web design

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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Laura Prpich

We are so excited to bring you our first interview with a Creative Lady Directory freelancer, Laura Prpich.

After 10 years exploring different facets of the design world, Laura branched out on her own to start Caribou Creative, a comprehensive design studio based in Courtenay, British Columbia. At Caribou Creative, Laura works with individuals and businesses to bring ideas to life through strategic communication and thoughtful design. Her work has been featured in How Magazine, Hello Canada, Apartment Therapy, Oh So Beautiful Paper, The Dieline, Packaging Of The World, and last year she took home the Industry Of Excellence award from the Vancouver Island Wedding Awards.

Laura Prpich | Freelance Wisdom

Tell me about your path to becoming a freelance designer.

I knew straight out of art school that I wanted to be my own boss one day, so I spent the first 10 years of my career exploring as many facets of design as I could. I started in a print-house gaining knowledge about prepress, production and different print methods, which at the time felt tedious and boring, but turned out to be one of the most valuable learning experiences for my career. I worked in architecture, for a few big ad agencies with unlimited client budgets, I did apparel design for the skateboarding industry, painted murals for a bit, you name it, I probably did it in some capacity at some point!
When I made the decision to move to Vancouver Island in 2010 (for no other reason than to surf and enjoy the balmy west coast life), I felt the time was right to start my own gig. Not knowing a single person in town really helped me to be vulnerable and put myself out there 100%. I had nothing to fall back on, it needed to work, and it was me that was going to make it happen -so I just did it.
It’s been almost 7 years now, and while it didn’t come without a lot of hard work, learned lessons and a few tears, there is no greater reward (I think) than waking up every morning with a big smile on my face, excited to hunker down and create.

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

Well, shit, I know this sounds cliche, but I think I got a lucky break.
My VERY first client was a couple looking for a custom wedding invitation. I came up with a poster design that folded into itself to make an envelope which caught the attention of How Magazine and was published in the following issue. This caused a big stir for my brand new business, and as a result word spread quickly. As well, the gentleman I did the invitation for works for the Government and was able to get me a 3 year contract designing an Atlas (which was an amazing project!), so whenever I felt the ‘freelance struggle’ or things were slow, it was nice to have this contract to fall back on and give me a sense of security.
Laura Prpich | Freelance Wisdom

Do you have any tips for being your most productive?

I think I have the opposite problem from most, sometimes I don’t know when to quit! Because I work from home, it’s so easy for me to sneak back into my studio at night and answer a few emails or finish up a project. I used to feel guilty for kicking back and watching a movie with a glass of wine when I had looming client deadlines, but now I force myself to take weekends off, go for lunch mid-day with a girlfriend if she calls, and take impromptu trips with my husband. And honestly, my work is so much better as a result of the downtime. It’s hard as a creative to ‘be on’ at all times, and I’ve learned to accomplish more in less time as a result. So my advice? Take breaks :)

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

People seeing value in what I do. It used to frustrate me to no end when potential clients would try to minimize what I do, the time it should take me to do it, and the price they think they should pay for it. In the beginning, I admittedly waffled with this because I let my insecurities get the best of me. But now I have a take it or leave it attitude. I know my worth, my clients have seen the results and no one questions my process anymore.
I used to think I had to educate the world on why design is important, but now I simply choose to work with people that already see this. And fortunately, I think we live in a time where social media is doing the soapboxing for us, making clearer than ever why branding is important.
Laura Prpich | Freelance Wisdom

"I used to think I had to educate the world on why design is important, but now I simply choose to work with people that already see this." 


Laura Prpich | Freelance Wisdom

What is your favorite thing about freelance?

The freedom!
When the surf is up I can duck out for a few hours, or go to the dentist on a Tuesday morning without asking permission, or if I wanna listen to George Jones on repeat and not brush my hair for two days while I work that’s okay too. I haven’t used an alarm clock in years (even though I do tend to wake up at 6:30am every morning), but having that choice to sleep in if I need it? The best.

How do you continue to attract your ideal clients?

I’ve subconsciously fallen into this niche of working for small indie businesses, which is perfect because it’s something I’m really passionate about. I think for me, just putting my work out there and sharing my process is what attracts the right clients to come along. Any client is ‘ideal’ to me if they can see the value of good design and trust in me, my work and my capabilities.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given that has helped fuel your creativity and work so far in your career?

“Know your worth.”
Simply put, countless people have expressed this to me over the years, and I’ve seen it written in many forms, but man, what a game changer this can be as a freelance designer when it finally rings true.
Laura Prpich | Freelance Wisdom

“Know your worth.”


