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Who here works full-time for themselves?


nyjet88

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Just curious who on this site works full-time for themselves as a designer.

Possibly share some stories of how you got started?

Reason being, I am looking to go full-time for myself within 2 years and I also thought this would be a good thread.

Thanks.

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It has been a dream of mine to own my own studio (still is). I came close last year after I graduated college. I started freelancing for a few local businesses, got screwed over bigtime on a project due to lack of planning and not having proper contracts in place. I also worked as a contract designer at a local studio part time. Opening a business of my own right now would be career suicide in this economy, so I've put that idea on the back burner for a while.

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I'm not full time for myself yet, but we've gotten to the point where my wife works from home. It works out well this way, because she has time to meet with clients during the day, while I'm at my day job, then I can work on projects at night. We were scared about her not having a steady "regular" job, with the economy the way it is, but we've been able to make it work. The biggest and best bit of advice I can give is to not give your work away. Don't let clients bully you into seeing what you can do for them without them signing a contract and getting that promise of payment.

I'm pretty sure this is the path another member here (rozilla) took to self-employment, and it seems to be working out well for his family. I guess the biggest thing is to make sure you have a steady client base before you quit your day job. We have several regular ongoing projects that we know we can count on for a check every few months, but for me to quit my day job, it needs to be more than that (at least enough to cover the amount of money it costs for the medical insurance I currently receive from my employer).

If you have any specific questions for me, feel free to PM me and I'll answer them the best I can.

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The biggest and best bit of advice I can give is to not give your work away. Don't let clients bully you into seeing what you can do for them without them signing a contract and getting that promise of payment.

very, very wise words. we just had a client come in last week who wanted us to "throw together a few ideas" before he would decide if he wants to go ahead and get his whole site done by us. sorry bud, not the way this industry works. lately we've been taking 50% down before we start any project over $1000, just to make sure they don't bail half way and we get nothing out of it. believe me, people love to change their minds half way through a project and "re-evaluate their marketing budgets".

our studio consists of just me and my older brother. we've got a pretty solid client base, ranging from property developers, to churches, to hobby product manufacturers, to biofuel companies. 100% of our business comes from referrals: we've never spent a penny on any sort of advertising. the key is to just get your companies' name out there with quality work, then that client will tell someone else etc. etc.

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The biggest and best bit of advice I can give is to not give your work away. Don't let clients bully you into seeing what you can do for them without them signing a contract and getting that promise of payment.

very, very wise words. we just had a client come in last week who wanted us to "throw together a few ideas" before he would decide if he wants to go ahead and get his whole site done by us. sorry bud, not the way this industry works. lately we've been taking 50% down before we start any project over $1000, just to make sure they don't bail half way and we get nothing out of it. believe me, people love to change their minds half way through a project and "re-evaluate their marketing budgets".

our studio consists of just me and my older brother. we've got a pretty solid client base, ranging from property developers, to churches, to hobby product manufacturers, to biofuel companies. 100% of our business comes from referrals: we've never spent a penny on any sort of advertising. the key is to just get your companies' name out there with quality work, then that client will tell someone else etc. etc.

We take 1/3 down and split the payments 3 ways. That way we know that we can count on a certain amount of checks every month.

We only deal with clients that we would spend money with ourselves. Our clientele consists mainly of local artists and green/environmentally friendly businesses. It seems to be working well, as we are becoming established in that community, and it is a very tight knit community.

Another thing I didn't mention is that networking is very important. We go to our monthly Green Drinks meetings, as well as other meetings of local businesses. It helps to have people recognize you wherever you go, that way you are fresh in their mind when they need someone to do a project.

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I've just finished working for myself full-time after 3 years. I started my company, Highmore Comics, as a way to sell my self-published comics & paintings, but I was asked to do some design work for a band I knew and things kind of snowballed from there. I ended up doing a lot of art & design work for local bands & businesses, as well as some freelance work in the toy industry. I'm probably different to a lot of you in that I started off doing work for free - I had a 9-5 job and did the whole design thing as a hobby, plus 99% of the stuff I did was for friends - but word-of-mouth built up and I started having people offer me money.

