A collection of posts for the creative entrepreneur heart, or for those who are curious to learn more.
As creative professionals, we often are approached with inquiries for hire based on our knowledge and skill that those around us lack. Personally, this is exactly how my freelance career was started, and quickly spread through word of mouth. But what about that stage of still working a full time job while building freelance credentials? Or what if you want to keep freelancing as a side hustle? Here are some things to keep in mind to maintain peace between the two.
“A logo isn’t a brand unless it’s on a cow.” This is a great quote, and it’s very true. In creative briefs with clients, I often hear people reference Apple’s brand identity and how much they love it. However, they are almost never referring to the actual Apple logo. Instead, they’re referring to everything else that makes the Apple brand great, the open and clean design of their retail stores and website, the way their product packaging feels when you open it, the user experience of their user-interface, the photography, the type, the commercials, etc.
For freelance designers — or any creative service business owners — one of the most challenging aspects of business is pricing. We have uncertainty about what price our skills and experience should command. It’s difficult to compare how our prices stack up to others in the industry (because nobody likes talking about their prices). And even if we have all that sorted out, there’s no consensus on what pricing method is easiest to apply and fairest to use.
Working with clients and collaborators who’s values align with yours is the most important aspect of building a successful service business.
Wikipedia's definition of a design brief is a document for a design project developed by a person or team (the designer or design team) in consultation with the client. They outline the deliverables and scope of the project including any products or works (function and aesthetics), timing and budget. I'm here to tell you why you need one.
A picture is worth a thousand words… but will they be the words you want your viewer to remember? Take your portfolio from merely pretty to professional.
We live in a world of constant hustle, but if you really take a look at the small slots of time you have throughout the day, you realize that filling in those gaps with tasks that bring you closer to have a completed "to-do" list is key for productivity and results.
Knowing your audience is key when it comes to effective marketing. But did you know that it’s equally important for your audience to get to know you too? Maybe not you, personally, but your brand and what it stands for. Absolutely!
If you’re new to the field of design, you’re in an interesting spot — you’re excited, bursting with energy and passion, but you’ve hit a wall when trying to find somewhere that will pay you to put that energy to work.
Being a freelancer is more than a full time job. It’s all the creative work of a employee, plus the equally important parts of running a business. It’s managing projects, time, and deadlines; client communication and setting expectations; billing, accounting, and taxes; sales, marketing, meet & greets, estimates, and proposals; strategy, and business development.
So you've done some research on the design field as a career. Maybe you've even been hired for a freelance project or two. But are you ready to take on design full force and make it your career? Here are some qualifications that you will encounter on a daily basis if you want to enter the creative career world of design.
By my 32nd revolution around the sun, here is the wisdom I have collected. Some of it may seem obvious or apparent — I am no guru — but all of it is lived experience.
Business energetics is the burst of motivation that comes from opening a pack of colorful new pens. It’s the feeling you get when you sit down at your tastefully decorated workspace or read an inspiring quote. It’s all the little moments and small successes that drive you forward in business. It’s a mindset, a lifestyle, and the only way possible to be successful working from home.
Success is a wound that we create, to remind ourselves that with the pain of hard work comes the eventual healing of achieving your dreams.
Personal branding is all the rage right now. Everyone has a brand, but some of us are more skilled at realizing its potential than others. Entrepreneurs and online gurus alike, actors, writers and public figures work hard to build a personal brand that replaces their business card and reinforces their influence and popularity in the public eye.
The Enneagram’s entire aim is to use self-awareness of your fears and weaknesses and work with them to let your virtues manifest naturally. Working with the Enneagram can help us reflect on our true natures, with the good and the bad.
There’s a new phenomenon sweeping the nation and it’s fascinating. Who would have imagined that America’s new obsession would be tidying up? Led by Marie Kondo, brought to you by Netflix.
When you’re an expert in any field, people may regularly ask to “pick your brain,” buy you lunch or some other form of asking for advice. For free, of course. If you feel conflicted at time like these, it makes perfect sense. Your schedule is packed, yet your instinct might still be to jump in and help. In fact, your generosity and desire to make a difference likely played a huge part in you going into business to begin with.
An important lesson I’ve come to learn is that high school doesn’t end the moment you graduate. Irrespective of the career you find yourself in or the office you end up working at, there will always be people who react to things like a child would: defensively, aggressively, and immaturely.
How integrating mindfulness techniques will help you become a stronger designer and a more engaged team member.
