6months as a Freelance designer…
Hello everyone, I’ve decided to write an article about my new freelance lifestyle because I feel like it’s good for me to put things in words, writing helps me clarify my thoughts. And I have to admit, those last months I have felt lost a few times. Plus, some of you are curious to know more about what it is that I do judging my Instagram survey. First of all I’m going to tell you why I decided to step into freelancing, what I was expecting and then I’ll talk about the highs and lows of it. And give you my final feeling.
The freelancing myth
Nowadays the freelancing/entrepreneur lifestyle is idealised. Freelancers made us believe that it’s the perfect life. We see them every day on our Instagram feed, you know, those people who can take holidays whenever they wants, post picture of them under the palm tree, or in bed till 11am after a night out on a Monday, who works in pyjama while snacking on chocolate. Well, they are showing you what they want. Reality is, most freelancers won’t go have fun under the tropics because they don’t have the money for it, they work so much that they don’t have weekends off. Anyway, let’s talk about my situation.
Why I started
I personally decided to start freelancing last years as I was still working full time as graphic designer for a fashion company. It all started with my health, I was very tired all the time, had chronic stomach pain, and regular fainting. And as you can imagine, that wasn’t making the full time easy for me. Sometimes I will have to leave the office unexpectedly, will spend lot of times between doctors and hospital appointment, miss work time due to morning fainting, it was not easy. And I was feeling uncomfortable towards my colleague as I was often sick. So I started thinking of freelancing then. It was November 2017.
I bought the book “The working woman’s handbook” from Phoebe Lovatt and “The little black book” to inspire myself and see with it seemed like a good idea to go freelance at 23. I spent a lot of time reading, questioning myself. After a while I put the freelance though aside and decided that I needed to work full time for other companies first, to gain more experience. But then with my boyfriend we took the decision to quit our jobs to go travel. He was working crazy hours, weekends, we were living together but still, barely seeing each other. It was time for both of us to move on. I wasn’t that happy with my job anymore. So again I thought that I could freelancing after our travels. I started to meet freelance graphic designer, freelance art director, full time bloggers… to hear different opinions. Everytime I heard positive feedbacks and so I decided to go for it. We went travel all summer and in September I began.
How to start
The first step was to put my portfolio together, create a logo for myself, update my Cv, create a new website for my work only (separated from my blog) and business cards. That all thing took me the month, the website was a lot of work. After that I registered on freelancing platform such as The-Dots, or Freelancer.com. I also started to apply for recruitment agencies as according to other freelancers that’s the most efficient way to get work. I also created a Facebook page for my business, and posted on Facebook groups the link to my website. All that done, I was ready to work. So I did all the paperwork part, registered as self employed and then under a company limited. So here I am, optimistic, legally good and motivated! Now, we’re in January and I’m going to tell you what happened in the meantime, what is good and what’s complicated and what are my plans for the future.
The advantages of being a freelancer:
- First, I would say the flexibility. You can have your own rhythm, create your own routine and not be stressed by all those “life things” that you don’t have time to do when you work (medical appointments, post-office, grocery shopping, laundry…).
- More healthy lifestyle. As I spend most of my days working from home, I can cook, take care of my diet, which for me and my health issues is really important. I also have time to exercise, go for a walk every morning, meditate.
- Less stress. I am way less stress than before so I suffer less from fainting (fainted only once those last 9months), my stomach issues have reduced so so much it’s actually impressive. The fact that I don’t spend too much time in transports, in the crowd, noise helped with all of that.
- My social life is better, because in my previous company I wasn’t very comfortable which lead to me being shy, unsociable. Now I decide who I want to see on a weekly basis, that’s why I’m really attached to my blogging/instagram because I meet new bloggers all the time, for coffee, events or shoot and I love that. I meet people that I genuinely want to meet. I learn so much from every person, it’s inspiring.
- My relationship with my boyfriend has improve as well, as we now have time for each other, we’re not running on the other side of the city all the time. We support each other and grow together in the same direction.
- I got my creativity back, as I have more time, no guideline to respect at all time. I can do personal project and be more creative.
The drawbacks of being a freelancer:
- The money. Let’s be honest, I’m broke. I had saved money before starting, to sustain myself for a few months but at some point you need a salary. In 6 months I had three jobs. Which is nothing. I’m not gonna lie to you and play the girl who manage her life perfectly and is not struggling. That’s not true. The reality is, financially it’s difficult. A week as a freelancer for a company is really well paid. But you need to find a job… (And on top of that, my Macbook died so I need to buy a new one, and that cost so much, it’s ridiculous).
- Stability. That’s very close to the previous point, you don’t have the money stability. In theory if I was working for companies as a freelancer, two weeks a months would be enough for me to live properly. But finding work is a very hard task. How do you find clients? That’s my big question (if someone has an answer, feel free to share in comment). I have tried agencies, linkedin, recruiting websites but it’s not very successful.
- Websites like freelancers.com, peopleperhour, upwork are my absolute nightmares, and if I’m honest, the nightmare of the profession. Why? Because on those platform, clients post advert like “Want a logo design for $10” and I’m like fuck off! But then you see twenty people who applied for the job, some of them (often from India) say that they can do it for $3. So I know that I have no chance to get the job, because I can do it for that cheap! And also, I have a design degree, I pay for my Mac, my softwares, my fonts, my website, all of that cost me too much to do logos for 3$, I mean, come on!
- Finally, the creativity part. It’s hard to split the time between administrative tasks and creative ones. Between the emails, calls to agencies, hunt for jobs on recruitment site it’s hard to know when to stop, to create.
So, as you can see, it’s not all fun. It’s a real work. You need to be properly self-disciplined. Without self discipline you’re sure to fail. You need to be ready to work hard, try again and again. I think that the main thing is to not give up and try harder. I have insisted a lot on the lack of money, but I want to precise that even if I’m earning way less than before, I’m so much more happy. I’m happier, healthier and that’s what I needed after last year. I want to keep in that direction, I had originally gave myself the deadline of March. If for March I was realising that it wasn’t viable I would stop and look for full-time. But it’s not March yet haha and I want to keep trying longer.
I know, in myself that this is the lifestyle that I need. The one I have always wanted. Eventually I’d love to have my own studio with a partner. I can visualise that studio in my mind since years. That’s my final goal. I want to be creative, lost myself in time creating nice projects. Working for one company only doesn’t suit me. I need to be challenged, be excited at all time by amazing projects, interesting clients. I want to be the most creative as possible. Because I decided to go in graphic design to spend my life doing something I love, and I had lost that love feeling working in-house. So I’m gonna keep going! Unless, I see a very incredible opportunity as a full time, something unmissable like junior art director, or designer for a brand I really love. Then who knows?