Freelance graphic designer and animator Faye Brown teaches 11,000 students on Skillshare. We sat down with Faye to learn how she juggles freelancing, family and teaching as a creative professional, and gather some advice for those looking to make the leap to self-employment.
You had a full-time job at a design studio for about 10 years. What prompted you to make the leap to freelancing?
When I was working full-time I was very happy working in a studio with lots of creative people. But after awhile I was getting to the point where there were a lot of politics and I didn’t feel like I was progressing in my career. While freelancing hadn’t ever really been a goal, once I started really thinking about our long terms plans of having a family, it really started to make sense. Lots of long hours and an extended commute wasn’t conducive to family life.
What was the hardest part of making this transition?
Working for a company, I liked not having to worry about sorting the accounts or who was going to cover me if i was ill. As a freelancer, you have to kind of realize that you won’t just be a designer, you have to be the accountant, the secretary, the project manager, etc. When I first went freelance I carried on working in studios with short contracts, but more and more I found I was working from home a lot. I’m quite the people person, and the transition to working on my own was quite a major step. Feeling a little bit lonely was the hardest part.
Nevermind just balancing client work, you also have two kids to look after. What’s your advice on managing your client work and being a mom?
The hardest thing is if one of your kids is ill, you’ve got no backup, and you think, “oh no, I’ve got this work to do and a sick child to look after!” If you are going to go into freelancing with a family, know that at some point this will happen. Sometimes for me that means working evenings or when my husband’s around. I’m also very open to my clients that I have a family, and I always try to make sure I don’t take anything with a very tight deadline so I don’t let clients down in case something unforeseen does happen.
It sounds like you’ve figured it out! Where do you see your career going from here?
Its funny you ask, because in my class Branding Your Own Creative Business, I ask my students to write their goals for 1,5, and 10 years as part of their class project. For me, my ultimate goal is to be able to live off passive income and not have so many deadlines.
Freelancing, I always have to be working for income, even over the holidays. Skillshare has been brilliant for that. It is work, but once you’ve got the classes going, you will have an income coming in regularly. The great thing is I can juggle making classes around my freelancing projects and fit it into my schedule.
Making my 4-class series this year, I was able to take a long Christmas holiday. My aim is to get a few more classes to build that income up to be a little more comfortable.
Last thing: do you have advice for someone looking to make this career transition?
Something that’s really benefited my personal business has been my network. I’ve been approached to do projects that maybe aren’t right for me, and so I’ll recommend friends better suited for the role. In turn, friends were doing the same for me, which really helped me grow my business.When you work for yourself, and mostly by yourself, a good network is so useful. Skillshare’s also been a brilliant way to get feedback and grow my network. I’ve loved the interactions with my students and how much they appreciated the feedback, and got a lot of great feedback from them! Plus, one of the students from the Branding class asked me to design her logo (and I got paid) so that’s another bonus, some direct contact with students leading to a job!
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