I am so excited to bring you this weeks Freelance Wisdom column! Beth Mathews is a lovely and talented graphic designer hailing from Nashville, TN! You will probably recognize her wonderful color palette project from your Pinterest feed :) Beth is a total sweetheart and sent over some incredible advice - hope you enjoy and learn a little something!
In the beginning, how did you attract your first good clients?
I feel lucky in that I had enough employment years under my belt to have some built-in clients when I first went freelance. I remember heading out the door at my last agency job with a box full of my things and my boss at the time said “hey! are you free next week? I have a job for you.” I don’t think I could have asked for a better start.
Do you have any tips for being your most productive?
Productivity...what a word. I’m still learning how to master this.
• Respond to those lingering emails you marked “important” first
• Return any voicemails
• Close your social network tabs
• Keep a running doc of your “to-do” list.
What has been your greatest struggle as a freelancer so far?
Payment structure has been my biggest struggle as a freelancer so far. It’s a scary thing to have your payment left into the hands of if/when a client can put a check in the mail. I also now 100% understand the saying of “when it rains, it pours” with projects and payments!
Also, no one ever told me that I would work more as a freelancer.
What is your favorite thing about being a freelancer?
There’s a poem by Mary Oliver that I really love called “Instructions for living a life” that I like to tie into my perspective on being a graphic designer. She writes:
“Instructions for living a life. / Pay attention. / Be astonished. / Tell about it.”
I’m fortunate that most days I get the opportunity to tell other people’s story through art and creative solutions for a living. What a gift!
Tips for dealing with the nitty-gritty business details?
• Always have a contract. Here is a great one to start with.
• Hire an accountant
• Invoice half of your payment up front and the remaining balance at the end of the project
• Record every expense! My good friend saved me when she gave me this google spreadsheet when I first took the leap.
• Open a separate bank account to keep a percentage of every check for taxes
The 3 greatest attributes you need to be a freelance designer are:
A sense of humor, strong communication skills (answer that email!), confidence in your talent.
Thanks Beth for your wisdom!