Putting the power of curiosity to work for your creative business
At any given moment you can look around you and everything you’ll see was designed by someone. That TV mounted on your wall? Someone took hours carefully carving out every the contour of the LED screen. The desk, constructed to fit a certain space, a certain professional with certain needs. Everything that you see was touched by someone somewhere. In many cases, a freelance designer.
It reminds me of a joke, how many designers does it take to change a light bulb? The answer here is–– why does it have to be a light bulb?
Place yourself in the center of the action
I’ve had some very, very good advocates throughout the span of my now decade long career. Starting out it was highly crucial for me to have my network. I needed to understand who my network is, and how I can help them when it has to do with the space that I am currently working in. In this case, it was website design development.
I tackled that from a couple of different angles. I had meetings, built some trust and got a first project. Literally, I gave away the bulk of my earnings. I think that my first project was five-hundred dollars and I spent half of that outsourcing a freelance designer.
The way that we grew, or the way that I grew during that time is that I never referred to myself or the company in the singular tense. It was never, “I can do that,” or, “I’ll build that for you.” It’s, “We’ll build that for you. We can do that.” It was just me behind the curtain at the end of the day. It was just me.
Strategy is Key
I knew that financing wasn’t the thing that was scalable. Freelancing wasn’t the thing that was going to get me to achieve the goal that I wanted to achieve. I wanted to create an agency with a different mindset, that really places importance on the strategy. The execution in following the strategy really just goes step by step.
It’s really not a very complex process past that point. Setting the strategy, understanding it, is important. That was some of the tribulation that I started out with. Being not too young, not having a large customer base and really going door to door fighting for every single little bit. Always saying, ‘I can do this. I can do this,’ or better yet, ‘We can do this. We can do this’.
Clients came, and word of mouth became everything to my budding business. I did projects for next to nothing. I made sure that I had a rating or a review come out of each one. That network grew and grew with every small step.
There are so many ways that freelancers can engage with the business community. We hire freelancers, I wouldn’t say routinely, but we hire them a couple of times a year. We make sure that if we need a specific skill set that we may not have in-house, we’ll find somebody who does.
Curiosity Books the Gig
The biggest thing we look for in artists–– I can say this is kind of a personal thing for me–– is curiosity.
We need people to really challenge the status quo. Think back to that joke I mentioned earlier. It may not have gotten you laughing, but the core of its purpose is the exploration of the answer.
You really think about that, why does it have to be a light bulb? What are you fighting? You’re fighting darkness. How do you fight darkness? It doesn’t have to be a light bulb. There are a lot of things that you can do to fight darkness. All those questions drive you to think differently, outside the norm, to fit a need and creating something to do the job.
It’s really that hunger to create and innovate. That grit and that fight inside a person that truly wants it. Developing that trait will ensure you will become a solid freelance career. That’s what artists should do.
At their core, artists challenge what they see around them to make it better. Your freelance career deserves to be approached in the exact same way.