How to Become a Freelance illustrator 2023 – The Complete Blueprint

Have you ever wondered how to become a freelance illustrator? Or, what are the steps you need to take in order to land your dream job as an illustrator?

So if you’re an art student, you may be thinking about becoming a freelance illustrator after graduation. Here in this blog, I’m going to show you the steps you need to take to become a successful freelance artist and illustrator.

I hope this blog will be a good start to begin a successful career as an illustrator. So let’s start with some basic things before we get into the meat of the blog.

Steps to Become a Freelance illustration:

A freelance illustrator is an artist who makes a living by creating artwork for clients. This work includes magazines, advertisements, novels, and other projects that do not have a specific budget for artists.

A freelance illustrator has the freedom to create work without needing to meet an employer’s demands. Nowadays, Freelance illustration has become very easy with tools and tons of information. Still, there is a huge scope and competition in this field of artists.

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So if you’re thinking of becoming a freelance illustrator, it’s not that easy to just become one. You have to start with the right attitude and passion first.

The first thing is to find your passion and dedication to become a successful illustrator. You must love the concept of the illustration. It doesn’t matter what type of work you choose to do, you have to love it enough.

Find a niche to work


Finding a niche to work in is key to getting started and staying motivated throughout your freelance career. Choosing a niche gives you an opportunity to explore your passion within your category. And it also gives you something to look forward to every day.

Think of it as starting a hobby. You could go to the local park, get a nice tan, and play lots of mini-golf. And then think about what you want to do with your life.

  1. The first step is to define your services (in your case freelance illustration). Do you prefer solving technical problems or marketing campaigns? To get better results, try to narrow down your interests by learning about the industries.
  2. The second step is to conduct market research of your skill (illustration). Identify potential clients, space in this niche, and check the competition.

After this, you’ll have a unique niche where you can start your career.

Use the right tools and resources


Tools are what help you identify weaknesses in your game and then work on them. They help you work through problems in a systematic way. If you want to create awesome illustrations then you must need to find out the best tools and software to work with.

The first step is to learn how to turn your ideas into real illustrations and then into a real project. It isn’t enough to just know the right tools. You also need the right approach. To pick the right tools, you need an understanding of what each one can do and how they all fit together.

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There are several tools in the market that you can leverage to help get the job done right. But here are some of the best tools for freelance illustrations;

  1. Adobe Illustrator: If you are looking for the right tools for creating illustrations, then you must have heard of Adobe Illustrator. It is one of the leading tools for vector editing. This tool is very helpful for designers to create logos, banners, and illustrations for web templates. It is also useful for drawing simple images and diagrams.
  2. Vectornator: The Vectornator is also a tool for illustrations, graphic designers, educators, and anyone who likes drawing. It speeds up the repetitive tasks of drawing geometrical primitives, adding extra precision to lines and shapes.
  3. Procreate: Procreate is a precision graphics drawing tool for illustrations and designs that use line art. It uses vector graphics with multiple line thicknesses. So that the image can be scaled up or down without losing resolution.
  4. Autodesk Sketchbook: Sketchbook is a tool for professional illustrators and graphic designers. It offers you to draw in three dimensions and paint on a surface with depth. Sketchbook is for anyone who wants to create something amazing.
  5. Canva: Canva is online design software for creating inspirational graphics and eye-catching designs. It provides an extensive library of pre-designed templates that are free to use. In addition, it also offers a simple drag and drop interface to allow anyone to create stunning designs.

Each tool has its own purpose and benefit, so try to use them in conjunction with one another to come up with the best possible results.

Establish an Eye-Catchy portfolio:

graphic designing

Becoming a freelance illustrator is not as simple as signing up for an art course or buying a starter kit. As you begin your freelance career, it’s important to think about the steps involved in becoming an expert in your field.

The most important thing is you should have an eye-catching established portfolio. An eye-catchy Portfolio is key to get potential clients. If you are starting up as a freelancer with minimal working experience, it is often difficult to draw attention.

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Therefore it is very important to create a Portfolio to stand out amongst other applicants. And your potential clients will be able to easily identify you as an artist. This is also very helpful to get more conversions and sales.

