3 Secret Steps To Dramatically Improve Your Freelance Lifestyle – Even If You’re Just Starting Out

Where is the boundary between doing your work and the tasks you love? Are you doing what you always wanted to do? Do you want to do more, become more? When should you learn to become more productive and implement routines in your life? And when should you simply quit your existing job and do something else that makes you happier? This simple article will help you to be more aware about where you currently are as well as aid you to understand where you want to go. Three simple steps are all you need, three steps I am using in my own life to be more, do more and become even more fulfilled!

I invite you to participate and share your experiences, in fact, I will give away two books Play It Away and Power of Habit to the most genuine sharing in the comments. Are you ready to hack and experiment with your life, do the things you never thought possible, and question things you never questioned?! Let’s challenge the status quo!

Why These Three Steps Are So Crucial To Create Dream Freelance Lifestyle?


I know these steps are important to you because you are here; you are just like me! You want to have personal freedom and take charge of your life and do what you love; you don’t want to work for anybody. Before we go into these steps, let me share where I am coming from.

For the last few months I have had really interesting conversations with Walter from WebDesignerDepot. I also hired personal development coach Mikal, who challenged my assumptions about life, meaning, my purpose. I read several books like:

  • Man’s Search for Meaning – it’s about a man who survived 3 years in several Nazi death camps. In this book written by Viktor E. Frankl, you’ll read about the lessons on spiritual survival.
  • Awaken Giant the Within – A Tony Robbins personal development book, where he teaches his most effective strategies and techniques for mastering your emotions, your body, your relationships, your finances, and your life.
  • Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It ..because it does. A quick and useful read from Kamal Ravikant.

These conversations and books challenged my assumptions about hard work, goal setting and what it means to be truly successful. Is life supposed to be hard work? Are you successful only if you are rich and have nice résumé which looks good to others?

Truth is,  if you feel like you are doing hard work, you should stop doing it. A good job shouldn’t be hard; it should feel like motivating, excitingly challenging, yes, but not hard work.

You should set strict daily routines once you have decided what you want to be and do. This is very important for freelancers and entrepreneurs. For people who work for somebody, it is easier because if you will not stick with routines and schedules, you will simply be fired.

No hacks, productivity tips, exercises, rituals will truly help you if you aren’t doing something you are passionate about!

Step 1: Figure out what you love to do!


“My general attitude to life is to enjoy every minute of every day. I never do anything with a feeling of, “Oh God, I’ve got to do this today.” – Richard Branson

This first step is the most challenging because you need to understand if the things you love to do will also make you financially well-set. For example, I love salsa dancing, but I don’t take I would make good money with it. I am afraid that if I start teaching salsa, I will not enjoy it anymore as a hobby. Then I also love technology and writing. Now, this is the field where I know I can help people, make money and be happy! What about you?

Also, think how you can change focus in your existing work. Maybe after years of programming websites you have grown tired of programming, and now you want to start designing as well? You can easily do that. Use your existing skills and slowly transition!

My challenge for past two years was that I got tired of web design topics and didn’t know what to do! 1stWebDesigner is a web design blog after all, so how can I do good job at 1stWebDesigner if I am not a passionate web designer myself anymore?

But then I thought – I can change focus! I am still passionate about hacking freelance lifestyle, beautiful designs, future trends, team culture, productivity, and Internet marketing. Internet marketing includes launching your own blog, courses, books, doing A/B testing, tracking, segmenting, email marketing, social media, and funnel building.

This knowledge can be seriously valuable for every freelancer, don’t you think? As I am writing this now, it feels so simple and clear, but I just figured this out after two years! I think the key here is just to set time aside and think about these questions.We don’t usually do that.

So what are you passionate about? What doesn’t feel like hard work for you, but seems hard for others? What are your superpowers?

Step 2: Become conscious of how you spend your time and incorporate routines


Even if I knew I love to write about technology, it turned out my life was already full other to-dos! After doing Step 1 and figuring out what I loved to do, two months passed until I really started writing! I really love to dance salsa, but I am not doing it now! Why?

We are creatures of habits. Unless we consciously set aside time for things we love to do, we will not do them! Even at this moment, when I consciously set time to write, I am still procrastinating to actually start writing. It’s hard to start a new habit, unless we are conscious of how we spend time. Often, we’ll just waste lots of it.

In book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, the author analyzes the routines of 161 inspired and inspiring minds, among them, novelists, painters, and mathematicians. They describe how they subtly maneuver the many (self-inflicted) obstacles and (self-imposed) daily rituals to get done the work they love to do such as by waking early or staying up late and so on. Read Tim Ferris article to get quick taste of the book.

