If you’ve often wondered how other people structure their freelancing lives and what on earth got them into running their own business in the first place, you’re in the right place for a good old snoop around.
This Friday, Amy Crabtree of Cakes With Faces & Fresh Fruit Design gives us her insight into the world of freelancing, offering advice on her first few months of full-time self-employment and how she no longer feels it a chore to go for a run of an evening after a full day of work. She’s loving every minute of her new working life and her enthusiasm is contagious, please read on and get to know this weeks’ Freelancer Friday interviewee!
So, first of all, give us a mini bio and tell us something we won’t know about you!
I’m a graphic designer in the midlands, and I run two small businesses: Cakes with Faces, a brand of cute and colourful t-shirts and accessories influenced by Japanese culture, and Fresh Fruit Design, my new freelance graphic design business. I’m new to self-employment, having quit my day job at the end of June, so now I’m living the freelance dream (I think!).
George Osborne called me “the most colourful person who’s ever been to Downing Street”!
How long have you been running your business and what got you started?
I’ve been drawing for a lot longer, but Cakes with Faces as a brand is almost three years old. It started as a hobby – I loved digital artwork and creating cute characters in my spare time and wanted to do something with them.
Until the start of July this year, I’d been running my business in my spare time as well as a full-time job as a graphic designer, and it became more and more of a struggle to fit everything in.
Just over a month ago I took the big and scary leap into full time self-employment. I didn’t want to give up graphic design, so alongside Cakes with Faces started Fresh Fruit Design (the healthy alternative!).
Did you launch straight into your business idea or did you spend time planning, training or even worrying before you got kicking?
Starting a t-shirt brand was something I dreamed about for a long time and one day I decided to go for it and booked my first stall at MCM London Comic Con, which gave me a deadline to get everything started.
Little things push you towards doing what you want to – I kept seeing cute designs in the shops and thinking “I could do that!”.
The move to full time self-employment was something I agonised over for a long time – Cakes with Faces took up more and more of my time, and with a full time job it was exhausting. Being used to stability and a regular paycheck, it seemed like a scary move, but it was so frustrating that so many of my plans and ideas never made it off the drawing board, because I didn’t have the time.
You’ll never know if something’s going to work unless you try, so in the end I decided to do it anyway!
Tell us about your typical working day – Are you an early bird or do you tend to work throughout the night?
I’m very self-disciplined and have carried on the same routine as when I worked full time, getting up early and starting when my husband leaves the house, then working at least until he gets home. After just over a month of freelancing, I still haven’t spent a day in my pyjamas – clearly I’m doing this wrong!
What’s your biggest challenge as a freelancer?
I find the day zooms by really quickly, and it can difficult to know what’s best to spend your time on. It’s important to stay focused – I’ve been trying to keep lots of lists to stay organised!
And what’s the best element of being your own boss?
It’s so much more satisfying to be working on something I love doing and the sense of achievement is greater when you know you’ve done something yourself.
How do you manage a good work/life balance (or do you struggle with this at all)?
Having turned my hobby into a part-time business and now my full-time job, this is something I’m still working out. I treat my graphic design jobs as work, but Cakes with Faces still doesn’t feel like work. It’s what I’ve always done at the weekends if we’re not doing something else, although I know it’s not healthy to work all the time.
Where do you work from and do you co-work at all?
I work from home in the study, which is set up with my desk, PC and stacks of boxes of t-shirts. And lots of colourful pictures, cute toys and anime figures!
Do you allow yourself a regular break for coffee, exercise or lunch?
It’s lovely to have lunch outside in the garden during the summer. I find it easier to concentrate in the morning, so I’ll save any jobs I need to pop out for until the afternoon, as a break. Adjusting from a 9-5 office job, I’m still working out what the rules are now and how it’s not about working 37 hours a week any more. Popping out in the afternoon to pick something up feels like skiving off! An unexpected benefit is that, if I’ve spent the whole day in the house, going out for a run in the evening seems more appealing than it ever did before!
Are there any apps/tools/gadgets/people that you just couldn’t work without?
My graphics tablet is essential – even though it’s not top of the range, I love my Wacom Bamboo. And of course my beloved Adobe Creative Suite software!
We would love to hear your thoughts on “networking” – do you go to any regular events or meet ups to meet other freelancers?
I haven’t been to any meet-ups – but I’d like to if I ever have any spare time! I think it’s a good idea for freelancers to support each other. Becoming isolated was one of my concerns about working from home, but I’ve been so busy so far with events and meetings with clients that it I haven’t noticed it yet.
What essential advice would you give to anyone thinking of becoming a freelancer?
Make sure you’re doing something you love – you need to be self-motivated and self-disciplined, and if you’re passionate about what you do, it’s not hard to keep working at it.
Anything else you would like to add or share?
After thinking about becoming my own boss for so long, I still can’t quite believe it’s real and that it’s been a month already.
Everyone should spend their time doing what they love – follow your dream and make it happen!
How can we find you online (and off!)?
Google Plus: https://www.google.com/+CakeswithfacesCoUk
Thanks so much Amy for taking part in our Freelancer Friday series, if you would like to put yourself (or somebody else worthy of being featured) forward, let’s talk!