Welcome back to #FreelanceLife!
We started the series with a wonderful first chapter from Copywriter Marcus which you can still get your hands on it here. This Chapter sees the turn of super Designer Tim. With 8 years experience, Tim is the perfect person to tell you what it's like to Freelance as a Designer. Imaginative and ambitious, he is full of ideas and has worked with many clients to bring build unforgettable brands.
Over to you Tim...
1. What is your favourite thing about being a Freelancer?
It sounds a bit of a cliché, but by far the best thing is the freedom that it allows you, both personally and creatively. I've always suffered a bit from that 'itchy feet' syndrome, in that no matter how good an agency was, or how interesting the work was that I was doing, I find I seem to suffer from long-term routine. The same train, at the same time, to the same place...we all know the drill. It's never done me any good emotionally, in terms of the enjoyment I get from a job, but also I found it affected me creatively. The ability to work for different clients and sectors from one week to the next keeps thing exciting – new people, new surroundings, new opportunities and new projects that I may not have otherwise had chance to work on mean the difference between jumping out of bed in the morning, or falling out of it.
2. What is your least favourite thing about being a Freelancer?
Where as consistency in my day job was one of the main things that made me take the leap into freelancing, I miss it in a financial sense. It's no surprise that earnings can fluctuate quite a bit, so I suppose I dislike now having to approach my income from a 'worst case scenario' perspective. That might sound dramatic, but it's just having that understanding that even though you've had a great month, part of that balance could have to contribute to financial obligations three months down the line. Being respectful of the situation is half the battle – employing enough self restraint spending wise to ensure there's that safety net that you'll inevitably need at some point, but also reaping the rewards of your hard work. You earned it, and you can't take it with you!
3. What skills are essential for a Freelancer?
Motivation is key. When you have a quiet period, it's really easy to procrastinate – justifying to yourself that "another episode on Netflix won't hurt" or "I need more coffee", despite being on your third before 9am. Setting clear boundaries around your working day makes a huge difference to your productivity.
Likability is pretty important too. The chances are unless you're in a senior role in an agency, you won't have a huge amount of client interaction, so it's pretty straight forward to go day-to-day only talking to your immediate colleagues or superior. Freelancing is a whole different ball game in that you can't hide behind a screen – you have to sell yourself, you have to be proactive and communicative and above all you have to do your absolute best to make every client think, "where's this guy been all our lives?!". You want them to ask you back after all – so a strong work ethic, taking initiative, dressing professionally and the ability to make a joke, but take one too, will put you in really good stead for future jobs.
4. On average, what time do you start and finish work? How does your day map out?
Despite what Dolly Parton thought, working 9-5 is a pretty good way to make a living, and pretty standard in my experience. Generally a working day equates to around 7.5 hours, with half an hour for lunch. Every client has their own take on this though – maybe it's 8 hours but an hour for lunch. I find that it's flexible though in that clients respect that you're not part of the furniture and as long as you're clear about your intentions – needing to leave by 5, or having to cut a day short by half an hour but you'll make it up the next, then you can tweak the terms to some extent. As long as they get the hours they've paid for, the exact timings don't really mean much!
5. How often do you work remotely?
Probably a day or two a week on average. Remote working is pretty uncommon in that you can often be working for clients that don't know you very well, have a creative lead on site that will need to brief you in and approve the work you do and have systems in place that need to be adhered to. It's much more time consuming for a designer to send you ten WeTransfer files than to point to some on a server.
I have a few personal clients that I work for from home, but the common factor is that I've known them for ages, they trust me and they know they don't have to do any hand holding to ensure that they get what they asked for. During busy periods, remote working can often fall 'after hours' in order to dedicate normal working hours to those clients who need you on site.
6. What do you wish someone had told you when you were starting out?
I think I underestimated the intricacies of setting up as a limited company as opposed to being a sole trader when I first started. The best advice someone could have given me was, "there's more to this than you think, get somebody on it who knows what they're doing!". Getting your head around accountancy is a bit of a baptism of fire, but manageable, whereas I'd definitely recommend making sure that you've ticked all the necessary tax and legal boxes in the early days. Purely for peace of mind that you're doing things properly.
7. Would you ever consider going for a permanent position?
If an amazing studio that had incredible clients, really lovely people and offered a salary equatable to a "good" freelance year, I'd consider it. But it would have to amazing – the regular changes of scenery are really important to me.
8. What is your standout memory from Freelancing?
I’m living my stand out memory at the moment, in that I'm back for a couple of days a week at the company that gave me my first junior designer role after graduating. I worked at Purity Brewing Company in Warwickshire back in 2010, drawing doodles for beer mats and other promotional material, and now I'm back there as a fully-fledged design consultant. It's a lovely feeling to be back at a company that means a lot to me, and have a laugh with some familiar faces too.
And the all important silly question
What song best describes your Freelance state of mind?
Life Is A Rollercoaster by Ronan Keating. I'm joking. I like to think I can play the drums so it would be energetic rock, but a bit easy going too. I'm thinking "Learn To Fly" by the Foo Fighters, or "Travellers Tune" by Ocean Colour Scene.
To find out more about working with the wonderful Tim please contact the team now. Check back for chapter 3 of #FreelanceLife with super PR Consultant Sanina and as always if you want to share your #FreelanceLife you can! Just drop us a line.
See you next time,
FreelanceLife Team x