Hannah Beasley

Hannah Beasley, the graphic designer and developer behind Hannah Rose Creative, has a passion for helping creatives develop their brands. From business identity and strategy, to developing a logo suite and designing print goods, it is Hannah’s aim to create brands that are unique, memorable, and ultimately true to who her clients and their businesses are. When she’s not working with clients, she uses her six years of experience owning her own business to blog about freelancing, branding, and graphic design. 

Tell me about your path to becoming a freelance graphic designer and illustrator.

I started playing around with design and development in summer of 2010 - I created a blog with Blogger and wanted to customize the look! Since I was totally new to the whole world of design, I googled everything and learned by practice. After a few years of learning and growing (and finally starting to charge for my work!), I realized that I wanted to focus on branding as a whole and help entrepreneurs define and refine their relationships with their clients. That is now my primary focus. I provide brand analysis and strategy, visual identities, websites, and print goods for my awesome clients!

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

This was hard at first! Because I started out doing work for free, the people I worked with weren’t expecting that much. As I progressed in my career, though, what became essential to bringing in ideal clients was putting out a solid portfolio with only the work I really loved. In addition to that, I tried to stay active on social media and created content for it that fit with my aesthetic. People who liked that look and feel would contact me about working together! I ended up realizing that finding good clients is almost completely up to me - it’s totally dependent on my own brand and the work I display!

"Finding good clients is almost completely up to me - it’s totally dependent on my own brand and the work I display!"

Do you have any tips for being your most productive?

I think the best advice I could give would be to balance work and personal time. It can be very easy as a freelancer to let work take over your life, especially when you are solely responsible for getting everything done within your business! Every time I let work take over, everything suffers. You need to take time for yourself, and you also need to make time to be productive. When you give yourself set times for both things your work will improve, you’ll be happier, and life will be so much more enjoyable! (I actually wrote a blog post recently on why and how you should set aside time for yourself.)

"Every time I let work take over, everything suffers. You need to take time for yourself, and you also need to make time to be productive."

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

My biggest struggles as a freelancer so far has been being consistent on social media and networking well with other freelancers. I’m an introvert (INFP if you want to get specific! ;) ), and I have a hard time being casual friends with people - I always feel like I need to get to know them better than that! I’ve seen and experienced, though, how great it is to make connections with other people who care just as much about their careers and being self-made as I do! As far as social media goes, it’s such an amazing marketing tool (as well as a fun way to inspire yourself and others), and it’s always worth it to pour time into creating content for it!

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

One of my favorite tools to use is Dropbox! This is how I share files with my clients. As soon as I’ve booked a new client, I create a folder just for them in my Dropbox, and I put all the initial files in there (contract, timeline, and feedback guidelines). Going forward this is how I send them graphics we’re working on, and how they send me content for their website! (I wrote a whole blog post on how Dropbox can help your client process here.)
Dropbox Paper is what I use for client questionnaires. I love it because it’s so easy to use! My clients can open the link in their browser and immediately start typing out their answers. They don’t have to worry about opening up a pdf and trying to fill in the blank. Plus we can both see their answers as they type them (everything saves automatically), which adds even more accessibility!
I use Square for all my invoicing! It’s a little bit cheaper than PayPal, allows you to customize your invoices, keeps track of your transactions, and automatically transfers payments to your bank account. I love that it’s separate from all other transactions I make - because when tax season comes around, I have every single payment that I’ve received listed right there!

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

 Confidence, endurance, and motivation.

Erin Gleeson

This interview is part of Freelance Wisdom's Mama Month - a month long celebration of freelancing moms. 

Erin Gleeson is the author of New York Times bestseller The Forest Feast and new book The Forest Feast for Kids. She is a Bay Area-based artist specializing in food-related photography and illustration. Her primary clients include magazines, newspapers, cookbooks, and restaurants. She has an MFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York and teaches photography in Continuation Studies at Stanford University. 

Hello Erin, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions! Can you tell us a little bit about your path to becoming a freelance photographer, illustrator, and author. 

I have been a freelancer since the beginning. I was an art major in college and knew I wanted to go into photography so I moved to New York City right after I graduated to be in the middle of it all. I had no money and a lot of roommates and I loved it!  After interning at a magazine, assisting several photographers, and doing lots of odd jobs to make ends meet as an unpaid or underpaid intern/assistant, I decided to go to grad school so that I could teach photography in addition to being a freelancer. I got an MFA in photography at SVA in NYC and then taught photography as an adjunct for 4 years at FIT in New York while freelancing as a food photographer, before moving to California for my then fiance's (now husband's) new job in 2011. 
Up until this point I was taking freelance photo jobs I didn't love to get by and a bit disheartened by my often unstable freelance career. There were so many times I thought I should stop and get a more dependable job in an office, but I was always so hopeful that the right kind of art-related freelance work would come, so I stuck to it. When we moved cross-country, I had to start all over to create a new freelance clientele for my food photography business, which was scary. It was, however, a really pivotal time for me because I suddenly had breathing space from my fast-paced city life and a few months "break" while unpacking and settling to think about what direction I wanted to take.

