11 Important TED Talks Every Freelance Designer Must Watch

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Freelancing is tough work and it comes with its own share of problems. Managing finances to the psychological toll of having to find new projects can handicap a beginner. But when done right, it can be so rewarding. There is a lot of free advice online, but how do you find the one that works for you?  Whether you are a veteran or a recent college graduate, finding the right resources and inspiration can fuel your creative career.

Here is a list of amazing TED talks that combine complex concepts and incredible storytelling to inspire your freelancing endeavors. It is always rewarding to watch a human talk about their real-life experiences, you would be able to gain a fresh perspective and useful tips while you are at it.

1. Embrace the near win

This talk by Sarah Lewis is about understanding and living through the turbulence and disappointments of an artists life. During her time at the Museum of Modern Art, she noticed the trials of a student whose artwork only met the mediocre standards of beauty. Her study on this student and his artwork made her think about our own reactions to failures and its place in our society and our lives. She talks about how our almost-failures push us towards mastery. “Success is a moment, but what we’re always celebrating our creativity and mastery,” she points out. If you are a freelancer with a few failures under your belt, then this talk is for you!

2. Grit: The power of passion and Perseverance

In this talk by Angela Lee Duckworth, she examines how self-control and grit can be helpful in predicting professional success. If you are looking to learn how to build grit and use it fuel your creative career, then this TED talk is a must watch

3. The puzzle of motivation

In this brilliant video, Dan Pink the author of Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us – explains how our work often has less to do with extrinsic motivation. What motivates people to create their best work is a feeling that your work matters and has a purpose. So if you are a freelancer trying to delve deeper into the abyss of freelancing business then this talk is for you.

4. What makes us feel good about our work?

Dan Ariely is a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University. In this talk, he explains why it is important to find meaning and purpose in the work you do. He presents us with two eye-opening experiments where he shows how the nuances in attitudes towards your work can change your relationship with it. As a freelancer, how do you motivate yourselves? What makes you wake up every morning and work? If you find yourself asking these questions, then give this short video a watch.

5. Inside the mind of a master procrastinator

If you are about to start a freelancing career this talk is for you. Blogger Tim Urban talks about how we procrastinate the most important things in our lives because they don’t have deadlines. In this short video, he takes us on a journey through various habits and makes us think about why we procrastinate the way we do.

6. How to find work you love

Scott Dinsmore was on a quest to understand why 80% of the working class men and women hate the work they do. By studying the remaining 20% of the population, he was able to distill the results down to a framework that is based on passion. He talks about practicing 3 simple techniques on finding and working a job you love.

7. How frustration can make us more creative

This is a great clip to watch when you are low on motivation. In this talk, economist Tim Harford talks about how frustration can actually help fuel your creativity.

8. A guide to freelance art

Molly Heady-Carroll lives in the Netherlands and makes pixel art, comics, and illustrations for a living. In this short video, she talks about how to effectively work with teams and best practices for freelance work.

9. Why do ambitious women have flat heads?

Stephanie Shirley is a tech entrepreneur. She made millions by founding an all-women tech company in 1960’s. In this insightful and inspiring talk, she talks about her life in Nazi-occupied Europe and her time and some tips on finding ambitious women. If you are en route to starting a business and entrepreneurship, then this talk is for you.

10. The year I was homeless

Most people don’t choose to freelance because of the many unknowns associated with the nature of work. If you ask a salaried person why they don’t freelance, the answer always revolves around the fear of an unstable income. In this insightful talk, Becky Blanton shares her story. She talks about how her freelance job ended after a death in the family and how she turned her life around.

11. Why work doesn’t happen at work

For freelancers, getting work done is a sure-shot way to a better income. But more often than not work doesn’t work in places we imagined it would. In this video, Jason Fried talks about productivity and why people can’t get their work done at work. In this fascinating talk, he introduces a radical way of thinking about work. He identifies the problems and lays out suggestions to make it work. If you are about to start the project you have been putting off, this video will motivate you to start it today.

Iggy is a designer who loves experimenting with new web design techniques, collating creative website designs, and writing about the latest design trends, inspiration, design freebies, and more. You can follow him on Twitter

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