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Freelance DesignerFreelancer Focus is a regular feature, where freelance designers are invited to answer a series of questions about themselves and freelancing. This week Erin Behrenhausen (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?
Erin Behrenhausen

2. Where are you are based (Country/Area)?
Denver, CO, USA

3. What type of work do you do? (design for print, web, multimedia etc)
I basically do it all, but tend to do more print work than anything else.

4. How many years had you been working in the design industry before you went freelance?
I’ve been freelancing since I graduated from college 11 years ago. (yikes!) I’ve also been working full time at an in-house creative department for 10 years.

5. How long have you been freelancing?
11 years

6. Why did you decide to go freelance?
I haven’t cut the salary job umbilical cord yet, but ideally I’d love to just be doing freelance design work. There’s nothing better than working for yourself.

7. How did you market yourself (find design work/new clients) in the beginning – (online portfolio/brochure/direct mail/email/phone etc)?
I’ve left my business cards everywhere, scoured freelance websites and job websites, and encourage friends to drop my name to potential clients. I also sent out emails to small businesses and individuals, which usually resulted in people angrily telling me to stop emailing them.

8. How do you market yourself (find design work) now?
The same way. Only now networking has become a little easier with a larger client base. Also, I’ve joined a couple freelancing websites, which I DON’T recommend. Employers on those sites usually want you to do work for next to nothing.

9. How did you decide what to charge? What was the process?
Usually I charge by the hour, however I will also charge on a per-project basis. If I’m really interested in the work, I’ll offer to negotiate my rate if it’s too high for the potential client.

10. Do you work from home/have an office/work in-house at design agencies?
For my freelance jobs I work out of my home office. My full time job, as I mentioned before, is an in-house creative department downtown.

11. How do you organise your workload, do you work long hours?
I work regular hours for my full time job, but my freelance hours are sporadic.
Most of the freelance work I do happens on weeknights and during weekends.

12. How much holiday do you give yourself?
4 weeks

13. How do you keep up to date with what is happening in the industry?
Surf the net, attend occasional AIGA meetings, chat with other designers in town, read design mags.

14. What blogs, magazines, podcasts etc do you subscribe to?
A billion it seems. To name a few: blogs – Design-Muse, Design Observer, HOWDesign blog, ENN, Design Sponge, Decor8, Tiki Central : magazines – HOW, Print, Sunset, Entertainment Weekly. Not into podcasts.

15. How do you generate ideas/what techniques do you use to stimulate creativity?
A good cup of coffee usually gets the wheels spinning. But usually I either peruse through a HOW or Print mag for inspiration, or even just surf the net.

16. What about the business side of things, accounting, invoicing, bookkeeping, how do you manage it?
I try to keep everything digital as much as possible, as I’m a strong advocate for green business practices. As a result, I find it much easier to keep track of these sorts of things when they’re in my computer and not in piles on my file cabinets.

17. What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to someone starting out freelancing?
Pimp yourself out. Seriously. Look everywhere for work – the net, friends, business associates, the newspaper, craigslist. Leave your card at coffeehouses. Start your own blogs and MOST importantly, give yourself a serious presence online – aka. your own website complete with resume, client list and portfolio. Do it right, don’t be half-ass about it. Make it look great.

18. Would you ever go back to full-time work?
Like I said, I’m still working full-time at present, in addition to freelancing. And honestly, I’m not sure I’m ready to leave the cushy corporate world just yet. My plan is to build up enough clientele to justify striking out on my own.

19. Any thing else you would like to add?
Lots of individuals, small businesses and even corporations will try to get you to do design work for next to nothing. Don’t subscribe to this mentality. Your time is valuable, just as much as theirs. Agree to only what you think is fair and worthy of your time. If the tables were turned, these businesses would do the same.

20. Where can we see some of your work (URL)?
My personal design site is at www.erin-b.com
My freelance business site is at www.villaindesign.net
And my blogs are at www.dorkusmilorkus.com and www.designgeeks.wordpress.com