Hello friends I have been having a little issue with my IT. Apologies for not being able to post. Today I would like to share some personal thoughts with you. As many of you know, I left my cushy regular cooperate design job 12 months ago. I know, crazy! I felt it was time to move on with my career and move into the rolls i had always envisioned for myself.
Sounds simple right? but stepping out of the security of a regular pay check into a world of unknown was, what shall i say... um hairy! However i really believed it was God calling me to TRUST Him and that He had made a way even though it felt at times desperate. I liken it to wondering in the wilderness without a map. I had to start walking in trust and not wait for it to come to me. Sometimes If you build it they will come doesn't work. You have to take it to people, offer it and be very proactive.
Today I am going to share with you the first steps I took to get my successful trend and surface design business going. I'd also like to say I have not done this on my own. My faith, family and friends have been there supporting the whole adventure and i am so thankful to them especially my hubby and mum.
1. Online presence: This is vital, I am always sending prospective clients to my website. Create a clean and easy to maintain web page. Hallelujah, no coding experience needed these days and no initial outlay of $4000 to have a site built. I do not recommend using Facebook or Wordpress as your only online presence, these are good but do not portray a professional designer.
2. Go to work and get dressed: Find a studio or set one up in your home. It is so important to be in a physical space you love. For me it is a space that is full of light and beautiful things i have collected. If you are working off your kitchen table this can be problematic as you have to pack it up daily or look at it when you are not working. Also for me i feel so much better when i don't work in my workout gear. I try to dress like a designer as i never know who may want to Skype.
Make regular hours, carve out the hours you like to work and also work with your clients schedule. If they are in NY and you are in Seattle you may need to start early somedays. Being freelance however does give you some wiggle room to create the lifestyle you want. So if you want to do that hot yoga at lunch because it is gonna energize you, go for it. Working for yourself means you are responsible for your time management.
3. Make Connections: I got to the point last Christmas when i was working on my own so much i started designing crazy gold fish and parrot prints (parrot print sold!). I started second guessing myself, so i reached out to one of my dear friends who is also a designer. It is crucial to stay commercial and not just be in your bubble and think "this is awesome" or "worse this is rubbish".
I know it is totally lame but LinkedIn has also really worked for me. I have been able to connect with fantastic people on many different levels. It is so funny how on the right day someone can send you a sweet little line and really spur you on. So take advantage of it and reach out to others.
4. Say YES to everything when starting out: I was prompted by a friend to start working for a super textile studio. The thing about studio work is you have to do a lot of work before you see the money coming in. I had had my office space and time worked out but few regular clients, so why not be productive and churn out some fun design trying new techniques and styles and then hand them over to my agent.
Saying yes to everything will sometimes mean working for free or for less than you normally charge. I am not advising you to put yourself in this position always. but creating the odd t-shrit design for a non profit can then lead to other work.
Also I worked on projects that were in my capability but out of my comfort zone. This really boosted my confidence and skill set. I learnt new computer packages, how to communicate with people who have never worked with surface designers before and the list goes on. It is all good and in the beginning turn nothing down. This changed super fast for me and now i am in the position of wanting to hire someone to help with the flurry of projects or i will have too start turning projects down.
I hope that if you find yourself in the position I was in, you can be brave enough to step out in faith and keep walking. If you have any questions i would be more than happy to share more of what i have learned.