Making the plunge

I’m talking about going from a full time corporate job to going full time freelance.

I want to hear your stories. How did you do it and what were the circumstances?
Were all your ducks lined up perfectly or did you just get to a point where there was so much freelance work coming in that you just went for it? Or did you just say the hell with it and jump in the deep end to see what would happen?  Did you like the job you were in previously, hate it or were you just tired of working for someone else?

If you’ve been doing it for a while how is it going for you? Do you ever miss the corporate 9-5?

Are you making more money now? Are you working less or more?

What do you like and dislike about freelancing full time?

What do you do if you like your full time job but are getting so much work freelancing that you have to turn it down?

Spread some inspiration on those of us working the 9-5. Seriously, we’ve got some of the most talented illustrators on the planet on this site, share some wisdom people.


7 thoughts on “Making the plunge

  1. says

    I graduated in 2009 and spent the last couple of months looking for a 9-5 job. But illustration jobs in Austria are rare and so I started working on some projects. I do like the variety of jobs and got used to the pros and cons of being autonomous, so I might focus on a freelancer career.

  2. says

    Thanks for asking :)

    I didn’t quit right away. I spoke to my employer about the possibility of working from home, and got the approval to do so. The plan was to take on the same type of work as when I was at the office, but fill in downtime with freelance projects.

    It didn’t work out the way I (or the employer) imagined it. I had a flexible schedule in mind, while they wanted regular 9 to 5 availability, Monday through Friday. Despite the recession happening, I had a good feeling about there being enough work for me if I were to leave the company.

    In preparation for the “I quit” phone call, I wrote a 5 paragraph script of what I was to say, and practiced it until I could go through it without reading. Made the call, and left the company on good terms.

    The feeling afterwards was incredible. I went on a 200 mile, scenic motorcycle ride through Upstate NY and came back with a brand new kind of energy to get back to work and begin my career as a freelancer.

    The first few months were taken up by presentation work at advertising agencies, and a few small projects here and there, coming through recommendations from previous clients. A majority of it was onsite work which turned out to be less-than-exciting as it had all of the downs of office work (uptight atmosphere, dress code, rigid schedule, etc) and none of the ups like camaraderie with fellow workers and a sense of ownership in the company.

    Feeling in need of a mental refresh, I went on a month long trip through the US on a motorcycle, sleeping at camp sites, meeting odd characters, pushing a failed bike off the road (more than once), but more importantly, getting a clear idea of what I want my work to look like.

    I returned home and put together to showcase previous projects. I got in touch with past clients and let them know I was available for new work. I joined social networks and spread word around. I emailed a few favorite illustrators of mine in hopes of getting advice and stories of their struggles & successes in coming up, and got many more answers than expected.

    Finally projects started to come in on a steady basis, and new clients became regular clients. I set goals for the year, and began doing everything to cross as many of them off. I set up an office at the house, and created a great environment to work in. Now I’m heading towards the job I always wanted to have.

    …Which has its difficulties of course. The income isn’t steady. There are weeks when all that happens is a small illustration request with nothing else for a while, then a big project that takes me through the next 5 months. There are days that I begin by reading blog posts, then manage to somehow time travel into the evening in what seems to be a few minutes, without much working getting done.

    On top of that come the additional tasks associated with running a business which not every illustrator has to do, but all of the downsides combined do not at all outweigh the positives of working this way. Any line of work will present challenges, and it’s getting through these challenges that brings a lot of accomplishment, satisfaction, and wisdom. Best of all, because this is my business, I have the freedom to choose which difficulties I want to face.

  3. says

    YES!! That’s the kind of inspiration I was looking for! Motorcycle trip!! You know how to roll, that’s awesome!
    There’s some great advice up there^. Love your website and your work too! That radiation info graphic is one of the best I’ve seen in a while, nice job!

    Thanks for sharing Davvi.

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