After graduation, I always knew this was the route.

I ultimately wanted to take in my career and it was six years ago I made the
move to become a full time freelancer.(Yes, I never did a job but that’s a
different story).

So, what lessons have I learned thus far?

1. Pick the brains of your industry idols

Speaking to the people that I admired in my industry was a huge help for me. It
allowed me to get answers to the questions I was previously uneasy or unsure
about and help to fill some of the knowledge gaps that I had.

What I will say here though is cut the BS small talk. Think about the questions
you'd like answers to or what challenges you want help with.

Also, be specific. Don't ask a broad question like, 'how did you get your
clients?' That isn't going to fly.

Finally, be honest and transparent with your current situation. You'll get
meaningful help if you're clear in where you are and where you want to be.

2. Make it easy for people to tell others what you do

One of the biggest lessons I've learned is that word of mouth truly is the one
when it comes to getting clients and work.

However, if it's not easy for people to understand exactly what you do, how can
then explain it to other people?

3. What do you specialise in? What's your USP?

Look at how others market themselves. It's not good though to just be a graphic
designer. That's pretty broad. Specialise if you can.

Are you a graphic designer that specialises in print design? Ad creatives? This
will really help others to think of you when a precise skill is needed amongst
someone's network.

By specialising in your key areas, you can often charge more too. Think about
how specialist BMW mechanics would charge more than say a generalist one. The
same works in the freelance model too.

4. Building rapport with people is more important than raw skill.

You can be absolutely incredible at what you do, but if you're unable to take
the time out to network and build relationships, you're immediately doing
yourself a disservice.

Building professional chemistry with people and introducing yourself to others
is seriously underrated.

Don't obsess over the lack of website leads.

I can't tell you how much I used to stress about this in the early days. Sinking
many hours and days in to building my website only to get virtually zero leads.

Don't sweat it. I pick up most of my work from anywhere but my website. Upwork,
LinkedIn, Twitter DMs, WhatsApp groups etc.

Your website will help people to make their decision in choosing you (it's part
of their selection process) but don't stress if you're not getting leads through

5. Never work for free, but give advice freely

Ok, this one is a big one..

So many freelancers feel pressured into reducing their rates or working for free
to get visibility etc.

Hell no! I mean, sure. Give advice for free, but do not work for free. By doing
so, you're immediately diluting your value and worth.

Plus if they ever become a client, you've potentially sewn the cheap and
cheerful seeds early.

Don't sweat giving out good, solid advice for free. But to be clear, never work
for free (unless it's on your own stuff).

So, I hope that helps you if you're thinking of moving into freelancing.


Posted by Naval Gupta on Facebook