White Point Creative’s owner and lead designer, Lizzy, currently works out of Fredericksburg but grew up surfing in Charleston, SC. Married to the love of her life, Joe, they live for time outdoors and finding the best brunch spots with their pups Folly & Daisy.
I am so excited to share with you that starting this year, I will be rolling out bi-weekly Instagram Lives focused on freelancing! I am calling them Freelance Fridays and I cannot wait to see you live! So here is the breakdown.
Whether you are new to freelancing or are a seasoned professional. My Freelance Fridays will teach you new skills, and refine current ones needed to be a master freelancer. We will answer those burning questions you have regarding pay negotiations, break down those confusing legal documents, and give you a step-by-step framework to build a beautiful and irresistible portfolio. So without further ado, here is the wrap-up from our very first Freelance Friday: How To Start Freelancing.
Freelancing is when you are presenting yourself as either yourself (just a designer) or your own entity via your own business. And you’re working for different clients, on a project-by-project basis.
To give you an example of the difference, I am going to layout two real scenarios.
Imagine that I just onboarded a huge client with a huge budget, and I need another professional to help accomplish the full scope of this project on time. What I do is hire (for this project only) a designer to do production work like exporting files, building out presentations…etc. In this scenario, I am hiring this designer under their own name and paying them directly.
Now let’s say that I onboard a huge client and they want me to handle the branding and design of their website, but want oodles and oodles of custom code on a web platform that I do not work with. What I do is partner with another studio that I’ve pre-vetted. I then tell my client that this other studio will be handling the coding. The reason I consider this other studio to be freelancing is that they didn’t have to onboard the client or handle a bunch of admin work. Instead, they are partnering with me and taking over a small portion of a much larger project that they don’t own.
As you can see, you have options when it comes to presenting yourself. You can be a single person or a full LLC, it just depends on your goals and vision.
Now I want to throw one other type of freelancing into the mix. White labeling.
White Labeling is a type of freelancing. When you white label, you are adopting the identity of your contractor’s brand while you fulfill a project for one of their clients. For that project, you are part of the contractor’s team. You do not complete the work under your own business. It’s kind of like the square and rectangle thing, not all freelancing jobs are white label but all white label jobs are a type of freelancing.
Now, most of my career has been white labeling jobs because I love working with agencies. With an agency, I sign a contract and NDA, get onboarded to the project I was hired for, and basically work anonymously under their name. If I have any interaction with the client, I appear to be part of the agency’s team because, for that project, I’ve taken on their name.
Both avenues have their advantages and disadvantages which we can talk about another day. My goal in laying this out is for you to see that when you start freelancing, there are lots of options available to you and they come in multiple shapes and sizes.
Freelancing is for any creative who wants to take on one or multiple side-projects to boost their income. While at the same time not hassling with admin work, and not dealing directly with clients. The beauty of freelancing lies in simplicity. There is no major business to run with complex marketing, you have a wider array of job opportunities, and there is so much more freedom!
I got my start in freelancing fresh out of college. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I realized that graphic design sprouted in a hundred different directions which felt daunting. So I decided to get a taste of as many facets of graphic design as I could. To do this, I experimented. I applied for freelance jobs at agencies from Facebook posts and job postings online. I also worked with an amazing recruiter from Creative Circle. By partnering with Biran I was able to land jobs at major retailers like Converse, Keds, and J Jill.
Now you might be thinking, “Oh my gosh Lizzy! How did you make any money from all of that jumping around?!” And to be completely honest, at first, I wasn’t making a lot. It was very hand to mouth financially because I hadn’t yet figured out what I was truly worth. But as I gained confidence I started positioning myself as someone you pay more for, but get quality results from.
To make sure I could pay my rent, I figured out how much a full-time designer at one of these retailers or agencies was making (thanks Google). From there I reversed the math to figure out what their hourly rate would be. I was SO surprised to find out that at $21/hour, I would only be making $45,000 a year (give or take some tax).
Surprise! I realized that I could make great money as a freelancer. My next challenge was stacking my gigs so that I had a steady flow of income.
So you’ve already heard a little bit of this, but freelancing allows for added flexibility because these jobs are usually pretty short, or limited to a single client project. This makes it easy for you to swoop in, charge a premium rate, and swoop out quickly. The best part? Once an agency or brand name loves your work, they will continue to call which means reoccurring income!
The flexibility of freelancing allows for you to be working another full-time job, still be in school, or juggle multiple other freelance gigs. There is little room for excuses, you can start freelancing at any time!
I had a conversation with a girl about freelancing a few weeks ago, and what she loved about it was the boosted income without the constrained 9-5 hours of a full-time job. She loved to design and wanted extra income but was in medical school. So she takes on freelance gigs (under her own name), and lets the person know that she would be working on these projects at random hours. She was clear in communicating that the project would always be done at the requested deadline. What an amazing way to continue to design but still pursue her ultimate passion: saving lives!
It’s all about going out there and just applying. Put yourself out there. I know that sounds so generic, but it’s the truth!
On any given day I see at least five posts looking for a junior, production, or project by project designer/creative via Instagram and Facebook alone. Dribble has a job postings section as does Behance. Start applying!
Now 90% of these jobs are going to want to see a few things from you:
I hope you’ve loved today’s topic as much as I have! I also hope that you see that you too can start freelancing without all the answers. It’s okay to jump in with doggie-paddle-level knowledge and work your way up to the butterfly. Freelance basics.
In the coming weeks, we will be going over pay negotiation strategies, interview protocols, portfolio frameworks, and so much more. If there is a topic you would like to hear about don’t be afraid to send me a DM on Instagram.