In 2017, I took the leap and made the shift to full-time freelance, and it was a big one. My leap into the freelance world was definitely a shift in mindset, in approach, and in income. But I learned so much really quickly, kinda like being thrown into the deep end of a swimming pool, you need to adjust quickly and learn fast.
Here are the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Your value is not just what you can do, but how you do it
There are so many designers and creatives in this world, with different skills and capabilities. But if you can harness the unique thing that you bring to the table, that is your most valuable asset.
You can always get more work, but not all work is worth it
There will always more work out there to get, but some of it will be too cheap, some will be too time consuming and some will be too hard. You need to choose what is worth it for you.
There will always be someone cheaper and someone more expensive than you.
Scrolling through socials and seeing others charge so little for a logo can be disheartening. Hearing others making millions from their creativity can be intimidating. Concentrate on your own pursuits, you are your own value.
Don’t compare your chapter one to someone’s third book in a series
We’re all on wildly different journeys, with different pathways to success. It’s easy to compare, but try to avoid it where you can.
Asking for help doesn’t make you weak, it makes you better
Surrounding yourself with people who have walked the path before you are the best resource to ask for help. Trust me on this. You aren’t silly to ask for help.
A creative business isn’t all arts and crafts, not by a long shot
I would say I spend 50-60% of the time on the business side, making the business run and operate, sending invoices, chasing quotes, keeping the business side alive. Maybe around 10% on outreach and getting new clients. Another 10% promoting the business itself and keeping it looking alive. The rest is creative expression, designing layouts for clients and using that creative muscle. This creative percentage is higher if you’re employed by someone else.
Freelancing isn’t for everyone
It’s hard work and it’s not the end goal for everyone. Seriously, you don’t need to be a freelancer to be a successful creative.
Success is something that can only be defined by the person experiencing it
It looks different on every single person, because the things we use to define success shift from person to person. Success may be balance, dollars in the bank or notoriety. You do you boo.
You attract what you put out there, be careful what you wish for
I’ve been in that frustrating spot where I keep attracting work I don’t want or is too cheap. Shift your mindset and start saying no to opportunities you need to do you can make space for the ones you actually want.
Guilt comes in many forms but helps literally no one
You can have money guilt, success guilt, time guilt, but the feeling keeps you stuck. Change the narrative and don’t let it keep you where you don’t want to be.
You aren’t the only creative on the planet
Freelancing can feel isolating at times. But you aren’t alone. Connect with others. Create a network. Surround yourself with people who can be there to exchange work when you both have things not suited to your strengths
Keep asking what if and why constantly
Questions reveal answers and truths. What if you were to charge more? Why do you think that’s the most logical path? You are only limited by what you believe. Be a truth seeker.
You will make mistakes. Not “you might”. You will.
Todays mistakes are the blueprint for tomorrows success. They help you learn lessons faster, discover solutions that are more suited to the problem at hand, they fast-track everything. Don’t be scared to make mistakes
Find what you love to do and chase that feeling
I love working on my business, building and growing it into something I’m truly proud of. Some people tell me I work too much, but it’s what I love to do. You’re allowed to love it too.
As a final note, I want to remind you that you are human. Strengths and weaknesses, flaws and features, all of it. Perseverance and progress will achieve more that perfection every single time.
Take your time, you got this.