Five lessons from my first year of freelancing

An honest look back at my time as an independent designer

Amy Rogers
5 min readJun 15, 2021

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I’ve always wanted to be a freelancer. The idea of running my own business however I wanted to was so appealing, and 2020 was the year I decided to make the leap.

In the middle of a global pandemic, I set out on my path to independence. At the start it was so tough. Design roles had dried up across the world, and nobody wanted to take a chance on a freelancer with no track record. The doubts started creeping in, and I considered giving up.

Eventually I found my footing. I learned from my mistakes and I started to get a steady stream of work. Things picked up for me, and I’m happy with where I am now.

A year has gone by, and I want to share the lessons I’ve learned.

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Referrals have been a blessing

Nothing sucks more than looking for a new job. This is especially true for me now that I’m no longer in the comfort of a permanent role. It can get exhausting.

At the start I was applying for jobs through boards, but it never worked. When people are being cautious, taking a chance on a random unknown freelancer doesn’t seem safe. It’s why referrals have been so important for me.

All of my successful contracts have landed through someone I’d worked with before. Just like when you’re buying anything new, it helps to have a friend recommend something to you themselves. And this works both ways. If you trust your mutual connection, then you know that you can trust the people you’ll be working with too.

Having people who can vouch for you will help you find good work.

I think about the value of my time differently

When you have total control over your hours, it changes the way you behave. Instead of a fixed 9–5 window, you get access to the all-you-can-work buffet. Every hour becomes potential, and this is both a blessing and a curse.

At the moment, I ‘work’ four days a week. That precious fifth day is for self-teaching and side projects. This balance means I…

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Amy Rogers

Product Designer and UX Researcher · Founder and Consultant at Gubbins · Passionately curious 🌟 · https://bento.me/amyrogers