5 Lessons for Graphic Designers
Rip to the eagles losing the Super Bowl last week, but it;’s all good we bounce back.
I am writing this newsletter a little earlier this week and wanted to drop some helpful stuff I’ve learned for all of you!
Graphic Design Takeaways
I might be moving soon and I got to be thinking about how grateful I am to be a freelance graphic designer and able to work anywhere in the world really. Granted I’m not moving very far, probably just gonna be moving into a slightly different part of the general LA area but it is cool knowing I have that freedom to go wherever I want.
As a freelancer, I don’t have to be worried about being super far away from my work or anything like that. It’s crazy how I’ve been working on my own for almost 2 years now, I remember when I first started my mindset was:
“Maybe I’ll try this out for a few months and if I don’t make enough money worst case scenario I’ll get another job.”
Well, I haven’t had another job yet so that’s pretty cool.
This whole idea of remote work and freelancing got me thinking about a video I made recently about my experience after two years of freelancing.
Feel free to watch that, but I also wanted to boil down five of the most important takeaways from that video and write them in this newsletter so they’re immortalized in the sub stack universe as well.
Sometimes I have fear of saying the same things across different platforms but then I realize that not everyone sees everything on every platform (except for maybe some of the diehard homies).
So with that being said here are my top five
Whatever you wanna call it for freelance graphic designers.
#1 Work can be Inconsistent at Times
When I first started out freelancing I had a bunch of clients lined up and things were looking good. I was meeting the same amount of income each month (If not more) than my previous full-time job as a designer.
This lasted for about 6 months and then I was hit with a 2-month dry spell that helped frame my perspective more on budgeting and the reality of freelancing.
I’ve experienced plenty of Feasts and Famines throughout my time as a freelancer and I’ve learned its best to figure out how much money you need each month to cover all your expenses, that way during the good months you don't overspend and when things are tight you have a nice safety net.
This applies to time as well, sometimes all the projects are coming in at once and at other times it feels like you have nothing to do.
I try my best not to get overwhelmed during the times when I’m working on 3 projects at once and learn to enjoy the breaks in between rather than being stressed out about what's next.
Thankfully even when it gets pushed to the last minute and I start to freak out, things always find a way of working themselves out.
#2 Have a Routine that works for YOU
I have my own routine and it’s not for everyone so it’s important to know your mind and body well to help develop what kind of work-life balance that is best for you.
I prefer to work similar hours to a normal office Job so on most days I work from about 10 am to 4-6 depending on how busy or in the zone I am that day.
I’ve also learned I am pretty particular about my daily routine and when it gets messed with by inevitable outside factors it stresses me out more than I’d like to admit.
For me, I wake up do a small workout, drink a protein shake, make my coffee, and then work till lunch.
From there I eat my lunch and depending on what I have left to do I work until dinner time after I eat dinner I usually hang out with friends, play video games, hang with my girl, or just watch youtube and tv shows.
Pretty simple but I like it.
#3 Make Time for Stuff You Enjoy Outside of Work
If you want to have a sustainable career as a freelancer it's super important to make time for things outside of work.
This was a lot harder during covid so my perspective on it was a bit skewed for a while but now I realize how crucial it is for your mental health to do stuff for fun.
Working from home too has saved a lot of my mental energy from commuting and talking to coworkers to where I am a lot more excited to hang out with friends.
I used to be more of an introvert but I think it was mainly due to the vice grip that corporate America had on my time and energy.
Nowadays I try to go out with my friends more, go for walks, go to bars and out on the weekends, eat nice dinners with my girlfriend (when I have some extra money), and overall just do more things I enjoy.
Also, make sure to get enough rest and relaxation, all these things don't have to be super intense activities. So even just relaxing on the couch or reading a book.
Your Overall recovery is crucial.
I made a whole video about how rest isn’t just the absence of work but just as important part of the creative process. I’ll link that below
So basically If you have more time and a more flexible schedule as a freelancer make sure to take advantage of that and don’t work yourself to death.
#4 Keep Track of Your Finances or Hire Someone to do it
Money is a stressful reality of life and work and as a freelancer, you have to be on top of it more than ever.
When you’re an employee they handle taxes, insurance, and all that other shit.
So make sure you are disciplined with your finances and if you aren't that type of person or can't be bothered to save money for taxes, keep track of write-offs, and all that other good stuff then hire someone to help you.
I don’t think it makes sense for me personally to hire someone because I’m interested in the business side of things and don't wanna have to pay someone for things I’ve learned online about taxes, business, and investing
Some quick tips and *Not Financial Advice
For me living in California, I save 25-30% of the money from each project for taxes
If you have extra money set up a ROTH IRA to invest in each month or whatever the equivalent is in your country ( I Like Vanguard)
Keep track of all the things you buy for write-offs in the future everything from design books to a new computer monitor
Always have a proper contract and invoice when working with clients and charge at least 50% upfront
Save a little bit of cash each month to build up an emergency fund of 3 months living expenses
#5 Don't Rely on Just One Method of Marketing
So speaking of social media and reaching out to people it’s important to diversify your lines of communication with potential clients
I have learned that I can't rely on just one method of marketing
So if all you do is post on Instagram, then try reaching out to people by email, browsing LinkedIn, or treating clients well so they refer you by word of mouth
The ways I currently let people know I am a designer and wanna work on projects are these
You don’t have to constantly be promoting and using every single one of these platforms all the time but just don't put all your eggs in one basket and try out some new things here and there.
Stuff to Check Out!
Tweet of the week belowFirst off congratulations. Y’all deserve it .This is lame. You was on the way out the league before mahomes resurrected your career on your 1 year deal Tik-Tok boy . He admitted that he grabbed you but don’t act like your like that or ever was. But congratulations again! 🎊👏🏾🍻 https://t.co/Z3SpMXnP4KHappy Valentine’s Day, everybody ❤️ https://t.co/skXuZVgrYRJuJu Smith-Schuster @TeamJuJu
Good luck, wherever you are in your journey!
Much Love, Glue.
Weekly Wrap Up
My Favorite Design Books as a Freelance Graphic Designer
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When i first started freelancing i thought 'hey, i can work when i want!', then quickly realised i wouldn't stop until i either finished or burnt out. Rest is so important, i preach this to every designer i get the pleasure of speaking to
Oh god number 5 is key. Like I am Mr reclusive and this last month I’ve been on so many calls/networking (I don’t even like calling it that) but it’s worked!