Roadmap to Being a Successful Freelancer – Getting Ready (Part I)

There are many types of creative workers, be it web designers or graphic designers, who are very interested in working as a freelancer rather than work at a design firm or agency.

They believe that working as a freelancer can bring advantages that cannot be obtained if they remain an employee, working full-time for a company. Benefits of freelancing include having more control of the work, having more flexible time, being able to set a higher fee rate, and so on.

Well, those reasons are quite normal, in fact, I personally have felt the same way in my early years. However, before quitting your day job and going freelance, you might want to read this post series to get a better idea of some of the challenges you may face but are not fully aware of yet, as reality is not always as we expect it to be.

This post series will cover some tips that will walk you through your decisions of becoming a full-time freelancer, and it will have three parts. In this first part, we will discuss several things that need to be done before one jumps ship, so to speak.

Roadmap to Being a Successful Freelancer - (Part II)

Roadmap to Being a Successful Freelancer - (Part II)

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Finding your focus

First of all, no one doubts your ability as a designer: you have a good aesthetic sense, you can design ads, icons, websites, etc. Well, the point is you know you have talent.

However, when you are about to jump in as a freelancer, you only have to focus on only a few design areas. Although designing a brochure and a website is basically still considered design areas, they are at vastly different poles. The reason is, I’m sure you do not want to be stuck on several projects later, in which each project will require different approaches, techniques, and methods.


So, if you have decided that you are going to be a web designer, it will be easier if you only accept projects that are related to the web, such as icon design, WordPress theme development or maybe even SEO.

Find something special (within you)

As a freelancer, you will mostly work on your own, and every year there would be a lot of both new and seasoned designers who have the same perception as you considering going freelance as well. It is obvious that the competition will go very stringent from time to time.

To win the competition, you need to have something special; something that differentiates you and makes you stands out more than the other designers; something that would convince the client to prefer to work with you.

For instance, if you are a designer who has been working professionally for over five years and have designed many mobile apps for some Fortune 500 companies, that can be your specialty since not everyone can have experienced similar to yours.

Find your pricing model

Pricing is a quite sensitive matter. I personally had lost a few potential clients because of the high pricing quote. If you’re a top designer and have won numerous prestigious awards, this won’t be a problem since there will always be clients who value your talent and are willing to pay according to what you ask for.


However, when you’re just starting your freelance career, in my opinion, you need to be a bit smart to specify the price you charge. Don’t be too expensive at the start, so clients find it reasonable to work with you for the long term while at the same time you shouldn’t under-rate yourself too much as to affect your financials aversely.

What pricing model to use?

There are two common pricing models used by most freelancers, those are; hourly rate and fixed price. Which pricing model is better for you? Well, that will depend on your service and probably the country where you operate your business from.

For instance, in Indonesia, charging on an hourly basis is still not acceptable for most of my clients, so I can only charge them by fixed price instead.

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Prepare some initial funds

At the beginning of your freelance career, you may not immediately get a big-budget project or even none at all. Even before you find yourself at this phase, you should have prepared initial funds to pay for your operational and your cost of living.


So, before quitting your office job, in my opinion, make sure you have saved enough to last six months’ worth of no income to help you stay afloat.


Always remember that there will always be the first experience. You may feel nervous at first, but don’t think too much about it. Just do it. All the preparations and planning would be useless if we do not act, just do it and let’s see what happens.

Don’t miss the second part of this series as we discuss how you can get a freelance job deal and eventually work. Lastly, if you want to add or share anything I may have missed here, let me know; feel free to add it in the comment section below.