How to stay positive as a freelance designer

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Recently, I received this client response to a proof:

Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh OH MY GOSH!!! This is SOOO cool I squealed when I opened the pdf!!! I LOVE IT!!

(PS: If you’d like to see what my client was reacting to, leave a comment on this post and I’ll share the link with you.)

For me, it doesn’t get any better than this. I feel an immense sense of personal and professional fulfillment from designing the perfect solution that both my client and I absolutely love.

When my clients get excited about my design work, it’s like a jolt of rejuvenation.

It keeps me coming back for more, but more importantly, it makes me even more determined to succeed as a freelancer.

Stay positive to succeed

So often we focus on the negatives – wondering if we’ll be able to “make it,” if we’re cut out for this business.

While it’s important to be realistic and plan ahead this perpetual negativity adds unnecessary stress to our lives, weakens our resolve, and lowers our self-confidence.

We stop enjoying our work and instead it becomes another (gasp) j-o-b.

So take a minute right now to remember why you enjoy freelancing, what aspects of the job make you smile, and what motivates you to succeed as a freelancer.

Seriously take a minute.

Right now.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Setting your own work/vacation time
  • Setting your own hours
  • Running a business
  • Being your own boss
  • Selecting your coworkers
  • Spending more time with your family
  • No commute
  • Living where you want
  • Choosing your clientele
  • Controlling your pricing/hourly rate
  • Working in your pajamas (every once and a while)
  • Choosing your equipment
  • Owning your success
  • Creating your office space
  • Working from wherever you want

What’s your favorite part of freelancing?

Leave a comment on this post, sharing what your favorite part of freelancing is and how that keeps you energized and enjoying life and work as a freelancer.

Together, we can build a list that is bound to inspire and uplift anyone currently freelancing or hoping to get into it soon!

About April Greer

April is a go-to freelance designer with a rare combination of creative expertise and technical savvy. She is available for subcontracting and speaking engagements – visit Greer Genius for more information.

Comments

  1. The thing I love is the variety of clients and projects. Working for one business or entity, you’re usually stuck in one look set out through the branding, etc. It’s easy to get bored with your own designs. I work from clients in athletics to clients in healthcare to clients just starting their own business. So much variety which allows me to be creative.

  2. Great article – there is nothing better than a happy client. Makes all the hard work worthwhile.

    I love the freedom of being a freelancer, I don’t feel like I have a job, it’s just part of my life. Oh and no early mornings (great for us night owls).

    Can I see what work you did that made the client give such an enthusiastic response? :)

  3. Well, my favourite part, LITERALLY, is the first word… “free”. That sums it up alright.
    You’re your own boss; which is a challenge and no easy task, but rewarding at the end (I hope, I’m just starting as a freelancer.)

    Anyway, great articles guys, keep them up as always! Cheers!

  4. April, love this article, it’s so true and important to stay positive!

  5. Curious about this mysterious PDF…

  6. I want to know!!!

  7. Karen Shea says:

    for your list:

    Freedom…in general…but also to walk down to the beach in the middle of the day for some inspiration.

  8. Earning a great living by using my own creative skills

  9. Hi April, another great post, thank you for your insight.

    My favourite part of freelancing is having the ability to say ‘no’ to projects that are not my core strengths or not my favoured types of brands, I rarely do say no but I like knowing that I can.

    My other favourite part of freelancing is that feeling on a Friday evening when you email out your beautifully designed invoices to happy clients. I love that warm glow of ‘I earned this for me, not to line someone else’s pocket’.

    Third would probably be writing my freelance blog over at http://Strat-Talking.com – a good release and fun to connect with new audiences.

    Greg

    • Greg,

      Saying ‘no’ is just as important as saying ‘yes’, and I’m glad you recognize it.

      ‘I earned this for me.’ – I love it. Such self-satisfaction!

      Thanks for sharing.

  10. This post was very timely for me! I’d love to see what made your client squeal!

  11. Well done!! Can I see the link to the work your client loved??

  12. Had the same experience few weeks ago after presenting drafts for a business cards. And yes — the feeling is awesome! But you did make me curious: please send me the oh-my-gosh-link, thanks ;)

    aloha,
    David

  13. Had the same experience few weeks ago after presenting drafts for a business card. And yes — the feeling is awesome! But you did make me curious: please send me the oh-my-gosh-link, thanks ;)

    aloha,
    David

  14. Nice article. Short and precise also.
    My favourite part of freelancing are “Oh my gosh” moments when I’m able to wow my clients. It gives absolute satisfaction and a sense of avhievement.
    . . . don’t forget to share the link. Will like to see.

  15. I have some clients that absolutely love and appreciate what I do. Then I also have those who think I have super powers that can read their thoughts and know what they want, even when they don’t.

    You’ve piqued my interest.

    • William,

      Don’t you find that most of the time they want you to read their mind, they don’t know what they want, either? So you’re reading a jumbled mess even if you could!

  16. Alfredo G says:

    Would love to know what your client was reacting to!

