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Freelancing for Designers Ep 1: Why Freelance?

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Hello from a new series of articles for those who want their way in the freelancing business, or refresh experience. These episodes will consist of my self stories and tips for freelancing, with proven facts.

Before we start, let’s just please say the word: Dude, freelancing is heaven!

Since it’s almost officially the end of industrial age / fresh start of the IT age, this new era completely changed (and still changing) the way people work.

Busier schedules, more years of work to get appreciated/promoted, harder conditions to stay alive, inconsistent global economic status and so on…

I can add a ton more of matters which negatively affects the physcology of an employee these days. Moreover, with the impact of the latest global economic crisis, many people got fired, lost their jobs, lost their houses, lost their hopes for future…

This is bringing us to one single question: While it is obvious that these conditions are likely to go worse, how can we best stay alive, and get paid without risks

The answer is yes, freelancing. More and more people are joining in the home business owners, freelance designers & coders community.

If you are a designer like me, who hate receiving feedbacks / directions from a client representative or project manager; you will(maybe already do) absolutely love freelance business. Having a 10 years business experince, I have been freelancing for 3 years now.

So how was it until the last 3 years?

Realizing the Facts:

I started my journey in a travel agency as a junior illustrator/designer in 1998, slowly stepping up in my career with sleepless hours, huge efforts for small outcomes, working the butt off for maybe a small possible raise in salary or getting promoted.

I did eventually reach to a final step with becoming a known interactive art director in my country, a design star in the local business. But still when it came to getting paid, it never felt enough since I DO NOT LIKE CERTAIN AMOUNT OF $ LIMITS for each month/year.

Besides, most of us are disgusted with the following, if we are working as an employee of an agency/company:

  • Being told of what to do, how to do (Even when I was entitled as the creative director, that never changed this fact)
  • Undervaluation of our work by the bosses / managers.
  • Fixed working hours, having to wake up at 8 am every damn morning for 5 days in a week for years, with a huge hatred of sundays (hello, it’s monday tomorrow, you can stop enjoying your weekend).
  • Always living with the fear of “What if I get fired?”
  • Trying to keep money for that sexy motorcycle, nicer car, delicious new Mac; while trying to survive paying the rents, bills, everyday expenses, sudden expenses, hidden expenses with that fixed salary.Very few of us get that nice car or the new Mac (aftew months/years of moneykeeping).
  • Vacation? Oh, it wouldn’t hurt anyone to dream of it, would it?
  • Wishing to see Paris, Madrid. Ok great, finally saw the places, but gotta get back to hell because the paid vacation time is almost over.

I was getting closer to my age of 30, faster and faster in time. I mean, how long more could this go?

Guys, do you ever know any decently living, well paid “employee” web designer over 35 around you? No, because all the classified ads say “between ages of 22-28” or use the phrase “not older than 30”.

I realized that we are trash after a certain age period. So, what to do?

Good Jobs for Older Designers/Developers:

I acquired Adobe instructor certifications, in order to start getting paid from teaching.

Teaching doesn’t have an age limit right? Besides, you get more appreciated as you go older and at least you are the king in the class.

But at least half of the matters in the list of being an employee are still in action. No long vacations, waking up early, trying to keep money…

Enough of this unending pain already.

Freelancing is the new employment. It is a demand for clients, it is going to be a demand for almost any individual in the future.

The concept of freelancing is also the guaranteed way of staying alive in this new business age, if you follow the right path. On the contrary to working onsite/salary based, freelancing has more pros than cons.

But let’s see both:

Pros of Full Time Freelancing:

  • You can wake up whenever you want.
  • You can work whenever you want, take your time off as long as you like whenever you like (considering the risks as well)
  • You are the boss, noone is in the position to tell you what to do.
  • No fixed payment each month, because if you want; you know that you can get paid 100 times more than your ex-salary.
  • No fear of getting fired because you already fired yourself and always ready for new horizons!
  • More time with your friends and family
  • Don’t like the city you live and work? Go ahead, the world is under your feet you can work anywhere you like because you’re a freelancer!

Cons of Full Time Freelancing:

  • Well, there’s no guarantee that you will get paid forever (but hey, isn’t it already the same with being an employee with uncertain future lately?)
  • You need to pay for your insurances yourself. Because noone else will.
  • If you fail freelancing after mistakes over mistakes, you are so dead. As if you had a company went bankruptcy, so bad enough to encourage you commit suicide over debts and financial penalties.
  • You still need to work hard.

Of course, in order to activate the pros; there are many certain rules you should stick with, which I will explain in the following episodes. And if you follow the rules, you never will face the cons of freelancing, except to keep the hard work going.

