Brand Design Photography & Styling Clarity Consulting

Lesson Learned: Research before you leap

I got some comments on my last post that got me thinking about my current “full-time” freelance goals. Last winter, when I decided I was going to start making the transition towards full time freelancing I was hit with on overwhelming feeling of flat out FEAR. The main questions that kept popping up in my head weren’t about how I going was to keep consistent work, but more about the nitty gritty details (process, contracts, taxes, resources, etc). I realized that my heart was already set on making this freelance thing work, but my mind needed a little catching up to do.

I decided that instead of working a gazillion weekends on freelance projects, that I would spent a big chunck of my “free” time to start researching everything I could about the freelance business. I started to ask around to those I knew had already made the leap (which was insanely helpful) and start to work through the fine details. Yes, I’m still taking on freelance jobs that inspire me, but a lot of my time has been turned toward researching how to streamline my design process so that others understand me, create formal contract and process documents that I can send to potential clients, gather online resources that can help me along the way, and of course…keep networking.

I’ve found this system to be working so far. Every day I spend about an hour working on making my dream come true. My hopes that are when I am fully ready to make the full time freelance leap, that both my heart and mind will come together and have a party. We shall see 🙂

“Getting comfortable with discomfort is one of the first steps to not letting fear be a factor in making your decisions. Playing big means stepping beyond your normal and what you usually do. It means putting yourself out there in new and exciting ways. It means spending a LOT of time in the land of discomfort.” – Tiffany Moore (Paper N Stitch Blog)



26 comments on “Lesson Learned: Research before you leap

  1. I am pretty bad at commenting but I follow your blog regularly and really enjoy it 🙂 I just wanted to say good luck in your freelancing and I admire your honesty/smartness on researching and getting set up to do freelancing properly (taxes, contracts!, paperwork!). I feel like that whole side of starting your own business is never really shown even though it’s obviously a big part of it and I like hearing your thoughts and ways of going about it.

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting today. I love hearing from my readers and I really appreciate your support for my little blog. Happy Monday!

  2. love this! the details tend to overwhelm me more than the consistency of work i’m getting too. i’ve still got lots to check off of my “before i jump ship list” – getting a biz license, finding a good accountant (NOT gonna try and handle taxes myself anymore!) streamlining my design process, figuring out health insurance, finding a program that i like to manage my invoices, expenses, workflow, etc. it’s exhausting, but i think devoting an hour a day makes it WAY more manageable. you’re a smart cookie, cass! 😉

    1. Amy, Thanks for stopping by (again) and sharing your thoughts on freelancing. It’s so good to hear how others are going about doing things. With the help of some dear friends (who also freelance) I’ve been able to create a somewhat organized system to all the madness (contracts, process, invoices, forms, inquiries, etc). I’ll be sharing some of those insights on the blog soon 🙂

    2. @Amy, Hi guys, just wanted to jump in and say that I had been using Freshbooks before going full-time freelance, their free account. It’s a great tool to manage timesheets, invoices, etc, but their free account only allowed for 3 clients at a time. I didn’t really mind that as a non full-time freelancer, but since making the jump, I paid for a service that allows for as many clients as I want. It’s, and a really good rate. I’d recommend it if you want to do the paid route.

  3. Great post Cassie – It’s a process. I feel like I am still streamlining and perfecting things. You have been KILLING it so far. SERIOUSLY. Keep up the good work.

    1. Thanks so much Emma. I really look up to you and draw inspiration for your sense of adventure and creativity. Thanks for beings so awesome, dear!

  4. I want to print this out and hang it up as a way of reminding myself that it’s so true (and necessary) to grow as a creative entrepreneur/freelancer. Everything we do is uncomfortable, starting with putting our work out there for others to ignore, embrace, or reject. But the biggest chances often have the biggest payoffs (and if they don’t, they’re learning opportunities, right?)

    1. Yes! Everything is a learning opportunity. I’m a person that can easily get hung up in the stresses and the negatives of the whole thing. I’m constantly reminding myself that my discomfort is a good thing! Let’s all be a little braver…right?

