This week I celebrated three years of independence; Independence from the 9 to 5, and still loving it!
I was working at a design agency and going on three years of employment as a junior designer. My role at the company began as a print designer primarily, but I had opportunities to develop skills in web design, commercial photography, and other facets of marketing. Sometimes I got to take part in brand strategy for clients, usually beginning with identity design and soon I discovered that I had a huge passion for logo design specifically.
One thing led to another and in February of 2014 I decided to leave the agency to give my focus to designing logos full time on my own. I had a few client projects lined up that gave me the jump start I needed, and I've had a steady stream of projects since then.
Is it risky?
Some of you may look at me as if I've taken a great risk to give up the guaranteed paycheck and the collaborative aspect of working with a team.
The irregularity of income as a solo-preneur or freelancer can be daunting, but with some planning it's very manageable and usually comes down to understanding how to sell. The best security is to do good work; putting everything I have into a project pays dividends in thrilled clients who will refer others to my work. Another thing I've put into practice that helps me to survive in a competitive landscape is to focus on one thing. I may have multiple skills that I'll use to serve my clients, but what am I really doing to stand out from my competition? Focussing on one thing has literally cut my sales efforts in half because suddenly it's much easier for my potential clients to understand what I do and why they need me.
Not having a team to collaborate on projects with can be tough, but I'm very lucky to work in a field where knowledge is free and every creative seems to be motivated to give back. This makes it very easy to find peers who will freely share their insights on my work in exchange for my feedback on theirs. This sharing of constructive criticism is incredibly helpful especially when I'm feeling stuck in a creative block or simply needing validation that I am indeed creating a successful solution for my client.
So while there are in fact some incredible advantages to agency employment and I've missed them many, many times, it really isn't such a huge risk. I've found my niche and I'm loving this phase of life and my career.
Where I'm going
I can't say that I'll remain independent forever, but looking back I wouldn't trade everything that I've learned, the fun that I've had and the connections that I've made in the past three years. I've been so blessed to get to work on some really fun projects and connect with peers in my industry who I am continually learning from.
So I'm going to keep making logos and soak up everything I can learn about what it means to give value and experiences, not things. I'll focus more on learning to better serve my customers and use the skills I have to push them toward success. I'll also pay more attention to relationships, people and what makes them tick.
So here's to the next three years, a future that looks like me working with you!