So excited to bring back my Freelance Wisdom series! This week we have the wonderful designer, Chelsea Amato. I have been following Chelsea on dribbble for awhile now, and am such a fan of her work. I have been super inspired by all her work for different museums and some very cool looking editorial publications! It was wonderful to learn more about her story as a freelancer and her tips for finding clients and being her most productive!
What made you decide to pursue a freelance career?
It all just happened at the right time. I was feeling stifled at my full time job and was looking for an opportunity to do more purposeful design work. I applied for a six month freelance position and everything fell into place. Although I am a full time freelancer working mostly 40 hour weeks M-F I have much more flexibility. I am able to focus on personal freelance projects and my other passions (I am an avid crocheter and baker). I have always taken on freelance projects while having a salaried position. As a full time freelancer, it is understood that I have other design projects and my life is much more balanced. I don't have a specific amount of vacation days, so I feel less constrained and am able to take off days when needed.
In the beginning, how did you attract your first good clients?
It all seemed to be word of mouth. Keeping up relationships with old coworkers and friends helps too. I have gotten many projects because old coworkers couldn't take them on or thought they would be a better fit for me. In addition I have been contacted by many clients who have seen my work on dribbble. It really helps to tag your shots thoughtfully and accurately. I have done a lot of design work for recycling and composting initiatives, tagging this on dribbble has gotten me even more clients in the field.
Do you have any tips for being your most productive?
Although I come into the office most days, I love working from my home. I am most productive when I am surrounded by my customized work environment. I like a clean work surface surrounded by my books and direct access to coffee. I am also a master list maker. I get a sense of accomplishment checking things off my list.
What has been your greatest struggle as a freelancer so far?
So far I have been lucky. Because it has only been a short time since I left the salaried full-time world, I've had enough projects to keep me going. My greatest struggle has been finding affordable healthcare!
What is your favorite thing about being a freelancer?
Freedom. With the ability to take breaks when necessary, even if it is just a walk around the block, I have found that I am much more productive and inspired. In addition, having the choice to take on projects that are meaningful to me, and saying no to those that don't seem like a good fit really makes all the difference.
Since you are your own boss, do you have any advice for maintaining a work-life balance?
Freelance is the best thing that happened to my work life balance. After having worked extreme hours at an agency where I felt I had no control over my life or work, I am finally able to breathe and create things I care about (graphic design and other).
The 3 greatest attributes you need to be a freelance creative are:
Dedication, organization, passion for things important to you.