10 Tips to Successful Freelancing

Feeling inspired to make a break for it? Don't do anything until you've read our winning tips from established freelancers.

01 Nice guys finish first
"First of all," says Miika Saksi, "make lot of friends in different fields. Get to know people. But don't be pushy, be a nice guy." And if your folio is light, make some projects up. "Make posters, company identities and flyers for both imaginary companies and potential clients. But don't call them 'personal work'. Call them proposals or pitches."

02 Think it through
Make sure you know what you're doing, says Ravi Vasavan. "Think again, talk to freelancers you know of - and if you come out of this feeling confident, then you ought to be okay to dip into these waters." And, ready or not, prepare yourself for the unexpected, "such as a client bailing, or running away with your pay cheque!"

03 Diversify
"I have a couple of different timescales," says Mike Perry. "First, there are long-term projects, some of which are self-initiated. Then there's medium scale projects that are maybe a month in advance." And finally, there's illustration, "where they say, 'Hey, we need this next Tuesday'." Try to have a range of work on the go, as this will help you avoid a calamity if one source goes into meltdown.

04 Partner up
Two heads are better than one. "But," says Dominic Prvost, "if you want to start freelancing, it's cool to have someone with you who's different enough that you can make the best of each other's skills; perhaps someone who's particularly good at handling the clients or the money."

05 Be pragmatic
A dash of pragmatism can't hurt, says Janine Rewell. "Make sure that you have a plan B, in case it turns out that you're not as talented as you thought and you're not getting any work." And if you have the talent but don't enjoy fronting it up, get an agent: "It's nice to have someone to do all that dirty money-talk with the clients for you."

06 See opportunity everywhere
Even if there is a global economic meltdown, you still have stuff to be getting on with, says Dominic Prvost. "If everything crumbles, it'll give us time to experiment. I'll make indie movies and publish them myself."

07 Be creative
One of the undoubted benefits of freelance life is the chance to explore your own creativity. "I would say that what's really worked out for me is constantly making new work for myself," says Mike Perry. This, he explains, is where he really pushes himself and the work, showing the breadth of what he can do. "Clients often end up hiring me for the work I've already done," he says.

08 Don't be swayed
You've got to stand up for yourself, as not every client has your best interests at heart. "I really believe in what I'm doing," says Mike Perry. "It's about fighting for your right to do what you feel you should be doing. If you believe in your work, then you should be able to stand up for it."

09 Keep your finger on the pulse
"Companies want unique styles and street credibility," explains Miika Saksi. "They're trying to get on the same level with consumers, the young adults especially." It's your job to facilitate that, says Saksi: "I guess it's been like that for a long time, but now it's stronger than ever. And agencies like to buy that knowledge from freelancers who are in the scene and live the same life as their target group."

10 Hire a professional
"I should have hired a book keeper right away," laments Janine Rewell. "I tried to save money by doing all my taxation myself, but actually I lost so many valuable working hours by filling out those forms that it wasn't worthwhile." Remember, you are a designer, not an entire studio rolled into one.