Lisa Barrett
Freelance Graphic Designer in Birmingham

Journal

The latest news, blogs and interests from Freelance Graphic Designer Lisa Barrett

A dreamers guide to going freelance. - 3 months in

You can plan something so much that if the slightest thing goes wrong you will be disappointed. January last year I was convinced that I could only quit my job if I had a spreadsheet for everything in my life... and a business plan, a 5 year plan, an entire life plan in.pdf form. 

In reality, I was working full time and freelancing evenings and weekends that even the planning for the planning was going out the window and I was beginning to think that I would never be ready to take the plunge. By not planning I was disappointing myself when in reality I should have just gone for it there and then.  

The best kind of advice I got and continue to get along the way is from people who are living the dream. 

100% of them said they had never looked back

100% of them said they had never been happier

100% of them said they found it tough at times

0% said they had a plan

3 things I couldn't have made the jump without

1. The Dream

Last year my partner and I talked about our shared dream to quit our jobs and become free spirits to work when we want, from where we want in the world, to live more and ultimately be happier people. We wrote a list, (I love lists) on the left all the potentially bad things about freelance and on the right all the good things about freelance. If the right list was longer then we were going to do it. So of course we did it. Quit both our jobs within the same month. - Scary Dreams

2. My Desk planner

I love this old school piece of kit which sits on my desk, I always use pencil and plan out my weeks, making sure to use social dates as well as work dates, It is great for knowing where I am supposed to be, and also great to for checking on who I need to invoice. 

3. Not so secret agent - FreeAgent

This software is amazing for £20 a month it does all my number crunching for me, I wholly recommend you use this. Being organised is not my forte so this application really helps keep me in check. What's more if you refer people you and they get 10% off http://fre.ag/44ivn88f (enter code 44ivn88f) 

Top 5 things about being freelance... so far

Always learning
Something that working full time in agency was doing was making me lazy, my frustration and unhappiness to an extent were killing my passion for learning and ultimately my career. Freelance has meant that I have a new drive and more time for personal learning and exploration.  

Relationships
I now have more time and energy for my favourite people. Relationships have always been most important to me, and my ENFJ personality states that may be a curse.. But I think it's an advantage. My genuine care for my clients means that I will always try to over deliver, treating their businesses truly as my own.  

My workspace
It's only been in the last year that I have really started to appreciate the work space I have in my home studio... floor to ceiling windows, a large desk, a plant, prints and a view of the city. I snack less, exercise more, and I have 30 second commute from my bedroom next door. (no more hellish M6 commute!) 

Freedom
At first not having a routine was scary... it was the first time in my life that I didn't have to clock watch all day. There is a certain amount of comfort in routine, which I think at first I was missing, but now my body and mind have adjusted to being masters of their own destiny. I am not sure how well I would adjust back to the 9-5pm...

Happiness
Whilst I am now more responsible than ever for the work I produce, I am now much more happy. The strains and stresses of feeling unfulfilled have gone, and I now face the day in a much more relaxed and positive way. 

 

Negatives about freelancing - 3 Months in

Switching Off

It's hard when work blurs with life, and working in the creative industries that line has always been a bit blurry, especially when your partner and most of your friends are in the industry too. When you love what you do it may not be a problem, but you have to be strict and switch off else you will burn out. But in truth, this is no different from switching off from a full time job, if you care about what you do, it will never be a simple on off switch.

I have found not looking at emails between the hours of 8.00pm and 8.00am helps to ensure my mind can take a break. I try to limit the amount of evenings I work in a week, and make sure that I give myself at least one morning where I don't wake up to an alarm. 

I have also been doing HeadSpace which is great for keeping my brain healthy. 

And trying to run more, although failing. 


Practical Advice - Saving money

Now when you pretty much spend everything you earn on rent, bills and a car, and accidental holidays with the girls saving can be hard... and I have to admit I found it ridiculously tough. Just when I thought i was managing to save a couple hundred £ one month something would always require an emergency spend. That's life... 

Over the 6-8 months I was dreaming about freelance I managed to save just enough to cover rent and essential bills for 3 months. This is now tucked away in a rainy day fund, just in case it all goes to shit. 

I think this financial backing is the only part of the plan I stuck to I think is essential and really will stop you losing sleep if your inbox isn't buzzing with enquiries. 

Right now,  I have FREEDOM. I have more time for life, as well as more money to live and I am feeling happier than I have ever felt. 

No job is secure, and nothing in life is forever.. so if you are thinking about making the jump, just do it. You have nothing to lose and so, so much more to gain, quit playing it safe, quit your job. 

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