• pjotr .pjotr ., almost 8 years ago

    I have no time to get into this article, but I wanted to comment as a PSA to any would be designers thinking about going freelance.

    Freelancing is insanely difficult. Have you ever noticed that the people pushing this stuff are self-help guru types? They create content about "making the jump" and "setting yourself free with freelancing". They are selling you a product.

    You can make much more working as a full time employee than the article says you can, but don't take my word for it 1.

    32 points
    • Paul Jarvis, almost 8 years ago

      Haha, are you calling me a self-help, guru type?

      3 points
    • Jarrod DrysdaleJarrod Drysdale, almost 8 years ago

      I have no time to get into this comment, but I wanted to comment as a PSA to any would be designers thinking about going salary.

      Salary gigs are insanely difficult. Have you ever noticed that the people pushing this stuff work on salary themselves? They create content about "freelancing being difficult" and "the only real work happens at agencies". They are justifying their own decisions.

      You can make much more working as a freelancer than the comment says you can, but don't take my word for it 1

      12 points
    • James StoneJames Stone, almost 8 years ago

      Just to offer a counterpoint, this isn't some sort of PSA for the Creative Class or Jarvis, but in my opinion Paul Jarvis isn't some self-help guru type. He is a web designer who has been working for quite some time in the field, not some just out of the air overnight expert types.

      I have been "freelancing" the last several years and I would disagree that it is "insanely difficult" in my experience. Not everyone has the same experience as I have and perhaps there is a large gradient of what difficult or non-difficult means.

      I spent most of my life working at a salaried position and have even had a few failed attempts at freelancing myself in the past. I think the biggest thing that has helped me the last time around is that I built an audience and became well known in a niche and spend a ton of time being involved in a community.

      I don't know if I would argue that working Freelance will make you rich. I think despite the headline the premise of the article (if you read it) is that you can command a higher hourly income freelancing than you would typically command in a similar salaried position. This is true, partially if thought about in terms of gross revenue vs. gross salary, but is not exactly the entire picture. Depending on your overhead is. Depending on how many billable vs. non-billable hours you have. You are now in the position where you are the admin, the hr, the marketing department, etc. You are often busy beyond just the billable hours, so when you see high freelance rates you have to take it with a grain of salt.

      I think if you are thinking about jumping in the deep end of the freelancing pool, I would warn you that you should be prepared to manage your finances much differently (I am on a fixed monthly budget regardless of income levels) and you are going to have to learn a ton about business, marketing, etc. really quick. This is not all bad and can be a good thing. Or it could be terrible depending on your preferences.

      At the end of the day I can say I have a lot more autonomy, control and direction of my future now. I also have diversified my income so the likelihood of being sacked without warning is less catastrophic than it has been in the past.

      Am I rich freelancing? Not yet. Would I get rich easier on salary? I would be highly skeptical. What is rich anyways? Just money? I think not.

      1 point
      • Laurens SpangenbergLaurens Spangenberg, almost 8 years ago (edited almost 8 years ago )

        I'm not disagreeing, but he does literally calls himself a "self-help guru" on DN though. I got mildly skeptical too seeing that job title attached to "You won't get rich working for someone else".

        Edit: Ignore my statement, look below.

        0 points
  • John HowardJohn Howard, almost 8 years ago

    I will say (and don't mind chatting on how I got there) that I lost my full-time agency job as of May 2014, took a month off (pre-planned vacations and our babymoon) and then started Blackairplane in June. June-August I only brought home 8k in freelancing money (that was before taxes). It took a while for people to associate Blackairplane w/John Howard and for me to find my rate (currently 75/hr to 125/hr design vs consulting) and get comfortable with clients. Dribbble has brought in about 40% of my work this year and the rest have been other clients and/or referrals. I am now making roughly $180k this year but putting it all into Blackairplane. I have my own office space and utilities and have used a few contractors to help out with larger projects (roughly 30k/yr). We are not an agency as I am the only full-time guy. But I do (an openly on my site) use other designers/front-end devs to fill in the gaps. My clients have yet to have a problem with that.

    I will say a few things about going into freelancing that hopefully might help someone 'making the leap' -

    1. It is incredibly hard, and you might not make that much money.
    2. As long as I was making enough money to pay the bills, I was WAY more happy than when I was working for an agency.
    3. Making 'a lot' of money takes 'a lot' of work.
    4. Be extremely careful with the clients you choose to work with. But love on the ones that you take on. You can be firm and loving at the same time. I'm still learning.
    5. My main sources that get me work are word of mouth, dribbble, and then SEO, articles etc. Word of Mouth is HUGE.
    6. I HATE networking. I suck at it. So making sure each of your clients LOVES you is a big deal. Well, at least the good clients. Work hard to love on them, treat them right and provide great timelines and incredible work.
    7. Be Accurate. Clients hate when they have to hand-hold you, but some love micro-managing.
    8. Be proactive. Instead of waiting for clients to stumble upon you or ask the 'how are things going' questions, jump out there and beat them to it. I relate it to keeping drinks full at the table even when the food may be taking a while to cook.

