Wednesday already?! This week is flying! Today, I thought it would be fun to create a list of things that would be useful and informative for anyone looking to start a freelance design career. Feel free to share your own tips (and questions!) in the comments. I’d love to hear ‘em!
- Create a quick elevator speech about what you do. Now that you’re working for yourself, people will have lots of questions about your new gig. Stuck on what to say? Think about how you bring value to your clients. My friend, Maya, has an awesome tip on how to do this.
- Create PDF documents you can send to potential clients rather than typing out your pricing and process every single time. Email templates are also useful and ensure that each potential client gets the same information.
- Create a contract and stick to it. When I first started, I created PDF documents that my clients had to print, sign, and scan just to give back to me. Talk about an inconvenience! Now, I use an online software called Contractually that makes it super easy to make and send contracts to clients.
- Don’t forget that you now have to pay quarterly taxes (including an additional self-employment tax), which is usually 30% of your income. Create a separate savings account to easily funnel 30% of all earnings out of sight and unspent. Also, save your receipts! There are TONS of things that are considered tax write-offs.
- To get clients, start establishing relationships. One of the best ways to do this, in my opinion, is to start a blog. A blog is an excellent way to attract clients, because it ups the chance that someone will stumble onto your design site, since you have more content for people to discover through a search engine.
- It’s really not the end of the world if you have a difficult client. It sure can seem like it when you’re working with them, but don’t fret, their project will eventually pass. On the bright side, working with them is probably teaching you something, too. Lean on your support systems if things get tough. Oh, and above all else, be professional, even when things are hard. Being rude, passive-aggressive, or disrespectful to a client will never help anything.
- Choose your clients carefully. You may want to take on every client that comes your way at first, but your sanity is much, much more important than making an extra buck. If it seems like you and a potential client will run into problems or aren’t the right fit, it’s probably best just to say no.
- Create a routine and set your working hours. When I first started out (and even sometimes to this day), I worked sporadically and without even realizing it, would spend 15 hours behind the computer. This isn’t healthy. Establish a routine to help you get into the groove. Finding balance can be one of the most difficult, but most important aspects of freelancing.
- Don’t feel guilty for doing your job. You might run into situations where a client asks you to do something that wasn’t part of the deal. But it’s small, so you’ll do it for free. You don’t mind at first, but all of a sudden that one good deed turns into you running a charity rather than a business. Don’t feel guilty about asking for what you know you deserve. Money talks can be nerve-wracking, but clients will embrace your professionalism and respect you for it.
- Don’t do it alone! Find other freelancers to chat with throughout the day. You may not have co-workers, but it’s important to have people you can talk to about your work, even if it’s a group of Twitter friends you check in with every now and then. You may also consider renting a co-working space, where you rent a desk somewhere and work alongside other freelancers. If you’re like me, having a pet helps, too. :)
What tips would you give to a new freelance designer?
The past couple weeks I’ve been feeling pretty “blah” about my bedroom. I never put much energy into decorating it because I’m usually working elsewhere and only see what a travesty it is when it’s bedtime and I’m too sleepy to care. The only furnishings in it are my bed (which, up until this weekend only had one sheet, no comforter!), a “nightstand” made from a storage box, a crooked painting, and an enormous dog crate. I’m actually laughing as I type this, because I’m pretty sure I just described a bachelor pad.
Now that the weather is getting a little cooler (meaning I probably need more than a single sheet heh), I thought it would be a good time to put some love into my bedroom and make it a place that I actually enjoy being. Here’s what I’m envisioning: I want it to be bright (don’t we all?), full of textures (the duvet I just got is linen and I adore the texture it already adds to the room!), and sprinkled with some colorful, warm patterns. I also want to add a large helping of plants, wooden materials, and some well-chosen art. Oh, and I’ve been growing smitten with fairy lights — are they cute or tacky? I really can’t decide, but I am definitely liking the comfy vibe they give off! I’m excited to make my bedroom into more of a home sanctuary — somewhere that I genuinely love retreating to each night, and that perhaps I could even work in from time to time.
Where are your favorite places to shop for bedroom decor? I’ve been checking out West Elm, CB2, Anthropologie, and IKEA, but I’d love to know your favorites for smaller stores that have beautiful details.
How would you describe your dream bedroom makeover?
This might be a little different than what I normally post, but it’s Monday, and I think we could all use a little more adorableness in our lives, yeah? In 2010, Jenny Slate (Mona Lisa on Parks and Recreation!) and Dean Fleischer-Camp created Marcel the Shell With Shoes On, an awkwardly cute shell with a raspy voice and one eye that tells you about its life. I LOVED IT. It also has over 23 million views on YouTube, so I guess you could say the video was a hit. In 2011, they released a sequel, and today, my friends, they released a third installment of their adorable short film series.
You can watch ‘em all below, in chronological order (the newest one is at the end). I have a feeling they’ll totally make you smile. :)