Anonymous said: Hi Mary! I love your work, it's very inspiring. I am a graphic designer/illustrator, and I am thinking of striking out on my own and starting a freelance business. How did you transition from a full time job to your own freelance business? What research did you do? Did you have help or did you do it all yourself? What would you say are the most important things in starting a freelance business? Thanks so much! I look forward to seeing more of your work!
Thank you very much! I didn’t have much of a transition actually. I was working as a designer and with just a couple freelance opportunities underway I decided to branch out on my own. While I didn’t have serious plans, I felt ready and that was all I needed to get started as a fulltime freelancer. I moved cross-country and buckeled down.
Before you decide to strike out on your own there are a few things you should have ready and unfortunately part of the decision deals with money. For me, getting a “day job” was not an option. I’ve never had a job as a server or barista or even in retail so the idea of getting turned down for jobs because I didn’t have enough experience would have killed my confidence. I think back now and it probably wouldn’t have been that bad but I am glad I never got one because it forced me to work hard. Anyway, make sure you have some money saved up. This was one thing I made sure I had and it was helpful for me because after I decided to go freelance I moved cross country and I had rent money to help out in the first few months.
Before I went freelance, I didn’t have a crazy amount of clients but there were opportunities that I was hoping to continue. I started working with Chronicle books in 2009, when I started to freelance and it was a huge boost in work and confidence that to work with bigger clients. So, before you go out on your own you should have some clients so you can get right to work.
It is important to stay busy and make a lot of work. While you may not have a mountain of client work waiting for you, take that opportunity to make self initiated projects. It could be a daily or weekly commitment but find a project where you can explore your strengths with a concept you feel passionate about. That will lead you to a career of doing what you love everyday.
Put your work out there. You should have a website that is easy to navigate and really showcases your work but there are other sites that can help you show off your skills. Dribbble, Behance, Society6, Etsy (if you are interested in selling your work), and of course twitter and facebook.