The first year was a huge struggle - I was barely making enough to get by, and had to move back in with my parents. Things picked up in early 2007 and I've not really looked back. The recession here in the UK has barely affected me, and last quarter I made my biggest profit yet.

I recently got a job in the leisure department of my local theme park as my partner & I are trying to buy a house. It's only for 35 hours a week though, so I'm hoping I still can get 5-6 hours designing in a day, plus weekends.

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I've just finished working for myself full-time after 3 years. I started my company, Highmore Comics, as a way to sell my self-published comics & paintings, but I was asked to do some design work for a band I knew and things kind of snowballed from there. I ended up doing a lot of art & design work for local bands & businesses, as well as some freelance work in the toy industry. I'm probably different to a lot of you in that I started off doing work for free - I had a 9-5 job and did the whole design thing as a hobby, plus 99% of the stuff I did was for friends - but word-of-mouth built up and I started having people offer me money.

The first year was a huge struggle - I was barely making enough to get by, and had to move back in with my parents. Things picked up in early 2007 and I've not really looked back. The recession here in the UK has barely affected me, and last quarter I made my biggest profit yet.

I recently got a job in the leisure department of my local theme park as my partner & I are trying to buy a house. It's only for 35 hours a week though, so I'm hoping I still can get 5-6 hours designing in a day, plus weekends.

hmmm. thats what i thought. i made more money since last summer than i usually make in a year. unfortunately everyone is still working with last years budgets still. the tough bit is gonna start 3 months from now. having spoken to lots of big clients, all the budgets are getting slashed dramatically for next year. sounds like its gonna get a touch rough in design as much as anywhere else. designers republic and the orphanage have gone under this month and more look to follow. these were giants in the industry, its hard to believe that such good companies could fall over.

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I've just finished working for myself full-time after 3 years. I started my company, Highmore Comics, as a way to sell my self-published comics & paintings, but I was asked to do some design work for a band I knew and things kind of snowballed from there. I ended up doing a lot of art & design work for local bands & businesses, as well as some freelance work in the toy industry. I'm probably different to a lot of you in that I started off doing work for free - I had a 9-5 job and did the whole design thing as a hobby, plus 99% of the stuff I did was for friends - but word-of-mouth built up and I started having people offer me money.

The first year was a huge struggle - I was barely making enough to get by, and had to move back in with my parents. Things picked up in early 2007 and I've not really looked back. The recession here in the UK has barely affected me, and last quarter I made my biggest profit yet.

I recently got a job in the leisure department of my local theme park as my partner & I are trying to buy a house. It's only for 35 hours a week though, so I'm hoping I still can get 5-6 hours designing in a day, plus weekends.

hmmm. thats what i thought. i made more money since last summer than i usually make in a year. unfortunately everyone is still working with last years budgets still. the tough bit is gonna start 3 months from now. having spoken to lots of big clients, all the budgets are getting slashed dramatically for next year. sounds like its gonna get a touch rough in design as much as anywhere else. designers republic and the orphanage have gone under this month and more look to follow. these were giants in the industry, its hard to believe that such good companies could fall over.

Your right on that Fraser. Our company hasn't even put Marketing in the budget this year, its now under sales and marketing however 95% of that one is Reps wages, its a joke. Just got to make full use of internal assets and what we already have which is a bit of a pain.

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Not in design but... 5 years ago when I was laid off from a full time job I decided to go off on my own and do some programming/web application/web development contract work. I'm not a salesman by any stretch so I relied on the network I'd built up. I learned the lessons early...sign a contract before you do anything...set up payment schedules...force them to stick to the scope of the project (in programming "scope creep" is a margin killer) or make clear what "changes" will cost. In my line "support contracts" can be quite lucrative.

In the end, while I had the freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted, the money just wasn't all that great or in the volume I had hoped. I hated trying to sell myself and explaining how computer code works and why it's so expensive. In the end, I took a contract to help with a new project at a company that had hired one of my old contacts and 3 months later they asked me to come on board full time. That ended my 8 months of freelancing. I still do some contract stuff on the side (mainly if I feel it's small enough to fit in and interesting enough that I can use it to learn something new) but I found the hassle (for me) of doing it full time just wasn't worth it.

