Being self-employed is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever experienced. Since the beginning of my career, I have thought about how liberating choosing my own clients and schedules would be. It was always something I wanted to do, but it also looked far away.
I would need a big name in the industry and a very competitive portfolio to achieve this goal. I would be competing with the best developers in the world who were also chasing this dream. I was aiming way too far. So far, I thought, it wouldn’t make sense to start trying yet.
It wasn’t until I made it in that I realized it wasn’t that bad at all. Within the next few months, I made tremendous money working as little as 3 hours a day.
I went blind into the freelancing world, and a tad late, in my opinion. To face this and other issues, I’ve put together a list of things that could have made me get in sooner, which helped me be way more effective.
How I got in. You do know someone that knows someone.
A huge part of freelancing is what’s called networking. This is essentially knowing people working in the same industry as you. Having working experience is a huge plus, as it will naturally introduce you to many people that will end up working for a different company that may at some point be looking for freelancers.
Forums are another great way to meet people within your sector. For the art and creative industry in general, providing feedback and leaving a nice comment regularly will eventually get you known as a nice person. This goes a long way.
Once you know the right people, don’t be afraid to ask if they know someone looking to fill a position. If they don’t, you can always ask them to ask around.
There’s something else to keep in mind here. Being someone that knows someone is also important. If your company is looking for people, let others know. If any of them get the job, they’ll likely help you out if they have an opening in the future. You’ll always be the person that got them a job. This last bit defines really well how I got in.
Now that I’m in, I want freedom. How can I get it?
The answer to this question is a combination of multiple factors. The first one is your relationship with the client. I tend to look for clients who will only set a delivery date and allocate some extra time for the feedback. This will allow you to set your own working hours and find your most effective timeframe, which I’ll discuss later.
The second depends a lot on you and how you organize your tasks. I usually break them down into daily tasks and maintain the following rules:
- If an asset contains something boring to me, I allocate the most time for it. For example, texturing is something I really enjoy. I’ll keep this in mind to save less time as I’ll need fewer breaks to keep productivity high. On the opposite side, if something really bores me, I’ll need more breaks for it, so I’ll spend a larger chunk of my time budget on it.
- Knowing myself allows me to decide what timeframe can be the most productive for me that day, depending on my mood and how tired I woke up, for example. Discipline can help some people, but I prefer to take some time to analyze how I feel to get the most out of my day.
- I’ll never reinvent the wheel. Working on a hyper-realistic art style, I always save what I think can be reused in the future, saving me from having to do the same object twice. This being said, altering an object so that the same piece isn’t delivered to two different clients is a must. This is what I call recycling an asset.
After following these rules, I found out I am a much more worry-free worker. I really hope these are useful to someone out there. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions!