Making The Dream Work: Jamie & Jake Bartlett

Fueled by coffee and a shared love for their two-year old son, Jamie and Jake offer us a glimpse into their careers and share how freelancing has enabled them to build a life they love. 

1. Tell us a bit about your profession. What do you do? What project(s) are you currently working on?

Jake: I’m a full time freelance motion designer, which means I get to make things move :). I also teach motion design and animation online, which has become the majority of my monthly revenue stream. On any given day I’m working on my next Skillshare class, freelance motion pieces for clients, and more recently motion graphics templates to be sold online.

Jamie: I’m a graphic designer, and mom to an almost 2 year-old boy! Since having my son I’ve transitioned from freelance into teaching on Skillshare as my primary job. I also have a shop on Creative Market where I sell fonts I’ve designed as well as brushes for the Procreate ipad App. I always keep an ongoing list of classes I would love to teach as well as fonts/brushes I would like to create for my shop. Basically, I’m always making something.

As you can imagine my little guy can keep me pretty busy and the flexibility of teaching online works out really well for me.

2. How do you balance work and family time?

Jamie: It’s really hard for me to get work done while Elliot is awake, so the morning usually consists of running errands, visits to the park or library, things like that. Then after lunch Elliot goes down for a nap and I get to work on whatever project is on my plate at the moment. Naptime is a perfect time for recording a Skillshare class.

Jake: Since all my client work is freelance and all my teaching is self-initiated, I’m fortunate enough to be able to work from home. I’ll typically work from around 9am to noon, break for lunch, work for another hour or two, have a mid-afternoon coffee break with Jamie while our boy is napping, and then finish off whatever work I have to do by around 5 or 6pm. My schedule is extremely fluid though; some days I might work a lot in the morning, but then spend the afternoon running errands or going to the park with my family.

4. What is the best part of being married to someone who also is a freelancer?

Jamie: Being a team! There are days Jake will watch our son so I can get more work done and since we are both in a creative field, we can bounce ideas off of each other, critique the other one’s work, and even help each other out with their work. I’ve designed stuff for Jake and Jake has animated stuff for me.

Jake: Getting to be together 24/7! A surprising amount of people told me I would enjoy being with my wife for 1 or 2 months after deciding to go freelance, but then would get sick of it and look for an office space somewhere. That couldn’t be further from reality for me.

I absolutely love getting to spend every hour of every day at home with my best friend, my son, and my dog.

5. What is the hardest part of being married to someone who is also a freelancer?

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Jamie: We still aren’t the best at managing our time all that well (we are getting better though). Ideally we would like to be disciplined and set work hours that we stick too but most days freelance life just doesn’t work like that. A project might need to get finished that day so Jake has to work late or on the weekend. It’s never fun when that happens but I am glad that he is just downstairs working and not in some office across town.

Jake: When we have different opinions on our own designs. I know I can trust Jamie to give valuable feedback, but when I like what I like….well, things can get a little tense :D.

6. What tips would you offer someone who is interested in launching their freelance career?

Jamie: Diversify your income as much as possible. I have found that being freelance is a lot less stressful if you don’t have to depend on one source of income.

Jake: Start making things for yourself before you’re paid to do those things. Build out a portfolio on social media websites like Dribbble and Instagram. Real clients look for talent by browsing these types of sites. And read The Freelance Manifesto. It’s a book geared towards Motion Designers, but is directly applicable to any creative profession. Designers, illustrators, editors, photographers, etc..

7. Anything else you’d like to add?

Jamie: I remember the professor in my portfolio class in college talking about freelance and I immediately thought I would never want to do that. Well here I am, a freelancer, and I love it. It has been the best decision for our family. I’m constantly (pleasantly) surprised with where life has taken us.

We live in a very unique day and age where this is even possible. Take advantage of it and build the life you want.

Jake: With both heads of the household operating as full time freelancers, we basically have no financial guarantees. But it allows us to live the lifestyle we wanted for our family, and we’ve found a much better quality of life and success through it. When I decided to go freelance I jumped in with both feet, and have never looked back.