1. When did you realise you wanted to be a designer?
Well, fresh out of University I worked at two big design / marketing firms. If I’m honest, it wasn’t really an enjoyable experience. The tea-round took forever.
I felt under pressure a lot of the time and that I was working to please my art director, boss and also the client. Having them sat behind me, was not fun. But ping-pong was cool and we ‘creatives’ are an interesting bunch.
Bigger isn’t always better.
I was lucky enough, later on, to work at smaller design company with two great designers – which was really when something clicked into place.
Whilst there, I enjoyed working on some interesting projects and talking with them about how they ran their business. It made freelance seem more of a possibility and so I began to research into how to become a freelancer and set my own business up. Greatest decision ever! I wish I’d thought about it earlier, I really do.
2. How did you get started and what was the biggest hurdle you overcame?
I became a human book worm and read – a lot. I bought books, spoke to other designers and got a part time job (two of them) – one being at a printers / designers, on a freelance basis. This allowed me to have a secure income whilst I continued to learn and slowly began learning about freelance and how to manage clients. Then one day I thought, “it’s now or never” – so I quit the jobs and haven’t looked back since.
My biggest hurdle was myself. I worried about having every last thing detailed, my skills, my finances, pricing and even how I wrote my emails. I was also extremely hard on myself.
Now all of that is second nature, as I’ve streamlined and dropped bits that I don’t need. It just gets so much easier, now that I’m now nearly four years in. But they were lessons that were all valuable and I’ve now found my own way of working, I’m very disciplined and keep things in order.
3. What’s been your most successful way of getting clients?
Talking to people, being active and being in the right place at the right time. I always try to push myself creatively, working on varied projects and producing work that my clients love.
My work comes from my website, advertising and word of mouth.
4. How do you get clients to stay with you and use you for more work?
I always aim to create distinctive design work for them, whilst listening carefully to the brief and making sure projects run smoothly.
5. Do you ever have issues with clients paying late? How do you manage that?
Never really a problem. Occasionally it does happen, but I keep following it up until they do pay. I take 50% up-front and 50% upon completion.
6. What does your typical work day look like?
First and foremost, a cup of tea and Planet Rock radio station.
Then it’s a mixed bag of emails, sketching, reading and huge bit of working on my iMac in the Adobe suite.
7. Any piece of advice/wisdom that you’d like to give the readers at Freelance Unleashed?
Well a few things that help me are; my wacom graphics tablet, keyboard shortcuts, my business advisor, stock sites for images and friends to ask questions.
I have a very strong ‘lets get this done’ attitude, so rarely fret for long (as it’s pointless) which speeds up my design process at times. There’s occasionally a few design jobs that do cause this – but I always try to swiftly move on.
Connect with Sean at Daredevil Creative