Being a freelance graphic designer might sound like a dream -- you get to create your own hours, be your own boss, and work on projects you’re passionate about. Who wouldn’t want that?
I’m here to tell you there’s more to it than just doing the work you love. When you freelance, you become your own business. As with any business, there are always pros and cons.
If you’re a graphic designer deciding whether to take the leap into the freelance world, we’ve outlined some of the major pitfalls and perks that come with working as a freelance graphic designer.
We’ll save the best for last, so let’s start with some of the downfalls of freelancing.
You Are Your Own Business
Since you’re the business, you are also the HR, Billing, and Marketing department. You assume every role of the business. Some graphic designers might not be prepared for all the responsibilities that come with this.
If you get behind on your billing, that means no pay that month. It’s important to stay on top of everything while continuing to produce high-quality work that clients love.
It’s a huge amount of responsibility for one person to take on. With a normal business, there would be trained professionals to take care of each individual role, but with freelancing, everything is in your hands.
Not Working the Typical 9-5 Doesn’t Mean Less Hours
This is a common misconception. Even if you’re not working the typical 9-5, that doesn’t mean you won’t still be working 40 hours or more a week. This is especially true when you’re just starting out.
Be prepared to work long hours and give up personal time. If you’re trying to meet a deadline or send an invoice, that could mean some long nights or early mornings. Many times, even if you’re working sporadic hours, you’ll end up working more than just 40 hours a week.
Remember, you can always use a management platform or software, like Indy, to help keep track of all those small details if it becomes too much to handle on your own.
Sometimes Too Many Assignments, Sometimes Too Few
Sometimes you’ll be raking in the big bucks, other times you’ll barely be getting by. This is just a necessary evil in the freelancing world -- there’s no certainty.
Even if you have three clients one day, all three of those clients could be gone the next. We’re not saying this will happen, but it’s important to be prepared for this possibility.
Doing the work you love comes with the price of never knowing when that work might disappear. Be sure you’re able to accept this reality.
Alright, now that we’ve gotten some of the cons out of the way, let’s get on to the good stuff.
You Make Your Own Schedule
This is honestly one of the best parts about being a freelancer. There is no set schedule.
If you need to care for a relative or have a young child, you have the freedom to take care of them in the morning and do your work at night. No other job allows for this kind of flexibility.
This freedom means you can decide not to work a full day if you’re having an “off day” or need a break. As long as you’re completing your projects on time and meeting client expectations, your time is your own. Now that’s a beautiful thing!
You’re Not Tied To an Office Desk
Another beautiful part of freelancing is that there is no “set” workspace or office.
As a graphic designer, you’re probably a very creative soul. Maybe this means you do your best work while sitting outside in a park or by the beach listening to the waves.
This usually wouldn’t be a possibility with a typical 9-5 job, but freelancing allows you the freedom to work wherever you want.
So much freedom means you can find a place to work that’s best suited to your creativity.
You Choose Your Own Clients
This might not always be true, especially when you’re first starting out. Sometimes you might need to take on clients to make ends meet, but as you continue establishing yourself as a freelance graphic designer, you’ll be able to choose who you work with.
If you have a meeting with a potential client and it doesn’t feel like a good fit, you’re under no obligation to work with them.
At a typical graphic design job, you can’t say no to work that comes across your desk. That’s part of your job, but as a freelancer, you have the final say.
If something doesn’t feel right or there’s no fulfillment in a proposed project, you don’t need to take it.
As always, it’s up to you to decide if this is the right career path for you. We encourage you to weigh both the pros and cons and make the decision that’s best for your lifestyle and career goals.