Although April is the month for sport and meditation, this post is about freelancing. Yesterday I updated the freelancing page here with a few useful information, for those who would like to start with basics. And here I have a few more tips about the very first steps of freelancing.
The big question is: HOW TO START?
There are two ways to start: either someone approaches you and would like to pay you for what you are doing, or you need to find those people and sell them your idea, product, service, etc. The first option sounds like a miracle, but the truth is that miracle moment happens an enormous amount of work has to be done. Those people worked hard for their ideas or products, they won competitions or discovered new technologies, drew fantastic pictures or developed unusual ideas. They did want they were passionate about, and they got discovered by someone who wanted to pay for it.
This is the way how Zaha Hadid became famous, and Karl Lagerfeld started his career for Chanel. Don’t need to mention all top models or actors discovered by accident in McDonald’s restaurant (Gisele Bündchen) or at the disco (Claudia Schiffer), but this is another story.
The second option takes a little bit more time, and it is probably more difficult, but not impossible. This is what I am doing now and here are some useful ideas which I am happy to share:
1. Find Out What you Want to Do
Try to define what you like and don’t like about your current job: do you want to do the same just on your own or do you want to do something completely different?
If you’d like to do something different, try this before you quit your job and start running your business. It is amazing to make cakes for friends and family, but it doesn’t mean that to be a confectioner would be the right move for you. Try it before you make big decisions. More about this you can find under Freelancing.
2. Become an Expert
Whatever you would like to do, you have to be or become an expert in your environment. You have to understand your products, to know your technology, to be confident when you talk about your work.
For me as an architect was clear from the very beginning that I would like to work on residential projects, in particular on listed buildings or at least buildings in a conservation area. The most of my projects are on listed buildings, and I have a quite good knowledge about those. On the other hand side, I want to integrate graphic design more in my work, but everything that I know about it is a self-taught knowledge.
To improve this and to learn something. Also, I started a series of graphic design courses on Coursera. More about coursera later, my point here is practising what you already know and learn what you need to know also.
3. Find small jobs
Yes, I mean start with small projects to test how it is to be a freelancer, how it is to be responsible for everything, really everything that happens under your name, your company. If you quieted your job to start your business you are going to have a lot else to do anyway: register a company, opening a business bank account, finding an accounter for your taxes, setting up your brand, probably finding an office place and make it ready to work, etc. I am sure I forgot something.
If you start freelancing while having a full-time job, like me, starting with small projects is a good way to improve your portfolio. Now is essential to get positive reviews from your new clients, because this is the basis for your future work. Better a good review for a small job rather a bad one for a big project.
I signed up on upwork and peopleperhour. From designing one-page infographic up to redesigning the CI for a small/medium company you can find every size project there. The payment is not high, but you get paid, you make contacts, and you build your new professional profile.
Don’t work for free. Don’t do it for anyone, either for friends nor family. Your knowledge and time are valuable, and there is no reason to give them away for anyone.
If you get another value for your work but money, this is OK. If your friend supports you for increasing your professional network or helps you up with your taxes, it is OK to recommend them for their business as well. But don’t sell you under your value, if you want to find respectful clients and be taken seriously by potential customers.
The small projects are where I am now: I did two small jobs on upwork (and got great reviews), and now I work on a CI redesigning of a small Irish company. It costs me almost all of my free-time but I enjoy it, and I am keen to get this job perfectly done. It is the best mood booster for me when I show my client a draft and receive an email from him saying: “I love this design and am happy to be guided by you.” It’s amazing, isn’t it! He trusts my knowledge, he likes what I do, and he pays me for that.
Because I am the expert for this job!
It could be quite simple if you did your homework.
I hope these first advice are helpful for someone out there, and I am happy if you share your opinion or experiences with me.
Enjoy your week,