Working as a freelancer is hard at the best of times. Long hours, generally inconsistent work flow, and a heavy reliance on yourself to produce the next pay-check.
Perhaps even a degradation of language skills as you spend more time on email than in the company of other homo sapiens.
But it has its perks.
No more simmering in a car on the daily highway commute, listening to the latest commercial verbal garbage produced by some pretty girl group or another destined to fade back in to obscurity. There are fewer requirements to be crushed in the subway by a plethora of sweaty people on a daily basis.
Maybe it's just due to being British, but 'invading of personal space' drives me crazy.
The schedule can be awesome. I'd take a home work environment where I can work in pyjamas instead of being in a suit, and spending nine hours in a dimly-lit office cube any day. I may end up working 18 hours the next day -- but it's worth it.
I used to freelance exclusively as a website designer and developer. I still do on occasion, and would like to share some of my New Year's resolutions with the young designing crowd.
1. Better time management: Freelancers often work mad hours in order to fill that oh-so-important deadline. You glance at the clock; it's 4 pm. Look again, and it's now 3 am. It will take an hour to wind down, and then -- oh, I have to call this person at 9 am.
This generally is solved by a diet of immediate-hit energy drinks and a lack of sleep.
2. Clean the clutter from my desktop: It really should be Zen. In the same manner as an office desk, a clean desktop can help focus your thoughts and keep you on task. Instead, mine looks like this:
I have no idea what most of the files were for. It contains everything from writing notes to a meerkat T-shirt design and images of coffee cups. In case anyone was wondering, the desktop image is a parody of a YouTube story unicorn namesake. No, I don't know why it's there either.
3. Eradicate Internet Explorer from the face of the planet: The only reason I still have Internet Explorer installed on my computer is the requirement to check browser compatibility for designs. The necessity to cater to the 'AOL' crowd is riling. Please, change your browser. It haunts web developers in their dreams.
4. Learn to say no: We all have the occasional clients from hell. If you're doing well for the month, perhaps consider passing on the one that you suspect is a little unhinged. It's better for both of you.
5. Launch a campaign against "we'll give you a free website and a REAL .co.uk domain name!" schemes: I do not like schemes that do this. It causes no end of problems for designers when the customer wants their site properly designed, to find the company in question own the domain name that they have built up a reputation with.
This forces them either to abandon the name or stay with the usual terrible template and no-edits-allowed option.
6. Update my portfolio: It's always the last thing on the list. This job and that project need to be done first. But six months down the line it becomes a huge mission to update.
7. Get out of the house: I have found over the last year that as my freelance work increased, so did hermit-like habits. Get outdoors; remember the feel of the wind and smell of grass. Go exercise, and stay away from the screen.
8. Start following people at the top: Although I've used Twitter for years on an off-hand basis, I have recently become a tweet addict. However, why not follow people at the top of your industry for inspiration or tips?
9. Step out of the comfort zone: Whether writing or designing, stepping out of the comfort zone and trying new things can really improve your freelance skills, and give you more scope to market yourself. Try and learn a new programming language, or see what apps are really about. You never know where it will lead.
10. No more Comic Sans. Ever: Never again. Comic Sans is not a good look for professional designs; I hope you agree. I also vow to the font gods that I shall never sin again by the use of Papyrus.
What are yours?
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