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I am looking for more people who would be interested in taking part in Freelancer Focus please see this post for details if you are interested. I am also interested in design case studies too.

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

2. Where are you are based (Country/Area)?
U.S./Northeast/Long Island/Calverton, NY

3. What type of work do you do? (design for print, web, multimedia etc)
Book design and layout

4. How many years had you been working in the design industry before you went freelance?

5. How long have you been freelancing?
15 years

6. Why did you decide to go freelance?
I had an unrelated full-time job after having worked for a typesetter that went bankrupt.

7. How did you market yourself (find design work/new clients) in the beginning – (online portfolio/brochure/direct mail/email/phone etc)?
In the very beginning, I answered remotely relevant ads in the New York Times and Newsday seeking in-house employees; but I asked about off-site freelancing.

8. How do you market yourself (find design work) now?
Online. For the past 10 or so years, I have sent out a twice yearly email querying every publisher in the current year’s Writer’s Market that listed an email address or a website address from which I could uncover a way to email them. I attach my resume and a packet of work samples in PDF.

9. How did you decide what to charge? What was the process?
I price each project individually. I have a range of rates that take into account things like the complexity of the work, whether it involves math and equations, has tabular material, and involves scanning and correcting art. For page layout, I actually factor it by a per page rate.

10. Do you work from home/have an office/work in-house at design agencies?
I work from my studio-office at home.

11. How do you organise your workload, do you work long hours?
I put in long hours when they’re called for. I’m a bit of a night owl, so I actually like working deep into the night and taking naps.

12. How much holiday do you give yourself?
I really don’t have a set schedule for that. My wife and I have young granddaughters on the opposite coast, so vacation time often coincides with our going there or their coming to visit us.

13. How do you keep up to date with what is happening in the industry?
By reading magazines and newspapers. By reading and commenting on blogs and online forums. By blogging on my own blog.

14. What blogs, magazines, podcasts etc do you subscribe to?
I don’t actually subscribe to any blogs—rather I go to the blogs linked to the blogroll on my own blog many times each day.

15. How do you generate ideas/what techniques do you use to stimulate creativity?
By reading. Every book and magazine is an example of page design.

16. What about the business side of things, accounting, invoicing, bookkeeping, how do you manage it?
I hold on to every receipt and bill. My wife keeps track of them. And then come tax season we go thru them together and update an Excel spreadsheet.

17. What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to someone starting out freelancing?
Be prepared to spend at least half your time finding clients and networking for that purpose.

18. Would you ever go back to fulltime work?
Working in-house for the typesetter as a proofreader—and before that as a proofreader and copy editor for a legal publisher—was quite enough.

19. Any thing else you would like to add?
Yes. I’m particularly interested in book design and layout projects working on illustrated children’s storybooks, cookbooks, and books with heavy math and equations.

20. Where can we see some of your work (URL)?
There are work samples on the site, My blog also gives a sense of who I am and what I do. The blog is at