The short answer is, I didn’t choose it. Being a freelance graphic designer was meant to be a this temp gig between jobs. Well 9 years and 4 months down the line it’s pretty obvious that freelancing didn’t become the short term solution it was supposed to be.
But you know what… I wouldn’t change it!
How I became a freelance graphic designer
Freelancing happened by accident. Total accident! I never wanted to be a freelance graphic designer. Or a freelance anything!
And after it did happen, it was NEVER meant to be a permanent thing. I was the person who wanted a 9 to 5 in a beautiful studio or swanky office. I wanted a steady income every month and chats with colleagues in the office kitchen.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know how my journey started. But for those of you that have no idea… I was made redundant just as I was getting ready to go back to work after maternity leave. I was offered the option to take on web design role but I turned that down because I have no passion for that! I love everything about print design and web design still goes completely over my head!
What happened next?
After I took the redundancy, pretty much immediately a friend (who had been a colleague in my last job) asked if I’d take on a one-off freelance project for her new boss and I said yes. My thinking was that this’d be a nice way to work while I looked for a job closer to home.
Well that one project, turned into another project for someone else. And then another project for someone else came along. And then another. And before I knew it I’d been freelancing for 12 months and that job hunt actually never got off the ground.
Now here I am writing about it almost 10 years later!
How I work
I didn’t really have a clue about what I was doing initially. I was completely clueless!
With my first project I plucked a nice sounding figure out of thin air, the client accepted it and that was that. There were no contracts (gasp!!!), there were no terms of business (gah!!!) and there was no deposit either!
A few projects down the line, I started to put some processes in place. They evolved over the years, and now I’m 100% happy with these processes:
- Speak to the potential client and find out what they need
- Send a quote (based on time and value, not thin air) and send terms of business too
- Client says yes to the quote, signs a contract and pays a booking fee (I won’t add a project into my schedule until ALL of those things are done!)
- I do the work
- Client pays the remaining amount
- Client gets sent artwork (this never happens until that final payment has been received)
Where do my clients come from?
- Word of mouth and referrals
- LinkedIn or Facebook
- Repeat clients
- Networking events
Where my passions are
After the first 12 months or so of working as a freelance graphic designer, I’d say yes to anything and everything. If it could be designed, I’d damn well design it!
- Party invites? Sure thing
- Wedding invites? Absolutely!
- Mugs and pens? How many?
- Visual identities. Of course!!
Over the years, that’s changed because instead of feeling excited when I started a project I was feeling meh! Party invites and stationery did nothing for me. Give me a new visual identity or a brochure to work on and I’m like a kid in a sweet shop.
I now focus on designing brand identities, marketing collateral, advertising and business stationery.
I’m a branding and print girl at heart; it’s what sparks my passion. And it always will be. That’s where I can really bring the most value to my clients.
What have I learned over the last 10 yrs?
From those days of doing everything WRONG and being totally clueless, to now when I’m happy with how things work… it’s been one long, winding learning curve!
- It’s ok to say no. In fact it’s good to say no! The times that I’ve ignored that niggling voice in the back of my head, things have always gone a little wrong.
- When something scares you a bit, say yes! The Being Freelance podcast scared the sh*t out of me but I said yes anyway!
- Focus on work that sparks a passion.
- Professional doesn’t mean speaking in a particular way, or being suited and booted.
- Don’t compare your journey to others.
- Know your worth, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
What does the future hold?
Freelancing seems to have become part of my soul. Does that even make sense!? It does to me…I’m just not employable now!
Back in 2016, I was head hunted by an IT company with a head office in MK – I turned it down because even back then I knew it wasn’t right. It was an amazing opportunity, but when I was offered it I realised that I no longer wanted that 9 to 5.
I’m enjoying choosing what work I take on, and who I work with. And I’m enjoying taking the day off whenever I feel like it!
Or choosing to work outside in the sun while I have an ice cream or an iced coffee. Or even an affogato!
And equally as important is the fact that I can do the school run, and go to every nativity or sports days without having to ask permission.
This isn’t something I plan on giving up any time soon.