Growing up I was always an odd combination of creative and athletic.
I am the baby of a fairly large family with my closest brother being six years older than me in age. I am also the only girl. My dad passed away suddenly when I was seven and my mom had to work long hours to support all of us kids. So, much of my time was spent solo. I had to learn quickly how to entertain myself. During these times I would often be found drawing, coloring, writing poetry and short journal-type entries or you could find me outside shooting hoops, practicing gymnastics in the yard, playing volleyball, or riding my dirt bike.
As I matured and made my way through school my creative hobbies took more of a backseat to my athletic aspirations. I was a three-sport athlete and thrived on competition. Sports took up the vast majority of my free-time.
But, when I graduated high school I found myself greatly drawn to the idea of doing something creative for a living. My roots seemed to call me back to the one thing that has always really soothed my soul. I knew I wanted to “create”.
I decided to go check out a local art school for college with the initial intention of doing Interior Design. It turns out, at art school they more so place you than you placing yourself. They “interview” you and then tell you what they feel you would actually be successful at. Within five minutes of that interview it was decided, undoubtably, that I was meant to be a Graphic Designer.
While I was going to school full-time I also happened to come across a job listing for a local newspaper needing a part-time graphic designer. Jackpot!
I quickly found myself going from part-time graphic design minion to full-time graphic designer to senior graphic designer and production manager. And, even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the atmosphere and the high demands yet low pay, I absolutely loved going to work each day. I loved designing so much that even after school and even after a full days work entrenched in graphic design… I would come home each night and do more graphic design for what was becoming a pretty decent sized freelance client base.
After about five years of working for the newspaper and building my freelance clientele I became pregnant with my first and only baby. This event finally gave my husband enough swaying power to convince me to take the great leap from a guaranteed pay check every two weeks to the intimidating world of self-employment.
In 2012 I officially became a full-time freelance graphic designer.
I have been greatly blessed with wonderful, dedicated, return clients over the years. They’ve been very good to me and it is not beyond me that if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be blessed with a career doing what I truly love. A life I never really feel the need to take a vacation from.
Often when I meet other graphic designers they ask me how I’ve managed to be so successful as a freelancer. Well, the truest and simplest answer is this; when you love what you do, you do it well. I feel because I am doing something for a living that I thoroughly enjoy doing even if someone wasn’t paying me to do it… it translates into good work. I am also someone who is extremely competitive so I am driven by feeling successful. Being a people pleaser, I thrive on my clients being pleased with my work. And, lastly, I was raised to earn my keep, so my husband encouraging me to believe in myself enough to risk a certain amount of our financial livelihood drives me to do anything it takes to defeat failure.
Due to all of that, I have been blessed with few struggles along the way when it comes to my business. The hardest thing about being self-employed is being consitently self-driven and self-disciplined. I am required to get up and “go” to work each day even though no one is telling me to do it. I don’t “clock-in” or have a boss tracking my work flow. I don’t have anyone holding me accountable except myself.
Being a graphic designer you not only find yourself valuable to businesses, but also people you have personal relationships with. People I love are in what seems to be a constant state of need when it comes to design. Whether they’re getting married or throwing a party or needing a resume facelift… whatever the case may be, my abilities make their lives easier. And, I enjoy doing these things for them. It makes me feel good and it’s fun to design things less “business-like” and often with more creative freedom being these people often trust my judgement.
So, in 2017 I decided to try out Etsy. Initially this idea was really just intended to be a side project. I figured if I was going to make all these things for people I love, I may as well get a couple bucks out of the deal via Etsy customers. So I started listing all of my “favors” and before I knew it I had an entire shop full of stuff to sell. In my first year I sold 300 items on Etsy.
Come 2018, with my daughter in full day kindergarten, I decided to actually give my Etsy some attention. Actually “try” and make it something more than just a side project. So now, I spend my “free time” (being any time left in the work day outside of my freelance design business and my new blog) adding new items to my Etsy Shop and perfecting its SEO. I also started my very first social media accounts. Yes, 30 years old and I’ve never had so much as a MySpace account. But, with my new blog venture and the goal of growing my Etsy shop exponentially, I felt the great world of Instagram and Twitter were a must. In just over a month I’ve sold 100 more items.
I look forward to all that is to come in 2018 with my new endeavors and new focus. I hope to reflect on this year with great pride for my successes and determination.
In the meantime I plan to stay hustlin’.
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