  5. Proud of you, my friend – you’re doing amazing and I can’t wait to see where the future takes you! That future is bright and big, I’m so excited for you. You know you have my support and love, and if you need anything, I’m here. <3


  6. Great post … I feel as though I am in the same boat as you. I read your previous post (the one you referred to in this post) about wanting to dedicate lots of time towards achieving your goals, but just being so tired all the time … I work full-time in publishing but I want to take that leap and move into freelancing full time eventually. It’s hard! I like how you’re dedicating an hour a day to making your dream happen. Researching things is key and I think a lot of people try to bypass that part and just jump into doing the fun stuff right away, which doesn’t always work. Best of luck to you, I look forward to following your journey and being inspired by what you’re doing!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing where your at. I am in the place of just starting my career and really trying to make my dreams come true and follow my passion and heart for design while working full time. I am trying to establish who I am as a designer and figure out where I am at. Although I am no where near the step off going off into freelance solo, this was very inspiring for me and reminds me to keep on going and to work hard to get my mind and my heart on the same page. It is also a great reminder to do a lot of research before you get to the point of making that leap. Thank you so much this truly was good for my heart to hear! I wish you the best and look forward to being continually inspired and blessed by your journey.

    1. Thanks so much Casey. I don’t know if anyone is fully ready to make that leap. I think at some point you just have to have faith that what you are doing will lead you to where you’d ultimately like to be. It’s tough for sure, but from what I hear…the pay off is SOOOOO worth it 🙂

  8. That is such a perfect quote to live by–I’ve been experiencing similar feelings at a new job and it’s good to remember that through the discomfort, there will be success! I bet that your new freelance life will be amazing and I have no doubt that you have the talent and smarts to pull it off. Here’s to making ourselves better!

    1. Starting a new job can be super scary, especially if it’s one of your “first” BIG jobs. I think that quote is perfect for so many different situations. Hang in there lady, and enjoy the ride!

  9. An entrepreneur is someone who’s willing to roll the dice and who doesn’t stop the first time somebody says ‘no. The creative process takes time, it becomes personal.

    Take risks, don’t take “no” for an answer and collaborate with smart partners.

    Just remember to enjoy the journey……..

  10. This was a really good read AND helpful. I’m 9 months in in doing freelance and it’s really tought! Especially the “looking for clients” part. But I’m just happy I get to do what I love.

    I’m happy for you too! I hope all goes well on your journey 🙂

  11. you’re killing it with the thoughtful posts lately. of course it’ll be tough once you finally take the leap, but you’re smart for preparing. drive and talent—you got ’em, baby.

  12. I have just made the decision to eventually freelance full-time and so this post is exactly what I need. I am so in awe of people who have excelled doing this as so far, I am pretty overwhelmed. Great, great post! xo

  13. I’ve been wondering if it’s feasible to start working freelance right after obtaining the degree. You said in the previous post you worked 40-50 hours at an advertising agency, but I don’t have much interest in working for a corporate company. My biggest reason for wanting to go into graphic design is hopefully better develop my own company. I know a lot more will need to go into effect. I’m hoping that whatever program I go with I’ll be able to take electives in business and/or self-employment. But now that I think about it, it must be terribly hard trying to go freelance right after getting your degree if you don’t already have a client base developed. It’s just something I’ve been thinking about. I’ve had a growing interest in design for years now, but I never fully committed to doing anything about it because I’m afraid I just don’t have the proclivity for it and wouldn’t be any good at it, but your quote resonates a lot with me in many different ways. I majored in English in college and love to write, and my hope is that I’ll somehow be able to bridge my natural talent for writing with graphic design somehow to turn into a business. One of those ways I was hoping could be with my magazine. –LM

    1. Hi Lauren.
      So sorry for the delayed response. If you’d like to email me directly at I might be able to better interact with you and advise to the best of my ability. I see that you’ve commented on another freelance topic, so feel free to get in touch!

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