How to go freelance
01 APR 2019

Published by Kandice Menzie


How to go freelance

The UK freelance economy is booming. Higher pay rates and a seemingly more manageable work/life balance has resulted in more and more workers leaving their full-time jobs to work for themselves either as freelancers, contractors or as self-employed people.

Nowhere is this change more evident than in the UK creative industries where freelancers now make up 40%.*

In London alone, just over 1 in 4 (27.8%) of jobs across the creative economy are held by self-employed workers, compared to 16.8% of jobs in the non-creative economy**

According to a 2017 report by the Creative Industries Federation, the main reason for this change is the desire to be one’s own boss.

Over 50% of creatives interviewed felt that freelancing was ‘the only way they could conduct their business and/or pursue their creative goals’ and have creative control. 

There are many positives to working for yourself and changes in technology, priorities and views on flexible working has made it even easier to go it alone.

However, no matter how large the pro’s, the decision to make the switch to freelance life shouldn’t be made without thorough research and careful contemplation about whether it is a sustainable option, you can read more about how to transition here.

Enter these successful creatives, who with the help of Gabriele are already nailing the freelance life and have some stellar advice on how you can too. From practical pearls of wisdom to ideas on how to stay motivated when you are your own boss, they’re spilling the beans.

Clarence Garcia Meneses – Freelance Senior Brand and Print Designer

“To make it as a freelancer within the design industry you must be a go-getter with a positive attitude. It can be tricky to get started (find clients etc) but great recruiters like Gabriele can help you out with that aspect, and once you are established the pluses definitely outweigh the negatives.

The opportunity to meet and learn from an array of other creatives is a bonus that can get you far in your career so go for it and make the most of it!

Firstly, the pay is far more lucrative, you can pick and choose the projects you want to do, (for me it's working predominantly in luxury, high-end hospitality and real estate) and you have the freedom to learn loads from working with many different design agencies and other creatives.

Alex Johnson – Freelance Senior Designer

This goes for everything in life - do the things that terrify you the most. Freelancing can feel like a bit of a roadblock for those who haven’t lived it. How will I make the next rent? What if I don’t get the work? Will I progress as a designer if I’m on my own? These are the questions I asked myself, but soon after I started I actually found it more exhilarating than working in the full-time job I used to have.

As soon as you start to dive head first into your fear, everything stops being scary and becomes an adrenaline rush.

As a freelancer, it's entirely possible that you might not make the rent, that your work might become a mash of presentations that you had to do in a day, you might end up not progressing at all. The difference is, you’re you, and you won’t let that happen, so it won’t. 

Harness the fear, and use it as something to spur you on,

pretty soon your work will sing, you’ll progress faster than you think and before you know it, you’ll be making bank enough to allow yourself the off-days that come with the lifestyle. 

Always give your opinion wherever you are, take charge of your projects and care for them above everything else (it's your track record that people are hiring after all), and just be a lovely person to work with.

I went freelance because I eventually want to have my own agency. I’ve worked from a Junior to a Senior in a team, and will eventually go back into full time to become part of a team again and learn how to lead. 

Being freelance throws you into situations where you will naturally have to lead your little patch, talk to people, get an accountant and learn how business works.

These are all useful skills for having your own agency eventually, but they also teach you how other freelances feel when they work for the agency you might be working for. To be a good leader, you need to know how to follow, but also be able to get in the mindsets of everyone in your team and look after them.

Freelancing is so much fun, and definitely one thing that I would implore every designer to do at some point. Go get em!

If you’re after more advice and insight into the creative industries get in touch with our Freelance specialist Petra, she can recommend design or branding agencies who are happy to take on freelance and ensure you get steady work from the get. 



*2016 Labour Force Survey, Office for National Statistic

**London's creative industries - 2017 update

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