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August 29, 2006



A lovely piece of info!


You're blog is pretty useful..I like it much...I'll keep in touch with this site to know more informations..


Great list. I'm going to have to print it out and tape it up on the wall in my home office so I can remind myself!

Alasdair Morgan

Here's a suggestion for your holiday quandry:

Book your holiday (if you're going to go away somewhere), 6 months in advance, and buy tickets, etc., at least 3 months in advance (of course get insurance just in case), so that you're obligated to go.

Everything else will take care of itself (including timing and money).

All the best,



Fantastic advice for freelancers in any field. Number sixteen is the one I need to take most heed of, I think.


I have a "vacation" fund, and I save up for several small trips through out the year, and thankfully also have friends all over the country. I'll take long weekends to go visit them.

I also have a special fund which is my "fun" vacation. I put a little in it every week and once a year I go some where - alone or with a friend - a bit more extravagant. This year I'm planning for somewhere with sunshine, white beaches and drinks with umbrellas.


Great advice!

I've been freelance for over 10 years, and just this year had my first proper holiday. My advice on that would be to block out some time in your diary way ahead of when you want to take your holiday, then when work comes in for that period, say 'I'm sorry, I have commitments during June'. Clients will think that they can persuade you out of a holiday, but they won't question 'other commitments'. And remember that it *is* an important commitment - to yourself.

And to add a few more:

Save. When times are good, (or evening not so good), make sure you put money away in the bank. Not only will it help you through the sparse times when work is thin on the ground, it will also mean that you have money available should some sort of disaster befall you. If you spend from your savings, make sure you top them back up again as soon as you are able. This, of all things, takes a lot the stress out of freelancing, which is usually about money.

Don't wait until you are short of work to start doing marketing. Freelancers are susceptible to the 'feast or famine' cycle, i.e. you either have too much work or not enough. It's far better for the nerves to level this rollercoaster out a bit, so try to always have some kind of background marketing going on all the time. Blogs are really good for this, so for those who don't yet have one, get one! Try not to fall in to the trap of 'I am so busy with this client I don't have time to market myself' because that will inevitably lead to 'Oops, no work.' Make time every week to do admin and marketing.

If you get really busy, put your prices up. Instead of trying to cram more work in, try to earn more for doing less. Yes, I know, it's difficult for those of us with an over-developed work ethic, but seriously, if you're too busy it means you're not charging enough.

Anyway, brilliant article - glad I'm not the only one dealing with these issues!

Paul Kirchner

Excellent guidelines. I have been a freelance illustrator since 1973, minus six years as an art director at an ad agency. I second everything you say, and if I might I would add a couple of other lessons I've learned:

1.) Always get a jump on a job. If you procrastinate because you have a generous deadline, you may end up having to turn down other work that comes in when you're up against it.

2.) Sensitize your antennae to what the art director says. It may be something like, "The sketch looks great. . . at first I was a little concerned about the guy's hairstyle, but then I thought, no, I'm just over-thinking, so don't worry about it, everything's fine." That means--change the hairstyle!

3.) Communicate early and often. If time permits, fax or email the art director rough sketches before going to tight sketches. This has saved me a lot of wasted effort.

4.) I would underline your point #4 about "attitude." The art director is generally under a great deal of stress. When you get last-minute or seemingly arbitrary changes, or stinging criticisms, accept them cheerfully. Never express the irritation you may feel. The extent to which you can do this will go a long way toward creating successful long-term relationships. Some art directors have poor people skills. If you're one of the illustrators they feel comfortable dealing with, you'll be amply rewarded.


Followed a link here from elseblog. Glad I did. Great tips. Thank you :)

Nicolette Tallmadge

I'm a jeweler, not an illustrator, I just like to look at art and illustrations tand be inspired. :) But these 17 lessons also applies to what I do also...it actually applies to almost anyone who works for themselves. I put a link to this article on my own blog.

Contgratulations on your 17 years, may you have at least 17 more!


I have a slightly different take on vacations.

First, I tend to take many more short breaks than full-on trips.

Second, I often combine them with work-related travel trip, tagging on a few extra days at the end of a conference, etc.

Third, on the advice of my first shrink, I retrained myself to think of "vacation" as "different from everyday." So even if my "vacation" is moving my work to a remote location for a week, it still feels like a break.

Congratulations for a spectacular run! And thanks for the tips. I'm moving from group to solo next year, and the Chamber of Commerce is a great idea.

Vanessa Colina

Hi Megan, i'm writting to let you know that i think your article it's pretty useful. That's why i've traslated it into spanish and post it in my Blog. Don't worry, i gave you full credit. Please be sure to check it out:


I love this, thank you! I'm trying to run my tiny business and freelance/look for work. Can I just say, arrghh! But this puts things in perspective - thanks again!