  17. I agree. I love it when both me and the client agree on the design!

  18. One of the advantages to freelancing is the ability to work directly with the decision maker on the design project as opposed to having to go through one or more middlemen. The more people who are in the ladder, the more the message is diluted and the harder it is to get the the issues that are really at stake for the client. I was initially surprised by how much more often I “got it right” the first time when I am allowed this kind of access.

  19. Hi
    I have to say that this article really hits home with me. I started my own design studio after many years as a designer in UK studios, where you do all the work but don’t always hear any feedback, you just get your head down and get on with the next job! When I started working for myself I finally felt fulfilled. It’s not only knowing that it really IS your name out there on the finished article but it’s about how you feel when your client really LOVES your work. I do lots of work for cinemas here in the UK (AMC Cinemas was my first client, and 8 years on still with me) and every time I see my work on display I get a real buzz. Great article and I really love the website and inspirational articles. If your thinking about freelancing, just DO IT! Kind Regards Pete

    • Pete,

      Congrats on the long-term client!

      When I worked in-house, I felt totally under-appreciated and it ground away at my self-confidence. We rarely got praise, except in the repeated, bland group form of “can’t thank everyone enough for your effort.” They had no idea the miracles we performed and it showed.

      Now? Doubly as self-confident, fulfilled, and loving it! (And making more money!)

      Thanks for sharing.

    • “If your thinking about freelancing, just DO IT!”…..Greetings

  20. Great advice. I totally do want to see what the project was!

  21. Even though i’m just starting out,the best part for me april i must say is freedom. Last yr i interned @ a printing firm but the constant waking up in d morning to go to a building where a boss was waitimg with some orders i don’t take as fun was just too much! Conventional office just isnt for me lol my methods are unnatural. I love what i do and freelancing gives me that… Freedom.

  22. Stephanie says:

    OMG! Would love to see what you are excited about:)

  23. The variety of clients and projects keeps me entertained. Working in house can turn mundane quickly

  24. This is very motivational! I have not started freelancing yet but I feel the urge to take that leap now!

  25. Love your submissions to Graphic Design Blender and I gotta see what your client was reacting to.

  26. I absolutely LOVE getting these types of emails! I’d love to see what your client was reacting too!

  27. My fav part of freelancing is working one on one with a client and getting to know them. I love the flexibility of having our meetings where and how we want them to be – in person, by phone or by email.

  28. I always enjoy your posts and this is another great one.

  29. I’d love to see what got the client to squeal with joy! Link please. Thanks for the great blog by the way. A lot of useful content here. I look forward to the newsletter.

  30. Ivan Berka says:

    Oh I know e-x-a-c-t-l-y what you are talking about. Response from my client to icon proposal: „We are slobbering over it. Quite splendour…“ These are the recharging words I love to hear or read.

    At first time I thought you’ve listed everything. So at least I created a note in Evernote named „Positives of my freelancing“ and once I created it, some favorite parts (not listed here) came to my mind:

    – I do the work that is right
    – I choose which (immoral) work to reject
    – this is the way how I make the better world

    Yeah, great articles April, thank you. You’re doin’ a great job!

  31. Ivan Berka says:

    Oh I know e-x-a-c-t-l-y what you are talking about. Response from my client to my recent icon proposal: „We are slobbering over it. Quite splendour…“ These are recharging words I love to hear or read.

    At first time I thought you’ve listed everything. So at least I created a note in Evernote named „Positives of my freelancing“ and once I created it, some favorite parts (not listed here) came to my mind:

    – I do the work that is right
    – I choose which (immoral) work to reject
    – this is the way how I make the better world

    Yeah, great articles April, thank you. You’re doin’ a great job!

  32. My favorite part of freelancing is sleeping until 8:30 and feeling really rested. And, I LOVE actually being excited to start the day and work!

  33. Although I have a full-time job as a studio manager, I love freelancing because it gives me creative freedom to work on projects I love and with amazing clients.

  34. The thing I enjoy most is the freedom that comes along with making your own schedule. Being able to run errands while everyone else is at work or going for a bike ride by the beach on a wednesday afternoon… priceless!

  35. Best thing about being your own boss?

    For me, it’s having a silent studio.
    No commercial radio with adverts. No death metal at 9:30 on a Monday morning.

    Earphones were invented as an aid to thinking. Talk radio is not a substitute!

    Saying that, a decent album, cranked up high on the stereo aids art working at 2 in the morning for a next day deadline.

    • Mark,

      Can’t believe I forgot this one – choose your own music or none at all. My boyfriend thinks something is wrong with me because I often have no music at all. I like the silence – sometimes words in music distract me. Other times, music is great.

      But it’s so nice that it’s not constant…I get to choose. :)

  36. Love when that happens. Makes me feel like I am doing something right. I am enjoying freelancing. Luckily I have a part time “job” along side freelancing that stays consistent. Great situation. Income to count on so less worries while freelancing. Love you blog by the way!

