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An easy way to find out if you’re passionate enough to freelance

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A few days ago, I started work on the 2013 design for this blog.

It’s my first ever attempt at a seriously responsive site design (about time, I know). PS: You can help me test it before it releases by joining Millo insiders on facebook.

And last night, after we ate dinner and I spent some time with the family, I found myself really not wanting to go to sleep.

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It was the usual time I go to bed.

I was tired.

But I didn’t want to sleep.

I wanted to keep working.

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Keep working?

Sure there are millions of people who have to keep working at home, at night, and at the most inconvenient times.

But wanting to keep working?

Was I crazy?

Not crazy, passionate

It was in that moment (late last night) that I realized there’s definitely, as they say, a fine line between passion and insanity.

So what’s the really easy way to tell if you’re passionate enough about what you do to freelance?

Are you passionate enough to freelance?

Ask yourself the following question:

What projects make you stay awake at night with excitement?

Pursue that. If that’s freelancing, be a freelancer. If not, well, you get the point.

If you’re smart, money will follow the passion. You may not be filthy rich, but you’ll be happy. You’ll be excited to wake up every morning, and you too will find yourself staying up late at night letting hour by hour fly by as you feed your passion.

Do you agree? Is this a good measuring stick for success as a freelancer? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

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About Preston D Lee

Preston is an entrepreneur, writer, podcaster, and the founder of this blog. You can contact him via twitter at @prestondlee.

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  1. I love that feeling!

    That realization that 3 hours have just flown by and another 3 could fly by and I could care less. I sometimes forget to eat when I’m that dug in to a project(maybe that’s where the insanity line has been crosses O_O).

    Now I just need more work so I can go at this full time.

    Love your blog and the info you put forth, always gives me ideas.

  2. I agree 100% !! Staying up late at night, waking up early in the morning, wanting to quit your full time job because you believe and you know you can get this done if you had more time to dedicate to it. Wanting to call out of work all the time so you can stay at home doing all the designs and free lancing!! OOOH THEY JOY!! OOOOhh the passion that even if you hit rock bottom, you keep on pushing because this is your dream, this is what you want and you know you can get there if you just keep on trying. Yupp that’s the story of a 23yr old Miami Women trying to make it in this industry 🙂 Thank you for this awesome blog by the way!

  3. I struggled to get to sleep last night (about 2 hours), there was me thinking it was insomnia and I was very frustrating. You have now made me feel SO much better, it is excitement!!!! Yes because it was, I had a head full of ideas for a particular website I am working on. Thanks Preston
    P.S. Am hoping I won’t be quite so excited tonight though and can get some shut eye!

  4. I have to say that I share an understand this passion. However, the question that people should be asking themselves is are they passionate about it for the right reason, and are they passionate about a particular talk or job in our creative field?

    I’m sure we all share the same passion for creating web and design content for ourselves, after all, it’s what will reflect about our creative skills. Yet are some readers truly passionate about each and every job/client and each task they undertake for them?

    Ultimately, not having passion for each and every task within a job will cause setbacks, small and large.

  5. This has happened to me so many times i can’t count them anymore, and as you mentioned it, money and success will follow your passion anywhere!

  6. I totally agree. Working with passion worths more than a good salary in a boaring enterprise.

  7. Preston,

    That’s how I found my niche – I could hardly sleep thinking about working on a project the next day. I was like a kid a Christmas…and I knew I was pursuing the perfect career!

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. I think passion is a good measuring stick for success as a freelancer. I think those who are passionate about designing will work more because its not really working more but besides that, it will show in their work. I believe Design is a practice and the more you do it and understand it the better you will be and the more you will enjoy it especially if you’re finding success in freelance Design. I found myself finding this passion when I stayed up two days practicing design and reading articles about design and freelance designing because I was in the works of planning my freelance business and it just sealed the deal and I pursued designing even more. I stayed up and now its paying off as my designs are getting better.

  9. Commitment, determination, and self-discipline are the ingredients I need to make it work for me. I have a 9–5 job and freelance part-time. It’s a pretty good gig and I’m really lucky to have the extra income and opportunity, but some days I’m so mentally exhausted that I wish I didn’t have the extra work. But then there days (or weeks) where I go without the extra work, and I miss the extra income. It’s been a challenge to manage myself, and sometimes I feel like I’m just treading water, but I hope to look back some day and see the good it’s done. The freelance work is also a nice break from the corporate branding I do full-time. It’s nice to break out and use new fonts and imagery.

  10. Yes, this is definitely a good measuring stick. We spend so much time in our lives working whether you are fortunate to work from home or at an office. It would be FANTASTIC to do what you are passionate about.

  11. Great post!

    There are a number of projects that keep my mind going (and could keep me working late into the night) because I just love working on them. The type of projects that really gets me going is logo design. I could spend hours into the night thinking of different concepts and ways to develop a client’s identity. The other project type would be t-shirt designs, posters, or working on a band’s branding.

    Thanks for all these great articles! I’m always pleased to read them!

  12. I love this post! Yay, I’m reassured now that I’m not crazy, just passionate, and pursuing the right path. I’ve been working all day and realize now I didn’t eat yet, didn’t move from the laptop, just want to finish as many projects as possible. Am already looking forward to waking up tomorrow and getting to tomorrow’s projects.

    Recently I’ve read a lot of your posts too and am quite inspired by them! Thanks for sharing all your ideas, thoughts and insights!

  13. yeah sweating cold under arms in a freezing night while thinking about fabulous ideas to my work, definitely a great impulse to feed my satisfaction as being a certain existence in this immense world.

