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Why most freelancers never reach their dreams

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A note from Preston: Hey everyone, today I am excited to announce that Brent Galloway is joining the official writing staff for GraphicDesignBlender.com!

Brent has written a lot of great content in the past and offered a fantastic post here at Millo just a matter of months ago.

I’m excited to have him join our team! As a freelance designer, Brent will bring some excellent experiences, solutions, and advice to our conversations. After reading his post today, be sure to give him a warm welcome by leaving a comment!

You'll also enjoy this episode of our new podcast...

Now to you, Brent…

– – – – –

Freelancing can be an absolute dream job – unfortunately many who try freelancing end up failing.

Why is that?

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Either those who try don’t try hard enough, or they think they gave it their all, but never took any real risks.

We all have an ultimate dream for our career. Whether you want to run your own design firm, publish your own book, or sell your own products – we all desire growth in some way.

The key to real growth is to take real risks. (tweetable)

That requires you to step out of your comfort zone and not let fear hold you back.

This is me, stepping out of my comfort zone

I was never good at writing – heck, a few years ago I’d never imagine that I’d be where I am.

I’m not afraid to admit that I am not the best writer, but yet here I am writing for you.

I’ve been given this wonderful opportunity to work with Millo to write content.

I took on this opportunity with a fear and doubt about my writing: “Maybe I’m not good enough.” or “What if I can’t deliver the amount of right content?”

Even though I have this fear I know that if I fail, it’ll be a great learning experience.

What better way to improve on my writing skills and connect with others than to take on an opportunity like this?

Like you’ve probably heard before, learn from your mistakes.

Here I am—taking a leap of faith and stepping out of my comfort zone to improve on my writing and to make a connection with you.

I made a promise to myself this year…

With so many ideas to bring to life, I knew that this year I had to make time for my own projects.

I’ve had a lifelong dream to produce my own products and to get them into other people’s hands.

I didn’t have much knowledge or experience in manufacturing, production, and order fulfillment.

How am I to execute such a large task? More importantly, how am I going to make the time to learn?

It’s a scary thing to take time away from doing your usual client work – but that’s the uncomfortable part about it.

There are these fears that hold us back from executing our ideas, and the only thing you can do is take action!

That’s what I did – I made the time to research.

I made the time to learn.

And it has paid off!

Just a few months ago it was just an idea, and today I’m currently running my own Kickstarter to fund the first run of my own products!

If you want to see the work, leave a comment and I’ll share the link so you can take a look.

I want to show that I learned, grew and executed what was just an idea.

I set the fear aside and took action.

I can honestly say, learning all of this new information and gaining all of the experience along the way is well worth the risk.

Now’s your chance

Do you have an idea that you’ve always wanted to execute, but have had the fear to take action?

I can assure you that if you put the fear aside, you can only grow from the experience.

You’ll never know unless you try.

If you have a story about how you overcame fear and stepped out of your comfort zone, please share in the comments!

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About Brent Galloway

Brent Galloway is a freelance graphic designer, founder of Your Freelance Career, and author of Start Your Freelance Career. Check out his blog and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Dribbble.

Leave a Comment



  1. Welcome Brent! So excited to learn more about your project and to get your spin on how to be successful as a freelancer!

  2. Welcome to the Millo community, Brent! Way to put yourself out there and share your experiences through writing. I would be interested to see your Kickstarter work—a while back one of my projects got funded there.

  3. Welcome. Actually, I should say hi to you both, since I just started following last week. I get a lot of newsletters, but so far, this is the one I read! I appreciate your honest, down-to-earth approach. I am also interested in making & selling my own products one day (soon, I hope). I look forward to hearing more about your journey. Good luck!

    • Thanks, Jenny! Glad you’re enjoying the articles here on Millo! If there’s ever any topics you’d like covered, please feel free to let us know.

      I hope you decide to take action on creating your products soon, because for me personally, it has been a very satisfying experience. Best of luck! 🙂

  4. Hey Brent – great article, congrats on becoming part of the Millo team! That’s awesome man – it’s really inspiring to see everything your achieving already this year!

  5. Debbie Groesch says:

    Would like to see your work.

  6. Just wanted to say welcome to you too Brent! Millo fills a special place for us designers, and it’s great to see new faces.

    Fear is one of biggest things I’ve had to overcome, too. Taking time to research means saying no to other things, and it’s really hard for me to say no.

    What has helped me is changing my way of thinking — saying No means saying Yes to something else. What am I saying Yes to? If I decline a social event, I can say Yes to spending time researching and learning for my business. If I decide to cram in a free project in my spare time, I’m actually saying No to spending time preparing to get better projects.

