Season 2

|

Episode 7

How to avoid drowning in your first year freelancing

Grace Walker

Independent Designer

Sep 7, 2023

Sep 7, 2023

|

35:49

35:49

music by Dennis

About this Episode

Making the jump and diving into that first year of freelancing can be pretty daunting… 🥲

I wish I could’ve had this chat with Grace about 5 years ago because she was very transparent about the lessons she learned in that first year. In this Deep Dive, she breaks down her strategies for pricing, balancing project work, her tool stack, and a lot more... 👀

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Lauren LoPrete

Lead designer @ Netflix

David Hoang

VP of Marketing and Design @ Replit

Adrien Griveau

Founding Designer @ Linear

Femke

Design Lead @ Gusto

Join 10K+ designers

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Deep Dives

Get our weekly breakdowns

Insights + resources from top designers 👇

Lauren LoPrete

Director of Design Systems @ Cash App

David Hoang

VP of Marketing and Design @ Replit

Adrien Griveau

Founding Designer @ Linear

James McDonald

Designer @ Clerk

Femke

Design Lead @ Gusto

Join 10K+ designers

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Transcript chapters

The career switch to freelancing

[00:00:00] grace: Yeah, it was a wild time when I decided to start freelancing. I think from talking to other folks, a lot of people started businesses around the time that I did because it was very early pandemic. I had been working at a studio for three years. I'd been doing web design, web development, graphic design, branding. And I felt really confident in my skill set, but I was starting to get burnt out because I was only developing websites. I had my three year review at the studio and it was this whirlwind of feeling like I had this really valuable skill set that wasn't necessarily being compensated the way that I wanted it to be and it was kind of a natural conclusion, I think, for the feelings that I was having around wanting to develop my skill set more, wanting to have a little bit more freedom with work, developing my own style, because I had seen so many other people, even my bosses, start their own business.

[00:00:56] grace: I know all these other people who are doing it. Why can't I do it for myself?[00:01:00]

[00:01:01] ridd: what were those first few months then, like, like how did you get momentum and land some of those first few clients?

[00:01:08] grace: Yeah, once I decided that I was going to give myself a shot to go independent, it really was kind of a clean break. I stopped working at the studio. I was looking into platforms like Fiverr and Upwork and, and trying to see how on earth am I going to find people to hire me?

[00:01:29] grace: And it was really, really challenging with online platforms but I was finding success with telling my peers and co workers and family that I was freelancing.

[00:01:41] grace: My very first freelance client came from my then boss, another project I had was a referral from my mother in law. Another project was a referral from a co worker. It really was those first few projects of just me telling people that I was available, and then they told people, and, it was just all of these kind of [00:02:00] organic connections coming together.

[00:02:02] ridd: Are you doing anything to get people talking and encourage this, these word of mouth referrals? Or is it really just happening organically on its own?

[00:02:10] grace: I think a lot of it is organic. I think I talk a lot on Twitter about work. I talk about the work that I'm doing, the work that I want to do, interesting things that happen during projects, things that clients say to me, um, and try to frame it all in this kind of like positive light because I really enjoy work. And I find that talking about work and talking about the intricacies of work is so much more valuable for people to think of you when they're looking for someone to do that kind of work. So, and that kind of like 83% in, in 2022 of referral projects has evolved from in person connections to people that I know online, because so much of my network now, and so many of my friends and peers are online and not in real life. But I still consider those [00:03:00] referral connections because it's the internet,

[00:03:02] ridd: yeah totally

[00:03:03] grace: like it's friends, it's, it's colleagues, it's people I've worked with and, um, their connections, whether they're in real life or, or online.

The career switch to freelancing

[00:00:00] grace: Yeah, it was a wild time when I decided to start freelancing. I think from talking to other folks, a lot of people started businesses around the time that I did because it was very early pandemic. I had been working at a studio for three years. I'd been doing web design, web development, graphic design, branding. And I felt really confident in my skill set, but I was starting to get burnt out because I was only developing websites. I had my three year review at the studio and it was this whirlwind of feeling like I had this really valuable skill set that wasn't necessarily being compensated the way that I wanted it to be and it was kind of a natural conclusion, I think, for the feelings that I was having around wanting to develop my skill set more, wanting to have a little bit more freedom with work, developing my own style, because I had seen so many other people, even my bosses, start their own business.

[00:00:56] grace: I know all these other people who are doing it. Why can't I do it for myself?[00:01:00]

[00:01:01] ridd: what were those first few months then, like, like how did you get momentum and land some of those first few clients?

[00:01:08] grace: Yeah, once I decided that I was going to give myself a shot to go independent, it really was kind of a clean break. I stopped working at the studio. I was looking into platforms like Fiverr and Upwork and, and trying to see how on earth am I going to find people to hire me?

[00:01:29] grace: And it was really, really challenging with online platforms but I was finding success with telling my peers and co workers and family that I was freelancing.

[00:01:41] grace: My very first freelance client came from my then boss, another project I had was a referral from my mother in law. Another project was a referral from a co worker. It really was those first few projects of just me telling people that I was available, and then they told people, and, it was just all of these kind of [00:02:00] organic connections coming together.

[00:02:02] ridd: Are you doing anything to get people talking and encourage this, these word of mouth referrals? Or is it really just happening organically on its own?

[00:02:10] grace: I think a lot of it is organic. I think I talk a lot on Twitter about work. I talk about the work that I'm doing, the work that I want to do, interesting things that happen during projects, things that clients say to me, um, and try to frame it all in this kind of like positive light because I really enjoy work. And I find that talking about work and talking about the intricacies of work is so much more valuable for people to think of you when they're looking for someone to do that kind of work. So, and that kind of like 83% in, in 2022 of referral projects has evolved from in person connections to people that I know online, because so much of my network now, and so many of my friends and peers are online and not in real life. But I still consider those [00:03:00] referral connections because it's the internet,

[00:03:02] ridd: yeah totally

[00:03:03] grace: like it's friends, it's, it's colleagues, it's people I've worked with and, um, their connections, whether they're in real life or, or online.

Practicals on sourcing testimonials early on in your freelancing career

[00:03:12] ridd: You mentioned earlier this idea that like, everyone needs a website. Like, there's a lot of demand across many different spectrums and verticals. And advice that I hear a lot of people give, especially in the early days when you're freelancing, is this idea of You know, showcase the work that you want to get in the future.

[00:03:32] ridd: And I'm wondering how much were you thinking about that in the early days? What types of projects were you shooting for? And then how did that impact the way that you positioned yourself online?

