Menu About

Why being ultra-professional instantly makes you a top-tier freelancer

More than mastery of your craft or years of experience, being a trustworthy pro gets you a big step ahead of your competition.

This is a theme I keep harping on about, but it cannot be said enough.

Traditionally, there’s a stigma around freelancers: a stereotype that we’re all flaky, unreliable, poor communicators who can’t be depended on.

If you’re a designer like me — or other “creative” type — it get’s even worse. Creatives have their own stereotype of being difficult to work with, the “mad genius” who likes to work alone, through mysterious processes, and often fails to meet serious business deadlines in pursuit of their craft.

Combine the assumed failings of a freelancer and a designer, and you’re looking like a pretty miserable specimen.

How did we get here?

The barrier of entry for most digital skills is almost nill, so naturally the market is flooded with inexperienced, unreliable, “cowboy” types who think this work is a ticket to easy success. Businesses all over the world have had dealings with unprofessional freelancers and designers, and those repeated sub-standard experiences have left a sour taste in the collective mouths of our potential clients.

Yet the appeal of working with freelancers remains: often lower cost than their agency counterparts, and a more direct and transparent relationship with no management, middle-men, or markups.

So they keep seeking us out, each time hoping the next one will be a bit more reliable. This is where you and I come in.

When they do find someone professional, it’s like a breath of fresh air. They feel like they’ve hit the jackpot: the benefits of working with an independent consultant combined with the reliable business relationship they’d expect from a big reputable agency.

You may be less talented than others they’ve worked with in the past, or have fewer years of education or experience under your belt — but none of that compares to the delight they feel from an easy relationship with a contractor they can trust and rely on.

That’s literally all it takes. Your skills and experience get you to the table, but being professional wins the deals and makes long-lasting partnerships.

Smoothing out the freelance rollercoaster

How to schedule projects, manage an even workload, and make consistent income from freelancing.

Is it really that easy?


The market is still crowded with cowboys, and getting more crowded every day. The bottom feeders keep multiplying and eating each other, but all you have to do is elevate your head above them to make them irrelevent.

Hone your skills. Master your craft. Do all of that too. But if you can only do one thing, practice being ultra-professional. That, more than anything else, will make you memorable.

What is ultra-professional?

It doesn’t mean you have to wear a suit and tie to very client meeting. It’s not about looking the part (although that helps too!) it’s about being it.

The best designers are business strategists

The old days of “visual design” are long gone. We need to think much broader & deeper to solve today’s design challenges.

Rise above the bottom-feeders

The cream rises to the top, or so they say. Be that cream.

Maintaining a reputation as being ultra-professional will get you there faster than anything else. While there is no life-hack for freelance success, this is as close to a shortcut as you’ll find.

If you’re tired of competing with people who’ll work for pennies, or struggling with clients who don’t value or respect your expertise — transcend that level competitive bottom-feeding by beating them at being the most professional. You’ll be winning the game of freelancing before you know it.

Want to comment?
See this story on Medium
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.