It’s been 10 years since I cashed my first check as a freelancer. Beyond a source of income, it’s giving my lifestyle freedom, which in hindsight, has been a dream come true.
In 2007 I had dropped out of art school at in LA. $30k in debt and with loan payments looming, it was my mom who encouraged me to make a resume and try to get an internship as a "designer".
I remember typing "design company" into a Google Maps view of downtown Portland, and writing down the names of businesses. I had no contacts in the field, no understanding of the industry and a portfolio that mostly consisted of badly designed t-shirts.
With my printed-out map directions in hand, I spent an excruciating day driving from one design agency to the next, walking into their buildings and trying to make a case as to why they should hire me (or even take my resume).
And it worked! I was hired by a tiny company who shared an office with a chiropractor... unpaid of course. Two months later I was pulling in $12.50/hr. In a year, I was onto bigger and and better. And by 2009 started searching Craigslist gigs for anything design related.
Back then, nobody told me freelancers were supposed to be "good". Traditionally you'd spend several years at an agency honing your skills before going freelance, that thankfully I was unaware. And $20/hr making Flash websites was just fine with me!
Since 2009, I've spent the last 10 years becoming better at my work, focusing my skillset and charging more money. I now have portfolio I'm proud of, the freedom to choose clients I enjoy working with, and a life/work balance I'm 100% in control.