  37. Firstly, strange timing, I received an email from a client an hour ago saying “I think what you’ve done is absolutely spot on. It’s clean, simple and looks like a trustworthy brand. We love the red you’ve chosen too.”, I immediately felt the same feeling you describe! One thing that really ‘keeps me going’ is the thought of progression, to look back where you started and where you are now, to look through your own portfolio and actually see the progression, its very rewarding and certainly gives me a positive boost in those times! I spent my 1st year working in my bedroom, my 2nd year in my home home office, entering my 3rd year now I’m just about to rent my first office, certainly feeling the progression. Keep going, don’t give up and remember why you took the plunge in the first place. Now, intrigued to see what got you your ‘Oh my gosh!’ response :)

  38. I love the list you included in your article and I agree with every single item. However, my FAVORITE aspect of free-lancing is the sense of ownership in EVERYTHING I do. Knowing that every success, every failure, every lesson, and every step forward was my own accomplishment. It gives me the strength to continue to push myself forward and gain even more grains of wisdom with which to hone my skills. It is a truly liberating feeling being solely self-reliant.

    • Alison,

      I used to feel secure in my 9-5. Then I got laid off. Now, with 2 sources of income (freelancing and officiating youth sports), I’ve never felt more self-reliant and secure.

      Thanks for sharing!

  39. Carolynne says:

    Show your design piece! I love looking at inspiring design!

  40. The best part about freelancing from home is being able to pick up my Son from school every single day. I love that.

  41. This post was just what I needed. A great reminder on why I became a freelancer. Thanks a lot!

  42. great post! there are so many aspects of freelancing that I love that I don’t know which one is best but if pressed I’d have to say that controlling my own destiny is the most important aspect for me.

    would love to see what made your client squeal in delight :)

  43. Once in a while we meet as designers some enlightening clients who actually respect our works and that is just a boost! It helps overcome those who appeal to our insecurities.

  44. The best part for me is definitely the flexibility with work/life balance – being able to pick my kids up from school; able to grab a surf in the mornings and not being tied to someone else’s hours.

    And only today I got the “oh wow they’re amazing” comment from a client.

  45. Jane Hayes says:

    I’m just starting up in the ol Freelance game and I find your posts very helpful! I’d love to see the magic you revealed that created that client response! Nice work! Also, I’m curious if you have any info or advice relating to business liability, whether it’s necessary to make myself an actual business to freelance, and anything in regards to legality and tax concerns so that I make sure I’m legit? Sorry to bombard you with perhaps silly questions! :)

    • Jane,

      You’re asking awesome questions – they are not silly at all!

      I have to preface this with the following: I’m neither an accountant nor a lawyer so this is just friendly peer advice.

      I encourage you to look into a business license – mine is $50/year.

      Currently, Greer Genius is a sole proprietorship, not a corporation. My financial advisor and I decided this would be simpler (at least for now). I file my personal and business taxes as one, gathering my zillion 1099 independent contractor forms (kind of a pain) and paying all of my taxes at time time since no taxes are taken out of my clients’ payments (more of a pain).

      With a corporation, you personally aren’t liable for any debts that the corporation accrues. However, as a designer, you really shouldn’t be accruing that much debt because you don’t have inventory.

      Have you checked out Preston’s ebook, “From Passion to Profit”? There’s a link on this page or on the nav bar. It’s so worth it to help you get started!

      Good luck!

  46. All your favourites are mine too and I also love developing friendships with clients who value what I do. They are the people you want to design for.

  47. I’d love to see the PDF

  48. Thank you for this… I forget sometimes. ;)

  49. I love being able to go run errands whenever I want and take my dog for a long walk in the morning. (I was never able to do that when I commuted to my previous full-time gig.)

  50. I’d love to see the OMG proof! As an aspiring freelancer about to graduate in May and ready to start working, I can’t wait to have a client react like that!

  51. I loved this post- and it was timely. While I love freelancing most of the time, there are challenges that can trigger doubt. But reading your list and thinking of the great lifestyle I enjoy reminds me that going back to work for someone else full time just wouldn’t suit me. I would love to see the project your client was so enthusiastic about, too! Thanks for your great work!

  52. Best response ever! I’d love to see what got that reaction!

  53. What an inspiring article! I would love to see your project!!!

  54. The reason I love being a freelancer (althoughmy resolve is being tested as we speak) is encapsulated in the word: FREElancer. Good luck to all of you out there enjoying your freedom and doing what you love! :)

  55. Stephanie T. says:

    I would love to see what had your client squealing!
    Thanks for a great post!

  56. share with me

  57. I totally agree with you in the aspects that you enjoy and in the fact that we have to stay motivated by and at work.

    I think my favorite part would be Owning you success, because sometimes when you work for someone you can’t enjoy being part of the success.

    Great post. Can you share with me what the client was so happy to see? I really want so see it :P

    Cheers!

  58. Thank you for another cup of encouragement! What I enjoy the most about freelancing is it lets me do what I do best, draw/printmaking/watercolor, in spite of my declining ability to hear. The majority of my clients have been mostly online this past year, a plus for me since phones are no longer an option. Crafting logos or creating a picture for anyone out of town/state has never been easier. I hope to ride this freelance train well past the “normal” retirement years – when I get to them. Keep your column coming!

  59. I totally agree with your post! Sometimes I have to stop and think about how cool my life is! Working at home and meeting new clients while choosing my own hours and having my own designed office space. I am the same way as you! The greatest feeling in the world is having a client come back to me and say that they love the finished design!

  60. I love being able to work doing what I love!

  61. please share the draft!

  62. April,
    Thank you for helping to bring back the joy of being a freelance graphic designer. I’d love to see the project with which your client was so thrilled.
    Caren

  63. Dave Meagher says:

    Good reminder!

  64. I completely agree with all your points. For me it would be creative freedom. Somehow designing, especially websites, does not feel like you are working in an assembly line when you are working as a freelancer.

  65. My favorite thing about running my own business: working at midnight and sleeping in until 10! :) I’ve never fit into the 9-5 schedule, I’m much more of a night owl. Being my own boss/setting my own hours allows me the freedom to work when I’m most creative

  66. Yes, crucial to stay positive when you’re on your own. Lack of positivity for prolonged periods definitely affects all facets of the freelance world.

  67. Excellent list of things that I really love of being a freelancer since 1998…

    I would like to add that we are able to keep us updated on the topics that we enjoy, trying new things, even as a hobby, but at the end it help us to improve our services.

  68. Haha, since you offered and I am a curious person, I would love to see what made that client so excited :)

    I love freelancing because it gives me an opportunity to use my own creative process. Sometimes the best thing to get me back in the zone is to go knit and listen to an audiobook for a little while, or carve something random out of a chunk of wood, or sew together a book out of scraps of paper that I have lying on my desk. I’m not sure that many companies would accept these as valid methods of rejuvenation, or as valuable parts of the work day. I like being able to mandate my own hours as well – most days I work 9-5 but some days I start work early so I can hang out with my family in the afternoon, or I have the ability to work late or push a few hours to another day if I decide to take a random morning shopping trip with a friend. I’m disciplined enough that this doesn’t impede my work progress, and actually helps me be more creative when I do buckle down to work.

    • Hannah,

      Rejuvenation like activities you’re talking about boosts productivity so well! I love puttering in my garden…the sunshine and nature do it for me. So many companies want total focus for 8 hours, and that’s the surest way to mental stress.

      Glad to hear you’re remembering breaks!

  69. I’m just completing my BFA, after several years, following a long-time dream of mine. I desperately want to freelance instead of work for others but I’m sure wil have to jump thru some hoops first to get there. I get very inspired about posts like this, it encourages me that it can be done! But I know it’s gonna be a lot of work too & takes commitment & discipline. I’ve always hated the 9-5, punch the clock game too & find I work best late at night (I’m a night owl) when my family is asleep. So it’s my dream & I now I really want to make it a reality! I’d love to see what inspired your client…that stuff motivates me too! Because if someone else is excited about my work, it makes me feel more validated. And it makes me want to strive to do even better!

  70. Hi GDB Readers,

    What a response! Thanks for all of your great comments – I’ve read TONS of awesome reasons that motivate you to succeed as a freelancer.

    Here’s the link to the project: http://www.behance.net/gallery/Junior-Trainers-Camp-T-Shirt/8174099

    Would love to hear your comments! (And a big thank you to Jim Adams for his during the conception process.)

    April

  71. I know it might sound strange, but what I love about being freelance is being part of a team. A dynamic more fulfilling team, where you work directly with the client, no middlemen, no account managers – just a great working relationship.

    • Stuart,

      Love your comment – when you foster a great client relationship a sense of camaraderie and teamwork is amazingly fulfilling. Those clients are my favorite!

      Thanks for sharing!

  72. April, great post :)

    I’m studying Multimedia Design, and it includes a big part of graphic design. I love graphic design but I choose Multimedia because I like audiovisuals too.

    Anyway, I’m starting a freelance project with a friend, meanwhile we’re studying..
    I allways wanted to be my own boss haha, and ALL the freedom of freelance working! So, yeah, this requires a lot of time inversion at the beginning, maybe more than a 9-5 work, but is great the freedom and satisffaction that you get.

    Its the freedom of work on your own projects, even you can get more time for personal things.

    I love design, and work as a freelance makes me forget that this is a “job”, so it gets more like to do what I love and get paid for it!

    And I’m curious about the PDF! :)

  73. Alan Lapp says:

    My favorite part of freelancing is that I’m responsible for everything that affects my business and financial life… good, bad or indifferent. I choose carefully which vendors to use. If they make me miserable, I choose different vendors. I chose clients carefully. If they turn out to be a bad fit, I mysteriously am too busy for new projects.

