TALES OF A FREELANCER: PRODUCTIVITY

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IDENTIFY WHAT Is STOPPING YOUR PRODUCTIVITY

First of all you need to be able to identify what is stopping you from being productive. It is very rare that I will procrastinate throughout the day because to be honest I just really fucking love my work. But when I am not being productive, it is normally because one of the following reasons: I don't feel confident in the task, I am second guessing myself, it's a part of my job that I don't enjoy or it is a time of the day where I am wrecked.  

KNOW YOUR PRIORITIES

Sometimes we misuse our time for things that don't really matter to us/our business so this is where it helps to make your priorities clear. Is emails at the top of your list, your customers, your admin, or creating? For me I know that my customers and current clients come before everything else. That means that all of their work is completed before I look at social media, personal work/content or future emails etc. This helps to give yourself a clear guide on how you should be allocating your time.

BE AWARE YOUR WORKING HABITS

I think the longer that you work for yourself or study, the easier it is to be aware of how you work and what affects you. Pay attention to what times of the day you work best, in what environment, do you work better at a cafe or in a communal space, do you need music playing or does that distract you? Spend some time thinking about that and if what you're doing currently isn't working for you switch it up. That might mean not sitting at a desk from 9-5 because 'that's what people who work do' Try working at night instead or only sit at your desk when you have productive work to complete. 

MAKE TIME WORK FOR YOU

You'll start to notice pretty quickly what times of the day you're most productive. Utilise those by having clear objectives during those times of the day. In the times where you're brain moves a little slower, do activities that take the pressure off. I find that I hit a wall mid-afternoon so I will either push my lunch back till then or go for a walk.

ELIMINATE YOUR DISTRACTIONS

(If you can that is. You can't eliminate your children or the fact that your fridge is close by) That might mean putting your phone in another room, noise cancelling ear phones, not listening to talking/songs while writing copy or emails. 

BREAK EVERYTHING DOWN IN A LIST

Sometimes work can become overwhelming and you can find yourself procrastinating easily. I personally find lists to be the best way to break it all down into actionable steps that make even the daunting tasks seem easy enough to tackle. Instead of just "EMAILS" write Email back _____, Send Quote through to _____, Follow up on invoice _____ . This way you will tick things off a lot quicker and feel like you're actually getting somewhere. 

DO WHAT YOU DON'T WANT TO DO FIRST

If you can, do the thing you are likely to put off doing first. Once you get that one thing out of the way the other tasks in your day might seem a lot easier to accomplish. For me that can be chasing up an invoice, or doing my taxes. These are the things that I can often leave to the end of the day and therefore not get done and roll over onto another day. 

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POST IT NOTES

I love my post-its. I often put them onto the front of my desktop for notes to myself that would otherwise slip my mind. It also helps me get those things done quickly because they make my desk look messier than I'd like. 

What are your best tips on staying productive? j x

MY JUNE JOURNAL

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Time to get slightly more personal over on the blog. For years I have documented outfits, travel and also given lots of advice and spoken my mind on many different topics but one thing I felt was lacking lately was blogging in its purest form - journaling. So from now on I want to post one journal monthly that goes into my month. The highs, the lows, the lessons and directions moving into next month. Hope you enjoy them. 


THE HIGHS

My new rubber ficus plant for sure makes the cut. New music from loads of different people also made my month with some of my favourites being; Ghost Town & Violent Crimes by Kanye West, Free by Kid Cudi, IUD & Can U Not by Okay Kaya. Saving a silk skirt after I spilt coffee all over it. The weather being cold enough to wear sweaters. Finally finding the perfect khaki linen cushions after searching for months (find here) Finally watching the Handmaids Tale. Spending the day with Michael at Mt Tamborine. Getting the perfect gingham jumpsuit tailored so it fits like a glove. Finding new inspiration by other photography shoot ideas failing. New leaves on my fiddle leaf plants. Started attempting to run again.

I had a huge month of projects finally being launched like some design work for NIKE Australia, Brisbane City marketing campaign and lots of branding work wrapping up (See more here). Having all clients pay on time (freelancers you will know this isn't always the case) This month I also begun discussion with a team to help me with my brand partnerships which is super exciting and different for me. 

CURRENT MOOD BOARD

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THE LOWS 

Getting my wisdom teeth out was expensive and painful and I'm super glad I don't have to do it again. Having to get my finances in order for the end of financial year. Spilling coffee all over a silk skirt. I had an idea for a photography shoot and went and bought all of this stuff and it didn't work out like what I had imagined in my head*. The home we are renting selling to a developer that will tear it down for units. Not being able to work out how to take a good mirror outfit shot - give me your tips. Constantly being asked to quote on projects that have no brief or direction to quote on. Wisdom teeth meant I stopped running for a week and got off the bandwagon. My phone & external hard drive becoming full in the same week. 

WHAT I LEARNT THIS MONTH

* Don't get so caught up on the vision that you have in your head and let the process happen. Sometimes within the first 5 minutes of shooting I can become irritated that it doesn't look 'right' or what I had in my head. I have to remember that actually moving through the process with shooting (like any other creativity) it gets better with time, and if not it will still add to future shooting. Some of my favourite personal photos actually happen just before I pack up everything. 

GOALS FOR JULY

Next month already shaping up to be full on. We have Michael's 30th so I will hopefully taking a week off to spend by the sea with him towards the end of July. I also really want to up my Instagram Story game. I feel like I story a lot but could definitely plan for some more interesting content on that front. Get back on running bandwagon. What are your goals for next month? j x

A GUIDE TO CLEANSING YOUR CLOSET

 

This weekend I took on the dreaded task of cleansing my closet. It is something I have a love/hate relationship with but it always feels like a good time to do it when you're in between seasons changing. In Australia at the moment we are in late Autumn but in Queensland it hasn't really even reached jacket weather. 

I thought to give myself a little more structure to not only keep a method to the madness but also keep myself accountable I would publish a guide on how to tackle a closet crisis. 

 

 

Before beginning, get it all in front of you. I am talking bags, shoes, clothes it all and write off the next 3 hours. 

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List why you like these items. How to they make you feel, how often can you where them? What shape/colour/fabric are they? This will help you define your personal style and what you should be demanding from the rest of your wardrobe. 

Mine currently are my Acne Leather Jacket, White Tee, Striped Midi Skirt, Polka dot dress, my pink mohair coat. I noticed that all these pieces I feel have a focus on cut and fit to my shape which in return means I find them extremely comfortable. This list also shows that my style is feminine with a slight edge, while being quite relaxed. 

 

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Now that you know why you like your favourite pieces, define some questions that will help you put the rest of your items to the test. Do your pieces need to have a focus on trend or cut or comfort? Does the colour match in with other tones you wear? Can you wear it with at least 3 different outfits?

My closet questions are: Are you comfortable in it? Is the cut/fit flattering to you (if not, can it be altered)? Does it go with at least 3 different looks? If it's a top - Can it be worn with high waisted skirt or pants? Because let's be honest that is mainly what I wear. Does it make you feel either pretty, bad ass, festive or chill? (I normally dress for one of those 4 vibes). 

 

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Take a step back after you have culled everything that didn't meet at least 75% of your requirements in Step Two. What are you left with? Look at how many tops, dresses, pants, skirts & outerwear you're left with. I am sure you're not sitting equal across the board. Write it down if you need to, this will help with the last two steps. 

My analysis is.. Tops: 10%, most of those are t-shirts. 50% Skirts, a lot of printed skirts. 2.5% Pants. 15% Dresses, mostly coloured dresses, 10% Knits and 12.5% Outerwear. 

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If you never wear dresses, having a low dress percentage isn't going to be a worry. So look at your numbers for each and see if that is representative of what you wear. 

For me a 2.5% pants doesn't really bother me too much because let's be honest I don't like to wear pants that much. The area that is alarming me is my tops percentage. I have known this for a while but that's definitely something I need to work on. 

 

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We all have our weaknesses when it comes to purchasing things we don't need. Define what those weaknesses are and what you certainly don't need any more of in your wardrobe. 

List of Things Jasmine Can't Buy: Printed or Bright Skirts, Blazers, Short Jackets, Bright Coloured Dresses or Heavy Chunky Knits.

 

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Start with the area of your closet that you have identified as abnormally low. Also ask yourself in what situations you find it hard to choose something to wear. The combination of those two questions will help you fill the gaps in your closet. But don't forget to go back to Step Two and ask yourself those same questions when deciding on a new purchase. 

List of Things Jasmine Can Buy: 
Tops. I need to find styles of tops that are slightly dressier than T-Shirts that also go well with high waisted/fuller skirts or pants.

Lightweight Knits. Lightweight knits that can be tucked in or worn over high waisted bottoms, also good for layering.  

Lightweight trench. Because I feel like it is a staple that I am missing. Call me out in the comments if I am wrong. 

Single neutral toned skirt or dresses. Stick to white/black or nude tones to match back with the rest of my closet.

Shoes. Fun Fact - I hate shoes. I hate shoe shopping therefore I have hardly any shoes. I need to get over this. Please leave your favourite shoe suggestions in the comments. I need help. 

