5 Ways to Keep Your Design Business Running During Burnout

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Outsource Work

Burnout is a designer’s worst nightmare. It will leave you feeling unmotivated and uncreative. In this mindset, you should consider outsourcing your client work.

Taking on client work during burnout is generally a bad idea as you will not be able to provide your clients with the best solutions. If you outsource to designers you trust, you can still run your business and make money from it without your burnout interfering.

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If you don’t know where to find designers to outsource work, try Twitter, which has thousands of different designers you can connect with.

Work on Your Marketing Plan

When burnt out, the last thing on your mind is designing. Take a step away from design and work on how you are going to market your business.

Try cold-calling prospective clients or start talking to business owners in person. If you’re not into traditional marketing, begin thinking of ways to advertise your services with new and unique ideas.

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Write down your ideas thoroughly and how you would execute them. Look upon different resources such as SitePoint’s Business Blog to form your marketing plan and see what works.

Organize your Finances

Most designers overlook how important keeping track of their finances is until tax season comes along. Use this time to take a break from design and organize your finances.

Look through your expenses so far this year and compare it to how much you made from your business. If you keep a detailed report of how much you made from each client and what your expenses are, you will be set for tax season ahead of time.

If you’re not a fan of spreadsheets, try Moneytrackin’, a free web application that keeps track of your finances.

Learn New Skills

The reason designers become burnt out is because they are taking away their energy by doing the same routine over and over again.

Each time you design, you are taking a bit away from that energy, so if you don’t fill it back up, there is nothing left.

You go through the motions of design, but lack the spark that made you a designer, not a pixel pusher. Refill your energy; try learning a new skill that could improve your business.

If you’re a website designer, try learning Search Engine Optimization; if you’re a graphic designer, break out your pencil and start drawing whatever pops into your mind.


Burnout can easily be beat by relaxation and doing something different.

Connect with people and try new ways to expand your network. Socialize with business owners at a business meet-up and build your list of clients. Try catching a design event in your area and feel inspired by the people around you.

If you can’t get out of the house, try online communities where designers talk, such as Drawar. Talk about design, business, how they deal with burnout, or whatever you want.

By socializing, you can improve your business and feel refreshed enough to kick burnout in the butt.

How to you keep your business running during design burnout?

We’ve all experienced design burnout before. What do you do to keep your business alive through it all? Leave a comment and let us know.

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About Nicole Foster

Nicole Foster is a professional website designer from New York that loves meeting new people. At Nicole Foster Designs, she offers website, wordpress, and ecommerce services to unique businesses. In her free time, she enjoys meditating and chatting with other designers.

Leave a Comment



  1. Feeling burnt out is awful, especially as a freelancer because there’s nobody to help take up some slack and slowing down just gives you more things to stress about, ultimately making it worse.

    I find that taking a little time to work on a project of my own – something I truly care about – can really help to revive me. It’s especially good if it’s a collaborative project and I can find someone equally excited about it to work with. Then we can feed off each other’s energy.

    • @Some Design Blog,

      Finding your own personal project that you enjoy is a great way to combat burnout. Right now I am experiencing burnout, so I’m doing personal projects such as writing more and redesigning my website. I’m slowly pulling myself out of burnout and I’m feeling better each day.

  2. Another site for referrals when looking to outsource: ReferralKey – http://www.referralkey.com/

  3. Great article. When I feel burnout, I do carpentry. Sometimes for myself, sometimes paid. But when that work becomes an obligation and a burden, I have to stop.


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