April 2020. I am a hired employee working as a UX / UI designer. The pandemic is in full swing. No projects – no money, I eat crackers… You can only go outside to the store. It’s time to go freelance, I thought, and that’s what came of it. Spoiler alert: should have done this earlier.
Even a year before my dismissal, I understood that I needed to grow and change my place of work, the growth of skills was over. I was in a protracted stagnation. I tried to quit back in 2019, but a tempting new offer from the studio and affection for the team held me back for another year. In parallel with my work, I studied the theme of freelancing, took courses, participated in contests and made orders in my free time.
At that moment my point A looked something like this.
Finance… The rate is 10-15 $, I work in the studio
Projects… I work only with Russian projects
Attitude to work… I work a lot, often burn out. Tied to the office
In January 2021, I made the final decision to go open sailing to freelance. I had a clear positioning by projects, customers and the rate I wanted to receive.
Here is mine point Bwhich I wanted to come to freelance:
Finance… The rate is from $ 20 / hour. Not less. Raise the rate every quarter, even by $ 1, there should be constant growth
Projects… International projects, bias towards mob. applications
Portfolio… Add 2 projects on behance and 5-8 new shots to other design sites
Attitude to work… Work no more than 5 hours a day. Free schedule, geographic freedom
I set myself a deadline of 3 months and started working on the achievement point B…
Point A. The rate is 10-15 $, I work in the studio
Point B. The rate is from $ 20 / hour. Not less. Raise the rate every quarter, even by $ 1, there should be constant growth
As ordered, a very important article for me was published “Where to grow for a UI / UX designer: distance abroad”. After reading, I believed even more in achieving my goal and took some chips for myself. For example, I made myself a resume on Webflow. This allowed me to remember the basics of layout and improve my skills in website builders, because you won’t be full on one ’tilda’ and ‘readymag’. This is a great skill for foreign projects.
To double the rate, I had to kill the “impostor” in myself. I understood that the price is based on a set of my skills, experience, speed of decision-making, etc. I carefully studied the designers at UpWork: their work, rate, description, but more on that later. The ice has broken ⚡
Point A. I work only with Russian projects
Point B. International projects, bias towards mob. applications.
Why international orders? It’s simple.
- When working in rubles, you will hit the ceiling, which either work in foreign currency will break through, or you need to go into your own business. Looking ahead, I tried both options.
- I wanted to go beyond the local market, get new experience
So, the most important thing in freelancing is finding an order. My life hacks, how to do it simply.
Start with a portfolio
My personal instagram → instagram portfolio → dribbble, LinkedIn → CV and so on … it’s all a passive order generator. You have to create a funnel in which the customer becomes “warm”. Every detail is super important. From profile pictures to hashtags. Play around with the target, love your potential customers and the result will not keep you waiting.
It is important to note: I refused orders from small firms from the regions, lack of startups, or projects that are not interesting to me, so as not to waste my focus on what really appeals to me.
When the liability is set up, we start hitting the assets. I already had experience working at UpWork, so I immediately weeded out such slops as fl.ru (nothing personal). I don’t know where there is so much negativity on UpWork, if you do everything right, you can take an order already in the first week with a zero profile. This time, I finalized the profile, studied the sales scripts. It turned out to take the order after a week and a half, after sending applications. I prepared a template for refusals in Notion in advance, so as not to lose focus and refuse with the message “come when there is greenery and understanding what you are paying for.”
Look for new ways
Don’t follow common patterns. Always experiment and do it your way. Everyone told me that autoliking no longer works in 2021. I decided to check it myself. Set up likes for the desired audience. After a few days, the funnel worked better than I expected. For 3 weeks on the machine I received 6 orders (4 of them foreign) and we started working with one. A month of work of the service cost 500r = 420 thousand. for one project. This order prompted me to open an IP
Don’t be afraid to take on foreign projects
I enjoy learning English. language, but I always had excuses in the form of lack of time, boring homework, loss of interest. Do not be afraid to take foreign orders without knowledge of English. When you take on a foreign project, you are immersed in an environment in which you either learn on the go or fall off.
I am not a fan of phoning tête-à-tête, especially not in your native language. Here’s a life for you how to easily translate a call into a dialogue.
In any case, this is a zone of my study, which will allow me to reach a new level, and I try to call the customer when it is really necessary, because how else can I get such experience.
Also, the call can be recorded if you have a memory like a fish (like mine), so that you can always return to the details that you missed. At each call, I tell the participants in advance that I will write the call, because I do not want to miss anything. There were never any refusals.
Feel free to use a translator if you need one. This will speed up the communication process. Improve your language constantly. Sometimes, I look at the article “82 English Phrases for Business Letters” when I get lost in the answer.
It’s important to do your projects
Do your own projects, it will set you apart from other freelancers. I have had several cases when I was chosen precisely because I did some personal projects. It shows your creativity and desire to work out the idea.
My last personal project was with the team – the Jordan Belfort telegram bot. This bot is stuffed with quotes from great people who are sent to you in portions every day for 2 quotes (morning and evening). We made the framework in a few hours. I still use it.
Point A… I have a nice filled dribbble, instagram portfolio. Few works on behance
Point B… Portfolio. Add 2 projects on behance and 5-8 new shots to other design sites
An important part of your profile that helps you make your choice as a performer is your portfolio. From my experience I can say that the style of your work influences the geographic characteristics of your client. Attention to the picture below.
Of course, there is sarcasm in the pictures above, but for foreign customers (in most cases) minimalism is important. In other words, they need “like Apple,” so it’s important to define the style of your work and move in that direction.
Do “Fake” work
Before going freelance, I generated “fake” works + posted good works for which “I am not ashamed”
I think that sometimes it is important to do “fake” work, it attracts foreign customers very much, and the grid of your works will be whatever you want!
I did the work above for myself. She still generates orders for me for requests “dashboard”, “education”. This is why it is important to do fake work for yourself.
To summarize this point. If you want to be hired for mobile fintech projects, do “fake” fintech projects. If you want to create Russian landing pages, make a fake Russian landing page. It’s simple ✨
4. Attitude to work
Point A. I work a lot, often burn out. Tied to the office
Point B. Work no more than 5 hours a day. Free schedule, geographic freedom
Important to note: I had a 3-5 month budget for a comfortable life before going freelance. Why is it important? If you think about money, you are wasting precious energy and focus on survival projects.
I was very lucky. In my environment there are talented and strong people with whom we converge on many points. After the office, I rethought what is commonly called “work”. Now I work on “condition”. I often work on weekends and evenings. I rest when I really need it. For example, in January I worked for about 5 working days, and in May I did not work like that at all.
I recommend reading Timothy Ferris’s book How to Work 4 Hours a Week. This book will help you take a fresh look at your routine life.
Freelance, office, remote work … The main thing is that what you do ignites you!
I would advise every designer (any IT specialist) to try freelancing, this is where you start managing your time, time management becomes a new hobby for you.