There's a great post on Net Magazine where designers share some excellent bits of advice to their fledgling peers. If the best was chosen to be the first in the list, then I certainly agree:
You don’t have to make yourself appear larger than you are. No need to use ‘we’ on your site when you mean ‘I’. The fact that you are independent is a strength not a weakness. It means that you are free of the bureaucratic quagmires that shackle agencies and enterprises. People will work with you and admire you for your personality and authenticity – so don’t hide them.
Don’t drown your work in decoration. Let your content breathe. Let every element you add to your design earn its right to exist by a trial by fire.
But also play. Experiment. Don’t be afraid to get started, you’ll get it wrong at first anyway. Don’t worry about what other people think. Make stuff. Put it out there. Iterate. Tear it up, throw it away and then start again. And do it better. Time spent making something is never wasted. It is the only way you’ll learn and grow.
Most of all, don’t take the people around you for granted. Especially the ones who love you. You can never be too busy for the people you love. And make sure they know that too.
Remember that life is just a string of experiences. Cherish each one. And, as a maker, create experiences that empower, amuse, and delight the people whose lives you touch.
Be kind, stay curious and have fun.