I'm wondering if there are places where people submit jobs in graphic design and where people can submit results, all without the process of an interview or a hiring system. I feel that I'm a pretty capable artist, but I don't want to get an actual job or contract. Rather, I prefer choose the jobs I want and choose what I want to do.

The problem with advertising on the internet with a website is that there are millions of designers waiting for someone to contact them with an offer, and a begineer like me will likely not be looked at.

How do I find trustworthy places where designers can get work (freelance, online) without a complicated hiring system?

  • Hi d.free, and welcome to Freelancing.SE! I like that your question is more then a paragraph, but it is essentially asking for a website recommendation, which would be off topic (product recommendations), as there could be many answers, and answers can become obsolete quickly. Try to reword your question to ask how to find a place to post jobs, as opposed to asking what sites to use. You can always edit your question to get it reopenned
    – Canadian Luke
    Sep 24, 2013 at 1:00
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    That's a better question! On the SE network, we like teaching people to fish, not just giving them their fish, so to speak. A Meta conversation is also discussing these type of questions, and you are free to weigh in with your opinion on the matter here
    – Canadian Luke
    Sep 24, 2013 at 1:20

5 Answers 5


How do I find trustworthy places where people post jobs, people do the jobs, and the best one gets paid?

The 'where do I find places' part of this question has been answered by Tim, I just wanted to add my point of view regarding contests, and an alternative approach.

The reason why designers and freelancers are usually against contests is because there is no direct contact with the client, you have people working for little or nothing (mostly nothing), and clients see design as an expense and not an asset. Contests depend on luck, if you are lucky enough you will get paid for the effort you put into your submission. If not, too bad. For these and other reasons, most designers don't like them (and are explicitly against them) because they devalue the industry as a whole. Nobody should work for free.

But there are other ways of start working as designer without having to resort to contests. You mention you want to choose your projects. Well, sites like elancer and others list jobs (not designers), and the only thing you need to have is a good portfolio. You can create pieces for fictional projects, instead, and use those. Real experience is always better, of course, but you want to demonstrate you are capable of designing stuff, and you want to showcase your style. These portfolio pieces will give you that.

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    To be clear, in my answer I didn't recommend contests - but as they were closest to what was actually asked explained what they were, and that they shouldn't be considered a viable method actual freelancing.
    – Tim Lytle
    Sep 28, 2013 at 12:40

I'll preface by saying that one quote from your post stood out to me:

I feel that I'm a pretty capable artist, but I don't want to get an actual job or contract. Rather, I prefer choose the jobs I want and choose what I want to do.

I got started by contacting local non-profits and offering to do simple design work for no fee to build my portfolio. It was a win-win; they got high-quality work and I was able to fill my portfolio with high-profile names (not to mention the high-quality work).

As a designer you always choose the jobs you want and choose what you want to do. With that in mind, you must remember that your clients pay you to create work for them. The contract is there to protect you and your client.

I'm wondering if there are places where people submit jobs in graphic design and where people can submit results, all without the process of an interview or a hiring system.

Elance and 99Designs sound like sites that you would have interest in.

I personally don't like sites like these as I believe the degrade the value of our product/service. I will always suggest comping work for non-profits to build a strong portfolio and then networking to find clientele. If all you are looking for is small, quick jobs, by all means, check em out. If you're looking to build a strong, reputable freelancing career/side-job, consider taking the time to build a solid background, portfolio, and network.

  • That looks much better! +1 for the extra, in-depth info
    – Canadian Luke
    Dec 16, 2013 at 23:12

First, I'll state what I'm sure many others may think.....

If you truly have no work experience and no degree, all I can say is good luck to you! You're asking for nearly the impossible.

Every year schools churn out more and more designers. That in addition to the thousands already freelancing or looking to freelance is going to make your efforts that much harder. You aren't being realistic if you simply want to start freelancing with no experience.

I don't mean to be pessimistic, but is it very important that you set your expectations levels accordingly. Design is not simply making "pretty images". There's a mountain of technical knowledge one needs - either for print or web or video or whatever your desired path. Traditionally that knowledge is gained either on the job or in school. If you have neither, I hope you've done a few months of intensive reading and experimenting.