Being the creator of a socially conscious project gives you an opportunity to tell the world a story that no one has heard before. Why did you start your project? Who inspired you? Was it a talented artisan in another country? Was it your desire to improve the future of our environment? Was it your your own community that lacked support and intimacy?
Working remote is something I've done off and on for the past 3 years. Between being a full time freelance business owner to working for companies that allow "digital office" work environments if requested, the future of so many companies is this on-the-go, work from anywhere (with good wifi) lifestyle. I love this way of work and life, but it can get overwhelming and lonely if you are new to it. Here are a few things I keep in mind when I'm not running to the office.
Have you ever considered that both artists and entrepreneurs have extremely similar values and personalities? They’re super different, right? I’d actually argue the opposite: these two groups are incredibly similar in many ways. But one thing sets them apart: their core motivator. This is by no means a blanket statement on either side, but the core motivating difference I’ve noticed among these two groups is that: Entrepreneurs do something they love and look for the best/fastest way to scale it and create revenue. Artists don’t give a shit if the money comes - they’ll keep doing the thing anyway.
With the pressures to create a picture perfect staged life to document on platforms like Instagram, the "likes" and praise are easy to get lost in and the value behind the scenes becomes unnoticed. We are all on a journey towards some sort of end goal, but not many are talking about the process it takes to get there. Seeking validation has overshadowed the true story of a person's less than pleasant moments in those dreams. Storytelling is not just a past time or way of remembering parts of history, but it’s actually a part of us.
We can adapt and conform to the comfort that becomes our daily routine, but sometimes the best thing to do for growth is to step into the unknown.
Just when you think you have it all figured out… well, stuff happens. Even though you thought you were over your ex, a sudden wave of sadness washes over you. An incessant stream of thoughts comes rushing into your consciousness. They didn’t choose you. Were you good enough? Why are you still thinking about this? Is this a sign you should give it another try? It must be. But you don’t want to. Or do you? Your new relationship hit its first bump. Is that a sign? Should you back down or let your ego fight it out? Are they the one that will grow old with you? Or just a rebound? Are you good enough? Do you even want all of this? Work keeps piling on, and you can’t focus because you had a falling out with a colleague. Are they getting paid more? They’re taking all the credit for your work anyway. Are you good enough for this job?
There’s a common perception that design, like other creative activities, is mostly driven by creative inspiration, that is the work of a genius with deep natural talents. This kind of a perception is often reinforced by the presence of artifacts, that it’s hard to imagine that they could have done it without some deep talent or genius of their creators. Yet while in most fields, natural talent does play a major role. The reality is that what makes designers effective in solving problems is not their natural talent, but the fact that they have learned a process. The design process, that when followed faithfully, allows designers to solve very complicated problems with a visual solution.
I recently went to an event designed, produced and attended by entrepreneurs. The majority of whom were men. There were some women in the room too but most of the attendees happened to be men. I found myself in conversation after conversation — small and large group convos — almost all of which I was the only woman. If I’d even call them conversations. It was more like a bunch of men completely ignoring my existence.
Motivation, it comes and goes. Here today and gone tomorrow. Self-discipline, it’s what we’re all about. Self-discipline is the process of building habits that actually stick. If you are like me, you must have read countless blog posts online about motivation, followed motivational speakers, watched their videos, and believed in the hype. But to me, they never gave the solution for what I was looking for.
As a creator, the internet is king. It is the end all, be all to sharing your work. It is a tool with such power, such potential to reach hundreds and thousands of people with the push of a button. Yet, in a world where technology pulls the strings and plays puppet master to our creative musings — how are we keeping our ideas alive and original? Is anything we see today truly a unique concept, thought or piece of art? Or have we all played into the hands of an oversaturated market, driven by our desire to ignite and spark a creative revolution? Let’s talk about keeping originality alive.
Nowadays potential clients, hires, and collaborators will Google you and research you online, before even thinking of reaching out for an inquiry or interview. Think about it - don't we all social media stalk everyone from your ex's new relationship to people RSVP'd to an event you're attending to proceeding cautiously through a random person's Instagram feed with the fear of accidentally liking a post from 4 years ago? Whoever is researching you will have an image of who you are and what you do, before ever surfacing on your radar. This could work for or against you. How do you position yourself positively?
