BMAYS Design

Going Independent: Real Life Has No Formula

I could write this post and claim to be an expert on going independent. I’m talking about the art of breaking away from the 9 to 5, pursuing your creative urges and making it happen in spite of all the challenges that go along with freelancing, starting your own business or just chasing those entrepreneurial dreams.

I admit it. I’m not an expert . . . on your situation that is. However, when it comes to my situation, I’m the one to talk to and I have a feeling that my situation is one that many of you can relate in one way or another.

You may remember when I told you how my world got flipped by a few life changing experiences. And while that was awesome…I soon found out that I wasn’t done.

I’m still in the house-selling, topsy-turvy existence that inspired Freelancing in Freefall but now with an added time cost. Because my husband and I agreed that having a predictable income was best for this season in our lives, I decided to go back to work outside of the home.

The difference this time is that I refuse to do anything but what I love.

Your Independence May Look Different from Mine

We are all creatives trying to do what we love and make a living off of whatever that is. We all work hard doing it. With that said, some people figure out their groove a little faster than others. Some people have to go in a few different directions before they figure out what works.

My Independence is Cemented in Design

Recently I started creating an online course that helps people fully brand their businesses. I worked hard on this course. My best friend, byRegina, even helped me film a video to make everything look friendly and professional (she is good at that sort of thing). As I’m working on my course, trying to maintain my blog and crank out an eBook that I started writing, I found myself on the verge of exploding.

Your Peace Should Determine Your Path

I’m used to juggling a lot. That’s my normal, but when I felt my peace slipping away, I had to figure out what was really happening. That’s when I realized that even though the projects I took on were great and, honestly, would be helpful to my audience, they weren’t rooted in design. And because they were rooted in design, they drained me.

Once I paused the production of the course, reworked my portfolio and took on a few big branding projects, I felt like a new person.

Once I realized this, working for myself and someone else at the same time was fine, as long as it was rooted in what motivates me.

Going Independent is Not Typically Done Independently

There are so many amazing people online that make real money and experience success every day. Some of those people are easy to find and in your face while other hidden gems can slip right by you.

While you are on your journey to and through your own independence, wouldn’t it be amazing to have a resource that brought all of those amazing people together sharing their expertise on what they know best?

HollatzMockupWell guess what? That resource exists. And it’s called (you guessed it) The Independent. We (Regina of byRegina.com, Jenna of JennaArak.com and I) like to call it a blog-in-print (not a magazine) for several reasons:

1. It’s ad-free. Ads get on our nerves, so we thought they might get on yours.

2. It includes adult homework. We did the printing for you. The blogs that I love most have cool stuff I can download and use to apply awesomeness to my life. Well, your awesomeness awaits.

3. It has themed, evergreen content. Magazines are categorized by months and the content spoils after a while. The Independent has exclusive content centered around a theme and the information will still be amazing if you want to revisit it in a year.

See for yourself!

If going independent looks different from everyone, then think about the variety of experiences that are at our fingertips, experiences that allow us to avoid pitfalls and move in the right direction sooner than we would have otherwise.

Visit TheIndependent.press.

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.



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.






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.



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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Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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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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.


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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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!

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