Alice Foster’s Answer
Hi, Jerome. When I began my freelance design business, a was making a career move from marketing, so I was going into it (as you may be) with a pretty slim portfolio. I built it up by mocking up designs that no one commissioned me to do and doing some pro bono design work for a couple of nonprofits that I volunteered with who trusted me. I got my first jobs through a talent agency that specialized in creative work, and later found projects through websites that match up designers with businesses that have projects. (I don't want to promote any specific businesses or sites here, but you can find them pretty easily by searching online for "freelance design.") A piece of advice, though: As much as you want to have work to add to your portfolio, beware of projects that require that you submit work on spec, which means that they ask you to do the work with no guarantee that they will purchase it from you after you present it. That may be a risk that you're willing to take in the beginning while you're building your portfolio, but don't make it a practice. It devalues your work to do it for free.
As with any profession, too, networking is key. After a while, I was getting work through word of mouth. You don't indicate where or if you are in school to study design, but I hope that you are. In addition to helping you hone your skills, it is a great place to start building your network, and can offer some valuable internship connections.
Alice Foster recommends the following next steps:
- Design! Do projects that you love and that showcase the range of your talent, then set up your own portfolio website. There are lots of low-cost or even free options for hosting.