Nowadays a lot of people are looking more and more into becoming freelancers. And it makes sense...the job market is different from how it used to be for the baby boomers for example. 

As millennials and Gen Z, we are not that familiar with job security anymore and as creative people, we hate doing repetitive tasks and working on the same projects anyway so if you think about it freelancing for us as creators, makes more sense.

My journey started back in University when I was about 20 something years old. I started doing bits and bobs on 99design and Fiverr, I tried opening my own small business creating business cards and flyers for small businesses, but unfortunately, because I did not have enough experience in design or in running a business, things were not that good and eventually, I decided to take a different approach. 

So after doing a bit of research online I decided to move to the UK, and start working full-time here in London. I planned to try to gain as much experience as possible and to do that I had to go somewhere where the competition was high so that I can push myself into becoming better at my craft.

Now that I look back at it, that was probably one of the most important decisions I have made so far. 

That year I was eating, sleeping and dreaming designs, which was my sole purpose, to learn as much as possible so that I can grow as a designer and as an entrepreneur. Even now I remember falling asleep with my laptop watching YouTube tutorials at 3 a.m. because the next day I had design presentations and I had no idea what to do or say, so in that period YouTube was my best friend and mentor. 

Oh yeah and fun fact when I started designing I was using Photoshop...those days. Forget about auto layouts prototypes and all these fancy tools, don't even get me started on research...research back then meant asking a few of your colleagues if they liked your designs during lunch break. 

But slowly things started to pick up and I was getting better and better, Sketch came out, I think I was almost the first one to use it and when I saw what a huge time saver it was I ditched Photoshop in a blink of an eye. 

So things were getting better and better until one day...when we had a contractor/freelancer coming to our office to do some dev work, and he parked his car on High Street Kensington, central London. 

I won't forget that moment when I saw a colleague of mine parking in a white convertible beamer in front of the office. That was mind-blowing for me back in those days because everyone used public transport, the fees for parking and congestion charge were way too high to be able to afford a car in London, nonetheless, drive it. 

So obviously I was curious so we started chatting, he told me how it's like to be a contractor how much money he was making daily and how much money you can make, then I went back home, googled everything there was to know about contracting as a designer in London, and here I am a few years later, parking my hybrid white Mercedes in Westminster, just like my previous colleague. But as an idea back then I was making around 30k a month and he was making £550/day, I will let you do the math. 

I was lucky to have my partner support me whilst quitting my job and adventuring through the realms of freelancing for about a month before finding my first contract. 

For those of you who don't know what a contractor is, he is a freelancer but works on a contract basis for a limited amount of time on a daily fee. Think of it as consulting. For this, you need to set up a company and have an accountant, or you could have a big headache every year and do the accounts yourself, but in my opinion, it's better to let a professional take care of that.

The risk is that every time a contract ends you need to find another one, however for my case, the most I've been between contracts was for a month, but with the money I was making during contracts, I could easily afford to lose that month. 

After I quit my job, I've been a contractor for about 3 years until I decided to take it a step further and start my digital agency. 

This shift happened in my third year when I had a lot of projects in addition to the contract I was having, and I kind of burned out, working 14-16h/ a day, weekends and so on, to deliver all the projects in time. 

Now, I mostly do my projects, within my digital agency. I sub-contract freelance developers, and sometimes designers, but I also do some consulting/ contracting now and again. 

The thing is that being a UX/UI Designer freelancer or consultant for me is far better than having a permanent position, but...but and this is very important, this is not for everyone. If you crack under pressure and if you don't love what you do and don't have that hunger to constantly improve your craft you're better off with a stable and more slow pace job. The competition in freelancing is huge, you have to know how to sell yourself and your craft and be able to learn while you're on the move. Companies are willing to pay good money for designers but you have to be very good at your craft. As an example, I would have around 1-3 days to learn about the business and the product and on the 4th day, I already started working on some new designs and strategize where we could make some improvements. 

But if after all this you still have that fire in you, and I hope you do these are the 6 steps I advise you to take before making the jump.

  1. Quit your job only after you've put some money aside to sustain you for the next 6 months. If you already have some freelance projects along with your full-time job, even better. You can put some money aside and work on the back of those as well.
  2. Set up a company, rather than becoming self-employed. You pay fewer taxes and it's better if you want to further develop yourself, or get some more people in to help you out.
  3. Talk to a recruiter that only recruits contractors, rather than full time. They will advise on the market status and the daily fee you will be able to get.
  4. Have a top-notch portfolio. You need to appear like you know what you are doing. Also now you will be selling yourself as a business. It's not enough to showcase yourself as a doer at the interview, but also as a problem solver, solution orientated type of person. 
  5. Sort out your finances before making the move. As a freelancer and contractor, you won't be getting any paid sick days or annual leave, so you need to take those into considerations for your daily fee. 
  6. Have fun, make some connections, give your best. You are promoting your business, so if you do your best job, you will either get to stay longer with the company, get more projects on the side or both. 

More Posts