Whenever a designer asks me if they should quit their job and go the freelance route, I always answer with two questions.
First, I ask, “What are your goals”?
And second, I ask, “Will what you’re doing now help you get there”?
If you don’t know how to answer those two questions, then it’s not time to go off on your own yet. You’d stress yourself out. You’d feel discouraged, lost, and altogether defeated. I know this because I’ve made this mistake. I quit my first full -time agency position to run away from a job instead of run towards a goal, and it took months to find my feet again.
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Without goals, you’ll have no tools to measure your own accountability. You’ll be tempted to take any opportunity that lands in your inbox. This is a transient lifestyle that fills your pockets but not your dreams, and you should avoid it at all costs because it is utterly exhausting.
But the good news is that freelancing isn’t black and white.
You’re not forced to make a decision between “fulltime” and “freelance”. I know an increasing number of people who successfully do both. I’ve come to realize that there were several different types of freelancer. The trick to freelance success is in redefining what freelancing means to you.
To find out which type of freelancer you are, you should do this exercise:
Sit down and write down your ideal workday. What does it consist of? Where do you go? What do you accomplish? How many hours do you work? What type of house do you go home to?
I think you’ll find that the lifestyle you describe will fit into one of these three categories:
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The supplemental freelancer
You don’t have to quit everything to try something new. Almost everyone I’ve ever come across in my professional career has had a side hustle.
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I’ve known an HR manager who ran a cupcake business.
I have a creative director who makes and sells leather goods.
Another former Creative Director designs footwear.
Another, bath soaps.
Supplemental freelancers do these things outside of their day-to-day jobs because they truly enjoy them, and they provide a means to earn additional income.
The supplemental freelancer craves additional creative stimulation or simply does it for financial purposes, but the point is that if they’re successful enough, they may even grow to the point where they can replace a salaried job.
Supplemental freelancers are able to rely on the consistency of a full time job while experimenting with passion projects outside of the office, until a new and lucrative path becomes clear.
The small business owner/hustler:
Individuals who have found momentum in a specific niche start to straddle the boundary between “freelancer” and “small business owner”.
These are the people who have tested their skills in a freelance marketplace and have decided to go all in.
They work long hours, whether it’s doing paying work, networking, or making sales pitches.
They chase their goals tirelessly day in and day out. They have a clear vision, and refuse to do anything else but the things that they love.
The experiential freelancer:
In my opinion, probably the most trying type of freelancer you could be. An experiential freelancer is tirelessly curious and always trying new things.
Their main objective is to creative the freedom to explore, roam, and push their boundaries.
They value new experiences more than anything else. Perhaps they haven’t figured out a clear path, but they’re enjoying the process of figuring it out and value the learning experiences it provides.
Which kind of freelancer are you?
So, before you drop everything to take up freelancing (or decide to avoid it), know that there are many more layers to it.
When it comes to the decision between full time or freelance, know that you can have both… if you want. Freelancing is not an all-or-nothing proposition.
You just have to know exactly what you want so that you can be prepared for the lifestyle that comes with it.
Did we leave anything out? Have something to add? Leave a comment, tell us what kind of freelancer you are, and let’s talk!
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