Looking back at my time as a freelance designer, there’s a bunch of stuff I wish I knew from the start.

It’s easy to think that all you need to do is get really good at design and software, and you’re set. But there’s a whole other side to this gig that’s just as important, if not more.

Chatting and Making Friends

First up, let’s talk about making connections and chatting with people. I used to think it was all about just showing up at events or throwing a like on someone’s post. But let’s be real? It’s about making actual friends in the industry. Not just swapping business cards or following each other online, but having real conversations, sharing what you know, and being there to lend a hand. And when it comes to talking with clients, it’s super important to get what they need and be clear about how you’re going to make their ideas come to life.

All About You – But Keep It Real

Then there’s this whole thing about personal branding. I used to roll my eyes at it, thinking it was just for those designer types who love the spotlight on YouTube or Instagram. But over the past few years I’ve realised that I was wrong.

Your personal brand is like telling the world, “Hey, this is what I’m all about, and here’s what I can do for you.” It’s about building trust. If you’ve got a bunch of people who dig your work, launching your own stuff or finding new jobs gets a whole lot easier.

Just remember to keep it 100% you. No one likes feeling like they’ve been sold out.

Business Stuff – Yep, It Matters

Diving into running my own business felt like jumping into the deep end without knowing how to swim. I learned pretty quick that being good at design wasn’t enough.

You’ve gotta know how to handle the not-so-fun stuff too, like dealing with contracts, keeping track of money, and figuring out taxes.

My best piece of advice?

Talk to people in your network who’ve been there and done that. Don’t just take random advice from the internet. And seriously, get yourself an accountant or someone who knows about money stuff. It’s a game changer and let you focus on doing the whatever it is you’re good at.

Keep Your Design Game Strong

And also, while you’re juggling all that, don’t forget to keep your design skills sharp. The design world’s always changing, and you’ve gotta keep up. But now, you’re not just trying to be a great designer. You’re aiming to be that awesome freelance designer who knows their stuff, inside and out.

So, What’s the Takeaway?

Jumping into freelance design is about way more than just your design skills. It’s about connecting with people, showing the world your unique style, and getting the hang of running your own show. I’ve made my share of oopsies along the way, but each one’s been a lesson learned. Stick with it, keep it real, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Trust me, it’s worth it.