GettingReal
Branding, Branding Balance, Freelance, Graphic Design, Resources and Tools

Getting Real About the Hustle: 5 Areas of Focus When You Transition from Your 9 to 5

Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure we could talk about at least 10 other things that need your attention when you are making your side-gig your main-gig, but as someone who made that leap (and sometimes feels as if she is still on a ledge looking down), I noticed 5 areas that really affected me.

I’m sharing them with you in hopes that they will help you of course, but I’m also really interested to know your take on some of these things and what areas really affected you as well. Please don’t hesitate to talk about it in the comments. Iron can’t sharpen iron if it’s a the only pole out there. (That was pretty bad, but it sounded really good in my head!)

Accounting & Taxes

UUUGGGHHH! I think that is onomatopoeia that I’m looking for. Does that actually communicate the way I feel about accounting and taxes? No. Whatever is worse than that is how I feel.

I taught high school for six years. (Oh, the joys of getting cursed out and hated!) After that, I was a program director for a non-profit. Both professions provided me with stability while I did graphic design on the side. And even then, I usually had the added safety net of doing business in conjunction with the savvy prowess of my bud Regina.

After venturing out from under the safety net of a full-time job, I realized that I needed to prove what I made to someone if they ever asked. Here’s what I did (not all at once, I made a number of mistakes along the way):

1) Established a business bank account along with my PayPal. At first I thought my PayPal was good enough until I tried to buy a car and despite my pretty PayPal reports that I printed off (in color) and my official statements from their website, the creditor wouldn’t accept them as proof. Instead, I had to open a business checking account and start paying myself regularly from my PayPal, so I could have actual bank statements. The payments were small at first, but they got bigger (Come on somebody!)

2) Selected an easy online accounting software that would allow me to keep track of everything. I personally found that Wave did the job for me. It works well for freelancers. I have been told that Freshbooks works really well for small business owners.

3) Researched my profession and what it meant to my state. After checking the comptroller’s website, I found out that graphic design and web design services (for the most part) require that I pay sales taxes. So, I started calculating those quarterly and paying them. And just so you know, when you forget to pay them, a nice, little man may come knocking at your door and ask you to pay them. Oh yes! I know this first hand. Apparently the Comptroller’s office feels that a phone call isn’t personal enough.

4) Started saving and recording everything. Now when I make a purchase for my business, I save the receipt. When I go to meet someone, I track my mileage. These are all things I didn’t care about when this was just my side hustle, but now it isn’t.


 

Branding

I believe that I have mentioned this before in one of my (Re)Brand Diary posts that I thought my previous website design was too impersonal and corporate looking. It still had my colors (which I love) and it was definitely functional and attractive, but there was no way that I could live up the type of brand it portrayed. That website represented an entire design team when I needed something that represented exactly what you were getting . . . me.

This is why I say that there is way more to branding than your logo and how your business card looks. Your branding sets the expectation to your audience of who they are dealing with and you want that to be positive and real in every way. For example, if my client knows that I’m a mother of 5 and can only schedule a call after 6pm, then it is not annoying that they may hear Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in the background.

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Time Management

Boy is this a big one! I mentioned my 10-minute moments of productivity in Freelancing While in Freefall as well as other helpful tips. Time management is one of those beasts that never goes away, like high fructose corn syrup or love handles (those are probably related). And I strongly believe that the way you go about time management depends on your personality, work habits, and current life status. Honestly, if I go to Amazon and search time management, the amount of information is crazy. Here are a few strategies that helped me:

1) Determining my constants and my variables. This really helps me sort things out and get things done. To make it quick, I know that my constants aren’t going anywhere, so I prioritize them and do what I have to do, letting me know just how much time I have to devote to other things (my variables).

2) Organized my world for easy navigation. I cleaned up my computer, made sure that everything in my house had a place to go (or it got tossed), and worked with some really awesome resources like Evernote, Azendoo, and Asana to collaborate with others and keep my tasks in line.

3) Outsourced my weaknesses. Be careful. Don’t pigeon hole your thinking here. I’m talking about outsourcing ANYTHING that opens up time for you. That could mean getting help with your house work once a week, child care, design work, emails, etc…

4) Stayed honest with myself. I could tell you that this stuff ALWAYS works, but it doesn’t. Not for me anyway. One of the best ways I manage my time is by recognizing when I’m stressed out or just not loving life and I CHOOSE to be productive anyway.


