3 Money lessons from a $50K freelance UI/UX project

In 2017, I was coming out from a massive burnout.

I was spending most of my money on alternative treatments. My daughter was still a baby. I had to find a new project soon or get a full-time job. I had promised myself that I would not get a full-time job until my bank account hit $0.

I start reaching out to old colleagues. And I got a meeting.

After going through this miserable year, I kinda didn’t care whether I got this project or took a full-time job. I doubled my price and I said that I would work from home and visit for meetings.

They said, YES. I could not believe this was happening.

Here are 3 lessons from this project.

#1 Unpopular companies have budgets

The software they are building was super niche. Not sexy. And profitable.

There is this fetish among UI/UX designers to work for companies that are popular. I get it. You get some bragging rights and instant credibility for the next job. But for some reason, I don’t care for that. The working vibe of the founders and the team was super chill with no pretences.

I would rather have that than the pressure of popularity.

#2 Higher pay = more trust

No micro-managing. You set the rules for how design is done in the project.

You might think the opposite. If they pay you more, they make sure they get their money’s worth by keeping you busy. But no. I got plenty of time to research and explore solutions. I got involved with the founders with their business strategy and shaping the future product.

This project left me with no tolerance for clients that sit on the shared screen with you and tell you to move this to the left and make it bigger.

#3 Do a retainer contract

This was not a quick project. The scope was massive, and there was no way I could give a fixed project.

In this case, structuring the engagement as a retained contract makes the most sense. A retainer is basically a monthly salary. The plus for you is you get recurring revenue for months. If you have time, you can work on other projects as well. You run the process as an outside consultant. The plus for your client is that they don’t pay health insurance and when the work is done the contract is discontinued.

As a solo UI/UX designer, I have found that retainer contracts are one of the keys to building a sustainable income.

Bottom line. Charge more. It’s better for you and your clients.

--

--

--

Product Designer. Writing about creating a one-person design business. designsolo.co

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

G.K. Construction — Constructing a Brand Ecosystem

Towards Analyzing Care Through A Multistep Framework

Create User Personas to know your customers

Internet, go the f*ck to sleep!

Free UI design kits: best places and resources to find them (for Sketch, Adobe XD, Figma and the…

What We Learned at #UXRConf 2018

Starting a Design System

Narrative @ Work: December 31, 2018

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Vasil Nedelchev

Vasil Nedelchev

Product Designer. Writing about creating a one-person design business. designsolo.co

More from Medium

3 early signs that you found your UI/UX design niche

Coding is an underrated tool for designers

An illustration that show a 3D character riding a car

Top 5 Lessons I Learned as a Freelance UX Designer

Design your startup logo in less than an hour