Two Months as a Freelancer: An Update
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Wow. Has it really been over two months? As you guys know, I recently made the leap into full-time freelance as a graphic designer. I was terrified/excited, and I’m happy to update you guys on how it’s been and what I’ve learned.
Week one was where I questioned almost daily, “Did I make a mistake? Can I really do this?” while also having bursts of, “Oh my gosh, I think I can really do this!” Between those bursts and the amount of support I got from my friends, I pushed through, turned down a couple full time job offers, and decided I really wanted to see this thing through. Luckily some of those offers turned into contract work (one of which I’m flying out to California for this week!).
Also, after one week, I caved and bought a laptop. Turns out I can’t handle being confined to one corner of the house for very long. Surprise!
WEEK ONE TAKEAWAYS
- Push through the doubt! You can do this.
- Be mobile. Have a laptop.
Month One Overview
When you have a decent network of people that understand what you do, it turns out they’re pretty willing to throw work your way when they find out you’ve quit your job and are trying to make this whole crazy idea a reality. June was so full of business development meetings that I was hardly ever working in one place for a complete day. After three weeks of meetings nearly every other day, I realized I needed to consolidate my meetings into one or two days a week so I could have a few days to sit down and really get in the zone. I now try to do all my in-person meetings on Wednesdays or Thursdays.
Around this time I also started figuring out what type of clients I’m the best fit for. After a certain amount of phone calls and initial meetings, I began to have a better radar for potential problem areas in projects that whispered in my ear, “Hey, Emily. You may not be the best designer for this particular project.” And I’m okay with that. By listening to that gut feeling, I saved some time on meetings and was able to focus on what I’m really here for – designing. I’ve gotten really good at admitting to folks that I’m not a web developer.
To keep from going crazy, I started going on “work dates” with friends of mine that are also freelancers. We’d meet up at a coffee shop and just work side-by-side. Sometimes I’d work with fellow designers, which is great when you’re working on a project you’d like feedback on. Sometime I’d work with folks that aren’t even in my industry – it was just nice to be around another living being that wasn’t my dog.
MONTH ONE TAKEAWAYS
- Consolidate your meetings into specific days of the week.
- Narrow down your potential client list by listening to your gut.
- Work at coffee shops with people you know.
Month Two Overview
Less biz-dev, more designing. Also more vacationing (oops). My July was cut in half by a week long vacation to Disney World that had been planned for a year or so. It was a blast, and I mastered the art of the auto-response vacation email. Of course, there were still a few emails to be sent but all-in-all, not much can get done when you’re walking about 25,000 steps a day in the middle of thousands of children, surrounded by castles and roller coasters. Good times.
I also experienced my intense turnaround that required working at the client’s office for a couple days. My first time working in a high-rise, guys! That was fun. Add some more work dates, opening business accounts (so official!) and completing a few projects and that about sums up month two.
MONTH TWO TAKEAWAYS
- Don’t stress yourself out while on vacation. Otherwise it’s not vacation.
- Working on-site sometimes gets stuff done faster.
- Business accounts make keeping track of taxes SO much easier.
August has flown by already. Between a friend’s wedding in Seattle and my upcoming California business trip, I’m feeling like a regular jet-setter. I’ve been wrapping up a few big projects: a lifestyle subscription box brand, an events/furniture rental company, and a brand for a collective of clinical social workers. I’m in love with how all three are turning out and can’t wait to share! Soon, y’all. Soon.