Here are few tips to establish a Portfolio:

  • Understand why you are creating a portfolio
  • Spend time working on your composition and structure
  • Consider adding an artist statement
  • Work on your self-promotion
  • Pick the best works to showcase
  • Reach out to high authority figures

Create a website to showcase your portfolio:

A portfolio is an image or visual representation of who you are: an expert in a certain field. If you are an illustrator then your portfolio should contain photos of completed projects. But I recommend you to create a website where you can add your portfolio.

Creating a website to showcase your work is a great way to build credibility and publicize your business. A website gives you a chance to showcase your skills in an attractive manner. Your portfolio is the foundation upon which everything else is built.

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Also, most people want to know that they can trust someone when they deal with them online. It also gives you something concrete to show for your hard work.

If you want to be successful as an online business you need to have a presence on the web. That means putting together a website that has all the features needed by visitors looking to buy from you: past work, videos, testimonials, and links to your social media pages.

Figure out how to talk with customers:

customer conversation

The hardest and most important part of freelancing is a great conversion with customers. Customers are the ones buying your products and services. They’re the ones who’ll be deciding whether they stay or go. It’s important to connect with customers as early in the game as possible.

If you want your online business to be successful you need to figure out how to talk with customers and build a relationship.  Online businesses have a lot of potential customers. So you need to make sure you’re making an effort to engage the customers.

The best way to make a good impression is to learn what customers want before asking for money. This technique has been around for a long time. And almost everyone knows someone who has been targeted by a salesperson who didn’t ask for money first.

If you find yourself explaining something to a customer who is not interested, you probably aren’t selling anything. Explain why the product is worth buying and wait for their response. Then try again when they are more interested and interested again. Be small with each sale and walk away if the customer does not buy.

Do great work and price reasonably:

man working on project

A lot of us aspiring freelancers work very hard for very little reward. Full-time work is very rare these days. One way is to establish a system of rewards for doing very well in your niche. This will also allow you to grow your businesses by giving you opportunities for promotion and extra money.

To do great work at a good price requires you to be willing to take lower payments for better service. The key is to set prices that are competitive with market prices for your service.

If you’re new to freelancing and want to build a positive reputation then you need to do great work at a reasonable price. Once you maintain a positive reputation then you’ll start to getting hired at a high price.

Build a network and brand yourself:


If you want to build a successful career and get noticed as a freelancer. Then you need to get a foothold in the market. There are over 200 million freelancers in the world and only about 15% make any money. Freelance gigs are a great way to earn money to support yourself.

But it takes networking and getting to know other freelancers in the industry to become an authority. An important thing for your success to be recognized, even if small and indirect. If others know that you are taking action to improve your position in the marketplace.

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Then this will influence others to act as well. Network marketing is not about reaching out to everyone and hoping for the best. The best way to do this is to be an active member in communities of people who are experts in their field.

Even if you think you’re an expert in your field already. But getting involved in niche communities will help you to grow your audience and boost your reputation as an authority.

Here are some proven methods for building a brand and business network even when you run your own.

  • Find the right people within your field.
  • Make small, consistent efforts
  • Start on LinkedIn
  • Participate in forums in your field.
  • Create informational resources
  • Follow up with Influencers and brands
  • Go to conferences and workshops

Find and Collaborate with other freelancers:


Sometimes, working as a freelancer can be hard for you. Especially when you’re just starting out. In this case, I recommend you to collaborate with other expert freelancers of your niche.

This will help you to get answers to all questions that you’ll face as a starter. Therefore, once you have grown a bit start planning some collaborations with other freelancers in your niches.

You can offer to do the pictures of their products and they can do the same for you. In this way, you will be able to get more exposure and new customers. You also can teach each other about the different niches.


Have you been thinking to become a freelance illustrator? How do you start your freelance career? Above I’ve covered an ultimate guide on how to become a freelance illustrator. This guide also includes a complete blueprint, strategies, tips, and tricks to help you achieve success.

The idea of becoming a freelance illustrator might look promising but things aren’t always that easy. Being an illustrator requires you to work for yourself. There is the freedom of doing your own thing and deciding what you are going to make.

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