Pierre Abergel is a UX/UI designer from Brussels , Belgium.
You can find him here:
- Hi Pierre, tell me who you are and what do you do as a freelancer?
Hi Jernej, thank for reaching out man, I wanted to say it’s really cool to give some visibility on the freelancer lifestyle. I hope it will help hesitating people make up their mind.
My name is Pierre Abergel and I’m a 31 years old UX and UI designer.
- How long have you been working as a freelancer now?
I finished design school in 2007 and from there it’s been a mix of employment and freelance gigs, out of 10 years of career, I would say about 7 had been about freelancing. And if you wonder, those are the best.
- Why did you decide to become a freelancer? Did you think about it for a long time or did your decision come suddenly?
I was hesitating at first, but it came almost naturally to me to become an employee, if you think about it – and I bet it’s the case in the majority of countries – our society kind of pushes us into it. And to be honest, it was really not my best decision. So after one year, I decided to quit the comfort zone and take the big leap.
- What is your competitive advantage, which makes your clients hire you?
As a first mission, I got the incredible opportunity to work on a web-based software called Odoo. It was probably the first time I was so excited and motivated to work on a project. From there on, I decided I only wanted to work on the application industry.
At the time, it was really an infant industry, at least in Belgium. I took this decision early enough to help me with having a small step ahead on some competitors.
- Who are your competitors? What do they have that you don’t?
There are extremely talented freelancers out there, way more than me. Occasionally, I even compete with well organized agencies full of those talented people.
I’m not even sure why I’m the one they sometimes chose, it may be a question of trust.
- Are there a lot of freelancers in your business?
I honestly don’t know! I met some great designers from both worlds, but I couldn’t say where you’ll find the most of them. No matter the distribution, it feels to me there is plenty of work for anyone out there who is fastidious and motivated enough.
- What do customers expect from you?
Since they’re able to find freelancers on the internet that sometimes are 5 times cheaper than me, I know that when a customer get in touch, they expect me to deliver good quality.
I also know they’re trusting me to take the time to really dive into their product, understand it, and take the most out of it. As I see it, that’s where you can make a difference.
- What do your clients expect from you?
I generally either work on punctual missions with small startups or either on short-term contracts with big companies in Belgium, mostly banks. I know that’s two extremes, but in the end it gives a good balance between the chaotically fun squad and the super hierarchized structure. Actually, I managed to learn a lot from both.
- How has your business changed over time?
When I started, no one knew what an app designer was, even me! Today, everyone wants to develop an app, even the guy seated next to you at the bar. It’s still a booming industry, let’s hope it stays that way for the next decades.
Around 2010, the arrival of Sketch was a huge bombshell in the creative software industry. Since then, everything became much faster and simpler. And later, with the addition of Zeplin, the communication between devs and designers has never been this easy. This made my life way more simple, I sometimes can’t believe it!
- Your best reference?
Difficult to chose, I love all my children equally!
- How did you gain your first customers?
I got my first mission thanks to a good friend of mine who was overwhelmed with his current project and offered me to give him a hand. Accepting the collaboration was my best decision ever.
- 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?
I’m really lucky I never had to start an ad campaign. I guess it’s something I’d hate.
- The best marketing move, you’ve done?
Deliver quality, go the extra mile, and hopefully you won’t have to use any marketing trick.
- The biggest marketing challenge that you deal with?
Can’t really relate to this question.
- Do you hire outsourcing service providers for services, which you believe are a waste of your time?
So far, I’ve never had to do it. Whenever I’m overwhelmed, I redirect the prospect to fresh designers I trust. It’s a way of giving back the opportunity I had for my first mission.
- 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?
I generally prefer to work at the clients’ offices, I find it way more efficient to be in direct contact with the team. If I have to estimate, I manage to fill an average of 4 days a week. On a typical day, I can spend 6 to 8 hours of active working, more than that would leave me exhausted.
- Which books do you recommend to freelancers?
It may sound weird, but I don’t recall having read a book about freelancing; I’m more a Sci-Fi guy!
- What is your current inspiration in this business?
I always find the best examples are the pragmatic ones. That’s why I’ll always keep an eye on existing internet tools with great sense of design like Dropbox, Intercom, Mailchimp, Airbnb, Lonely Planet, to only mention the popular ones.
Even if I find them awesome, a lot of Dribbble or Behance conceptual shots don’t fell to me like they are realistic enough to be efficient in the real world.
- What would you do differently if you would start again?
Learn to code. As a matter of fact, I think this piece of advice applies to everyone, no matter the industry. I don’t understand why we don’t teach coding in every school already.
- What would you advise someone who has an idea, but no money?
Learn to code. Build a prototype. Find money.
I should also do it myself, but I’m too lazy!
- What was the best business advice you received?
It’s one of the most cliché thing you can hear but it’s definitely true: “Love your job”.
- Do you have an online resource which you use regularly? Which one?
Yes I do, I use a lot of Sketch templates and also some icon libraries. Right now, I overuse Google Material Guidelines and Nova Icons in nearly every project.
- What do you often dream about when you’re not working?
I love to travel. The more I do it, the more I conclude I don’t do it enough.
- The place where you find your peace?
These days, I find peace in my kitchen.
- Top 3 mobile app on your smartphone?
- Carsharing apps like Drive-Now or Zipcar
- Tie between Spotify and Whatsapp
- Google Keep
- What do you do in your free time?
Lately, I’m kind of obsessed with cooking. I try to cook new stuff almost everyday and time to time, I even go to classes. I find it relaxing and satisfying. Local cuisine is also a big part of my travel experience; I try to learn the most I can with each destination.
- Your last vacation?
RV road tripping on Australia’s east coast. That was seriously awesome!
- Business plans for the future?
What about starting my own design agency?
- Your plans for the future?