Jason Chatfield

Having been a freelancer of only two years I can say that I have trouble with all 17 of these - thanks for the advice :)

sameer kulavoor

THANKS so much! these tips are really inspiring..and they're gonna help me to keep goin on! and congratulations on your 17th anniv!!


thanks for sharing this with us! very good to feel you're not alone and others experience similar stuff... congrats to your 17 years, awesome =)


Congratulations for your Anniversary and thank you very much for charing this "tips". I'm a frelancer too and found them so good and useful!!

Greetings from Peru!!


Greetings from Mexico. I found your post an inspiration, i WOULD like to be self-employed at some point, and your article was really helpful. Im already doing some freelance work, but i gotta be more disciplined. Im going to print your post and put it on my wall, thanks again for the advice. Keep up the great work! and CONGRATULATIONS for you 17th aniversary, i wish you have a lot more.

kathy weller

A big, fat THANK YOU!!!! This is not only a reality check, it is totally inspirational to me. I hope to go freelance sometime in the near future. I really want to take the gigantic leap! But at least in the interim, by woring both a day job and doing freelance, I am learning many of your 17 Things first-hand. One that comes screaming into my head is number 8! I hear that one!! Then there's number 9, number 11...ok, just about ALL of them, I guess!! Anyway, thanks for the list - it's really inspiring and I look forward to joining the ranks in the future.


I've just quit my second job ("real", that is), and I'm definitely going freelance (software... seems a lot of us are into that area). I was having doubts about this kind of life, but hey, what the hell, right? I'll be happier! I'm already happier (been doing it for two little months!!). Thanks for the inspiration!

Chris In England

Thanks for the phone call....


hi! well written tips!it opens my mind to enjoy life and being a freelance software developer..anyhow, congrats!lots of blessings!Godbless!



How did I miss this?! Thanks for this post - lovely and useful!

Heather Castles

Meg, great advice, all very down-to-earth. You're a tallented illustrator AND you quote Monty Python, you rock!

Brian Duey

Thanks alot for the tips. I can relate with a bunch of the stuff you mentioned!

Blake Hunter

great post!

Jay Montgomery

Great and practical advice. I'm going on 12 years fullime freelance illustration and all these ring true. I just wish I could follow them all the time.

Andy J. Smith

Very cool read! Thanks for the post! And congrats on 17 years as a fulltime freelancer... I'm going on 5 months!
All the best,


Very wise indeed, and bravo for the 17 years !

I free-lanced for many years, and now I'm with a company, but the vacation problem is
always the same. Last year I "lost" 22 days of PAID vacation (I work in Paris,France); here there is a delay to respect and I didn't... for the usual reasons...

But I found a surefire way to insure vacation : simply by talking about upcoming vacation ideas with my loved ones (especially my teen-age kids), which generally puts everyone in a great mood, and prompts me to carry through with my promises ! We all deserve it, and with a little planning and organization everything is possible !


Congratulations! These are really great guidelines, thank you.

gary dunn

hi from the uk!
there's a lot of stuff here i recognise!-i have been self employed since 1990 and have had many a dilemma to face like you in those years.the hol-work-no money-no time one always seems to rear its head..we now have two boys..so spare time is now stretched so thin!
i work in town-london- in fits and starts and together with my wife we run a home business too-busy most of the time-we still never turn anything away..sort of a survival mentality going on still
i find myself reassuring newbie freelancers in a similar way that you do here..re tax money..time off..and most of all keeping busy..when we are 'lean' i find the garage is incredibly tidy..or the yard is weeded within an inch of its life..funny ..i do the same...and end up thinking about work in a theraputic way.
thanks for posting-and congratulations too!

gary dunn


Thank you, thank you, thank you!

This is my first year as a freelance illustrator, I quit my job back in December and your advice is very helpful and valuable.

Congrats on your 17 years of freelancing! I only hope to have as much success as you!


Even though not a freelancer yet, or maybe I am a freelancer just haven't gotten any work yet! ha, still loved reading the list.

They may be common sense but they can be easily overlooked and who doesn't need a refresher. Congrats on 17, and early congrats on the next 17!

And the orange font does just fine, cause if you really want to read it, you will. ha ha

Birgit Schultz - Rat & Tat Marketing

Thank you for all your tips! I'm in my fourth year as a freelancing marketing consultant and am extremely thankful for tip #13. I found that in summers no one seems to have work for me, however, from September onwards customers usually come back. Still, I'm worrying too much in that time.

As for taking vacations - I found that I've got the same feelings as you have but every odd year me and my partner (also a freelancer) feel that we have to get new impressions. There are cheap ways to travel - and sometimes relatives at interesting places may be nice hosts if it's not too long.


