How to Go from Full Time Job to Freelance Designer

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I have worked for non-profits, agencies, as an in-house designer, as well as freelance over my career as a graphic designer and I want to help you build a road map to transition from your full-time job to your freelancing gig dreams.

The reason for making this video? This is a question I get A LOT in my facebook group, the design brief.

Ben, I want to start my own freelance gig, but I don’t know where to start. I don’t know how to get clients. Should I just launch off right now---sink or swim?

Well, Depending on your current circumstances I want to dive into these questions and help you build your road map.

The most common situation I come across is graphic designers working full-time design jobs at agencies, in-house, consulting, publishers, marketers, etc… The main design gigs.

They get some work on the side here and there from friends, family, and a few friends recommending their friends. But this never quite takes off because they only do the work when it comes in, charges a few bucks to buy the new Supremes (as Gary Vee would say).

So, they think, yeah freelancing is cool, but not sustainable. Then they get to a point where they are tired of designing for someone else. They start to get wind of how much their boss is charging for the projects that they are doing, but they are only getting paid $XXXXX.

This is where the gears start to turn and they want a piece of that bigger pie.

What most designers know, but don’t actively consider is this…

The reason the agency can charge so much comes down to three things:


That order is important to understand.

Experience: If you were to study the inception of the company you work for or look up to you will find they often started at ZERO. No experience, no work, nothing to show for what they are wanting to claim they can do.

This is where I find most designers are when they have the desire to go full-time freelance. Wait for what? If you are working as a full-time designer, of course, you have experience. Yeah, but does any outside of that job, and your family know?

When is the last time you updated your portfolio? When is the last time you intentionally curated your social media with your work or posted something on Behance….

As you study that company you will find that as they gained experience they immediately started to foster their exposure. Maybe it was different when this company first started if the company is older, but they took their experience and began to spread the word about the SPECIFIC services they offer and the style of their work.

Exposure: Do you have it, or is your work sitting around collecting dust. You have to begin showing off your work. I talk about this in my course the Design Business Kit. You have to pick a platform and throw 80% of your effort at that platform to begin to develop exposure for you and your work.

“80%? What do I do with the other 20%?”

If you are spending 80% of your effort on Instagram, then you want to repurpose your Instagram content on a few other RELEVANT platforms: YouTube, Behance, Facebook, Linkedin, etc…

You want to be present on a variety of relevant platforms that way if you see one start to gain the attention you can be there to double down on your exposure!

Exposure is the raft you begin to build to take you from one side of the river to the other. How long will it take you to build this raft?

So let’s say you work an 8-hour day, most designers do if they are working at an agency full-time. That leaves 16 hours. Minus 7 hours for sleep, minus 2 hours for meals, and 1 hour for personal time. That leaves you with 6 hours a day. Now if you don’t want to use EVERY bit of those hours to work on your freelance transition, I understand. You work hard all week.


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