    Ironically, it’s sort of the opposite of the cliche’d idea of “freedom” — frolicking in fields of flowers, hair blowing in the wind, as a puppy licks your face… Bzzt. That is a dream sequence in a bad teen movie. Real freedom is being in command of your destiny, and responsible for your own wellbeing. Sadly, real freedom takes discipline, effort, and persistence. I have discovered that having mastery in this manner has become tremendously satisfying.

    Today, one of my clients gave me a bunch of fresh rhubarb out of her garden, and offered some theater tickets she is unable to use. That’s the kind of appreciation that carries the day.

    • Alan,

      Great comment – it’s so nice to choose different vendors instead of being stuck with a lousy one that’s the absolute cheapest (been there). Not that the cheapest one is lousy, but I digress…

      I agree with you – not always frolicking and sunshine, but I’ve always felt most satisfied with my life when I see reward for my effort. Sometimes it’s fresh rhubarb, and that’s great.

      Thanks for sharing!

  74. Shared it!

  75. Thank you April, a very refreshing article, as usual!

    Plus, I’d love to see that mysterious pdf from wonderland

  76. tony osa says:

    Choosing your dress style.

  77. Great article!!! Please provide the information you said you would pass along!!

  78. I’m intrigued! Just had an very happy client too ;-)

  79. I Suffered a life altering injury and almost straight away knew that my career at the time needed to change, but at the same time a new career needed to meet my new situation.
    So i fell back on my artistic background and went back to college and retrained as a graphic designer. I knew being freelance was going to be the only way I was going to make this work, as it meant I was in control of how and when I did things. The freedom it gives me to explore unrestricted, but still present a strong challenge. I can be picky and choosy over the work i do.
    So reading your post I am able to relate in many ways and whole heartedly agree.
    Freelance is a great way for me to achieve my goals while still maintaining others.
    Great work by the way… :)

    • Matt,

      You sound like an inspiration. So many people stop living when their life circumstances change so dramatically. I’m thrilled to hear you’re tackling the challenge head on.

      Best,

      April

  80. Thanks for a great article! There are pros and cons to freelancing but I think all the things you listed way outweigh the cons. It is a great life if you can find the right balance.

    It is an amazing feeling when someone likes your work and responds like yours did. I would love to see it.

    • Nessy,

      Every situation has pros and cons. Understanding the cons and being proactive is great. It’s when you focus solely on them that hope starts going down the drain.

      We as humans tend to let the negatives weigh us down more than letting the positives lifts us up, so sometimes we just need a reminder. :)

      Thanks for sharing!

  81. My favorite part is being a part of it from start to finish, unlike at an agency where there could be many others speaking with the client. It’s harder to gauge a company’s likes/dislikes through the grapevine.
    …now send me the link!! can’t wait :-)

  82. My avorite is designing and seeing the emotions they have when they are surprised by the uniqueness. I must say I am weak at marketing I do not know what to do. I will show you my design that caused the recipient to cry tears with joy i you show me the pd. strugging to succeed.

  83. Freelancing can be very rewarding, I just hate having to collect on invoices. So awkward….Anyone else have this issue?

    • Stephen,

      Great question – if you can be patient, we’d love to answer this in a post.

    • Why is it awkward? You’ve provided a product or service that fulfilled your client’s need. Most people who get what they ask for WANT to pay you. By being ambivalent about getting paid, you’re sending the message to clients that you’re an amateur who doesn’t feel he is worth what he provides. You should get in the habit of always getting a 50% retainer/deposit up-front, and when you send the final proof of the project and it’s approved, enclose an invoice and state that you’ve enclosed a invoice and will send the final finished files as soon as the balance is paid. I seriously recommend accepting credit cards through an inexpensive service like Square or Pro Pay, or taking PayPal, this way the final payment can be handled over the phone with no face-to-face money changing hands, and no waiting for a check that “never comes.” Taking credit cards was the best thing I ever did.

  84. For the latest posters who may have missed this in the earlier comments:

    Hi GDB Readers,

    What a response! Thanks for all of your great comments – I’ve read TONS of awesome reasons that motivate you to succeed as a freelancer.

    Here’s the link to the project: http://www.behance.net/gallery/Junior-Trainers-Camp-T-Shirt/8174099

    Would love to hear your comments! (And a big thank you to Jim Adams for his during the conception process.)

    April

  85. It’s so important to be positive when you are a freelance designer. It can become very stressful, very quickly and without a positive attitude the stress can really get to you. I am excited to share this with my community of designers at Webydo.

  86. Thank you for sharing this article, I feel exactly like you!!!
    One of the things I love is to be able to choose what projects I would like to work on. I welcome all the work, but normally I have to pitch for work, and is when I can decide who I would like to help with my skills. Being independent and having to be responsible for everthing is what I love. Manage my time and my work, be able to do school runs and be with my kids without having chilcare. Feel in control of my life and how much success I am looking for.

    • Paula,

      I agree…it’s nice to have the option to turn down a project you don’t want for whatever reason. And not having to pay for childcare is huge – the bonus of saving money and spending valuable time with them? Awesome.

