If you were to ask me what one word I would use to describe running my own business, I would say “learning experience”. Ok, I cheated. That’s two words. I guess I’d also say “exciting”, “rewarding”, “challenging”, “stressful” and “wonderful”. But, above all else, running my own creative business has undoubtedly been a learning experience.
Now, I haven’t really been at this whole “being a business owner” thing for too long, and I’m far from what I’d call an expert. So, if you want to take everything I say and write it all off as a bunch of hogwash, that’s totally fine with me. But, I’ve learned a great deal in my short time as a freelancer and business owner (do I say this same thing every week? I think so…). And, I want to share my little nuggets of knowledge with all of you beautiful people, whether you come here for these business tips or the never-ending photos of Bert. I like to think you keep coming back for a little bit of both…
Anyway, just the other night, Ty and I sat down to start working on a little “business plan”. I had been doing quite a bit of complaining about my workdays lately. I kept telling Ty that, of course, I was proud of how far I’d come in a short amount of time. I’ve managed to grow my client list exponentially, and have gotten to try my hand at a variety of new projects and skills. I told him that, although I had plenty to work on, I wasn’t working “smart”. I plan on sharing more about creating an effective business plan in a future post. But, I digress.
Since Ty is a numbers guy, he was helping me with the math side of my business. You know, figuring out my income, expenses, etc. to make sure I was working on the right combination of projects to reach my income goal each month. This meant I needed to create a master list of all of my clients, as well as the average pay per project from each. Admittedly, the pay on quite a few of the projects is still a lot lower than I’d like it to be.
That whole process led me to think about how I reached the price quote on each project. And then a big ol’ lightbulb went off in my head. The result of this lightbulb moment is now what I’m calling my “number one rule for freelancers” (creative, eh?).
So, what exactly is my number one rule for freelancers?
Don’t. Work. Backwards.
That all sounds find and dandy, but what the heck do I mean?
I think “working backwards” is an easy trap to fall into, especially when you’re just starting out with business ownership and freelancing.
When I would be approached by a potential new client, the topic of payment inevitably came up. Since I’m still relatively new to the whole freelance world, I fell into the cycle of quoting a price that sounded fair and decent. Let me tell you, you don’t want to do this. I repeat: DON’T DO THIS.
Of course, you want prices that are competitive. But, you have to remember that you’re doing this to make a living, and quoting a price just because it sounds good isn’t going to get you where you need to be.
So, don’t work backwards, people. Instead, before submitting quotes to potential clients, sit down and figure out what your goals are in regards to income. Then, put the pieces together like a puzzle to figure out what you need to do to achieve that goal. Whether that’s working so many hours, completing so many projects or finishing a certain number of jewelry pieces… whatever it is you do to fill your pockets. Working towards the big picture is much more rewarding (and much more profitable!) than just throwing prices out there willy nilly and crossing your fingers that they work for you in the long run.
I wish I had been smart enough to figure this out way earlier on. But, I’m definitely going to start subscribing to this philosophy now. Hindsight is 20/20, right?
Are there any huge guidelines you tend to stick to when running your business or blog? I’d love to hear ’em!
Until next time!