Freelancer Interview: Matthew King

Our second freelancer interview is Derby based designer Matt King. Read on to hear about Matt’s experience of working in his freelance design business.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Matthew King and I run my own freelance graphic design business called Matthew King Creative. I offer services in branding, print & digital design and work with businesses ranging from startups and local business to fully fledged brands such as Bundesliga, Go Outdoors and Erewash Borough Council.

What led you to start freelancing?

I started working freelance part time on the side as a way to enhance my skills and eventually the business started growing and gaining attention. When I was approached by the Bundesliga to work for them as freelance digital designer I couldn’t refuse and made the jump!

What three things do you wish you’d known before starting out?

  1. That it isn’t as daunting as what it seems and is in fact extremely fulfilling.
  2. Understanding the value of my work and pricing it more confidently.
  3. To have known more about the great tools there are out there to help you manage your work and time.

What issues have you had since starting up?

Pricing my work correctly so it matches the value of the services I offer and being confident in quoting prospects.

What’s the best thing about freelancing?

I love the ability to be able to manage my own time and work with numerous agencies, clients and business. In contrast to the old agency life where I’d work 35-40 hours a week 48 weeks per year, freelance has enabled me to work from home 1-2 days a week, work in house with 1-2 different agencies for the rest of the week so its varied. You become exposed to working & communicating with so many more people.

How would you like to develop your freelance career in the future?

I’d like to grow my network, meeting new people and businesses while developing the working relationships I have with my existing clients. I’m a big sports fan and would like to score more great projects like that I did with the Bundesliga.

Anything else you’d like to tell anyone thinking of or currently freelancing?

That it can grow much quicker than you would realise and have the confidence in your abilities to be able to freelance. Just start out on the side of your full-time job if it’s easier and see where that takes you. On the other hand I do know some individuals who have been so bold as to make the jump without the work in place and they have still flourished!

This Month in Freelancing: May 2018

It’s been an interesting month to be a freelancer. With the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) coming into effect today, it presents challenges to freelancers and many businesses are struggling to come to terms with what’s required of them.

Meeting the GDPR as a Freelancer

I’ve had to upgrade my billing and support system to come into line with the new rules and allow people to export or delete their accounts. I’ve also had to update my WordPress website software to allow for technical aspects of ensuring people contacting me to agree to my privacy policy, and for people to opt-out of Google Analytics cookies.

Reading up on the new rules, updates to my privacy/cookie policy and sending out one last Mailchimp newsletter (about GDPR..) and then deleting my Mailchimp list have all taken time away from paid work. Thinking through all the systems I use and what data I have stored has led to a good clean out on the project management system and backup system.

Dealing With Client Enquiries Around GDPR

Alongside all the work to make my own business compliant, there has been a surge of enquiries from clients about making their own website GDPR compliant. These are difficult to deal with as I’m not a lawyer and don’t want to take on liability for advising people about the GDPR laws. In many instances it’s been a case of asking them to read up on the rules to make sure they understand how it affects their wider business processes and updating their privacy policies. I’ve then been making small changes to their websites, installing SSL certificates and updating software.

Some clients are looking to outsource the whole GDPR thing and when I’ve not taken that on, they have gone elsewhere. I’ve seen local freelancers and agencies offering to write privacy policies etc which sets off alarm bells in my head. If the clients don’t understand the GDPR enough to get involved, they could be in trouble down the line. The freelancers and agencies are sailing close to the wind as well as they could be liable for any challenges made to their clients.

I’ve also seen some enterprising individuals selling “GDPR compliance toolkits” for a few hundred quid, who knows what they actually contain and how legally accurate they are…

This has been a test of my resolve to only offer what I’m qualified and comfortable in offering as a freelancer. Saying ‘No’ is difficult but it’s important to me to focus on what I’m good at and to not get involved in tricky legal related issues that could have serious implications for me and the client both.

Other freelance challenges this month

I’ve had a dose of Imposter Syndrome this month about my design skills, which has made producing new design work tricky. By feeding the creative part of my brain and looking at lots of inspiration I’ve got back on track – as well as benefiting from some advice that said “Have a f*cking concept”.

