Lindsay Kelly

Lindsay Kelly is the Founder and Creative Director of JaneMade, a full service branding studio that focuses on working with female-founded and female-led brands with an ethos of community over competition. She is also a member of the Creative Lady Directory!

We’ve loved watching her company grow and really enjoyed hearing how she’s handled that rapid growth. Be sure to read all the way through to Lindsay’s just starting out advice. We have a hunch that you’ll want to add it to your mantra list.

Lindsay Kelly | JaneMade | Freelance Wisdom

Tell us about your path to becoming JaneMade.

After working in-house for over ten years, I wanted to partner on projects with clients that shared my mission and values of women helping women and community over competition. I built up enough freelance work to be able to be able to take the plunge to working for myself and never looked back. After 6 months or so of freelancing full time, I officially established the company and have poured my heart into it since then.

In the beginning, how did you attract your first good clients?

After working for so long, I had built up quite a network over the years. Those former co-workers gave me work, and referred me to other folks. In this sense, maintaining strong relationships was really important. I let former colleagues and friends know that I was out on my own, and got a lot of referrals that way. I also learned, very early on, the benefits Instagram has and receive a lot of inquiries through it after posting work. I’d say about 90% of our inquiries still come from Instagram, which is wild, but we definitely use it to our advantage and post what seems to work.

Lindsay Kelly | JaneMade | By Rosie Jane | Freelance Wisdom

When did you make the decision to grow your team and how has that growth been?

I’m not one to say no if there’s a project I want to do, and knew it was important for the growth of JaneMade to say yes to everything that aligned with us. This meant finding the support of designers I’d worked with over the years and bringing on a writer in the early days. Since then, I’ve brought on a partner who leads strategy and marketing and several gals who help out with design and copy. My client relationships are very important to me, so it’s been a tug and pull to find team members that completely mesh with us, but we’ve found several along the way and have a solid team in place.

As your team has grown has your role within JaneMade evolved?

Truthfully, not really! I’m a bit of a control freak, so I’m still touching every project, every logo, working directly with all of our clients. Our reputation is really important to me, and I want to make sure that every client feels as important as the next, regardless of project size. I’m trying to be better and let go of some responsibilities, and have brought on a studio manager to help with those efforts. As we grow, there’s more phone calls, more emails to answer, and less time to design, so I’m really trying to take some steps to get back to doing what I do best.

Lindsay Kelly | JaneMade | Citrine | Freelance Wisdom

Do you have any tips for creatives who are looking to expand their team?

I think it’s paramount to make sure that you work with people who “fit”. Everyone has different skill sets, strengths + weaknesses, but what’s most important is that any team member you bring on is working for the greater good of your business. Make sure that your supporting team members are clear on what’s expected of them, what your process and timelines are like, and if you have any “rules” they need to follow. But if you’re getting busy, find the help sooner rather than later. This will definitely remove some of the stress of being overwhelmed and needing to find help in that moment.

How do you continue to attract your ideal clients?

My partner, Kerri, has started doing some really great outreach to like-minded women in categories we want to work in or build up our client base in. I also try to go above and beyond to make sure all of our clients feel their needs are met, because a recommendation from a former client is a huge mark of success for me. We get a lot of referrals from past clients, so we really try our best to make all of our relationships smooth and successful. And, of course, still Instagram! We make sure to push relevant content, both visual and strategy wise, to really reflect who we are as a brand: aesthetically and value-wise.

Lindsay Kelly | JaneMade | Coveted Market | Freelance Wisdom
Lindsay Kelly | JaneMade | hiring team members | Freelance Wisdom

What has been your greatest struggle as a creative business owner so far?

I’m a right-brained thinker, through and through. Owning a business means managing clients, taxes, payroll… all the things that aren’t intuitive to me. I’ve hit some bumps along the way (all of which I’ve learned from!) but definitely still struggle with some of the more “business” related side of things. I got myself a new accountant, brought on a studio manager, and started to put more processes in place to help with the management aspect of it. Rapid success is definitely met with growing pains! But we’re constantly evolving our ways of doing things for what’s best for us.