 

Communication

Who did you tell about your transition and what do those people really think that means? When I told my husband I was developing a course for branding creatives, he said, “That’s great babe.” About a week later, he asked, “You finished your course yet?” I’m sure the look I gave him while sitting in my pile of laundry with a baby on my lap and another one calling me name wasn’t a nice one, but I had to remember that he had no clue what went into my world.

Open communication with the people you are working with or with the people you are closest to on a personal level is key when transitioning to this new life. You have to set realistic expectations of your availability and your needs, but you have to be careful not to undermine those relationships. No amount of money can replace the people closest to you and what they bring to your life. Just ask a rich, lonely, miserable person. (I don’t know any personally, but I know they have to be out there.)


 

Social Media

Honestly, I’m one of those people who would miss out on all of the Internet amazement if it weren’t for my business. I don’t naturally gravitate towards social media, which means it takes real work for me to keep up.

However, once I ventured out there on my own, I found out how important social media really was.

First, people check your accounts to see how many other people interact with your company and factor that in when deciding whether or not to deal with you.

Second, you generate leads and followers through your interactions on social media.

And third, you find your peeps when you are engaged in social media and by peeps, I mean people you can support you, teach you, collaborate with you and ultimately know more than anyone what you deal with while growing your business. They know because they are doing it too and appreciate your support in return.

Of course, these relationships do not even come close to replacing the ones you have offline, but you never know who you will meet and how it will impact your life.

There were some very specific things that helped me when starting out on social media for business. I’m not saying that I’m balling when it comes to followers but in just 6 months (with no paid help), I increased my Twitter from 150 followers to 890 and my Instagram from 120 to 425 followers.

Here is what I did:

  • I used a service like Feedly to read my favorite blogs and schedule them for sharing through a service like Hootsuite
  • I scheduled about 6-10 tweets a day including my own stuff and one to two posts for Facebook
  • I took more time to design or plan my posts for Instagram and Pinterest and tried to post at least 4-5 times a week.
  • I retweeted/shared other people’s stuff as much as possible
  • I made sure my accounts matched my branding for my business

Gaining your Independence

As I said before, there are so many things to think about when you step out there and do what you are passionate about.

But guess what? There are some amazing people out there that have done it successfully.

Now enters The Independent.

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Regina Anaejionu, Jenna Arak and I want to introduce this blog-in-print that covers topics creative entrepreneurs really care about. Find out more at TheIndependent.press.

Now it’s your turn! What were your toughest areas and how did you overcome them to start working independently? OR What are you most afraid of when you think of taking that plunch into the independent deep?

 

 

Freelancing in Freefall: Tips, resources and worksheets to stay organized in business
Branding Balance, Free Guides and Resources, Freelance, Resources and Tools

Freelancing While in Freefall: Tips, resources, and worksheets for keeping it together in the midst of chaos

All of our chaos looks different and enters/exits our lives at different times. You may be in freefall because of a change in relationship status, a drop in your income, or your overwhelming and unexpected success that you now have to figure out and manage.

There is also the distinct possibility you feel like you’re in free fall because you have your entire family which includes 5 children that are all home all day for the summer while you are trying to sell your house, find a new one, develop an epic course on branding and run a graphic design business. Oh wait, that last scenario was all me. Needless to say, I’m speaking from experience here.

All of the things in this post can help you at any time during your freelance career, but they are especially helpful in freefall.


Forgive yourself

It is hard in these streets for anyone with a side hustle or a non-traditional working situation. Shoot it’s hard for those in a cubicle as well, but if you are freelancing and things are chaotic all around you, you may come upon a time or twenty that you have to forgive yourself.

Maybe you missed a deadline or you wrote an entire response email and never pressed send (No! I haven’t done that and shame on you for implying otherwise). Whatever the case, you can’t allow your mistakes to take you out of your game completely.

Don’t get me wrong, I have totally participated in the self-pity spiral before, but there is nothing at the end of it except more people that you let down along the way, more missed deadlines, more un________ (fill in the blank) and unfinished work that will still need to done.

Instead reward yourself for things you are doing right while in freefall. Celebrate the mediocre and leave your extraordinary moments for your more stable times in your life.

Need some reward ideas?

Idea #1 – I love to find Outlet Deals on Amazon. Especially when it’s something that has been marked down and then it is shipped for free because it is eligible for Amazon Prime. Try getting yourself something fun and affordable.

Idea #2 – Also, it is always cool to go somewhere new and meet people you have never met. Reward yourself by using a cool app like Field Trip to find new things in your city. It’s available for both Android and iPhone.

