Quit your de­sign job

Computer Arts - - Four Ways To Go Freelance -

“GET A BUSI­NESS AC­COUNT SET UP STRAIGHT AWAY. YOU CAN LINK THAT AC­COUNT TO A SER­VICE LIKE FREEAGENT TO HELP YOU MAN­AGE YOUR FI­NANCES” JACK DALY FREE­LANCE IL­LUS­TRA­TOR

One of the most sen­si­ble routes into self-em­ployed life is to test the water first. Slowly tak­ing on out-of-hours free­lance work with the fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity of a full-time job en­ables you to ex­pe­ri­ence free­lance life first-hand and make an ed­u­cated de­ci­sion about whether it’s right for you.

UK-based free­lance il­lus­tra­tor Jack Daly took the plunge into self­em­ploy­ment af­ter be­ing ap­proached by a New York-based agent, who of­fered to rep­re­sent him. He’d been dab­bling in illustration while work­ing as a se­nior de­signer at Glas­gow-based cre­ative agency D8 and ac­cepted the of­fer. Af­ter about six months of rep­re­sen­ta­tion

“JUST MAKE SURE YOU UN­DER­STAND THAT YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO GIVE FULL BRAIN POWER TO BOTH YOUR FULL-TIME AND FREE­LANCE JOB” CA­TE­RINA BIANCHINI DE­SIGNER AND ART DI­REC­TOR

– and ef­fec­tively work­ing two jobs – he de­cided to go full-time free­lance.

Be­fore mak­ing the leap, his big­gest con­sid­er­a­tion was en­sur­ing he’d saved enough money to pay the bills for the ini­tial months. “This is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant, as even if you’ve got com­mis­sions lined up right away, you won’t nec­es­sar­ily see any money for one to three months,” ex­plains Daly, who’s worked for a va­ri­ety of clients over the last 18 months, in­clud­ing Adele, For­eign Af­fairs Magazine and InVision. “Sure you can put ‘pay within 28 days’ in your terms, but it’s still no guar­an­tee.”

Af­ter work­ing with his agent for six months, he was con­fi­dent he would have enough work com­ing in – but an­other key con­sid­er­a­tion was whether he would en­joy work­ing alone at home. “I ended up tak­ing a desk at a shared space run by Scot­tish stu­dio Frey­tag An­der­son,” he says. “In the be­gin­ning, I ac­tu­ally traded them some de­sign time for the desk, mean­ing I didn’t have to worry about fork­ing out cash while still es­tab­lish­ing my free­lance ca­reer.”

Is there any prepa­ra­tion he would do now if he were to go free­lance again? “I’d get a busi­ness ac­count set up straight away. You get a sep­a­rate debit card, so you can make any busi­ness pur­chases from the same ac­count your in­voices are paid into. You can then link that ac­count to a ser­vice like FreeAgent to help man­age your fi­nances and make the dreaded tax re­turn as pain-free as pos­si­ble.”

Lon­don-based de­signer and art di­rec­tor Ca­te­rina Bianchini ini­tally hired an ac­coun­tant when she went free­lance – but ended up do­ing her own self­assess­ment. “I de­cided to get rid of him be­cause I felt it was re­ally im­por­tant to un­der­stand ex­penses, tax and na­tional in­sur­ance,” she ex­plains.

She works for clients in­clud­ing Nike, Red Bull and Top­shop, and rec­om­mends build­ing up your free­lance work grad­u­ally, in evenings and week­ends, be­fore do­ing it full-time. “Just make sure you un­der­stand that you need to be able to give full brain power to both your full-time job and the free­lance work dur­ing the tran­si­tion,” she ad­vises. “I think that’s the hard­est bit. But it does al­low you to see just how much work you can achieve when you have to do it. With free­lance, I was on lim­ited time, so I had to make sure I was work­ing at my high­est po­ten­tial.”

Bianchini says her big­gest chal­lenge is con­tin­u­ing to get new, big­ger clients. “It’s good to make sure your work is con­stantly get­ting bet­ter, and grow­ing in skill and tech­nique,” she says. “I’m su­per on top of my emails. I try to get back to peo­ple within a day. There’s so much tal­ent and com­pe­ti­tion, you have to make sure you give the client re­quests the time they need. Also, make sure what­ever you spend, you keep re­ceipts for, or what­ever you buy on­line, you file away your in­voice for. This is some­thing that took me a while to get used to.”

“Don’t be a wall­flower, ad­vises Daly. “Hav­ing a so­cial me­dia pres­ence is huge. Plat­forms such as Be­hance, Twit­ter, Dribb­ble and In­sta­gram are es­sen­tial tools in build­ing your pro­file and win­ning new work. When you’ve cre­ated new work, share it on all of your plat­forms. I’ve found the more you share, the more com­mis­sion en­quiries you re­ceive. This is par­tic­u­larly sat­is­fy­ing when it’s one of those self-ini­ti­ated projects you dragged your­self out of bed to cre­ate that leads di­rectly to a lu­cra­tive new com­mis­sion.”

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