09.12.12

YES, DO TELL

hey everyone! katie and i have answered over 30 of your awesome freelance questions inย our advice column. we want to regroup and ask you what else you’d like to know. we might not be able to answer all of your questions, but we will certainly try.

do you want to know more about pricing? process? what’s on your mind, friends?ย -bri + katie

(illustration byย . read more freelance advice postsย over here!)

71 COMMENTS

Add your own

    When you started freelancing, did you have all the taxes and official stuff figured out? Or did you have a few big projects lined up with friends and then sorted out all of that mumbo jumbo as your business grew? Or did you have a checking account before it started?

    Katy says:

    More Spice Girl references!!! Love it! ๐Ÿ™‚

    What do you say to potential new clients when you already have more work than you can handle, but you would still like to work on their project in the future? I don’t want to lose these possible projects but at the same time I don’t want to go crazy – I just quit my full-time job to focus on clients exclusively and to try to avoid burning out, but I also want to make sure I’ll be okay in future months in this unstable field. How do you schedule things out so you don’t get too burnt out? Do you find that people will wait for you if you quote them out a few months?

    Sara says:

    How is the transition when you start to change your career paths? Such as from being a print designer to web, or graphic designer to fashion design?

    Linsey says:

    I am always looking for further guidance on pricing. Do people really go by the Graphic Arts Guild Guide to Ethical Pricing? How do you navigate the big ranges? Thank youโ€”I love your advice column so much!

    Carly Stotts says:

    Have either of you worked with nonprofits? I am starting an arts program for the special needs community, and I’m not sure how to go about hiring someone for my logo/website. Do I try to find someone up and coming that supports my cause (that will donate their time/work?) Or, do I try to raise money to afford who I want?

    My dream is to be able to afford one of you gals. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks.

    Carly

    Jen says:

    Pricing guidance would be great!

    I agree- pricing. Do you group smaller projects into a larger package? Keep them separate? What did you charge for freelance projects when you first started & when did you know to hike it up a bit? Also, if if a client wants a wood texture for example, how would you go about that? Should I include in my proposal that any extra costs come from the client or do I just buy it myself? Also, do you buy any stock textures? Why or why not? Thanks for all your help & I love these AM posts ๐Ÿ™‚

    Sandra says:

    What about how to get clients when you are just starting out in design and illustration either locally or online I would be interested to know how you got your first freelance jobs. I know you’ve covered how to approach companies but what about finding and ing the right company and also dealing with any rejection! Just a few questions!

    JenLynn says:

    You have touched on how you get clients through your blog and social media. But what if I don’t have a base of “fans” watching my every free-lance move. I work in a non-graphic design field so I don’t have any s but I have experience (and am currently working on a second degree in design) and I would like to test the waters with a few clients while I’m still at my current job. How do I find jobs, people, and ultimately throw my hat in the ring?

    Krissy says:

    How about dealing with clients who consistently do not stick to the proposed time line? I do a bit of web development/wordpress blog design on the side (it is not my full time job), and I am naturally quite busy with my real job and my studies. I always set a very clear time frame with my clients to work on their project, but every time, they seem to need more time to get their things sent off to me, which in turn completely throws off my schedule and interferes with my other work. I always just go with it and end up spending countless all nighters to please them, but it’s exhausting and frustrating to always be the one at the short end of the stick. How do you guys suggest dealing with this issue?
    Love this column, by the way! Fantastic and well thought out advice. Keep it comin’! ๐Ÿ™‚

    emmakisstina says:

    yay more advice! Love this column! I’d of course love to learn more about pricing but also about process. I’d love to see an example of what you send to clients when you first start a project (a logo, or web design or large illustration.) How do you set it all up? Where do you start etc.? Thanks so much ladies. xo

    Kayla Hood says:

    This column has been such a big help! I agree, pricing would be really helpful. I am torn between an hourly rate versus a package deal versus that feeling like I don’t know how to price! Where do you start with pricing! Thanks for your help girls. PS love the quote on Katie’s illustration today =) Takes me back to the sixth grade! xx

    leann says:

    Where should I host my blog? tumblr, wordpress, blogspot, etc.? what are the pros and cons of each and if i’m just starting out, when is it time to buy my own domain? i think this question can be answered in regards to a freelancer and regular blogger alike, so please answer! ๐Ÿ™‚ THANK YOU, bri & katie!

