So often, I write about the details and observations I’ve had while running a freelance web design business. It seems like so many web designers have taken this path that I tend to forget about those who haven’t.

The truth is that being a freelancer isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. And it’s not necessarily the right fit for everyone. The lifestyle is very different compared to having a steady job with a traditional employer.

A lot of people have found this out the hard way. Freelancing can seem like an ideal career and a sign that you’ve made it. Yet, that depends greatly on your personality and how you like to work.

Today, I’m going to share some reasons why you might not want to jump onto the freelance bandwagon. Don’t worry – this isn’t intended to be a downer. It’s more like a realistic look at what it takes to live this life.

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There Can Be a Lot of Uncertainty

Whether you’re just starting out or are a grizzled veteran of working for yourself, uncertainty is often the only thing you can count on in a given day. Steady clients can be hard to come by and it seems like you are always at the mercy of someone else.

That dependence on others may seem a bit counterintuitive. But when people ask me about being my own boss, I tell them I’m not. Rather, I have dozens of bosses who I need to keep happy. Each one with their own personality, taste and monetary value to the bottom line.

It’s a constant juggling act – one in which you never know when one or more objects will fall from the sky and knock you in the head. Depending on how your business is set up, uncertainty can be spread throughout every aspect. It affects your daily schedule, when you get paid and how aggressive you need to be in booking new clients.

Yes, it is possible to reach a certain level of stability. But it can take several years of making the right connections and building a great reputation to get there.

Puzzle pieces.responsible for every part of a project. And that goes well beyond the design and code. It also encompasses all of the grunt work that goes along with running a business.

Tasks like accounting, marketing, sales and support are all on your plate. Maybe you can hire help for some tasks, but freelancers often work on tight budgets. Therefore, you might be stuck doing things that have nothing to do with web design.

If you’re not prepared for the great responsibility that comes with the job, freelancing may not be for you.

A table with a laptop computer, notepad and phone.get away? It’s not easy for those of us who work on our own. Yet, taking time off is important for both physical and mental well-being.

There are multiple challenges involved. First, working alone often means not having someone to take your place during an absence. This means that, even if you do manage to get out for a bit, you are likely lugging a laptop along and are glued to your phone for the duration.

Then, just because you’ve left the office doesn’t mean that your clients will stop sending you work. From my experience, most people respect the fact that you are away. But there are always one or two that don’t.

And there is always a chance of something breaking. Such an emergency can lay waste to your plans of rest and relaxation.

Put this all together and you may have a hard time getting out of the office.

A cellphone sitting on a skills. This often requires a time commitment that extends past regular office hours. Nights, weekends or early mornings may be the only opportunities to expand your horizons.

And, if you’re interested in taking a formal online or in-person class, there’s also the matter of cost. Some employers will willingly pay for continuing education. Freelancers aren’t so lucky. This means either paying for it yourself or making due with whatever free resources you can find.

A man using a laptop computer.risks. Depending on your life situation, going off on your own may not be worth the potential pitfalls. And the stress involved with running a business can be a major turn-off as well.

Thankfully, our industry provides several different paths for us to choose from. It’s up to us to determine where we’ll be happiest and then make the most of the opportunities we have. For some, that will be as a freelancer. For others, a different, yet equally rewarding journey is the better option.


As a designer, I have a lot of opinions on design, both as a user and as a creator of design content. And if you’re a designer, I’m sure you do as well. It’s part of our profession. What we think about design and the world around us greatly influences the choices we make and the ways in which we go about solving our clients’ problems.

Designers who have strong, interesting opinions about design not only have more prominence in the design community; they have more opportunities for truly inspiring and valuable work. Let’s explore some reason why your opinions about design should be shared far and wide with designers the world over.

Read Also: 7 Splendid Techniques to Encourage Comments on Your Blog

Use Social Media To Crowdsource

When most designers hear the word “crowdsourcing,” they think of sleazy, backdoor sites that try to con inexperienced designers into doing free or vastly underpriced work. But I’m not talking about that kind of crowdsourcing.

I mean that designers can use social media platforms for a different kind of crowdsourcing, one that doesn’t ask for free work and that only adds to their career. The kind of crowdsourcing that gets you opinions, conversation, communication, and industry connections.


Your social media followers can often hook you up with the information you need to advance your career, market yourself properly, or meet that awesome client you’ve been dying to work for. The only thing they ask in return is an interesting stream of opinions and ideas from you which add value to their own lives and careers.

The Industry Needs Controversy

Controversial ideas get people talking, which in turn sparks creativity and helps us all grow as designers. Don’t be afraid to get vocal about things that are bothering you about the industry. Do you think designers are going about something all wrong? Tell them so, and then tell them what they can do differently.

When I write these sorts of posts about design, I try to point out a problem that I’ve noticed with a number of designers, as well as some simple fixes that will help them correct course. The feedback I’ve gotten has rarely been negative, even when I’m at my most strident and obnoxious.

Engage and challenge people, and you will be rewarded with notoriety (the good kind, of course).

Read Also: 10 LinkedIn Groups for Web Designers

Blogging Gives Your Design More Credibility, And Vice Versa

If you have something to say about the industry, you will generate interest in your work. Many people got to know designer Jessica Hische through her famous infographic “Should I Work For Free?” which went viral several years ago. I know I did.