Do you have any tips for being your most productive individually and as a team?

Making lists definitely helps me. Sometimes thinking about everything I need to do gets really overwhelming, so I’ll list out what I need to accomplish each day. It keeps me focused, organized, and feels great when I start to check things off. I also try to not schedule too many calls in one day, so that I have enough time to do “actual work.” As a team, I try to make sure everyone has the information they need to work efficiently and to the best of their ability, which means getting things organized before they get started. There’s nothing worse than wasted time when there’s so much to do, so keeping everything documented is great. We use both Trello and monday.com to help us from a project management perspective.

Lindsay Kelly | JaneMade | Hauswitch | Freelance Wisdom
Lindsay Kelly | JaneMade | HausWitch storefront | Freelance Wisdom

Do you have any tips for dealing with the nitty-gritty business details?

So many! My biggest advice is definitely to get an accountant. Like immediately. I’m 3 years into being self employed and am still messing up (less now!) and wish I had known what I know now back then. Also, make sure you’re protected, which means using a contract for every job. And.co makes a great free one. I track everything through Quickbooks, which is an easy way for me to forecast financially.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were starting out?

Truthfully, I wish I’d known it would all work out. I had a lot of anxiety around taking the plunge -- we’ve got kids and a mortgage so i needed to be able to contribute my share. Projects would end and I’d get nervous from time to time that there wasn’t enough work in the pipeline. But everytime, something amazing would come along and my worry was for nothing. It’s been a lot of work and I’ve certainly been spread a little too thin on occasion, but it’s so worth it.

Lindsay Kelly | JaneMade | Still we Rise | Freelance Wisdom

How do you stay creatively inspired? What do you like to daydream about?

My team does a great job at keeping me inspired. Our newest designer, Ashley, is a breath of fresh air -- she’s so thoughtful in how she thinks about design, and it’s refreshing to see things through a different set of eyes. I love to look at photography for color palette and layout inspiration, and all of our branding projects stem from a huge gathering of images. I do my best not to go down a bunny hole of design references -- sometimes it’s hard to get them out of your head and stay original (especially in the Instagram world), so I really like to stick to studying photography and typefaces to get my juices flowing.

I love to daydream about the future! I’m always asking “what’s next?” for JaneMade and brainstorming with Kerri about how we can constantly grow and evolve. Our hope is to leave a successful, thriving business to our daughters so it’s important to us to always strive for greater.

Any music, podcast, or book recommendations that you'd like to share?

I get way too distracted to listen to podcasts, though I try sometimes! Reading is also a luxury I unfortunately don’t have, with two small kids and a business. But! I’m really into Spotify’s daily mixes and discover weekly. I listen to music all day long while designing. Faves include Alt-J, Langhorne Slim, Keaton Henson, and old folk music.

LindsayKelly | JaneMade | Follain | Freelance Wisdom
Lindsay Kelly | JaneMade | Creative Inspiration | Freelance Wisdom

Anything else that you'd like to share?

If you’ve thought about / are thinking about becoming a freelancer, do it. There is so much work and opportunity out there, and I wish I had taken the jump sooner. Full time jobs will always be there to apply to, but you were born with talent for a reason!

The 3 greatest attributes you need to be a freelance creative are:

humility, tenacity, kindness

Lindsay Kelly | JaneMade | HausMagick | Freelance Wisdom

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Liz Rowland

Our midwinter wanderlust has definitely set in, but Liz Rowland’s illustrations are the perfect remedy!

Liz centers her work around travel, exploring and celebrating cultures, and looking at the different ways we live. We loved learning about how she focused in on that niche and especially appreciated her advice for fellow illustrators.

Liz Rowland | Freelance Wisdom

Tell us about your path to becoming a freelance illustrator.

I studied illustration in Falmouth, England and graduated back in 2011. When I finished up there I wasn’t ready for the freelance life and wasn’t sure what I wanted. A lot of my peers were finding admin jobs in creative studios to get by and I did the same. It was a few years into a Project Management job that I realised I had stopped being creative myself.