 

 

I would love to know what's on your no-buy list and what your closet has been missing below in the comments.
If you follow me on stories and you see me unboxing one of my no-buys you have to call me out haha. 

jasmine x

TALES OF A FREELANCER: STUDY

I feel like I need to pre-face this blog post with the fact that I wasn't studying accounting or finance, law or medicine or anything like that. These lessons are probably more relatable to creative studies so keep that in mind. Straight after high school I went into a Bachelor of Multimedia Design which taught me so much, but nothing about design. 

WHAT I LEARNT FROM MY 1ST DEGREE

~ You will regret signing up to 8am classes, especially if you're not planning on getting home until 3AM the night before said class.

~ Keep your degree in check. First year I didn't really even think about what I was learning or not learning from that particular degree. It wasn't until I was finishing my 2nd year and heading into my third and final year that I thought 'holy shit, you're doing to get a bachelor and have no skills in what you want to do'

~ Look at the classes that are offered in the course you're going into. To be honest if I had of known I would be mostly having to take IT, Programming and advanced Math classes I probably would have gone with a different degree to start with.

~ You can trust no one. Group assignments I am looking at you. 

~ I think this degree really pushed me outside of my comfort zone intellectually. I always felt semi-confident in my abilities in design, business and marketing classes but IT, Programming and Math.... not so much. So many classes were just me or one other girl in a class full of tech guys. It really lit a fire in me that I could do this if I put in enough time to try understand it. I would definitely say that it has contributed now to me knowing that I can do anything because all I have to do is teach myself and take the time to learn. Youtube and Google and self-motivation. 

 
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So as I was about to head into my final year of Multimedia Design, my degree changed and the third year classes (that I had been looking forward to) had changed to more IT bases classes. So a month before uni was due to go back a friend (that was in the same degree) and I applied for another course at another uni. We heard we got in a week before classes started and I started a Bachelor in Design (Visual Communication). Weirdly enough, my degree ended up also changing midway through the course. 

 

 

WHAT I LEARNT FROM MY 2ND DEGREE


~ Show people your god damn work. Throughout school and my first degree, I never showed anyone my work. I would work on it so much then hand it in and pretend it never happened. It wasn't until maybe 2nd year of this degree that I actually started to look forward to showing my work for feedback. It was like my whole mind-set on assignments changed. Really when you think about it, design work is so fucking subjective and your tutor is usually the one to be marking it right? So you are going to do better in those classes and on those projects if you ask their opinion and keep revising your project as you go. That way you can fix everything that's wrong with it instead of reading about it on a mark sheet once you've already handed it in. Seems obvious typing it now but I never thought about it like that previously. 

~ Stand up for your work. As much as you should listen to your tutors and their opinion on your work, at the same time you will learn to stand up for your work and what is right for you. In one of my final assessment pieces my tutor couldn't understand what I was doing. There was many conversations how they thought I should do it and at the end of the day I had to just say you know what, that isn't what I am about and that isn't what I am trying to say with this project and I went along with my original plan. Their comment on my marking sheet was something along the lines of that I was right and they now saw what my vision was. I think if you're going to go against the feedback you're given or even when you're presenting your work - do it with conviction. Say why you came to these design decisions and how what you have done communicates that vision. 

 


~ Treat your assignment briefs like they're from clients and you're your own creative studio. Again, this sounds super simple but it didn't really click with me until I started creating more personal work outside of uni. As much as I put a lot of focus on my assignments I never felt like I really made them mine. I didn't try to put my own spin on them and I was just ticking boxes. I think once my mindset shifted everything fell into place. 

~ Stop trying to be so fucking perfect. There were a few tutors that I had that really had a different perspective on design that I hadn't experienced in a teacher before. They wanted something with opinion, something that was done by a human not a computer. Something that wasn't clean and vector. That approach by them definitely made an impact on me and changed my work for the better. 

~ Push the boundaries. You're at university for design, you have almost complete freedom to push projects to weird places without having your client calling you freaking out. 

By the time that I graduated did I know everything I needed to know about becoming a designer? No. but I think you always learn so much more by doing, failing, making mistakes and googling. 

 

ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS

Do you feel like you could have got to where you are now without study / was it worth it?
Terrible answer but yes and no. Skill wise, yes. I don't think I really learnt anything skill wise that I couldn't and didn't teach myself. I think if you are willing to put in the time, practice and research you can learn all you need to. In terms of my direction and mindset, I wouldn't be here without going down that path that I did.

What is better, University or Internships?
I never did an internship because I was already doing freelance at the time but I had a close friend who did internships throughout her degree and I think that was extremely useful and beneficial. Personally doing it all again, I would try get into a design studio just as a student or intern before studying again. I also can't speak from an employer's point of view on this. 

