an article or random bits on the subject(s) of business, design, freelancing.

Stepping Out

It’s almost a right of passage—stepping out on your own and carving your niche as a freelancer. The desire to do things your own way can be completely exhilarating.

The freedom to make your own schedule, work with fantastic clients, determine how much or how little work you really want to take on, all while having plenty of time to travel and achieve the ultimate work life balance is desirable. It’s the ultimate promise of being a modern day designer. And yet, it’s those very freedoms that can make freelancing a fear inducing prospect.

I’ve been freelancing or running my own studios for the last decade. I always say that I made a horrible employee because I could never buy into my A.D.s vision for the studio or agency or wherever I was was working. In reality, I really had a deep desire to do things for myself, my way. Fear, though, was one of the major things that held me back from making my play. And there was good reason.

Fear and taking risks are also a big part of the freelance lifestyle…but it has to be. Fear and the risks associated with running your own business are what keep you hustling.

While all the supposed freedoms of freelancing seem wonderful, the reality is not what’s listed in the brochure. Most designers have to grind for years to get the good jobs and the good clients, money is constantly unstable, and work life balance is honestly a myth for the first several years. Fear and taking risks are also a big part of this freelance lifestyle…and they have to be. Embracing fear and taking the risks associated with running your own business are traits you have to be comfortable with—they are part of what keep you hustling.

I know I haven’t painted a very pretty picture on the subject of freelancing. Fear not, dear designer, this is really more of a reality check. Shuffling off the “glamorous” image of freelancing that we are sold in art school and by the media is key to setting expectations.

Knowing what I know now, would I change anything? No. I have enjoyed every moment of working for myself for the past 10 years. Over time I have accepted the tenuous nature of this type of work and have embraced it. There’s still more to learn, things to perfect, but honestly, there’s no better place to be.