Category Archive for Freelance Journey

Last month marked 6 months of working for myself full-time and honestly, I’m shocked! I definitely had my doubts that I’d fail and have to get a job working at Starbucks or something. I’m the worst when it comes to dwelling and being pessimistic but I’m so thankful I’m still able to work for myself and that I’m thriving! I’ve just booked myself all the way till July and cannot belive it. I love what I do and love helping my clients. For anyone just starting out or hoping to eventually work for themselves I thought I’d share somethings I’ve learned in my first 6 months that have really helped me out;

→ Dont try to get everything done in one day.
Make a list of 2 or 3 things for the day and try to accomplish those instead of 6 or 7. You’ll overload yourself setting unrealistic expectations. I try to spread out my work tasks throughout the week making it easier to focus on one client at a time for an entire morning versus trying to tackle everything at once. The quality of work I crank out is so much better when I can set aside blocks of time to work on just one project as well.

→ Get dressed for the day and set a schedule.
I’ve only worked in my yoga pants a number of times but feel most productive when I make the effort to get up at a decent hour(7:45am), shower, get dressed and wear shoes. I usually stick with starting work at 9am and ending the day at 3 or 4pm. The last half of the day is usually the worst for me to get motivated so I cut the day short. Also, since you set the rules don’t be afraid to stop working at 11am and head to the beach. Sometimes I’ll even come back to my computer and work from 7pm-10pm, depending on what Aaron is up to.

→ Take breaks, eat and take care of yourself.
I’ll be honest, in the first few months I was not taking care of myself. I never ate breakfast, I’d work straight through lunch and as a result I’d have terrible migraines and body aches. Some days I’d work straight to dinner not even realizing I hadn’t eaten that day. Not good! Since Aaron works at home with me as well we’ve finally set a workout schedule, make it a priority to go grocery shopping and prep meals for the day together. Also, life is too short not to get your eyebrows done or your hair cut. So do it, you deserve it. ;)

→ Hire someone to do your taxes.
The amount of money and time they save you and the suggestions for stuff you can write off make it so worth it. I think I spent $150 on my taxes this year and I felt so confident in my decision. My CPA also has a referral program so every person you recommend to him he gives that person AND I $50 off his services. So, so happy with that decision.

→ Realize that not every client will be the right fit.
I’ve already written about this but I think it’s such an important realization. When I started out I was taking on every.single.client. that came my way and it made it really hard to enjoy my work. I think I just thought that every client was right for me. I’m finally at a point where I can be more selective about who I work with, I’ve finally created an intake process and learned to ask the right questions so I can weed out the ones that aren’t a good fit.

As someone who’s only been freelancing full-time for a month and a half(can you believe that!?) it’s easy for me to say “yes” to every project that comes my way because of the uncertainty of income and not knowing if I’ll get clients in the door a week or even a month out. One of my goals recently is to filter out the clients I don’t feel are right for me and only say yes to clients who I know I’ll enjoy working with. It’s been a hard lesson but I figure, this is my business I should have control over what I want to work on, right? There’s been so many instances where I’ve been chatting with fellow business owners and saying things like “ooooh I don’t know if I can do that” or “can I do that!?” in terms of saying no to phone calls, no to client inquiries that seem strange and no to projects that aren’t fun. My friends have had to remind me that this is my business and of course I can do all of those things! It’s a hard lesson for sure because I am such a people pleaser but I’ve been realizing that if I want to love working for myself I need to make decisions that will keep my job enjoyable.

I think it’s important as a designer communicating with clients to acknowledge any red flags that come up in conversation. Are they answering all of your questions? Are they being really vague? Are they saying things like “it’s just a simple change” when in actuality it may take hours of time? Are they valuing you as a designer and trusting that you’re the expert in what you do? These are just some of the red flags I’ve started to take note of and if any of them pop up in conversation I immediately question whether they’re the right client for me. Trusting your gut and acknowledging those red flags are so important and will help in saving face later down the road.

