Resources & Inspiration for the Artistically Curious
One of the things I didn’t account for when I first began freelancing was the staggering stacked against me as a prospective new designer. I came into the game with a broad and unfocused portfolio, a short list of loyal clients, and an even shorter list of prospective clients. On top of it all I had no idea how to market myself effectively (I’m still learning) and my business administration skills left a lot to be desired. Truthfully, I entered this game (and make no mistake it’s very much game) with a lot of naive notions about what it took to survive as a full-time freelancer, and I’ve been fighting an uphill battle since the beginning of this year.
But it’s not all bad. Not by a long shot. The HOW Design Live Conference in Boston this past June has proved to have been an invaluable resource, as I’ve gathered the collective minds of some truly brave and intelligent designers to whom I can turn to in times of uncertainty and anxiousness.
It dawned on me, and I mean truly came together for me, after the conference that I was a competitor in a very demanding and industry. I realized that if I was going to be successful in the short term (money) and long term (sustainable clients) that I was going to need to really compete for a spot in arena.
Despite being “battle-ready” and eager to take on the challenges of landing new clients I’m still fighting my way up the proverbial “hill” and that means having to deliver harder and faster than the competition. I’ve already made a lot of positive strides towards bettering my business administration skills, with new systems in place for creating more accurate client estimates, as well establishing more concrete guidelines for creating contracts. To top it all off my new mentors have been eager to help me develop my body copy to be both direct and universally understandable, which has been a huge benefit to an era I now refer to as “BHC” or “Before the How Conference”.
Additionally I’ve begun steps towards focusing my design specializations from a broad “Jack of All Trades” position to be more “Branding and Logo” specific. It’s all very new and unrefined, and I’m still doing other work as it’s needed for my existing clients, but I’m investing a lot of time, money, and promotional materials in this new way to help steer my work in one direction for the future. As nice as it would be to solely do logos and identity systems I understand that this new marketing strategy may take some time to really gain traction as I’ve yet to really position myself into one set market.
One of the main things I’ve learned in the past eight months is that setting yourself up work beyond your current work is essential to growth and success. Thanks to my newly acquired knowledge, and a growing group of professional supporters I’m feeling even more confident and certain that I have what it takes to create a truly sustainable business for myself and possibly grow that into agency one day.
It’s all new, and I’m still a green horn, but I’m not one for complacency so I can’t see myself slowing down anytime soon. Unless I get a call from Google. Then it may be time to say “ciao” to freelancing.