  87. Other than squealing, one of my favourite parts is that my job is portable. If we decide to move, my job moves with me. (Not sure if anyone else said that… curiosity killed the cat and afforded you more responses than I had time to read. I’d also love a peek at the project that elicited squealing from your client. (my absolute favourite response!))

    Kindly,
    Tamian

  88. Thanks for posting the reminder of what it’s all about! Even in stressful moments I feel more alive by the challenges of being self employed – I want to be present in my life – and a freelance design lifestyle definitely keeps me awake.

  89. That’s great news.

  90. Congratulations!

  91. Congratulations on your client loving your designs.

  92. And can you work for big brands as a freelancer?? Because I really miss my agency tasks, following brand identity guidelines, working with great account managers and art directors. Nowadays I am the one who makes some guides, but only for small clients, they don’t really recognize what it is that I’m doing with them :D I need bigger brands! Help!

  93. No commute, almost no meetings, and being able to say no (or maybe just “later if it will work for you”) to projects when I can see I won’t have time to give everything the attention it needs. Fewer distractions, which can result in better work. And as long as I have FedEx and internet access, I can live anywhere.

  94. Great article! Currently I’m working as a designer and doing freelancing in holidays and nights. Whats the best advise you can give me. I’m getting some jobs but I feel that I’m lacking knowledge/skill in communicating.
    thank you

  95. Michel Raj says:

    I worked first as a freelancer, then, one of my customers wanted me to work as an employee for him, which I did for ten years, and then again freelancer. During those ten years, I learned a lot, but there’s nothing like being you own boss. Once inside a company, your work isn’t considered as well. The great jobs were going to freelancers, and all routine jobs were done in house by the employees. So I didn’t really get satisfied during these ten years. Now, again freelancer, my job is appreciated by my customers, and that feels so good. I work at my hours, my rates, with my chosen and happy customers…

    • Michel,

      Similar to what you’ve said, my dad (a business consultant/CPA/brilliant mind) once said something to me that I’ll never forget: “April, once you become an employee instead of an independent contractor, the value of your opinion and your work will plummet.”

      And then the really interesting jobs always get outsourced so you can keep up with the mundane. *sigh*

      Thanks for reminding me!

      April

  96. Alan Dearborn says:

    I would love to see the design you are referring to!
    I am a graphic/sign designer of 20+ years in NH

    Thanks!

  97. Getting to watch my little girl grow up and never missing a milestone with her has to be the best thing about freelancing. But I have to debunk the myth that freelancers are their own boss. The clients are the boss. Period. If you forget that, you will not make it long.

    • Awww, Randy, that’s so sweet.

      I try to create a team feeling with my clients – that helps remind them that we are both professionals and that I’m not an employee they can berate, scare, or bully. Some have tried, and I’ve had to remind them (gently) that this type of behavior isn’t acceptable.

  98. Thanks for the reminders of what to be grateful for April!
    I’d love to see the pdf! Thanks so much.Pat

  99. Shawn Straight says:

    It’s essential to be able to play as well as work. Being a freelancer helps me enjoy what I do so much more for the the same reasons as many others. I have the opportunity to choose GOOD people to work with. Honest people that appreciate not only what I do, but me as a person. Sometimes when you are sitting in someone else’s office, you just get to deal with them and their egos. I’ve seen a lot of people with shady business practices and VERY questionable ethics.

    Plus, I never have to forget WHY I got into this field. I can be creative, make a living and not have to compromise my ethics. That’s totally worth it to me.

    Plus, Gotta tell ya, I love being able to go surfing. Having the flexibility to go take some down time to do something I really enjoy, helps me do my work better and nurture my creativity.

    I can hit the water for a couple of hours in the morning and come back in the afternoon feeling tired, but refreshed. It makes me a better person all around. I enjoy my family and they get to enjoy me and it certainly makes it easier on my wife. She has to put up with the moody artsy-fartsy guy all the time.

    Thanks.

  100. My favorite part is no middle man. Making the relationship with the client instead of hoping the sales person, owner of an agency/firm or internal marketing person “gets” what the client needs and is a good enough communicator to convey it to me. When someone else makes the relationship, you’re just a worker bee. When you make the relationship, you know the right questions to ask and you get to know the person you are dealing with.

    The other part I like is working with people that I like and that like me as a person. No politics if I don’t want them. Just honest communication.

    • Dot,

      Great points. I most often prefer working directly with the client, too. I have one exception thus far, but I find that a middle man slows down the proofing process and often times it’s like that childhood game, Telephone…the message just gets muddied.

      Thanks for sharing!

  101. Stephan Pelayo says:

    Nice to share, April
    I totally agree every point.
    And receiving cool answers from customers is the best thing in beginning the day at my eleven first coffee (yes, uploading files the day before, checking at 2am or 4am in the night). Sometimes when I really don’t want to work, I’m running the city on my scooter
    (and sometimes shooting some pictures on a tab or with a cam)
    Great to see that a lot of us here living the same nice way of life.
    Next stage for me : try to find a place next to the sea (but here in Madagascar the connection is definitely the worst of the world)
    Have all and specially you, April, a nice week end !
    May Freedom be with you
    S.

