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[interview] Aegir Hallmundur – a freelance designer

The Inquisitor King of Spades

Aegir Hallmundur

Aegir Hallmundur is a designer, typographer, illustrator and front-end web developer based in Brighton. He runs Ministry of Type, the popular blog for all things typographical. You can see his phenomenal design work at

I interviewed Aegir to learn how he has carved out a successful freelance career. What follows are his words, followed by my interpretation.

“I went freelance because I was offered a temporary work opportunity that was too good to refuse.”

Sometimes, the comfort and convenience of full-time employment get in the way of progress. By being freelance we are free to grab life’s opportunities and follow enticing paths.

There’s a clue in the name, but full-time employment doesn’t leave us much time to pursue other things – and for most people full-time work precludes pet projects, learning opportunities or short-term work offers.
Indeed, by simply being freelance, by creating that little breathing space around our lives, we invite offers, opportunities and happy chances.

“Being freelance means I don’t need to clutter my working life with forms, procedures or bureaucracy.”

Aegir doesn’t adhere to a strict client engagement process, or document every interaction with a form in triplicate. Knowing that he doesn’t work well with such administrative detritus, he leaves it well alone. So don’t feel obliged to follow the systems used by your former employers.

“Charge high and never under-value your skills and experience. Start with rates that are relatively high, because if you start low you’ll find it impossible to raise them.”

New freelancers are often modest. You feel insecure about your skills or your ability to deliver a project, so you charge less than everyone else. It’s a common scenario, but one that leads to problems.

Because poor rates attract poor clients, the unwitting discount freelancer may be left with a portfolio of poverty-stricken clients – clients who don’t have the budget or the brains to value their service. A reputation as a cheapo freelancer can be tricky to shift.

It’s much easier to start with high rates and occasionally, if the mood or the work takes your fancy, you can dip your rates to get the gig.

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