9. Independence

Let’s take a quick look at what it takes to stay in the freelance game:

Profits. Please remember that, for you and your clients, nothing happens until something gets sold. You must generate a profit, or your freelance days are over.

Talent alone isn’t enough; it never was. You must also be dependable, knowledgeable and professional. A large part of your success will be attributed to just “taking care of business.” Take the initiative. Handle small problems while they are still small. Strive to provide the best service you are capable of. Stay flexible and focused when there are scheduling conflicts, vendor problems or approval delays. It is easy to bury yourself in work and neglect billing, payables and receivables.

Stay healthy. ‘Nuff said.

Education is a lifelong commitment, especially for the freelancer. Along with relentless hardware and software updates, you need to stay on top of printing and Internet technology. Sharpen your design skills and feed your creative soul with night classes and artist’s dates. Attend trade shows and seminars that interest you.

Know how to land new business. Have I said that often enough in these workshops?

Take stock regularly. Is your fabulous freelance career going as well as you had planned? If not, why not? What needs adjusting or improving? Is it your skills or is it your attitude? Be honest.

Be prepared to field some very attractive offers. As a successful freelancer, clients and business associates will perceive you as sharp and capable. And you are. You are generally operating at several levels above the average employee. You will be offered everything from staff positions, stock options and directorships to partnerships. Weigh them carefully. Consider the reasons you started freelancing in the first place. Are they still valid? If so, consider how accepting one or more of the above offers will impact your freelance activities.

Stay Sharp, Be Informed. Subscribe to one or more business publications. If you haven’t done it already, make sure you’re subscribed to receive my free newsletter. When you need help, ASK. Get to know graphic designers, printers and industry professionals in your area. If I can assist you with coaching or consulting, contact me.

I hope these Freelance Workshops continue to be of benefit to you. Good luck in your career; please write and let me know how you are doing.

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7 Responses to “9. Independence”

  1. Bob GairNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve been running my freelance design business for 4 years now on referrals. It’s been good until this year when things have slowed down considerably, to the point of looking into cold calling. I somehow felt it was beneath me, but reading your article helped me realize that it’s probably the best vehicle to pulling in new clients as opposed to all the personal branding, writing, presenting to business groups, etc. Just do it! That’s what I’m going to do and I’ll let you know how it goes.

    Thanks for all your insight here, I’ve found it really helpful.

  2. Dan TurnerNo Gravatar says:

    Bob, thanks for your comment. Beautiful portfolio, by the way.

    Many if not most designers view cold calling as their last, desperate resort. Until they collect a deposit check and land a new account. Until they see first hand that picking up the phone is the shortest distance between them and a healthy bank balance.

    Until they realize they can throw all of the social media BS out the window and have a life.

    Can it actually be this simple? YES. Good luck to you, Bob. If you run into any snags just drop me a line. You can do it!

  3. ScottNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Dan,

    Very much enjoyed going through your workshop, and there are so many points you made that I have experienced myself.

    One thing that spoke volumes was your view on education. I enrolled in an AS degree for visual communications about a year ago (half way there) when faced with unemployment. I have done web design, and graphic design for more than 10 years and am just now getting my degree. I only wish I had done it sooner as I have learned a great deal in the short year I have been in school. I’m an old school tables guy who now loves CSS, another thing I wish I had embraced much earlier.

    My dilema at this point … I just launched my own company website and shortly after lost the design job I was relying on in order to pay the bills while I build the company … now I’m getting companies asking me to be a part of their team (as an employee) I don’t have a paying client yet, so the offers for employment are looking better. It’s tough, cause I don’t really want to work for anyone else, but I need the income to take care of my family.

    If I end up continuing on with my own company, I’ll be using your ‘HUNTING’ tips for sure ;-)

    Either way, I appreciate the course, many bits of encouraging information that I will certainly be using in my career as a graphic designer.

    Thanks again … Scott

  4. Dan TurnerNo Gravatar says:

    Family first, Scott, no doubt about it. In order to freelance, you must know how to land clients. If you were sure about that part, there would be no agonizing over potential employment opportunities. If you decide to make the jump, get laser-focused and develop hunting skills like there’s no tomorrow and like your financial life depends on it — because it literally does.

    Landing your first client may well be the most anxiety-ridden thing you ever do. But once you get that first one, your life changes. All of a sudden you’re in charge of your future. You’ll know how to do it. You can get a second, a third and a tenth. Exciting to contemplate, isn’t it?

    Good luck with your decision, Scott. If I can help, just write or call.

  5. Jackie GerenaNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Dan,

    I just wanted to know that I am grateful for all this information. I just began building my leads list. I am 31 years old and graduated with a degree in photography to later realize that I just want to do fine art photography. So, that means, not as easy to make money in that as to being a commercial photographer. I also make a living doing graphic design. I love to work from home but I’m having a hard time finding work. After reading this it made perfect sense that I should follow your advice and get on the phone. I can guarantee you that it will change my life and of course, you’ll be the first one to know. Thanks again for your mentoring!

  6. Dan TurnerNo Gravatar says:

    Jackie, thanks for reading the workshops and leaving a comment. I look forward to your updates and hearing that you are growing your business. Please call or write if I can help; here’s to your success!

  7. Architectural rendering portfolioNo Gravatar says:

    those are some great things to remember when considering a freelance job, thank you for sharing them!

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