Being asked to do free work and people wanting things RIGHT NOW keeps cropping up, and while I can push back to protect my time and focus on scheduled work this often leaves me feeling drained and negative. Some NLP coaching from Joe at Prometheus has helped with this.

I’ve also heard from a friend who has started working from home and that’s given me an idea for a blog about the social aspects of freelancing or home-working. Keeping regular social contact is important and co-working can help with that, as well as stopping us going feral and sitting around in our pyjamas all day.

Freelancer interview: Victoria McDonagh

Victoria macdonagh freelance marketing consultant

Here’s the first of our interviews with freelancers – read on and find out what Victoria has learned since starting out as a freelance marketing consultant.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Victoria and I run my marketing consultancy, Victoria M Consultancy. I help small businesses outsource their marketing strategy and marketing activities so they can focus on the important elements of their business, making more sales and doing what they’re good at.

What led you to start freelancing?

I started freelancing in my early 20’s as means to get some work experience that would fit around my part time jobs and commitments. This worked and allowed me to get into marketing positions in a variety of jobs. In 2016 I needed to leave a toxic work situation and decided to go freelance full time. I used websites like People Per Hour to get started, and then moved onto networking in my local area.

What three things do you wish you’d known before starting out?

  1. How to price myself and understand my value.
  2. That managing your time is very difficult and requires a particular focus and mindset
  3. To be more bold and go more for what I wanted to do, rather than settle for what would easily make me money

What issues have you had since starting up?

Getting enough new business and balancing current client workloads. When you’re your own marketing, HR, sales, and admin etc, you have to be good at managing your time. It’s easy to book yourself out for loads of networking events, then struggle to make deadlines. It’s so important to keep in communication with your clients, and ensure you’re delivering what they want and expect.

What’s the best thing about freelancing?

The freedom! The flexibility! You get to make your own day and decide who you work with and when. You can focus on what you’re good at and outsource to other talented freelancers. I love the variety of people I’ve met and some of them are my closest friends to date.

How would you like to develop your freelance career in the future?

I would like to scale up my activities and knowledge and niche into inbound marketing. I’d love to be hosting networking events and start getting known for marketing in my local area.

Anything else you’d like to tell anyone thinking of or currently freelancing?

I’d say plan it, try it and have at least a few months of savings set aside. Try and get your expenses down to what is essential, but still allow for some luxuries in your early days. Get regular clients who pay on time and don’t stress you out.

Freelancers: Always Use A Contract & Terms

If you meet a friendly potential client it’s really easy to start work without having a contract or terms in place. It might be fine, but you might end up working for nothing or getting in trouble. I got fleeced by an agency one time – delivering their project to a tight deadline meant making a decision to spend some extra time over a weekend and I didn’t get paid for the extra hours.

A Bit Of Paranoia Will Protect You

Potential clients may seem really friendly and interested in working together. While it might go fine some of the time, if you start a freelance project without a contract or terms in place it can quickly go wrong. Misunderstandings and wilful sharklike behaviour can leave you out of pocket and disillusioned.

If you assume that clients will wriggle a little bit and act accordingly you will protect your work and cashflow. Don’t be afraid of scaring people off with a contract – anyone worth working for will not see this as an issue. The people who moan about it are the ones likely to cause problems. A good contract and terms will show people you mean business and are not going to be pushed around.

Reddit and other forums are full of people raging about being ripped off and not paid. While it sucks that some clients will do this to people, you can design this situation out of your business with a good contract and terms. You don’t have to be a victim.

Benefits Of A Good Contract And Terms

  • You’ll get paid: Define when you get paid – ideally before you start work and before the final assets are delivered
  • You will avoid arguments: If it’s in black and white there’s less room for people to wriggle out of things
  • You will protect yourself: Having clauses for change requests, copyright transfer and other such things will protect you from issues down the line

Worth The Investment

You can use a simple email listing what you’re going to do, what you’re not going to do and when payments are due. You can use a ready made one off the internet (bit risky as it might not be legal in your country, and you might not understand it..) or you can have a lawyer draft one up for you.

If you pay for a contract and terms – it’s worth the money. It will save you getting ripped off and pay for itself over and over during the course of your freelance career.

Summary

This article has described why you need a contract and terms for your freelance business and why they are worth every penny it might cost you to have them professionally drawn up.