How to start a freelance career as a digital artist

Jul 16, 2019

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.

Are you thinking about becoming a freelance digital artist? Before you get started, set yourself up for the best possible success with a solid plan for your finances, equipment, and career trajectory.

Get the tools you need

Unfortunately, art software and hardware cost a lot. So if you want to become a freelance artist, you should be ready to dig into your savings for essential tools. If you have a really tight budget, you may avoid overspending in the following ways:

  • Use free trials and demo versions. Don’t rush to buy premium services, if you can use a basic set of features for free for a few weeks.
  • Get student discounts. If you currently study at college, you may get software well below retail cost. Check the information at the academic support center.
  • Ask artist friends to share their promo codes. If they are professionals who use art software on a regular basis, it’s highly likely that they have access to lots of discounts.
  • Participate in referral programs. Create your account using the promotional links, which you can get from your friends or find online.

Calculate your freelance hourly rate

If you currently have a high-paying job, it might be scary for you to leave the office and start freelancing. Yep, it’s highly likely that you will face some temporary financial instability in the first few months of freelancing. But as soon as you become an expert in your niche, you will get enough contracts to hit your financial goals.

To overcome financial difficulties, you should calculate your optimal freelance hourly rate. You can do it in three steps:

  • Calculate your target annual income. How much do you want to earn in a year? Do you want to keep your income on the current level or increase it? Let’s imagine that you want to make $80,000 annually.
  • Compute your number of billable hours per year. How many hours are you going to work per day/week? How many days/weeks of vacation will you have? Let’s say that you plan to work 1,350 hours.
  • Divide target annual income on the total number of billable hours. According to the example, the rate should be around $59 per hour. In case if you work with your clients via freelance platforms, you should add a platform’s fee to your rate.

Take advantage of tax deductions

“As a freelancer, you are eligible to deduct all expenses related to your work from taxable income,” says Miller, the content manager at Top Writers Review. Here is a list of deductions he cites:

  • Mortgage payment (if you work from home office), or rent payment (if you work from co-working space)
  • Software and hardware
  • Office supply
  • Advertising and membership fees
  • Travel expenses (conference and expo passes, air tickets, hotels, etc.)
  • Insurance premiums
  • Tax preparation fees

Create the perfect freelance profile

If you want to sell your services at a high price, you should create a winning profile. Try to find the right words to present yourself in the most favorable light.

Your freelance profile should include the following items:

  • Professional photo
  • Suitable title (digital artist, 3D artist, 3-D specialist, graphic designer, etc)
  • Short, yet catchy bio
  • At least three samples of your work
  • List of your skills
  • Educational background
  • Tests and certificates, which prove your qualification
  • Video presentation (if applicable)

Be active on social media

Today, social media runs the world. And if you want to become a successful digital artist, you should promote your works on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube. It will help you to find new clients and boost your revenue.

Visit conferences and festivals

Even if you work from home, you should still communicate with other professionals in your niche. And if you want to meet new people who share your passion for designing, you should visit conferences and expos. Here is a list of must-attend events in 2019:

  • Smashing Conference, San Francisco, CA
  • OFFF Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  • D&AD Festival, London, England
  • Pictoplasma, Berlin, Germany
  • Circles Conference, Fort Worth, TX

In conclusion

If you really want to become a digital artist, let nothing to stop you on the way to your goal. And if you believe that it’s time for you to start freelancing, don’t hesitate to make the first step. Your new career opportunities are right in front of you, don’t hesitate to take them!

Daniela McVicker is a blogger with rich experience in writing about UX design, content planning, and digital marketing. She helps individuals and organizations improve their web content writing, design, and planning skills.