Ask DN: What were some of the main reasons you left your day job to freelance full-time?

10 years ago from , Director of Product Design @ Podium

I notice a lot of designers leaving full-time employment to pursue full-time freelance work. Just want to hear the reasons for doing so, and the good and bad parts of full-time freelance.


  • Tom CavillTom Cavill, 10 years ago

    My reasons:

    • You control your schedule. I only work 3 days a week (for other people), and use the rest of the time to learn new skills and work on ideas
    • You can change contracts regularly (say, every three months) and therefore gain in experience and meet new people. Your network, as a freelancer, grows rapidly
    • You earn more. Even working 3 days a week I earn more now then I did as a full timer

    Main downsides have been:

    • Complicated tax situation. It's a minefield, initially at least. Getting an accountant is a necessary evil, and quite expensive. You simply don't have to think about that stuff as an employee
    • Stress. You have more responsibility for yourself, which can be stressful if things aren't going well
    • Banks don't want to know you. I can't buy a house because the bank needs 3 years of accounts, even though I earn more and am in a growth industry. They don't take that into account.
    5 points
    • Fred YatesFred Yates, 10 years ago

      I almost typed up this exact same thing. I second every point listed here.

      He's serious about the taxes too. Holy crap are they for real.

      2 points
  • Samihah ASamihah A, 10 years ago (edited 10 years ago )

    I was working for a 500+ Startups funded startup, and we ran out of funding (cofounders are still there) which coincided nicely right around the same time I was thinking about leaving to venture out and work on a problem that I'd been thinking about for awhile. So while GleeBox is my main focus, I'm freelancing as well (a girl's gotta eat..)

    Pro's: -The great thing about freelancing is that it's nice to get my head out of one project to work on another with a fresh mind and perspective. -Working on a product in a completely different space/attacking a completely different problem is invigorating and helps keep tunnel vision away. -Keeps my skills and mind sharp.

    Cons: -Takes time away from GleeBox (that's okay though, I don't sleep - sleep is overrated anyways). -I also have to spend some time networking to let people know I'm freelancing.

    2 points
  • Brooks HassigBrooks Hassig, 10 years ago

    I've been able to work all over the world as a remote freelancer and done jobs as varied as designing underwear to motor cycle graphics to social networks.

    1 point
    • Jonathan YapJonathan Yap, 10 years ago

      I did have a brief period of designing for children underwear in my college years on a freelance job. Pretty much the other end of the spectrum, but it does keep the job interesting :)

      1 point
  • Jonathan YapJonathan Yap, 10 years ago

    Its one I like to know as well, as I am contemplating in the future to pursue it freelance full-time.

    Do you constantly have to source for work? Through recruitment, through boards, or through your contact? What's the usual duration of a contract.

    What about when you need another person to help out e.g. developers. Do you have in hand the go to person?

    0 points
    • Liang ShiLiang Shi, 10 years ago

      I got 80% of inbound inquiries from my dribbble portfolio, and would receive anywhere from 2-6 a week. I tend to gravitate towards larger projects (1-3 months full-time or an entire design/redesign). I also think being in NYC helped as there is very high demand here for design.

      In my one year of freelancing, I have never taken a gig from a recruiter. Not saying that's the way to go, but my experiences with them have been subpar.

      I have a development "partner" (fancy word for friend) that I usually work with on projects if there needs to be any coding done, but I have typically plugged into startups as strictly UX/UI and work with their on-staff devs.

      1 point