“After 5 Years as a Freelance UX Designer, Things Are Going Well. Help! What’s the Next Step?”

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ByMindquest

Published27 August 2021at09:37, updated on14 October 2021at16:14

“After 5 Years as a Freelance UX Designer, Things Are Going Well.  Help! What’s the Next Step?” cover

My name is Nolwenn Nasri, and I am a freelance UX / UI designer, as well as the founder of Freelances Travel, a small company dedicated to the organisation of coworking stays with other freelancers. In 2020 I completely questioned my freelance activity. Here’s my unfiltered experience.


Ah, 2020… a year that was very unique for all of us.

But I think it might have been especially special for me because in 2020, I became a mother.

Becoming a mother is wonderful. But it’s also a huge upheaval. My daily life was completely turned upside down, and I launched into an intense introspection of various aspects of my life; with the desire to do things differently.

This introspection focused in particular on my activity as a freelance UX / UI designer.

Let me give you a bit of background: I have been freelancing for 5 years, and my activity as a freelance UX / UI designer has been going well for some time. The projects followed one after another, I didn’t have too many problems getting new assignments, the clients were satisfied. In short, everything was going well.

But I was no longer sure where I was going, how to choose my assignments, how to guide the development of my activity. How should I manage my time? I was satisfied with my income but I felt an urge to do more and more, I constantly felt guilty about not working “enough.”

In short, I was a little lost.

Agreed that this is a “rich man’s problem.” A lot of freelancers struggle to find assignments. But it still caused me a lot of frustration.

So I decided to hire a leadership coach.

It was a big decision because it was quite an expense. But I felt I needed it. And it turned out to be an investment that paid off.

What did the coaching sessions consist of?

I imagine you are about to say: “but Nolwenn, what has this to do with your freelance activity?”

These exercises were intended to take me out of my comfort zone. To make me gain confidence in myself. To make me make decisions and take responsibility for my choices.

I realised that I had two alternatives: 

  • either maximize my working time and grow my business as much as possible to generate more income, or
  • set a target income to achieve and devote a minimum of time to it, enjoying all my remaining time to develop my sides projects and take care of my daughter

I chose the 2nd option.

After 5 years as a freelancer, my goal is not to earn more, but rather to reduce my working time.

This decision was a big step for me.

But it was still necessary to take concrete measures to move towards this goal. For me, this was done in 3 main steps:

1. Define my priorities for my freelance activity

Today, I consider that I wear two hats: on the one hand, my activity as a UX / UI designer, which allows me to generate the bulk of my income, and on the other hand my Freelances Travel project, which I approach more like a playground.

Whatever the project, I realised that what interested me the most was to forge rich relationships with people, to bring value, to share my knowledge, and to create strong connections. 

This is the reason why I decided, in addition to keeping my two hats, to save time to cultivate these connections by either interacting with members of my network on LinkedIn, or by creating content for my Youtube channel.

2. Define concrete objectives in terms of income and working hours

I used a very simple calculation: my ADR (average daily rate) is currently 500 euros; my monthly turnover target is 4000 euros excluding tax per month (no need to specify that, but after charges and taxes, I have about half left net).

4000 divided by 500 equals 8.

Conclusion: I no longer seek to increase my customer volume, on the contrary. I’m just looking to “staff myself” over 8 full days, on assignments that interest me.

3. Seize my time and stop feeling guilty

I have adopted a fairly compartmentalised weekly organization. Tuesday and Thursday are my “production” days. I’m off every Friday to take care of my daughter. And, the rest of the time, I take care of Freelances Travel, my Youtube channel, and I chat with members of my network. Without forgetting of course to keep me a little time to manage my accounting and prospecting. 

I also learned to detach myself from the eyes of others. Many people around me do not understand why I do not seize all the mission opportunities that present themselves to me. Why am I not looking to generate more income? But it’s my choice and I accept it!

And you, how do you see your freelance life? What is your definition of a successful career as a tech & IT freelancer? Where do you draw the line between income and working time?


Follow Nolwenn on Youtube, LinkedIn and on Freelances Travel.

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By Mindquest

Mindquest

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