How to get started with freelance or side hustle?

People with side hustles and freelance projects alongside with your full-time job, where do you find these projects? I'm currently looking for photography, art direction and graphic design projects to do alongside with my day job. Here's my portfolio:


  • Hi Sara,

    You have some great work, I love your poster designs and beautiful book idea. I agree with Jeff Straw, expand your photography portfolio too (you have a great eye) with some unpaid work (when you have some free time), perhaps you could approach some indie magazines for projects.

    It might even be worth requesting to shadow a professional photographer you admire or assisting them on a job, this a great way to learn more skills and also opens up the possibility of finding more contacts.

    Perhaps you could print a few samples of your design work and photography to send out to companies you would love to work with.

    It’s all about connections, keep going and all the best.

  • Hi Sara! To start a side hustle I would say just start! Do what you want want to do. Make what you want to make. And see where that goes. Even if it goes nowhere, you'll still feel a sense of achievement and pride. But likely, you'll connect with like-minded people along the way, and that's when the magic can happen.
  • @Elsa Benoldi Hi Elsa! I really appreciate your kind words on my portfolio. I've done some volunteer work via The Dots but I'll keep an eye here for paid ones as well. That's very true about reaching out more for more opportunities :)
  • Hi Sara, The Dots is a perfect place to start! Look for collaborations (sometimes unpaid) or freelance jobs here and apply to them. You already have a good portfolio, keep it growing with even more self-initiated projects. If you are running out of ideas, take a brand or client you would love to work with; come up with a project idea for them and eventually share it with them ;) The more people/companies you get in touch with, the more opportunities you will get!
  • I'd have a look through people's work you like, big or small and connect with them, I'm sure they'd be more than willing to give you some tips! Also no harm in emailing or dm'ing brands or people you admire asking if they need assistance in these areas. I've found some of my clients from just reaching out on Instagram! x
  • @Peter Jackson Very thoughtful questions! That's true that some parameters help a lot to get started, especially for personal projects indeed.
  • @Anna Negrini Thanks for the links! These are very helpful :) I'll have a look.

    I have been doing a couple photography project on tfp basis but looking to do more now. But it would be also nice to do paid work as well!
  • @Jeff Straw Thanks for your feedback! I'll take the product photography aspect and style aspect into consideration.

    I did some projects for friends and acquaintances back in Finland but I guess I should start networking more in London. It has been a bit difficult due to the pandemic though.
  • Your side hustle may be the starting point for your freelance work.

    Beyond the constraints of the client brief, self initiated projects allow you the freedom to do the work you really want to do.

    Although, without parameters it can be difficult to know where to start:

    A few questions to consider:

    What is your end goal?
    Who are you talking to?
    Does the work solve a problem?
    Can you tap into an existing network?
  • Side hustles are more passion projects so maybe you could start a photography project about something you care. Freelance projects at the beginning - at least for me - came from friends or ex colleagues who changed jobs. If you want to add something to your portfolio but find difficult to work on self-initiated projects, these can be options:
    - New Blood briefs from D&AD
    - fake briefs:,
    - volunteer online with We Make Change
    or ask directly to charities if they need help with creative tasks
  • My friend mentioned this - Hope it's OK to share external links on here
  • Your work is stellar. I especially like the product work.
    I suggest building more product photography portfolio in the style that really speaks to you (unpaid). Share the heck out of your work, and you may get the attention of the brand in question, and/or other potential clients will see the quality of your work. This approach has led to some gigs for me for sure.

    I've found that referrals from my personal network, and previous clients are the absolute best way to source new freelance projects for me personally. I'm in a similar space to you, photo, video, and design work for them.
    I don't know if that helps much, but just my experience.

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