  14. Dear Preston,
    Hello Again,
    I feel that there is nothing wrong to spend hours late at night on something when you feel inspired or when you just want to finish something for the heck of it.

    I am an owl, I feel some times that I should live in another part of the world where there is an opposite time, so I could be awake when the world is awake, cause so many ideas comes through my mind at night that I can not control it. I want to stay up 24/7 if I could. I have done that, and I could last 3 days, that means 72 hours up, but that happens twice a year I think I remember.

    What I wanted to really say, is that most of the people that I meet, my girlfriend and dearest mom, etc, have became crusaders against my accustom way of life. They have convinced me that I won’t last long in life if I keep staying up to 2–3A.M. almost every night. They say that the brain needs to relax and rest.

    Now here I am asking everyone who reads this blog and maybe read my post, and have almost or the same situation as me; I usually feel like I have this cork clogging my creativity—it comes and goes for periods of time, they say its because of my owl life! So I am doing a great of a deal to go at bed at 12AM. The not funny part is that I still feel the cork. Is it because of the late nights, not resting the brain? Is it good to stay until late at night? or is it because I am going from my brain ‘period’, and my ideas seems to be lost.

    So I don’t really know what to do now, do I stay until late at night or do I go to rest?
    Maybe you could do a topic on: “Where are my hats?” or “Mind cork! BEWARE”–where we could find ways to diminish this thing.

    – FeSaCo –

    • Don’t ever let anyone knock your design process if it works for you.

      While I don’t know what your process is exactly I will say that there is such a thing as being over-inspired or over-focused on occasion. Some of my best ideas came after I put down my pen/pencil/computer and did another activity. Oftentimes I grab my camera (it’s not that fancy), take a walk and snap pictures of anything and everything that grabs me. In or out of focus, straight or crooked it does not matter. The point is, I love it and there are no rules so it gets my creative juices flowing.

      Maybe its just time to shake up your routine. Sometimes a power nap instead of another coffee helps as well.

      I wish you lots of luck and great design!

  15. I freelance because I’m too old to get a decent job. Given the choice I would rather have a decent job, as I miss the camraderie, the status and the overseas trips, so it’s hard for me to get passionate about what I do, unless of course I can find a way to replicate my old life…something to think about I guess.

  16. I feel this is a great way to see if someone is actually passionate about freelancing. A great quote I heard the other week “people will party the whole night but they won’t work the whole night” – Gayton Mckenzie
    At times I feel as if I have to force myself to go to bed because I enjoy designing so much. I’m going to keep pursuing clients so I’ll be able to quit my part time job and freelance full time.

  17. Mike Schuetze says:

    Thank you for writing this article. Before reading this, I believed that I may be insane. I like working into the late hours of the night/early morning even knowing that I am only going to get a couple hours of sleep. I just drink more coffee. I get satisfaction knowing that I’ve made the most of my day doing what I truly love to do.

  18. Ahh, yes…this is how I know I’m in the right career. What I’m not particularly passionate about is all the “other stuff” that goes along with freelancing: admin, finding new clients, etc. So the key for me is figuring out how to self-motivate to get all that very important work done so that I can get to my favorite part, which is the actual design work!

  19. And then you go blind O.O

  20. I think any designer who has managed to last any amount of time has felt this rush. Very frequently I feel the disappointment when midnight rolls around and my practical side kicks in telling me to rest. I hate that voice.

    This is a great positive article, Preston. I’m glad that you said money would follow the passion IF we were all smart about things.

    What I have seen so far in my wanderings is that what often separates a hobby from a career is time-management. I have had projects that I felt driven to work on all night but when it came down to it, I was really under-paying myself. Sure, the poster might look incredible but can I really charge my client for all the extra work that I decided to put in?

    Maybe this could all fall under client management. Do we really pursue clients that enable our work lifestyle as we envision it? These are the questions that I constantly ask myself as I prepare to expand a client base.

  21. Sikelela C. Ncube says:

    I usually stay up late at night not because of deadlines but because I won’t sleep until I feel right about what I’ve been working at – mostly because I’m enjoying the way the project is evolving. If at some point I’m stumped and decide to go to bed I will have a tough time getting to sleep. Back to your question: If it’s not the passion that drives you, you will always find a reason to break off until tomorrow.

  22. When I pose myself this question, I am definitaly a free-lancer!;staying up nights.!

  23. love what you do; and do what you love.

  24. In love with this post. My current passion is freelancing. This post is great enough to help me out in this regard.

  25. lol. I remember the time i met photoshop,i went 2 days without decent sleep,i just kept giving it a stab! Time sorta becomes mist when am pursuing a project and i soo don’t care about money,its all about expression for me, getting my imagination into this 3d world. Passion is the oomf! behind stunning works*in my opinion*

  26. I love the feeling I get when I look at the clock, it’s 4 a.m., my family has been asleep for hours and I’m looking at the clock wondering if I should go to bed or just keep working and go to bed after I drop kidlet off at school. Or maybe I should sweet talk my husband into taking her (lack of sleep is always a good guilt trip lol)? The thought isn’t whether I’m tired or not, it’s how I can manage to keep working on this awesome project I’ve got going.

    Great post Preston! I’m quoting you in an an upcoming article for Strategy Magazine (hope you don’t mind).


  1. […] An easy way to find out if you're passionate enough to freelance …By Preston D Leepassionate enough to freelance graphic design blender. A few days ago, I started work on the 2013 design for this blog. It's my first ever attempt at a seriously responsive site design (about time, I know). PS: You can help me test it before it …Graphic Design Blender […]

  2. […] identify what you’re truly passionate about in your life and work. Freelance graphic designer, Preston D. Lee, says you must answer the question: “What projects make you stay awake at night with […]


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