    Kathryn says:

    Pricing advice…but what I am curious about is once a person has gained more clients and their business is growing, how should they go about raising their prices a little?… without offending their clients or losing them?

    Love this series! It has been incredibly helpful!

    -K

    Anna says:

    I am a big fan of your blog and love these advice columns you two put together โ€“ THANK YOU! I’d love to hear about how you close business with some of your more buttoned-up clients. Selling design can be difficult when your audience isn’t especially design savvy…

    Molly Alone says:

    How do you begin to “brand”? Naturally, I think people are so multidimensional, that it’s hard to focus on one area of your personality in order to have a really strong message and focus. In other words, I find myself always saying “I like that! I like this! I like that, too!” How do you hone in on your own voice?

    I’m curious about how you guys get the word out when you first start to freelance? You know, that you’re open for business? Did you find word of mouth works best? Your blog? Twitter? Those sights where you bid on projects? There are so many options out there nowadays, I’m curious what seems to be time best spent. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks!

    Kate says:

    Yes please! Is it ok to email you with a query? I think it’s something that would be great for freelancers to know but it’s also a bit of a tough one so maybe you could present it as you see fit?

    Kate

    Bethany says:

    How do you deal with family/friends that want to get involved in your business? I have friends that think what I do looks fun and they’re like “hey, I could do it with you? You could hire me to do [fill in the blank].” Thought they might need work, I don’t really need the help and I have a thing about working with family… The thing being- I just don’t want to.

    And on a similar note, I’ve had my father in law ask me to do lots of business stationery for him and he wants me to continue. He is paying me (though discounted) but I really want to focus on wedding stationery. How do I tell family and friends that though I am capable I just don’t want to do their work anymore?

    I LOVE the advice column. Thank you for all of your help over these 30 questions and answers!

    Kelly says:

    Pricing, but also how to successfully put yourself out there in terms of getting freelance work or launching a new self-initiated project.

    Lauren says:

    I probably have one billion questions, but mostly I’m just loving the spice girls reference!

    Brittany says:

    Advice! Hoo rah! I love this column. Pricing is something I can never read enough about, but I’d also like to know how you approach branding your different businesses (blog, blogshop, design studio, etc.), how you go about getting people to advertise on your blog and/or sponsor posts, and how you started networking and collaborating with other bloggers/designers. Is it ok to just email bloggers you would like to work with about being a guest blogger or does that freak people out? Thanks again for all your advice ( and illustrations )!

    Katrin says:

    Yes, this is one of my favourite columns, too! Like Molly and Brittany, branding for me is one of the most urgent topics these days, because I do (and love) so many different things. And I need all the jobs I can get, so it would be hard not to promote things I can do.
    Love your blog, love your style, love your advices. Your blog is my evening treat after 12-hour days, or the 5 min rescue treat during the day when something went wrong. Thanks, grazie, merci!

    Alexa says:

    PRICING! Like were talking specifics. Package/hourly? How much? Specifics!!! People are always so vague when it comes to this subject.

    Also, advertising. Getting the word out. How?!

    Yao says:

    Love your blog! Thank you for all the advice you guys have written about. My question is, starting out, did you write out a business plan and meet with an accountant/lawyer to sort out all the legal aspects of your business or did that come about after freelancing became your official business? Also what book keeping software do you guys use? Thank you!!

    Katie says:

    How do you go about finding a good printer to work with? Is it important that they are close to where you live/work, or does it not matter that much? I really want to launch my own business selling invitations, and I know there must be some good printing companies near by since I live near Pasadena, but I have no idea how to go about finding a good printing company. Any suggestions would be so greatly appreciated!

    Christine Haynes says:

    When will you start a monthly subscription box with all of your awesome finds and sponsors? I would certainly love for you to curate something wonderful and maybe add a monthly tip or two to or a schedule of blogshop dates.

    You two are genius!

    Jaclyn says:

    I would love to know about how to build a good client base. Start out doing work for free? Focus more time on a portfolio before finding clients? Work part time with a small client base, then build up to full time?

    I would also like to know about finding your vendors, like Katie above. Any tips for finding impressive companies to buy from / work with?

    Thanks!

