My journey into freelance life begins today

I’m doing something big and scary… stepping into the unknown… I have no idea how this will go.

From May 2016 onwards Logo Geek will no longer just be a side venture. On Thursdays and Fridays I will be working as a freelance graphic designer so I can focus on growing Logo Geek, and my own graphic design service.

I’ll be honest. Going freelance was never one of my goals or ambitions growing up. My goal has always been to work for a ‘top London design agency‘, where I could work on high profile brand identity projects and work with and learn from the countries most talented graphic designers that would surround me.

But after the success of the Logo Geek website and social media groups, my plans have changed (for now at least).

From now on I will be working part-time, with the long-term goal to go full-time freelance. This decision has not been an easy one, but I now feel it’s the right one for me.

I want to share my story so far, and why I’ve decided to do this now… This gets quite personal, but I want to share as much with you as I can.

 

Why I started focusing on Logo Design

I’ve always loved working on side projects. I’ve enjoyed challenging my design abilities and working on things that excite me. All of these projects have been for the sheer love of it, rather than for any profit.

Before starting Logo Geek I worked on an iPhone game called GooHoo. Everyone involved worked for free, owning a percentage of any profits should it do well (it sadly didn’t make much, but it’s an awesome portfolio piece).

GooHoo Logo Design on iPhone

I came up with the idea for GooHoo – a stretchy blob of goo, which is a radio controlled super weapon that destroys killer robots from the inside. I pitched it to game developer friends, and we started working on it together.

It was so fun coming up with crazy ideas, illustrating characters, backgrounds and designing strange levels. I loved working on it. The problem? The game evolved over time (which meant it was redesigned several times), and as it was only a side project for all of us it took around 4 years to finish. By the end of the project I felt exhausted. Such a big project turned out to be too physically demanding to do alongside a demanding day job.

GooHoo iPhone Game Screenshots

After this experience I decided that working on large side projects was not a feasible option for me ongoing. I still, however, wanted a creative project to keep me entertained as I missed the excitement that came from working on personal design projects. I spoke about this with my partner who suggested I work on logo design – she said I had a talent for it.

Logo design is something I had enjoyed working on in my day job, but I only ever got involved with it from time to time. It was also an area of design that had fascinated me from a young age, so I was keen to learn more. As a logo design project could be fairly short term it was an ideal solution, so I got cracking.

I started out by building a website. I needed a domain, so listed down every company name idea I could think of. I went through my list, and one by one realised that 99% of my company name ideas had gone… After hours of failure, I eventually tried logogeek.co.uk and discovered it was available. I registered it on the spot.

 

Starting up Logo Geek

At the time of starting Logo Geek I had only worked on a few personal logo design projects. Most of the examples were from my own side projects, but I had a couple that was designed for work friends and family. Although it was only a few pieces, I had enough examples I could include in a portfolio.

I designed myself a quick logo (see below… it makes me cringe now since learning so much), used WordPress to build a website, purchased a theme and started adding a few quick pages of content. After a day of throwing things together, I had something that resembled a website… The content was pretty poor, the design wasn’t great, but as it was “just for me” I was happy with the results as I knew I could improve as I go.

Original logo geek branding

After this peak of action I didn’t do much with the website for some time. I had planned to write blogs frequently, but I struggled with time due to the day job, and it took hours when I did put pen to paper. I didn’t promote the website either as I thought it was terrible (see how bad it was below), but I did start taking on the occasional logo project for friends who asked for my help.

First logo geek website design

One day something strange happened… someone I didn’t know had visited my website and sent an enquiry. That enquiry turned into a sale. A real person, who I didn’t know, had paid me money to design their company logo. What?!! This moment became a turning point…

I had no idea real people with real businesses would end up visiting my website…

After this big event I decided to improve the website (I rebranded to look more high-end). As and when I had a spare moment I took the time to improve the content, the design and write more frequent blogs. The occasional enquiry dripped in, and I began working on around 1 project a month, improving my skills with each design I did (my logo design portfolio is now much better).

It was around this time that I also decided to focus on social media to promote my new business…

 

Focusing on Social Media & becoming an influencer

I started a Logo Geek group on Facebook. I decided I would invest 50% of all profits into marketing, starting out by growing the facebook group following with paid advertising.

The numbers were growing, I was posting to my feed and getting some engagement. My problem? It wasn’t bringing in any sales…

I did, however, enjoy sourcing and creating good logo design related content, so continued working on this anyway. I realised people who were following the group were designers, and not clients (which makes sense right?) so I focused on creating content specifically for designers, just for fun.

I discovered a tool called Buffer where you could create a queue of content rather than posting manually. This tool would allow me to post not only to Facebook but also to twitter and Google+ too with not much more effort.

I learned more about twitter shortly after this, so created an account, and started posting the same content I was on Facebook. My twitter profile was growing gradually, and within only a few months (with no investment into paid advertising), the number of followers had surpassed my Facebook following. Twitter eventually became my main focus and has to this very day.

At the time I was posting when I felt like it, but I found every time I did twitter received a lot of engagement. This encouraged me to post more frequently, and as it’s continued to grow I felt an obligation to serve that audience. I now post at least twice a day.

After 2-3 years of real focus the Logo Geek twitter feed has almost 75,000 followers and is followed by some of the world’s biggest designers, branding agencies and design magazines. I’m seen as an influencer because of this and have been interviewed numerous times, invited to be on the jury for international branding design competitions, and have also started to write for well-known design blogs. You can read how I grew my twitter following here, and read all the interviews and guest blogs through my about me page.

Logo Geek Twitter Page

I can honestly say twitter has changed my life and has been the driving force behind my freelance leap of faith. The commitment I have to my following has lead me down a path where I have been pushed to read endless logo design books, learn the best processes and techniques, which has ultimately helped me to improve my skills and become a professional logo designer.

