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Online Design Communities Freelancers Should Be Part Of4 min read

December 9, 2016
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Online Design Communities Freelancers Should Be Part Of4 min read

In the past, we’ve looked at some excellent places for freelance marketers and developers to hang out with others to swap tips and share experiences. This week, we’re going to look at similar locations for people in the design and graphics community. There are quite a few groups and avenues you can go down when developing your online community.

Here are a few to kick start your journey:

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Design Portfolio Communities

There are some places that can seem like a freelance community but are mostly fall off after a few comments and likes.Some of these do provide places for freelancers to network behind the scenes, but that’s not the primary purpose of a portfolio site. So, be sure to pick out the right community for you.

There are quite a few options out there and you can find yours on the web and your phone. Most portfolio sites also have a job board or some way for clients to reach out to freelancers for hire. So, while they provide benefits you should explore, be cautious if you go this route as your prime choice for a community. Remember, what we’re looking for are places where freelancers can talk with other freelancers.

But be sure to start your exploration off on the big names like Behance and Dribbble are excellent places to start as a way of showcasing your work and connecting with other creators. Others like Coroflot will provide you insights into salaries and jobs a bit more than communal interaction. Meanwhile, Deviant Art touts itself as the largest online gallery and art community. If you’re having trouble determining what community is best for you, research the best practices and preferences are of the community.

Graphic Design Forums

It’s probably no surprise that when a graphic designer wants to get away, they don’t want to be surrounded by graphics. There is still one older online era forum that is quite active and respected in the designer community, aptly named Graphic Design ForumLike with any old-style forum, you’ll need to lurk for a while to understand how the group works. Still, these are great places to get your feet wet and commiserate. Both are still quite active. Sadly, there are also references to many other forums that have since died out all over the web. So it goes with older styles of communication.

Then again, there is one modern site that is a forum of forums: Reddit. Reddit has a graphic design community with just over 100,000 subscribers. You can find it at:

Reddit’s graphic design subreddit. Look on their sidebar for a plethora of related subreddits that can help you find just the right niche of designers that match your own style. Fair warning, though! If you’ve never used Reddit, you may find yourself spending more time reading posts and commenting than doing design work.

Related: Looking for freelance tools and resources? Find 600+ here. 

Slack for Designers

Once again, Slack comes to the fore as the place for freelancers to commiserate. Slack has very strong freelance communities and much stronger protections than a traditional forum. Often you’ll have to jump through a few hoops to prove you’re a member of the community instead of a spammer or someone looking to post a job. Here are the Slack groups to look for as a graphics designer. Note that some of these links lead to signup forms:

Many of the developer sites also overlap with design, especially for front-end development. If the designs of website and mobile interfaces interest you, head back to our developer articles and look for forums devoted to front-end development, as well as UI/UX.

Facebook for Designers

Facebook falls short for most freelancing communities. Why? They’re too easily infiltrated by people who want to get business or look for a freelancer rather than talking shop. And those that do have quality are often private groups that you can’t find with a normal search. A good place to start, however, is to find closed groups on Facebook related to your niche, and there are a few open ones worth your time. For designers, here are a few potential candidates:

[Graphic Designers]

DesignGoTo

And well, Graphic Design

Professional Design Organizations

Design is an old discipline, so there are many professional organizations out there for different design niches. Probably the most respected one is the AIGA, the American Institute of Graphic Arts. But there are many others. In the interests of space, we’ll refer you to this list of professional design organizations created by UCLA. Another idea is to seek out a mentor. While not exactly a community, you can work with them to network further into the community. In doing so, you’ll be building a community a bit more like the older era designers had to. 

We hope that within this article you’ll find a community that’s perfect for your design niche. Do you have a freelancing community for designers that you’d like to recommend? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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Emily Hunter runs Hunting For Words, a small Atlanta writing firm. Her company's work has been seen all over the world, even in a TED talk! When she's not writer-wrangling, she's cheering for her favorite DCI corps, plotting out new business ideas, and dipping her fingers in ink. If you like Emily's work or want to yammer about business, send her an email at [email protected]

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