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My goals

Coupons make sales. Even if it means you make less profit, sometimes it’s worth it. Be good to your customers and they will be good to you.

I’m trying to step up my game and be more active in promoting my shop and what I can do. I want to grow and learn. My next goal is to get to 1 Sale per month in my Etsy Shop. To do it, I’m paying for promoted posts, listings, and an ad campaign to get people to notice my accounts. I also am going to more actively make sure potential customers get coupon codes for favoriting my listings or shop. I think being more active is the biggest thing.

Save 10.0% on select products from NETGEAR with promo code 10OFFPRO3PK, through 2/18 while supplies last.

I’m starting to work with Upwork again. I made a fair bit of money last year, but I let it slide when I found a day job I really like. That’s not a good excuse, so I’m back at it. I have a talent for logos and design. I should be leveraging every asset. I could make more if I “went it alone” to find clients, but that would require a lot of accounting and have zero protection. I’m willing to get paid a little less if it means I’m protected from non-paying clients and having to track down the money on my own. I don’t need that additional stress in my life right now.

Finally, I vow, once again, to post more often, more regularly here. It’s good for me, and I hope interesting to other entrepreneurs.

I hope all of you, my dear readers, are having a great early 2019!

Take it easy and remember to smile!

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Journeys Have Many Paths

It’s ok to be on a path different from the one you start out taking. My experience in the last 2 years has underscored just how unpredictable life is. While I still love design work, The exact type of work I do has shifted.

I recently started a 50 Day Logo Challenge. By subscribing to an email list, I received 50 prompts to design logos. The challenge has made he think differently about what’s good or not because I had to work with so many ideas but only for a single day at a time. I’ve been enjoying it and considering taking the idea a step further. I want to take those prompts and make a series of logos for each. I want each concept to have about 5 different choices, just like I’d show to a client.

I have largely stopped using Upwork, but not because it isn’t a useful resource. I just had to decide how to spend my time. I want to freelance more with logo design. I still think I have talent to offer the field. With this challenge I’ve noticed my execution improving!

My Etsy Shop is helping me out too. I’ve made sales of SVG files, and I’m going to continue to put out listings there. I think it could take off and if it does then I’ll focus on that and leave other freelancing aside. I just have to get there first, so until then, just keep trying all paths until one becomes disentangled from the others.

Take it easy and remember to smile!

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Back to the Proposal Grind

I know I should be treating freelancing as a second job, working 10-20hrs per week to make ends meet. But I admit I forget about that a lot. It’s time once again to make that better.

My husband recently fell near his work and has been unable to work regular hours for the past month. Luckily, his workplace is covering him for much of the work time lost and subsequent surgery. However, January has been slow enough that my position is a drain on the store where I work. I have to drop to part time at best. I’m not complaining. It’s not my employer’s fault that January is slow. It simply renews the need to find bigger and better things for myself.

So I’ve been applying to jobs and spitting out proposals to the freelance winds. Mostly it comes back and splatters in my face. C’est la vie! I am proud of myself for taking it in stride and learning from past mistakes that it’s not personal. It takes a while to get established. I came late to the game somewhat and that’s my own cross to bear.

I love designing and I keep being a creative person no matter where I go from here.

Take it easy and remember to smile.

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Time Travels Towards…

…what? I have no idea. I wanted to use alliteration and that’s what came to mind.  I haven’t written much in the past two weeks for two reasons. For one, my job makes me stressed out enough that I have not been able to put the work in for freelancing. For two, my time has been sucked away by looking for an apartment and moving. My official move-in date is August 25th. It’s not likely anything is going to change until then. 

It feels horrible. I’ve been trying to submit proposals on Upwork and do at least one contest entry per week to keep up my practice. I haven’t landed any other freelance jobs and I know that’s because I barely put in 5 hours per week. I haven’t advertised on social media either. 

So that changes today. I must, at least, attempt 1 social media posting per week with a link to my Upwork profile. Posts from me will always be scheduled to drop at 6am to maximize the possibility that people will see it by chance. Here’s to hope for the future. 

Take it easy and remember to smile. 

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Indescribable Inertia

I grew up in a house. My parents owned houses my entire life. When I turned 30 I was finally able to move out with my then-boyfriend to a very nice 1-bedroom in Wheaton, IL. It was a lucky find and I love it here. I don’t want to move away from Wheaton. But there’s nothing we can afford but studio apartments, which would be a huge step down in room for us. 

It should be air in the wind compared to the journey I’m on trying to work full time and make time to freelance. It’s stressful with so much up in the air in the next 3 weeks. I’m doing my best, but I’m floundering a little right now. I’m being pulled in different directions and the net force feels like zero, but I know I’ll still keep moving one way or another. 

