3 UGLY TRUTHS ABOUT BECOMING A FREELANCE DESIGNER

3 UGLY TRUTHS ABOUT BECOMING A FREELANCE DESIGNER

When I first decided to become a freelancer, I had big dreams about what it would be like, how I would work on my projects, how I would organize my time and work flow. At the time, I worked a 9-5 job that didn’t fulfill me creatively in the slightest, so the thought of being paid to design and do what I love filled me with SO much joy.

I followed lots of design bloggers for at least 2 years and I was always in awe of the pretty moodboards they had created, the beautiful Instagram profiles they had curated, and the wonderful testimonials from wonderful clients about how wonderful the design experience was.

I know there are lot of people in my community who want to quit their jobs and become freelance designers (or start other kinds of businesses), so I wanted to take the opportunity today to share a few truths with you.

Before we start, I want you to know:

I absolutely LOVE what I do and most importantly the path I chose for myself – professionally speaking. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Starting my brand & web design business has been one of the biggest adventures of my life. My business allows me to live the life I want: a life of financial freedom, travel freedom, it also allows me to spend quality time with my daughter, and all-round independence, and for that I view my business as a real BLESSING. I truly feel thankful and appreciative of everything I do right now.

But, even though there are hundreds of great things about being a freelancer, and even running your online business, there are just a few ugly truths that no one ever really talks about – so I am going to try my best to break them down for you.

1. FIRST YEAR OF BUSINESS? 

You’re going to get a few nightmare clients.

 

As a newbie, your first year of business will be highly experimental. You probably won’t understand how to legally protect your business, how to onboard clients, how to handle tricky client situations, or how your design process should go from start to finish.

Spotting a bad client early on is key to keeping both your sanity and a sustainable business. But how do you know what they will be like as a client before you start working with them?

Because of your lack of experience, you’re going to make mistakes that will make some clients mad. Or, you’re going to take on clients you shouldn’t have because you weren’t aware of the warning signs.

Trust your instincts. In my experience, a client who is difficult or frustrating to deal with during the initial discussions and pre-contract phase, is not suddenly going to turn into the perfect client once you start working with them.

The reason I’m bringing this up today is make sure you’re as prepared as you can be for nightmare clients. If you’re aware and you prepare beforehand for bad client situations, you’ll reduce the chance of them happening when you start freelancing full-time, and you’ll be able to handle these situations well if they do happen!

2. WEB DESIGN SKILLS? NOT SO MUCH.

You’ll spend most of your time doing business maintenance.

 

Your days will most likely look like this: 3 hours designing, 5 hours business maintenance.

For your business to grow and run smoothly, you can’t just design for your clients. You need to manage your inbox on a daily basis (YES – daily!), follow up with clients, be active on social media, do your bookkeeping, and so much more. To a new designer it can seem overwhelming, but trust me it’s not. If you can get yourself motivated enough to keep a daily and a weekly task management system, you will soon realize, you can do this!

3. ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?

Running your own business isn’t for everyone.

 

A lot of people dream of starting their own business but many fail because they didn’t realize how much self-motivation and self-discipline you need to make a success of it.

You are out on your own when you start your home/online business. That means you don’t get to work with a team of employees who are all vested in making the company successful. You’re the one who’s responsible for making your business successful. You don’t get to work together with a large team of people to take the company to the next level. It’s all on you. If you find it hard to motivate yourself to get up in the morning, to build your portfolio, to work on your own instead of meeting your friend for coffee then try and harness these qualities more before quitting your day job.

If you have a flexible schedule, it’s easy to slip into a lazy schedule and slack off sometimes. Family and friends who deeply understand the importance of your work (despite your apparent flexible schedule) are absolutely vital as well.

If you’re in the business planning phase, you’re probably feeling pretty happy, dreamy and determined right now. And that’s a great thing! In fact, if you don’t feel that way then starting a business probably isn’t the right thing for you.

