Leaving the Nest, Flying Solo

'Tears for Fears' said it best, "Everybody wants to rule the world…"

For many designers, going out on your own and developing a freelance business is the ultimate ideal: Be your own boss, set your own hours, work with the clients you want. ’What’s not to like, right? Well, like most endeavors, the reality of making this happen are quite a bit different from the dream, especially early on. As a freelancer you’re much more likely to have a dozen different bosses, aka clients, work incredibly long hours, and take whatever projects you can get. However, if you do get beyond the start-up phase, you can have a great business that brings you creative satisfaction, financial rewards, and, yes, lots of flexibility. The key is not just to work hard, but work smart. Fortunately, there are lots of people out there who have built successful freelance design businesses, and some of these folks have even been willing to share everything they’ve learned with you. So let’s start at the beginning: How do you leave a comfortable, if sometimes itchy, nest of a 40 hour a week gig, with the steady paycheck and the sole responsibility is creating design work, and not scouting out clients?

You’re ready to take the plunge, but that first step can be a doozy. You’re not sure if you’re jumping or falling off the edge. Or perhaps you’ve been escorted there because of a downturn in your employer’s business. For whatever reason, you find yourself ready to become an independent creative, or as others call it, a freelancer. Anyone who decides to go out on their own surely has the hope of creating cutting-edge design, winning awards and acclaim, maybe even turning the design world on it’s collective ear with a whole new level of creative expression. However, inspiration and talent will only take you so far. You’re setting up a business, not just doing great creative work, so it’s critical that you spend a lot of time thinking about your long-term goals, as you move forward into the adventure of freelance design.