Putting your work out there for everyone to see. Spending entire days working at your laptop alone. Coming up with endless lists of pitches and ideas, knowing that most of them will be rejected. Freaking out over taxes because you can’t handle numbers and that’s why you became a freelancer in the first place and why can’t the IRS just cut you some slack, please. So many aspects of the freelance lifestyle are anxiety-inducing, even for those who feel totally stable most of the time. But what about those of us who struggle with anxiety, even when everything is fine, and still want to pursue this path?
More talented designers are coming on the scene every year, turning up the heat in an already competitive hiring market. Leading employers are raising the bar: today, even the most impressive design skills aren’t enough to set candidates apart from the crowd. To find the best fits for their projects, teams, and cultures, forward-thinking companies are looking deeper. Your design portfolio is about more than your finished work: it’s a place to showcase your process and passion.
As creatives and as human beings, we all face struggles. It’s a part of life to overcome those struggles and become stronger. Moving on from those battles is something that we want to happen, but what if we embraced those struggles AND took it a step further? What if we used them to shape our brand like a painter uses their art as fuel to connect with people? As professionals, we can.
Goals are a way of actively seeking out your ambitions. But before you start starting to chasing your dreams, start by defining your goals. If you do not have goals, make them up. Everything is better than having no goals at all. Even if you don’t know what you want to do with your life, you have a goal: Find out what you want to do with your life.
If you were on the internet and/or social media at all the last week or two, you're probably familiar with the "me, too" movement. After the accusations were confirmed against director Harvey Weinstein, countless women (and men) have been speaking out about how they've been victims of sexual assault. Whether using the two words alone or being brave and sharing more detail, the outpouring of honesty and empathy was astounding. Reading those stories, whether they happened in a party situation, a place of employment, or any other environment, my eyes were really opened by this epidemic of how many people I know have experienced this trauma, and I had to write about it.
Nowadays, people try to be unique among thousands similar ones. Business owners strive at the uniqueness of their brand and often demand something special from designers. The majority of original things are made by hands. Custom hand lettering took its place among other design directions a long time ago and it never gets old. All the advanced digital tools still couldn’t replace it and even more, they only supplemented it with new opportunities.
Growing up, I always wanted a hero. Someone to look up to, someone to idolize, someone to depend upon when things got rough. Don't get me wrong, I definitely had plenty of figures that served that heroic purpose. Anyone from my mom to various singers and celebrities who helped form and guide me into who I am today. Although I could never thank those people who pioneered my ship, and some that continue to do so, there was one part missing. What I failed to realize is that I was always looking in the wrong places. My hero wasn’t outside or external. It wasn’t a fictional character, an actress, a politician, or a relative. It was me. All along, I was my own hero - without ever realizing it.
As entrepreneurs, one of our deepest longings is to make an impact. How we choose to live this out in business, parenthood, friendships, traveling, and learning all matter and add to a full life. We are fighters, and determined, and it sure takes grit. But being a pioneer, caring for people, and working towards success may not be easy, but is worth it. Sweetness comes in living out a calling, rising to challenges, and being part of something that truly loves others well.
Side projects are a great way to achieve fulfillment in spaces that a day job or daily lifestyle leave empty. They’re a learning lesson, a creative outlet, a relationship-building opportunity, and if executed properly with market-fit on their side, they can even be profitable and grow into a fully functioning business. That said, there’s a lot about side projects that most people don’t talk about — the nitty, gritty, dirt-under-your-fingernails side of side projects. They’re a commitment — your baby, and much like a baby (or puppy, for those who find that reference more relatable), they require a lot of time, energy, and commitment to raise them healthy and happy.
Your mental health is an easy one to push to the back burner. We can feel and sense the symptoms of working too hard or burning the candle at both ends, yet we neglect to pay as much attention to them as we would our physical health. As a creative, your mental health can really take a toll on your mindset that's so dependent on keeping in a positive and well balanced state.
Between back to school either just happening or right around the corner from happening, I'm going to hit you all with a cliche "what I wish I could tell my former self" post. Since this blog is still brand new, this post can help you get to know me a little bit better on a personal level so I'm not just a random voice coming through whichever device you're reading this on. Now at 30 years old, there's a lot I wish I could tell myself as a teenager. Let's take a time machine back to the early 2000s and vision this envelope being opened right now.
Want to learn from me? Applications for mentor sessions are now open for virtual or in person students, and I would love to help you learn deeper than just using software. I've also crafted a few resource documents you can download for free to use however you wish!RESOURCESMENTORSHIP