Home Print and Pattern Discovering Freelance Design Jobs with Smaller Firms

Discovering Freelance Design Jobs with Smaller Firms


Once you consider floor design, you would possibly solely consider massive licensing manufacturers. However if you find yourself simply beginning your corporation, reaching out to these firms might be intimidating and getting seen can take fairly a while. Almost certainly although, you’ll need to make cash from the get-go. To start out incomes earnings with your corporation sooner somewhat than later, I need to share how working with smaller or native firms might help you.

I’ve labored with many companies since going freelance in 2018. And out of my full earnings in 2021, $17,215 was generated by solely working with small and native firms and serving to them with all kinds of duties.

It’s been a good way to diversify my earnings and it helps me keep afloat whereas I work on getting licensing offers with massive model firms. It additionally helps with my enterprise practices, like sending out emails, negotiating with shoppers, and getting extra assured speaking on the telephone and representing myself.


The Distinction of Working with Smaller Companies

Let’s check out how approaching licensing manufacturers and native companies differ. I gained’t mark them as execs and cons although, as a result of each artist must determine for themselves. What’s unfavourable to at least one individual generally is a profit to another person. However similar to working with bigger manufacturers, working with smaller firms is a unique expertise each time.


It’s a must to alter your advertising methods to achieve your new target market. This may occasionally embody adjustments to your homepage, having flyers and enterprise playing cards prepared for in-person shopper conferences, or the way you current your self on social media. An artwork director is aware of what your designs can be utilized for, however a small enterprise proprietor, who has by no means labored with a artistic freelancer earlier than, might don’t know.

That’s why you want to adapt your introduction e mail. It’s a must to customise it to the trade of your potential shopper and be extra private about who you’re. Artwork patrons want their emails quick and to the purpose, however a small enterprise proprietor likes to get to know you earlier than participating with you. 

It’s at all times a good suggestion to inform them precisely why you need to work with them, as a result of they may have by no means thought concerning the potential of utilizing paintings for his or her enterprise. For instance, let an inside designer know that you could create a set of wallpapers, cushions, and curtains for them completely.


Usually, speaking to a small enterprise proprietor will range every time. Relying on the trade and dimension, they might or might not have labored with freelancers earlier than. 

Be sure they perceive what you’re telling them with reference to terminology. We frequently get misplaced in utilizing phrases which can be a no brainer for us, however others don’t have any clue what we’re speaking about. It’s additionally a good suggestion to inform them about your course of earlier than you begin a undertaking. Be ready to speak to them regularly through e mail, telephone calls, or in-person conferences with them.

Small companies would possibly want you to deal with communication with different events concerned within the course of. So it’s possible you’ll want to speak to producers about manufacturing specs or prepare for bodily merchandise being printed and shipped to them.


All tasks will range in dimension and theme, which to me, is essentially the most enjoyable half about working with smaller companies. It’s essential count on the sudden undertaking, like designing a automobile wrap or an instruction guide for them. Some tasks won’t even relate to floor design in any respect however may very well be graphic design heavy. It’s possible you’ll want to go away your consolation zone and educate your self in some areas on the go. There shall be many firsts in doing so, however I like a problem and it retains my work thrilling.


They may want extra steerage from you or it’s possible you’ll even should take over as artwork director and provides enter on learn how to end a undertaking efficiently. Often you want to work visually to get your concepts throughout (with sketches and even mockups). And for some tasks, it’s possible you’ll be extra of an executor than the artistic mind. 

But when the shopper is pleased together with your work, you would possibly find yourself with a repeat shopper who commissions you for normal work. That’s my work relationship with six of my shoppers from 2021. It has even led to 10 new tasks (value simply over $5,000 of earnings) in 2022.

My 2021 earnings from working with small companies

My earnings from working with small companies alone was $17,215 in 2021. I’ve labored with 16 shoppers (six of them are recurring shoppers) from three nations (Austria, Switzerland, and Israel) on 24 tasks. 

I used to be commissioned to work on emblem animations, enterprise shows, commercial materials, emblem designs, floor design, app design, portraits, social media content material, wine labels, enterprise movies, and youngsters’s books. I even helped a photographer by aiding at photograph and video shoots and taught a social media workshop for rookies.

Associated Article: Streams of Revenue & How Artists Get it Fallacious

Learn how to get seen by smaller firms

An important a part of getting seen is to be proactive — very similar to contacting firms. Just one% of my small enterprise earnings was generated passively. All the pieces else concerned me introducing myself in a technique or one other.


Let’s check out my advertising methods and the way they work:


After I speak about networking, I imply becoming a member of enterprise occasions to fulfill different enterprise homeowners. These might be devoted enterprise occasions, participating in a course, or becoming a member of a enterprise affiliation. This very a lot depends upon the realm you reside in and what’s accessible in your nation.

You might have heard of community advertising earlier than, which refers to a gaggle of enterprise homeowners who assist one another achieve extra earnings by way of word-of-mouth suggestions. It’s one of many best methods to get new shoppers, since you see the staff frequently.

