For the past year or so I have been gradually dropping my day job one day a week at a time & picking up more freelance work. Do I have any profound ideas to share to ease the transition? Probably not but, I can give you a realistic glimpse of what it’s been like for me thus far.
Gone are the days when 5 o’clock marks the entry into your own time & you can hang up your Illustrator/Photoshopping for the day. The end of your day job marks the start of your freelance work day. To build a successful freelance career, you have to be willing to meet deadlines & provide clients with the same or better service than you do at your day job which can often come at expense of leisure & sleep. My feeling is this is a temporary phase. Once freelance becomes the primary source of income, business hours should be relatively normal once again.
Not only are you the designer, you are also the client liaison, the executive assistant, the HR person, the accountant, the production person and your own manager all rolled in one. Being a freelancer means putting on more than just the creative hat. Rest assured this can also be a transitional phase if you so choose. As your business grows, it makes sense to contract out the stuff (like math) that makes you feel like your head will explode.
Regardless of what books you read or professional advice you receive you’re bound to make a ton of mistakes when starting your own business. My theory on this is make mistakes rapidly & don’t be afraid to do so. From these failures come success & even if it doesn’t bring success right away, there is a good chance you will learn something in the process. So far mistakes have helped me to understand that I need a written contract in place prior to taking on work, creative briefs are always a work in progress, & the designer needs to do everything possible to ensure they know the vision of each decision maker in the project & see that their aim is as unified as possible prior to the project beginning.
Preventing Creative Burn-Out
Since my day job is also to be a designer, it can often be quite exhausting to come home & jump right into branding a company. For me, it’s helpful to keep the end goal in site. Keeping the idea in mind that I can work when I want, where I want & only take on as much work as I want keeps me going strong. Aside from that it is crucial that you do take breaks regularly. Everyone knows that the best ideas strike you in the craziest of places. Any other shower geniuses out there?
Anything else you’d like to add to the list of things to expect when freelancing full time?