Zach Everson

Congrats! I just celebrated my two-year anniversary of freelancing. My suggestion for taking a vacation: schedule it months in advance. That way you can plan your work around it and notify your regular clients about your not being available.


I am only in my third year of freelancing but in a different field, that is programming. I find your advices very useful. Thanks and Best Wishes



Nice list, I am from the software area, but all you said applies to us. I have been a freelancer (or sometimes a small business owner) for 11 years. As you said, it is so difficult to have vacations !!


What a great list! Your point about not being afraid to call up a client who's been out of touch for a while is an extremely good one - a tip that has paid off in the past... I can identify with so much of what you say - for example, I find it's a constant struggle to stay organized, and I'm sure that if I could only learn to manage my time a little more effectively, it might actually have been possible to take more than a one-day vacation sometime in the past decade! Congratulations on 17 years of freelancing, and I wish you many more happy and productive years in business!


This will be of great help to me. Thanks for the tips!

Chris Dillon

Great list and congratulations on your anniversary. I've been an entrepreneur for 11 years, and here are two things that I'd add:

1. Attend conferences and seminars -- they are a great way to stay visible, keep your skills up to date, and meet prospective customers, partners and suppliers.

2. Don't be afraid to (graciously) turn down work. A project or a client that is not a good fit for your skills or your temperment will make you unhappy or worse, and interfere with your ability to do profitable work that you enjoy.



Good guidlines i have add it to my favorites

Brian Morris

Congrats on 17 years - it's inspiring. After 6 years of freelancing, i took a "real job" two weeks ago, and am already questioning my decision.

Your advice is dead on - thanks.

Doug Schwartz

17 years? Good job! I'm at 20 and counting.

You must take a vacation. I'm lucky--my wife doesn't work and loves to research the sunny places like Hawaii and Mexico. We usually take 10 days off in the spring when our daughter is on her spring break, so I can tell folks months in advance when I'll be gone.

It takes me about two days to wind down, so then I have another whole week to eat papaya off the tree, etc. I do start getting a bit antsy to get back to it after about a week, so 10 days just works out great.

doug in Seattle

John Bokma

@9 "There will be days when NO time is your best time. Work anyway.". My advice, if you have a day that is a NO, then take that day off, *and* when needed, use a weekend day to get even. In my experience trying to force something getting out of your hands results in a very unsatisfying day that can have it's impact on the next.

@10 vacation: plan ahead, months. So you and your customers know it's coming.

Very good list, thanks.

Bud Bilanich

Congratulations on 17 years in business! I had my 18th anniversary in April.
More importantly, thanks for these great common sense ideas on running a business.
Best wishes for 17 or 34 (or however long you want to work) more years of success.
Bud Bilanich
The Common Sense Guy


Congrats! Wow, 17 years - that's amazing!

Re. vacation - I personally go around this by traveling to events that take place out of town and tack on an extra couple of days to the trip. (In my case it's rock concerts, but it can be anything.) The event gives me a "deadline" and a better sense of purpose, and even if I really don't have the time for anything more, at least I've managed to get away for a bit.

Duncan Robertson - Brand Empire

Congratulations on your 17 years of freelance success!

Thank you for the guidelines for all the rest of us newer freelancers.

John Cox


I've only been freelancing for seven years, but I've worked out the holiday thing. Book them ahead and pay for them ahead. I started out booking holidays in January (a traditionaly quiet time) and paying them off over the year. It meant that even if I had no work (and no money) during january I knew I would still be sitting in a resort on a beach for a week, fully paid for.

And another thing about holidays - go somewhere where you HAVE to do nothing. Doing nothing is such a hard thing to do at home, because there is always a few more hours on a project, or a few more emails to check. Go AWAY and turn off. your body and your family will thank you for it.


A belated congratulations/happy freelance anniversary (& happy birthday to your nephew, as well) :)
Thanks for the tips!


Congratulations!! I'm sure you have many fond memories of the last 17 years as a freelancer :)

Great nuggets of advice too :)


Congrats on the 17 years!
Now trot on down to Starbucks and have a Mocha Frappuccino to celebrate!


Congrats! I can see why you've made it to your 17th aniversary. Great advice.

Now, go choose some set dates for a vacation in 2007. You've earned it. :)

Carrie Sommer

Wow - congratulations! This is such a milestone and so fabulous that you've been able to do what you love full time for so long. That is so inspirational to me! Thank you - and thank you for the valuable insight!


Such good advice - I have skim-read, but I am going to take time to come back later and read through all of them properly. And Happy 17th Anniversary!


I enjoy your drawings and writings tremendously!! Is any of your work available on clothing?? I LOVE your
work so much and would love to find a t-shirt or other apparel I could wear. Thanks and keep creating!
Your work is a blessing !!

Miz Booshay


What great guidelines!


Great post and happy anniversary to you!

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