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Life as a Freelancer

It took years and even a career change to find what I actually loved doing; from working on napkin ideas, non-profits, startups, to corporate gigs. The old maxim, “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” is partially true. Yes, the work may be enjoyable so it won’t feel like actual “work” but boy do you have to put in the blood, sweat and tears to make the dream work.

My freelance / entrepreneurial endeavors started in 2008 when I started one of Seattle’s first Young Professional Networking events that connected college students and graduates with recruiters. Five bucks online (Eventbrite) or Ten bucks at the door. I focused on hosting these events at posh venues, promoted beautifully designed event invitations and providing an onsite experience that is still to this day something you don’t see at networking events. The concept was a hit. After a year, I saw a need in the market for micro-content around food and lifestyle, so I created EatSeattle. A digital publication focused on premium content, design, and beautiful photography.

After working on some passion projects, I joined an agency and worked on interactive and design projects with the top brands from around the world like Google, Microsoft, American Express, Lottery, Mercedes, Ducati, Fashion Week and many others. From designing apps, websites/flyers/brand/business cards, building out sitemaps, filming videos, user research, prototypes, and starting blogs for companies.

Fast forward 9 years, I helped design and architect the world’s first dream platform (UX/UX/Strategy) and teamed up with Ellen DeGeneres and Richard Branson to take it worldwide. I left this project in April 2017 to create more balance in my life and focus on new projects.

Freelancing and contracting can have great financial and personal benefits, my favorite being the flexibility. Whether it’s commuting, spending more time with family, or playing a round of golf. It's a path that requires discipline and self management for success, but can be well worth it if you're not the 9-5er. 

Here are some tips if you're planning on running a successful freelance business: 

  • Have a routine and schedule. It's easy to get carried away working and forget to eat lunch, or risk your health. 

  • Create a home office. Doesn't have to be big, just an environment that has great lighting, access to key essentials like a printer, shredder, stapler and some notebooks to jot ideas down. 

  • Invest in good wifi. Speed is king. You don't want to waste your valuable time waiting hours for things to load. 

  • Get organized. An organized space will help you get focused.  

The downside to running a Freelance business is finding work. It can get discouraging, but having a great portfolio and getting yourself out there is a key to success. A company I recently revisited that I'm in love with is Toptal. A dream platform for freelancers. It’s an exclusive network of the top freelance software developers, designers, and finance experts in the world. After hearing about Toptal a few years ago on Techcrunch, I revisited it and the network and service has grown substantially.

I’m super interested in joining the Toptal UX Designers Network and hope to get in and help companies around the world create memorable and addictive (in a good way) experiences. I'm especially excited to be part of this network as it focuses on quality over quantity as typically fewer than 3% are accepted out of thousands of applicants. 

Toptal also offers great tips and tutorials on their blog from software engineers, designers, finance experts, project managers, and entrepreneurs which are very helpful. Hope you enjoyed the post, I'll let you know if I get accepted into the program. 

BlogCharles KohBlog