Starting a design business on the side sounds fun and there are a lot of us “thinking” about it. How can we start one even without any experience in the field? Look at these guys who took their “leap of faith” to quit their 9-to-5 corporate job and went to the wild…

“It would be so cool if I could earn the same salary freelance!” Whenever I replied with a “why do you think you can’t?”, I always get 99% of these same answers – “I don’t have any design background.” or “I don’t know where to start!”

Whenever I replied with a “why do you think you can’t?”, I always get 99% of these same answers – “I don’t have any design background.” or “I don’t know where to start!”

You don’t need a design degree

A lot of the glossy fashion magazines might only site the famous top tier designers who is a graduate of Central Saint Martins, just because they are paid to create juicy contents for readers. After all, we are more attracted to the glamour side of things than the dirty factory day-to-day happenings. But there are millions of other amazing designers working their asses off and collaborating with edgy artsy entities on cool products too.

Sure, there is basic technical knowledge needed for most design industries, but part-time or short courses will be good enough to help you kick-start. Below are some of the best free design courses you can start with right now:

Graphic Design

Fashion design

Once you get the grip of the basics, all the practical side of things can mostly be picked up when you get your hands dirty and start working on it. The best and quickest way is to be a part-time apprentice for someone you admire in the field. Sounds impossible to reach the star? Sometimes it takes a little push for yourself if you really want it. There is nothing to lose asking, right?

Outreach email template

Here, I will show you the exact wordings that you could use in your outreach emails, which I have broken up into two phases:

Email #1: Introduction


I’m NAME, a big fan of your work. I especially loved your PIECE/COLLECTION “NAME” because AUTHENTIC REASON.

I am thinking of starting a freelance job myself, and was hoping I could get some quick advice. The idea is to help TARGET AUDIENCE to get RESULT. I just did my first project HERE (ATTACHED), but I’m trying to improve so that it’s really excellent.

You have a lot more experience than me. If it were you, what do you think would make this better?

  • add more X
  • Take away Y
  • etc.

What do you think? Is this something you feel would resonate with your customers if done right?

Email #2: Follow up


Thank you very much for your feedback. I’m going to make those changes now and if it’s OK with you, I’ll send you an update when it’s completed.

This is a bit further down the line, but would you be interested in having me contribute and assist you for a few days next week for your upcoming project? It would really help me get the ball rolling and I can be useful with my background of WORK EXPERIENCE.

Let me know, thanks!

Why two emails?

The reason why I have broken them up into two emails is to suit the busy people’s urge of only replying to short easy emails. The first email is short and to the point, which is easy to read and respectful as well. Most of us like to hear that we have a fan and would easily open up to be a teacher/mentor naturally. The second email is showing that you are serious and following up with his/her comments. It adds credit to your personality, and takes away the worries of you being an irresponsible apprentice.

Good luck and do let me know how it goes via email at !

Grace Chan

Designer, sales, marketer, side project aficionado, and part-time entrepreneur. Join me here to learn how to start and build a profitable creative side-business and automatic income streams.
Grace Chan

Leave a reply