It’s with a sense of pride and slight disbelief that today I celebrate my first anniversary of trading self-employed.
They say time flies when you are having fun – I must have had a lot of fun in the last 12 months because it really has flown by.
Initial concerns of whether I’d be able to bring in enough work to pay the bills have been eased. Whilst the income hasn’t been vast and I’m not likely to be hiring a private jet to whisk me off to the Bahamas any time soon, there has been a steady enough flow to keep the bailiffs from the door and I’ve survived.
When I’ve spoken to people about it recently the general consensus is that it’s not the amount of profit I should be overly concerned with, it’s more the fact that my first year hasn’t brought a loss! A great blessing, I believe.
The Learning Curve
The lessons I’ve learnt will stand me in good stead to approach my second year with some confidence. Lessons about design itself, client relations, self-promotion and marketing, the whole business.
I’m also in a good position to evaluate how best to approach the next year; what differences I need to implement in my strategy, where I need to promote or spend more effectively, how I can more efficiently produce work that exceeds my clients’ expectations and build my own skills, and how to become more profitable without hiking up prices and annoying my clients!
As can be expected, many of my clients this year have been referral based – friends, family or friends of friends. I’ll be looking at ways of developing a more sustainable system this coming year; ideally pushing myself out more into the local & regional (and even national and international) business community with view to developing relationships with repeat customers.
Of course I hope the referrals continue too! Word of mouth is such an incredibly important factor in marketing and I’m pleased that so many of my clients have found me that way.
I also picked up a lot of freelance work with leading agency Bray Leino which really helped, not only financially but giving me more valuable experience working with huge clients (such as Wrigley, BP Castrol, Thatchers Cider and St Austell Brewery) as well as the agency’s top end creatives. Unfortunately much of the work can’t be shown here but the experience really helped me fulfil some of my career goals.
Here you can see some of the projects I’ve worked on this year. Some of my favourites include the Mutley Baptist Church welcome pack, the book ‘Sebby’ and logos for Padstow Kitchen Garden, Oodles Bakery and Katalistik (in progress).
Hopefully next year will continue to bring in more brand identity and logo projects; an area of design I feel I can really get my teeth into and often produce my best work. I’ll also be looking to develop more web work as well as packaging, point of sale and other print projects.
It might sound strange but I’d really like to get my teeth into a corporate report job or two, maybe annual financial reports! I think it’s the prospect of producing a crisp and clean product incorporating typography and information graphics that grabs my imagination – turning something that may be seen as lifeless into a well produced, practical and tactile item.
You never know what’s around the corner. I’m just looking forward to building on the success of the first year and striving to better it in the next one!