  102. Thanks for the post! Really inspiring to me as I’m mostly freelance myself right now. Would love to see the design.

  103. Ryan Oder says:

    I am starting to soon become a freelancer web/graphic base designer. I can’t stress you enough about how great of this opportunity of becoming and building myself into a freelancer. It has its up’s and down’s but can be very manageable when staying organized with it. I love the fact when clients come up in person or through emailing me about things they would like done for their work of ideas. Once that clicks into my mind set, that is my que to know it’s time for my fun and creativity to pop out and show what I can design and express in the artwork that the clients need and want for their company or own business.

  104. Great! How about that link – share the wealth!

  105. Thanks for the encouragement! I’m just beginning my freelance career,
    and really would love to succeed, for all the reasons you mentioned.
    I love being my own boss, setting my own schedule, interacting directly with clients
    and most importantly, having creative freedom. I agree with Stephen though- I don’t like all the invoicing part…would love to get tips on that! Thanks again :)

  106. John Merrill says:

    There’s a lot of positive feeling in all these responses. Looks like I’ve got a lot of competition, and clients have a lot of choices.

    • John,

      Finding a niche might help you find great clients in a field with lots of great talent. Check out our GDB archives for great posts on finding your specialty.

  107. The most valuable aspect of working for myself is TIME. Smile!
    I’ve been in business now for more than 20 years. And still I LOVE the idea of being able to do what ever I want to do when ever I want to do it.

    Deon-

  108. I first became a freelancer as a necessity to take care of my kids, but now I really love it.
    Reasons freelancing rocks:
    -more varied and interesting clients
    -personal responsibility for everything that leaves my “office”
    -my own hours (however crazy they may be)
    -Getting paid for all the work I do (versus being on salary)

    I just have to say that I’m thankful for smartphones and cellphone reception being what it is these days. Oh, and laptops! A definite must in this day and age! I love the flexibility that smartphones give freelancers to continue to live their lives without losing touch with work. It can be a burden sometimes, but more often I feel better knowing that I can take that run or go to that museum with my kid and still be able to stay in touch with clients via email or phone. They feel taken care of, and so do I.

  109. “It doesn’t get any better than this”. Absolutely. A thank you, an enthusiastic response that lets me know I nailed it and they’re happy, and I’m happy too… that can only be the #1 reason.

    And I agree with so many others here… I love the 15 second commute upstairs or setting up on the dining room table with a view out our green back yard….the lack of piped-in elevator muzak….the absence of being “jailed” in a corporate building from 8 to 5:30…the ability to do things with my daughter during the day and to work in intervals throughout the rest (always working evenings after her bedtime, a small price to pay for all the other benefits of being there for her life)….not feeling like I spend over half my waking hours away from my wife who I waited so long to meet and marry…the variety of work instead of being locked into the finite possibilities of the employment situation. So worth it, even with the financial uncertainty at times.

    Keep it positive. Yes.

    And yes, I want to see the cool project, too. :-)

  110. Theresa Formby says:

    My favorite part of freelancing is working in my pajamas, I can do it wherever I want to, and that sense of accomplishment when a client loves what I did. When I did it while I was in school (on the job training is what they called it I think), the client came to my class and in front of everyone, announced how great I was and how she loved my design. She also high fived me. It was AWESOME.

  111. I love dealing directly with the client instead of always receiving second hand information from your boss or relations officer.

    • Daryl-Anne,

      It’s amazing that the telephone game we all used to play as kids holds true as adults. Cut out the middle-men and it’s surprising what misinformation you realize you’ve been getting. Not to mention the extra time it takes to filter through another inbox.

      Thanks for sharing!

  112. Sara Dwyer says:

    Appreciate all the uplifting comments. Yes, I love what I do.

  113. For the latest posters who may have missed this in the earlier comments:

    Hi GDB Readers,

    What a response! Thanks for all of your great comments – I’ve read TONS of awesome reasons that motivate you to succeed as a freelancer.

    Here’s the link to the project: http://www.behance.net/gallery/Junior-Trainers-Camp-T-Shirt/8174099

    Would love to hear your comments! (And a big thank you to Jim Adams for his during the conception process.)

    April

  114. Hi April,

    Your blog is so inspiring to read. I’ve worked for an entity for quite some time now and am seriously considering making the leap to ‘freelance designer’. I am getting so bored and feel limited with my creativity. I would love to know what made your client so excited!

