Become a Freelancer (and Succeed) in the Creative Industries

Always wondered how to take the leap and become a freelancer? To celebrate National Freelancers Day here in the UK, we created our Freelancers Ultimate Guide, containing all the know-how necessary to help you make the jump with confidence.

Plus IDI programme Leader, Joe Lynch, gives us a little insight into working as a freelancer in the creative industries:

(View on Youtube)

Become a Freelancer: The Ultimate Guide

The prospect of working for yourself has undoubtedly run through your head: flexible hours, being your own boss, managing your own workload… Imagining your life as a freelancer can make being self-employed seem like a dream.

Dreaming is always nice, but actually taking the step of going solo is difficult and one that many are too afraid to take.

Our handy guide takes you through everything you need to know about how to become a freelancer – from landing your first client to building your success into an empire.

eBook preview: ‘How to Succeed as a Freelancer in the Creative Industries’

We’ve also compiled a list of over 50 of the best freelance resources to help you set up and run your business as simply and effectively as possible.

The Freelance Revolution

Design and multimedia professionals make up 24% of freelance workers in the UK

So, as companies become more trusting of outsourcing projects and realise the benefits of scaling back on in-house employees, the opportunity for freelancers is growing.

The UK has about 4.6 million people working in freelance roles across all sectors. One in seven of the workforce.

This upward trend in the freelance market is being welcomed by millions of skilled individuals worldwide for a variety of reasons, including:

  • The ability to set their own timetable
  • The opportunity to work from home
  • The possibility of earning more money
  • The option to take holidays at any time
  • The chance to work while travelling
  • The prospect of working for clients from around the world
  • The potential to work on a greater variety of projects
  • The free time to work on personal projects

Audio clip from our ‘Design Your Future: Professional Development’ Webinar, featuring Programme Leader, Joe Lych.

Find out whether you’re more suited for a career as an in-house employee or a career as a freelance creative professional, read our blog post on the pros and cons of working as a freelance graphic designer.

So, if you decide that freelance is for you, good choice! As the statistics below demonstrate, there’s never been a better time to go it alone…

The Global Picture

The global freelance economy is on the rise and shows no sign of stopping any time soon.

The US is often seen as leading the way in the trend with Freelancers Union claiming that 34%* of the country’s workforce is now freelancing.

*This has since increased to 35% as demonstrated in this neat infographic.

Freelancing in the UK

Similarly, in the UK, freelancing is becoming more popular every day, especially among graduates. The figures from many other European countries tell a similar story:

  • 14% more freelancers in the UK now than a decade ago
  • 1.4 million freelancers across all sectors
  • Design and multimedia professionals make up 24% of this number (336,000)
  • 78% of the UK public think that freelancing and flexible working help promote a good work/life balance
  • 72% of the UK public think freelancing has a positive effect on family life
  • In 2013 the number of businesses hiring freelancers online increased by 46%
  • The average hourly rate for freelancers also increased by 6.7% in 2013


Further statistics can be found in our eBook.

You want to become a freelancer, but why gain a degree?

You’ll find it much easier to secure work if you have a degree in a subject related to the area you want to work in.

Plus, potential clients will respect your qualification and be more likely to use your services.

Studying towards a degree will also give you a good grounding in your discipline and help you to plan and organise your workload better. You will meet fellow creatives from around the world who could be vital in progressing your career in the future.

Studying online

Studying a relevant degree course online offers a fantastic opportunity to experience what life is like as a modern freelance designer.

Communication is key to your career success, so taking part in online forums and working and uploading to deadlines is vital. Pitching projects to your tutors and fellow students from a distance will help you develop desirable skills.

The flexibility of studying to deadlines according to your own schedule will also give you a valuable insight into what your working life will be like as a freelance creative.

Study while you work

Choosing to become a freelancer means you can use the flexibility of your schedule to fit in further study. Studying online in particular…

With a manageable workload, you can take short courses to brush up on skills or even advance your existing qualification to a master’s degree.

A master’s degree will often lead to better opportunities. If you go onto become a freelancer, it will entitle you to charge a higher rate for your services.

At IDI, many of our students are able to continue working while they study.

With a strong focus on professional development, our courses are a great way to prepare for life as a freelancer within the creative industries:

Audio clip from our ‘Design Your Future: Professional Development’ Webinar, featuring Programme Leader, Joe Lych.

Useful resources for creative freelancers

The following is a list of online resources that will be help you on your journey as you become a freelancer; from how to find freelance work to keeping yourself productive:

Upwork – A great service linking clients to freelancers.

Hiive – Network with fellow creative professionals and potential employers and keep up-to-date with any new opportunities.

Onsite – For the more technically minded designer, Onsite is a great place to meet quality clients…

To access the full 50-item resources list and for more advice on going solo, download our Freelancers Ultimate Guide:

How to Become a Freelancer - Freelancers Ultimate Guide [Download]

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