How did you learn lettering or analogue design?
I was completely self taught on that front. When I started hand lettering there wasn't 100s of youtube tutorials or books on it so for me I learnt through practice and experimentation. To be honest, I hate watching someone else do something or reading a how-to so just figuring it out worked well for me. 

Are the technical aspects of design that uni teaches you valuable?
I think it is extremely important to be educated in design as far as basic principles and how to use programs but at the same time you can research and teach yourself all that if you are motivated enough. 


 

 

What didn't your degree(s) teach you?
Where do I start? Taxes, BAS, Licensing Agreements, Client Contracts, How to market yourself, How to charge for your services, How to make money as a designer/artist, What to do if a company infringes your copyright, How to be inspired without imitating, Working out what your voice is as a designer. I think different degrees teach different technical knowledge but I think the above are things they are missing out on. 

Are portfolios important?
100% your work to date is important but I think we could all work on re-shaping our conceived notions of what that might be. You could say that my social media has proven to be my most useful portfolio even. I remember our final assessment at uni was creating a physical portfolio, and instead of making this expensive very formal collection of my work I made an A5 zine of my favourite work to date and even shared what I learnt from each project in the folio. You're constantly creating new work and becoming better so what is the use of having a formal portfolio that only ages once it is created?

At the end of the day, I think it is more important to be self-motivated, hard working, be able to take the initiative to learn things on your own and then ask help/opinions to learn from those around you.

If you have any other questions, leave them in the comments and I will reply there. jasmine x

Read previous Tales of a Freelancer on Niches & Pricing.

TALES OF A FREELANCER: THE NICHE ARGUMENT

 
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It was about time I weigh in on something that always comes up in DM's or Emails from you guys, especially ones just starting out in their chosen field. The argument of niches. Niches are products or services that are created for a particular sub-set of society. On the creator side of things though it could be seen as a comfort zone for you, or a expertise as one particular thing. So then the question posed is, do you specialise in a niche market or will that shut you off from mass market opportunities and which is better?

Let's start by looking at the good old Pros & Cons List...

 

PROS

~ You are able to really focus on your particular craft or market and become an expert at doing so

~ Since you know who your audience is, you are able to directly cater to them instead of casting your net far and wide

~ Because you are constantly producing similar projects, you will have greater knowledge of how long things take and what you can charge.

~ When you become highly skilled in one area, you will become a lot more efficient with your work process therefore have more time to take on more projects. 

~ You are less likely to get lost in the crowd. There are so many graphic designers, photographers, stylists, you're work being unique to you gives you a point of difference. Instead of you approaching clients they will be approaching you for your unique skill. 


CONS

~ You have the possibility to be pigeonholed and miss out on other work opportunities. 

~ What ever your niche is might lose its popularity and you're unique service may be no longer required.

~ If you are constantly being asked to do the same type of work you may end up resenting it due to the lack of creativity it brings you.

~ If successful in your niche, you can open yourself up to copycats that imitate your every move with your audience and your clients.

~ There is such a thing as too niche. If you're not getting any clients or your audience is decreasing / becoming stagnant you may want to re-adjust it. 

 


So what do you do? I think early on I realised I was creating my own niche because I didn't fit solely into any of the other titles
like Typographer, Graphic Designer, Blogger, Photographer etc. Being all of those things got me noticed and approached by clients I still pinch myself about but I also somewhat felt the negative side effects of that. I got a lot of lettering work and started to feel a little like a machine just pumping out pretty words with no meaning, I also still to this day have people imitating every move I make. 

I changed how I think about my 'niche' though. I now think of it as expressing who I am through whatever I want to do. Just because I was known as a letterer doesn't mean I can't take photos of my dead flowers and sell the prints. Just because I was known as a letterer doesn't mean I can't post about fashion or beauty. Does this dissolve my message or niche? No, I think it strengthens it. It is more now about exploring creative projects in my own way, taking the different mediums and making them mine. That is my 'niche'

Before marketing yourself in a niche, think about what is around you in that same sphere. Think about if there is enough of an audience or cliental to support that niche if it is already crowded. You should also be thinking about what do you bring to that niche that the others in that market don't already bring. From a business perspective there is no reason going into a niche and doing exactly what the others already in that niche are doing.

HOW TO MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU

~ Be consistent with your point of view and messaging. If you are going to explore new mediums make sure that your eye is the constant. This will ensure that no matter what you do, people will know it's yours and you are less likely to lose your audience by doing so.

~ You have to push yourself creatively. If you are happy creating within your niche day in, day out and it important that you make time to work on personal projects that use more of your creativity and let you experiment. 

~ Give your clients what they want and what they didn't know they wanted. 

~ Stop looking at those around you. There is no comparison.