Last year(2008), I gained a gross amount of $95k in total. Well, I was broke by Jan 09 but that was because of my failure on money management; which is another story.

The point is: If I want, I can.

Next, I will start showing you how deep the rabbit hole goes (Assuming you’ve already got the red pill).

PS: I find it pretty amusing how the overall look of the article is like a network marketing commercial.

Posted in Freelancing


20 Comments Posted

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  1. Malik Francois

    Love your site, and all the ideas your present here. I was torn between freelance and fulltime job, I just got hired but I might stick around only for a little while, as I learn to become a better freelancer.

    Peace and love, check out my site :0)

  2. Freelancing For Designers Episode2: Reaching the Right Clients

    [...] previous article was about 2 years ago, and I’m sorry about that delayed follow up:). On that one, I told my [...]

  3. Ant Eksiler

    Onur, are we getting a follow up post or what?

  4. Nur Fathihah

    Great article. Looking forward to the next episodes. :)

  5. flemster

    Excellent Article, very true. Really like the design of the site also.

  6. Sagittarius Tatoo Design

    It was really excellent work! I just love it :)

  7. dattai


    love your design

  8. Rob

    Where’s the next part? I’m dying here :)

  9. Dominik

    I started just recentlz with freelancing and it works for me. You will need a strong network with people they know people they need people etc. but this is with the aid of LinkedIn, Orkut, Xing no rocketscience anymore.

    Making the books having a oversight of the project pipeline while working hard and learning new stuff is the main challenge of freelancing for me but hey as a employee we had the same shit on us….

    Cool article pal! I

  10. Andy

    I just finished my first 3 month freelance position and with the aid of an umbrella company to organise salary it has proven to be a lot less hassle than I initially thought it would be. Would recommend it to any IT worker.

  11. Actual Soft Solutions

    Its a inspiring lines… i have fired from job last Jan 2008 due recession. From that day i am working as freelance web designer and got some projects and referrals. I am enjoying this freelance jobs. All people will wake in the morning and hurry up for the job and travel long distance and spoil the health in the polluted air. Now i am very much relaxed. i too have he same problem when i was working. i have to travel nearly 35 Kms totally 70 Kms per day.

    This Freelancer life is quite good with some stable income.

  12. Seven Version

    Yes, I agreed…..

    This is the great article for freelancing :)


  13. Harunakgun

    Hey AshyB;

    I started my freelance “adventure” with one of the bid based websites. (getafreelancer) Although i could not get too much projects from there, it was a good starting point. I recommend them for the starters. But do not give up if you cant get any project for a time, be stubborn…

    Also i was in the same situation with you. I was thinking the exact same thing. What if i can not accomplish what i promised… 3 years passed with hundreds of projects, now i see that it was just about self confidence. I never failed on any projects.

    I strongly recommend you to start freelancing.

  14. adrian

    Hi there. Quite a nice tutorial. And very inspiring.

    I’ve been thinking going into freelance, I’ve work for a year and a half in a trade marketing company as a designer (i’m a industrial designer) and get sick of it. All the pros on freelancing was the ones who gave me the guts to quit and start to see what else to do.

    I havent started yet like officialy freelancing but as the time goes by I get more excited and more supported by all the things I read. I know is a gard path to go but I think at the end it will worth the sweat.

  15. AshyB

    So I just graduated with an Associates Degree in web design, and obviously with the crappy economy it’s even harder to “get the foot in the door” now!

    I’ve thought about freelancing, but there are so many sites that let you bid on projects, but most all of them cost you to sign up and register!! Do they actually work? have you used them before?

    My only HUGE fear of freelancing is, what if i don’t know how to do it after i said i’d do it and i cannot figure it out? (I know the obvious one is i don’t get paid and i build a bad name for myself) I guess any answers and any suggestions you can give me on freelancing and getting the foot in the door would be awesome!

    Plus I’m getting close to the 30 mark too!

  16. FDR

    I sympatize with freelancing, but i don’t want to give up my 1 year old job.
    ( junior developer)

    I do “free”lancing on simple php + mysql cms webpage creating from 19.00-01.00, wake up at 06.30..

    And yes.. Sleepless :(

  17. Onur Oztaskiran

    Hey Brett,

    Freelancing doesn’t require any investment =) And if you’re good, you don’t need to advertise yourself, since your work and site will get the necessary exposure itself for you.

  18. B Munro

    How much money do you need to start freelancing? And is it worth the stress of wondering if you’ll get work, or does advertising get you work all the time?

  19. Daniel Patterson

    Great article on freelancing. My favorite part is blowing all the money by Jan 09. I have the same problem.

    I will be eagerly waiting the Money Management post.

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