That is by far my only manner of producing earnings and getting shoppers to work with me. In 2021, I made greater than $7,000 from networking, which was 41% of my small enterprise earnings. This doesn’t take referrals into consideration but, which had been made exterior of my community advertising staff itself.

Freelance Web sites

Freelance web sites like Upwork and Fiverr might look like a good suggestion in case you are simply beginning out. However you’re anticipated to work for low charges and even should pay the positioning itself with a share of your earnings, so I stop utilizing websites like these in 2021. 

I’ve solely made one lasting enterprise relationship from being on a contract web site, however I nonetheless work with them on a month-to-month foundation. Now we have since migrated off-site, however it’s important to pay for doing so. Should you dwell exterior the US, it’s even trickier, as a result of their bookkeeping won’t be as much as your nation’s customary, which might result in issues additional down the road and that’s the reason I finished utilizing this methodology.


Referrals, or word-of-mouth advertising, is similar to community advertising. An in 2021, 18% of my small enterprise earnings was generated by way of referrals (when you rely my earnings between referrals and community advertising, it’s 59%).

If a possible customer contacts you through referral, it’s extra possible result in a piece relationship.

Folks solely act on a referral in the event that they belief the one that’s telling them concerning the new enterprise occasion. Then again, when you ever hand out a referral your self, ensure it’s sound earlier than doing so. As a result of if the third occasion doesn’t do a superb job, it is going to possible replicate badly on you.

Newspaper Articles

One undertaking was a 12 months within the making, resulting from an article I had revealed in a nationwide Austrian newspaper simply earlier than Christmas in 2019. An entire 12 months later, in December 2020, I used to be contacted by a enterprise proprietor who learn my story a 12 months prior and remembered me, as a result of I lived in a close-by city. She requested me if I additionally designed patterns for cloth. We ended up working collectively on an entire plushie assortment of seven designs.

Chilly-Calling & Emailing

Identical to chilly calling or emailing an artwork director, doing the identical factor for small companies might be an efficient technique. In 2021, I received one undertaking out of cold-calling a possible customer. I received the lead by way of an commercial company that informed me this individual could be in search of an illustrator. It occurred to be character design work for a youngsters’s ebook. I known as the shopper, launched myself and requested if she was nonetheless in search of an illustrator. 

I despatched her an e mail with my particulars and homepage afterwards so she might have a look at my design type. The one factor left from there was sending over a contract for the shopper to signal. This undertaking remains to be ongoing and should even result in future work. Don’t be scared to choose up the telephone and make a name. You by no means know what might occur.


For some folks, having their firm title pop up in Google search outcomes can result in enterprise offers. However my earnings breakdown exhibits that simply passively ready for shoppers to contact me doesn’t work nicely — I solely had one shopper contact me for a mini-project after discovering me on Google. 

It’s a must to work out for your self which methodology works finest for you and what takes up the least quantity of your time. I want the proactive manner over passively ready, as a result of I can goal sure firms and determine on the tasks I need to work on.


In search of attainable shoppers

You might collaborate with any enterprise on the market. The difficult half is determining learn how to work with them. It’s at all times a good suggestion to know what you’re pitching to them, earlier than first making contact. Each trade has its particular wants, however the enterprise itself won’t have considered incorporating a artistic strategy into the combination. 

It’s essential be the one handing out concepts and letting the proprietor know what you are able to do for them. It’s additionally necessary to consider the worth they’re gaining from working with you. 

Listed below are a number of concepts:

  • You might be giving them independence resulting from having their very own assortment. Deciding what and the way lengthy a design is accessible might be fairly highly effective. This fashion they’ll provide seasonal or restricted editions. They will additionally guarantee that their buyer favourite won’t ever be out of inventory resulting from producers ceasing manufacturing.
  • They will have artistic freedom over the design to match their model character. Taking their company design into consideration for a cohesive look will profit them and their enterprise’s look.
  • They’ll get one other stream of earnings, when you assist them design a set of merchandise. You might pitch a set of swaddles, bibs, and onesies to a child photographer. It’s nonetheless associated to the enterprise itself and the enterprise proprietor advantages from providing added worth to their very own shoppers.

Hold your eyes open and keep artistic when in search of small companies to work with. These may very well be commercial businesses, gardeners, insurance coverage firms, and even communities and cities. Now it’s as much as you to determine what sort of tasks you need to work on and the way you’re going to pitch it to attainable shoppers.

Nonetheless not sure if working with small companies is fitted to you? Take the quiz!

Fill out the shape beneath to obtain the quiz and see when you’re prepared — you’ll get Nina’s PDF and shall be added onto Sketch Design Repeat’s superior publication!

Nina Schindlinger
Written by Nina Schindlinger

Web site: www.milkyrosa.com
Instagram: @milkyrosaillustration

Nina is an Austrian Illustrator & Floor Designer who received her Illustration diploma from Ballyfermot School of Additional Schooling, Dublin. Her design type is playful, tender and charming with a number of textures for people who find themselves nonetheless younger at coronary heart. She loves cats, black tea and is hooked on pink.


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