[00:03:43] grace: My portfolio when I started freelancing was consisted of entirely projects that I had done at the studio that I was at. And I knew that if I wanted to represent myself accurately and to the best of my ability, I wanted my portfolio to be projects that I had led on.[00:04:00]

[00:04:00] grace: And so in that first year, I was really... Motivated to work with direct clients, not necessarily with other agencies. Most of them also involved brand work as well. So being very particular about wanting to showcase work and wanting to take on work that I could put in my portfolio, I think was really key in that first year . I think like six to eight months into freelancing full time, I was able to transition my portfolio to projects that were entirely of my creation and that became such a powerful tool because I could send someone my portfolio and say, all of these projects were done by me, design and development and branding. I was very motivated in my first year to get testimonials from clients because that was something that I knew also was going to be very important to have that social proof to say I designed and I built this project, but the client also had an amazing experience.

[00:04:55] grace: So particularly in that first year, I was framing testimonials as an [00:05:00] opportunity of hey, I'm new here. I want to do an amazing job. I'd love to hear how you thought about our project. Um, and if you think I could do anything else better, I'm totally open to that. I've loved working with you. I'm still in my first year of freelancing and testimonials are very important for me to continue building my business.

[00:05:18] grace: I would love to hear thoughts of how your experience was working with me. And alongside that, if you have any conversation around things that I could have done better or things that you'd like to see different, I would love to hear those as well.

[00:05:33] grace: And I got, like, some really thoughtful responses from that. And those testimonials have kind of, like, been the base of my portfolio since then.

[00:05:42] ridd: Is there an example where a piece of feedback you received impacted the way that you thought about future projects?

[00:05:49] grace: I worked with this engineering firm very early in my second year. They provided this like really thoughtful testimonial and feedback to me as well. Some of it was positive and [00:06:00] some of it was a little bit more challenging and, uh, they were a very, very detail oriented client and they very politely said, uh, I don't remember the wording exactly, but the sentiment was like, I need to proof my work a little bit more before I send it.

[00:06:13] grace: That was a really valuable piece of feedback for me to hear and they said it in like a really wonderful way, but that was essentially the sentiment was check things over before you send them and so that was kind of a little bit of a wake up to say like, I need to be very cautious about this that no detail is too small to give care to.

Practicals on sourcing testimonials early on in your freelancing career

[00:03:12] ridd: You mentioned earlier this idea that like, everyone needs a website. Like, there's a lot of demand across many different spectrums and verticals. And advice that I hear a lot of people give, especially in the early days when you're freelancing, is this idea of You know, showcase the work that you want to get in the future.

[00:03:32] ridd: And I'm wondering how much were you thinking about that in the early days? What types of projects were you shooting for? And then how did that impact the way that you positioned yourself online?

[00:03:43] grace: My portfolio when I started freelancing was consisted of entirely projects that I had done at the studio that I was at. And I knew that if I wanted to represent myself accurately and to the best of my ability, I wanted my portfolio to be projects that I had led on.[00:04:00]

[00:04:00] grace: And so in that first year, I was really... Motivated to work with direct clients, not necessarily with other agencies. Most of them also involved brand work as well. So being very particular about wanting to showcase work and wanting to take on work that I could put in my portfolio, I think was really key in that first year . I think like six to eight months into freelancing full time, I was able to transition my portfolio to projects that were entirely of my creation and that became such a powerful tool because I could send someone my portfolio and say, all of these projects were done by me, design and development and branding. I was very motivated in my first year to get testimonials from clients because that was something that I knew also was going to be very important to have that social proof to say I designed and I built this project, but the client also had an amazing experience.

[00:04:55] grace: So particularly in that first year, I was framing testimonials as an [00:05:00] opportunity of hey, I'm new here. I want to do an amazing job. I'd love to hear how you thought about our project. Um, and if you think I could do anything else better, I'm totally open to that. I've loved working with you. I'm still in my first year of freelancing and testimonials are very important for me to continue building my business.

[00:05:18] grace: I would love to hear thoughts of how your experience was working with me. And alongside that, if you have any conversation around things that I could have done better or things that you'd like to see different, I would love to hear those as well.

[00:05:33] grace: And I got, like, some really thoughtful responses from that. And those testimonials have kind of, like, been the base of my portfolio since then.

[00:05:42] ridd: Is there an example where a piece of feedback you received impacted the way that you thought about future projects?

[00:05:49] grace: I worked with this engineering firm very early in my second year. They provided this like really thoughtful testimonial and feedback to me as well. Some of it was positive and [00:06:00] some of it was a little bit more challenging and, uh, they were a very, very detail oriented client and they very politely said, uh, I don't remember the wording exactly, but the sentiment was like, I need to proof my work a little bit more before I send it.

[00:06:13] grace: That was a really valuable piece of feedback for me to hear and they said it in like a really wonderful way, but that was essentially the sentiment was check things over before you send them and so that was kind of a little bit of a wake up to say like, I need to be very cautious about this that no detail is too small to give care to.

Using Markup to source site development feedback

[00:06:32] ridd: hadn't really thought about that before. Cause you're right. Like I spend most of my time working on product teams where. I get to benefit from some semblance of a QA process, or at least one other person taking a fine comb to my work. But, when you're working on your own, you're right, like something like, as simple as remembering to connect the right links.

[00:06:52] ridd: There's a lot of those little details that would be easy to miss. Do you have a, like a, a checklist or process that [00:07:00] you go through to even make sure that all of those, you know, I's are dotted and T's are crossed before handing something off?

[00:07:07] grace: So I use a tool called Markup for all of my beta site development feedback. What I typically do is once I've built the site and I've caught everything that I think that I can, I will completely separate myself and open up Markup and go through the site from a client's eyes. And within that tool, I'll do kind of, I use that tool for client feedback as well.

[00:07:28] grace: But before it ever goes to the client. I sit down with myself, um, for an hour or whatever it is and go through the site and make notes of all of the things that I've caught, um, in this kind of separate state where I'm not like going back and forth between Webflow and Figma and, and, but just really focusing on buttons and typos and spacing and, and all of these different things.

[00:07:50] grace: And so that's been really helpful, but there is nothing that compares to having an external set of eyes on your work and A lot of times the client functions as that external set of [00:08:00] eyes for me, but, um, I want to make sure that at least I'm doing the most due diligence I possibly can before it goes to them so that I'm not entirely leaning on the client for, um, catching all of these little things.

[00:08:14] ridd: What was the first really big win that you had as a freelancer?

[00:08:18] grace: Honestly, just making it to my first year anniversary as a freelancer and having that sense of achievement that I made it. My goals were really, can I do this? Can I make an income at this and will I enjoy this? And realizing that. Not only had I doubled my income, but I was feeling really fulfilled in the work that I was doing. It just felt like this really big achievement that I wasn't going to drown in this work.