Idea #3 – How about joining a subscription service? Maybe for each goal you accomplish, you can add another month to your subscription. There are so many cool ones. For clothes, try StitchFix or Gwynnie Bee (for curvier women like myself). For food, try Plated for full meals or Graze for yummy snacks.  Or, if you are into crafts/jewelry, try For The Makers or Umba Box.

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VisuallyAppealingBrand
Branding, Branding Balance, Freelance, Resources and Tools

What a Visually Appealing Brand Can Do For You: A quick reminder of what you already knew with a few things you haven’t thought of.

Let’s face it. People like pretty. Admittedly, pretty doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone (and I’m grateful for that), but regardless, people like what they think is pretty. When it comes to your brand, the best thing you can do is make it as universally “pretty” as you can.

Need help thinking through your “pretty”? I created a little sumthin’ sumthin’. Tell you all about it a little later.

YourLookPageShots

Moving on, by achieving a level of visual attraction to your brand, you open yourself up to a few realities. Some are obvious (although it is always nice to have a reminder), but there are some you may not have thought about.

Honestly anything that will motivate you to continue working your entrepreneurial hustle is worth talking about in my opinion (I almost wrote IMO because I actually just learned what that meant this past week while hanging with my girl Regina Anaejionu, but I got nervous). Let’s talk about some of those benefits.

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10ConfessionsCover
Branding, Branding Balance, Freelance

10 Confessions from an Ordinary Person Who Happens to Run a Business

Today . . . I’m finding my community. I’m talking about my peeps that think the way I do, but it’s hard for me to wrap my head around finding people with whom I share common ground if we haven’t defined the ground on which we stand. (Wow, that was dramatic). So, I’m defining the ground. Below are 10 confessions that may or may not be interesting to you, but they sum up my thoughts. Oh and I have included some shareable images with each. My thoughts in graphic form. Please share if you agree.

1. I’m a reluctant blogger, but I do it because connection matters.

I’m not sure if you can tell (hopefully you can), but I consider myself a writer. Well, maybe. The true writers of the world may snub me for not treating this craft with the respect that I should, but I do love writing. I’m just a reluctant blogger. I’m learning over time, but it was difficult to believe that people cared about what I had to say. Who am I? Turns out at least a handful cares. So . . . thanks!
reluctantbloggerconfession1


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How to Avoid Sounding Like a Jerk When writing for Business
Branding, Branding Balance

How to Avoid Sounding Like a Jerk When Writing for Business

Hopefully, we are all familiar with the concept of social cues. You know the hints that guide conversations and social interactions both personally and professionally.

Some people have a hard time with social cues, and, as a society, it’s important that we are patient with each other. However, when it comes to business, I don’t want to you to go out like that (slang for look bad or get labeled negatively).

So, my goal in this post is to remind most of you and teach the rest of you how to avoid sounding like a jerk when you are writing for business (books, blogs, social media, etc.). By the way, when I say business, I don’t mean big business and I don’t mean instruction manuals either.

I’m talking about helping out your fellow entrepreneur, freelancer, small business owner, etc. You may be thinking, “Actually Brittany, you sound a bit like a jerk right now.” Sorry. (Remember that little bit I said about being patient with each other?)

#1 – Humility is a tricky thing. If you admit to being humble, you aren’t.

Arrogant person thinking he is a king of the worldThere is a fine line between communicating your accomplishments and boasting about them. I believe the difference comes with the tone and context. If you must talk about what you’ve done, that’s fine, but do it in such a way that it doesn’t alienate or diminish others. Also be sure that the situation calls for it. For instance, if you are writing a book, every example shouldn’t be about that time that you did something and it made millions. Or, even about that time that you tried something and it failed, but then, out of nowhere, it made millions. There is a time and place for that, but not every time and every place.

#2 – It is a fact that Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway and Andrew Jackson were horrible spellers, but that’s why spell checkers exist.

Learn 2 SpelI’m going to attempt to be vague and specific simultaneously in this example. (If it fails, at least I told you what I was going for). Years ago, my BFF and I decided we were going to take a class on self-publishing. We walked into a professional environment, scoped out the instructor wearing her conservative business suit and took the book she was handing out that had her very professional picture on the back.

Here is where it gets bad. We start reading from the book and there were so many spelling and grammatical errors that we left. That’s right. We left. Having a few errors here and there is understandable. I’m sure I could pull 10 out of this post right now, but when your errors become a distraction, you will not be taken seriously in the business world. Edit. Please.

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