2014 was a pretty bodacious year!
Leaving a full-time gig in 2013 was scary, and keeping a helpless human alive while making an unpredictable income was even scarier. But we’ve all survived (so far), and here are a few things I’ve observed since taking the freelance plunge.
In my #agencylife, we had a couple clients that I LOVED because they did good, important work. Or they were interested in doing things the right way, with authenticity and/or quality. Others… not so much. Now I have some say in who I do work for, and that feels good.
The flip-side of that is sometimes a job comes along that you’d really like to take for the money, but you have to reconsider; sometimes it’s the overall business, sometimes it’s who you’d be working with there… sometimes it’s not a realm you’d like to do much work in anymore. I don’t usually get much satisfaction from those kinds of jobs once they are completed anyway, so I’ve learned to listen to my gut and just pass.
Most people need one project, and then you rarely hear from them again. That’s a tough adjustment to make, when you’re used to a steady stream of hours worth of work. I was lucky enough to find a client that was willing to throw as much work at me as I could handle for a good six months — that is the kind of work I will definitely try to find again.
But the one-off jobs are also pretty great. Since I do a lot of different kinds of design — logo / identity, plus print, emails, websites, you name it — each offers a variety of requirements, constraints, budgets, etc. Not to mention getting deeper into the particulars of each of these media are allowing me to really learn more about my craft.
Sometimes I miss The List that I got handed every morning at work: it can be awesome to have someone just make the choices for you. But now I determine what, when, and how to do each of the tasks required of me. This flexibility is priceless — I often schedule work-time during Baby Sager’s naps, after bedtime or when she’s at a friend’s house.
“Finding your tribe” can sound like an overused trope, but I am surrounded by (and meeting more) great, hard-working people every day. It doesn’t really matter what they do — designers, developers, printers, makers, wood-workers, animators, whatever — talent and industriousness rub off. Plus, being able to ask for someone’s input on a project, or provide your own expertise to someone else, is an amazing feeling and makes for better work.
This was the first year I’ve put in as a freelancer, and I couldn’t have asked for a better start. I got some great work, interacted with some really wonderful people, and learned a bunch — about myself and about my industry. What more can a designer want?
Here’s to 2015!