Be Your Own Boss: 7 Characteristics Successful Freelancers Share

Being a freelance designer who can afford quitting your day job means you have to start wearing a lot more hats than you’re used to.

It’s now your job to not only create excellent designs, but to also find new client, manage current client relationships, manage finances, focus on your business’s brand, and a million other things.

It’s time to stop thinking just as a designer. You have to think like an entrepreneur – like a businessman. Only in focusing on the business side of design will you ever be able to quit your day job and freelance full-time.



There are millions of designers out there. And each one is vying for the same thing: find clients, impress them, get paid, repeat.

If you want to quit your day job in order to freelance design full-time, you’ll need to stand out from the crowd. You’ll need to be innovative and original – and not just in your design techniques.

Be innovative in your business strategies. There are a lot more ways to compete than just based on price. Bring original business opportunities to the table and your client will remember and appreciate you above your competition.


Freelance designers who can afford to quit their day job are bold in everything they do. They aren’t afraid to charge what they need in order to freelance full-time. They aren’t afraid to turn a client down if working with them would be a poor business decision.

Being bold means making the right decisions at the right time regardless of what stereotypes tell you. Be bold when formulating your business plan, when working with clients, and when collecting payment.


A solid freelance designer will adapt to the circumstances around him. If you want to be good enough to quit your day job and freelance full-time, don’t settle with the status-quo.

Don’t get caught up in how things ‘should’ be working. Focus on what gets the job done most effectively and builds your business.

When a client asks for unexpected changes, adapt. When a client drops you out of nowhere, adapt. When you go through times of client famine and you’re worried where your next paycheck will come from, adapt.
Cubicle-dwellers don’t have to adapt much. Full-time job-quitting freelancers do.




One way to break the status-quo is to be super-responsible with your freelance design business. It’s not enough to just hit deadlines. You must also manage projects well, promptly return calls and email from clients, keep track of your spending and income, and take responsibility for your actions.

Freelancers who only want to make a little cash on the side are usually not very responsible. Freelancers who want to quit their day job and freelance full-time are responsible in every aspect of their design business.

Financially Driven

Money isn’t everything. After all, many freelance designers choose to quit their day job because they don’t like working for someone else, they want better pay, or they hate living in a cubicle.

Many freelancers don’t make the switch purely to make more money.

But if you don’t keep a very close eye on your finances, you’ll never be able to run a successful freelance design company. Money is what keeps you in business. Money is what makes it possible for you to quit your day job.

If you don’t have cash flow, you can’t make it as a full-time freelance designer.


As a full-time freelancer, you’re the front-line of your design business. So you’ve got to be confident in your work, in your business, and in yourself.

Part of being able to quit your day job and freelance full-time is having the confidence that you will succeed without a 9-5 day job and a 14-day pay period. Have confidence in your ability to manage a business and you’ll go far.




If you’re motivated enough, you can afford to quit your day job and freelance design full-time.

Although you do need all the attributes I have listed above, motivation will get you a long way. Why? Because if you’re motivated to succeed, chances are you’ll be driven, responsible, and confident. You’ll have great people skills, adapt to circumstances around you and always think like an entrepreneur.

Sure it won’t be easy, but you can become a freelance designer who can afford to quit their day job if you want if badly enough.


What did I leave out?

What attributes did I forget? If you’re a full-time freelancer, what advice can you give to those who haven’t made the plunge yet? Share your insights with us by leaving a comment.

11 comments on “Be Your Own Boss: 7 Characteristics Successful Freelancers Share”

  1. Aidan Boyle Reply

    This is something that everyone whose thinking about freelancing should read. I know I considered a lot of this before I got heavy into freelancing and still do. I think its probably worth saying too that having good word of mouth from existing clients can go a LONG way to establishing a good customer base as well.

  2. Eric Reply

    Absolutely Adrian! I second that comment.

    This is such a direct article. No mincing of words. I would say it is also worth a read for any existing freelancers out there so they don’t forget why they started freelancing in the first place.

    I would also add that “Attitude” is my biggest element to keep an eye on. People don;t always remember what you said, but they remember how you treat them. I see so many Techies treating people like they are idiots or their questions are stupid. This WILL come back and bite you.

    Treat your clients and their ideas with importance and respect, regardless of how simple the questions or requests may seem.

  3. duncan gatawa Reply

    The most important factor in this fast paced world is “adaptive”.How fast you change with the environment will determine whether you survive.There are many websites that were huge hits, but somehow they slowly faded away.

  4. Smart Blonde Creative Reply

    I agree with all of these things. My only other comment is that it is important to stay CURRENT. Know the latest software and how to design for the latest technology. And network.

  5. Design By Timm Reply

    This is a really great post. I agree on all parts. Basically, you just need to have the self confidence to go out and DO IT! Word will spread if your work and service speaks for itself. Learning to adapt is key because clients can be so unpredictable. You may even make some new friends along the way!

  6. Erin Reply

    Innovation is definitely key for a freelancer. You’ve got to be willing to go the extra mile in order to stand out.

    Adaptive is also huge! At the end of the day, it’s about client satisfaction. If you’ve got an impeccable business with no clients, it’s not worth much.

  7. Mickey James Reply

    I actually found this blog and that is amazing thing I enjoy reading this easy to understand stuff. Keep it up.

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