Should I Start a Freelance Design Business?

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I’m asked regularly if starting a freelance design business would be a good idea. I usually don’t answer that question, because I already work with someone who pays me to do design work.

But I have been there before, and this is my story.

So you’ve done a great job for one of your clients, and you’re starting to feel like you deserve more money. You’re also getting tired of being treated poorly by the people who have hired you.

The first time this happened to me, I decided to start my own freelance business. The decision was made over a few beers with some friends, which means it wasn’t really a decision at all.

I discovered that it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, and it didn’t take long until I had new clients calling me. I also discovered that when you’re working for yourself, everyone who calls you is a potential new client. So every day was spent filtering out the tire-kickers from the real prospects.

And then I discovered something else: actually doing all the work myself was exhausting! That’s not because I’m lazy or anything…I’m just not as smart or talented as I thought I was! If nothing else, running your own business forced me to

Could you start a freelance design business? It is not a simple question to answer, and it’s one I’ve been thinking about for some time.

The first thing to consider when thinking about starting your own design business is whether you have the right personality type to be an entrepreneur. If you are an entrepreneur, then it doesn’t matter what the economy is doing or how much money clients are paying. You will find projects and clients, and you will always be working. If that’s who you are, then there is no reason why the current economic climate should stop you starting your design business right now.

If you aren’t an entrepreneur, then the current climate is going to be a major factor in whether or not it makes sense to start your own design business. And that’s because if you aren’t an entrepreneur then there will always be parts of running your own business that won’t appeal to you. The highs will never be as high, and the lows will never be as low, as what you get working for yourself in a traditional company. For example, if you work for yourself, every penny counts so being on a fixed fee project can feel very different than when you are on salary in a company.

Obviously starting a design business during a recession means that

First, what are the advantages?

You get to work on things you find interesting.

You can spend your time in ways that make the most difference to you, and the best way to do this is usually to focus on the thing that matters most to you.

You can choose how much money you want to make.

You can choose how much risk you want to take. If you like stability and predictability, you can build a business around existing clients and a predictable flow of work. If you feel like taking risks and are willing to put in a lot of work, you can grow quickly by doing lots of new things. You’ll be poor for a while, but if enough of your projects succeed (and some will fail), you’ll get rich eventually. If none of them succeed, then at least you contributed something meaningful to the world before your business failed, which may be more than can be said for many other kinds of business.

And what are the disadvantages?

It’s hard work. Starting a small design business is like starting any other small business: there’s a ton of work involved before it ever makes money. And unlike big businesses, which have staffs of accountants and managers who execute the tedious parts of running a business (like

Since I started freelancing, I’ve learned a lot about how to make money as a designer. I’m not saying it’s easy (because it’s not), but if you’re willing to work hard and put in the time, you can do it.

The two biggest problems I see with new designers are they don’t set their rates high enough and they give away their work for free.

Setting Your Rates

If you want to make money as a designer, you have to charge for your work. You have to value yourself or no one else will.

I know, a lot of people say that. It sounds trite, but that doesn’t make it any less true. If you don’t charge for your work, people won’t respect you for it. They’ll assume what you’re doing isn’t valuable and they won’t value it themselves. And this is especially important when starting out, because if your friends and family don’t respect what you do, then who will?

Don’t get me wrong: I love my family and my friends but sometimes they can be pretty critical of what I do. And if I didn’t charge for my work, then why should they take me seriously? Why should they care if I succeed or fail? They

Regardless of your niche, if you’re in commercial art, you’re probably going to be working for clients. You’ll want to give them what they want and do it in the best way possible, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also make sure that you’re getting paid what you’re worth and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. All of these things are important for keeping your long-term freelance career alive and thriving.

Treat each client as a unique opportunity. Just because a client wants work done cheaply or is hard to work with doesn’t mean that’s how every client will be. Learn from the experiences you have with one client and apply those lessons to future clients. But don’t let one bad experience with one client make you think everyone else is like that.

Worry about money first and foremost. Don’t let your bills pile up or take on too much work until you know how much money you’ll have coming in next month.

Don’t do free work just to build up your portfolio or get hired again by the same client. The question of whether or not they’ll hire you again has nothing to do with whether or not they liked the final product (anyone can like something). If they liked your design, they liked it for

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