In a new Dribbble interview, interdisciplinary designer Kerem Suer shares why he’s chosen freelancing over a full-time position. He also shares how the perception of freelance life doesn’t exactly match the reality. Running his own freelance design business has allowed Kerem the freedom to travel, spend time with his family, and create his own brand.
How has your career been impacted by Dribbble?
My name is Kerem. I’m a software designer. Right now, I’m freelancing in the San Francisco Bay Area. Dribbble’s impact on my career on has been phenomenal. I started Dribbbling in 2011 or so. I got invited by my Art Director, Mark Bolte from Fitbit. At that point, we all started sharing our work on Dribbble and it was great because we actually got a lot of feedback. At Fitbit, we didn’t have a lot of inspiration back then. Not a lot of people were doing step tracking and fitness dashboards. I got a lot of feedback from people I didn’t even know. From that moment it was just, you know uphill from the exposure that I had gotten from Dribbble, from other players, from companies—it was fantastic.
Why do you choose to freelance?
The impact of freelancing has been great in my life. When you don’t have a job, you just don’t get to choose between freelancing or working full-time, but once I had a job and I started going into office 9 to 5, I realized early on—there is another option that I can do which is working from home or wherever I want. I want to travel. I want to go out. I want to stay home. Basically be on my schedule. So, Dribbble has really affected me and exposed me to so many clients and so many companies. Since I started freelancing—I’ve stayed home, I have stayed with my dogs or my son or my wife. I’ve traveled a lot. Being on my schedule has been really great.
What are your thoughts on freelance vs. full-time work?
In my experience, I spent a lot of time talking, understanding, and empathizing and working with people and I spent less time actually designing. Basically, it would be 5:00 pm and would be like all right, now it’s time to design. The main difference is the way you plan your day. The way you think about your responsibility. With full-time, it’s more or less you what know your responsibility is to do your tasks. With freelancing, you’re responsible for your whole day and just jumping in between many tasks and unblocking yourself.
What’s your least favorite part about freelancing?
Often people think about freelancing as vacation time. I don’t know, you get to work from wherever you want. You get to work whenever you want. But it’s really running a small business by yourself. You get lonely. I love my dog so I get to spend time with her. Sometimes I talk to her. She doesn’t talk back. Being lonely and socializing you know, I’ll find myself cornering our neighbors and talking to them, forcing them to answer me. Another thing is billing, invoicing and all the paperwork you have to do. In a way you know, I learned a lot about financing. I learned a lot about accounting. It’s just not my favorite thing you know, especially you know clients not paying—you have to follow up with them. It’s my absolute least favorite thing.
Freelancing is your own business, it’s your own brand. You have to be responsible and know just how I design experiences for companies. In that way, I need to design the experience companies are going to go with me as well.