[00:08:48] grace: And I wasn't going to have to get a job at another studio. Um, but that I could work for myself and it was going to be successful. And I was going to be able [00:09:00] to achieve the things that I wanted to.

[00:09:02] ridd: Doubling your income feels much further along the path of success than not drowning. So I would definitely qualify that as a win on the flip side. Were there any lessons that you learned the hard way in your first year as a freelancer?

[00:09:15] grace: Oh, absolutely. I think part of the reason that I felt so proud reaching that first year mark was that the first year was so incredibly difficult. When I went freelance, I had come from a studio environment, so I was really confident in my skill set, but I honestly, like, didn't know a ton of other people who were freelancing.

[00:09:35] grace: I think I was a little bit embarrassed to ask questions of the folks that I did know who were freelancing, particularly around pricing or how to handle conflict or, how to handle contracts that are kind of like outside of my normal structure.

[00:09:49] grace: Also, trying to figure out what my 100% capacity was and learning that by going over that was probably the [00:10:00] most difficult lesson that I've had to learn and it's something that I learned once and I'm reminding myself of all the time of what is too much work.

[00:10:09] grace: Particularly in that first year when I was trying to build up my portfolio, when I was trying to get client testimonials, I was saying yes to A ton of work and getting through that volume of work, I think was so beneficial for so many reasons, but at the same time, it was drastically overwhelming from like a personal perspective, uh, to get through.

Using Markup to source site development feedback

[00:06:32] ridd: hadn't really thought about that before. Cause you're right. Like I spend most of my time working on product teams where. I get to benefit from some semblance of a QA process, or at least one other person taking a fine comb to my work. But, when you're working on your own, you're right, like something like, as simple as remembering to connect the right links.

[00:06:52] ridd: There's a lot of those little details that would be easy to miss. Do you have a, like a, a checklist or process that [00:07:00] you go through to even make sure that all of those, you know, I's are dotted and T's are crossed before handing something off?

[00:07:07] grace: So I use a tool called Markup for all of my beta site development feedback. What I typically do is once I've built the site and I've caught everything that I think that I can, I will completely separate myself and open up Markup and go through the site from a client's eyes. And within that tool, I'll do kind of, I use that tool for client feedback as well.

[00:07:28] grace: But before it ever goes to the client. I sit down with myself, um, for an hour or whatever it is and go through the site and make notes of all of the things that I've caught, um, in this kind of separate state where I'm not like going back and forth between Webflow and Figma and, and, but just really focusing on buttons and typos and spacing and, and all of these different things.

[00:07:50] grace: And so that's been really helpful, but there is nothing that compares to having an external set of eyes on your work and A lot of times the client functions as that external set of [00:08:00] eyes for me, but, um, I want to make sure that at least I'm doing the most due diligence I possibly can before it goes to them so that I'm not entirely leaning on the client for, um, catching all of these little things.

[00:08:14] ridd: What was the first really big win that you had as a freelancer?

[00:08:18] grace: Honestly, just making it to my first year anniversary as a freelancer and having that sense of achievement that I made it. My goals were really, can I do this? Can I make an income at this and will I enjoy this? And realizing that. Not only had I doubled my income, but I was feeling really fulfilled in the work that I was doing. It just felt like this really big achievement that I wasn't going to drown in this work.

[00:08:48] grace: And I wasn't going to have to get a job at another studio. Um, but that I could work for myself and it was going to be successful. And I was going to be able [00:09:00] to achieve the things that I wanted to.

[00:09:02] ridd: Doubling your income feels much further along the path of success than not drowning. So I would definitely qualify that as a win on the flip side. Were there any lessons that you learned the hard way in your first year as a freelancer?

[00:09:15] grace: Oh, absolutely. I think part of the reason that I felt so proud reaching that first year mark was that the first year was so incredibly difficult. When I went freelance, I had come from a studio environment, so I was really confident in my skill set, but I honestly, like, didn't know a ton of other people who were freelancing.

[00:09:35] grace: I think I was a little bit embarrassed to ask questions of the folks that I did know who were freelancing, particularly around pricing or how to handle conflict or, how to handle contracts that are kind of like outside of my normal structure.

[00:09:49] grace: Also, trying to figure out what my 100% capacity was and learning that by going over that was probably the [00:10:00] most difficult lesson that I've had to learn and it's something that I learned once and I'm reminding myself of all the time of what is too much work.

[00:10:09] grace: Particularly in that first year when I was trying to build up my portfolio, when I was trying to get client testimonials, I was saying yes to A ton of work and getting through that volume of work, I think was so beneficial for so many reasons, but at the same time, it was drastically overwhelming from like a personal perspective, uh, to get through.

How to take on the appropriate amount of work as a freelancer

[00:10:32] ridd: Can we double click on that a little bit? Like, how do you know where that capacity line is? And then what are the strategies that you have to make sure that you're taking on enough work, but not getting too close to that line?

[00:10:44] grace: When I realized that I was taking on too much work, it was permeating into every aspect of my life. I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed all of the time. I would be doing a workout and I would be like almost in tears because I was thinking about[00:11:00] these deadlines that I had to meet, or I was building a site and I was like, why doesn't it look the way that I want it to?

[00:11:04] grace: And feeling a little bit bullied by my own taste and ambition and wanting to make sure that I was living up to these expectations that I had for myself.

[00:11:13] grace: I didn't have, um, I think the coping mechanisms or support system in order to understand that like. The work that I was doing was really, really difficult, and I didn't have to do it all by myself. And so that first year part of it was taking on less work but the other part was starting to be really conscious about building a support system for myself, reaching out to other people who were doing similar work that I was to make connections both to ask functional questions to, but also just to commiserate on how challenging it is to work for yourself and to service based work. Eventually what that turned into was actually getting external support, um, through talking to a counsellor. and working through some of that more, substantial thoughts and feelings around why do I [00:12:00] feel like I have to take on so much work?

[00:12:01] grace: And so eventually that was kind of like the conclusion of, starting to feel really good about work instead of always feeling like I was behind.

[00:12:10] ridd: I really appreciate the openness because I'm kind of like the same way, actually. Like I'm like six months into talking with the counselor and having a place to really just like process a lot of the things and the deadlines I'm experiencing and the pressure that I'm feeling. And it's been incredibly helpful.

[00:12:22] ridd: You also mentioned this, like, idea of not really having a place to ask questions and connect with, like, other people that are going through the same struggles. Is that something that's improved over time? Like, are there different ways that you've kind of established a community or connected with other freelancers?

[00:12:39] ridd: Or is that still something that's a struggle working for yourself?

[00:12:42] grace: Honestly, the biggest, thing that helped me in that was connecting with other folks on Twitter. because it was just this, this environment of other designers and other freelancers and agency owners, in the Webflow community and outside, but primarily with other Webflow folks, to talk about what they were doing and how they were [00:13:00]experiencing this kind of work and how they handled contracts and things like that.

