How to Stay Motivated as a Freelance Designer

As a freelancer, you often have the choice to work from home or join a creative team. However, you choose to work, your success depends on the unique designs you offer – and therefore your creativity.

To keep your ideas fresh, you need to stay motivated. Paying attention to the way that you work can keep you on the ball, creative and inspired. This will ensure your imagination is able to flourish!

Each of us finds a way of working which feels natural. Listen to yourself. When you work with your own rhythms, this will keep your creativity alive. Here are a few thoughts and suggestions:

Create your space

Robin Friend has a book called Sanctuary: Britain’s Artists and their Studios. This book takes readers behind the scenes to explore the workspaces of 120 artists.

All artists need a space to work in which inspires creativity. As a graphic designer, this might mean creating a desk space that reflects your tastes or creating a home office where you feel completely free to surround yourself with your favorite sources of inspiration.

Take time to think about what inspires you and the type of environment you need in order to do your best work.

Divide your time

As a designer, you will have goals you would like to achieve. Break your day up into set goals or targets based on the blocks of time you will need to complete a project.

Divide your goals up into small and achievable segments and offer yourself a reward when you achieve each one. This will keep you motivated.

Go with your flow

As a designer, you will have times when you can work productively, and times when you feel uninspired. If you feel most creative early in the morning, use this time to do the bulk of your work.

Remember to take breaks too. The psychologist James Hillman shares that often creative ideas strike most strongly during a long walk. Time away from work gives you time to allow new ideas to simmer to the surface.

Research widely

As a designer, your goal is to explore as many ideas you can on a project or topic before you start drawing or designing. Researching widely gives you multiple ideas to draw inspiration from. Once you have explored the ideas already out there, forget all about them.

Left in the background, these ideas will be the tinder your imagination will use to burn brightly with your own unique flare.

Give yourself space

Too much work and no play will leave you feeling exhausted. Sometimes all you need for new ideas to emerge is a change of scenery. It is often during times of rest that new insights emerge.

This can mean going for a walk, watching a movie or having a snack outside. Rest and a change of scenery will give you space you need to feel refreshed.

Not only does taking a break allow space for new ideas to emerge. It will also allow you to feel refreshed. This means that when you return to work you’ll be able to give your designs your full concentration.

Ignore the competition

If you spend a great deal of time comparing yourself to others, place your focus on your goals, your projects and your own creative ideas or insights.

Although the designs of others can provide inspiration, your job is to create your own path in the field of graphic design.

You can only do this by giving your best for each project. Your journey as a graphic designer takes place one project at a time. Concentrate on your own work so that you can make steady progress.


Although comparing yourself to others isn’t helpful, meeting your peers, discussing ideas and drawing inspiration from them will be of benefit.

This is because you can learn from your peers. Joining a professional network will assist you in exploring new ideas. You can learn about what is going on in the industry.

Sharing experiences will help you to feel supported. You can learn how others have coped as freelancers. Other designers might also be able to assist you with work opportunities. By being present in your design sector, you will feel more motivated and inspired as a designer.

Get to know your strengths

Positive psychology shares that when we understand our strengths and practice these character strengths, we improve quality of life and find a great deal more enjoyment.

These 24 strengths include creativity, a love of learning, curiosity, zest, the ability to see multiple angles or perspectives, love, teamwork, spirituality, kindness, gratitude and bravery.

You can find out your top strengths through the VIA Survey of Character Strengths. Each of us has all of the 24 strengths described, just in different quantities.

By becoming aware of those which come naturally to us, we are able to adjust our work to use these strengths in our daily lives. This will lead to increased energy and a more fulfilling career.

Look inside for motivation

Fame, money, praise, and acknowledgment are often easier goals to work towards. However, author Daniel Pink shares that searching for external rewards can often prevent us from looking at the big picture. The keys to a successful career as a graphic designer lay inside.

In order to give of your best, it is important to find your own intrinsic motivations. This is how to do it:

Give your work meaning or purpose. This will guide you through difficult times.

Fight for freedom of choice in the work you take on, your approach to this work, and the team you work with.

Aim to improve your work skills and develop your talents so that you master your goals. You will emerge as a stronger designer.

And if that doesn’t work, just put a different motivational wallpaper on your desktop every few weeks.

Set large goals

Small goals are important in creating progress. They prevent us from becoming overwhelmed by the tasks we need to achieve. Achieving small goals increases our confidence and shows us that we are able to make progress with our work. However, it is equally important to dream – and to find ways to put these dreams into action.

Jim Collins shares that it is important to set Big Hairy Audacious Goals. These goals are difficult to achieve and might stretch us to our full potential. However, they are not impossible. They often require a decade of commitment.

They are exciting enough to motivate you. Working towards a BHAG will change your life, giving you the opportunity to see the world through a different lens. This transformation will take place even if you never actually complete your goal and will expand your view of the world.

Explore new paths

If you feel as though you are getting stuck in a rut with your projects, you might like to add something new to your next project. You could try new tools or techniques or take on a project with a different angle.

This will help you to develop your skills as a designer. You’ll be able to set yourself apart. You can use your newly acquired talents in new projects too, expanding your artistic repertoire.

Negotiate with your clients

When you’ve tried your hardest on a project it can be disappointing if your client feels unhappy. Graphic design projects take hours of work, and an unhappy client can kill off your motivation. Your biggest challenge is to keep working after a setback.

In order to do this, try to negotiate with your clients after you’ve worked on a project. This means listening to what the client thinks and feels about your work. You can also share how you think and feel. It is in negotiating that you will be able to reach common ground with your client.

There is never a single approach to design. Work towards understanding your client’s goals and needs. Share your vision with your client. You may not have to recreate your entire project from scratch. Small changes may keep your client happy whilst you work with your creativity.


When looking at ways to remain inspired or motivated as a graphic designer, it is important to choose what works best for you.

Different approaches may work at different times of your career. Be willing to explore, changing and adapting your behavior as needed in order to achieve your best results.

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