What dawned on me was that these people love what they are doing, yet they still have strict daily rituals to get to work. Many writers have strict routines when writing. Some would write at least three hours every day in specific times!

Think about yourself now! For example, if you always wanted to create an app, create side project website – can you set one hour aside in the morning/evening and start doing it every day?

Step 3: Challenge The Status Quo – Path to Self Discovery


Becoming aware of how you spend your time and incorporating new routines will get you introduced to this self-growth world. But with further learning and self-discovery, you will become a totally different person over time!

The sky is the limit because, nowadays, we have unlimited access to scientific studies, books and videos to learn from and grow personally.

Just note, while some tips and routines will work for you, some won’t. You are unique. You need to spend time to explore yourself if you really want to unleash your unlimited being.

Some people are most productive at nights, some are most productive in mornings! Some people can sleep for six hours, while some need eight hours to be fully rested. Whatever it is, question yourself and don’t make any assumptions!

For example, I always thought I am a night owl because I was really productive from 21.00 to 03.00 AM. I was productive, alright, but I didn’t like what happened afterwards; I slept until noon and missed a big part of the daytime.

I questioned myself and discovered I was even more productive and happy when I wake up really early and start the day in peace and with the morning sun! All it took was little change of routine – I went to sleep earlier and woke up earlier. Now I am morning person, what about you?

Other assumption: Since I was young I was told that to fully rest, I need eight hours of sleep per day. But do I?

This UCSD School of Medicine study proves it’s actually better to get only 6-7 hours a night!:

“Although it’s a common belief that 8 hours of sleep is required for optimal health, a six-year study of more than one million adults ages 30 to 102 has shown that people who get only 6 to 7 hours a night have a lower death rate. Individuals who sleep 8 hours or more, or less than 4 hours a night, were shown to have a significantly increased death rate compared to those who averaged 6 to 7 hours.”


  • There are many people who express how much they love to sleep. There are many people who think they need eight hours of sleep every night. But is it true?
  • There are many people who say and think they couldn’t live without eating meat. But is it true?
  • Most people never challenge the status quo and blindly follow rules society gives to them. You are better than that; you are an unlimited being – you can do amazing and impossible things and it all starts with self discovery! Are you ready to challenge your status quo?

Here are some useful articles with ideas and routines you could start in order to maximise your day:

  • The Return Path to Joy, Happiness and Bliss – successful entrepreneur Yanik Silver is sharing how he overcame obstacles when struggling to move forward with a new direction in his life and business. Recommended for everybody who wants to have change in his life.
  • The Five Minute Journal by Alex Ikonn – It’s been proven over and over again that shifting your focus to the positive can dramatically improve your happiness. The key is consistency. This journal has been created by combining the proven elements of positive psychology that can make all of the difference in your life.
  • Beginner’s Guide to GTD – Getting Things Done is an awesome productivity guide, which will help you get more things done in less time. It’s also called “The Art of Stress-Free Productivity”
  • 5 Unusual Ways to Start Working Smarter, Not Harder, Backed by Science – self explaining headline, these are kinds of tips I will be talking more about in the next article!

Let me leave you with this enlightened quote. I always read it when I start to doubt myself how much I can do. I hope it will also guide you through darkness!

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson


Question time, back to you!:

  • What story you can share about how you overcame obstacles, incorporated new routines and challenged status quo?
  • What are some routines you have successfully incorporated in your life and would say have been game-changing to you?
  • What’s your favourite inspiring quote, video you check when feeling down?

P.S. Remember two lucky commentators will get these books books Play It Away and Power of Habit! See you in comment section!

UPDATE: Congratulations to Vamsi and Bless and their beautiful sharing! They are the winners of this little book contest..I appreciate you being part of this community :)

Dainis Graveris

Dainis is 25 years young man, who struggled for 3 years while studying in design academy and working for local design agency, because of ignorant teachers and agency boss. He couldn't believe this is all life could offer to him! And then he discovered true Internet possibilities, he was lucky to find his passion early in life and take advantage of this beautiful Information (Internet) Age! Now he is committed to help others succeed, to help others take charge of their life and follow their passion! His goal is to open Your eyes and help unveil Your true potential!

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  1. says

    I have been spending about 2 months now promoting, and working on my website. I have posted YouTube videos and everything, even used WordPress, and Blogger. My site seems to be going nowhere can I get some input on what I am doing wrong with my site?