    Meghan says:

    I would like to read more about pricing projects, finding work (did you do networking, word-of-mouth, or have you found any freelancing sites that are a helpful tool, and I would love to hear about your design processes. Do you start with a sketch book or the computer? What do your presented rounds of work look like and how many rounds do you typically present to your clients?

    Pegah S says:

    Who does the coding for your blog?

    ArianeK says:

    I’m starting up a new shop making textiles and sewn or paper goods, and I would love some advice on how to keep look/feel/brand consistent when you’re working on many different projects or with different mediums. And also, input on how to balance catering to trends with one’s own style. Thanks for all the amazingness!

    Allie Shultz says:

    I would love to know more about pricing, especially for ads and sponsored posts. I’m interested in making my blog a bigger part of my life in the future but would first like to know how to properly advertise and accept sponsors.

    maggie says:

    pricing, yeah! invoicing!

    also, i like the idea about how to find a printer. when you’re doing work with vendors – how do you find a good one?

    coding! when you do site design, how do you find a good coder to work with? do you do it yourself?

    and i can never get enough organization tips.

    this is a great column. so THANKS!

    Dayna says:

    Hey Bri, I’m not sure if you remember me, but I took your Blogshop class in Toronto! (It was crazy awesome, btw. I was the girl with the SHORT brown hair and beaded shirt!) Anyway, I was wondering if you could talk a bit about self-branding. I’m finding it really hard to self-brand, because I think I’m finding it hard to find the ‘essence of myself’. And i’m finding it really hard to generalize myself! Not just because, yes, I am a multi-faceted person, but more because I don’t know my ‘defining’ aesthetic. Your aesthetic – in fashion, web design, graphic design- is so clear. How did you edit it down so well? Or clarify what you wanted your aesthetic to be? Thanks!
    Also, I just have to say, I absolutely LOVE the advice posts you do. I feel like I’m stealing secrets when I read them! They are so helpful and comforting and useful. Thanks again!

    Sankhalina Nath says:

    Hi Bri

    I am graphic design student doing my graduation project. I love your blog and the honesty in the content.

    What do you do when you have a big work commitment/deadline and you have a creative block right before it? Does these breakdown incidents happen when you have been a freelance professional for a while or is it just a beginner’s fear/block?

    Penelope says:

    Love the advice column, please keep up the fantastic work!

    I’d like to know how to get clients to explain clearly what they want at the start. What information do you ask for in a brief (I am a graphic designer)? I have a brief that I give my clients at the start of the project, but it seems to blow out to 20 further emails from them saying ‘just one more thing…’ and hard to keep track of the project. Further to that, how do you keep track of where you are at with all your design projects – is it just a running list you have in your head, an online to-do list or something else?

    Also what organisation methods do you manage your emails and design files?

    Kim Boswell says:

    Sometimes I feel like I have so much to do that I just don’t, or can’t, do anything at all. If you ever feel this way, or maybe something a long the lines of those “writers blocks” what do you do?

    What do you do when you feel like you want to do everything, be a designer, a cheese shop owner, I stay at home mom (or stay at home anything), a painter, a writer, a shoe maker, etc. How do you organize your life???

    Also, on the subject of organization, what is your favorite way to keep a calendar or schedule? On your phone or a google calendar, or do you just write it all down?

    I’m not sure if you guys have talked much about how to write a contract- maybe share some resources? Legal talk is always the tough part for me. How about ways to approach other talented people about collaborating? What turns you on or off when it comes to the idea of collaborating with someone else on a project? Love this column and so appreciate the advice you gals give!

    Helena says:

    Hey Bri + Katie, thanks for all your honest tips & advice, and thanks for wanting to share more. I’m excited. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’d love to hear about how you managed to get where you are today. Bri, how did you start off at first, at the very beginning, when no one was reading your blog yet? How do you stay motivated to keep going, and what steps did you take to get you started, and to get people to know about you?
    How/why did your business take off?
    I know there’s social media, blogging, networking and all that – but is that really all it takes in order to kick a business off?

    And a couple more question – how do you manage to focus? It’s such an important factor in order to get somewhere with your business, but it’s so hard at the same time. What do you do when you feel like you’d love to work on a 1000 different ideas/projects at once? And the same goes for style – how did you manage to stick with one overall look? (I always feel like changing the look of my blog once I get bored with it. Or my moods change..)