"There were so many times I thought I should stop and get a more dependable job in an office, but I was always so hopeful that the right kind of art-related freelance work would come, so I stuck to it."

This quiet time in the woods allowed me to be free and creative in a way I hadn't been in a long time and from that I came up with my idea for The Forest Feast.  It began as a personal food blog project and was a different aesthetic for me, as I started incorporating my watercolor illustrations and hand lettering into the photography, which I had never done before. I think this aesthetic was somewhat unique in the food blog space at that time, and people began to notice. About 6 months in, a literary agent saw my blog online and reached out to see if she could help me turn it into a book. I remember feeling like I wasn't ready and that this was something I hoped to do in the future (not yet!!!), but my agent reassured me, I dove in and  the book came out in 2014.
It became a NYT Bestseller the year it came out which blew me away. This book has really opened a lot of doors for me and I am so grateful. Plus, it was a total dream project to work on for a year.  My second book, The Forest Feast for Kids, came out earlier this year and is an adaptation for children of the first book. My third book, The Forest Feast Gatherings, is my biggest project to date and is a book full of menus for entertaining. It comes out this September (2016). In the past year I've also had a line of stationery and gift items come out, all featuring watercolors and photography from my books, and I am working on other food-related Forest Feast product collaborations. I still teach photography, currently at Stanford in Continuing Studies; I like the combination of freelancing and teaching.

You are a mom to your adorable son Ezra. How has becoming a mom changed how you work and/or the types of projects you take one?

I am working about 3 days a week now, so I have to be pickier about the jobs I take on. When I was starting out in New York, I took any job that came my way, and ended up shooting a lot of events, which I don't love to do. In the past couple years I have been able to phase out that type of work and focus on Forest Feast related work, which feels like a huge luxury. The blog has really opened up a lot of opportunities for me to work and shoot from home which is great as a parent. I partner with brands for posts on my blog and am able to do it all from my little studio at home. 

Do you have any tips for being your most productive?

Deadlines! I work my best under deadlines so if I am not given one by a client, I try to give them to myself. I'm also an avid list-maker. A couple things that help me save time are Gmail's Boomerang for scheduling emails (so that things can go out first thing in the morning, even if you're writing late at night),Latergramme (to schedule Instagram posts), and Google Shopping Express /Instacart (grocery delivery!!). When Ezra was really small and I carried him all the time, I used my iPhone and Mac's dictation feature for sending emails, which was faster than making time to sit down and type with 2 hands.

What has been your greatest struggle as a freelancing mom so far?

The work ebbs and flows. Some weeks are simple and 3 days of work feels like plenty, but some weeks are jam packed and I have to go up to my studio after Ezra goes to bed at night. I don't really have a 9-5, and since I work from home, the lines get blurred between work and life. In the beginning we had a nanny who came to our house part-time, but I quickly realized it was too distracting for me, and hard for him to see me pop in and out constantly. Daycare has been much better for everyone.

Do you have any advice for creative women hoping to attract a book deal?

I highly recommend working with a literary agent. They do take a percentage but I am convinced that mine paid for herself many times over by negotiating on my behalf. An agent can open your options up exponentially and introduce you to many more editors/publishers than you might be able to find on your own. Plus, my agent continues to bring in new opportunities for me beyond the book and is a constant support in all I do to grow my brand. If you're looking for an agent, look in the acknowledgements of books you like– authors usually thanks theirs.

What is your favorite thing about being self-employed?

Being able to travel whenever I want!

How do you continue to attract your ideal clients and collaborations?

I think the more good content you put out into the world, the more people will keep you in mind and reach out. I get a lot of emails daily from PR companies hoping to partner with my blog and most of them don't fit. But once in a while there is one that does. Luckily I haven't had to do a lot of reaching out lately, but I used to send regular emails to clients I wanted to work with to keep them thinking about me.

"I think the more good content you put out into the world, the more people will keep you in mind and reach out."

As you know well, freelancers are just as much small business owners as we are creatives. What are your tips for managing the nitty-gritty components of your business? 

As a freelancer I think it's ideal if you can be open with other freelancers in your field to know what everyone is charging and how they are negotiating contracts. I am part of a group online that is very open about this, and we share business ideas, which is so helpful. Make sure you're not undercharging! There are also digital agencies popping up to partner influencers (bloggers, etc) with brands, which I am considering doing since my head is more on the art side than the business side. (Sometimes I think I should have gotten an MBA in addition to an MFA!). I'd love to have an agency handle the negotiation and paperwork side of working with clients so I can focus on the art.

As a busy mom and business owner, what is your best advice for finding a work-life balance?

