FT 135: The Real Experience of Starting a Freelance Business with Sian Richardson
I would like to thank everyone for their feedback on the survey that was recently published on the Freelance Transformation Podcast. It sounds like many listeners would appreciate hearing more stories where the origin of the freelance business is discussed and what goes into making that freelance lifestyle truly successful. Here to speak about those things today from New Zealand is Sian Richardson. Sian has gone through the ups and downs of freelancing and loves every second of it.
Sian Richardson is a graphic designer who left her professional career to pursue something more creative. Her freelance business evolved from client work to digital publications, and she’s on today’s episode to talk about what she learned from the pitfalls and what she’s so proud of today.
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Sian shares with us:
My whole mission is just to get people started at winning their own game.”
Sian’s Origin Story
The reality of transitioning into the freelance lifestyle is more than just pursuing your dreams. If you want to turn your freelance skills into a full-time gig, you have to do as Sian did and start saying yes to your first clients.
When she was working full-time as a graphic designer, working with templates that stifled her creativity, Sian turned to blogging and social media to vent about her work and learn new things that would pay off later on down the road. She started working with others who called on her simply because they knew she was a graphic designer. When she was off the clock, she was still working, putting together amazing websites and graphics for these new people she was meeting. What started out as a side gig was turning into a more lucrative business.
The work I was doing in my job wasn’t overly creative…but the work I was getting through freelance was for completely different people, eventually people that would be my dream clients.
Sian went all-in. She quit her full-time job with only 2 months of work lined up and decided it was now or never, sink or swim. Her advice to those starting out is to build strong relationships with your clients by giving them high-quality work. Go beyond the trends and develop something that is unique to you. People will remember you and come looking for your aesthetic.
Once you find your niche, Sian says your freelance career can snowball from there. For example, Sian has a knack for finding and working with entrepreneurs involved in the health and wellness sphere. In fact, her entire freelance career started through referrals in this industry. Her impeccable work, communication skills, and her creativity all won over her clients so much that they started to refer her to their friends and other entrepreneurs looking for a little more design in their websites.
Realistic Expectations for the Freelance Life
Working for yourself is not easy.
Sian has a lot of tips for new freelancers today. The freelance life isn’t easy. You’re going to lose some friends, you’re going to lose some money, but you’re going to learn some new things you never even considered before. Sian’s biggest hurdle was money and time management, which is a common obstacle for a lot of freelancers.
In the beginning, I didn’t have a hardcore schedule because I didn’t know what I was doing.
If that sounds like you, don’t panic! It’s probably a relief to hear another freelancer out there in the world saying “I have no idea what I’m doing.” But that’s the glory of working for yourself. There are going to be so many instances where you will literally have no clue what you’re doing. “At least give it a shot,” Sian says. There’s always going to be failure where you don’t try.
Sian’s advice for money and time management is to do your research ahead of time. Understand the tax laws in your country so you can start saving early and not get a bill at the end of the year like she did. Learn what to charge your clients so you know you’re making a fair amount of money. Sian discusses retainers and how to use them to keep a steady cash flow while you explore other aspects of your freelance business.
How a Freelance Business Evolves
As your freelance career evolves, so will your goals. You’re going to start exploring other parts of your business. No one says you have to keep doing the same thing you’re doing now. So many entrepreneurs and freelance professionals start to change their business as their lifestyles change. Knowing what your options are means researching your field and discovering new paths to venture down.
Your business can be whatever you want it to be. It didn’t have to be one or the other. You can do both…I love having the mix of both.
Sian took the opportunity to work for herself and try out new things. One of those things was branding, and now she’s creating an entire line of digital products that turned her learning process into a course for other freelancers to use. There are so many opportunities waiting for you if you just seize the chance to work for yourself. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of them and learn from the people who have done it before you.
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