  2. Karen says

    Just what I needed!

    I’m a graphic designer and I hated what I do. Turns out I was just in the wrong environment! I quit my job in December because I had a huge disagreement with my boss. He thought he could treat me like crap – I disagreed. So with no job and just my savings I started freelancing to pay the bills – even though I thought I hated designing. I have since discovered that I actually love what I do and am even pretty good at it! So far I have grown my little company and am sitting with quite a few retainer clients already and am making a good living – on my terms.

    I’ve got the discipline down. I’m also an early bird – wake up early and get to work (sitting in my home office, barefoot, no make-up in torn jeans and tee (wasn’t allowed to wear jeans at my old job). So the discipline part is not a problem. What I am finding difficult is how to balance all these new clients out. Each one has their own demands which sometimes clash with another. In my defense I’ve only been at this for 4 months so I still have a lot to learn (any suggestions?). That’s where I think I need routine.

    I receive quite a few inquiries about designing websites. My web knowledge is pretty limited so that’s why I follow your webinars and I’m slowly getting better. But even though I can create a basic, good looking and functional website, I still don’t take on the web jobs because I have no confidence in my skills yet. Just like Karen who commented earlier, I keep thinking “I need to know how to do this or that first.” and self sabotage myself every time someone asks me about websites. So thanks to your article, screw it! I’m going to take on those projects – if they work, they work. If they don’t, it’s just something new learned for next time around.

    You asked for a favorite quote. Mine is “You should work either for fun or money. Ideally both. If you’re getting neither it’s time to move on.” And that’s what I did. Moved on. And now I’m my own boss and loving it. (I can’t wait to sleep with myself to get a promotion!)

  3. says

    I have been seriously catching up my routine for hanging around online. In a single day i read many blogs and find some inspirational thoughts and sayings, again burns me up and again back to time table taking my laziness away :D

  4. Vamsi says

    Thank You. This means alot to me.

    I’m Vamsi, from India. I’m new here, joined 1stwebdesigner couple of days back. And let me tell you why this means alot to me.

    I’ve quit my job yesterday as an Analyst to do graphic design. It was nice work with good people around and no reason to quit but the quest to be a good designer. Like a hobby i used to experiment and really loved it whenever others had good things to say about it.

    Through books and internet i have been learning from about 2Years and won few logo design contests last year, a feeling that i can do something more & better. But i’ve been failing for months now, so decided to give it more time and make it a Career or may be more, a Habit.

    Thank you again because this post is like a rescue ship for me drowning in the sea of doubts & fears. Its very well written with some great book suggestions.

    I want to learn interface Design, but every time i start on it, i quit early with the feeling that i may need to code. Could you please suggest some good books for getting started?

    Keep writing great stuff like this. Good luck. :)

    • says

      Hey, hey – Vamsi! It’s awesome you decided to join our community – you are warmly welcomed! It takes lots of courage to quit your job and take a leap of faith! I am glad you did it and decided to follow your calling.

      Now on to the next part – to the next big challenge!

      But why you are so doubted about your skills to code? Learning bits of code isn’t that scary, you should at least now some basics.

      I would suggest to you even just to find more work and not learn more. Learn when you need it, but don’t keep preparing reading more books, courses – it’s procrastinating and only if you go to work and start designing, only then you will feel better..!

      Have you tried finding work to do interface design? (not sure if it’s for apps, or web interface, but no matter). I would suggest to follow this guy – http://nathanbarry.com/ – he has several good products for web app, app creation and he has strong marketing angle. That’s exactly what most designers miss – I guess you have good skills already, but you don’t know how to go about selling your work, services.

      For that reason, I would also suggest to subscribe to our mailing list, every friday we have free webinar about various freelance topics. I am sure that’s gonna help too!

      • Vamsi says

        Thank You, Dainis. It really feels good to be a part of this community.

        Will make sure to put the curiosity into action rather than being a victim of procrastination! :)

  5. Alex says

    Great article!

    I’ll tell you about a personal experience, I want to start as a freelancer and I’ve been around 1stwd for a while.

    I love web design and development (at least for now xD) I work for Mexico’s Government, every day was the same boring routine until I started working on a document management system in my free time with the skills I was learning. I decided to make that because the “institutional” system is not so functional for what we need and the department of IT its kind of… outdated.

    Two weeks later I showed my work to my boss and she said that I had a month to make it a fully functional WebApp so for that month the only thing I did where I work was web development. I finished the project and now everything I do is related with web development and It’s way better than sitting there reading boring documents.

