Josh, Brand Designer
Hi! I'm Josh and I was born and raised in North Devon, UK.
That's right next to the beach, where I used to surf most days after school. It's a small place, where everyone knows everyone!
Naturally I decided I needed a bigger space to play in, so I moved to Cardiff to study my undergraduate degree in graphic design.
A few years later I followed (what seemed like) my life-long dream of 'living the London life'. So I relocated to the big smoke to study my Master's Degree in branding and identity design.
Funnily enough, after fulfilling my ambition to live in London, after a short time, I was sick of it.
I realized that kind of life didn't resonate with me. It wasn't making me happy. So I sat down and figured out what was most important to me in my life.
After some deep thought, I found the recipe for my eternal happiness and it consisted of just THREE things: human connection, adventure & creativity.
The adventure aspect of my life was missing and so, honoring myself, I went on a quest to induce in me the happiest state of mind possible. I packed up and started to travel around South-East Asia and South America, working from my laptop, creating graphic design (more specifically, visual identities) for my clients.
I now live, work, and teach from Bali, Indonesia - and I haven't looked back!
What do you say when people ask "What do you do?"
I tell them I create visual identities for brands, whilst traveling the world and working from anywhere with an internet connection!
What would you say to someone who asks "How can I find freelance jobs if I don't have much experience yet?"
Speak to people. You're guaranteed to know someone who is in the same industry you're seeking work in. Pass them your portfolio and ask them to pass it on to someone. Just say you're starting out and looking for experience. What have you got to lose?
How long did it take for you to feel like a "successful" freelancer. How long until you were able to pay your bills regularly without worrying?
Around six months. I'm very blessed to always be provided with jobs. Just after one finishes, I get info on another one!
It's totally possible to do. I would recommend talking to as many people as you can, creating those meaningful connections, not expecting anything out of it, but being grateful when a lead comes about.
How many years have you been freelancing?
Just over five years now (jheeeez)!
Why did you get started with online/freelance work?
Funnily enough, when I was around 16/17 years old I would constantly message brands, clothing lines, DJs, record labels (anything that took my personal interest) and ask if they needed or wanted any design work done.
I was very young at the time and just wanted to get some experience. Most of the time I got paid in clothes or event tickets. But I enjoyed it and it got me good experience with working online and managing small projects from a very early age.
Where did you find your first paid freelancing job?
When I was still in college, I went to do work experience for EA Games. I really hit it off with them, we connected on a good level. They took an interest in my work and about six months later I got a phone call asking if they could employ me as a freelancer for a small design project. I redesigned the entirety of their HQ office! Created a wall mural, signage and name badges for all the staff and visitors. I was very young at this time, just 17. So I was thrown in the deep end ever so slightly!
This is why I believe that meaningful connection with people is one of the most powerful and successful tools in order to gain freelance gigs. Especially for designers and people who are looking for work in the communication industry!
Just by chatting to people and paying a genuine interest in who they are and what they do can often result in them recommending you to a friend or a colleague.
How did you price your services when you were just starting out?
This was always tricky. I felt uncomfortable charging what I wanted to charge and I wasn't sure if it was too much, or too little.
My advice would be to go with your gut. You know you've got talent, don't give it away for free. People will pay for quality and these are the clients you want to attract anyway.
Most freelancers try several jobs before settling down. What jobs did you try before choosing your current occupation?
I washed dishes, delivered papers, worked in a greasy fish and chip takeaway (if you lived in Devon and didn't work in a chippy, did you ever really live in Devon?).
I had about nine thousand waiting jobs while I was trying to go full-time with freelancing.
And I was also a cocktail barman! That job I actually enjoyed. There was a great social element to it and I gained a huge amount of knowledge in the drink and cocktail industry, which is always nice to have!
What are your favorite things about freelancing/working from home?
FREEDOM! I am not wired to work a 9-5.
I love the sense of freedom, if I want to take a day off then I can. If I want to move countries, let’s do it!
Each day is a gift and I feel utterly blessed (although my friends are all jealous and don't like following me on Instagram anymore)!
What's your LEAST favorite thing about freelancing?
When I was living in London, I used to have a lot of work. Multiple clients and multiple projects… some days I wouldn't leave the flat at all. I would get up and work right up until it was time for bed. This drove me crazy!
Looking back to when you were just getting started - what tool, tip, or resource do you wish was available to you back then? What would've made your journey into freelancing MUCH easier?
A platform that didn't make you create a portfolio on it — these do my head in! As a designer I don't want to upload horrible low-res JPEGS onto a website to make an awful looking portfolio just to apply for jobs.
What's your favorite way to find new clients and job opportunities? What worked the best for you?
Word of mouth. Honestly, the connections I make with people have got me more jobs than the internet ever could have!
What are the top 5 tools you use most often in your daily work?
Adobe Suite, Slack, a pencil, my sketchbook and my brain (surely that must count?).
In your opinion, what's the most important quality or trait for a freelancer to have?
INSANE communication skills. You need to know how to sell yourself, speak to clients, spark excitement in an idea… and you can multiply all of that tenfold if you're doing it through the internet!
What does your average Monday look like?
I wake up, sit in bed for a bit and read. Then meditate and go to the gym. Come back and get ready, hop on my bike and head to a co-working space where I get a smoothie bowl and a flat white. I usually stay there until 5:30, then go to the beach and watch the sunset with dinner.
On average, how many hours do you work on a regular weekday?
Around 6 hours. 8-hour days are too much for me!
I think if you have the lifestyle you dream of, an environment that you love and clients that make you want to get out of bed in the morning, then you can become 100% more productive than your previous working style (or at least that’s what I've found).
How do you stay motivated and focused when you don't feel like working?
Truth be told… if I don't feel like working then I don't!
I can't create from an unmotivated or unfocused place. If I force creativity then the whole process just becomes even worse. If I feel these emotions then there is a reason for them. Maybe I'm hungry, or super tired, or maybe I just want the day for myself.
There is nothing worse than forcing motivation. I step away from my work and every single time when I give myself space (instead of forcing the situation), when I come back to it I find myself motivated and ready to go!
What was one of the biggest challenges or roadblocks that you had to overcome in your journey to be a successful freelancer?
Myself. 100%. I was always under the impression that there was a better option than me. Or "will people really pay this much" or "what if I can't find another job".
I had a chat with myself, transformed the belief that I couldn't do it, and ta-dah! I made it!
Now that you've experienced all the ups and downs of being a freelancer, would you go back to a regular 9-5 job?
YOU'LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE!!!!!!!
If you could work from anywhere, what would be your dream work location?
At this moment, Bali – right where I am!
Do you have any work routines or habits that boost your productivity?
Good food, positive energy, meditation, and an awesome workspace (co-working spaces are wonderful, especially for networking).
Finally, if I lack motivation I step away and come back to it. Never force creativity as it will be detrimental to your process.
Your best interview tip?
Don't put clients on a pedestal. You have the talent! Go in with the attitude that they need you more than you need them. Don't give way on your needs either. You need to make sure they're the right fit for you, just as much as you are for them.
What do you wish other people knew about freelancing?
I wish they knew that anyone can do it!
For whatever industry you're in, there's a way to create money and gain clients off your own back. Be your own boss and start living the life you love!
What advice would you give other people who are just getting started, but are still unsure about freelancing?
Start it as your side-hustle and feed your energy into it until you're able to take it on full-time.
If you could go back to your early days as a freelancer and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
I would believe in myself from day one. If you know you've got a talent and you're ready to work for it, then the only person stopping you from achieving your dream is yourself.
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