Episode 32: How To Kickstart Your Career As A Freelance Designer – Interview with Nik Parks of Launching Creative

[To be a successful freelancer] there’s more to the equation than being a talented artist…having that drive and that ambition is really the secret sauce.

nik parks launching creative design draw speak christina canters

Are you a design student or graduate who is thinking about dipping your toe (or perhaps plunging) into the world as a freelancer? Firstly: good for you! And secondly: you’re gonna love this episode!

This week I am very excited to have on the show fellow podcaster Nik Parks (@Nik_Parks) from Launching Creative.

Nik, along with his business partner David Rock, started Launching Creative to help creatives launch their own businesses and become business-savvy professionals.

In this episode, Nik and I are talking about what it takes to be a successful freelance designer.

In this episode you will discover:

  • Nik’s “Two Things” about: working with clients who know nothing about design:
    1. Patience. Your knowledge is SPECIALIZED. It’s easy to get absorbed in the ‘design bubble’ at school and assume everyone knows what you’re talking about. You need to be patient with your clients and show them why your design is the best solution.
    2. Assert yourself in finding clients. Don’t be a ‘clam’ – as in: don’t wait for things to land in your lap! You should be more like a ‘shark’ – track clients down, hustle, and FIND THEM.
  • How Nik started freelancing – and how he got his first clients
  • TIP: reach out to your existing networks through friends and family – you never know who they know!
  • Why you should start doing this stuff on the side…NOW
  • Why freelance work is so valuable – even if you’re not getting paid a lot when starting out
  • How you can leverage free work to help you later on
  • Why you should reach out to bigger name clients!
  • Are there internship requirements for your course? Don’t just meet the minimum requirements – do extra if you can!
  • Relationships are KEY. When doing freelance work – think about if you’re doing this for short term monetary gain or long term relationships.
  • Look for reasons to show drive and ambition. This will make you stand apart.
  • Challenges Nik faced when starting out as a freelancer:
    – Isolation when working from home
    – Not knowing how to price himself
    – Finding a community of like-minded creatives
  • How Nik overcame these challenges!
  • How to find people to mentor you and help you out
  • PLUS…Nik’s advice for getting started as a freelancer
  • Yes, it’s fine to have a job and freelance on the side!
  • What Nik loves most about freelancing:
    – Freedom
    – You’re pushed to be the most efficient version of yourself (less incentive when you’re working 9-5 for someone else)

Get in touch with Nik:

Website: http://launchingcreative.com/
Give him and David some Facebook love: https://www.facebook.com/LaunchingCreative
Send them a tweet: https://twitter.com/Nik_Parks https://twitter.com/launchcreate

Challenge of the Week:

Find someone you admire, reach out to them, and ask them for a piece of advice. This could be via email, a phone call, twitter, or (eep!) maybe even in person! If you want to be really creative, make them a handmade note, or a video.

How you can do it:

  1. -Flatter them  – ie “I really admire your work”, “I love how you did x or “How you landed x job” etc
  2. Ask a question, but make it easy for them to respond. For example, you could ask: “How did you get your first big job? Was it A: referred through a contact B: did you actively seek out and hustle for it or C: did they find you through your online portfolio? A, B or C?”
  3. If you get a response, make sure you follow up to thank them, and let them know if you follow their advice!

Remember, this is good communication practice too! So even if you don’t get the answer you were hoping for, or if you don’t know what to ask, so what!

Treat it like practice. And who knows, they may be so flattered and impressed at how proactive you are, you may just find yourself with an awesome new mentor. And those sorts of relationships will stand you in excellent stead. You’ve got nothing to lose, so go for it :)

I’m going to do this too. I’ll be posting what happens in a blog post next week!


  1. Love Love LOVE this one Chris! Very relevant for freelance writers too.

What are your thoughts?