[00:13:03] grace: So really it was putting myself out there and reaching out to folks that I really admired and asking them for advice and then those folks eventually became friends and now I have regular people that I can talk to about, um, different challenges that I'm facing. And so, being really conscious of the fact that, I could reach out to people who are doing similar work to myself.

[00:13:23] grace: And that they probably also were looking for someone to talk to about what they were going through, um, has been super, super helpful.

[00:13:30] grace: In that same light, it's kind of why I've started talking more about freelancing myself is because. I want to make myself available to people who were in the position that I was three years ago and don't really know who to ask or where to look because it's so isolating to work for yourself, especially if you work from home and you're trying to build something that maybe not everyone understands why you're, you're doing what you're doing.

[00:13:55] grace: Um, and yeah, so I think knowing what that feels like, [00:14:00] I, I want to make myself available as a resource for other people who are, who are in that position.

How to take on the appropriate amount of work as a freelancer

[00:10:32] ridd: Can we double click on that a little bit? Like, how do you know where that capacity line is? And then what are the strategies that you have to make sure that you're taking on enough work, but not getting too close to that line?

[00:10:44] grace: When I realized that I was taking on too much work, it was permeating into every aspect of my life. I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed all of the time. I would be doing a workout and I would be like almost in tears because I was thinking about[00:11:00] these deadlines that I had to meet, or I was building a site and I was like, why doesn't it look the way that I want it to?

[00:11:04] grace: And feeling a little bit bullied by my own taste and ambition and wanting to make sure that I was living up to these expectations that I had for myself.

[00:11:13] grace: I didn't have, um, I think the coping mechanisms or support system in order to understand that like. The work that I was doing was really, really difficult, and I didn't have to do it all by myself. And so that first year part of it was taking on less work but the other part was starting to be really conscious about building a support system for myself, reaching out to other people who were doing similar work that I was to make connections both to ask functional questions to, but also just to commiserate on how challenging it is to work for yourself and to service based work. Eventually what that turned into was actually getting external support, um, through talking to a counsellor. and working through some of that more, substantial thoughts and feelings around why do I [00:12:00] feel like I have to take on so much work?

[00:12:01] grace: And so eventually that was kind of like the conclusion of, starting to feel really good about work instead of always feeling like I was behind.

[00:12:10] ridd: I really appreciate the openness because I'm kind of like the same way, actually. Like I'm like six months into talking with the counselor and having a place to really just like process a lot of the things and the deadlines I'm experiencing and the pressure that I'm feeling. And it's been incredibly helpful.

[00:12:22] ridd: You also mentioned this, like, idea of not really having a place to ask questions and connect with, like, other people that are going through the same struggles. Is that something that's improved over time? Like, are there different ways that you've kind of established a community or connected with other freelancers?

[00:12:39] ridd: Or is that still something that's a struggle working for yourself?

[00:12:42] grace: Honestly, the biggest, thing that helped me in that was connecting with other folks on Twitter. because it was just this, this environment of other designers and other freelancers and agency owners, in the Webflow community and outside, but primarily with other Webflow folks, to talk about what they were doing and how they were [00:13:00]experiencing this kind of work and how they handled contracts and things like that.

[00:13:03] grace: So really it was putting myself out there and reaching out to folks that I really admired and asking them for advice and then those folks eventually became friends and now I have regular people that I can talk to about, um, different challenges that I'm facing. And so, being really conscious of the fact that, I could reach out to people who are doing similar work to myself.

[00:13:23] grace: And that they probably also were looking for someone to talk to about what they were going through, um, has been super, super helpful.

[00:13:30] grace: In that same light, it's kind of why I've started talking more about freelancing myself is because. I want to make myself available to people who were in the position that I was three years ago and don't really know who to ask or where to look because it's so isolating to work for yourself, especially if you work from home and you're trying to build something that maybe not everyone understands why you're, you're doing what you're doing.

[00:13:55] grace: Um, and yeah, so I think knowing what that feels like, [00:14:00] I, I want to make myself available as a resource for other people who are, who are in that position.

Two practicals to mitigate the unpredictability of leads in freelance work

[00:14:06] ridd: Yeah, I think that's such an important point that I'm just going to highlight, too. It's just, like, the fact that... Other people in your shoes probably feel similarly, and they will most likely welcome some point of connection, even if it's just you asking a question, because it feels good to talk about the things that we're thinking about all day, especially when we're not surrounded by people that are doing the exact same things.

[00:14:32] ridd: Another question or maybe even hesitation that I have as it relates to freelancing is I always am nervous that the income and the projects that are, you know, inbound would be too spiky where I might have more than I can handle one month.

[00:14:48] ridd: And then the very next month I have basically no leads. And I'm wondering, how do you, um, Deal with that. And then are there any strategies or tactics that you use [00:15:00] to try to smooth it out and, you know, communicate your availability in a way that makes your income and workload a bit more predictable?

[00:15:08] grace: I think that is this constant problem that is unavoidable. It's that kind of rollercoaster nature of service based work. Because you're doing a project and then you do another project and you do another project and sometimes there's lulls in between and sometimes there's too much overlap.

[00:15:26] grace: The ways that I've kind of like smoothed that out into a rolling hill situation is, um, the fact that I book work, um, in advance, and I'm very firm about that.

[00:15:38] grace: So typically when a client reaches out to me, Most projects that I take on take between 8 to 12 weeks to complete. And so once I have something on my schedule, and I have 2 to 3 main projects that I'm working on, I will not book anything else on top of that. And so if a new prospect comes in, and they want to work together, They are booking 8 to 12 [00:16:00] weeks in the future, and I'm very clear about that, and I'm very, um, Confirmed that I'm not going to take on work before that point.

[00:16:07] grace: And I think that a lot of times it works out quite well for clients, particularly if they're engaging in other work, more prior to the website. because they can finish up what their doing or they can do prep work or anything like that before we together.

[00:16:21] grace: And if you want to wait, that's amazing. And I would love to work with you. And if not, that's fine. And here's some other folks that you could, you could reach out to.

[00:16:29] grace: The second way that I've kind of mitigated that rollercoaster is that I pay myself a set amount every month, regardless of how much money I bring in in revenue. And what that looks like is that I often take a lower kind of like salary from my business because maybe I've had a higher month or a lower month. And then at the end of the year, if there's any leftover, it's a bonus.

[00:16:53] grace: So I make sure that like all of my needs are covered and I'm bringing in enough to get that like monthly base amount and then I kind of do these [00:17:00] like quarterly or annual kind of takeouts after that. But I found that that has been really good to know that, um, I'm going to pay myself the same amount regardless of what projects come in.

