Freelance is great, but be realistic

I read an inspirational article on Pulse, LinkedIn, promoting going freelancing. And there is nothing wrong with that of course. (Edit: this is my republishing of my own article I wrote today on my own Pulse LinkedIn page).

But as much as it is positive, it would be beneficial also if one had pointed out that freelance work is not for everyone. I live and work in Sweden, and in my country freelance work have had a huge increase similar to the article writer´s country USA. Nothing wrong with going freelance. I am my own boss. And art is my passion. But everything in life has more sides than just one. A coin has three, and never fully flat with all the engravings.

It can be a reality check indeed, going freelance. It can even be a mistake for some.

I have been running my own freelance business since 1997. When it works it´s great and can´t picture myself stopping being a freelance illustrator & designer. Equally freelancing is hard work. You have the ups and downs. The success and the failures. You have the good times and the bad times. You have clients, and you loose them in bulks. And you need to get new ones all the time. Never stop looking for new ones. You need to learn your trade. Keep up with changes in society. Just like any other type of work.

Going freelance, Stefan Lindblad, illustration, design, CorelDRAW Master, Cover artist

People looking for a job is told how important writing a CV and a personal letter is. And how to perfect it. They basically invent the wheel each time they write it. It is basically the same for a freelancer. Or, and also, depending on who you write to as a freelancer looking for a client. Or when you as an illustrator with years of success, suddenly see how your typical style is suddenly out of fashion. What is very important is to see the hard realities at the same time as one see the positives.

Yes, dream! and be realistic at the same time. If we only listen to yes sayers, or only no sayers, we need to understand that balance is key. Sometimes we go freelance because it seems as the only choice. Sometimes a freelance business career is an instant success, but many times it seems like a lifetime of ordeals of never feeling the lift off, from years of hard work.

One of the first things in going freelance, and then keep doing it, is to get involved in trade organizations of your own trade, and meet people who aren’t your enemy. Who give you true advice on pricing and things like writing an agreement, a contract and all that pay the bills. But also learn the trade of our prospective clients. You need to know your clients. And if doing something for free, do it pro-bono for a help organization rather than your brother or sister or friend. And if doing something for free, do it pro-bono for a help organization rather than your brother or sister or friend. Unless you really whant to help out a friend, and that is never wrong. Just know you need to pay the bills in the end. And of course I have done work for free. It´s not wrong.  It can be very rewarding to do it. But also remember the ones closest to you rarely enjoy paying the same money as you ask your regular clients to pay. So you end up working hard but with less money. And that can sink any boat very quickly.

I am all for going freelance, but it really is a reality check. And it can hurt and hit very bad.

But it can also be the passion that keeps on giving. The one that make you feel better about yourself. Being your own boss, managing your own business means you wont get sacked. You may loose one client, but have three other coming in.




It can be all that you dream of. Equally, learn the trade and keep a realistic view on things. And one more thing – always pay your tax and keep all your papers in order. I would strongly suggest you get an accountant. And you might get great advice on which accountant to go to via the trade organizations members.

Stefan Lindblad
Illustrator, cover artist & graphic Designer
www.stefanlindblad.com & www.canvas.nu/stefanlindblad-blog

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