So this week I’ve said no to some project inquiries that I didn’t feel were right for me and instead of feeling bad about it(I did at first!) I actually felt really empowered and like I’m finally calling the right shots. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not taking for granted the client inquiries I’m receiving but I didn’t leave a job I was unhappy at to go and do another job that would make me feel unhappy about, too. So hopefully this can help anyone else out there that may be dealing with a client that’s making your job less than enjoyable. And saying no doesn’t need to be rude, you can just be straight forward and let them know you don’t feel you’re the right person for their project, easy as that. I also refer them to other designers who may be more suited for them. That makes it burn a little less. So learn to say no, trust your gut and don’t ignore those red flags. :)

Since quitting my agency job last month to pursue the self employed world I’ve gotten more than a few emails asking for tips and advice on what I did in order to prepare myself to freelance full-time. With some long work nights and pep talks to myself and realizing that there would never be a perfect moment I built up the courage to finally make the leap. Here are some things I did to get ready:

Built up my savings + simplified.
I love shopping and eating out as much as the next girl but wanting to quit my day job forced me to really buckle down and start saving money. I started making saving a priority. I cut out all of the unneccesary monthly subsciptions, started waxing my own eyebrows, sold my car, stopped shopping and brought my lunch to work which also lead me to lose a few pounds in the process. I signed up with Mint so I could see where all of my money was going and by the time I quit my job I had 4 months worth of income saved up.

Defining failure.
A lot of what kept me from making the leap for so long were internal thoughts I’d have about myself and my work. I was so afraid of failing that I stayed within my comfort zone and didn’t take any chances. I had to ask myself what failure meant. For me, failure meant not being able to pay my bills and having to find another job. Which in the long run isn’t actually that bad. But when I gave my notice a coworker told me that I’d hate freelancing so much that I’d end up asking for my job back. That was enough motivation to kick my butt into high gear and make it so I’d never have to go back. I started writing out what I’d do so I would never have to get another job in the corporate world and from this stemmed a bunch of great ideas for creating different streams of income for myself.

Reaching out.
After I gave my notice I reached out to past clients + friends to let them know I’d be working for myself. This opened the door for returning clients to come back with some work that they wanted me to do for them and for friends to spread the word. I also reached out to some other designers and asked for advice which made me feel so confident about my decision. I love how supportive everyone has been and am extremely grateful for the friends I’ve made through blogging and the internet.

Got organized.
I’ve been freelancing for a few years now but knew that if I wanted to run my own business I needed to start taking myself more seriously. I had awhile between the day I gave notice and my final day so this allowed me to finish out current projects and start working with some new clients. I finished my website design that I had been staring at for so long and finally passed it off to be developed. I made sure all of my clients were current and up to date with their invoices. I started reading up on what I needed to do to prepare myself for dreaded tax season + started saving all of my business related receipts. And I even opened up two new accounts with my bank. One for business and then a savings account for all of my tax money to go into.

There’s still a lot on the business end that I need to figure out but I’m almost a month into working for myself and I love it so much. Stay tuned, I’ll be posting some monthly updates so you can follow along on the ups and downs of my freelance journey.

I currently have a few openings for freelance work so if you think we’d be a great fit, get in touch!

Last week I was tagged by Jess to share a little bit about my creative process! I had a lot of fun with these questions and it really made me realize how much I’ve grown as a designer over the past 4-5 years that I’ve freelanced. It’s still crazy to think that I still learn something new all the time and it’s such a thrill.

Next I’m tagging Jessie + Corina and can’t wait to read their answers. Here are mine below:

What Are You Working On?
I’m currently juggling a handful of freelance projects with small business’s ranging from writers + photographers to wedding planners + non-profit organizations. It’s a ton of fun! On top of that, I’m working at an agency in downtown San Diego where I do most of the digital design work for The Mirage Las Vegas. I’m counting down the days until I’ll be freelancing full-time starting in October and I can’t wait!

How Does Your Work Differ From Others Of Its Genre?
This year I’ve been focusing on putting more meaning into what I’m designing. Not just designing to make something pretty but developing a reason for why I’m adding in elements or why something looks the way it does. I try to focus on keeping things simple and minimal while still getting the story across for a brand.

Why Do You Design/Create What You Do?
When it came time for me to choose a degree for college I couldn’t decide because I couldn’t ever imagine myself as a doctor or lawyer which is what I thought I had to go to school for if I wanted to be successful. I love that design allows me to be creative while still putting food on the table. I can spend days designing something and it has never felt like actual work, it’s fun for me!

How Does Your Design Process Work?
After I have the client fill out a detailed questionnaire which pulls important information about the clients goals and aesthetic aspirations I go straight to researching and sketching. This allows me to see whats out there in their specific field of work as well as get a good idea of what direction we should take. When I sketch I try to get out as many ideas on paper as I can regardless if they’re repetitive or bad. The more I note-take and sketch the more the juices start to flow. Depending on the project I usually present some rough sketches to the client to assure them that we’re on the right track and then I’ll take it to the computer where I’ll add in colors, elements and photos. I try to keep the process the same because it’s been something that has worked for me but every client is different which is what makes the whole process exciting.

Thanks for tagging me Jess! xx