1. When did you realise you wanted to be a freelance designer?
I was employed at an agency and had just come back to work again after maternity leave. I struggled for a year or so but often found myself driving in the bus lane to get home in time to fetch my son from day care. He was always the last child to get picked up. It was a scary thing to do at the time but I had to leave my employment and my stable income.
It was the best decision I ever made and if I’d be offered a job like that today I’d never take it. In fact, it already happened and I gave it some thought but turned it down. It was always really hard for me to accept someone else ruling my schedule so being freelance really is the only option for me now.
2. How did you get started and what was the biggest hurdle you overcame?
The biggest hurdle was (and still is) to sell my services – I mean putting myself out there to pitch. I would struggle to sell somebody else’s products or services but to sell my own just feels too uncomfortable. So in fact, I’ve never done it but somehow I still managed to get clients even though I had some shorter dry spells at times.
What I did from the beginning was I tried to keep my website informative, giving away advice long before it became the thing to do.
3. What’s been your most successful way of getting clients?
Oh, that was really a fluke! I got to know this French wine agent via my former employer. He decided to come to Sweden, where I live, to pitch his wine. And that man was a really good salesman. Everywhere he went in Stockholm he talked about me and my services. My best and most important client, that is still with me today, came from that wine agent.
I’ve wanted to repeat this concept since but it’s not so easy to just become friends with someone who happens to visit your target audience and convinces them to try out your services.
Anyway I think it’s a good idea to think about the possibility at all times. Maybe try to figure out who might already be providing services to your target audience but isn’t a competitor. Then try to suggest some kind of win win approach.
4. How do you get clients to stay with you and use you for more work?
Trust! I prove to them that they can count on me and trust me and rely on me. Just think about it – how often do you feel that you can trust your provider 100% and that you can just let go of something that’s important to you and leave it to them?
That’s what I try to achieve with the clients that are important to me and that is what makes them stay I think. I know I’m not a top notch designer by any means but I also know that you can’t trust a lot of people to do what they are paid to do without constantly hovering over them and check their progress at all times. With my clients and me it’s the other way around.
I check on them to make sure they didn’t forget anything.
5. Do you ever have issues with clients paying late? How do you manage that?
I think it might have happened twice in the last 10 years. In those two cases I just made some research to find out as much as possible about the people in the board of those companies, what other engagements and relations they had and so on.
Then I selected the ones I figured were the most influential and just emailed them and explained the situation. These were people that did not participate in the projects I had worked on but since they were high up in the hierarchy and I got their attention they made sure that my invoice was paid within a few days.
It might happen sometimes that someone forgets to pay on time but then they always pay straight away after I’ve reminded them gently once.
6. What does your typical workday look like?
My typical day starts at 06.30. I have breakfast, read the news and some social media. Then I work for a couple of hours before heading off to the gym or out for a run. I typically work out for two hours everyday (except Saturdays). In the early afternoon I get back to work again and normally stay there until it’s time to cook dinner.
Sometimes I also put in a couple of work hours in the evening.
My work varies all the time and includes branding, print design and websites. Some projects are small and done in a few hours while others lasts for months. So I typically jump between at least a couple of projects in one day.
7. Any piece of advice/wisdom that you’d like to give the readers at This Design Life?
Respect those who respect you but don’t let people take advantage of you. Definitely say no to clients that don’t want to pay the price you ask for, but do your absolute best for the ones that happily pay for and appreciate your work.
You can connect with Anna here.