Freelancer Interview: James Shaw, Volley Design


This week’s freelancer interview is with James Shaw from Volley Design. James works in-house and as a freelancer – a great option that can offer the benefits of both types of working.

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m James Shaw, a highly motivated, idea led graphic designer working both as a freelance and for a marketing agency based in Somerset.

What led you to start freelancing?

Freelancing started for me over a year ago when I started getting small side projects from working in a Co-working space in central Bath. I started to really enjoy meeting clients, marketing my brand and managing projects. I officially went full time freelance in the June of 2017, when I met the amazing Charlotte Godfrey from the The Network for Creative Enterprise. This partnership offers business support for creative individuals and small companies to develop a creative idea into an economically sustainable business.

This platform allowed me to pursue my freelance business offering me support in starting my business, how to manage the business, getting my brand solid and gaining a network of clients.

What three issues have you had since starting up?

I think issues are always going to come around when running your own business and i think at times it’s good to have these as they allow you to learn and know if they are going to occur again.

  1. Getting clients to pay on time. This can lead to cash flow problems if clients do not pay on time
  2. Keeping track of all the admin I resolved this in the end by getting someone to help me with me social media and emails to give me more time to focus on client projects.
  3. Motivation – At first it was hard as my normal routine of work had suddenly gone and you have to motivate yourself to get into a routine. I found leaving the house and working from Co-working hubs worked extremely well, it meant you had a place of work and you had like minded individuals around you.

What’s the best thing about freelancing?

Freelancing can be tough but it has its benefits. It allowed me to manage my days how best worked for me, to me this was healthier and helped me with workflow. The biggest reward is working on projects and being able to directly work with the client on what they want, it’s so pleasing to see your client happy and your work delivered and out there.  

You also get time to work on personal projects – something I am super passionate about and think all creatives do. For me it helps inform client work and lets me get all those ideas in my head onto paper.

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

Right now I am enjoying the balance between my freelance work and also my employed work as a designer. I want this time in my work life to help move Volley Design to the next step and eventually allow me to financially go full time freelance again and build Volley Design into a design studio – big goals but you need to have these I think. I also want the business to explore new sectors to work in including event work and installations – I have always wanted to get involved in a large scale piece of design or even graphics for a concert… imagine how fun that would be.

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

I think if you’re looking to go freelance my advice would be just go for it…. Put everything into it and take all opportunities thrown at you, you never know where they will take you.

I would also say if you’re turning up to work and not enjoying it then it’s not right for you… move on and try something new don’t stick at it for the money… your creativity will suffer. Do what’s best for you at the time.

James Shaw
Volley Design