Graphic Designer Tracy Weeks joins us this week for our Featured Freelancer segment. Tracy has vast experience, providing design work across at least six different industries, working with businesses to help them stand out from the crowd. Tracy loves working with ethical and eco-conscious businesses, turning down those who do not match her values.
Read on for some golden nuggets of advice from Tracy.
What is your name and what do you do?
I’m Tracy Weeks and I make businesses stand out with creative ideas that come naturally. With over 25 years’ experience as a Graphic Designer, I’ve provided creative solutions in advertising, financial services, education, conservation, retail, floristry and much more. These solutions have included adverts (on and offline), banner stands, brochures, flyers, folders, information graphics, logos and brand guidelines, magazines, menus, newsletters, posters, social media graphics, etc.
How long have you been freelancing and why did you decide to become a freelancer?
I set up Purplelily Design on the 1st November 2005, nearly 17 years ago!
Feeling tired and frustrated at not being able to use my creativity – design by committee, office politics, etc. – I needed a little extra push. That push was a change in family circumstances and a need to have a more flexible routine.
What strategy do you find most effective for attracting new clients?
In pre-Covid times I was a bit of a serial networker, I even managed to attend three different business events in one day! Online networking is also a great resource and, mixed with face-to-face meetings, can help enhance connections as well as making new ones.
What app or social media platform could you not run your business without, and why?
For anyone who has used Quark Xpress, InDesign is a delight to work with, as is the Adobe Creative Suite. I help clients with their Facebook and Instagram pages as well as creating posts for my own; many of my clients and target market ‘live’ on LinkedIn so I post and comment on there regularly.
Do you research prospects before a call or meeting? If so, what information do you look for?
I search Google, or Ecosia, followed by a browse of LinkedIn to find out if we have mutual connections, if they have posted anything interesting, or anything at all.
What do you do to help maintain positive mental wellbeing?
Sometimes easier said than done! Taking time out to catch up with friends, family, or just sit in the garden on a sunny day helps. I also have two crazy guinea pigs as office assistants and they are a great distraction!
Is being a freelancer what you expected? Do you work more hours (or less) than you had first anticipated?
It can be tough! My first Easter in business was a shock as I wondered where everyone had gone, not having children I didn’t realise the business world stopped for the school holidays. Since then, I’ve experienced a global recession, Brexit, Covid and all sorts of unexpected challenges.
My working hours vary; overall, probably a bit more time, but it’s my choice. I was already working long hours as an employee and it feels less like work when its under my own terms.
What are the most common objections you’ve had from potential clients? How did/do you overcome them?
Probably the same one everyone gets, money. Not as much as I used to and I’m always transparent about my rates and how I work. I don’t worry about overcoming that particular objection as I know my value; if someone else doesn’t, they’re not the client for me.
Have you ever turned a prospect away? If so, why and how did you do it?
Yep! I found out that a lady setting up a holistic therapy business was pro-fox hunting and badger culls, this conflicted with my values so I was unable to design her logo. An ‘ethical’ butcher once approached me to design their Christmas turkey leaflet, and, as I haven’t eaten meat for over 30 years, I declined. I didn’t feel I would be able to do my best for the client, so it wasn’t right to take on the design project.
What do (would) you do when a client ghosts you?!
If it’s during a design project I will email, wait a few days and then call. Sometimes emails find their way into spam folders, or a client could have a change in circumstances, so it’s good to find out if there is a reason for the ghostly silence.
I take a payment of 50% deposit in advance of starting work, and have a work in progress clause, which means I will invoice if four weeks have passed on a design project without progress. Since this has been in place ghosting doesn’t happen very often.
Are your motivations now the same as they were when you started freelancing?
It’s still about generating an income that will pay the mortgage, but my values have become more important. I usually find that like-minded clients are easier to work with too.
What is it about being a freelancer that you most enjoy?
Everyday is different and I have much more creative control, minimal office politics (guinea pigs have their moments) and a degree of flexibility.
What do you enjoy the least about being a freelancer?
Workflow and income can be erratic, no sick pay or holiday pay.
What one thing do you wish you had known before you became a freelancer?
You can choose your own terms for invoicing; a deposit payment of 50% makes a difference, especially on larger design projects. A final payment within two weeks is less likely to get forgotten about than 30 days.
What is your ONE top tip or piece of advice you would offer to other freelancers?
Do things your own way! There are many ‘experts’ out there who will gladly tell you how to do things, that what you are doing is wrong, or you must change your ideas or processes. Take what works and leave the rest; as long as it works for you and your clients that is what matters.
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