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Freelance Designing as a Full Time Profession

Jim Clayton

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Is anyone on here currently doing this and if so have you been successful at it?    To be clear by "freelance" I mean mean doing design work full time to pay your bills, but doing independently as your own entity and not part of another organization like an engineering firm.  I'm curious to see how successful people have been at it and the level of difficulty involved in going off on your own.  And also any other tips or information that might be useful.  Thanks for the help.

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  • 1 year later...

Although this topic is old and I don't know if anyone reads it, as a freelance designer, freelance work is much more difficult. The first difficulty is finding work for yourself. If you have referrals, that's ok, but in the long run you have to proactively create more work for yourself. Being free is also about doing more. Although the body may be free, most of the mind is not free.

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Be prepared for 12 hour days as if you get multiple clients they will send work at same time, then other days wash the car, go shopping and make the wife happy. You clients get unhappy when you say working somewhere else for a week but have to pay the bills.

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I did this for a bunch of years. I specialized in cabinets…  mostly commercial casework, but I did some residential.

I offered a bunch of add-on services like generating material takeoffs, cut-lists, CNC routing patterns etc. Kinda how I got started in programming, automating my tasks. Pretty much always flooded with work.


I think just drawing is not enough. I gained a foothold because I was really able to specialize, I knew the industry and my customers well


I gave the business to a buddy, all my tools, plotters, everything, he’s still in business some years later.



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