[00:17:11] ridd: I'd love to zoom out a little bit and talk about how your freelance business has evolved from year one to year three, and maybe just kind of go down the line of the different elements. And you can talk about what's changed in any stories that jump out to you. And the first I'd love to talk about is what are some of the ways that you've improved the way that you interact with clients and manage your process throughout a project over the last few years?

[00:17:38] grace: In my first year of what my goals were really to figure out if I could make an income at this and if I enjoyed it. Like I am not going to drown, like that was the main goal.

[00:17:50] grace: The second year was kind of like, okay I can start swimming a little bit and, and figure this out.

[00:17:54] grace: And now the third year, like we're surfing, baby. Like it's, I know what I'm [00:18:00] doing. Everything, uh, is going well. I have all my systems in place to know that. I can take on projects. I know exactly how they're going to go.

[00:18:08] grace: If something comes up as a conflict, I know exactly how I'm going to handle it and kind of smooth over that and continue moving but I think that evolution both was brought on by time. Having that time to give myself and being gracious with the fact that, I needed to, get through a certain volume of work and to be patient with myself because some things you really can only learn through doing it multiple times.

[00:18:32] grace: I don't think it's necessarily like, there was this big leap that I took, although there were a few big leaps, um, but really that progression was very slow at the beginning and then continued to, to grow and just feel more comfortable with more income, better projects, better clients and really has just like been a steady growth over time.

Two practicals to mitigate the unpredictability of leads in freelance work

[00:14:06] ridd: Yeah, I think that's such an important point that I'm just going to highlight, too. It's just, like, the fact that... Other people in your shoes probably feel similarly, and they will most likely welcome some point of connection, even if it's just you asking a question, because it feels good to talk about the things that we're thinking about all day, especially when we're not surrounded by people that are doing the exact same things.

[00:14:32] ridd: Another question or maybe even hesitation that I have as it relates to freelancing is I always am nervous that the income and the projects that are, you know, inbound would be too spiky where I might have more than I can handle one month.

[00:14:48] ridd: And then the very next month I have basically no leads. And I'm wondering, how do you, um, Deal with that. And then are there any strategies or tactics that you use [00:15:00] to try to smooth it out and, you know, communicate your availability in a way that makes your income and workload a bit more predictable?

[00:15:08] grace: I think that is this constant problem that is unavoidable. It's that kind of rollercoaster nature of service based work. Because you're doing a project and then you do another project and you do another project and sometimes there's lulls in between and sometimes there's too much overlap.

[00:15:26] grace: The ways that I've kind of like smoothed that out into a rolling hill situation is, um, the fact that I book work, um, in advance, and I'm very firm about that.

[00:15:38] grace: So typically when a client reaches out to me, Most projects that I take on take between 8 to 12 weeks to complete. And so once I have something on my schedule, and I have 2 to 3 main projects that I'm working on, I will not book anything else on top of that. And so if a new prospect comes in, and they want to work together, They are booking 8 to 12 [00:16:00] weeks in the future, and I'm very clear about that, and I'm very, um, Confirmed that I'm not going to take on work before that point.

[00:16:07] grace: And I think that a lot of times it works out quite well for clients, particularly if they're engaging in other work, more prior to the website. because they can finish up what their doing or they can do prep work or anything like that before we together.

[00:16:21] grace: And if you want to wait, that's amazing. And I would love to work with you. And if not, that's fine. And here's some other folks that you could, you could reach out to.

[00:16:29] grace: The second way that I've kind of mitigated that rollercoaster is that I pay myself a set amount every month, regardless of how much money I bring in in revenue. And what that looks like is that I often take a lower kind of like salary from my business because maybe I've had a higher month or a lower month. And then at the end of the year, if there's any leftover, it's a bonus.

[00:16:53] grace: So I make sure that like all of my needs are covered and I'm bringing in enough to get that like monthly base amount and then I kind of do these [00:17:00] like quarterly or annual kind of takeouts after that. But I found that that has been really good to know that, um, I'm going to pay myself the same amount regardless of what projects come in.

[00:17:11] ridd: I'd love to zoom out a little bit and talk about how your freelance business has evolved from year one to year three, and maybe just kind of go down the line of the different elements. And you can talk about what's changed in any stories that jump out to you. And the first I'd love to talk about is what are some of the ways that you've improved the way that you interact with clients and manage your process throughout a project over the last few years?

[00:17:38] grace: In my first year of what my goals were really to figure out if I could make an income at this and if I enjoyed it. Like I am not going to drown, like that was the main goal.

[00:17:50] grace: The second year was kind of like, okay I can start swimming a little bit and, and figure this out.

[00:17:54] grace: And now the third year, like we're surfing, baby. Like it's, I know what I'm [00:18:00] doing. Everything, uh, is going well. I have all my systems in place to know that. I can take on projects. I know exactly how they're going to go.

[00:18:08] grace: If something comes up as a conflict, I know exactly how I'm going to handle it and kind of smooth over that and continue moving but I think that evolution both was brought on by time. Having that time to give myself and being gracious with the fact that, I needed to, get through a certain volume of work and to be patient with myself because some things you really can only learn through doing it multiple times.

[00:18:32] grace: I don't think it's necessarily like, there was this big leap that I took, although there were a few big leaps, um, but really that progression was very slow at the beginning and then continued to, to grow and just feel more comfortable with more income, better projects, better clients and really has just like been a steady growth over time.

Helpful tools in freelancing to manage projects and clients

[00:18:54] ridd: You mentioned markup as a QA and feedback tool. I'm wondering, are there other [00:19:00] tools that are a staple of your process and how you manage projects?

[00:19:05] grace: I was really into Asana in my first year of freelancing, mostly because that's what I had been using as a, um, designer in a studio previously. And so when I went freelance, Asana was just kind of this natural transition. Um, but as I got further into freelancing, I realized that really the only thing that I was using in Asana was the calendar feature.

[00:19:26] grace: And so I was able to work with a studio manager earlier this year to kind of revamp some of my systems. Um, and she set me up a notion dashboard, um, that has a calendar view with all of my tasks in a database and all of my clients in a database. So I've got this really nice system now. That is both where all of my leads come into, where I manage all of my notes for all of my projects, and where I manage all of my scheduling.

[00:19:51] grace: So, Notion is kind of like the backbone of my systems. Um, but apart from that, daily tools that I'm in all the time are [00:20:00] Figma for all of my designs, uh, Webflow, obviously for builds, markup for feedback. I use Loom constantly and I absolutely love it. Um, the way that my projects generally work, um, is that I have a weekly sync with clients once a week, but the day before that weekly sync, I'm actually delivering the week's deliverables.

[00:20:24] grace: So whether like in a typical web design project on a Thursday, if we have our weekly sync. On Wednesday, I'm sending a Loom overview of whether it's the design or the development or whatever progress was made this week in Slack alongside some notes. And then in our weekly sync, we're just talking about feedback, how the project is going, um, having kind of like a touch base on things, but the actual deliverable has come the day before in Loom.

[00:20:49] grace: So that's been like a really key process for me to feel like we can be as efficient as possible and move things along really, really steadily.

[00:20:58] ridd: So you're never in a situation where [00:21:00] you're on a call with a client live, and that's the first time that they are seeing the design.

[00:21:05] grace: Rarely now. I used to do that a lot. I think in my first year of freelancing, that was how I operated was that, um, I didn't have weekly things. I just scheduled things when I had a presentation. So we would all get on a call and I would present things. And then like oftentimes like you don't feel like a client doesn't really know what to say after you presented something cause they want to sit with something and have some time to, to process it.

[00:21:29] grace: So I found that moving to that structure where I've. Um, been delivering things the day before they have a chance to sit with things kind of like get their, their feelings in order of, um, how they're like interpreting what I've done and then we can have a more productive conversation about it. So I found that that's like brought a lot of efficiency having like presenting during zoom meeting is totally fine.

[00:21:51] grace: But, um, once I started doing this, it was like, oh, that's great. I should keep doing that.

Helpful tools in freelancing to manage projects and clients

[00:18:54] ridd: You mentioned markup as a QA and feedback tool. I'm wondering, are there other [00:19:00] tools that are a staple of your process and how you manage projects?

[00:19:05] grace: I was really into Asana in my first year of freelancing, mostly because that's what I had been using as a, um, designer in a studio previously. And so when I went freelance, Asana was just kind of this natural transition. Um, but as I got further into freelancing, I realized that really the only thing that I was using in Asana was the calendar feature.

[00:19:26] grace: And so I was able to work with a studio manager earlier this year to kind of revamp some of my systems. Um, and she set me up a notion dashboard, um, that has a calendar view with all of my tasks in a database and all of my clients in a database. So I've got this really nice system now. That is both where all of my leads come into, where I manage all of my notes for all of my projects, and where I manage all of my scheduling.

[00:19:51] grace: So, Notion is kind of like the backbone of my systems. Um, but apart from that, daily tools that I'm in all the time are [00:20:00] Figma for all of my designs, uh, Webflow, obviously for builds, markup for feedback. I use Loom constantly and I absolutely love it. Um, the way that my projects generally work, um, is that I have a weekly sync with clients once a week, but the day before that weekly sync, I'm actually delivering the week's deliverables.

[00:20:24] grace: So whether like in a typical web design project on a Thursday, if we have our weekly sync. On Wednesday, I'm sending a Loom overview of whether it's the design or the development or whatever progress was made this week in Slack alongside some notes. And then in our weekly sync, we're just talking about feedback, how the project is going, um, having kind of like a touch base on things, but the actual deliverable has come the day before in Loom.

[00:20:49] grace: So that's been like a really key process for me to feel like we can be as efficient as possible and move things along really, really steadily.

[00:20:58] ridd: So you're never in a situation where [00:21:00] you're on a call with a client live, and that's the first time that they are seeing the design.

[00:21:05] grace: Rarely now. I used to do that a lot. I think in my first year of freelancing, that was how I operated was that, um, I didn't have weekly things. I just scheduled things when I had a presentation. So we would all get on a call and I would present things. And then like oftentimes like you don't feel like a client doesn't really know what to say after you presented something cause they want to sit with something and have some time to, to process it.

[00:21:29] grace: So I found that moving to that structure where I've. Um, been delivering things the day before they have a chance to sit with things kind of like get their, their feelings in order of, um, how they're like interpreting what I've done and then we can have a more productive conversation about it. So I found that that's like brought a lot of efficiency having like presenting during zoom meeting is totally fine.

[00:21:51] grace: But, um, once I started doing this, it was like, oh, that's great. I should keep doing that.

How to price yourself as a freelancer

[00:21:58] ridd: I'd love to talk pricing, [00:22:00] if that's okay. How did you know where to start? When you first made the jump, and then how have you been able to evolve your price over time?

[00:22:08] grace: I didn't know where to start, so I think this is a challenge that a lot of designers face who maybe have worked in a studio before or at an agency, is that they know how to do the work, but they have no idea how to price the work. As a, as a young designer, I had absolutely no clarity into how I was being charged out when I was working for someone else, or how they were charging work out in general, and so when I first went freelance, I was like, okay, well, I have, I guess I can have an hourly rate and I can figure out how long it's going to take me to do a project.

[00:22:42] grace: And I'll just times my hourly rate by the number of hours and that's my price. And what I found was that, um, I work very efficiently and that was really, um, not of my benefit. Because I was doing these projects that probably should have been charged out much higher than I was [00:23:00] charging. Um, but I was basing their price around, um, an hourly rate that probably was also too low.

[00:23:07] grace: So in that first year, I think what I did and how I approached pricing was that every project I did, I raised my price, particularly within that first year, I still do that now, but to a lesser extent, because I feel like there is kind of this, this growth curve of like, you can chart, you can increase your prices very, very rapidly.

[00:23:26] grace: And then there is like kind of a ceiling that, you know, like, There's a max price that someone's going to pay for a solo freelancer, um, for most things. But in that first year trying to figure out like what that curve was, was a, was a huge challenge. Um, so increasing my, my pricing with every single project.

[00:23:43] grace: Once I had done a website for 3, 000, I was like, okay, well let's do one for five and let's do one for eight and 10 and 15. And so it really was just. Every single project raising that price a little bit, knowing that I can do work at this level. I can probably also do it at that level. [00:24:00] Um, so that was a big piece for growth.

[00:24:02] grace: Um, something that kind of tripped me up in that was that once I started building sites for folks, there was some clients who wanted to keep working with me on a monthly basis. And so I had set up, um, a couple of retainers for clients. And what I found that, um, like I do retainers now and they're perfectly fine.

[00:24:22] grace: But particularly within that first year, when my pricing was changing so rapidly and really growing and kind of scaling up, um, I found that taking on retainer work where I had a fixed price every month, um, three months down the line, that price was outdated. And so I was having to have conversations with, like, my pricing has changed.

[00:24:41] grace: I've increased the rate here, but like. You don't want to have those conversations too often. Um, and for me, they were really kind of like a point of stress. And so, um, I found that that kind of retainer work that I was doing in the first year ended up being a blocker to me taking on [00:25:00] more growth at higher rates.

[00:25:01] grace: Um, so that was something that I think if I were to go back in time, I would absolutely tell myself that. Retainer work can be great eventually, um, but when you are in that first year of rapid growth and rapid price changes, um, giving yourself the freedom to not be tied to a certain rate for more than a month or two, um, is, is really, really beneficial.

How to price yourself as a freelancer

[00:21:58] ridd: I'd love to talk pricing, [00:22:00] if that's okay. How did you know where to start? When you first made the jump, and then how have you been able to evolve your price over time?

[00:22:08] grace: I didn't know where to start, so I think this is a challenge that a lot of designers face who maybe have worked in a studio before or at an agency, is that they know how to do the work, but they have no idea how to price the work. As a, as a young designer, I had absolutely no clarity into how I was being charged out when I was working for someone else, or how they were charging work out in general, and so when I first went freelance, I was like, okay, well, I have, I guess I can have an hourly rate and I can figure out how long it's going to take me to do a project.

[00:22:42] grace: And I'll just times my hourly rate by the number of hours and that's my price. And what I found was that, um, I work very efficiently and that was really, um, not of my benefit. Because I was doing these projects that probably should have been charged out much higher than I was [00:23:00] charging. Um, but I was basing their price around, um, an hourly rate that probably was also too low.

[00:23:07] grace: So in that first year, I think what I did and how I approached pricing was that every project I did, I raised my price, particularly within that first year, I still do that now, but to a lesser extent, because I feel like there is kind of this, this growth curve of like, you can chart, you can increase your prices very, very rapidly.

[00:23:26] grace: And then there is like kind of a ceiling that, you know, like, There's a max price that someone's going to pay for a solo freelancer, um, for most things. But in that first year trying to figure out like what that curve was, was a, was a huge challenge. Um, so increasing my, my pricing with every single project.

[00:23:43] grace: Once I had done a website for 3, 000, I was like, okay, well let's do one for five and let's do one for eight and 10 and 15. And so it really was just. Every single project raising that price a little bit, knowing that I can do work at this level. I can probably also do it at that level. [00:24:00] Um, so that was a big piece for growth.

[00:24:02] grace: Um, something that kind of tripped me up in that was that once I started building sites for folks, there was some clients who wanted to keep working with me on a monthly basis. And so I had set up, um, a couple of retainers for clients. And what I found that, um, like I do retainers now and they're perfectly fine.

[00:24:22] grace: But particularly within that first year, when my pricing was changing so rapidly and really growing and kind of scaling up, um, I found that taking on retainer work where I had a fixed price every month, um, three months down the line, that price was outdated. And so I was having to have conversations with, like, my pricing has changed.

[00:24:41] grace: I've increased the rate here, but like. You don't want to have those conversations too often. Um, and for me, they were really kind of like a point of stress. And so, um, I found that that kind of retainer work that I was doing in the first year ended up being a blocker to me taking on [00:25:00] more growth at higher rates.

[00:25:01] grace: Um, so that was something that I think if I were to go back in time, I would absolutely tell myself that. Retainer work can be great eventually, um, but when you are in that first year of rapid growth and rapid price changes, um, giving yourself the freedom to not be tied to a certain rate for more than a month or two, um, is, is really, really beneficial.

How to improve efficiency as a freelancer

[00:25:24] ridd: So you touched on the fact that you work pretty quickly, so next I'd love to hear how you've improved Your own efficiency in Webflow over the last few years.

[00:25:35] grace: Man, I love that question because I love efficiency. I think. I think efficiency is really what makes my heart sing and I just, I want to do things as quickly and as smoothly as possible. Um, I think that's a reason why I love cycling so much is because it's, it's truly all about efficiency. You want to be as small and as fast and, um, as, as energy efficient as [00:26:00] possible.

[00:26:01] grace: Um, and so with Webflow, some things in the last year that have really transitioned, I think when I first started using Webflow, I've been in the platform for six years. I was like, I look at sites that I did in the first year and like, they're fine, but like, they were not very good. And so over time, some of that efficiency has just been like getting through that volume of work, understanding how things are, are built and should be built.

[00:26:23] grace: But particularly when within the last year, efficiency within Webflow has just absolutely skyrocketed as I've started using. Um, CSS frameworks, particularly Mast, uh, from NoCodeSupplyCo. So Mast is essentially, um, a system and a naming convention for how to build sites in Webflow. Um, it touches on both your styling, your class naming, as well as how to build certain structures.

[00:26:49] grace: And so having this framework to pull from, um, has been massively beneficial because everything has come down to shortcuts within the [00:27:00] Webflow designer. So I can build a site basically only using my keyboard. Um, and then also knowing, um, how to build a certain layout, um, within this framework. So I think that.

[00:27:13] grace: transitioning from kind of like, I had a, I had a framework previously that I was. It's kind of just had made up and made sense to me, and it was very similar to other frameworks, but actually having a properly documented framework has just absolutely skyrocketed my efficiency and also is a massive benefit to clients because now when I hand off a site to them, I can say your site is built with this style system.

[00:27:37] grace: You can find all the documentation here. Um, it explains how classes are set up, how structures are built, things like that, and that has been. I think a massive win. I am a huge Nast fan. Um, but there's other similar systems like Client First from, from FinSuite and Knockout from Edgar Allen. Um, but I think the main benefit there is just like having something to, to be your [00:28:00] baseline and building from that.

How to improve efficiency as a freelancer

[00:25:24] ridd: So you touched on the fact that you work pretty quickly, so next I'd love to hear how you've improved Your own efficiency in Webflow over the last few years.

[00:25:35] grace: Man, I love that question because I love efficiency. I think. I think efficiency is really what makes my heart sing and I just, I want to do things as quickly and as smoothly as possible. Um, I think that's a reason why I love cycling so much is because it's, it's truly all about efficiency. You want to be as small and as fast and, um, as, as energy efficient as [00:26:00] possible.

[00:26:01] grace: Um, and so with Webflow, some things in the last year that have really transitioned, I think when I first started using Webflow, I've been in the platform for six years. I was like, I look at sites that I did in the first year and like, they're fine, but like, they were not very good. And so over time, some of that efficiency has just been like getting through that volume of work, understanding how things are, are built and should be built.

[00:26:23] grace: But particularly when within the last year, efficiency within Webflow has just absolutely skyrocketed as I've started using. Um, CSS frameworks, particularly Mast, uh, from NoCodeSupplyCo. So Mast is essentially, um, a system and a naming convention for how to build sites in Webflow. Um, it touches on both your styling, your class naming, as well as how to build certain structures.

[00:26:49] grace: And so having this framework to pull from, um, has been massively beneficial because everything has come down to shortcuts within the [00:27:00] Webflow designer. So I can build a site basically only using my keyboard. Um, and then also knowing, um, how to build a certain layout, um, within this framework. So I think that.

