It’s now been an entire year since I went freelance full-time. I wanted to reflect on the experience and share what it is has been like, the ups and downs, and how I got here.
My background is in creative media, which I studied during my undergraduate degree while my postgraduate degree was in art history. After graduating for the second time I went to work in a design role based in London. London is very expensive so I started freelancing on the side. Working in the day and freelancing in the evenings became draining quite quickly, and at the same time my freelance work was kicking off. I was able to collaborate with the National Trust, as well as a digital marketing agency based in Australia. I remember thinking, how cool is this?! To be able to be in London and working with someone on the other side of the world is pretty incredible.
As my day job started to feel less creative and less fulfilling, I started to think about going freelance full-time. Eventually I decided to take the leap. I had enough money saved to stay in London for a while longer, and during this time I learnt as much about freelancing as I could by going to events and meeting lots of creatives. I also took a business course which was amazing for learning about marketing and accountancy, the areas I found most daunting. After the course ended I spent some time getting experience as a freelancer, before diving right in and launching my art and design studios.
The dream was to spend 50% of my time working on design and 50% working on my art. I think it’s harder to build a repertoire and earn a living from art, so for a long time I was actually spending more like 80% of my time on design and 20% on art, which I wasn’t happy with. It’s not easy to improve your art and explore new work when you don’t have time to practice!
I’ve been settling into a new work schedule, which has been working really well. The idea is to get up and start painting at 9am. I then paint for about 4 hours every day, take a break for yoga and lunch, and then I design for the next 4 hours of the day. It’s a nice, healthy balance that means I get to fit everything in.
I also re-vamped my studio space, which means I have more space to paint and to film. If I’m painting, I’m filming, which means I’m able to make a lot more content and share more of more work.
It’s working really well, but it took a lot of trial and error to find a way of working that suits me! I love the freedom of being freelance but it can be difficult to get used to at first. You do have to plan everything yourself, motivate yourself, make sure that you are constantly pushing forward. You don't have a boss telling you to work and you don’t have anyone who’s going to do it for you. It does mean self discipline, but I love that it means I have complete creative control and can work how I want to. I can also work where I want to, in a local cafe, at a friend’s house, or in a whole other country. That, to me, is so amazing.
The advice I would give to anyone who wants to go advice:
Decide why you want to go freelance. Do you want to share you work? Do you want more free time? Do you want to work while you travel? The answer will influence how and where you will work.
Break everything down into small steps. Going freelance is a big thing and can seem overwhelming. Take it one step at a time, and you will get there!
Network. Taking the time to meet and speak to people doing a similar thing to me really made this process a lot easier, and they’re a great group of people who I still speak to, share my work with and get advice from.
Learn, learn, learn! There is so much to learn. Don’t think of that as an overwhelming thing, think of it as a positive thing. Even if freelancing doesn’t work out the way you want it to, you will still have a huge collection of new skills that will be useful for a job. Learn marketing, accountancy, social media, branding, web design, writing, everything you can and it will all help. You might even find a new thing that you love!
Have a question about freelancing or freelance illustration? Let me know in the comment or on Instagram (@theartofhannahroseshaw) and I’ll answer in a YouTube video!