I design .

I'm Ketan ‐ A Melbourne web designer, developer and illustrator with 20 years industry experience.

Freelancing in 2018: My year in review

21 December 2018freelancing personal business shopit

This year has been a significant change for me personally and a very challenging experience.

In December 2017, I resigned as Director/Co-founder of Manchester-based companies Project Octo Ltd and Shopit Commerce Ltd because I wasn’t happy with how they were being managed. I was working ridiculous 16 hour days with no help whatsoever, feeling very pressured, stressed and used. I had also been forced into signing away my Shopit ecommerce platform, that I had been developing over the last ten years, for the “good of the companies”. And having been in Melbourne for over a year, it had become apparent that I had limited control over how the UK office was operating, to the point there weren’t enough funds to pay our wages.

Freelancing, here I come…

So, in January I decided to go it alone as a freelancer, which was both exciting and scary, especially being used to how the UK worked. I had been successfully freelancing since 2007 (as Dubbed Creative) before starting the Project Octo agency, so I had plenty of experience in running and marketing my own design services.

My home studio

“But, what made it difficult on this occasion was that it felt like I was having to start over all again.”

You would think having worked in the industry for 20 years that I would have a substantial portfolio, but for the last three to four years I had been doing a lot of internal software development (on Shopit Cloud) and therefore didn’t have anything to show that was new and up to date. And before this, my work from the last ten years was all lost in an office burglary with the thieves taking my three Western Digital Studio drives.

Regardless of this though I managed to put together my website with whatever snippets of past work I could find, albeit looking dated. As an agency, we didn’t get any enquiries through our website (not my design!), so I was a little worried that the same would happen to me, especially with the lack of work to show. And of course, there are many freelancers out there already so it would be challenging to stand out from the crowd.

A tough start, but it all worked out

The first couple of months were hard, I didn’t have much work or enquiries coming in, but I remained positive and used this time productively to redesign my website (yes, I redesigned it straight after launching version 1!), creating the necessary proposal templates, web contracts and implementing essential business tools (e.g. invoicing, project management).

Then, a couple of clients I had worked with discovered I had departed the agency and got in touch, and things progressed nicely from there. As I did work for them, I updated my website by replacing the old projects with the new, and slowly enquiries came flooding in, to the point I had to turn them down due to being too busy.

“Switching back to freelancing has been a breath of fresh air and the change I was craving.”

Not only do I get to spend quality time with my family but I get to choose the type of work I do, when I do it and maintain a great lifestyle. And most importantly I don’t have a business partner breathing down my neck for their own personal gain. Having this freedom has helped me produce some of my best work yet, and I’m sure there is much more to come.

When I was at Project Octo, becoming rich became a sad obsession (or should I say “profession”?) for my business partner, but my belief has always been that if you try to do things only to become rich, then the love for your work dissolves, and it becomes lifeless.

I’m grateful that I have clients who understand me, my design style and the type of work I enjoy doing. And with some inspiring projects on the go at the moment, I’m looking forward to 2019!

Wishing you an eventful and prosperous 2019 too!