Why I Freelance: Tips From a Nomadic Designer

In our ‘Why I Freelance’ series, we talk to freelancers, new and old, on why they gave 9 to 5-ing the boot and get their tips for anyone looking to take the leap into freelance work.

Shawn Bankston is a seasoned freelancer with seven years of graphic design and creative directing under his belt. Currently traveling the world while working remotely on Remote Year, Shawn thanks his freelance lifestyle for even being able to consider the program.

We talked to Shawn about the ups and downs of freelancing, the biggest misconception of contract work, and even got his three tips for anyone interested in ditching their office job. Don’t forget to check out Shawn’s page to view his awesome portfolio.


What kind of freelance work do you do?

I’m a multi-disciplinary designer and creative director with a focus in overall brand experience.  This may include logo design, print collateral, digital design, advertising, signage, sales environments, trade show graphics and promotional items.

Why do you freelance?

Freedom. Freedom to be my most creative. Freedom to work directly with clients. Freedom to set my own schedule. Freedom to travel.

If you made a switch from a more traditional 9 to 5 to freelancing, why did you do so?

I wanted to work for myself for years, but never took the leap until I was forced to leave my last job. That push off the cliff was the best thing that ever happened to me.


What do you love most about freelancing?

Not being tied to a desk all day. More creativity flows from experiencing life outside the office. And my job is all about creativity.

What’s the hardest part about freelancing?

Getting paid. Clients are always in a rush for you to turn around their projects but rarely in a rush to pay you for your talents.

What are your top 3 tips for someone who wants to start freelancing?

1) Most important advice that I always give new freelancers… Get 50% of the project fee upfront.

2) Have a daily routine. But don’t be afraid to break out of the routine if you need a creativity jolt.

3) Be mindful of when you’re most productive. I get through most of my daily tasks from 7am-11am. Many creatives are more productive at night. Know thyself.


What’s a common misconception people have about freelancing?

That we hardly work and just float through our days. Freelancing is hard. We only have ourselves to answer to. Some days we work one hour and other days we work 14+. In addition we have to wear many hats; creative director, designer, project manager, bookkeeper, crisis manager, etc.

What’s in your Spotlight on your about.me page and why?

View my portfolio. My portfolio is me. It’s my creativity at work for my clients.

Zoë Björnson is a Product Marketing Manager at about.me. She loves cheese and is currently traveling the world while working remotely. You can find her on Twitter @kzoeb.

2 responses to Why I Freelance: Tips From a Nomadic Designer

  1. Veteran freelancers always give the best advice! The most important thing is to never stop experimenting with different techniques and working methods. A good working routine is a great thing, but if you notice something is off, don’t hesitate to try different approaches!

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