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Adapting as an At-Home Design Freelancer

Making the move from full-time employee to design freelancer from home

This one is for my friends who are thinking of making the move from full-time employee to full-time designer freelancer, or anyone who is thinking about starting their own business online. There are a few things you should know that they don’t talk about. That’s where I was a few months ago. I was working a corporate design job, and I was craving something more. I started my design business in January 2021, and I haven’t looked back! Here are my best freelancing tips and realities I’ve experienced for making that move.

When you’re stalking business owners, designer freelancers, and coaches before you make the leap, you always hear about all the great things that come with starting your own business. It’s important for them to give it a positive spin on social media, but what stinks is that we only see the highlights!

Don’t get me wrong — they aren’t necessarily lying to us. In fact, I can completely confirm that most of those things can and do happen, and they feel pretty dang amazing!

I just want to make sure you have the opportunity to hear what I now wish I would have heard starting out. I’m calling them as they are: realities. Hopefully that way you’re able to weigh them out for yourself!

Reality #1: You are the boss and the employee.

Pros: We have the opportunity to be the coolest boss we never had to ourselves! We can structure our work weeks in a way that works best for us, take breaks when we need them, and make decisions without consulting anyone if we don’t need to.

Cons: It can get a little lonely sometimes, and the second-guessing can be so real. There’s just less people to bounce things off of! It’s important to surround ourselves with a community inside and outside of our field. Also, being the boss and employee makes way for us to be a little too hard on ourselves. AKA: we can be the worst boss ever.  We have to use our freedom to our advantage! 

Reality #2: It’s completely and totally online.

Pros: It can be easier to distance yourself from work sometimes! Not having to have meetings in person can be a blessing in disguise, too — Because you can wear sweatpants, schedule things at your preferred times, and you don’t even have to leave the house to go to work. I mean, you save a TON on gas! You can also work anywhere with wifi. (Which is *angel sounds* to me, because me and my husband are such adventurers!)

Cons: It can be harder to disconnect yourself at other times. As online business owners and design freelancers, we primarily market ourselves through social media, which can come with a lot of comparison, and an overload of ideas and inspiration. This adds a lot of pressure to stand out. Another thing is that our screen time goes up big time. Our phones are always on us, which means work is always on us. If we aren’t careful, it can do some major damage to our mental health, so we really have to remind ourselves to take advantage of the pros in Reality #1.

Reality #3: You don’t need as much experience, a degree, or a resume.

Pros: I mean, that sounds like all pros, right? If we’re learning something for the first time for a client, for example, we’re basically getting paid to learn and grow. There are also SO many resources out there made by online business owners for online business owners who are figuring it out as they go! I’ve never once had a client ask me for my credentials. Everything they need to know is found on social media and my site.

Cons: Two words. Imposter. Syndrome. It can really feel like “faking it til you make it” is the whole job. Especially as a design freelancer. And sometimes it has us questioning whether or not we’re just plain fake! It can be a huge damper on a creative work week, so finding ways to manage it and bring yourself back into alignment is key.

Reality #4: There is no blueprint! 

Pros: We get to create our own. We are our own blueprint! There is no right or wrong in your business, because it’s yours. You get to build it and run it the way you want to.

Cons: Every once in a while, it has you like, “…what’s the procedure?” It’s crucial to build that community of friends in your field and utilize them!

Let me know if these tips work for you!

Are you a design freelancer or a design business owner? Connect with me on on Insta or Pinterest here so we can continue the conversation!

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The Journal