I started an evening course doing pottery and eventually left my job to travel and figure things out. While I was away I started sharing paintings online and very slowly things built up. I moved to Australia where I met some amazing people who helped me on my way. I stayed in Melbourne for two years building up freelance work around a part time job and by the time I returned to England I was illustrating full time. I think something about being in a new country helped me change things up and push for what I wanted.

In the beginning, how did you attract your first good clients?

This was the thing I worried over the most at the start. I had a clear idea in my mind of the type of work I wanted to do but I didn’t know how to get in front of the right people. I sent out a lot of emails and started telling people I met that I was looking for projects until the right sort of collaboration showed up.

The first big enquiry that came in was so exciting but sadly the project fell through. However, in frustration I emailed a contact for some advice and she put me in touch with my agent. I signed with them and worked hard to fill the gaps in my portfolio. A couple of months later they had found me my first big client and that turned into a monthly commission. I was so relieved! It really helped me build my experience and gain exposure, it was exactly the sort of work I was looking for. Other bits came through that, and eventually through Instagram which is where most clients now find me.

Liz Rowland | Freelance Wisdom

How did you find your way to the "travel, exploring and celebrating cultures and looking at the different ways we live" niche? What is it about these themes that inspire you?

I was aware of finding my own voice in a very saturated market and decided to look at what interests me most in life. Since childhood I’ve wanted to see the world and have been fascinated by people, human interactions and handmade objects. The ways we communicate are usually dictated by the culture we grew up in. In an often difficult and segregated world I think it's important to celebrate our differences and similarities. I started to explore that through my personal work and that helped build the foundations for my portfolio.

What has been your greatest struggle as a freelancer so far?

I think for me it’s the isolation. One of the biggest draws to working for myself is the freedom it allows and I make the most of that. For the last few years I have moved around a lot. It has meant a lot of time working on my own which can take its toll - I like people! I would never trade it though. There are plenty of ways to combat it when it gets too much. Podcasts help! I like listening to conversations whilst I work.

Liz Rowland | India cricket | Freelance Wisdom

How do you continue to attract your ideal clients?

Mainly through personal work. I don’t share everything I do, only if it feels right and is in line with the sort of projects I want to do in the future. Also by making life as smooth as possible for the client, people remember if you are easy to work with.

Do you have any tips for dealing with the nitty-gritty business details? Additionally, is there anything you've learned that you'd be willing to share about working with international clients?

I keep things simple and updated. I use Trello to manage projects and have a rotating list of pipeline, active, invoiced and paid projects. I keep on top of invoices. I send those out as soon as a project is complete and make a note in my calendar of payments due in. It’s a pain to chase up late payments, my least favourite task! I have an income and expenses spreadsheet that I fill out at the end of each month and a folder full of receipts. I’ve recently started working with an accountant, until now I’ve done things myself.

The only difference I’ve found working with international clients is the budgets vary from one country to the next. I use TransferWise for international payments. And always keep time differences in mind!

Liz Rowland | tuk tuk | Freelance Wisdom
Liz Rowland | on her portfolio | Freelance Wisdom

What advice would you give to a fellow illustrator who is thinking about going out on her own?

I think that persistence is the key. I was impatient when I first graduated but the fact is my work wasn’t up to scratch. I needed time to keep practising and get to know myself better. I’ve wanted to give up plenty of times along the way but in the end, practise, consistently sharing work and sticking to my guns has paid off.

It’s also important to remember that a client has come to you because they like what you do. Accept that you will create bad work sometimes! I’ve also found that client feedback isn’t always the most important thing to me (although of course it’s important to make sure they’re happy!), it’s whether or not I am happy with a piece that really counts.

The 3 greatest attributes you need to be a freelance creative are:

Persistence, motivation, adaptability.

