First steps of freelancing

Over the last couple of years and very intensive over the last couple of months I spent a lot of time thinking about freelancing, which includes the central questions how to do it and complaining about the missing possibilities to do it. I was talking to friends about it, spent hours of talking with my partner about it, and after every conversation, I felt better, but I didn’t have a better plan what to do. My point was and still is: having a full-time job, but not having enough savings which would enable me to quit my job and start from scratch, and not having a huge amount of (professional) contacts, it’s not the perfect start for own business.

The Input

Since I live in London, I got the impression that certain things are easier here than in Germany. For example, no one asks me here if I have a degree in Graphic Desing, people just want to see my works. In this country seems to be more important what you have done, rather what you have studied. I like that.

One day my boyfriend said: it is so much easier to find graphic design work than to set up an architectural company, why don’t you start with that?

I was supposed to reply with: “But, if I am not sure, probably, first I should do … “…
Why? Why so complicated, Eva?

Instead of saying something I remembered the commandment – “Do it now”, and asked him what would he suggest for starting. He suggested Upwork; he proposed to do a couple of small jobs there to create a proper graphic portfolio, afterwards to do a bit advertising for my graphic work to find more and probably bigger clients. On this way, I would have a bunch of works for my website, that I can create later and on the other hand side I would get more experience, which will help me for clients recruiting.

I spent around three months thinking about it.

Around four weeks ago, at least, I set up my upwork profile, I even set up a behance profile. It took me only one day. I was such proud and excited afterwards and felt so much better! Only this feeling was worth to do it, I thought, I was thrilled about it!
Upwork is a platform where freelancer and clients come together.
Behance is an online portfolio site, where designers could present their works, connect with each other, share ideas, and collect inspirations.
I started applying for jobs. Nothing happened. After my excitement I got frustrated. I saw that another freelancers offer their work for $4/hour. Hm, if one lives in Bangladesh probably is a good deal, but I couldn’t imagine providing such a rate while living in London.

The beginning

I kept applying for jobs. After the 1st week, I got the first job – to create an info page for a Vietnamese pho-soup-cubes. I was the only one who had applied for this job, maybe this was the reason that I got it. I didn’t care; I got a job, that was what I was looking for. The beginning was difficult because the brief was not quite clear. OK, I needed to start again. Pretty soon I realised that my bid was too low for the amount of work that I had. But, the client was happy. In the end, I spent around 10 hours of working; my bid was $15, the client paid me a bonus of another $10 and wanted to send me a Vietnamese cooking book as an additional present. The book hasn’t arrived yet, but I am sure this is going to happen, and I am euphoric about this first opportunity!

One thing I’ve learned from that job is that I don’t want to do any graphic. I am quite keen on working on branding and corporate design, on book design, and typography. So, for the future, I will concentrate to apply for more jobs from those areas.

The first project

In the meantime, someone told me about Peopleperhour – similar to Up work, but UK-based. For this one, I could activate my friends to endorse me for my skills and knowledge. About two weeks later an Irish company contact me to redesign their existing corporate design – I couldn’t believe it!
My bid was for the whole job, split in small bids for each item, like business cards, brochures, folders, etc. The guy asked me to start with the business card to see how it works and then to move forward with the other items. No problem!
Before I started, I’d spent some time to think how long I have to dedicated to something, to get paid nearly for what I am working. And it worked!
I set up time for each working step and stayed on track. I spent just a little bit longer than I wanted but it was still OK. I sent the first draft on the weekend, and yesterday I got the reply that they love it!
And here I’ve learned something else: it is not every time so much pressure as I assume.
In Germany we say something like: Not everything get eaten as hot as it was cooked. That’s why remember my own commemdents and “Don’t get everything too serious”.

What are your experiences with freelancing online? Drop me a line or leave a comment, I am looking forward to hearing your stories!

Best, Eva

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