After years of having my photo equipment under my bed in the city, I now have a little studio space (converted garage). Having a separate space has really helped me. Even if it's just a corner of a room or a walk-in closet, having a place to go that's separate can be key! Having a baby has also helped me work more regular hours. He eats dinner at 6 and goes to bed at 7:30, so I know I have to fit my work in before that (and hopefully not after). I used to be a real night-owl, so becoming a mom has given my days a better structure. No matter what, he's up at 7, so I can't pull an all-nighter.

Fill in the blank: The 3 greatest attributes you need to be a freelance creative are: 

Passion, business sense, and perseverance. 

Get Social with Erin


Shauna Haider

Shauna Haider is a Portland-based creative director, teacher and blogger whose clients include Forever 21, Nike, Smith Optics, Solestruck, Virgin Records and The Wall Street Journal. In 2013 she founded her boutique design studio Branch, which focuses on branding for small businesses. She also teaches an in-depth branding segment at The Blogcademy, a strategy-based workshop she cofounded in August 2012 with bloggers Gala Darling and Kat Williams. Shauna's insights on design and blogging have been featured on television segments including ABC News Australia, magazine including Computer Arts and Forever 21, and books including Work For Money, Design for Love and Super Identity.

Tell me about your path to becoming a freelance designer and business owner.

I was a late bloomer when it came to discovering graphic design. I had an interest in fine art during high school but couldn’t figure out how to make a career out of it so I went to school for business instead. It was super practical but the thought of spending the rest of my life in corporate offices felt like a really bad fit.
I went back to school for graphic design in 2006 and from the first day, everything clicked. I finally felt like I’d found my calling and blogged about the school projects I was working on. Blogging wasn’t as saturated as it is now so the the clients began pouring in almost immediately.
By 2008, I was working at my first full-time design job which I loved but kept blogging and freelancing on the side, which led to some really big opportunities with Forever 21 and Virgin Records.
By 2013, I had a dream gig working on a branding team at a big agency but between blogging, freelancing and teaching a blogging workshop I’d co-founded called Blogcademy, something had to give. It made sense to funnel my freelance clients into a boutique design studio of my own since I’d decided I wanted to focus on projects for creative small businesses.
Branch launched in September 2013 and I’ve been happily running the studio ever since in Portland, Oregon. It’s my dream job but it took a lot of years of hard work to carve it out and make it a reality.

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

I honestly didn’t have a grand plan. I just knew that the more content and work I shared, the more opportunities would come my way. Blogging let people know who I was and staying consistent helped build trust with my audience. Word of mouth was also really important — to this day, if I draw a spider diagram of my 10 best clients, most of them are somehow connected. It’s a good reminder that in-person relationships still matter most and those will help you more than spending all your time networking online.

Do you have any tips for being your most productive?

Get an early start to your day. I like to get into work by 8 am before emails take over. I also recommend keeping a weekly calendar on your desk at all times so you can see exactly where you have gaps in time for calls and and extra projects.

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

Saying no. It sounds basic, but when a bunch of great opportunities come your way at once, it’s hard to turn them down. I constantly have to remind myself that I am only one person, my studio is small and we can only handle so much — it’s impossible to help everyone one-on-one. Because of this, I’ve started launching more digital products like Project Prescription, a bundle of 15 customizable documents that helps designers establish a process that works with as little effort as possible.

What is your favorite thing about freelance?

I love being my own boss, setting my own goals and creating my own schedule. I have so many bad memories of having to cancel plans with family because I couldn’t leave my agency jobs in the middle of a deadline. Now, even if I have a deadline, I give myself permission to meet my grandparents for lunch and then come back to work and put in a few more hours. Running my own business has been both the most rewarding and the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.

"Running my own business has been both the most rewarding and the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, but I wouldn’t change it for anything."

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

Even if you can’t afford it, get a CPA and make sure your taxes are done on time every year. If you want to eventually buy a house or expand your business, it’s important as someone who’s self-employed to take charge of your finances.
Also, think about how you can increase your business model to include multiple income streams. I’ve never done just one thing because it’s a bad idea to put all your eggs in one basket. When I started my studio, Branch, I simultaneously taught blogging workshops with Blogcademy. Now, I run Branch along with Project Prescription and have another 3 digital courses launching later this year. Diversify, diversify, diversify!

Since you are your own boss, do you have any advice for maintaining a work-life balance?

I am probably the absolute worst person to answer this because I love my job so much I never want to stop working! I would say to surround yourself with a spouse, family and friends who respect you for being you and want you to succeed. My husband, Joey is super supportive and lets me put in long hours because he knows it benefits both of us. Most of my close friends run their own businesses as well so they get it, too. There’s a saying that you’re a reflection of the 5 people you spend the most time with so choose wisely!

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

Drive, focus and consistency.

Get Social with Shauna