Freelance Wisdom: Beth Mathews

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! 

Xo, Jess