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How to Go From Freelance Design to Full-Time

Many freelance designers are happy being their own boss and taking on assignments they find interesting and fulfilling. At the same time, there are those who would prefer the stability of a salaried position. If you’re in the latter camp, you could very well work your way from freelance design to full-time. But how?


Tip: If you’re ultimately looking for a full-time position, think of working on a project basis as an extended and task-oriented interview process.


Contract-to-hire is a very real thing in the design world. In a recent survey by The Creative Group, advertising and marketing executives said one of the greatest benefits of bringing in professionals on a project basis is the opportunity to evaluate their abilities before extending a full-time job offer. Think of it as an extended and task-oriented interview process.

Other ways freelancing can move you closer to a full-time position

  • Valuable experience. What do executives look for when hiring entry-level creative pros? According to a survey by The Creative Group, 34 percent want previous work experience. Managers expect the designers they hire to start contributing right away. If you’re short on experience, project-based assignments (especially those that require you to be onsite) give you the background necessary to move from freelance to full-time.
  • An income between jobs. The money you earn through contract gigs can help support you financially while you decide your next career step. And think of it this way: If it weren’t for the possibility of freelancing, you might have to take a job outside the industry to make ends meet. By freelancing and doing contract work, you keep your foot in the door.In your first year as a freelancer, you can set up shop with just your computer, a reliable internet connection and a subscription to InDesign or Illustrator. If freelance to full-time is your goal, don’t worry about investing in a lot of other tools. That way, you’ll be able to turn creative projects into profit more quickly.
  • A push toward specialization. Freelancing gives you a taste of what’s out there in the design world. From tiny startup to multinational corporation, almost every type of organization needs the top-notch design work that only a creative professional can provide. Specializing in a certain field may increase your marketability as you aim to go from freelance to full-time.

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