 

Successful Logo Design results on Google UK

The other big thing that’s helped my journey has been Google. It’s where almost all my enquiries come from.

I’m fortunate to work in a web design company where there is a dedicated team working on online marketing. Thanks to this I have picked up a number of very good Search Engine Optimisation tips. At all stages of building my website I have factored SEO into everything I have done.

Thanks to my website content, blogs, social media work and guest blogs my website are performing well on Google. If you search ‘Logo Design’ in the UK my website is sitting between page 1 and 2. If you search local terms such as ‘Logo Design UK‘, ‘Logo Design in Reading’ or ‘Logo Design in Berkshire’ I’m position 1. Thanks to this I get lots of enquiries… fingers crossed I can keep it that way.

For the past few years I have been able to pick and choose what projects I work on, but I have needed to turn away of a lot of really good opportunities.

 

The decision to go freelance…

Full time I have worked as Creative Director for a company that specialises in eCommerce website design.

I have been working in this role for just over 7 years, where I get involved in designing everything from website designs, through to designing (and writing for) literature and exhibition stands. In this role I’ve worked with large blue chip organisations, as well as smaller companies and start-ups.

It’s a fast-paced hands-on job, which varies from day to day. I found it stressful at first, but I am now able to design things very quickly and to a high standard. My design skills are challenged, I get involved in company decisions, I’m well respected, and get paid well too. It’s a very secure job I could easily work in for the rest of my life…

Going freelance has been an option for a few years because of Logo Geek, but taking the leap has always felt like a huge risk, and not one I’ve had the balls to make. I’ve also always wanted to focus on design, and not really been a fan of everything that comes with freelance (e.g.: sales, account management, accounts etc).

As it’s been growing, working on Logo Geek over the past year or so has become increasingly more demanding. I’ve been taking on more design projects, been getting more emails, more calls, more tweets/messages, and lots of guest blogging opportunities and interview requests. With a demanding full-time job, it’s become hard to manage all the exciting opportunities…

I decided that I needed to choose between Logo Geek or my day job for my own health. I did choose my day job. My problem was that I was not prepared to give up on everything I had built, so I continued to juggle…

I recently read 2 books that started to get me really thinking about my future.

Inspiring books for freelancers

I read ‘The One Thing” which is a really, really good book for people who have a dream. The main outcome of the book for me is that I needed to create a long-term goal, then break that down into a 5-year goal, a 1-year goal, a monthly goal, a weekly goal and so on, with a focus on 1 thing. All the time reading I was thinking about ideas and dreams focused on the work I had started on Logo Geek, and the possibilities if I applied the techniques from this book.

I then read “The 4-hour workweek”, which is full of actionable steps to work remotely, so you can enjoy life travelling the world. One big thing that came from this book was a thought exercise. In the exercise, the author asks you to imagine the worst-case scenario… If I was to fail, lose all my money, lose my flat etc, what would happen? Everything would really need to go terribly wrong, but if it did I would probably live with family, and simply start again. Not so bad right? It got me thinking a lot, but still not enough to push me over the edge.

Then one day something happened…

My Mum died. :'(

She had been suffering from dementia for years, and due to events, it was expected. I was lucky enough to be by her side with family when she passed. It was sad, but as a positive, it reminded me that life is once…

Would I want to grow old with regrets? No way…

The video below was in my Facebook feed only a few days ago but sums up nicely how I felt and how I feel about life now. I want to make sure I live, and enjoy my time on this planet. Focusing on my dreams needs to be a big part of that, and now I feel I’m living it.

A couple of weeks after my mum died I handed in my notice… I don’t want to regret not doing this whilst I can. I have no children and no mortgage. I need to do this now… it’s the best time to do it, and it’s so damn exciting!!

 

Why only part time freelance?

I have been in the company I work for now for over 7 years, and I am an integral part of it. I feel very loyal as they have done a lot for me. I know Logo Geek would not exist, or have had the success it has without them…

If I gave 1 months notice I know it would have a negative impact on the business… people who have become friends would suffer, and I don’t want to do that. I want to leave knowing there is a replacement for me, and that they know what they are doing too. I want to see the company continue to succeed.

For that reason I gave 3 months notice, which I felt was enough time to find a replacement designer, and show them the ropes.

As a counter offer, the company asked if I would consider part-time. I agreed on the spot.

Going part time acts as a financial safety net and seemed like a no-brainer. It gives me the time to phase out but also allows me to get used to working for myself. If things don’t work out, or if I simply don’t like it, I can go back full time. Win win.

 

Booking in freelance logo design projects

I’ve had a really positive start. So far I have projects booked in for at least a month.

But I could not have done this alone…

After handing in my notice my good friend asked (jokingly) if she could work for me…

She knew I could not pay a salary, however after some thought I decided to offer her a percentage of sales. I love working on design, so I suggested she reply to all emails, do the accounts and admin.

She agreed to this which has worked out well… She was able to reply to clients I didn’t have the time to deal with, resulting in more projects and thus more money. As each sale was payment for her she has been very driven to do well (especially as she’s saving for a trip to Australia).

Thanks to her involvement I was able to work on 3 projects during April whilst still working full time, and have projects booked in throughout the whole of my freelance time in May. I’ve been flat out for a few weeks, but it’s given me a decent kick-start, and a lot of security for my first month.

May will be a very busy month focusing on the new projects, however, I have a lot of plans which include; redesigning my brand, the website, writing more blogs and create more resources for designers… ultimately aiming to do more with the Logo Geek brand. I have so many ideas, so hopefully you’ll start to see the changes over the next few months.

 

This has been one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done… I can’t wait to see where this new journey takes me. I’ll make sure to keep you updated on how it goes…

To be continued.

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