In the freelance world, it's both common and easy to deride any thought of working a corporate job. But the truth is, given the right environment, working for someone else can be very gratifying and, for some people, better than freelancing. So today's interview is with Brett Nyquist, a baseball player turned freelancer turned corporate designer (with freelancing on the side). After reading the interview, make sure you check out some of his work at BrettNyquist.com.
So when and how did you get into creating websites as a profession?
I was in and out of web design for the last 5 years. After college I went off to play professional baseball for awhile, so I was able to do some side projects during the off seasons. It wasn't until that dream ended that I started to pursue the web design path a little more.
You used to be a full-time freelancer for a while – what was the toughest aspect of freelance full-time?
Gaining more clients and having a steady flow of work was probably the toughest part. Referrals only bring in so many new projects but to continue to grow you need to be able to seek out new clients. I'm not a huge talker so that was probably the most difficult part for me.
What prompted you to leave full-time freelancing to enter the corporate world?
I went back to a company that I had worked for on and off while playing baseball. It's a great company and right next to my house -- tough to beat that. But it was also a situation where I would have a steady paycheck, benefits, and time to work on other projects on the side. So for me personally it was a no-brainer.
I understand that you still freelance several hours a night. How do you balance the time and commitment between your day job and your freelancing?
I do run into some pretty late nights, but it's well worth it. I make my availability clear to my clients, and I haven't found it that hard to get things turned around just as quickly as I did when I freelanced full-time. The steady paycheck from my full-time job it allows me to go after projects that really interest me, instead of taking on ones that would normally just be budget-fillers.
What do you do to stay sane during workdays that keep you computer-bound both at work and at home?
The only time I really see daylight is on my drive to and from work. It sure seems that way sometimes. I do try and get out of the house as much as I can, whether it's just going out for dinner or to grab some brews. But even then the entire time I'm looking at advertisements, signs, billboards, menus, etc., and wondering how I can incorporate them into my designs.
What do you like most about the corporate world?
I work at a place that started out in a closet and is now a $20 million dollar company. So I try to take and learn things from here and apply them to my own work. I look up to a lot of the people I work with and am continuously learning from them.
What do you miss most about full-time freelancing?
Probably the freedom to work on projects that I choose instead of getting projects thrown on my desk. With freelancing you're allowed a lot more creativity and can try new things (obviously depending upon the client's scope) but it's not as containing as working for a company.
I often hear students say that they want to have their own design or development business right out of university (declaring the corporate world as "stifling" and "boring"). What advice would you have for them?
For some that might work, but for me I learned so much more after being in the corporate work environment. I was able to learn things from people I work with and apply that to my freelancing. There are a lot of things that go into running your own business that a lot of us aren't even aware of, and that college doesn't prepare us for. I'm definitely not trying to discourage anyone from doing it, but if you can gain as much experience as you can in the real world, you'll have a better chance at being successful.