Facing (Some) Freelancing Fears — Part 1

Posted by on May 5, 2011 in Art, Resources | 3 Comments

Fre­quently, when I am asked ques­tions about illus­tra­tion or free­lanc­ing, I have already blogged about it or answered it in my FAQ, so I gen­er­ally direct peo­ple to those resources when­ever I can.

There are of course still plenty of ques­tions that I have not answered and when one of these pops up, I will usu­ally take the time to write a detailed answer from my per­spec­tive. Then with the per­mis­sion of the ques­tioner, I will post the response for my read­ers, because shar­ing is car­ing and makes us col­lec­tively, a more well informed seg­ment of the work­force, thus increas­ing our cumu­la­tive sway in business.

Mar­cus got in touch with me through my Face­book account (add me here) and has been fol­low­ing my work and blog. He asked me some things that touched me on a per­sonal level and I felt that I needed to answer them, mostly for Mar­cus, but a lit­tle for me as well.

The post pri­mar­ily delves into cer­tain aspects of the men­tal­ity needed for free­lanc­ing, how to face fears, feel­ing like a fraud, style, things of that nature, not so much on the busi­ness side of things — hence the “Some” in the title.

As the sec­ond part of my response is long, I have decided to break this into two sep­a­rate blog posts.

I sin­cerely hope you get some­thing out of it, enjoy…

The Ques­tion

Hi Dar­ren,

I realise we have never spo­ken before, so firstly I must say that I admire your pas­sion for art, and how much drive you obvi­ously have. Your art and words inspire me. So if I may, I feel the need to ask you a few things if you had the time? If you don’t reply that’s fine as I under­stand you must be busy, but I would greatly appre­ci­ate some advice.

My back­ground is that for the past 3 years I have been paid for cre­ative work such as illus­tra­tion and graphic design. Cur­rently I am a part-time graphic artist at a mag­a­zine. This new job is almost per­fect for me at this point in time because my future goal is to free­lance solely in illus­tra­tion. The part-time work gives me steady income as well as time to work on my own art and what­ever free­lance work I pick up.

I feel that I have things hold­ing me back from jump­ing into the illus­tra­tion world completely.

Being a graphic artist comes easy to me but it is not my pas­sion. I love draw­ing but I feel I keep sab­o­tag­ing myself. It’s like I’m afraid to com­pete, I’m not really a very com­pet­i­tive person…I feel that I lack the game-face that many illustrators/commercial artists seem to have. I think the lack of con­fi­dence in myself is obvi­ous. It’s so annoying.

I know im still at the very start of my artis­tic jour­ney and per­haps I will prob­a­bly learn this even­tu­ally, but I was won­der­ing if you had any insights? Per­haps you have cov­ered some­thing sim­i­lar to this in pre­vi­ous blogs so feel free to just direct me to it.

Thanks in advance.


My Response

Hi Mar­cus,

Thanks for get­ting in touch and the kind words! Yep, art is def­i­nitely a large part of my life, I’m glad it’s the same for you also.

It sounds like you’re in a good place right now, part time work is a great step­ping stone that is often the basis for most illustrators/freelancers, but I also feel it is impor­tant at some stage, to plan your exit once you have enough expe­ri­ence and an income reserve — typ­i­cally 3–6 months to cover costs, I pre­fer 6 months myself as I am a cau­tious person.

The main prob­lem you have to be mind­ful of when you’re work­ing part time, is that it’s very easy to get into a com­fort trap, where you always have an “out” with your part time job “Oh, it’s okay that I’m not get­ting much work, I have my part time job to fall back on.”

This mind­set reduces the imme­di­acy of the prob­lem of find­ing more work, which means you’ll always be sail­ing at half mast. Your senses sim­ply aren’t tuned into a fight for sur­vival mode.

When we are in this men­tal space of sur­viv­ing, we are capa­ble of dras­tic changes and we will either do what is nec­es­sary to sur­vive and live or we will crash and find out we didn’t have what it took this time around. We feel alive when we are doing this, because we are act­ing as cap­tains of our own des­tiny, at the same time it can be scary because we’re not sure we can sail the ship.

This is a nec­es­sary mind­set for free­lanc­ing suc­cess­fully, and it is very dif­fi­cult to embrace if you’re still being paid con­sis­tently by some­one else as an employee.

Before I advise you on the rest of your email…what do you fear? Why don’t you like to com­pete? Why do you feel you lack con­fi­dence? Get back to me with these answers and we can keep chatting…

To be Continued…

That’s all for now, short and sweet!

As usual, if you have any feed­back, com­ments or advice you feel is per­ti­nent to this topic, please leave it in the com­ments sec­tion below. And if you think that this infor­ma­tion will help any aspir­ing free­lancers, please share the link…sharing is car­ing, help spread the knowledge.

Stay tuned for part 2 in a cou­ple of days…until then, stay hungry.



  1. Mitchel
    May 16, 2011

    It is easy for us to cre­ate a men­tal envi­ron­ment that gen­er­ates a neg­a­tive pat­tern in our lives. We con­tin­u­ally doubt our­selves and it becomes a habit forged over the years.

    Just think — every time we have a doubt­ful thought about our­selves — if instead we reversed and found the courage to con­tinue, then we would forge a pos­i­tive outlook.

    Take the next step Mar­cus, in the direc­tion that your heart takes you!

    • Darren Yeow
      May 26, 2011

      Absolutely, learn­ing to suc­ceed is as much as habit as learn­ing to fail, thanks for post­ing Mitch 🙂


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