CLIENTS


1. WHERE DO I FIND THE TYPE OF CLIENTS I WANT TO WORK WITH?

Personally, I think coworking spaces are great for finding the type of clients you want. These spaces have all types of members, from startups, entrepreneurs, small business owners, to other freelancers. These are all individuals who need design, whether they know it or not. If there aren't any direct leads with members of the space, they still have personal networks that you can also reach out to.

 

2. HOW DO I MAKE SURE THAT A POTENTIAL CLIENT IS A GOOD FIT?

When dealing with potential clients, onboarding should be a HUGE focus. There are too many cases where designers regret taking on a specific client project due to not investing enough time up front. Everyone is different in terms of who they want to work with. Creating a personalized onboarding process is key to ensuring that you keep your sanity when dealing with clients. When it comes to branding projects, I have the potential client fill out a brand identity questionnaire first, just to see if they are willing to invest the time and attention into their own project. If not, it's usually a red flag that they aren't willing to work within my creative process.

 

COWORKING


1. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO WORK IN A COWORKING CENTER?

After I graduated, I moved back into my parents house for the following year. I was finally going full swing into my freelance career and didn't have enough space to work from home. So, I started working remotely around the city. Coffee shops, libraries, pretty much anywhere with WiFi. Over the following years, I moved into my own space and began working from my bedroom or the living room. This worked well for a while but I began to feel detached from my network in St. Louis. Over the summer of 2014, TechArtista CWE opened in the Central West End. I decided to go to their launch happy hour and never turned back. It was the type of open community that I was looking for.

 

2. HOW DO I KNOW IF COWORKING IS RIGHT FOR ME?

It depends on how well you know yourself and your working habits. Personally, I work well when others are simply working around me. There is an underlying sense of accountability. They will be able to tell if I'm putting in hours or off goofing around somewhere. I also feel that a lot of the value of coworking comes from an equal balance of working and conversing with the other members. It takes a unique type of person to either work for themselves or work remotely. Everyone has information and experience they can share if you allow yourself the time. Plus, M\most coworking have (or should have) a free trial period where you can come in and use the space for about a week. 

 

3. How DO I FIND CLIENTS IN A COWORKING CENTER?

Personally, I think coworking spaces are great for finding the type of clients you want. These spaces have all types of members, from startups, entrepreneurs, small business owners, to other freelancers. These are all individuals who need design (or a number of other services), whether they know it or not. If there aren't any direct leads with members of the space, they still have personal networks that you can also reach out to. This is where putting in the time to know your fellow members can come in handy.

 

EDUCATION


1. WHERE did you go to school AND WHY?

I went to a small liberal arts school named Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. At the time, I wasn't even aware the design could be a viable career path. Luckily, I had always been interested in comic books, which display extremely successful graphic design (words + imagery). As a junior in the Visual Communication department, I decided to pursue a minor in Business Administration. This was a proactive decision in order to start my freelance career early. I have always seen the main role of a designer as someone who solves business-related problems using design solutions. In my mind, having a some sort of a business background would help communicate my value as a designer to business-minded individuals.

 

2. IS GRAD SCHOOL A GOOD IDEA?

It definitely depends on the individual and what they're hoping to gain from the experience. A very wise person once told me that before committing to grad school, it's important to know how it fits in with your long-term plan. I see too many people in grad school who simply consider it as the next logical step in their career path. These days, there isn't any one right way to get from point A to point B. Grad school can be expensive and time intensive depending on where you go. It seems that one of the biggest benefits is gaining a network of individuals who are relevant in their industry. A lot of major companies also acquire talent directly from certain grad programs. These can be valuable reasons, as long as you are willing and able to put in the time, money and energy.

 

FREELANCING


1. HOW DID YOU GET STARTED FREELANCING?

While everyone in my design class was focusing on getting an internship, I wanted to try my hand at freelancing full time. During that summer (between junior and senior year of college), I took almost any project I could find. I wanted to get a broad range of experience as quickly as possible before I had to go back to school. Not only did I work on a variety of projects, I also got a crash course in project management, building and maintaining client relationships, create client documents, and a number of others skills that would be extremely valuable long term.

 

PRICING


1. HOW MUCH SHOULD I CHARGE IF I'M NEW TO FREELANCING?

Pricing can be different depending on the individual. When starting out, I always suggest an hourly-rate model. It's easy to communicate to a client and they are most likely used to this method. An hourly rate also allows you to keep track of how productive you are by thinking in terms of hours versus deliverables. However, once you establish an hourly rate that works for you and that is sustainable, moving to a project fee or deliverable-based pricing structure is always a good idea. I always say that a freelancer should not be punished for working more efficiently.

 

SIDE PROJECTS


1. WHAT SORT OF SIDE PROJECTS DO YOU HAVE? 

I always tend to have a wide variety of side projects going on at the same time. I'm interested in launching podcasts, web series, illustrations, online office hours, and pretty much any other form of collaboration with like-minded, talented individuals. In the past, I have worked on personal illustration projects that I've turned into commissions, platforms that highlight local startups through live streaminga series of animations promoting resources for startups and entrepreneurs and other various projects.

 

2. WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A SIDE PROJECT?

All of my side project seem to have one common thread: each has the potential to scale and reach a larger audience. I know a lot of design professionals have side projects that are solely meant to be creative outlets, but I have a tendency to turn these "creative outlets" into something a little more sustainable with a broader reach. This doesn't mean that every project I touch takes off. In fact, a lot of side projects I've started aren't active anymore. I'm a BIG advocate for doing great work and putting it out there for everyone to see.