- If you haven’t already, make sure you have an online portfolio. If you don’t have the web skills, you can go really simple and just buy a $10 domain and set up a tumblr with your work on it. Don’t stress yourself out over having a “perfect” site. As long as it’s easy to get to and navigate, you’re fine. Less is more.
- Create some cute business cards (with your portfolio link on there) and start handing them out! I use overnightprints.com for all my promotional stuff. They’re affordable, have fast turn around and great quality. Think of every outing as a chance to pick up a freelance client or get a job. As they say, it’s not what you know, but who you know.
- Go to as many professional networking events as possible to meet people and get job leads. Some places to look for networking events: your local chamber of commerce, meetup.com, local POC groups, local LGBT groups, small business associations and women’s groups. Hit up Google with your city and the type of networking group you’re looking for. Once you go to one event, you’ll meet people who can suggest other groups worth checking out. Some have membership fees, but most will let you go to one or two events before joining or by paying a small entry fee.
- If you can afford it, join your local AIGA (American Institute Of Graphic Arts) to meet other designers, take classes, go to events and get job leads. I think the basic year membership is $50. They also have free non-member events, so check for those too.
- Don’t under estimate the power of freelance! You can always take on a few clients while you’re looking for full time work. Put together a rate sheet that covers what type of work you can do (print, web, flyers, brochures etc) and how much you charge for each service. Make sure to always have a written contract with clients and ask for 50% up front and the remaining 50% once the project is complete.
- Don’t work for free! Not even for friends and family. Your time and talent is valuable. Don’t give it away!
- Get the most recent edition of the Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook Of Pricing And Ethical Guidelines so you have an idea of how to price your work AND get access to tons of free contract outlines to use with clients. Seriously, this book is everything.
Here are some sites I’ve used to find graphic design work -
http://creativehotlist.com - I think it’s around $35 for an account, but I know lots of people who’ve found work here, myself included.
http://designjobs.aiga.org - you need a membership to see all the listings
http://creativecircle.com - this is a creative staffing agency, so they place people on jobs that can last anywhere from a few days, few weeks, months to full time. They send out tons of personalized daily job listings so there’s lots of opportunities to work if you’re willing to apply to as much as possible.
That’s pretty much it! Best of luck!