I managed to send out a proposal for a job on Upwork.com tonight. That felt nice. I’m also trying to make a t-shirt design for my husband. On top of that, my husband won some plane tickets at work. While that’s nice that we have a flight to use sometime between now and next February, it’s really hard to even think about that. It’s the final straw on the camel’s back. I want to focus on work, our lives, and my own happiness. Trip planning will have to wait until September. 

Take it easy and remember to smile. 

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Good Clients

It’s no secret that the world of design is full of bad, naughty, impatient, mean…

2 days later

…awful, terrible clients. The nit-pickers want perfection, but refuse to negotiate payment when the project goes over budget due to time wasted on endless revisions. Vague-ists expect mind reading levels of understanding from a brief only 10 words long that says they want a logo.  Worst of all are the clients who give you detailed instructions on what they want, decide to completely change their mind half way through the design process, and finally at the end refuse to pay you anything because you were not able to finish the project in time.

We all know people like those described above as friends and family in addition to total strangers who want to pay for work they can’t do themselves, but don’t want to pay for work they can’t do themselves. Did I just confuse you, dear reader? Sorry. I guess you’ll have to take my word for it that’s its bad. 😉

But I want to talk about the good clients I’ve encountered in the last week. Two of them to be precise.

The first is, of course, the client who hired me for my first design job. Justin went above and beyond by telling me there was a problem with his payment and he had already fixed it. That job should clear with Upwork sometime this week and enter the mandatory 1 week security hold. It’s ok, just par for the course here in designer-land. I can’t withdraw the money until I have $100 in my Upwork account. That’s fine with me too if it avoids fees or ther pitfalls on Upwork’s side and keeps the service free to people like me (not counting the service fees since I set my own rate and the system charges the client the fee, not the designer.)

Good client number two is a repeat contest holder over on Freelancer.com. He held a contest back at the end of May which I won. It was only $25 after fees, but that was enough to set me up with a year’s paid intro membership on the site. I needed it! A week and a half ago the same client requested my entry on another, similar, contest. I read over the brief and decided it was something I could do for him so I submitted an entry. Yesterday, I received a message from him stating he decided not to use any of the submissions, but since he had solicited my entry he was awarding me with the prize. I gave him the files anyway since from my point of view it’s required to get paid and because if he’s paying then the work is his anyway. Maybe he will change his mind or use the illustration for something else. This was beyond my expectations! If you foster a good relationship with a client sometimes they will give you a break. The winnings will be $40 after fees. Again, not that much, but work is work and pay is pay. Repeat clients count for a lot and show that you do quality work at any price.

Two doves perch on the antlers of a deer skull
The winning design that starting it all

Take it easy and remember to smile!

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The Spaghetti Toss

Okay, what am I doing writing about food? It’s not real food, of course. I’m talking about the “throw spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks” technique of problem-solving. I’m not throwing spaghetti because I want to. I can’t control whether clients respond to my proposals. It’s rough calling them proposals too.

When I write my proposals I think about 4 things:introduce

  1. introduce myself and make a statement so the client knows I read their brief
  2. describe an idea I have for their project
  3. explain my work hours
  4. what images I’ll include with the proposal (a cool feature at Upwork.com)

My proposals are rarely more than a few sentences. Sometimes, I skip item 2 and tell them that I’ve included a sketch. As I said previously, I started including sketches with my proposals. Sometimes item 2 is replaced by a list of questions I have about the project. Many clients don’t include basic information such as what their business does, what they want the project to convey to customers, or the form and colors of the project preferred. It’s on me to ask those questions!

Let me get back to the spaghetti throwing. I’m basically applying for everything worth more than $30. I want to maximize my potential of finding clients. At this point, clients are not knocking on my door; I have to go to them. I don’t yet understand the type of client I should be targeting. Until that day comes, I will apply to everything and see what comes back.

This sucks.

This is the downside of freelancing. The work comes and goes in spurts. The idea, ultimately, is for the income to average out over the course of the year. The challenge is to manage money in savings to average out the money available at any given time. That’s usually what kills freelancers who are just starting: bad clients who don’t pay and spending it all at the moment of income.

I have a leg up because I came to the freelance market late in the game. There are services like Upwork.com to manage the bad clients for me. They guarantee I’ll get paid and act as a middle man so I’m never one on one alone without help.  If the job is a fixed amount – not hourly, – then Upwork requires the client to deposit the funds ahead of time before the work can begin. This guarantees I will get paid as long as I use Upwork’s time tracker to prove I did the work.

I wish I had understood all of this in college. I never would have wasted over 9 years of my life in a job that wasn’t what I wanted to do. C’est la vie, mes amis!