Tips for Freelancers
WORDS // EMILY POULIN & JESSICA BILLS
Tips from graphic designer, Emily Poulin:
Be honest with clients and yourself about timelines. Don't over promise or put yourself in a difficult spot. No one wins in that situation.
Say no! There are other designers besides you in the world -- if you're not a good fit or don't have time/ interest it is perfectly okay to bow out. This is really hard at first but gets easier, giving more time for projects you really want.
Charge enough that you feel respected, but not too much that you feel nervous.
People always ask me what I charge and there's never an easy answer. I truly love what I do and so I often charge lower than I should because I'm excited for an opportunity to practice and make cool stuff! However, I've definitely charged too little before and felt like I was getting taken advantage of. Charge however much makes you feel like your time is valued and makes you willing to give up your free time to pursue someone else's vision.
I've definitely received huge projects and procrastinated until the last week because I was too overwhelmed to know where to start. I've created a system now, more of a habit, to start initial sketches while watching TV or listening to a podcast -- something to entertain myself and take the pressure off of JUST SKETCHING. It gives a secondary nature to creating, allowing room for mistakes, and helps chip away at the project. I usually find after that process that I'm in a better place to tackle the project and have better direction.
Set aside time every night to practice or do client work. I work full time so when I come home I'm apt to sit at home and relax. However, I've blocked out a good hour or two of my night to either practice or work on projects. If, after two hours, I want to continue, I do, but I require myself to create every night. Some nights are really awful, and I question my talent and passion, but some nights are incredible and I make really cool stuff!
It also helps to have a designated space to do your work: desk,kitchen table, or the floor in my case because my room is too small! But it mentally prepares you for what you should be doing and helps focus you.
Tips from photographer, Jessica Bills:
You are your own boss (and good bosses manage their employees well).
One of the hardest things in being a freelancer is time management. I literally have created a system of motivation to trick myself into working when I don’t want to. It’s not that I don’t love photographing people, it’s the sitting down and editing 4 weddings within 2 weeks that kills my extroverted self. So I go to places alone when it’s crunch time; coffee shops, diners, etc. (I even went to a hotel lobby.)
Working around people in fun settings helps a ton and suits my personality. You have to know what works for yourself. I need fun, nature, or food to either be a bribe or a facilitator of me getting work done when I’m fried or unfocused.
Hold on to friends with similar aspirations.
Eat with them, share with them, and edit sitting next to them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve edited a photo, in what seems like, twenty different ways and the only way I move on is by asking a fellow photographer what they think. Creative people need creative people. They provide encouragement, challenges, motivation, and collaboration, which is such a game changer.
Lie to yourself about when projects are due.
In my planner, I set out to get projects done in half the time I tell my clients. Part of that is so when I’m in final draft mode I can really perfect things. The other part is in case other things come up, I’ve given myself extra time and that is gift from above.
(Also, I'm a natural procrastinator. So that goes back to knowing yourself, the good and the bad, and being a good boss of yourself.)
You create more creative magic when clients become friends.
When one of my best friends was getting married I wanted to tell the photographer all the things that made that day unique from the other weddings he shoots. And that really changed my perspective with my clients. I’m mostly hired to do moment stuff - weddings, engagements, and portraits. So if my clients were my friends I would know all the more what made that moment unique to them. Get to know them, care for them, and then serve them. And I promise, when you care for them as you would a friend, your creativity will soar.
Always strive to exceed expectations.
- If you tell your client you are giving them 100 photos, give an extra 20 that turned out great.
- If you tell them you’ll have it done in a week, send them a day early.
- Do little things or bigger things to be impressive.
- It’s not lying, it’s just not being too entitled to be lazy.
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LETTERING // SAM PALENCIA | PHOTO //MARISS EANES