    Last question – what do you do when a client doesn’t get back to you anymore once you talked about pricing? That happened to me recently – I’m just starting out in web design (but the client didn’t know – I presented myself in a very confident way), and quoted 800-2250 USD, depending on different options available. (Basically it was about a basic static website, with the option to upload content themselves).
    I’m guessing the client was put off by the price (although I felt like I followed your advice on pricing ;))- can you follow up, and negotiate again? Or would that be a way of underselling yourself by saying ‘I’d do anything, if you just give me the job’?

    Thanks for taking your time to go through all the questions. It’s very appreciated.
    Helena x

    kelly ann says:

    I have a contract question! When working with a client who lives close to me, I usually meet up with them, go over their contract and we sign and date them together. But what is the best/most professional way to go about this when the client lives out of town/state? Phone call/Skype meeting? Have them print it out, sign it, and mail it to me? Or I mail it to them and they send it back? This might be a silly question. ๐Ÿ™‚ Regardless, I would love your input!

    Your girls rule, thanks for all the advice! xo.

    Tiffany says:

    Pricing. What are the guidelines?

    alicia says:

    love the illustration!
    i love reading a good book or watching a movie/documentary for inspiration. what are your guys favorites? what kind of movies or books inspire you? any good design movies we should know about? what magazines do you subscribe to? online inspiration is good but there is something very special about having something printed infront of you that you can feel and smell, something you get excited about receiving in the mail.
    and btw, thanks so much to you two for doing this column, as a designer trying to get a hold of more freelance work this has been super helpful, you have no idea how many times i’ve read stuff on here and been like “yes, exactly! i totally know what your talking about”.

    Sunaina says:

    How do you get your name out there and get to the point of being well-known in your industry and the online space?

    Carrie R says:

    Tax info would be great. I’d like to know what you would’ve done differently and any advice you might have for another starting out freelancer or blogger. Thanks!

    Fer S says:

    I’m in total blank when it comes to pricing, it’s the hardest question to answer, i dont know really how to tell my friends, clients, family, etc how much money i am charging them and why.
    Thanks for all your advice! i LOVE your blog ๐Ÿ˜€

    Gรผl says:

    I wonder how you manage the inner peace. You always have to search for things, objects, new products, social networks, more clothes etc.. Are we able to take 1 week off when we work freelance? Or have you guys ever felt like you consume too much? I couldnt ask it because I dont know enough english.

    Summary: Have you ever feel like ‘GOD DAMN yellow trousers again, I have to add you into my post, because you are lovely, but I’ve seen dozens of you!’

    I’m sorry if this has already been covered, but I do have a question about renegotiating your rates part-way through a project. I’m currently working on my first freelance job doing photography/photoshop. I’m a newbie, so when offered a flat rate for all of it, I did the best I could at approximating my hours, gas, all that jazz, and the price seemed to fit pretty well. Now being almost halfway through, it turns out to be taking way more time and work than I first planned for. A little bit is my fault as a I figured out the learning curve, but the client wants more images to choose from than we originally talked about. I think I’m safe to ask for a little more money, especially since they prefer more images from me, but how should I approach it without sounding like a jerk? I’m still willing to complete the project at the original price to hold up my end of the deal, but ideally I would like a little additional money. Help! Thanks. <3

    Chick Tyler says:

    When did you know it was time to hire employees? What helped justify thay plan?

    Malori says:

    More about pricing would be helpful!! I’d also like to know more about the legalities of freelancing. I’m getting into a bit of consulting and I’m concerned about the legal side of things. I want to make sure I’m protected in case something goes wrong.

    Caitlin says:

    How did you break into your field? I’m a freshman in college and I’m interested in graphic design, but I’m afraid that I won’t be able to get a job after college. Should I take art classes, marketing classes or both? Also did you do an internship and if so where? It would be my dream to do what you do, but I just don’t know how to get started.

    Brit says:

    Do you find it is better to brand your name, or your company/blog name? Specifically on social media outlets, but also just in general. Thanks!

    Alex says:

    I would love to hear more about freelancing while working a full-time job and blogging. I have no intent to full-time freelance but have difficulty trying to stick to a schedule and balance it all between a full-time job + blogging.

    Cat says:

    Pricing. I first started freelancing while helping my friends to do their business started, and it’s kind of hard to price the little tasks they want to add on. It’s small as making a button on the website, but when it adds up, it’s like I’m doing a whole new project.
    And especially, when working for friends, I don’t know how to bring up the money talk. HELP ME!!

