Beth Mathews is a lovely and talented graphic designer hailing from Nashville, TN. Her creative pursuits include web design, branding, illustration, and art direction, to name a few. Her clients are wide-ranging and include small business owners, legal firms, non-profits, and musicians, and personal projects such as her color palette series have made her popular on social media platforms such as Pinterest.
In the beginning, how did you attract your first good clients?
I feel lucky in that I had enough employment years under my belt to have some built-in clients when I first went freelance. I remember heading out the door at my last agency job with a box full of my things and my boss at the time said “hey! are you free next week? I have a job for you.” I don’t think I could have asked for a better start.
Do you have any tips for being your most productive?
Productivity...what a word. I’m still learning how to master this.
• Respond to those lingering emails you marked “important” first
• Return any voicemails
• Close your social network tabs
• Keep a running doc of your “to-do” list.
What has been your greatest struggle as a freelancer so far?
Payment structure has been my biggest struggle as a freelancer so far. It’s a scary thing to have your payment left into the hands of if/when a client can put a check in the mail. I also now 100% understand the saying of “when it rains, it pours” with projects and payments!
Also, no one ever told me that I would work more as a freelancer.
What is your favorite thing about being a freelancer?
There’s a poem by Mary Oliver that I really love called “Instructions for living a life” that I like to tie into my perspective on being a graphic designer. She writes: “Instructions for living a life. / Pay attention. / Be astonished. / Tell about it.” I’m fortunate that most days I get the opportunity to tell other people’s story through art and creative solutions for a living. What a gift!
Tell about it.”
Tips for dealing with the nitty-gritty business details?
• Always have a contract. Here is a great one to start with.
• Hire an accountant
• Invoice half of your payment up front and the remaining balance at the end of the project
• Record every expense! My good friend saved me when she gave me this google spreadsheet when I first took the leap.
• Open a separate bank account to keep a percentage of every check for taxes
The 3 greatest attributes you need to be a freelance designer are:
A sense of humor, strong communication skills (answer that email!), confidence in your talent.
Thanks Beth for your wisdom!