Do you wonder whether it’s time to leave your employee position and go off on your own? In this video, Cory Lebson explains what traits go into being a successful freelancer and how you should decide whether to make that leap!
- You may not be ready to admit it at work, and you may not quite be in a place where you're gonna broadcast to your friends and family. But in the back of your mind, you might be wondering, can I do it? Can I just leave a job that provides me with a regular paycheck and benefits? Will I get work? Will I be able to pay the bills? Are you just a little bit scared? That's okay. It's okay to feel a little bit of fear about the decision to go off on your own, but I'm here to tell you that if you want to be a UX freelancer, you can be.
Before you embark on this journey, you need to do some planning and self-assessment. So what common traits go into being a successful UX freelancer? Number one on my list would be tolerance for risk and variability. You could certainly end up making more money than you would as a corporate employee, and you're apt to find clients that pay well for your UX services. However, you won't know for sure if this will always be the case. In fact, you can have months at a time when it's hard to find work. So your expectation going into this needs to be that there will be lean months, which are balanced out by months where work is so non-stop you won't be able to take a break.
And all of this means that you need to develop a safety net, saving money when times are good so that you can continue to pay your bills when times are leaner, or even times you take off for a vacation, a holiday, or needing some sick days. Related to tolerance for financial risk is the willingness to sometimes work more than a regular work week. As I mentioned, freelance work doesn't always come in a steady flow. So while you'll have times with less work, you'll also have periods of time where multiple clients want your help simultaneously.
And so here you have to decide how much time am I willing to put in during these peak busy periods? Allowing for a larger number of hours will ultimately permit you to say yes more often. This in turn means that you can better maintain a steady stream of work as client timelines inevitably slip. Next on my list is willingness to sell, and sell you must, using your time, your energy, and your courage. Do you consider yourself an introvert? An extrovert? Somewhere in between? It doesn't matter.
You've just got to keep selling your services and essentially yourself, and never stop. But you'll also need to become a master of nuance selling and carefully avoid annoying others with your desire for work. And of course, successful selling is apt to lead to some critical negotiations, where you and your client eventually sign on the virtual dotted line. Finally on my list, is your willingness to handle situations where you find yourself surrounded by people, followed by situations where there's not a single colleague to be found.
You may find yourself at client sites, or at a local coffee shop, or a shared co-op workspace. You may find that your home is where you frequently work, and you may be lonely sometimes, even while you're busy doing some remote UX project. If, after listening to these points, you're not sure that you're a good fit for freelancing, don't worry. Freelancing doesn't have to be a long-term commitment. In fact, I know a number of UX professionals who alternate between periods of time freelancing and periods of time working as a full-time employee of a company.
So do consider taking that risk.
- Traits of successful freelancers
- Specializing as a freelancer
- Transitioning to freelance work
- Searching for your first freelance gig
- Starting as a UX freelancer when you're just out of college
- Finding out what life is like as a freelancer
- UX branding and networking for success
- Advertising your services
- Learning what companies are looking for in a UX freelancer