I’m not telling you these ugly truths to discourage you from becoming a freelance designer, and I’m certainly not doing it to burst the dreamy bubble you’re in.

THERE IS MORE!

There are two things I want you to go away with and also do after reading this article:

1. Take another look at the 3 ugly truths I listed above and ask yourself if you’re prepared for them. Preparation is the key to a successful start.

2. Take out a pen and paper and write down three reasons why you want to become a freelance designer, and three things a freelance lifestyle will you allow you to do that a 9-5 job wouldn’t.

Once you’ve written those things out, I want you to stick them up somewhere you can see them as you work on your business each day.

As time goes by and you encounter bad clients that make you want to quit freelancing, slow stages that make you doubt yourself, and times when you just don’t feel cut out to be your own boss, I want you to look at those notes and remember why you’re doing this.

There will be tough times. But as long as you remember why you chose this life and how it blesses you, you’ll be able to work through anything.

Natalie xo

PS. If you can think of one ugly truth + one beautiful truth about freelancing that you think newbies should know, leave a comment and tell me! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

7 PRODUCTIVITY TIPS TO KEEP YOU FOCUSED ON WORK

7 PRODUCTIVITY TIPS TO KEEP YOU FOCUSED ON WORK

Being an entrepreneur and/or working from home can be extremely rewarding and fulfilling, but it can also be such a challenge! Staying on task and remaining productive is a real struggle sometimes when you don’t have a boss, manager, or other co-workers to keep you on point. Today I am going to share 7 different productivity tips that I use to keep myself moving forward and on task!

1. NOTIFICATIONS – OFF

One productivity killer is proved to be all of those notifications that keep popping up on your phone or your computer screen, all the time. I don’t know about you, but when you get notified that someone said something or sent you something, the urge to go and check it out is almost impossible to resist. What is the consequence of falling for this? You get lost in the endless scroll of social media or you get sidetracked responding to an email who can be left unanswered until later on and before you know it a few hours have gone by. What you were supposed to get done gets pushed off until tomorrow. AGAIN. Don’t let notifications get in the way of getting your work done. I myself struggle with this but let me tell you something: I turned off all notifications on my phone a few months ago and my productivity during the day has increased tenfold! I will never go back to my old habit!

2. SCHEDULE BLOCKS OF TIME

When you don’t have the structure of a 9-5 to deal with, working for yourself or working from home can be kind of a “available and free for anyone”. If you do go into the day without a plan, the day can tend to get away from you and you might end up feeling like you didn’t get anything done.

Planning out your week at the beginning of the week and then scheduling blocks of time to take care of tasks can be a huge productivity booster. Knowing that every day from 8-9:30 you will deal with emails and draft posts and from 1-4 you will focus on your freelancing job: blog posting, or web designing or diy projects etc… can keep you on point and moving throughout the day. Hold yourself accountable to get done what you have pre-scheduled to get done. Take breaks in between your tasks and eat, hydrate, go for a walk and clear your head… and your lungs.

3. SET YOUR OFFICE HOURS

Having set office hours can be a huge game changer especially if you have other commitments, like children or a spouse, that also need your time and care. If you know that no one else will be in the house from 8-4, then dedicate yourself to working those hours. Anytime after or before those hours, work will not be done and you can focus your energy on other commitments. It doesn’t really matter what the hours are or when they occur during the day, but be honest with yourself about when you work best, when you have the ability to work in a focused way and stick to it!

4. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK. OR TWO

This one links with the second suggestion I wrote. Along with scheduling blocks of time, make sure to also schedule yourself some breaks throughout the day. Whether it be a few minutes to go outside and take a walk, a quick 10 minute break to stretch, a lunch break with a favorite TV show or even a short afternoon snooze, taking breaks throughout the day gives your brain a chance to relax and re-energize!

