can.
Try things, read and see what others do. Experiment and do more of what works best for you.
Maybe remote work is your jam. Who knows. Maybe even 9 to 5 is something you can’t replace with anything else... you might have to do it tho for the next 1-2 years due to recent global events :-)
Anyway, I hope you found some useful info in this post and/or saw a different point of view here.
Happy hunting ;)