I started my first job as a UX Designer at Microsoft soon after finishing my Master’s degree in Interaction Design at IDC School of Design, IIT Bombay.

How did I get here?

When I was a nerdy, computer obsessed teenager in school, a few of my nerdy, computer-obsessed friends were part of the school computer club, Exun. Members could hang out in the computer lab and go for inter-school competitions, and so I desperately wanted to join the club. This lead me down the path of learning GIMP, a free and open source graphics editor like Photoshop, and later a variety of video editing softwares so I could make short films. I even dabbled in making some very odd stop-motion films, like this one:

I like to think this is not bad, just avant-garde.

Get a work website and an email

“Looking” professional can help by having indicators A potential client needs reasons to trust you.

Show your work

Create a place to show your work. This can include projects, reviews from clients, and

If you are actively looking for jobs, also keep an updated copy of your resume on your website. Here are some tips for making a great resume.

Accurately estimate your available time

Offer a freebie

Insist on an advance

Insist on an advance

Keep slack in your estimates

When giving an estimate for a project with an unclear scope, give an estimate for the worst case scenario. Let the client know that it’s an estimate and that you will charge them for the time it actually takes, but in no case will it be more than the estimate.

For eg. if your hourly rate is $25, and you think a project might take about 10 hours, quote $300 instead of $25. Be honest with your billing, and if it took less time, your client will feel like they got a good deal. If it actually does take longer (which it often does, things can always go wrong or just be more complicated than expected) you will have a little bit of breathing room in your estimate.

Write down the scope of work and expected payment schedule

Underpromise, Over-deliver

Give the client just a little bit more than you promised them. If you charged for a logo, throw in some business cards. If you’re designing an app for a new startup, create some social media banners for them. Figure out what your client could use, and if it doesn’t take too much effort, do it. This is also a good

Plan for stretches of no work

Unlike a job where there is usually a consistent flow of work and a consistent income, freelance work can come in ebbs and flows. You can sometimes get a lot of work together, and at other times it can feel like there’s nothing for a long stretch. You need to build up savings.

Plan for too much work

The flip side of not having work is having too much work. There are only so many hours in the day, and if you take on too much work at once, you may be unable to deliver work on time.

I’ve kept in touch with a network of people who do similiar work, and instead of taking on too much work and then being unable to deliver or

Set some boundaries

When you are your own boss, you set your own work hours. Don’t like getting up early? No problem, work at night! Feel like taking a day off when there’s not much to do? That’s fine too. However, the flip side is that when you have no clearly defined time off, you are always “working”, and the work can start to take over your entire life. At the peak of my time doing freelance work, I had a few different clients spread across India, Baku, UK and USA, which meant I was often up at odd hours for calls and I would carry my laptop nearly everywhere I went in case I had work. Keeping clients happy can mean that I would not say no for urgent requests that came through even outside of my usual work hours.

This was okay for a while—I enjoyed the work, and my clients were always happy with the work I provided and often referred other people

Keep learning

If you get very good at one thing, it’s easy to keep doing the same thing because you understand it better and get faster at it. However, it is also very easy to stagnate in such a situation. It is crucial

When you are your own boss, you can pick your own work hours.