10 years as an independent creative

Well where did that go then? This month marks 10 years I’ve been independent as a creative professional.

I’ve been wondering about celebrating. But then I thought, is it even something to celebrate? Do I feel I’ve achieved enough? (Does anybody, ever?) I’ve pondered this a lot over the winter.

When I went freelance in 2004, my objectives were very different to now. I just wanted to enjoy designing and get paid, without all the nonsense that came with being a design agency employee. I had to carry on working at agencies for a while (as a freelancer) as I needed the income (I had a baby daughter to support). I couldn’t afford the downtime of looking for my first personal clients. This was before internet job boards came along!

What I didn’t realise is that moving around from agency to agency would actually bring an unexpected benefit. It gave me a huge level of experience in a fraction of the time I would have got as an employee sat in one single agency.

That helped me move my focus towards gaining my own clients and projects, which I’ve done for the rest of my independent time. This part’s not been easy. Some days I’ve felt like I was winning. Some days I’ve not been so sure. But then I’ve freelanced through 5 years of a deep economic crisis.

So back to the question – is my 10 years something to celebrate?

The answer I came to was that being independent is a journey, with ever changing objectives and circumstances. It’s hard to judge a journey that isn’t over.

However, the very fact I’ve stuck at this journey for 10 years, and I still prefer it to being an employee, is enough.

How should I celebrate? I’ve not decided yet. I’lll probably start by doing more of the things I enjoy but haven’t had time for recently. Oh, and planning out dreaming up the next 10 independent years!