    So really, it’s not IF I should say No, but what I am saying No to. 🙂

  7. Hi, I have been following Millo every since i got into graphic designing and i just want to say that i have learned a lot. Last year i decided the career path i wanted to take a created my own website unfairgraphics.com. I have much work to do to reach my goals but i just want to say thanks for the newsletters they continue to inspire me. I would like to see your product you mentioned and i wish you the best success with it.

  8. Welcome Brent!
    I have a sign just above my desk that reads “We must travel in the direction of our fears”. Every time I get scared about a meeting, a new project or any of the thousand things in life that makes me scared, I stare at this. At some point I start to feel that fear it’s kind of a compass. It shows us the way to make changes, to transform a situation that we are comfortable with (even if we don’t like it). Nice post! Please share your Kickstarter project I would to see what is about!

  9. Hi, Brent! Welcome to Millo! I’m an illustrator right out of school, trying to start my own business and build products around my imagination and skills. You’re absolutely right – it takes a LOT of research to get it done. Sometimes I feel as if there’s much more to learn that I have feasible time for, and I can get a little despondent when I think that way, but I have to shake it off and keep moving. It’s not an easy road by a long shot, but I find it more worthwhile so far than hoping/praying/begging that I get a steady and regular 8 – 5 job (which is barely available for even ‘traditional’ career-path workers these days, much less for those in the creative field).

    • Peta,

      I can definitely relate to your struggles. There have been times where I’ve felt like giving-up, but like you said, I shook it off and kept moving. Things always seem to turn out just fine, even if you may feel like they aren’t.

      Remember – don’t be afraid to take risks! Like I mentioned in the post, “either those who try don’t try hard enough, or they think they gave it their all, but never took any real risks.”

      Thanks for leaving a comment, and best of luck with your business and product ventures!

  10. At first the title though me off. However, after reading the article a negative was turned into a positive.

    I have yet to quit my job for my business yet. However, I have went from full time to part time job and focus on my business 40 hours a week +. That was a big risk for me but my husband is a great support.

    I was able to take on more clients, rebrand my company, and I’ve began implementing new marketing stategies. Follow your dreams no matter what and lean on others for support and guidance. I think you rather say I tried and failed then I didn’t try at all because of fear. 🙂

    – Siedah

  11. HI Brent – Best of luck! This is definitely the place I go for great information and ideas. It keeps me focused and motivated and offers some really good advice. I wuld very much like to see your kickstarter project! Glad you’re on board.

  12. Welcome Brent,
    I am interested in learning from your wealth of knowledge. I am not a good writer either, but I work on my writing skills everyday. The reason why is that it is important to communicate effectively the ideas and knowledge that we acquire with others. So, do not let writing skills stop you from sharing the valuable information with us. I am a new freelancer and I have a lot of fear, but I do not plan to quit. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs that never abandoned their dreams of being self-employed.
    I am looking forward to looking at your products.


    • Bobbi,

      I definitely don’t plan on letting my fears get in the way of my success, and neither should you! Welcome to the world of freelance by the way! If you ever have any questions or topics you’d like covered, let us know. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing and best of luck with your freelance ventures!

  13. Chris Blair says:

    Thank you for your post. I am on the verge of getting out there myself. This has encouraged me to take more action to get it done! I would like to take a look at your website. Thank you.

    • Chris,

      You’re welcome! Deciding to quit my part-time job to freelance full-time was very daunting, but I wouldn’t be where I am if I didn’t take the plunge.

      Looking back I see that the only thing hindering me were the fears of starting, which is one of the reasons why I chose to write this post for all of you.

      Thanks for leaving a comment and best of luck with your future ventures! 🙂

      You can follow the links to my various websites above in my author bio.

  14. Hi Brent and welcome. I am currently deciding whether to make the leap to freelance and your column is very timely. Thanks for the help in clarifying the situation. I will follow the link above to see your product.

    • Kira,

      I’m glad to hear that my post could give you some clarity. It will take time to grow and be successful, but it’s key to take those risks. If you have any questions or topics you’d like covered here on Millo, let us know! 🙂

      Thanks for leaving a comment and best of luck with your future ventures!

  15. Guys! Honestly, I’m not normally a reader. More of a visual, so when all these long emails come through I usually hit delete without a second thought. I recently found this blog, don’t remember how. To my surprise, I’ve actually made an effort to read your emails and I find your words of wisdom really refreshing.

    Fear has always held me back, and like you I felt my work wasn’t good enough. I was so held back in fear of rejection/ failure, I found it to be such a challenge to post my work online to show the world. This year I made a conscious goal to conquer this fear and to start showcasing my graphic design work! And so far the response has been AMAZING. It’s nice to hear that I’m not the only one that struggles with fear. Thanks for your honesty and please keep posting!

    • Belinda Love Lee,

      First off, love the name! I checked out your website and I’m not sure how you had the fear of showcasing your work, because it’s great!

      I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the posts here on Millo and I hope you stick around for more!

