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Going freelance as a graphic designer after 12 years working full-time

@rameken | 25 Oct 2018

Hello! Tell the readers who are you and what do you do.

Im Jan Rameken, Im a Freelance Graphic Designer in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

Why freelancing instead of a full-time job?

I actually worked full time as a graphic designer about 12 years before going freelance, 10 of them at my previous company. Before I left I was single-handedly in charge of design at the studio I worked at, which is a small business (under 15 employees) meant I had to take care of both small and large problems design related, as well as manage freelancers, as we did a fair amount of outsourcing for many of our projects. My role in this sense was more akin to an art director in that I to supervise the quality of the work we received from our freelancers and ensure it met our studio standards.

Over time, I grew more and more disenchanted with the administrative aspects of my role, and I managed and delegated more than designed, which led to a bit of a burnout. After parting with my past employers and going freelance, I have been able to do what I like best, which is design, although being a freelancer also comes with its set of administrative challenges, though not quite on the level of an AD, so in that sense, work is much more satisfying for me.

For those interested in getting into your field, who should they follow on social media other than you?

Don’t follow me on Social media! I really don’t update that often. :P I do follow some design Youtubers and wholeheartedly recommend the following: The Futur (all round best design channel, they cover everything from good design practices as well as business practices if you are getting into design freelancing), Flux (for the business aspect of design) and Will Patterson (good videos on logo and calligraphy).

Biggest challenges you've faced when you started freelancing?

Getting new clients, definitely. When you work at a studio, every day is like eating at a buffet: you arrive, and the "food" (work) is laid out there for you, and every day that buffet is stocked up, the food never runs out, there's always something to eat. You clock in, get a plate, and start right away, and at the end of the month, you get your fees.

When you freelance, the buffet is GONE. You may have some reserves, some clients in stock that will trickle some work down to you from time to time, but usually, you have to hustle and scavenge for the "food" that was so plentiful before. When you freelance, not just working, but finding future work, future clients, becomes your major preoccupation. Some months you may live in plentiful bounty, some months you may be in a famine, that is something as a freelancer you need to get used to.

Your worst experience with a client? And how to avoid that situation.

Have not any terrible experiences with clients as a freelancer, but I take big precautions to lock my clients down before even starting to work (contract + 50% deposit). I make sure that even if it's at something of a loss to me, I'd rather the client walk away happy because happy and satisfied clients usually translate in repeat business. I will always take a loss on extra hours to ensure my clients are happy, it really pays off in the long run. If it doesn’t work out... that's what I have an ironclad contract for.

A piece of advice for those who want to start freelancing

Save some cash up. Most likely you will not hit the ground running. If possible, try freelancing while still working your current job - start getting a few clients before you take the plunge. Hustle like crazy - networking groups (look them up on meetup.com) work well. BNI is also a good option if you can find a group in your home city. And once you get an interested client, make sure your contract is ironclad and you work only with that deposit paid upfront. A serious client will have no issue paying a professional that 50% and signing a contract. Those that do not want to do this, are fishy and suspect clients, to begin with, so consider this a "serious client" filter. Obviously, exercise moderation and common sense, I don’t draw up contracts for a 2-hour job. ;)

Thanks for reading! ❤️

If you have any questions or want to share some love, go to @rameken twitter!

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