Life as a Freelance designer

Most people, especially in Asia, have a misconception of what freelancing is all about.  No matter if you are a designer like me, a writer, a programmer or in any field.  Some people just thinks freelancing isn’t really working, or simply you are ‘unemployed’.  Some thinks it is a hobby, some thinks it is super easy and a few actually knows what it entails.

So here I am going to give you a brief intro of the life as a freelance designer.  Of course I can’t speak for all freelancers out there as this is only what I have experienced, but there is one thing I am sure about, freelancing isn’t for everyone.

Why?  Because it isn’t a lifestyle everyone will enjoy.  Take my husband for example, he would hate being a freelancer because it doesn’t offer a certain type of security.  You only get paid when you get a job, and you have to go look for new projects once your current project has finished.

So what type of personality are most suitable for freelancing?  It took me about 10 years to finally figure out that freelancing works best for me.  I have worked as an employee for both big and small companies.  Owned my own business, and finally working as a freelance designer.  From this journey, I have learnt a lot about my working style and what type of personality are most suitable this lifestyle.

 

Here are 7 personality traits that I found that are most suitable to be a freelancer:

 

  1. Project base –  I am a project base person.  I love knowing when there is a start date and when there is a deadline.  For me that is the most productive way for me to work.
  2. Working on different projects – My interest is not just in fashion, and even within fashion, it isn’t just in womenswear.  I find different projects and new opportunity very exciting.  I like the challenge and working on different things.  So freelancing allows me to use my creative skill not just in fashion but in other areas as well.
  3. Working at home –  I LOVE working at home.  This is by far one of the most important reason from me.  Why?  I find myself most comfortable and creative when I am at home.  Some people can’t work from home as they find it very distracting, whilst I find working at home very productive as I don’t have to travel to work and I don’t have restricted working hours.  If you are the type that can’t work at home, you can still freelance, but you will have an additional cost of renting a work space or going to a lots of different coffee shops.
  4.  Enjoy working on their own – I work alone most of the time, but I love it!  I enjoy working with others too, like going to meetings and meeting new clients, or bouncing off ideas with other people to come up with something new or better.  However when it comes to actually getting the work done, I love working on my own as I concentrate better and more productive.
  5. Well rounded skills – As you are a one man band, you don’t have a team of people working on different departments to get things done.  For example, I don’t just do the design work, but I have to do everything else.  I am the design department, the accounts department, the IT department, the admin, the delivery girl.  You name it, I am it.
  6. Adaptable – Not only do you have to be well rounded, you also have to be very adaptable to different clients.  As you are working with different people all the time, everyone works differently.  You need to adapt and tailor yourself to suit your client.  After all they are the one who is employing you.
  7. Self discipline – You need a lot of self discipline.  This is the most important part of freelancing.  You need to be strict with yourself, make a timetable and most importantly, STICK TO IT!  Making plans is easy, sticking to them is the hard part.

 

Like everything in life, there is pros and cons with freelancing.  Here is a simple pros and cons list:

 

Pros:

  • You get to work from home –  No rush hour traffic jams, I get to work in my pjs and be with my cat.
  • Flexible working hours – I don’t have someone telling me when I need to start work, I can start work at 9 am or 12pm.  As long as I get the work done before the deadline, my clients are happy.
  • Easier to balance my work and personal life – This is probably by far the most important part for me and why I prefer freelancing.  Being an only child and a wife, I have learnt that having flexible hours is crucial in my life.  ( I will elaborated this point in my Everyone’s 啊4 post soon.)
  • Being able to choose your projects – For a lot of people, this would probably be the most appealing part of freelancing.  You can choose the people and projects you work with.  This is a luxury for most people, if you are working at a normal desk job, you don’t normally get a choice.
  • Mobile office – One of the best part about freelancing is you can pretty work whenever you want and where ever you want.  You can work at home, in a coffee shop or even on a beach, as long as you hand everything off before the deadline, you are good.

Cons:

  • Working on my own – This is can be on the pros or cons list.  I personally enjoy working on my own, but it can be quite hard sometimes as you don’t have someone to bounce your ideas with.  It can also be quite lonely if you are the type of person who enjoy working with others.
  • Sorting out your own finances –  For me this is one of the hardest part.  Being a creative person, organising my finances doesn’t come naturally to me.  So I had to train myself to be better at it.  When you freelance you don’t have an accounting department to do that for you.  You can hire an accountant to do all of that for you, but you still need to keep all your receipts, keep track on all my expenses, issuing invoices etc, that is still all you.  The good news is, there are websites and apps to help you with this nowadays to make your life easier.
  • Chasing payment – This is my least favourite part about freelancing.  Most companies I have worked with have been very good with payments, but there is always some exceptions in different situations, especially if there have been sudden changes.

In situations like these, you will just have to analyse the situation and see whether you should stand your ground or try to renegotiate.  It is not easy and it is not comfortable, but it is unfortunately something you have to go through.

  • Knowing your worth – Setting a price on how much your work is worth can be cringe worthing.  I would say do your research, see what the market rate is, and then weight it against how much experience you have.  I know some creatives over charge for their work and some under estimate how much they are worth.  It is a fine balance between the two.  Take me for example, I will do my research on what the market rate is for freelancing, see how much experience others have compare to myself.  If they have less experience than me, then I can probably charge a bit more.  If they are more experience than me, then I will have to charge less to compensate for that.  Don’t be greedy, but don’t under sell yourself at the same time.

 

I hope this post gives you a general in site of the life of a freelancer.  For those of you who are considering working as a freelancer, I hope this has been useful.  If you have any questions, please feel free to leave us a comment and I would be gladly answer any questions you may have.

 

With love & quirks,

 

Chris xxx

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