23: Hannu Liivaar, Graphic Designer

Hannu Liivaar is a Graphic Designer from Estonia.

Hannu Liivaar

Hannu Liivaar

You can find him here:
Email: pro@dlancer.net

  1. Hi, Hannu, tell me who you are and what do you do as a freelancer?

Hello! My name is Hannu, I’m from Estonia. (This is how I start with every single proposal I send). I would say I primarily deal with graphic design these days – so logos, ad designs, poster art; but also some web/UI graphics. The trend seems to be that not everyone is dedicated to just one profession only; with that said, I often find myself doing photography related tasks as well.

  1. How long have you been working as a freelancer now?

Roughly fourteen years.

  1. Why did you decide to become a freelancer? Did you think about it for a long time or did your decision come suddenly?

The decision was not planned at all. I was out with my friends discussing about general design trends. This was fourteen years ago and the freelance related websites were about to be launched. I was thinking maybe I should try, too? And there it took off.

  1. What is your competitive advantage, which makes your clients hire you?

I’m always very consistent with what I do and there’s some experience available to process different tasks through wide variety of methods.

  1. Who are your competitors? What do they have that you don’t?

Whoever is able to offer high quality work, could be my competitor. I first thought it was all about speed and quantity, but I was wrong – it is all about quality.

  1. Are there a lot of freelancers in your business?

I would say yes. As the time goes on and internet becomes more and more available, the more there are people who’d like to try to be a freelancer.

  1. What do your clients expect from you?

Every client is unique; but in general, timely work and high quality are always expected.

  1. Who are your typical clients?

Business owners who at one day find themselves too busy to take care of all graphic design needs.

  1. How has your business changed over time?

I would say the starting years was quite a chaos – non-timely work, long weeks with no projects, bad planning.. being a freelancer is a job like every other – you have to be organized, hard-working, well-communicating and dedicated. If you are not able to meet these criteria, don’t bother to try.

  1. How did you gain your first customers?

My first customer was an entrepreneur who wanted to start her own clothing line. She had some collections, also a website already, but no logo. I sent a proposal with a description of how I could help and she said OK let’s do it!

  1. John Wanamaker said: Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I do not know which half. Do you gain your clients by advertising or in another way?

John Wanamaker was a great man! I would add this by Henry Ford: “Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.”

  1. Do you hire outsourcing service providers for services, which you believe are a waste of your time?

I never use outsourcing.

  1. How does your typical working day look like? What do you do when you are not working? How many hours/days per week are you working?

Depends on projects. A tough project occupies all my time – this means no free weekends whatsoever. A typical day is fled with 7-8 hours of work though – so very similar to a traditional nine-to-five office day. At my free time I try to find ways to work biter – all for the biter quality of work. When people are sometimes divided to the ones who work to live, and the ones who live to work, then I’m the one who lives to work.

  1. Which books do you recommend to freelancers?

John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden”.

  1. What is your current inspiration that drives you in the business?

Whenever I’m able to come up with a better design, this is an endless inspiration. To do something better, to do it with higher quality.

  1. What would you do differently if you would start again?

Love this question! It sounds like “What would you do different in your life, if you’d born again?”

  1. What would you advise someone who has an idea, but no money?

Don’t sell your great idea for pennies and use every moment of your time to develop your idea. Every great idea will have funding sooner or later – meanwhile make sure your idea is really great!

  1. What was the best business advice you received?

Hard work always pays off.

  1. What do you often dream about when you’re not working?

I always dream about working – work is my life.

  1. The place where you find your peace?

Being in nature is always the best!

  1. Top mobile app on your smartphone?


  1. What do you do in your free time?

Trying to be active! So hiking, running, walking in the forest, swimming, etc.

  1. Your plans for the future?

To work more.