Product designer / Art director
Subotica - Serbia
My freelancing career started almost two years ago, to be precise: 1st December 2013‚ a very important day for me.
Back then I worked in a local agency called‚ "Heavyform" for a bit over a year. It was my first job in the world of design. After a year of working there I decided on a radical step - to quit a stable job and start freelancing. As it turned out the working conditions were more than satisfying. We worked with world renowned companies and brands and the team was a bliss to work with.
I definitely could have stayed there and learned lots more, plus get some working experience, but I fought with myself on this. If I stay and continue like this, I would never be able to develop my own recognizable style. I will never have‚ "my design", to be precise, I will not be able to grow my own style under the influence of somebody else's vision and art direction, or design strategy. Simply put, I wanted to take a more difficult road in life.
I wanted to learn all by myself because I was sure that all the failures and the rocky road to success would bring good stuff in the future, as they did. Out of every success and failure I learned something new, I managed to get to know myself. Figure out my weaknesses and strengths. I got to know what I can and cannot do. If you really want a true challenge, one that will test you to the fullest. And will change you in a very positive way, freelancing is the key to that door.
Life as a freelancer is not easy, if you think otherwise then you are only seeing the nicer side of it. You need to be aware that you are a small and very insignificant startup in a huge mesh of other people and companies, all competing on a global scale. As with any beginning, there will be problems. The first clients and good reviews are always the most difficult. But once you get a few of them, and see the good reviews coming in, your desire for work grows and grows. This helps you fight all future challenges.
When starting out, I did not give much thought to money (even though, that was the time I needed it the most). I gave it my max and worked on projects which were severely underpaid. That did not worry me too much, or lead me astray, since I knew that these experiences would lead to something better. Also I faced a very big challenge when starting freelancing: Multitasking! When you start to work as a freelancer, you are EVERYTHING. And I really mean EVERYTHING. You are a salesman, a project manager, a designer, the business owner, PR. All the people that one big agency has. You are in charge of all the details and do various jobs.
For me that was one of the biggest challenges, how to overcome that and how to be the best in all fields. This is where it breaks, either you overcome these obstacles and become the best freelancer out there, or return to your 9 to 5 job and chug at it. If you manage to overcome these issues and become more and more efficient and profitable in your work, you can hire people to do these other tasks for you. Then you can focus on the things you love.
In my case that was design and only design.
Well, there it is, my short story. I could talk about this much more, but these are some of my experiences and the things I had to deal with in my freelancing career. All in all, this is not the entirety of a freelancer's life, this is just the first 10% of it. Bottom line is: Give it your max regardless of the working conditions, one day it will all come back to you. Also be sure the future is what you make it, and if you want it, just work hard on it.
So don't be lazy and make your sh.t happen!