5. UTILIZE ANY RESOURCES YOU HAVE

Let’s face it: in many ways technology has made our lives more complicated and we sometimes struggle to keep up to the new tech trends, but it also has the ability to make our lives so much easier and more efficient.

To give you a few personal examples: for my designing process and overall work I use Creative Market a lot and I usually buy bundles and creative packages at a fair price. I also use any free stock photo website I can find and store them in a special folder where I can use them quickly if I need to.

When I deal with SEO projects I rely mostly on paid softwares that ease my workflow. I use the MOZ software and other paid tools so everything I can do to minimize my headache and my client’s dissatisfaction – count me in.

So, utilize some really great productivity resources to help you complete tasks that are repetitive or time-sucking. There are so many resources out there that can help small business owners and entrepreneurs (way too many to get into here), but what really helped me right from the start was to reach out to others in my field and just ask them what they use.

You can easily do some google searching or ask in Facebook groups for some resources that others use to keep on point and keep their days being productive. I promise you will find some really valuable things out there that can make a huge difference in your day to day freelance life!

6. WHITE NOISE. IF YOU’RE INTO IT

This might not work for everyone, but I find that having a little bit of white noise on wherever I am working lends itself to my productivity. Rather than the room being completely silent, having some music playing, or even a podcast running in the background helps me to keep my focus on the task at hand. I’m not at all sure why it works, but it just seems to!

7. SCHEDULE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA

I’ve saved one of the best for last. Social Media. This is probably one of the biggest struggles for most small business owners and especially creative entrepreneurs. We need to be on social media. This is often the main source of finding clients. But once you get there, it is so, SO easy to stay there. For hours. And HOURS.

Other small business owners, on contrary, feel overwhelmed with all of the platforms going on at the moment so my advice to owners just starting out in the online industry – keep it simple; use 3 main social media platforms and invest in them.

But back to those who get easily distracted by this – an easy solution to stay away from social media as much as possible during working hours is to schedule everything ahead of time. Use a resource like BufferHootsuiteCoSchedule, or Edgar to plan all of your posts for a few days at a time and then simply move away from social media.

You can still get your information out there, but you don’t loose hours in the process by getting sucked into juicy Facebook posts or group conversations.


I hope these tips have been helpful for you and that you now have some more tools in your tool belt for staying productive throughout the day! What is your #1 favorite productivity tip to keep yourself on point?

WE ARE LIVE AND OPEN FOR BUSINESS!

WE ARE LIVE AND OPEN FOR BUSINESS!

 

 

Wheeewww. WE ARE LIVE!

I am so humbled by all the interest and support I have received regarding this little labor of love. I have been thinking about this business for quite some time now and I am excited (and nervous) to see how it will be received now that it’s been unveiled.

For the past few months I have been working behind the scenes to make this dream a reality and I am so excited to announce that Natalie’s Box is now officially open for business!

ABOUT NATALIE’S BOX

Natalie’s Box specializes in Branding, Web Design, and full Search Engine Optimization Services for small businesses and creative entrepreneurs. Through a collaborative process, I identify your key business goals and then create custom design solutions + SEO strategies to help you achieve those goals. Whether you are just starting out or are ready to take your business to the next level, Natalie’s Box is here to help.

ABOUT THE BLOG

Natalie’s Box mission and overall goal are to make great design accessible to all people, and also offer the best SEO services on the market; whether that means delivering complete solutions to my clients or lending a helping hand to other entrepreneurs.

On the blog, I will be sharing tips on the design process, running a business, and so much more! I will be posting new content every week, so be sure to check back or follow along in your favorite feed reader. If you enjoy the blog, then be sure to subscribe to my monthly email newsletter for early access to my best tips & tricks and other exclusive content.

For Natalie’s Box behind-the-brand images, follow me on Instagram @NataliesBox and Pinterest @NataliesBox

P.S.: If you are looking for a beautiful solution for your business or website, feel free to get in touch with me at natalie@nataliesbox.com