Andris Suipe joined the Croudie network in 2017 after it was recommended to him by a friend. Having started on smaller user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) projects, Andris has now been a Croudie for five years, enjoying the flexibility the network allows to travel between the UK and Latvia.
My freelancing experience
Being a freelancer sounds good on paper – be your own boss, choose your own working hours and work remotely from wherever you want in the world. The reality is that all of these amazing perks are a possibility, not a given. Having said that, with better systems beginning to emerge for freelancers, these perks are becoming a reality for more people.
I started my UX/UI design career in the UK, freelancing part-time. Acquiring clients wasn’t always easy as most of them were one-offs. While I didn’t have a boss as such, my clients were happy to fill this role and boss me around to their heart’s content. I think of myself back then more as a software operator than a UX/UI designer, and I quickly realised at the start of my freelancing journey that repeat clients that are easy to work with were very valuable.
Becoming a Croudie
Fast-forward a few years and I had become a fully fledged UX/UI designer with solid experience under my belt. After having gained experience as a freelancer I transitioned to full-time employment, but still took on small freelancing side projects.
A friend of mine, who’s somewhat of an SEO and Analytics guru, mentioned that he’d been doing some work for Croud as part of their network of 2,500+ freelancers called Croudies. He mentioned that Croud needed some help on the UX side, and since I had availability at the time, I decided to check it out.
Quite quickly I realised that Croud’s project managers were very different from my regular freelancing clients. They knew what they wanted and there were clear procedures in place to make sure that projects run smoothly and freelancers are paid on time. I was one of the first – maybe even the first – UX Croudies on the platform, so I was able to introduce some new concepts to the company which was exciting.
The rise of remote working
Fast forward to 2022 and I am now once again a full-time freelance UX/UI designer on the Croudie network.
One of the biggest paradigm shifts triggered by the pandemic has been remote-working. While Croudies have always been working remotely, it’s only since the pandemic that people have truly recognised the value of remote work and how it can bring new meaning to work-life balance. What kind of balance can you really have if you’re commuting an hour in the morning and another hour in the evening? In this scenario, working remotely gives you an additional 10 hours a week you can spend with your family.
For some working from home is a lot less stressful, while that might not be the case for everyone, I really resonate with this. One thing I’ve always appreciated about Croud is it’s forward-thinking and flexible approach to remote work, it’s almost like they knew something that took the rest of the word an entire pandemic to realise.
Opening up new opportunities
I’m originally from Latvia but currently split my time between Latvia and the UK. Recently, while spending more time in Latvia, I’ve noticed some cultural differences with regards to remote work in the two countries. Remote work and freelancing is quite common in the UK, however here in Latvia it’s a different story. Sometimes when I explain what I do for a living, I’m met with a confused facial expression signalling ‘how is that possible?’.
It’s fairly uncommon here in Latvia for people to work as remote freelancers – having a digital career, and it’s often difficult for older generations to understand the benefits and opportunities the internet brings to younger generations. This can even be the case amongst people my own age.
Despite this, the ability to work remotely opens up huge opportunities. Every year I spend a few months in the UK working – and all I need to pack when I do this is my laptop. For me, this is the definition of freedom.
In my opinion, everybody who has a computer-based job should consider remote working at some point in their careers. Becoming a freelancer can be risky business, but if you work for an organisation such as Croud, you’ll have already overcome one of the biggest challenges – finding good quality clients.
I’d also advise young people who’re at the beginning of their careers to pick a path that allows them to work remotely. That way, the option to work remotely and even freelance if they want to, isn’t closed off. Luckily for me at the start of my career path, I chose something I enjoyed doing and it all worked out.