The life I live as a freelance designer & developer is one I never dreamed of having. In reality, digital art and programming only began as a pursuit of my passions – I was simply exploring something that had caught my interest and sparked my creativity. Basically, I was just having fun! Making a living from it wasn’t on my mind, and I never imagined the opportunities that would open up as the Internet Age continued to march on. But all these years later, it’s those very skills that now allow me to live almost anywhere in the world, earn a decent income, set my own schedule, and still spend a good portion of my life pursing greater purposes outside of my work. Those are some rather amazing benefits! And they are all tied to my life as an online freelancer—or put another way: all part of living a web-enabled life.
How I Started Freelancing
For me, my adventure into freelance work didn’t start with going to school and getting a degree, but simply in developing skills in areas that interested me. My first taste of digital design wasn’t in an art or computer class, but started at home – I decided to try creating some graphics for a game. A rather humble start, but I kept at it, and continued to pursue other personal projects. And years later, it was the same for coding. I didn’t start with thoughts of employment, but began because I was discontent with seeing my digital art just sitting there on the screen – pretty but useless. I wanted to give it purpose, and function, and life!
In both cases I had no idea what I was doing as I started, no one to teach me or show me what to do, but I had a passion to learn it. I’m sure nothing much ever came of the project I actually started with, long forgotten and probably never finished, but the skills and knowledge I gained along the way gave me a foundation to build upon. Piece by piece, and step by step, it gave me enough confidence to start pursuing other opportunities as they came up. It wasn’t long until I started earning some money on the side, and each successful project gave me that much more confidence to continue.
An Important Note to Remember
And speaking of confidence, this is an area worth sharing a bit about. If you don’t have confidence as a freelancer, it will be hard to make it! But as well, don’t let that confidence be based on some imaginary view of yourself – actually work to be competent at what you do. When I decided to make the jump from hobby to profession, I needed to get serious about my skills. Confidence without competence will lead to some pretty miserable work experiences for both you and your clients, but confidence that comes from competence, from past successes and good feedback, is a great and necessary asset in itself.
There will be many times you doubt yourself, projects that seem a bit beyond you – and they may very well be. But confidence in your abilities both to do, and to learn, will go a long way in growing what you’re capable of – day by day, project by project. Don’t be afraid to take that step beyond what you’ve done before.Be upfront with your clients and don’t give false expectations – but if you’ve proven that you’re willing to go the extra mile in your work, you might be surprised at the opportunities you’re given to both work and learn while getting paid for a project.
I Wouldn’t Have It Any Other Way
I certainly won’t pretend the life of a freelancer is all sunshine and roses – there are thorns and thistles, and you will hit them along the way: bad clients, work you’re never paid for, poor feedback, days you feel discouraged and more. You will need to learn new disciplines in your personal life as well – learning to truly separate work from the rest of your life being the big one. But, with all of these, simply expect it. When they come just deal with them, and learn from them – but keep things going. Every job has its down sides, but very few come with the true benefits and freedoms of working online. It can be a big transition, and might come with the occasional sleepless night or impossible-to-please client, but the world of opportunity it opens up for you is huge, perhaps bigger than you’ve ever considered, and yours to chase after – if you’re willing to take the leap.