As for where to find work....

Skip anything "on spec" (no-spec.com), as Yisela points out in her answer. You will never be successful if you work on spec. You may have fun and enjoy the projects, but if your goal is to actually turn it into a career, you need to avoid contests or anything of that nature. You will never learn anything via contests. 99.9% of the time there's no feedback at all and you waste your time pursuing the silly idea that IF you happen to win, you get less than minimum wage for your efforts. You may as well play the lotto, you'll have a better chance of gaining something.

The best place to find projects for someone starting out is right around you. Narrow your focus. With little or no experience you simply can't yet compete with the whole wide world on the internet. So stay local.

Assuming you're somewhere in the US....

  • Join your local chamber of commerce.
  • Design a business card and get it printed (actually commercially printed, don't make them yourself) and hand them out to local store owners.
  • Read through your local Cragislist Gigs and Creative sections for one-off projects just to get started.
  • Get your own domain name and your own website. Don't piggy-back off of some free service.
  • If possible, network with other designers and see if they'd be willing to subcontract work to you. This will be the most fruitful because you may start learning all the things you don't know you don't know.

It's great to have a dream. And I encourage you to pursue it with great vigor. But you need to start realistically. Even those that go to school can't generally start freelancing regularly for a few years.

  • It's NOT a career, just a way to make a bit of money.
    – user958
    Sep 28, 2013 at 21:07
  • Then stay local as I suggest. You'll never compete with all the professionals on the web.
    – Scott
    Sep 28, 2013 at 21:11

Do not be so pessimistic and think you're a small fish in an ocean. Yes, there are thousands of designers but if you are good one, you will always find a job. It will be hard in the beginning but we all have been there. There is no shortcut I am afraid.

You may also try making pro images in Photoshop and publish them on pro image selling sites. There are many of them in the net [Google: "buy stock images"].

But I am more sceptic about earning money this way then trying on freelancing sites. I would always go with freelancing sites.


If I understand your question correctly, you want to avoid 'profile' style sites, where clients stumble across your profile, and contact you for work. Here's a few 'types' of platforms where you can get work, perhaps it will help clarify where you want to focus your energy.

Profile Listings: One could argue that's also the internet in general (put up a page, wait for people to find you). Fiverr and Zaarly are examples of that (although not really for the kind of work you're looking for). Posting your service on craigslist is another example.

Job Marketplaces: While sites like oDesk, Elance have the profile component, they're certainly not limited to it. The common usage of those sites is to view jobs clients post, submit a response, and potentially get the gig. It's far less common for clients to contact freelancers directly.

Is that the process you're looking for (you browse through potential projects, contact the client for ones you like, try to get the work)? If so, there are tons of sites like that out there, and I'm sure a few searches will turn up ones at least slanted towards the kind of work you want to do.

Contest Systems: Many freelancers strongly dislike these sites, and they only work for a few types of jobs (graphic design being one of them). Here clients post a job, and freelancers post matching designs - then the client picks one winner. 99Designs and crowdSPRING are examples of this.

You said:

where people submit jobs in graphic design and where people can submit results, all without the process of an interview or a hiring system

It seems contest sites fit that requirement the best, and if you're just wanting to get used to the 'feel' of contract work, have the time, and aren't in dire need of money - it might be worth pursuing. But in that case you're doing the work without any guarantee of payment, so I wouldn't make that a serious endeavor.

  • Contest sites are the worst possible thing any designer can participate in. There's no feedback to help a designer improve. And any "prize" generally amounts to working for pennies. Contest sites are riddled with 12 year olds using pirated versions of software. No self-respecting designer would ever take part in such scams.
    – Scott
    Sep 28, 2013 at 2:10
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    @Scott I didn't recommend them, just gave an idea what's out there. I even said that most freelancers strongly dislike them. And based on the way the question was phrased ('submit results') it's probably the closest to what he was looking for. But thanks for the downvote just for educating someone on their options.
    – Tim Lytle
    Sep 28, 2013 at 3:14

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