    Now I want to freelance an 1stwebdesigner is helping me a lot, mainly the webinars (I try to be in them every friday)

    • says

      Alex, hey – thanks for awesome comment!!

      Ah, that’s and OUTSTANDING story!!! :) Because of that story, I don’t have any doubt you’ll succeed on the next thing you decide to work on as well!

      Whats your biggest challenge as of right now? How far you are on this freelance path?

  6. Karen Batista says

    Aw, this is just timely. I am starting my own freelance business but I’m still struggling with procrastination. My passion has been found already – the decision to become a webdesigner itself (I currently work as a translator) happened when I remembered how much I loved to code by hand HTML sites about my favorite rock bands back when I was a high school student…before CSS! And still, it’s something that feels good to me even after so many years :-)

    However, I see myself delaying to complete this transition to the work of my dreams. “Oh, I need to download these resources before I start”. “Oh, I need to complete this course before I can start”. And now I read this, I see it can be a way of self-sabotage…this fear of being too powerful, of not deserving something better than what I have now. But this article was enlightening, to say the least. Thanks so much Dainis :D

    • says

      Hey Karen, aren’t we all guilty in times with procrastination? :) Yes, but please..just start – even with no clients, you always need your own company/portfolio website right? Great place to get started..!

      About resources, courses..make a little switch – if you need to build website. Write down steps..and then download resources only when they are really needed before implementation. Watch quickly few lessons from course, that really matters in the time when you really cannot do it yourself and you need some guidance with course.

      When I was terribly procrastinating during Christmas season, I asked my father what should I do – I said I know that I need to write articles, but I just cannot get started. He said – don’t think, just start and see how that works out.

      Worked out great – especially since it’s your passion already, then you just need that little nudge to get started..and then you’ll fall into hours of work, where time disappears and you feel amazing..because you are doing what you love!

      Let me know how you do! Let me know that you have started, Karen! :) Inspire others with your actions here!

  7. Kalpesh Singh says

    The best part of this article is that your experience and personal touch.

    Thanks for such masterstroke!

  8. says

    Wow.. it’s great to see you’re back! :)

    That piece was great and it again reminded me about the importance of routines.. will have to be more strict about planning my days

    thanks! ;)

  9. says

    That is one personal article, I’ll tell you that.

    I guess the reason it resonates with me so much is that I have not yet overcome these setbacks as you have. I’m in that place where I know what I have to do, but I’m only just starting to do it.

    I’ve a friend who’s mentoring me in becoming a better software engineer, and it’s like you and he are saying the exact same thing. I could literally hear his voice in your writing.

    I think what I’ve done so far is figuring out what I want to do. I want to write code, not just as a means of earning a living, but I really want to build stuff that people can depend on and use everyday to improve their lives. Plus I need to earn a living on that.

    Currently what I’m doing is establishing the routine and the discipline. It’s quite hard, honestly. Between my day job and other activities, I have to squeeze in time to write code. I know it has to be everyday, so that’s what I’m working on doing now – setting schedules, making it daily.

    I realize it’s super important, cos that’s the only way I try out new things and get better at writing code, so I’m giving it all my effort right now. I like what you said about one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening, cos that’s when I also code – in the evening after work, and in the morning when I wake up.

    I stay up at night when everyone says I ought to be sleeping. That’s as far as I’m challenging the status quo… for now. I’m picking up new technologies faster than my head can wrap around them, but it’s good. Soon I will know a little bit of everything (well, most things) and then I can start to define myself from there.

    This article just lets me know that I’m on the right path and I just need to keep moving forward.

    Thanks, Dainis.

    • says

      Bless, thank you for even more personal message and kind words.. :) No pressure – it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon..and whatever seems hard becomes super easy with boring routine, repetitive actions.

      Real success stories are boring for several years..nothing sexy about that..but when you come on other side after while..ah how enjoyable it is to look back and see in mirror changed person!! :)

      Good luck in your work with yourself! Come back here for some inspiration and support! You’ll get there!

  10. says

    Thanks for the thoughts and some great links to other resources :)

    Definitely feeling the same way about being an early bird. Would work late into the night and then hate myself for crawling out at bed after noon feeling groggy.

    Early mornings help kick my procrastination as well because I feel like I have more time to get stuff done so there’s less anxiety = less procrastination

    • says

      Hey Kaye, ouh awesome to have likeminded birdie here :) Most of my team are late owls :D Yes, yes – and if you get up early, there is no sense wasting time. You got up early to do something meaningful..helps that way!! :)