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Things to Keep in Mind When Starting a Freelance Design Business

African freelancer working remotely discussing with woman partner online

There are plenty of benefits to being a freelance designer. You get to be your own boss, set your own hours, and take on the clients you want. If your work starts to get recognized and you build up a healthy client base, you can also turn your business into a lucrative career.

But, there are some risks and potential drawbacks involved, too. Because you’re the boss, all of the responsibilities fall solely on you. You have to take care of the financial aspects of your business, your own health and wellness, advertising, and everything in between.

Before becoming a designer, you should hone in on your skills and understand that it could take a long time to build a name for yourself. But, if you’re willing to put in the work and be patient, you can find success in the freelance design business.

If you’re still on the fence over whether freelancing is right for you, let’s go over a few things you should keep in mind.

Happy freelance female worker sitting at home with cup of coffee
Happy freelance female worker sitting at home with cup of coffee

Remember You’re Running a Business

Even though you’re the boss as a freelancer, you have to think of yourself as a one-person business. That will make you look more legitimate to clients, and it will help you to stay on top of trends and skills in the design world to stay relevant. As a freelancer, you’ll need to do more than understand basic design concepts. You’ll need to play multiple roles as a humanized business. Therefore, you should be knowledgeable and have skills in the following areas:

  • Marketing
  • Customer service
  • Web design
  • Accounting
  • Networking

Keep in mind that when you run a business, especially by yourself, you could be putting yourself at risk of burning out. Self-care is incredibly important when you’re trying to get a business off the ground. So, make time for yourself and consider hiring another employee, or outsource what you can. It could benefit you to hire a virtual assistant or someone to run errands for you just so you can achieve a better work-life balance.

Worker using laptop while analyze report
Worker using laptop while analyze report

Keep Your Finances in Order

Although you should build yourself up as a business when you’re a freelancer, there are some noticeable differences. For example, it takes an average of three years for a new business to be successful. For a freelancer? There really isn’t a set timeline. All it takes is building up a great portfolio and getting referrals from a few clients to hit the ground running.

Unfortunately, searching for success is only half the battle.

Freelancers can face a bit of a struggle when it comes to finances. If you’re just trying to get your business off the ground or grow it by getting a loan, you might have some trouble. While your employment history doesn’t affect your credit score, some lenders might be hesitant to give money to someone who doesn’t have a set, consistent income each month.

Additionally, if you aren’t getting paid for your work, you won’t be able to give yourself a salary or pay your bills. You can eliminate problems like that by sending out a professional invoice after every design job. If you don’t get paid right away, be sure to follow up frequently. Even if you don’t like confrontation, you’re the owner and boss of your own business. So, it’s up to you to get the money you’re owed.

Of course, these ideas are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what you should know when starting a freelance design business. The most important thing is to give it some serious thought. Think about your skill level, the time you’re willing to put in, and whether you think your business can truly see success.

Sam Bowman authored this guest blog post


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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a travel host and writer with a popular travel show, The Design Tourist, and a companion lifestyle blog. As a widely published travel journalist and content creator, Karen is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. She also serves as the Design and Travel editor of the national lifestyle magazine, LaPalme. Karen believes that every destination has a story to tell through its local art, architecture, culture, and craft. This immersive creative exploration begins with authentic accommodations where the narrative of place unfolds through art, accessories, accouterments, furnishings, fixtures, and food. 

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