What do you do for a living, and why did you make the jump to self-employment?
I'm a freelance brand & digital designer based in Vancouver, Canada. I have been self-employed for a year, with the other 10 years spent in various small agencies and studios and taking on the odd client when the opportunity was there.
I had always wanted to work for myself, but didn't know where to start, so after I had my daughter I took the plunge and decided not to look for a 'job'. It was a natural opportunity to start freelancing and I couldn't be happier making a living this way.
What’s a big challenge you’ve had with running your own business, and how did you overcome it?
Learning to communicate simply. I'm English and grew up reading lots of literature so in my head I'm quite wordy, but that doesn't work in emails. So I put a lot of effort into reducing the number of words I use and aiming to get the idea across as simply as possible. Design philosophy in email form!
What advice would you give to those who are just starting out on the journey of running their own businesses?
Track your hours. You can see progress, areas for improvement, and it will help you make a living rather than flying by the seat of your pants.
Create a network. Regularly share work on all the typical sites (something I'm trying to do more of), talk to other creatives all over the world, reach out to designers you respect with a short, flattering and polite email. These contacts keep you connected and inspired and can lead to opportunities you wouldn't otherwise have come across.
Become a more careless designer and a more ruthless editor. That's an idea on experimenting more in your work from illustrator Christoph Neimann in the first episode of Abstract: The Art of Design.
Where would you like your business to be three years from now?
I'd like to level up my business from agency freelancer to strategic designer, where a deeper process leads to more meaningful design. This will up my value as a design partner.
Setting financial goals in Harpoon is allowing me more and more to choose projects that resonate with my values or that provide learning opportunities in line with my goals. I'd like to continue growing in this area because choice = freedom!
What quality, habit, or decision has contributed to the success of your business?
Setting a regular schedule. This helps clients be able to rely on me because I know how much I can get done in each block of time. Client Retention 101!
Getting better at emails. Communication is only key if it's clear.
Enthusiasm. I treat every project like it's the best project I've ever worked on. A big part of your business is customer service. It builds rapport and clients want to feel like you appreciate the work you're doing with them.
Marie-Claire Hill is a brand and digital designer in Vancouver, BC. Learn more about Marie-Claire by following her on Dribbble. Thanks for your time Marie-Claire!