10 Need-To-Know Tips And Tools For 3D Freelancers

Freelancing, it can be a tough game. A few years ago I quit my job working for a yacht designer in Monaco to become a freelancer. It was quite a leap, it was scary but the pros now far outweigh any cons. I love the freedom it has given me, I no longer have to ask permission to go on holiday, I get to spend far more time with my family and I have the opportunity to work on a variety of awesome projects of my choosing. However, when I did take the leap, it wasn’t quite as easy as I’d first thought and I think I would have appreciated some hints and tips before I started. So, in the interest of knowledge sharing, here are a few things I have learnt along the way.

Work out what you do and tell everyone

First off, you need to work out exactly what you do by focusing on one thing. When I started I had a background in apps, video games, virtual reality, augmented reality and architectural visualisation. I could do it all, but that didn’t mean I should. If you want to get great you need to focus and become the go-to person in that field. For me it was high end luxury visualisation. Narrow it down and stay focused on that area, there is no reason you can't expand the scope later. After that tell everyone what you do. It is very possible most of your friends think you do something with computers and art, but that’s about the level of detail they have. However, as more people that know what you actually do, it’s far more likely that they will tell other people what you do. It might not be an immediate thing, but more often than not there will be a friend, or a friend of a friend, that will eventually know to come to you for projects or expertise.

- What is your one thing?

Manage your time like you are working for a company

If you spend 3 hours watching cat videos on You Tube, would your boss be happy? No, and neither should you. You are now your boss. I recommend starting each day by create a daily schedule -  I write out from 8am all the way to 7pm it details exactly what I’ll be doing that day at exactly what time. It’s a great way to keep you on task and you can easily review what you have done that day. It also means that if your client asks what you done, you can clearly recall and state exactly what you achieved. I’d recommend monitoring the times of day that you are most productive, and then tweak your schedule accordingly- plus, seeing what you achieved can start to build your own personal momentum.

- What get measured gets managed.

Many hats

It is important as a creative that you can focus on what you are good at, creating. But when you start freelancing, you soon realise there are certain things that need to be done. Yes, you get paid more, buts that’s because you take on many more roles. HR, marketing, invoicing, on top of creating the content. You may be the best artist in the world but you need to study how to work with clients, marketing and how to manage the money. To stay in flow I would recommend setting at least one day a week as a Manager Day. This is where you do your marketing, emails and general management.

- Have manager and maker days.

Be real

People hire people. Don't just cold email someone and cross your fingers. Call them and tell them what you do, and if they use that sort of thing would they mind if you sent over your work. By calling, it means you can get the correct name and email of the person to send the portfolio to and you have already established a rapport. When I first started I used the ‘10 by 10’ rule. I would make a list of 10 people to call and introduce myself to before 10am. It can be a little scary but it's good for building your confidence and getting really good at explaining what you do. Consider it practice for when you bump into your dream client.

- Call people, don't email them.

Don't stop learning

Before you do anything I would highly recommend reading Brenden Dunn's book How to Double Your Freelance Rate. His website is also full of great tools and tips to make the most of your time and skills. Keep learning about the aspects of your company and the industry you are least knowledgeable about. The 3D world is changing everyday and you need to keep up. Read books, blogs and watch videos. There is so much information on the internet, I would recommend scheduling in Learning Time in your daily plan.

- Schedule learning time.

Top 5 Tools

1. Evernote

I have been using Evernote for nearly 10 years now. Evernote can store notes, receipts, references, project files and lots more. The effortless syncing between all my devices make it a no brainer for me. Also check out the business card scanning feature that links directly to Linkedin.

2. Trello

For your to-do list. I tried Trello a few times and couldn't get into it, but it is worth doing a bit of research on how to structure your boards. I now use it everyday to help plan my day. It's free so if you are struggling with keeping your action items somewhere, give this a whirl.

3. Momentum

Momentum is a free Chrome plugin that changes your homepage so you focus on your one main task today. Alongside a beautiful background and inspiring quote, it keeps you away from all those distractions when opening up the world wide web.

4 . LinkedIn

If you are a freelancer then you should be using LinkedIin. Essentially your online CV, it is so much more powerful than that. I have received some great projects and made some great industry connections from it. Watch a couple of videos on how to use it correctly to really harness the power of it.

5. Canva

Even if you work in digital design, Canva is a great place to start if you need marketing material, blog headers or social post templates. When you freelance, your time is more precious than ever, so save some time and create something beautiful by using Canva.


I would love to hear any tips and resources you guys have in the comments.

Hey, I'm Jake. I am a 3D Visualisation Render Artist and CGI Consultant. 

Over the years I have been blessed to have worked on extraordinary projects with dream clients from all around the world. From Super Yachts in Monaco to Private Jets and Luxury Apartments in London.

I now like travelling the world whilst freelancing, writing about 3D, teaching through my video training and giving talks.