Laura Prpich | Freelance Wisdom

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

Keeping track of my finances is my least favourite part of the job, but I find that compiling all of my invoices, bills and receipts into a spread sheet at the end of each month helps me to stay on top of my projected goals, keeps me aware of how much I’m going to owe during tax season, lets me figure how much I blew on fonts (guilty pleasure) and if I ever get audited, I can confidently submit all the paperwork easily. I hate it, but it makes me feel at ease (and slightly grown-up) to get it done.

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

I am hesitant to offer any advice in this area, because it’s the one thing that I struggle the hardest with. Part of me feels that if this is how I want to spend my life and I love what I’m doing I shouldn’t feel guilty about putting in 12-16 hour days. But another part of me thinks that spending time with the people I love, getting outside more and taking time away from my work will only result in the more creative, conscious and educated designer that I strive to become.
So for now, I just take it day by day :)

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

Self worth, vulnerability & a damn thick skin.
Laura Prpich | Freelance Wisdom

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Liz Grant

This week we have the sincere pleasure of chatting with California-based graphic designer Liz Grant. Liz is passionate about creating thoughtful design that has a touch of simplicity and the unexpected. This passion comes through in her work and in the words she so kindly and openly shared with us. We recommend taking a break so you can sit down and soak in all this goodness. 

Liz Grant - FREELANCE WISDOM

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

After graduating with my B.S. in Graphic Design, I first worked for a college in Washington as one of their in-house designers. At the time, I was long-distance dating my husband who was attending law school in California. Since long distance wasn’t ideal, I started looking for design jobs in California, and was hired by a software company as their designer. During the recession the software company did not have enough full-time work, so I was unexpectedly transitioned to part-time employment. That was when freelance sort of became an option more out of necessity than a deep desire. Now, I had of course done small projects here and there for people on the side, but nothing on a consistent basis. I began networking on social media, started collaborating more with other designers, and created an online portfolio. I found some amazing designers through twitter that had the same passion for design and started forming friendships and working relationships with them. By doing these simple things I started getting freelance work. I certainly didn’t go into the field of design with the intention of becoming a freelance designer, but I am so lucky life veered me in that direction because I truly love the work I do.  

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

Word of mouth. Referrals have been huge for me since the start. Doing good work for each and every client you have, no matter how big or small, is so important when running a small business. You never know who may be referred your way by past clients, so treating them well is crazy important. I also have had clients find me through Instagram, Twitter and even Pinterest. Social media is such a great tool for bringing in clients who connect with your work, value your aesthetic style, and want you as an individual because of what you personally bring to the table.
Liz Grant - Freelance Wisdom

"Doing good work for each and every client you have, no matter how big or small, is so important when running a small business. You never know who may be referred your way by past clients, so treating them well is crazy important."


Graphic Designer Liz Grant - Freelance Wisdom

Do you have any tips for being your most productive?

I really think it is vital to find when, how, and where your productivity and creativity is best fostered. Whether that be the time of the day or your environment, through trial and error, try to nail down what works best for you. Some feel creative in the wee hours of night, while others enjoy knocking out their work before the sun comes up and the day really begins. Some work best in shared office spaces with the energy that comes from being around others, while others prefer the quiet solitude of a personal home office. Find the best formula that breeds creativity and productivity.
For me personally, I have found that I work best in the mornings. Focus has to be one of the biggest keys to productivity. My mind is the most focused at the start of the day so that is when I work on items that need my creative attention the most. I like knowing I have gotten something done early on, just in case the rest of the day gets away from me. I usually try to tackle the most important items on my TeuxDeux list and do my best to try to avoid the productivity killer of social media. But as you all know, that is always a challenge. During those hours in the day where you know you aren’t the most creative, maybe prioritize admin items, and email responses. Don’t try to force creativity, let it come to you in an organic way. I try to make sure I allow for time to create an array of bad content, so that I am not stressed out and have time for that good content to come to fruition.
Graphic Design - Liz Grant - Freelance Wisdom
Liz Grant | Freelance Wisdom
After having a babe, I have had to be much more flexible with my ideal work time. I have just finally started to get back into a creative groove again after the transition of having a baby this past year, and I have rediscovered my productivity vibes in the early evening after he goes to bed as well. I am definitely not taking on the amount of projects, or working the amount of hours I use to. I do get some babysitting assistance from my in-laws, who we recently moved closer too. That time is limited, however, so I have to really try to prioritize and work as efficiently as possible within those hours. I know eventually I may want to hire someone to help with babysitting allowing me to get more done on a daily basis, but I am also trying to be present while he is this age. I know these days where I get to be home with him are numbered and before I know it he will be in school and I will have more hours to focus on work, but for now I am trying embrace these days.
I will say I have definitely become much more selective in the work that I take on in this season of life. I only have so many hours to create, and I want to work with folks who value my work as a designer. If I am going to be sitting at my computer, I want it to be for the purpose of creating work I am proud of. I truly want to be evolving as a designer, and taking on the type of projects that propel me forward and into areas that challenge me creatively. Taking breaks, walking away from the computer when you are forcing creativity, getting out into nature, these are just a few ways I have found that helps me to work more efficiently and create in a more productive manner.
Brand Design - Liz Grant - Freelance Wisdom