    Laci Jordan says:

    How did you learn how to code websites? Also as a recent graduate how did you get your foot in the door?

    Caprice says:

    Thanks for opening up all these conversations!
    I’m curious about content for those of us who also blog. I always love the amazing photos you find and showcase from others. Are there specific legalities on using images like you do? Do you check in with each source prior to use, simply state clearly full credit, or how does that work?

    i’d love to know how you deal with taxes. like, deductions and working with an accountant, etc. this is my first year out of college so i’ll be starting that stuff big time come the winter. oy. thanks bri & katie!

    Christina says:

    I would love to know more about how you stay organized, or what a typical busy day is like.

    Do you have a social life? I know this sounds silly, but as I work for myself (and start my own business) I have found it really difficult to balance it all. And even when I have a bit of free time I sometimes feel guilty about taking time away from working on my business.

    I’d love to hear how you balance work with other aspects of your life (social life, relationships, travel, exercise etc). How do you set boundaries? Where do you draw the line? Do you feel you maintain a balanced life?

    Lisa says:

    Oh man, I love all the above questions, so you better answer them all slowly ๐Ÿ™‚ Kidding! Girls, I live in a small Balkan country, where everyone claims to do everything better than people who studied on the topic 5 years and work on the field (i.e. architecture, engineering, design, marketing, styling). I think I have lots of talent and a very different way of approaching projects and costumers’ needs than the majority out here. I love freelancing as I get bored in standard 8hr offices and I can’t work for people who don’t appreciate what I can give them. But I have had a big question for years, do I work for free until I get a second or third project payed, or a reference to another company or do I charge a little, or do I charge full for my services? Some great people have told me to never work for free in my country, to set some standards that anyone should be following. I agree, but you gotta start somewhere. So tell me, how long and how much can you work for free or low rates? Thanks

    Maria says:

    Process and technique would be great!

    Casey says:

    I have found your advice column to be really helpful and insightful. Thanks for sharing so openly!

    I wonder if you could show us a sample contract and/or invoice template you use when working with new clients. I seem to be struggling with that side of freelance.

    Kat says:

    How do you go about using a song in videos you share on your blog without running into copy write infringement issues?

    Leanna says:

    Hi! I am brand new to blogging and my biggest questions are about copyright and how to NOT infringe on other peoples’ work. Specifically when using images found on on my blog. I know people are supposed to link to the original source but a lot of times links just go to tumblr or some other ambiguous source rather than someone who deserves the credit. Is it enough to link back to my page so that the viewer can hunt around on their own for the source? Should I just avoid using images found on all together? I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes… or worse (get sued?). Thank you so so so much and I love design love fest. Such an inspiration.

    davecia says:

    Do you guys provide a statement of work for your clients? If so, how detailed.

    Thanks

    Liz says:

    pricing!!!! i have a day job at a design studio..i’m a permalance employee. but sometimes i take on jobs at night on my own. do i charge the same rate that i get at work to my clients?

    Aimee says:

    Any tips on making graphic design portfolio? i’m just starting out in this area (i have a degree in fashion design) so i kinda have just a few works right now. Thankx guys <3 This column ๐Ÿ™‚

    Jane says:

    I don’t work in the design industry but I love your blog and really adore this column. They can apply to many other fields, not just design you know. I have a question for Bri and Katie: How do you know when to stop so that you won’t overdo that design?

    Megan Alissa Glanville says:

    I would like to know more about pricing in general; the different components one should consider when putting together an estimate, i.e. what prices are acceptable for different services and how do these differ when your a novice vs an expert and how does your locale affect pricing. Ball park numbers would be ever so helpful!! Do you guys use the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook? Is that a good place to reference for pricing? Also, what are your contracts like, do you require a 1/2 or 1/3 deposit? Do you combine an estimate with your contract after you’ve been approached by a client?
    Also, what are some common problems you may run into when printing? And the resolutions?

    You guys rock–this advice section is so helpful–one of my favorite parts of the blog!!
    All the best to you both!!!

    Megan Alissa Glanville says:

    Ooh–also–did you get an EIN and a city business license prior to starting your freelance business or did you just use your social security number come tax time?

    Megan Alissa Glanville says:

    And how long do you hold on to files/past work for a client–how many places do you back up?

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