How many freelance clients/projects should you have before you leave a full time job?
I don’t think there’s one right answer, but more than two is probably a good place to start. Having said that, I left a secure full time job almost two weeks ago… and I only had two freelance clients for whom I had current projects. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous.
Since making the jump, I have had seven freelance project requests come in. I haven’t asked a single person to send me jobs or to put my name out there. Every one of those requests were referred from friends of mine that I’ve made deep connections with over the last few years. Also, all of the referrers are internet friends.
Relationships are valuable and worth investing in
I have sewn into these relationships by getting to know each person, offering advice, helping out with a project, promoting their projects, and just generally being friends.
I have taken some intentional steps in the last few years that helped facilitate this type of win-win relationship. You’ve probably heard that you are the average of the 5 people with whom you spend the most time. Well, I took this to heart and have sought out connections with people who have a strong desire to grow creatively, and achieve a high level of success (however they define it).
It meant the world to me that my “internet friends” would be so kind as to share my reel on their social feeds and send it to people they knew were looking for a motion designer.
It takes dedication to put a lot of time and energy into relationships that don’t have an immediate payoff. The long game is always worth it. The long game means relationships over transactions. And relationships are what are most valuable in life.
Advice on building win-win relationships
- not everyone you reach out to will become a friend
- eternal connections will not be made overnight - continually sew into relationships
- look for ways to add value to their lives (technical help, tips, advice, laughs, referrals, etc.)
- seek to learn more about them - people love talking about themselves
- look for people who are at your level and grow with them
- find people that are in tangential industries (video production, marketing, graphic designers, hand letterers, etc.)
I love getting to know people’s stories, dreams, and goals. It has ended up paying off in a real, tangible way recently, but more importantly, I’ve grown and helped others to grow as well.
Do as Lucas and Spielberg have done
George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and other directors met before they made their first films. These guys were outsiders in a world that required internal connections. They stuck together through the years. Anytime one would have a leap in success, they would help pull the others up with them. The camaraderie they had is inspiring. That’s the way I feel about many of my motion design buddies. We’re learning and growing together. It’s a very collaborative community that is focused on growth for everyone.
Don’t underestimate the value of cultivating meaningful relationships with people you can grow with.