How to become a successful freelancer | Paul Jarvis Interview

Ever dreamed of ditching the cubicle to work from home? Trying to build a business as a solo entrepreneur? Turning your passion into a paycheck? Freelancing may be all the rage but not everyone is Boba Fett.

Paul Jarvis is a leading freelance designer and bestselling author of The Good Creative. He just launched a new course on freelancing called The Creative Class that lays out the systems he’s used to do consistently successful projects for top clients. I’m a big fan of Paul’s writing on creativity and entrepreneurship (here’s an example), so I was thrilled when he agreed to share some of his hard-earned lessons. I’ve been self-employed since grad school, so the topic is close to my heart. Any freelancer would do well to learn from his down-to-Earth perspective.

Here are some of the questions we tackle:

  • How did you go out on your own and start freelancing? What role do designers play in the big picture of technology in society?
  • Why has freelancing gone from being a weird hobby to a serious career path over the past 15 years? How does it compare to other forms of entrepreneurship? What does the future of work look like?
  • How do you balance research and production on design projects? How do you go about understanding what you are designing for? At any given time, are you working on many small projects or a couple of big ones?
  • What are the biggest mistakes that freelancers make? Where are the elephant traps?
  • What’s the most counter-intuitive thing you’ve learned about freelancing and design?
  • How can I become a better freelancer?
  • What tools or resources do you recommend for freelancers? What’s something about freelancing/design that you believe in but few people agree with?
  • What is survivorship bias and how does it impact freelancers/entrepreneurs trying to find success? If we can’t use role models as models for success, what should we think about instead?
  • How do authors build and inspire audiences?
  • What’s your creative process like behind-the-scenes?
  • What are the best books you’ve read recently?
  • What’s the most important question I’m not asking?

Paul’s reading recommendations:

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