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

Learning to say no. I use to say yes to everything. Now, at the start I don’t think this is a negative. When you are first starting out into the world of freelance design I think taking on work where it is offered is a way to hone your skills and build your portfolio. But, once you are more established in your field, I think saying yes to everything can start to really kill your creativity. After a good amount of trial and error, I have figured out that it pays to take the time to get to know a potential client before taking on a project. I am not a good fit for every client, and in the same way every client is not a good fit for me. Ask the right questions right at the start. Figure out what projects are truly in your wheelhouse and which ones you should pass along to someone who is a better fit. Early on in the conversation I analyze whether the project is something I want to take on, if I am the best fit for the specific needs of the project, and if the design direction lines up with my own aesthetic. Having those different elements align helps me to feel inspired and create the best outcome and final product for my clients.

What is your favorite thing about freelance?

The flexibility and versatility that comes with working for yourself in an area you feel passionate about. Choosing projects and clients that I connect with drives me. Those first stages of concepting the design direction and creating a mess on your artboard are always crazy. At different times you think, nothing is working how you want it to work. But, then when you finally land on something and find a visual solution you know truly represents their brand, that is the best feeling.
Graphic Design - Liz Grant - Freelance Wisdom

"Those first stages of concepting the design direction and creating a mess on your artboard are always crazy. At different times you think, nothing is working how you want it to work. But, then when you finally land on something and find a visual solution you know truly represents their brand, that is the best feeling."


How do you continue to attract your ideal clients?

I think presenting a cohesive vibe through your social media presence is pretty crucial. Try to use a similar voice throughout your online presence. I hate to use the word ‘authentic’ because it can sound so cliche, but presenting your truest self will bring in the type of clients who will want to work with you. Also, lately I have been doing my best to try to post more recent work in my portfolio. It is so easy to work for clients and never take the time to work for myself. I find it so much more challenging making time for my own brand. But, I think it is really important as designers to put the work we create out into the world, showing the kind of work you want is necessary to bringing in more clients that speak the same language visually as you do. What you put out you get back. If you don’t want to do anymore wedding suites, stop posting those. If you want to design book covers, start a personal project and challenge yourself to put it out for your audience to view. Whatever you put out there, that is what is going to resonate with people. So show only the best and the type of work you want to be doing more of.

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

Hire people who know what they are doing and who have strengths in areas that you may not be as solid in. This allows more time for you to focus on the aspects of your business that are your strengths. For example, I hired someone right at the start to help me set up and teach me the basics of Quickbooks. I had no idea what I was doing, and spending that time learning how to account for items correctly and how to invoice clients was such a lifesaver. I also have decided to pay someone to do my taxes each year. Just doing these two things has saved me a ton of headaches and made things much more organized once tax season comes around every year.
Illustration - Liz Grant - Freelance Wisdom

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

This is the constant struggle. I honestly don’t think there is an exact perfect formula to finding a work-life balance. I think at different times in your life the balance shifts between both, if that makes sense. Before I had a baby, I used to work super late at night, through the weekends, but it wasn’t exactly necessary and I wasn’t working all that efficiently. About two years ago I started to slow down, and started trying to work better and smarter. Of course anyone who has little ones knows how your time changes once those babes come into your life. Priorities shift and your days are not just your own. This can totally be an amazing time and a positive thing if you try to flow with this change and learn a new way of how to work, and be flexible with it all. You really have to prioritize differently by working better, creating more efficiently, and doing it all on a bit less sleep. I really want my little boy to grow up seeing his mama happily pursuing something she is passionate about, hopefully it will inspire him in some small way to find something he loves and feels a purpose in and then work for it.

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

Organization, Good Communication, Drive.
Brand Identity - Liz Grant - Freelance Wisdom

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