Liz Rowland | Nurturing | Freelance Wisdom
Liz Rowland | Persistence | Freelance Wisdom

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Jennifer Briggs

Jennifer Briggs is a member of our Creative Lady Directory and the owner and creative director of Nicole Designs a brand and web design studio focused on building stunning brand identities and websites to help female entrepreneurs launch their daydreams. We loved getting a chance to hear how her freelance journey has unfolded and how ultimately, her passions have inspired her business offerings.

Jennifer Briggs | Nicole Designs | Freelance Wisdom

Tell us about your path to becoming the creative director of your own brand and web design studio.

I started out working on designs for my friends. Once I realized I really enjoyed designing, I decided it may be time to start my business. At the beginning of my journey I offered wedding invitation design but realized I had more of a passion for branding and web design.

In the beginning, how did you attract your first good clients?

I used social media to attract my clients. I also joined a few different wedding groups and organizations to learn more about the wedding business. When my business began to focus more on branding and websites, I used social media faithfully to increase my reach and attract small businesses, mid-size businesses, and other creatives.

Jennifer Briggs | Dope Girl | Freelance Wisdom

How has your offering grown and changed since you started Nicole Designs?

My offerings have definitely grown. I began to realize how much of a passion I had for creating cohesion across social media. I started to offer social media curation and content creation services to help others create a well thought out and planned Instagram feed.

It looks like you launched Milk Marketing relatively recently. Can you tell us a bit about your inspiration and motivation to create this offering?

Milk Marketing is actually owned by another entrepreneur who really loved my design style. She was looking for a graphic designer who was local to Dallas. We worked so well together with one of her clients, she asked if I would like to be the Creative Director for her brand.

Jennifer Briggs | Milk Marketing | Freelance Wisdom
Jennifer Briggs | Milk Marketing | Freelance Wisdom

You have such a strong vision for both Nicole Designs and Milk Marketing. Do you have any tips to help our readers step more strongly and confidently into their own visions?

I definitely agree that it is so important to have a business strategy and then a social media strategy. Social media is where you can reach most of your audience. They want to see what you’re doing, what you’re working on, and how you can help them. It’s the best way to showcase your work and your passion and let people know who you are and understand your vision.

You offer many different services, do you have any tips for balancing your offerings and being your most productive?

I think it’s always important to strategize about your bandwidth for service offerings per month. For example, can you complete two websites in a month or just one? Can you complete one website project and one branding project? Can you do one of each per month? Whichever works best for you is the best way to stay balanced and be the most productive.

Jennifer Briggs | Live Your Purpose | Freelance Wisdom

What has been your greatest struggle as a creative business owner so far?

My biggest struggle has been trying to help everyone. Some clients are just not for my brand and that’s ok. There is someone out there for everyone.

Do you have any tips for dealing with the nitty-gritty business details?

I would say definitely have a CRM that can help you with bookkeeping and invoicing. Definitely hire an accountant for taxes and business filings, and a lawyer for contracts. Also, once your business grows, you may even have to hire an assistant. Don’t turn down help because you’ll never know when you’ll need an extra hand because being an entrepreneur is hard work.

Jennifer Briggs | Freelance Wisdom

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were starting out?

When I first started out I wish I knew how important it is to make sure you have balance. It’s really easy to get excited once your clients discover you and you want to help everyone. However, your work can suffer when you have too many clients with different needs and expectations.

How do you stay creatively inspired?

I stay creatively inspired through other designers. I love seeing really good design and it inspires me to create more. I also scroll through Pinterest and Dribble often.

Jennifer Briggs | Social Media Curation | Freelance Wisdom
Jennifer Briggs | Social Media Curation | Freelance Wisdom

Any music, podcast, or book recommendations that you'd like to share?

I definitely love Fiona Humberstone, her dedication to making brand design easy has helped me to make sure I outline my processes for clients and help them to understand the importance of having a good brand.

Anything else that you'd like to share?

Just be you. People will find you!

The 3 greatest attributes you need to be a freelance creative are:

Patience, empathy, and strategy.

Jennifer Briggs | Just be you | Freelance Wisdom
Jennifer Briggs | Building Brands | Freelance Wisdom

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