A month ago I left my job of 5 years. It was a well paying, start up tech company on the up-and-up and I took a leap of faith and parted ways. Being my own boss has always been a dream of mine, and for the last month I've been able to live that dream. My wife and I, along with our cat, Kylo Ren, left our home in Michigan and drove down to Florida to start the next chapter of our life.
Here are 5 things that I've learned in my first month as a freelance designer.
1. Don't freak out!
Being a freelancer means starting with no clients, no income, no benefits and no guarantees. It would be very easy to get anxious or become fearful knowing the above, but it won't help you. Instead of freaking out, remember why you decided to started freelancing. You have a product or service that you believe in enough to start a business around. Trust that you've made the right decision and don't give up on your talents.
2. There are no shortcuts.
You can't take shortcuts in design and expect success. While I've been working this month, I've seen numerous designers who will rip off other people's designs and buy stock designs for their customers. Shortcuts will only bring short term success and will lead to clients finding out you're a fraud. The best way to become successful in this industry is to put 110% into every project you do. Make something that you can look at and be confident that the project is 100% your design.
3. Throw away your pride.
I'm not saying to not be proud of the work you do. That would totally contradict my second point. Throwing away your pride means asking for help. No one has all of the answers, so don't feel bad when you don't know something. Make sure to surround yourself with other hard working designers, as well as supportive friends and family. This group of people should be ones that you trust and that will give you honest feedback on your work. Being able to receive and implement feedback from others will allow you to become a better designer in the end.
4. Change up your environment.
The beauty of being a freelance designer is that you can work with anyone, anywhere! So why work in the same place everyday? I like to switch up where I'm working from often. At least once a week I try to work from a different coffee shop or place that inspires me. I've actually been able to meet potential clients just by doing work at Starbucks. I noticed that I'm able to focus more when I'm not home, and my designs evolve depending on where I'm working from that day. You'll start to learn about the community and businesses around you that may need your help.
5. Invest in yourself.
For many, freelancing is the first opportunity that you've ever had that allows you to set your own schedule. Take advantage of this and invest in yourself. Spend time to do things that you weren't able to do with a 9-5 job. I've been able to spend more time reading, working out and was even able to go on a fun little trip with my wife. This doesn't mean slacking off, but promotes that you have a healthy work/life balance.
Thanks so much for reading this post. Look out for more posts soon!