The content was relevant and useful to me as a freelance designer (not to mention hilarious). This got me interested in her design work, and that’s when I discovered her talent for lettering.


The other side of the equation is actually being good at what you do. If you have great work to show off, people will take your opinions more seriously. If you say nice things, but don’t have the design chops to back it up, designers are going to dismiss you very quickly.

Clients Are Listening

That’s right. Clients who want to hire you for design work will most certainly be checking out your blog or social media stream to get a feel for how you think and who you are as an individual. Depending on what they find, they’ll decide whether you’ll a good fit for their project and vice versa.

You never know who will stumble across your work or your words, decide that you are the best thing they’ve ever seen, and make you an offer for an insane amount of money for a dream gig with all the creative freedom you’ve ever wanted. Don’t think it can happen? Trust me, it can and does every day.


This is absolutely not a call to censor yourself, by the way. Notice I said that clients will evaluate you based on whether they think you’re a good fit for their project, and also whether their project is a good fit for you as an individual. If you censor what you say because you don’t want to “offend” anyone, you’re only hurting your chances to land that really amazing client you’ve always known you’d be a perfect match for.

Maybe that client was looking for someone with a little more “bite” to their content, and they’ve completely passed you over because they thought you were a little too tame. How sad would that be?

Sharing Is Caring

Don’t forget to share links to other blogs and tell people what you think about them. It’s not just all about you – other designers have things to say as well. There’s a reason the design community is called that: we’re all in this together, and we all need to be helping each other be as successful in our field as possible.

It can only result in a stronger industry for us all, as clients and businesses take note and give us the respect and rates we deserve as professionals.


I recently began working on a small side project (a marketing site / blog for an upcoming UX book I’m writing, but I have nothing to promote yet – sorry) and found myself circling around different static site generators (SSG) in the initial design concepts. The thought of learning an entirely new blogging platform was inspiring and seemed like a good excuse to expand my skillset.

Although I’ve used 11ty and Hugo in the past for client work, this personal website runs on Jekyll. I’m very familiar with Jekyll and can push out a point-of-concept site in a flash with little-to-no effort. So, why was I looking to jump into a SSG I hadn’t used before?

And that got me thinking… Why am I moving away from being efficient?

Before we begin…

I should preface everything else I’m going to mention in this post with this: learning new stuff is awesome. You should expand your knowledge as much as you can, no matter what industry you find yourself in. I’ve found it to be a great catalyst for boosting my passion in design and development.

Okay, I’ve made it clear that learning is important to the growth of your career – so please keep that in mind before you read my next statement:

Just use what you already know.

By using your current experience (maybe even expertise) with a design system, CSS framework, blogging platform, programming language, etc. you can get something built. Not to mention you can get that thing built in a fraction of the time. After all, building things is kind of the point of being a designer (or developer), right?

My current side project may be a slight edge case in this regard. Since it’s a personal “dev” website, most of the tech stack choices comes down to personal preference – not client requirements. But I believe my point still remains: you shouldn’t reach for something new and shiny just because it’s new and shiny.

Some vague examples

It might be easier to understand what I mean by using some possible real-world examples:

Problem New Way Efficient Way
A local bakery needs product and e-cart functionality Learn a new custom ecommerce platform Use a popular pre-existing library you’re familiar with
Create an add-on blog for a medical clinic Try a custom built static site generator and hook in a git-based CMS Spin up a quick WordPress site and hand-off
UI mockups for a workout iOS app Test out the newest design tool just released Use your go-to default design tool you (Sketch, Figma, etc)

I know all of this is very much “common sense”, but you would be surprised how often we reach out for the latest and greatest tools (we are creative problem-solvers, after-all). If a current project allots you the time to learn a new skillset alongside outputting a quality product – then more power to you. In my experience that’s a rare luxury, so my advice is to focus on shipping quality work (whether that’s code, design, analytics, content, etc) instead of getting caught up in the “new and shiny”.

But wait, how / when do I learn new things?

It isn’t exactly ground breaking to state that you should keep things simple as a developer. There are probably hundreds of posts on the web advocating for the exact same thing – which is good. At the same time, we as designers and developers need to avoid stagnation – something that can happen all too easily.

So how do we learn new things? This is a hard thing to answer. Really, the best response would be: it depends on the designer / developer. I know, what a cop-out. Unfortunately, it’s true. There is no one solution to learning anything new.

The best I can do is offer up some possible options:

  • Learn outside of work
    • Reading / listening to a technical book on your commute or before bed
    • Take an online course you can work on after hours
  • Contribute to an open source project that you aren’t familiar with but are interested in
    • Even tiny contributions go a long way, don’t doubt yourself so much
  • Ask your current company (if not a freelancer that is) to learn on their time
    • It’s a valid argument that your company should have vested interest in you becoming a better developer / designer

Easier said than done

Sometimes, even the suggestions above don’t work for certain individuals. Life is hectic and other important things can pop-up taking precedence. Don’t let it get you down – there are more important things in life than mastering the newest framework that released 25 minutes ago.

My motto is to keep shipping quality products that you actually give a shit about. Otherwise it doesn’t matter how “new” it is.