The ultimate guide to being a freelance designer

Whether you're a seasoned freelancer or yet to take the plunge, our experts have some great advice for you.

Whether you're a salaried designer who's thinking of striking out on their own or a seasoned freelancer with dozens of clients, there are always handy tips to learn from your fellow freelancers. In these articles, we cover the whole gamut of freelance life, from starting out, winning work and handling your money to developing client relationships and juggling your work-life balance. Enjoy...

Taking the plunge

David Litchfield made the jump - but is it right for you?

5 myths that may be stopping you going freelance

Don't be scared to set up on your own, says Adam Cairns, as he deconstructs some popular myths about freelancing.

David Litchfield on making the jump to freelance

David Litchfield recalls the terror and exhilaration of quitting his design lecturing job to become a full-time illustrator.

How to decide between in-house and freelance life

Your first design job can define you for the rest of your career, so make sure you pick the right path. Designer Natasha Roberts of Big Blue Dog Design weighs up the pros and cons of in-house life...

How to get commissions

Doing people favours can help you win freelance work, says Sam Piggott

Market yourself as a freelance designer

Want to be your own boss? Then you need to put yourself out there. Here's how.

5 ways to get freelance work

More freelance commissions mean more money, which means more nice things. Natalie Brandweiner explains how to go about it.

Why doing people favours can win you more work

You don't have to bill for every little thing, says Sam Piggott. The odd favour can send your career flying.

Finding new freelance opportunities

Designer and illustrator Sasha Prood explains how she’s growing her freelance career this year.

What to do when it all goes quiet

What do you do when your freelance life drops from full speed to near-standstill? Alice Lickens has some suggestions.

Money tips

Plan ahead or you could end up in a financial pickle, warns Corey Holms

The importance of freelance money management

There's no doubt that freelancing can be a lucrative career path, but fail to plan ahead and you could end up in a financial pickle, warns Corey Holms.

The freelancer's guide to cash flow

Crappy at managing your cash flow? Mark James of Crunch Accounting provides some tips and techniques that’ll help you get your cash flow management back on the right track.

Money tips for freelancers

The downturn has caused freelancers to suffer at the hands of cash-strapped clients, argues Jon Norris. These tips should help smooth your cashflow

Freelancing: how to not go bust

Jonny Wan explains how he went freelance straight from university without ending up completely broke.

Finding the right work-life balance

Lisa Hassell passes on some tips for freelance mothers

How to freelance when you have a baby

It's not easy for a young, single mother to juggle raising a baby with building a freelance career. Lisa Hassell passes on some tips.

Freelancing: juggling work with family life

How do you balance a family and a freelance career? Michelle Thompson shares her experiences.

Adam Wilson on combining study with freelancing

Freelance front-end developer Adam Wilson on building up a freelance portfolio while studying at university.

Go freelance without quitting your day job

There's no reason why you can't start your freelance career while holding down a day job. Follow our 10 moonlighting tips.

Freelancing part-time: the best of both worlds?

Combining freelance work with a full-time 'proper' job? Is Michelle Barker mad?

Freelancing: how to avoid burnout

How do you balance paying the bills with avoiding running yourself into the ground? Tad Carpenter shares his experience.

Dealing with clients

It's not a great relationship unless they pay you!

Getting clients to pay: 10 tips

How do you make sure you getting paid properly for your design work? Joel Hughes of Jojet Ltd reveals the mistakes freelancers make and how to avoid them.

How to get great client testimonials

Get your clients to work for you by asking them to sing your praises.

Where to work

Home office, shared space or coffee shop?

The best places to do freelance design work

Home studio, shared space, Starbucks or somewhere else? We weigh up the pros and cons of the different places to do your freelance design work.

Gavin Potenza on combining studio buzz with freelance freedom

The illustrator and designer explains why sharing a bustling workspace with five creatives gives the buzz of a studio with all the freedom of freelance.

Freelance issues

Lizzie Mary Cullen cautions against working for free

Freelancing: is it ever OK to work for free?

Sometimes, says Lizzie Mary Cullen, it’s absolutely fine! But most of the time it’s not.

Are your fellow freelancers rivals or allies?

We asked leading designers: "As a freelancer, do you see fellow freelancers as rivals or allies?" Here's what they had to say.

Freelancing: why form a collective?

There’s no need go it alone! Jamie Mitchell started the Ohh Deer collective and combined the best of freelance and studio life.

Freelancers work for free

Designer Roy Barber and developer Mike Subelsky have found that working for free can be an excellent way for pros to get inspiration and a breadth of experience.

Tips for success

Contracts are the bedrock of the freelance life

10 lessons every freelancer should learn

From self-promotion to charging the right fee, Dean Evans gathers some expert tips on how to be a better freelancer.

The biggest freelance mistakes... and how to avoid them

These tips from Matt Schiffman will teach you how to stay independent and avoid some common mistakes related to freelancing.

The 12-step guide to success as a freelance designer

Want to leave your job and work for yourself as a freelance designer? Here's what you need to do.

20 pro tips for web design freelancers

There’s more to freelancing than deciding what tools to use. Craig Grannell interviews web industry folk who’ve gone it alone to unearth their top tips.

5 things you wish you'd known when you first went freelance

In an extract from his new ebook, Jonny Elwyn gives you the pep talk you never had.

Freelancing: how to get things done

Director and motion graphics designer Ninian Doff reveals his techniques for avoiding distraction and getting on with his job.

The top 10 tools for freelance designers

There are so many annoying little tasks involved in being a freelancer, it's a wonder you find any time left to actually design. Devesh Sharma suggests some tools that can make things simpler.

Freelance horror stories

Sometimes bad clients happen to good freelancers. Here, three anonymous creatives tell Anne Wollenberg about their worst ever commissions and the invaluable lessons they learned from them.

Freelancing: in case of emergency

What do you do when it all goes wrong? Chris Clarke explains how he deals with disaster.

Do you have any great freelance tips? Why not share them with the design community by commenting below?


Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in design and technology. He was previously associate editor at Creative Bloq and deputy editor at net magazine, the world’s best-selling magazine for web designers. Over two decades in journalism he’s worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, Heat, Company and Bella. Follow him on Twitter @tom_may.