    Thank you for your time!
    TJ Kerb

  115. Great post’!!

    My favorites:
    – work at night where everybody is sleeping and the world is silent
    – wake up when I have slept as long as i want
    – make private projects that inspire me when I should have worked
    – a clean kitchen, laundry and home when working at home (yes its easier to clean my home than begin a complicated assignment)
    – I can drive home and have sex with my girlfriend when I want or when she wants
    – I can work on my vacation if I feel like it
    – Blogging about design when I get passionate about something (http://thedanishdesigner.com) Even though I could have worked on something important ;-)
    – Sometimes I can get paid for days work that other people get for a years work ;-)

    Cheers

  116. Hi April!
    Great post! I am just beginning my freelance graphic design work and feel overwhelmed by all I need to do to feel ‘prepared’ to do it. But your post is a great inspiration to me! It was just what I needed to read today. I have also read some of your other blogs and articles and love them! I can’t wait to read more to help inspire me and keep me encouraged as I start my own freelance work. I would also love to see the work you did for your client that got such an awesome reaction!

    Thanks again! So glad I read a tweet with your article linked to it!

    • Welcome to the GDB community, Lindsey. We have a ton of great information here as well as a wonderful group of readers and commenters who help each other get better at the business end of designing.

      We look forward to your input!

  117. Thanks for the encouraging post! I am literally (as in graduating on Tuesday) just getting started on this creative journey. The thought of freelance frightens me a bit right now, but I’m trying to be open and see what opportunities come from putting my work out there.

    • Liza,

      Some nerves are a good thing – it means you want to do the right thing and you realize you don’t know everything you need to. It’s the people who think they’ve got it all figured out that get blindsided.

      April

  118. Hi April. Pls share the link. Im starting out as a freelance after being in employment for 10 years. I would appreciate all the advice i can get especially managing clients. Thanks.

  119. Hi April,

    Great post. My favorite thing is, i can work in my pajamas. I found that every time i get an email from a client, i just jump out from bed and sit down in front of my computer. However, I’ve long to have a client to say that to me. Sad side is, i’m on my negative side these days with freelancing. hellpppp… But i really want to see what your client squealed about.

    • Jane,

      I work in my pjs quite a bit, too! I like being comfy, and often times I’ll get up and want to get right to work, so it helps not to get distracted by showering, dressing, and having a chance to be sidetracked!

      Thanks for sharing!

  120. Hi, Thank you for sharing your post. Actually it thrilled me when I read.
    Being a freelance is a big challenge and it is a great adventure.

    May the joy be with you.

  121. I gotta be honest, i really wanna see what you show em.

  122. For the latest posters who may have missed this in the earlier comments:

    What a response! Thanks for all of your great comments – I’ve read TONS of awesome reasons that motivate you to succeed as a freelancer.

    Here’s the link to the project: http://www.behance.net/gallery/Junior-Trainers-Camp-T-Shirt/8174099

    Would love to hear your comments! (And a big thank you to Jim Adams for his during the conception process.)

    April

  123. suziequzie says:

    Hey April,
    I have been freelancing for a little while now through out college, I wanted to set up a team of graphic designers to help me but they usually flake out. Sometimes there is too much of a good think, I am overwhelmed by clients who keep approaching me but I cannot keep up, do you have any advice?
    -Suzie (Noob Freelancer who’s still in art school… lol)

    • Pick me, Suzie! :) I’d be happy to help you when you’re inundated with work (it seems like it’s feast or famine, doesn’t it?). Hop over to http://www.greergenius.com to view my website and portfolio and see if I’m a good match for the type of work you need help with. Then email me there and let’s chat.

  124. Thanks for the advice, very good points. would also love to see the pdf your client was going crazy over.
    Keep up the good work.

  125. Hi,

    Am startup freelancer in web design filed, want to get your pdf, please share.

    Thanks
    Manohar

  126. Lets see the OMG work m8!

  127. My favorite part of being a freelance graphic design artist & illustrator are the diverse creative opportunities and possibilities by working for different clients with different needs. As much as possible or allowed, I get to make my own rules that limit or mitigate negative situations. Personally, this is done through 3 simple steps: price estimates, contracts, and down payments.
    I don’t have to conform to any despicable corporate culture, be anyone’s subordinate, tolerate abuse, or suck up to superiors. I possess the pride, self-worth and esteem from being my own boss and decision maker who is in control of his own destiny.
    Freelancing is not new, but a word to describe humanity’s original role: self-sustaining and self-reliant labor. The existence of corporations are mere children compared to this role, who absolutely love the majorities servitude to them. My advice: find your skill, talent, and brains and return to this original role.

  128. Thanks again! So glad I read a tweet with your article linked to it!

  129. I agree true thing

  130. Mandy Milliron says:

    I’m still on the rocky start with becoming a freelancing graphic designer out of college. Though, I am also wanting to be an illustrator as I do like doing more painterly type art work along with how I do logos and such. The downside is I am just trying my best to start out with hardly anything but my laptop and desktop(with Adobe Creative Suite 5), my room doubling as a studio, and an all-in-one printer I want to take an ax to all the time. But, hey, everyone has to start somewhere, but it sure sometimes make me feel depressed. What saves me from becoming depressed is I am home if my family needs help(which with how stretched we are, it’s deeply needed) and able to take advantage of my free time to expand my skills and knowledge.

  131. Some really gorgeous designs!Less is more, but add a little something something, and it’s a work of art :)Well done on the designs! Great job!

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