Starting off with an entry level jobs is a nice safe position to start experimenting with freelancing. I would aim to find some contract gigs that you can do on the side — evenings or weekends. This will give you a feeling for freelancing and running your own business, and let you gain experience without having to rely on it as your main source of income.

Other’s may recommend using a sites like Upwork to find freelance work, but I’d strongly discourage it. Instead, use your friends, family, colleagues, and school connections to try to get your first freelance jobs. Or reach out to your community to see if there’s any low-hanging fruit. Start super-local, as it’s easier to get a foothold there than going straight to a crowded international market.

Your goal at these early stages is not to get the best projects. Almost any project will do. What you need to learn is how to run a business. How to communicate with clients. How to manage projects, your schedule, your daily routine. It’s the business experience and designer “soft-skills” that will make for a successful freelance career, so look for any opportunities that will help you develop those.

And take advantage of your entry level design job as a learning opportunity. Absorb as much as you can about how the business is run, how clients and projects are managed, how they structure their design process. That’s all stuff you’ll need to learn if you want to run your own indie business someday, and there’s no easier way to learn it than being a curious employee.

I’m a UX/UI designer from Auckland, New Zealand. Writing about freelancing & business for indie designers & creatives at

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