But again, I'm not a designer (by trade). Although, I hope my experience helps a bit. If you're more outgoing and like chatting with people and selling yourself you may enjoy it. That was the part I really loathed.

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I've just finished working for myself full-time after 3 years. I started my company, Highmore Comics, as a way to sell my self-published comics & paintings, but I was asked to do some design work for a band I knew and things kind of snowballed from there. I ended up doing a lot of art & design work for local bands & businesses, as well as some freelance work in the toy industry. I'm probably different to a lot of you in that I started off doing work for free - I had a 9-5 job and did the whole design thing as a hobby, plus 99% of the stuff I did was for friends - but word-of-mouth built up and I started having people offer me money.

The first year was a huge struggle - I was barely making enough to get by, and had to move back in with my parents. Things picked up in early 2007 and I've not really looked back. The recession here in the UK has barely affected me, and last quarter I made my biggest profit yet.

I recently got a job in the leisure department of my local theme park as my partner & I are trying to buy a house. It's only for 35 hours a week though, so I'm hoping I still can get 5-6 hours designing in a day, plus weekends.

hmmm. thats what i thought. i made more money since last summer than i usually make in a year. unfortunately everyone is still working with last years budgets still. the tough bit is gonna start 3 months from now. having spoken to lots of big clients, all the budgets are getting slashed dramatically for next year. sounds like its gonna get a touch rough in design as much as anywhere else. designers republic and the orphanage have gone under this month and more look to follow. these were giants in the industry, its hard to believe that such good companies could fall over.

The problems with industry "giants" is that their fees are exorbitant and clients just can't afford that at the moment. If these agencies temporarily lower their fees or work with their clients, they'll make it through. Otherwise it's gonna be very tough for some of the "good" companies to last through this tough economic time.

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I've just finished working for myself full-time after 3 years. I started my company, Highmore Comics, as a way to sell my self-published comics & paintings, but I was asked to do some design work for a band I knew and things kind of snowballed from there. I ended up doing a lot of art & design work for local bands & businesses, as well as some freelance work in the toy industry. I'm probably different to a lot of you in that I started off doing work for free - I had a 9-5 job and did the whole design thing as a hobby, plus 99% of the stuff I did was for friends - but word-of-mouth built up and I started having people offer me money.

The first year was a huge struggle - I was barely making enough to get by, and had to move back in with my parents. Things picked up in early 2007 and I've not really looked back. The recession here in the UK has barely affected me, and last quarter I made my biggest profit yet.

I recently got a job in the leisure department of my local theme park as my partner & I are trying to buy a house. It's only for 35 hours a week though, so I'm hoping I still can get 5-6 hours designing in a day, plus weekends.

hmmm. thats what i thought. i made more money since last summer than i usually make in a year. unfortunately everyone is still working with last years budgets still. the tough bit is gonna start 3 months from now. having spoken to lots of big clients, all the budgets are getting slashed dramatically for next year. sounds like its gonna get a touch rough in design as much as anywhere else. designers republic and the orphanage have gone under this month and more look to follow. these were giants in the industry, its hard to believe that such good companies could fall over.

The problems with industry "giants" is that their fees are exorbitant and clients just can't afford that at the moment. If these agencies temporarily lower their fees or work with their clients, they'll make it through. Otherwise it's gonna be very tough for some of the "good" companies to last through this tough economic time.

sorry mate, but seeing the likes of the orphanage disappear is rretty worrying from any vantage point within the industry. its true they command large fees, but this is because of the increased overheads required to be able to produce the sort of volume and quantity of work they do.

to suggest they simply slash there fees and 'work with their clients' (i have no idea what you mean by this really?) seems like a simplistic take on the recession. either way, its worrying as the bottom line is that there is less money to go around the design community. and when the big guys go under, there are just that many more highly skilled designers in the market for a diminishing number of jobs in an already overcrowded industry. its going to get rough.

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