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A freelance business masterclass by indie designer Benek Lisefski

Join me as I unfold 20 years of freelance business knowledge: honest advice and practical tips to help you take your solopreneur career to the next level.

As a freshman university student, back in 2001, I began freelancing part-time to earn extra cash while fulfilling my creative itch. I designed and coded websites for small local businesses, working for modest pay a few hours each week as my student schedule allowed. Years earlier I had learned HTML in a school elective class, and had been teaching myself design techniques in Photoshop since then. The power to design and publish something that the whole world could interact with was quite intoxicating.

I studied art, and received a BFA in digital media. I even managed to get one of my paid freelance jobs to count as credit towards my final year's project.

When I graduated university it was an easy choice to grow my existing freelance side business into a full-time career. I had always had an entrepreneurial leaning – perhaps I got that from my parents or the community I grew up in – and had never seen getting a job, helping build someone else's business, as an attractive career step. I was fortunate to live in a small town with a low cost of living at that time, which allowed be to gradually build up my freelance design workload to full-time over the course of 6-12 months after I graduated.

A few years later, in 2006, I moved to New Zealand. It was like starting over in many ways, as I had to build an entirely new local network of contacts. When freelance design work was slow, I worked tirelessly on side-projects to keep busy and continue learning.

Fast-forward 20 years since I started freelancing, and I've built a very secure and profitable solo design business. Based on a solid reputation of exceptional work and professionalism, and a strong network of contacts and satisfied clients happy to refer me to interesting new projects. I've worked with big brands as well as boutique businesses, both local and international, and in each project I've learned something new.

Many of the lessons I learned along the way were from trial and error. I would have benefited from a mentor to show me the ropes, to help me grow my business and get the clients I was dreaming for. But I didn't have a mentor, and freelance business advice wasn't as accessible back then as it is now.

I've finally gotten my freelance career to a place that's both profitable, and highly enjoyable. Maybe that means I'm qualified to share what I've learned? My hope is that the knowledge and experience I write about here will help others in a similar situation to kick their freelance careers to the next level.

I'm keen to hear any feedback you have, so don't hesitate to contact me. What freelance business or design topics would be most valuable to you?




Benek Lisefski

Hi, I'm Benek Lisefski. Since 2001 I've run my own independent design business. Join me as I unfold 20 years of freelance business knowledge: honest advice and practical tips to help you take your indie career from good to great.

MediumTop writer in Design, Business, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship.