Friday 28 October 2016

Doing what is right for you and your business

Happy Friday! As promised, I've been planning a few blog posts related to my new freelance life and how I've been experiencing it so far. A couple of weeks ago, I was talking about my favourite sites for design inspiration, but today, I'd like to get more personal and share my thoughts on all the messages and advice you hear and read when you start a freelance career and looking for some help.

Before going full-time, I decided to be safe and try and get a few freelance jobs that I would work on during evenings and weekends as side projects. It went quite well and I felt very confident that I could leave my day job by June, knowing that I had a few projects lined-up. It all worked out really well in the end and I was finding regular work even though I was still searching for new clients as I wasn't busy enough and didn't quite earn enough money to live comfortably. The thing is, in August/September, I hit a wall and realised that I wasn't earning enough at all and I didn't know what to do anymore to gain more clients and engagement. So I started seeking advice from other designers and bloggers through social media.

Now don't get me wrong, I found some really good advice but overall, I felt completely overwhelmed by all the messages I was getting through listening to podcasts, watching webinars and reading too many blog posts about how to get more clients and basically be a super successful freelance designer. At one point, I started to doubt myself and felt like I wasn't doing enough, which really knocked my confidence down as a creative. I was told that I needed to be on all social media platforms all the time, that I should set up a newsletter and get a massive mailing list, that I should use my blog as a tool to get more clients, use various tools to schedule tweets in advance... and the list goes on. It was all about telling me what I should do and what I should be.

And then it clicked. Maybe it worked for some other people, but I didn't think it will work for me. For example, I always felt that my blog was a reflection of my life in general, and even if I've slightly changed the content here and there, it always stayed true to its goal. I started my blog because I wanted people to know me better and discover my work outside of my website, not to continuously try and sell my skills and services. Also, I didn't feel right about the idea to start a newsletter. And what would it be about anyway? This idea doesn't appeal to me and there's nothing wrong about it. Maybe one day I'll feel like I have enough knowledge to share, but at the moment, I'm quite happy to let the pros do it. Also, I completely understand why some people find that scheduling tweets is the best thing ever, but I really don't think that's for me. The essence of Twitter to me is to be a platform that works on spontaneity.

The issue was that I was getting so obsessed about learning the tricks that I didn't get the chance in the end to properly practice them, and I felt a bit lost about my goals and what felt right for me and my business. So I stopped reading too many blog posts about how to succeed in a freelance career, stepped back from all the overwhelming advice and decided to reset my goals. And that's been the best decision I made in the past few months: concentrating on what I really wanted to do.

I did find a bit of useful advice and tools to help me get where I am now and I'm so grateful for that (list below!) but I've learnt my lesson and try to only select things that feel right for me and the way I want my business to grow. If you're at the same stage as me, I hope this post has helped you :)

Here are some amazing links that I couldn't wait to share with you!
- I did the chalkboard method from Being Boss and it changed everything. I've already mentioned it, but if you haven't done it yet, then you're definitely missing out!
- I found Being Boss through their Facebook group along with Savvy Business Owners and so far I'm loving it! Being on two groups is way enough for me and it allows me to really concentrate on them.
- Pretty obvious but until I read this post by Nesha Woolery, I never thought about updating my About page!
- I read this book by Aimee Song, and there are loads of very useful Instagram tips that helped me realise what was wrong with my 'strategy'. I also switched to a professional account on Instagram which is great as I can see all the stats from my account.
- As part of my chalkboard method, one of my goals was to attend at least 5 networking events in the next couple of months. So I found f2n business network and it's been a great experience so far (you need to have a look at it if you're based in North Wales!). Jason and I have also been to two really cool and inspiring events in Manchester, YENA networking and Glug.
- And last but not least, I religiously follow Rowan Made's blog, full of useful tips that really speak to me.

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