    I know many of you are probably doing way better than I am but this last year and a half has been a ride. Very cool to see progress and see where this next year may take me.

    7 points
  • alec salec s, almost 8 years ago

    The title is misleading, sure. But do you know what you CAN'T get rich doing? Complaining about stuff on DN. There's a lot of wasted energy trying to prove who "knows best" when there are people getting rich left and right both employed and freelance. It's inspiring for those it speaks to, don't read it and move on if you disagree.

    Good stuff as usual, Paul.

    4 points
    • Dirk HCM van BoxtelDirk HCM van Boxtel, almost 8 years ago (edited almost 8 years ago )

      You're complaining about complaining.

      To brighten up your day a little: it's fine. Because you're wrong. You can learn from complaining. We all complain. However, we should all see any engagement with another human being (whether here on the web or in real life) as a moment where we can learn.

      What's there to learn here? Plenty of things! The opening poster can learn that, maybe they aren't right about their assumption. If they hadn't voiced it here online but kept it in their heads instead, they would've never realized as such!

      My point: never ever tell people to not share their thoughts. It's detrimental to everyone's growth.

      3 points
      • alec salec s, almost 8 years ago

        I didn't mean it to sound like a complaint as much as advice. It's not worth getting angry/negative over, instead just let it roll off your back or BE CONSTRUCTIVE, take the path of least resistance, or a least positive-resistance.

        0 points
  • Aaron MartinAaron Martin, almost 8 years ago

    And if she put $500 a month in any sort of retirement plan (which is doable at $49,000 a year at 22) and never increased the contribution amount, she could retire at 65 with $1.2 million. I'd say that's a pretty close to being rich.

    4 points
    • alec salec s, almost 8 years ago

      Love how this applies to both employed and freelance folks alike. Well said.

      1 point
    • Mike Wilson, almost 8 years ago (edited almost 8 years ago )

      If you are 22 today and put $500 dollars every month into retirement, you are correct, at 65 (in year 2058) you'd have $1.2 million.

      However, after inflation (calculated at the average rate of 3.2%/yr over the last 100 years), that amounts to the equivalent of retiring today with $200k. Not quite rich. In fact at standard distribution, the IRS considers that poverty.

      Oh, we should assume your salary/contribution will be increasing with inflation you say? Well....real wages have actually declined significantly relative to inflation over the past decades, even for highly educated workers.

      Another question, how many age 50+ designers do you all work with? There is no way in hell most of us will be making the big bucks into our golden years like our parents did. The severe ageism in this industry is real. To assume your salary will always be increasing like your Dad's did during his 30yr career is foolish. What's more likely is your salary will peak at 40 and decline from there as younger, more familiar with cutting edge tech, trend-aware, cheaper employees push you out.

      10 points
      • Jesse PociskJesse Pocisk, almost 8 years ago

        Well this scared the hell out of me.

        5 points
      • alec salec s, almost 8 years ago

        I see designers moving beyond being just designers as they grow older. Things like starting businesses, starting design firms, things that are natural evolutions from a designer. At the risk of sounding like a jerk, adapt! Learn! Grow.

        1 point
  • Diego LafuenteDiego Lafuente, almost 8 years ago (edited almost 8 years ago )

    Fallacy. There are plenty examples of people getting "rich" by working for someone else.

    3 points
  • Joel CalifaJoel Califa, almost 8 years ago

    But being rich isn’t one of my goals – and it shouldn’t be, when you decide to quit your day job and become a full-time freelancer.

    2 points
  • Alexis CreuzotAlexis Creuzot, almost 8 years ago (edited almost 8 years ago )

    Nice article, but totally flawed on a factual standpoint .

    First, loads of people got mad rich by working for someone else. They just did it by working for the right company at the right time. See Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and most of the Silicon Valley success stories.

    Second, in terms of financial flexibility, the author also seems to forget that a freelancer income is tied to clients (hence fluctuate with the market), when most day jobs incomes won't fluctuate downward. This, imo, get you a lot more of financial flexibility, as you can worry less about rainy days.

    Last, every freelance job is different, as most day jobs are. While it's great for the author that he gets by financially, we cannot generalize his experience to every fields or markets.

