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06 16 2010
Please Enjoy

Trial by Fire

Some things I have learned since setting out on my own about two months ago:

Don’t Overload Yourself

There’s something appealing about the notion of ‘how much one could get done if one had all day’ that sounds like you can tackle the world. Wrong. The first thing I did out of the gate was pile on far too much work on too short of timelines. It’s been stressful but after about the first month, I’ve learned my lesson.

After launching the new portfolio, I had a nice list of job opportunities and potential freelance gigs. In short order, I was spending entire days in meetings learning about all of these new paths. This is great if you have nothing else on your plate but taking on some of the first freelance offers made for some long nights when days are spent in meetings—only to come home to work which still needs to be done.

There Are Such Things as Great Clients

I was fortunate enough to meet Dan Wick from in that big batch of meetings, and after a few rounds of getting to know each other, our directions, and their new project—it was obvious this was the way. After the first few weeks, it’s been a great match and I’m really excited to show off what we’re working on. Thankfully they’ve given me clearance to blog and Dribbble about it as we go, so hopefully I can find time to write about the process from start to finish over the next few months.

The Cobbler’s Children Have No Shoes

Looking at my current situation, I really wish I would’ve taken two weeks or so to get my ducks in a row. Since I hadn’t freelanced much before, I didn’t have a scaffolding to build off. Andy Clarke’s Contract Killer and Freshbooks have been lifesavers, but I’m still wishing I had an intranet of sorts for storing documentation and files associated with a project, more time to freshen this blog, and so on.

Other People are Smarter Than You

Jumping in to freelance straight out of college now seems like it would be suicide. I learned more from the brilliant folks at Clockwork than I could have ever picked up in a school. Project structure, timelines, better time management, practice, practice, practice, client relations—you name it. My experience there was invaluable. Other people are smarter than you—learn from them.




  1. well i guess too much work is better than no work. but seriously congrats to you on the freelance side of things. now you have a better idea how to pace things out and give yourself time for a project. look at me talking like i know what i’m saying, i still have a day gig for crying out loud. keep moving forward!


  2. Bravo, Kyle. Well said.
    Have time for lunch/coffee next week?

  3. Welldone for going freelance! All fantastic points, just sent you a tweet about Basecamp, definitely check it out for a plausible “intranet”. I’ve sworn by it for five years.

    And yes when you’re building a business at the beginning the amount of work might have a sort of transient spike until time/experience bring you to a comfortable plateau.

  4. Very wise words and couldn’t have come at a better time. Though my path is slightly different than yours, there’s a lot of crossover and I’m interested to hear what you learn along the way.

    Wish you all the best!

  5. @Lisa Most definitely, though I prefer brunch. Due to pancakes.

    @Jeff Thanks, and congratulations again on your big switch! Best of luck.

  6. The next hurdle is when you have a bunch of really good clients, and they all hit you up for redesigns at the same time. I have a really hard time telling some of my fav projects no.

    Great job on the New portfolio btw.

  7. “Jumping in to freelance straight out of college now seems like it would be suicide.”

    I jumped into freelance during college, but was blessed to have some wonderful clients who were willing to work with me as I grew. It’s difficult, yes, but a few trials-by-fire can give a freelancer all the experience they needs to get on their feet.

  8. “…but I’m still wishing I had an intranet of sorts for storing documentation and files associated with a project…”

    When I freelance I like to use Basecamp—excellent way to keep track of projects, clients and conversations, etc. Cost effective too. (No, I’m not getting paid for the plug).