Freelancer Focus is a regular feature, where freelance designers are invited to answer a series of questions about themselves and freelancing. This week Mitch Canter (pictured left) is the freelance designer in question. If you would like to take part please read my previous post. Any designer or illustrator can also take part in Design Case Studies.
1. Your name?
2. Where are you are based (Country/Area)?
Nashville, TN, USA
3. What type of work do you do? (design for print, web, multimedia etc)
I started in web design, but I work in web, print, and other forms like t-shirts.
4. How many years had you been working in the design industry before you went freelance?
I’ve worked freelance ever since I left college. I was the creative director of the university yearbook, and once I left there, I put design on the backburner as a “hobby”. When the sales jobs I had fell through, I turned back to it, realizing that I wanted to make it more than a hobby.
5. How long have you been freelancing?
This will be my third year freelancing, but only my second month freelancing here in Nashville.
6. Why did you decide to go freelance?
I was working for a company, but then they let me go without warning or reason. I decided then and there that I didn’t want to worry about employment, but that I wanted to work for myself!
7. How did you market yourself (find design work/new clients) in the beginning – (online portfolio/brochure/direct mail/email/phone etc)?
I had (still have) one semi-steady client. Otherwise, I just pulled work off of craigslist or the other freelancing sites.
8. How do you market yourself (find design work) now?
It hasn’t changed much. I give my business card to anyone who will take one, put them in all of the community boards around my town, and still scour the internet a few hours a day to find the jobs I need.
9. How did you decide what to charge? What was the process?
I’m still somewhat new to the area, so I wanted to offer an affordable rate but still show them they’re getting more than their money’s worth. This way I can build up a client book and raise my rates as I see necessary.
10. Do you work from home/have an office/work inhouse at design agencies?
I have an office in my apartment. I use a PC, but once business picks up I want to switch to a Mac.
11. How do you organise your workload, do you work long hours?
I work during the day and some at night, but since I’m married (with a baby on the way!) I try to keep a steady balance between family and work. As a freelancer, you are always “on-duty” so to speak, so it’s hard to keep the balance.
12. How much holiday do you give yourself?
I take weekends off, unless there’s a project due. I stay active in community stuff (church, organizations, etc) to network.
13. How do you keep up to date with what is happening in the industry?
I read lots of blogs and news sites online.
14. What blogs, magazines, podcasts etc do you subscribe to?
Unmatched Style (Design Inspiration)
Web Crème (Design Inspiration)
The Web Designer Wall (Techniques, Tutorials, and News)
You The Designer (News, Techniques)
and that’s just a few! I have quite an RSS list.
15. How do you generate ideas/what techniques do you use to stimulate creativity?
The sites mentioned above give me ideas for layouts / colors, but I like to keep music in the background that will parallel the style (clean cut = orchestra, edgy = rock, etc)
16. What about the business side of things, accounting, invoicing, bookkeeping, how do you manage it?
I keep a spreadsheet with all of my open jobs (sorted by date/work order) and when the project is done, I send an invoice. When I’m paid, I mark it and close the work order.
17. What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to someone starting out freelancing?
It’s tough. And there are about 10-100 others out there who are freelancing against you. You have to take your work and make it special; make it stand out; make it so unique that people stop and look and go “Wow”.
18. Would you ever go back to fulltime work?
Depends… how much are they paying 😉 Seriously, It would depend on a lot of different factors. At this point, no, but that may change in a week, a month, or even a year.
19. Any thing else you would like to add?
You have two options as a designer: focus on one thing, and do it well, or focus on a few different areas to make yourself diversified. Whichever path you take, just do the best you can, and people will take notice.