Peter Loving shares his advice on becoming a successful freelancer and then transitioning into running a product design agency. Read the blog below and listen to the full episode for great career and management advice!
In episode 19 of The Product Design Podcast, Seth Coelen interviews Peter Loving, Founder of User Active, his agency where they create software interfaces that users love. He is a Product Designer based in Barcelona and originally from London in the UK. Peter transitioned from a degree in product design focused on interior lighting and furniture but quickly realized that the toolkit he gathered in this area easily translated into UX and software design. He shares with us his journey into freelance and then how he founded and has grown his agency from there!
Peter has always identified as a creative person. From a young age, he enjoyed drawing, art and music. The earliest time Peter could pinpoint his interest in design was around age 7 when he began designing Nike trainers with his friend. As he grew, he realized that he had an interest in some science-related topics. By the time he was heading to University, he had identified that product design was a good match because it combined his creative and artistic ability with his interest in scientific engineering theory.
While earning his degree in consumer products, he designed things like interior lighting, furniture, and consumer gadgets like MP3 players. When he finished his degree, he started to apply for jobs, but most of the opportunities in industrial design would require him to locate. At this time, he wanted to stay in the UK, so he started to look for other options. UI/UX and web design were growing in popularity at the time. When he looked further into this option, he realized that his traditional product design skills would translate well into web and digital design.
When he graduated, he initially took a graduate job, not in design, but on side projects and freelance gigs to build his experience and knowledge to move into web design.
Peter did not have a traditional route into a career in product design, so he never had to decide to dive from an in-house web design or agency job into freelancing, as many product designers do. Most of his web design skills were self-taught, and he had gotten his experience through freelance side projects.
Freelancing full-time was the natural progression of Peter's side projects building up. His curiosity to learn and grow and his interest in being an autonomous person and working with many different clients and industries made it the perfect career opportunity for him. He shared several tips on how he could build a successful freelance career.
“Get clear on a vision and commit to the specific area that makes you unique. This clarity will give you the ability to get what you want out of your career.”
Using the above strategies consistently, Peter started to get offers for projects that he did not have time to deliver. This level of success as a freelancer required Peter to build a team to support all of the work coming in. This eventually led him to open his agency User Active. When you become a Founder of an agency, there are even more business factors to consider. Peter shared a few of them with us below.
“What I’ve learned from my experience is that talented people are motivated by projects that they’re excited to work on and also working with other talented people.”
We had such a great conversation with Peter on freelancing. It is always interesting to hear how product designers have moved from freelance to running an agency and building a team. We are so thankful that he shared his tips, strategies, and what has worked for him along his career path. We hope that he inspired you to set yourself up to become the successful freelance product designer you have always wanted to become!
Listen to the complete episode on The Product Design Podcast, which includes the highs and lows Peter has experienced along his career path, a deeper conversation on the experience of moving from freelance to founder, and more advice on managing a team.
📨 Get each podcast delivered to your inbox. No spam, we promise!