      Thanks for sharing and best of luck with your future ventures! 🙂

      • Aww thanks for the reply and compliment! I love how you guys are so interactive!

        Just a word of advice, when replying your comments it would be good to somehow email or message the personal directly also through this site (programming need perhaps?) I didn’t know you replied until coming back to check, and prob most people will forget to! Thought that might help you gain more users. 🙂

        Keep posting, and I’ll keep reading!

        • Belinda,
          Excellent suggestion. We’ve now included a few new cool features with comments:
          – The “notify me” if I get a reply option under the submit button will allow users to be notified when the post author (or anyone) replies to their comment.
          – New ajax commenting system let’s you add multiple comments without making the entire page reload. This means faster commenting if you’re really getting into it. 🙂


  16. I definitely needed to read that. Thanks! And congrats on the writing job I’m sure you’ll do well. Also I want to see your products! : )

  17. Brent I think you did a great job! This is a very powerful article, because it helps people to get motivated for the extra mile. I totally agree that all it takes is just taking risks and knowing that even if you failed you have to stand up and keep walking.

    Wish you the very best In this new face of your life!

  18. Hey Brent. Great post! In fact, you have no idea just how topical it is in my life right at this minute. Thank you!

  19. Crissie Briggs says:

    welcome brent – what a brilliant article! I’ve recently decided after years of working for others and being unhappy about it, to take the plunge into freelance designing. the thought of it scares me witless and has for some years now, but i know if i don’t do it now while i have the full support of my family and friends i never will. you’re article has reassured me that it’s ok to be scared – it means i’m really passionate about what i’m doing, so i must be making the right choice. thank you!!

    • Crissie,

      Thanks for the kind words! Freelancing can be a bit daunting, but once you start to get the hang of it you’ll never want to work for “others” again!

      If there’s anything you’d like us to cover here on Millo, please let us know! 🙂

      Best of luck with your future ventures!

  20. Woo that is insightful. Thanks guys. I hope to become a freelance graphic designer some time to come too. I tried it before but I had not really given it enough thought and planning. Thanks again.

    • Daniel,

      Thanks for leaving a comment! If you do choose to jump back into freelancing, definitely take the time to plan. If it would help, maybe try freelancing part-time until you start to build yourself and your business up.

      Best of luck with your future ventures!

  21. A bit late in responding. but this was awesome. Millo is all over it this year. I appreciate your candor and I am so inspired. Can I see the link as well.

  22. Hi Brent

    I just come to this site for the very first time and read your article and all the comments you got so far. Seems to be a really nice bunch of people around here. But I personally thought to my self: “Are you kidding?” My native language isn’t english so I am sorry if my writting might be too direct or sound rude from time to time.

    Leaving the comfort zone, realizing your dreams, doing research, learned a lot and finally you are there….with your kickstart…. so all this got me really curious what your project is and I checked out your video. And I couldn’t believe that you are talking about designing t-shirts. That’s it?! I don’t wonna critic you that you are collecting money for this or that this is your goal and so…but I would like to share some thoughts with you…maybe they are useful to you when you think about where your next comfort zone could end.

    Having your t-shirt out there and give people the chance to buy it costs you 0$. There are lots of sites like http://society6.com where you upload your design, they host your shop or you get the plugin and embed it to your wordpress site or what ever. And there are many sites like this. Ok now you might be the kind of guy who wants the whole piece for yourself and you don’t feel comfortable with royalties. Fine.

    Get some second hand silkscreen printing material, learn how to do it and create some copies and sell them. Costs you less then 100$, is fun and very unique.

    And if you are not the DIY-guy then let some copies printed, sell them (well that is the hardest part) and invest the money to get some more printed. Grow your business step by step.

    I personally would rather upload your design somewhere. Cause if you wonna sell your t-shirts online the side needs traffic. A lot of traffic.

    • Phil,

      Thanks for taking the time to read the article and comment! I’m well aware of the alternative options for producing your own t-shirts (I’ve done them all), but I want something more than a direct to garment print. Getting one t-shirt printed isn’t the ultimate goal. Like I said in the video, this is the project to kickstart the *beginning* to one of my biggest dreams.

      The uncomfortable part is taking the time away from paying clients to pursue my own projects.

      There’s a lot of work that’s gone into producing just this one t-shirt (along with the prints and other products), but the experience I’ve gained so far is priceless – and I couldn’t have gained that knowledge if I had cut corners for a cheap product.

      I want to experience the process it takes to produce my own products, fulfilling customer orders, etc. I know there will be many complications, but that’s what I want to learn from.

      Thanks again for sharing. I hope you stick around and enjoy more of what Millo has to offer!

  23. Hey Brent, this was a great article. It’s great to hear about the experiences and concerns of others in the industry and how we can all learn from each other. I too have been pretty hesitant to go the freelance route, but after being laid off, it has gotten me thinking about taking some more risks. It helps to know there are resources out there for help. Good luck and I hope to hear more.

