If you’re a freelance designer, or any creative professional, chances are you’re very familiar with doing client work on a per-project basis. This is generally the career path we take by default as we dive into the creative field. But, have you ever considered the alternative route of designing and selling your own products?
Before I list the pros and cons of each category let’s begin by first defining both for the context of this article.
Client Work — you are commissioned to provide creative services for companies or individuals on a per-project basis.
Product Design — your self-initiated effort to create digital or tangible goods, which you sell and distribute to local or international customers.
Right, now let’s explore the top five positives and negatives of these two vastly different paths. I’ll provide these strictly from nearly a decade of personal experience with both.
Back to the question ‘which one is better’. Depending on who you are and what you’re pursuing in your career, the answer is entirely up to you. If you love to work hard for a period of time on a big project for a big brand name, then take a three month vacation, focus on client work. If you’d rather lock yourself away in a basement to whip out a product, publish it to the world and wait for the revenue stream to trickle in over time, go for product design.
Throughout my design career path since 2004, I’ve done my fair share of client commissions and personal product design. Personally, with my personality type and life structure, I have found product design work to be more fulfilling. However, the product design work I’ve done has resulted in some amazing client spin-off projects which were such great opportunities that I couldn’t say no.