[00:27:13] grace: transitioning from kind of like, I had a, I had a framework previously that I was. It's kind of just had made up and made sense to me, and it was very similar to other frameworks, but actually having a properly documented framework has just absolutely skyrocketed my efficiency and also is a massive benefit to clients because now when I hand off a site to them, I can say your site is built with this style system.

[00:27:37] grace: You can find all the documentation here. Um, it explains how classes are set up, how structures are built, things like that, and that has been. I think a massive win. I am a huge Nast fan. Um, but there's other similar systems like Client First from, from FinSuite and Knockout from Edgar Allen. Um, but I think the main benefit there is just like having something to, to be your [00:28:00] baseline and building from that.

How to showcase client work

[00:28:03] ridd: You talked about the importance of testimonials early on. I'd love to talk a little bit more about how you think about showcasing client work and maybe any changes to the way that you've even showcased your pro and maybe any changes to the way that you've showcased your portfolio projects over time.

[00:28:22] grace: Yeah. When I first started freelancing, I thought that when I showcased a website, I needed to show everything about that from the designs and talking about the process and what the client wanted and all of these different things, which I think are incredibly valuable to show. Over time, I've transitioned more to snapshots of my work instead of full case studies. I still share full case studies when I'm talking with prospects and I'll dive into CMS directors and how I approach certain builds and how I approach like all these different kind of integrations and more technical pieces. [00:29:00] But I think by and large, the thing that's going to catch someone's attention and make them want to reach out to you is really just seeing a wide variety of work at a high quality, um, that is tied to you and they can clearly see how you are involved in the work.

[00:29:17] grace: So, transitioning my portfolio from something that was case study based to now, I have a single page scrolling website that is all external links. It's literally just screenshots of my projects, what I did on them, who else was involved, and a link to that project.

[00:29:30] grace: And I think showcasing just like a pile of projects, being very clear about my involvement in them, helps someone understand what I do very quickly and the projects that I've taken on with that skill set. I think it can always be valuable to share more, but people's attention spans are so short and being able to really grab someone's attention quickly.

[00:29:51] grace: And then once you are in conversation with them, sharing more, um, has been really beneficial.

How to showcase client work

[00:28:03] ridd: You talked about the importance of testimonials early on. I'd love to talk a little bit more about how you think about showcasing client work and maybe any changes to the way that you've even showcased your pro and maybe any changes to the way that you've showcased your portfolio projects over time.

[00:28:22] grace: Yeah. When I first started freelancing, I thought that when I showcased a website, I needed to show everything about that from the designs and talking about the process and what the client wanted and all of these different things, which I think are incredibly valuable to show. Over time, I've transitioned more to snapshots of my work instead of full case studies. I still share full case studies when I'm talking with prospects and I'll dive into CMS directors and how I approach certain builds and how I approach like all these different kind of integrations and more technical pieces. [00:29:00] But I think by and large, the thing that's going to catch someone's attention and make them want to reach out to you is really just seeing a wide variety of work at a high quality, um, that is tied to you and they can clearly see how you are involved in the work.

[00:29:17] grace: So, transitioning my portfolio from something that was case study based to now, I have a single page scrolling website that is all external links. It's literally just screenshots of my projects, what I did on them, who else was involved, and a link to that project.

[00:29:30] grace: And I think showcasing just like a pile of projects, being very clear about my involvement in them, helps someone understand what I do very quickly and the projects that I've taken on with that skill set. I think it can always be valuable to share more, but people's attention spans are so short and being able to really grab someone's attention quickly.

[00:29:51] grace: And then once you are in conversation with them, sharing more, um, has been really beneficial.

When to consider scaling your freelance business

[00:29:58] ridd: Have you considered scaling [00:30:00] your model beyond yourself at all? Like, do you see these like unlimited design agencies and think, well, what if I can, I draw any inspiration from them or what would it be like to assemble a little team beneath me? Any thoughts like that?

[00:30:13] grace: At the beginning of my freelance journey, I truly thought that that was going to be the inevitable outcome was that freelancing was going to be this stepping stone to something else. And that eventually I was going to have to scale because everyone was telling me that I had to

[00:30:29] grace: I was very busy in that first year and even in my second year and talking with my previous bosses and other agency owners, everyone was saying, why don't you hire another designer? But the reason why that never really felt right to me was that I'm not ready to let go of work just yet, like actual design work. And I think that being at this scale allows me to touch all of the design and development work that I am taking on without being a manager.

[00:30:58] grace: And so I think for me in this [00:31:00] stage of my career, I really love the work, and I really want to continue to improve my craft and my skills, and I'm not ready to be a manager just yet. And so I haven't completely discounted the fact that maybe eventually I will want to scale a team or grow into something else, um, but I think that decision really is just...

[00:31:21] grace: Being in love with the work and wanting to continue to do the work and not bowing to the pressure of other people who say, this is what you should be doing, um, because just because it's right for someone else doesn't mean it's right for me. And I've been very conscious about that reflection and knowing that my personality is well suited to the work that I'm doing right now and that I don't want to be responsible for someone else just yet.

[00:31:46] grace: Um, maybe that, that will change eventually, but right now I, I love being at this scale and I don't have plans to, to grow a team.

When to consider scaling your freelance business

[00:29:58] ridd: Have you considered scaling [00:30:00] your model beyond yourself at all? Like, do you see these like unlimited design agencies and think, well, what if I can, I draw any inspiration from them or what would it be like to assemble a little team beneath me? Any thoughts like that?

[00:30:13] grace: At the beginning of my freelance journey, I truly thought that that was going to be the inevitable outcome was that freelancing was going to be this stepping stone to something else. And that eventually I was going to have to scale because everyone was telling me that I had to

[00:30:29] grace: I was very busy in that first year and even in my second year and talking with my previous bosses and other agency owners, everyone was saying, why don't you hire another designer? But the reason why that never really felt right to me was that I'm not ready to let go of work just yet, like actual design work. And I think that being at this scale allows me to touch all of the design and development work that I am taking on without being a manager.

[00:30:58] grace: And so I think for me in this [00:31:00] stage of my career, I really love the work, and I really want to continue to improve my craft and my skills, and I'm not ready to be a manager just yet. And so I haven't completely discounted the fact that maybe eventually I will want to scale a team or grow into something else, um, but I think that decision really is just...

[00:31:21] grace: Being in love with the work and wanting to continue to do the work and not bowing to the pressure of other people who say, this is what you should be doing, um, because just because it's right for someone else doesn't mean it's right for me. And I've been very conscious about that reflection and knowing that my personality is well suited to the work that I'm doing right now and that I don't want to be responsible for someone else just yet.

[00:31:46] grace: Um, maybe that, that will change eventually, but right now I, I love being at this scale and I don't have plans to, to grow a team.

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