  24. Hi Brent,

    It’s been a few month I’m following Millo and I find your article great ! Reading those kind of words is motivating.

    Welcome to Millo Brent


  25. Hi,

    Thanks for joining Millo hope to benefit from you sir, feel at home.

    I am a freelancer and I recently started my own company that is Gahe Arts, hoping it will grow big since I have no employees. If you can spare sometime when you are free and visit my website so that you may give me an advice on what I need to do or focus on.

    Thank you

  26. Hi Brent – you wrote just what I needed because I’m a bit stalled out on my own dream project. You’ve encouraged me to stop hesitating and get outside that comfort zone.

  27. Judith Moderacki says:

    Thanks for the great article. I’m also stepping outside my comfort zone & would really appreciate any information & direction you’ve learned so far about getting your products produced. Thanks.

    • Judith,

      I plan on sharing my entire process and experience of producing my products over on my personal blog. Feel free to follow my links above!

      Thanks for reading and leaving a comment!

  28. Nice article! Please share your project link now )

  29. Stepping out of your comfort zone, setting goals, overcoming and facing fear … these are all very noble goals and ones to keep in mind for any pursuit. I think, though, your article only scratches the surface of what it is like to be a designer and (boy, do I hate this term in respect to design) “entrepreneur.”

    Making a design business work in an age of global competition, easily confused clients and the dubious debate about design’s contribution in the marketplace only places the bar higher than most are willing to jump.

    Designer is such a cool title it seems that everyone wants to be one. The challenge for young designers is to find your own way through the minefield of what is left of the design profession. I am finding this out in my own design career … going on 32 years now. Many things I used to do for clients they now have the capacity to do for themselves. I find myself being pushed into more esoteric directions that may pay more, but that come less frequently so I guess that evens things out somewhat.

    Most freelancers never reach their dreams because (like you mentioned in the outset) it is damn hard work to get there, and I am not sure the reality of how much time one needs to devote to one’s business really gets across in blogs such as this one. Still, sometimes repeating the obvious has lasting effects so perhaps I should say too to ‘look before you leap.’

    The facts are the world has always had more designers than it needs. Many people are entering this profession every year and not all will have the perseverance or talent to survive as freelancers. There is a collective misunderstanding that just because you possess the desire to succeed that you will. Not so … it takes so much more now even though it appears that opportunities can be conjured out of thin air (or behalf of generous benefactors due to Kickstarter).

  30. Brent !!!! Lots of thanksss . TRUE AND COOL !!! :-)))

    Marta :-))))

  31. Of course, you hit a nerve with the title of your article so I had to read it. Ironically, I think I had to read it because I have an inner fear of failing and I wanted to know what could be the reason I might fail! But then upon reading your article I was like, oh yeah, don’t be afraid. Duh.

    A friend of mine said to me when I was stressing about putting together my own design studio,”Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.” That made me laugh and let go and realize that it’s better to DO something than not do something out of fear that it won’t be good enough. Nike said it best… Anyway, keep following your dreams! Thanks for the conversation starter.

  32. Inspiring article Brent! One aspect where I recently stepped out of my comfort zone was to attend a networking event at a night club, created for (young) professionals in the city. I had no idea what to expect, just made sure I had a lot of business cards with me. Sure enough, I got a new lovely web design client and decided I’ll attend these events more, for exposure and good contacts.

    I haven’t figured out my overall business dream yet but at the moment it’s just to gradually expand. Funnily enough these non-online, physical world events where I put myself out there with a bunch of business cards in my purse, work better than anything else I’ve tried for getting clients (except word of mouth).

    I’m glad I took the risk (of waisting hours of my day) because it turned out great 🙂

  33. Hi Brent,
    I am both trying to freelance as an artworker and get my recycling business pemburyrecycle.co.uk off the ground, it is hard and would be great to know what you have done and good luck with for writing

  34. Great article – very inspiring. Would love to see what you’re developing…Keep up the great work.

    Cheers Rosie

  35. I would love to see your products! Thanks for the inspirational article!

  36. Thanks for your post Brent. Loved every word!

  37. Welcome Brent. Great article!
    Asking myself “What if it all goes right? and “What is my imagined worst case scenario?” provides the fuel necessary to propel myself forward into action. I have perfectionist tendencies so this really helps me to move out of analysis paralysis. Best wishes!

  38. Hi, Brent-
    I just discovered this site the other day, and your words are SO timely for me. Thanks for sharing them. I’m getting into freelance myself after “running away” from it for awhile so I appreciate what you’ve shared! Good luck with your project- I’m looking forward to hearing more!


  1. […] Don’t be afraid to show who you are. It will only help reassure any potential clients that they’re dealing with a real person who loves what they do. […]


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