Should I go Freelance to Design?

| 5 min read

If you’re puzzling this question at the moment then the good news is you’re not the first designer to do so and you’re not the last. The trouble is that answering this question is not easy. Why? Because we’re all different and what’s right for me, may not be right for you. There is however a handy checklist that can help you answer this question:

  • Do I like doing all the work in my company not just design work?
  • Do I like meeting deadlines and do I have a track record of doing so?
  • Do I like sales and marketing work?
  • Am I well-organized?
  • Am I truly self-motivated?

You see freelance work is not just about quitting the 9-5. It’s about running your own business and the hard questions nearly all revolve around that.

Why These Questions?

Author/Copyright holder: Unknown. Copyright terms and licence: Unknown Img source

The first question here is vital. Freelancers do everything in their businesses (or they hire someone else to do it for them and most freelancers don’t earn enough early in their freelancing career to hire others to do things for them). If you don’t like filing, faxing, accounting, etc. then you’re going to find freelancing a struggle.

Deadlines are important when you work for a living but they’re twice as important when you work for yourself. Your boss may forgive a missed deadline, a client won’t. If you can’t get things done on time – every time (or near enough) then you’re going to lose a lot of clients.

Then there’s the ugliest truth of all. Unless you are going into partnership with somebody who will be doing the sales and marketing for your business; you’re going to be doing the sales and marketing. That means calling prospects and making deals. Don’t want to? Then don’t go freelance. Freelancers without sales and marketing skills (or the drive to develop them – selling’s not as hard as it might look) are going to starve.

Organization matters. It matters more when you run your own business. You will be responsible for making sure the paperwork is in order for the taxman. You will need to pay all the bills. You’re going to have to be able to find your client’s last brief at the drop of a dime when they phone you 6 months after you last spoke. The more organized you are the easier things are to run a business.

Finally, self-motivation; we all say we have it when asked at a job interview but in reality only a handful really do have it. If you aren’t capable of kicking your own backside when it needs it – no-one’s going to do it for you. Freelancing from the outside looks like a wonderful world where you get paid to do just what you want to do. In reality, we freelancers only get to do what we want to do as part of a much wider remit. We trade off the hard work so that we can spend some of our time on what’s really important.

Author/Copyright holder: Unknown. Copyright terms and licence: Unknown Img source


If you’re thinking about freelancing then you should think long and hard about it. Freelancing can be incredibly rewarding if you’re cut out for the job but if you’re not – it can be a very difficult place to be.

Header Image: Author/Copyright holder: markus spiske. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY 2.0

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