Any freelance designer has two features that make him stand apart from the rest of the people: he is a skilled person because without accomplishing the projects of various clients he can’t financially survive. In the same time he is a freedom lover because he can’t accept the existence of a boss; he is his own chief (paradoxically, he is more severe with him than a chief may be).
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A problem for many freelancers is the impossibility of advancing in career, while in a web design agency a designer may evolve from entry level to senior or director positions a freelancer is his own manager and nothing more. This mentality, very widespread, isn’t totally valid and web design freelancers must embrace a whole new conception that is more beneficial for them. A freelancer shouldn’t be an individual that works cheaper than a company and quite probably is based on low standards of living countries. The new freelancer is only a stage from a normal evolution and there are few levels which must be passed in order to become a successful person. Here are the stages I imagined. Definitely, these aren’t rigid steps, the entire post is based upon the experience of other great freelancers but each individual is different. Please share with us any opinion, the more ideas; the more useful is the article.
1. Level one – working as a freelancer, not enough projects, try to offer the best
At this stage, the designer starts his career and he is searching for the first clients. Many people quit during the first months because of the few or no clients but there are some that resist no matter how difficult the situation is. The clients hire experienced people, thus the beginners are neglected. It’s unimaginably hard to find a good client from the posture of a new entry freelancer. Once gaining the first project, the situation improves, but, obviously, the projects are still few even the services provided are high quality and the fame as a good freelancer is created step by step.
Image Credit: Ed Callow
2. Level two – almost too many projects, somehow bored and fully experienced
Reaching this stage supposes one to three years of activity; the respective freelancer is experienced and knows perfectly how to handle any difficult situation faced with bad clients. The experience and the brand created assure him a lot of clients and he usually selects the projects to do. Accomplishing many projects will make any person bored with and sometimes the power of will isn’t at its best just because of the repetitive tasks to do.
3. Level three – too much projects to do, the first thoughts of outsourcing
At this stage the pressure of too many projects is high and the freelancer rejects projects not because he doesn’t like them, he doesn’t have enough time to finish them all. The financial part is decisive and the consequence of the many offers is to raise the prices, only the best paying clients are taken into consideration. Some freelancers don’t want to lose the clientele that was created with so many efforts and sleepless nights and try to find solutions to this so much dreamt issue. One of the best solutions is to hire other freelancers that are available and skilled enough to satisfy the standards.
4. Level four – the outsourcing issues and the morality problem (optional)
The problem of hiring another freelancer when you are a freelancer is pretty difficult and many people are considering it as a moral dilemma. Is it fair to hire another person when you are hired to do it? Is it correct to ask for an amount of money and to hire other but paying him with less money?
These questions won’t ever have an exact answer but the majority is considering these OK, not very moral but correct. It’s quite probable my attitude is more pragmatic, but I am an adept of outsourcing. I see a freelancer as the core of a next agency. A boss shouldn’t be a manager, he can be a designer. The matter of managing consists in driving the organization on the best way and the diplomas or the titles of the manager are totally useless here.
In conclusion my idea is simple, the natural way of growing as freelancer supposes the outsourcing and maybe hiring a team. It is mandatory, not optional. Each human association needs to evolve and working as an individual means that after a time the maximum of potential is reached. From this moment, the progress is almost unnoticeable. On the other hand, by making a team, the possibility of making more clients content is higher and it means a higher profit. This stage is passed instantly by the more adventurous and pragmatic people and this is the reason of considering it optional for them.
5. Level five – the development and each one’s ability to be manager
This level is the final point of the complete transformation from a simple individual, glad of being hired for small jobs, to a manager, now emailed by big clients having very important projects. It’s a nice dream and I intentionally didn’t mention this: every each of these things is possible only by having a strong will & passion and working very hard.
Finally, I share with you my favorite quotation and meditate over it, “don’t wait for miracles, you are the best miracle you’ll ever met”. It’s true and don’t be afraid to want more!