    2 points
  • Christopher DavisChristopher Davis, almost 8 years ago

    I have a deep respect for Jarvis. His writing is consistently inspiring, and he's made a living freelancing for more years that I've been working in the creative industry.

    But it seems that the only pitfall of this article is not adequately describing "rich." If you're looking for Financial Freedom, you can do that off of savings, budgeting, and investing. If Financial Independence is your goal, start something that people want to buy, or sell your startup. The chances of anyone achieving Financial Independence based on salary/working for someone else is nearly impossible.

    That's just my two cents, anyways. And Tony Robbins. :)

    1 point
  • Julian LloydJulian Lloyd, almost 8 years ago (edited almost 8 years ago )

    I found full-time employment compensated me at almost 5x the income of my best year freelancing. That said, the potential for growth just wasn’t there.

    Most would agree that owning your own business has the most growth potential, it’s just crazy hard with freelance, content or SaaS.

    There’s definitely a balance to be had.

    I’ve always favored work opportunities that offer consistent pay, but leave me significant time to study and work on my own projects—still not rich though…

    1 point
  • Wil NicholsWil Nichols, almost 8 years ago

    "You Won't Get Rich Anyway"

    1 point
  • Ed AdamsEd Adams, almost 8 years ago

    But You Also Probably Won't Get Rich Working for Yourself

    1 point
  • No NameNo Name, almost 8 years ago

    I like Tim Ferris' approach to wealth: how rich you are is relative to how much you have to work. I'd rather make less money but have more free time by living frugally and working intelligently.

    0 points
  • Jon MyersJon Myers, almost 8 years ago

    I really like Paul’s work and respect his effort.

    In the design community, sometimes I feel like I’m back in my punk rock days, and I’m around a bunch of starving artists who are trying to sniff out authenticity. Who is real, who is not and who is a poser.

    Sadly enough, many of those I know from those days with a poor relationship and orientation to money are struggling financially now.

    “How dare you say anything about money?”

    The title of the article is a fairly common expression.

    The word “rich” is a nuanced word. Who really cares?

    If the word gets you that wound up, you better take a look inside and examine your relationship with money, examine how you practice your craft and view opportunities.

    Others are right in that most won’t get “rich” freelancing.

    However, those that take up a serious independent design practice may make more money over time, and be richer in time and mobility versus the cubicle pixel monkeys.

    That said, there are many ways to scale a lone wolf practice far beyond the dollars for hours game. It’s up to you, your ability to think as a business person and your beliefs of what is possible.

    So, if Paul’s thing is not right for you - that’s ok.

    Again, it’s all about your belief system of what is possible - and you.

    Wanna play it safe. Fine, play it safe.

    Why tear someone down who is trying to do something positive for designers?

    I didn't read the article as if "getting rich is the goal". It's just a vector of a belief system.

    0 points
  • Dirk HCM van BoxtelDirk HCM van Boxtel, almost 8 years ago

    Not in it to get rich.

    Don't get me wrong, it'd be sweet. But I've been put on this planet to solve issues. And imo; Real rockstars only care about the music.

    0 points
  • Aaron SagrayAaron Sagray, almost 8 years ago

    You will not get rich freelancing. You can certainly make a good living, but you will not be rich.

    0 points
  • Mike MaiMike Mai, almost 8 years ago

    80k a year isn't going to cut it, even if just the 1st year. In short, to freelance for a living, you'd have to be ridiculously good and charge like a boss. I know many of us aren't at that point yet.

    0 points
    • Seymour ButzSeymour Butz, almost 8 years ago

      Why wouldn't 80k a year cut it? You're not rich at that point, but surely you're earning a living?

      0 points
      • Mike Wilson, almost 8 years ago

        Depends on where you live. 80k/yr isn't much for a designer in tech. At $65/hr, his rates are actually quite low. A mid-level freelance designer should be charging at minimum $95/hr in any large city. $125-$150/hr is pretty average here in NYC.

        1 point
      • Mike MaiMike Mai, almost 8 years ago

        Definitely not good enough for working and living in any major cities in US, but as others have pointed it out, probably good for somewhere else.

        When you freelance, you pay a lot more tax, so for 80k, you are only getting ~52k in your pocket. 80k salary though, that'd be a lot better, you pay less tax and have healthcare and 401k. Also less headaches dealing with clients directly. For most designers, that's the part they are most uncomfortable with.

        0 points
    • Pedro PintoPedro Pinto, almost 8 years ago

      It depends where you live. In Portugal for example you live really well even with half of that.

      0 points