How do you freelance?

How do you get started doing freelance work?


Not sure if the freelance area has opened yet but wanted to leave an answer for ya!
I’ve been mostly freelancing my career since 2008 collapse hit and enjoyed the highs and lows of it. Have you ever freelanced through an agency? That’s part of how I started to get a better idea of how things worked at the beginning. These days building a network has gotten a little difficult as the networking on sites like LinkedIn doesn’t seem to have people as open as they like to think they are but it’s not impossible. You can join groups on LinkedIn and introduce yourself and your business. I still cold email people with some level of success. As for the pricing I always like to give 2 options: 1. Per hour and 2. Project fee (could be per design depending your set up). Just trying to open up the conversation here and I’m open to the dialogue! Happy 4th everyone!


Just copied my reply over from initial topic starter in another area!

I’ve never considered freelancing as a career path, because I don’t understand the structure of it and how it works long-term. So you’re self-employed. How do I find these agencies - and what’s their deal? I would also assume that everything about freelancing is unpredictable - the hours, number of projects available, pay rate would not be stable from month to month, it would affect my ability to have health insurance coverage, and I would be self-funding my own retirement plan if I made enough money after subtracting the cost of bills/expenses. It sounds overwhelming.

Yeah starting out or even being a experienced freelancer during these times is a challenge. The key I think is finding some place that you can be the freelancer at large to make something a little more stable through a contract. After that you can add smaller projects from different companies that have a shorter window to finish.

With agencies you’ll agree on a fee that they will send you out on. Mind you that I haven’t seen it change in decades. Usually $30 here in NYC they will try to get you to go out on. Understanding that they get their cut the client could pay overall $50 an hour for your services. They will set you up with clients, you fill out time cards online and they will send you the money weekly or however they have it set up. Thats just an example. Could be just a start to see if you like it. To find the agencies you can go to websites that tailor to your specific field. Most are the same ones that find you full time work. While its freelance and different projects you still kinda work FT and its the client of the agency.

Without the middle man you will need to reach out and network for projects. You would just pocket whatever you agree to with the client but have to remember to pay your own taxes. Some will let you work remotely and some will want you in house. Hours can still be flexible here.

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Thank you for explaining this! It sounds like I have a lot more research to do, but this is a great place to start and a good overview of the possible ways to freelance. I know my range for a pay rate already, I’ve just been stuck on the part of how to find work. This is helpful.

Glad I could give a little visual of how it works.

Good Luck!

In my experience (working with medium to large brands), $25-30/hr is typical for junior level. For senior level, you should be making an average of $50/hr. Agencies will always push hard to pay you less, so they get a bigger cut, and is pre-Covid, of course, but still a good guide for what you can reasonably ask for. I’ve gone down to $45/hr if it was a guaranteed long term contract, but wouldn’t go any further. If they want to pay a junior designer rate, they can hire a junior designer. Be very careful about letting them roll your rate back too much. It can be hard to get it back up again.


NO debate on that. I’ve told many of them what I can get on my own and they go “Oh” and I say “yeah”. Pretty much the end of the conversation.

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Wow, I’m sorry, that’s terrible. I’ve had a few agencies try to low-ball me, but the ones I work with are through recruiters I’ve known for years, and they know what I will accept. They do acknowledge that they are getting fewer jobs for senior designers and tend to want to pay less in general, but jobs that pay $40+/hr are still out there (or were still out there, pre COVID) For background - my agency rate went up to $40/hr in 2008, and $50/hr in 2014, which is on-par with what my colleagues have made. It has fluctuated between $45-$50 ever since. In the past few years, I have also tended to get hired for freelance directly through in-house recruiters. Many of them still use a 3rd party agency for freelancer payroll, but in-house recruiters are easier to negotiate with than recruiters who directly represent the agency.

No worries. What was crazy is that I freelanced at one company years ago and they still had me in the records. When I came back a few years later I got a freelance raise!!! Lol! Thought that was classy.

I have mostly done it all on my own when I have gotten Freelance or FT consulting work. A lot of word of mouth/networking then through a recruiter.

Thanks for sharing.
I’m curious on the insurance part though. Can anyone share their experience with that?

I was a freelancer for 5 years with the same company and I worked through 2 different agencies. The first one offered nothing In terms of benefits but the second one offered me insurance and paid holidays. They were also able to get me a higher rate. So there are agencies that can provide benefits if you work long term contracts or consistent jobs.


would you be able to explain a little how you cold email? Im curious what the best practice is to go about that, especially now with the pandemic. Thank you in advance!

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So at the moment while it is difficult I believe the best practice to cold emailing may be this: Are you on LinkedIn? This is the biggest source of where you can start. Join a bunch of groups that are in your interest for work (ex. Denim, freelance, etc.). When you look into the group just check how active they are. You can start a dialogue there much like here but of course introducing yourself and what you do. In the past I have found people posting (the direct hiring person usually) and have written them this way. The other is daily (if you need to) check your feed on LinkedIn. you may catch HR posting something looking for help or again someone with a more direct link to hiring. As for the dialogue - if you don’t have one work on your best elevator pitch. If it applies to you also make sure you have a online portfolio in case. Some people are receptive right away and some remember down the road and then there are the others. Hope that helps somewhat.

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Thank you so much! So nice of you to write back. Yes, the elevate pitch is much needed. I guess we are all here for a reason!

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Hope it helps.