Pre-PS: My signature course Share-worthy Design for Freelancers launches next week! In it, I’m revealing my complete blueprint to streamlining your process, booking ideal clients, and presenting the one logo solution. I’ll be in touch next week with an invite to a free workshop walking through my entire client process to kick things off! Hope to see you there!
Over the past couple years, I’ve received loads of inquiries on freelancing. Everything from how to get started, to the nitty gritty of working with clients. I’ve loved getting to dive in deep with the freelancers in my Share-worthy Design course, and come alongside their business as it grows.
Over the years though, I’ve seen a few questions continuously pop up in my inbox. Though each of these could be its own blog post (and maybe it already exists on my blog), I thought I’d dive in rapid fire style and answer a few of your Q’s!
Let’s jump in.
How did you find your first clients?
My first freelance clients in college (about 7 years before Spruce Rd. started) came through referrals of friends/family. Not the most enjoyable projects, and definitely not priced by the value provided, but the experience was worth it.
After starting Spruce Rd. full time, my first freelance clients came to me through Pinterest, by way of my blog post articles being pinned.
How do your clients find you now?
Semantics here, but I don’t find my clients now, they find me! Which is such a relief. Mostly this comes through referrals from fellow designers who are booked up, as well as Pinterest/Instagram/Dribbble.
You can join me this year on a monthly challenge to get new clients, if you’d like! Sign-up here.
What is your workflow with your clients?
This is hard to answer briefly, but here it goes!
- Potential client inquires about our services
- I shoot them our packaged pricing, then if they are interested I book a consultation call to get to know their brand
- They sign the quote, contract and pay the first 50% invoice
- We kick things off with a questionnaire, which later gets translated to a creative brief + moodboard
- Then we send over the first proof of the branding, and make any necessary refinements
- Once approved, we move onto any marketing collateral included
- The project wraps up and we send the final files + a brand guideline once the client pays the remaining 50%
I share the full process + case studies, swipe files, presentations, etc. all in the Share-worthy Design for Freelancers course.
How do you keep track of taxes + bookkeeping?
I’ve worked with a CPA since the beginning of Spruce Rd. I highly recommend this for anyone starting out! He handles the taxes, we upkeep the bookkeeping through Quickbooks online. My husband is a huge part of this component of Spruce Rd. (thanks Elliot!)
How do you price your services?
I’m a fan of transparent pricing, so our prices are listed publicly on our site. We offer one packaged service right now, and ongoing a-la-carte design projects for our existing clients.
If you’re just starting out, I recommend offering one packaged design service that is a bit lower than your value. I know, I know, this is a hard pill to swallow! BUT I know from experience that this technique allows you to gain experience that builds your portfolio, and helps refine your processes. You can raise them in a few months time.
Did you freelance on the side before going full time with Spruce Rd.?
Yes and no. I started freelancing while in school with projects here and there. Nothing fancy or portfolio worthy, but it allowed me to gain the business experience of working with clients. After graduating, I freelanced on the side of full-time jobs for 4 years. Again, just here and there and nothing that I was anticipating transitioning into a full-time design studio at the time. The year before I started Spruce Rd. I worked for another design studio which did not allow freelancing on the side in my contract.
Long story short, I started Spruce Rd. with zero overlap. I don’t recommend it (it’s risky!), but it did work out for me!
Should I get an LLC or DBA?
I recommend an LLC if you are pursuing a full-time business, because that is what I got. I had a DBA (sole proprietor) prior to Spruce Rd. because I didn’t anticipate freelancing would become a full-time endeavor. Christina Scalera, who is a lawyer, has a great post on this from her legal perspective.
Any apps you recommend?
You know it! Here are a few of my go-to’s for running my freelance business:
- Basecamp: This is the project management app that I use. I’ve used it for over 5 years both as an in-house designer, and now to run my business. I can’t recommend it enough!
- 17hats: Okay, the backend interface leaves something to be desired (the client side is a bit better), but you can’t beat the functionality. Send a quote, contract and invoice all in one button to your client.
- Slack: I use this for informal chatter with my design team, as well as a few designer friends.
- Spotify: Music helps me focus when writing and designing! I recommend the deep focus playlist if your needing a boost in productivity. It helps!
Any books you recommend?
What’s your biggest advice to someone just starting out?
My biggest advice is to stay humble. Embrace critique from fellow designers and clients. Listen to your clients and immerse yourself in their business. Humility will take you far in business. It opens doors to collaborations, encourages positive relationships and allows you to build trust. Foster it, friends!
Join me for a live Q&A tomorrow — February 2 @ 1pm EST!
I know these questions only crack the surface, but hopefully they helped provide a bit of guidance! If you’re looking for a comprehensive overview of freelancing — from getting clients, the workflow and pricing — stay tuned next week as I open doors to the Share-worthy Design for Freelancers course (open only two times a year)!
What other questions do you have about freelancing? What’s holding you back from going full-time, or from streamlining your process? Join me for tomorrow’s live Lunch + Learn as I answer your Q’s all about freelancing. This should be a fun one!