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4 mistakes I made when starting out

If you’ve found me recently, you may see me as organised, having my sh*t together with solid processes and systems in place.


But if you’re an OG, you know this wasn’t always the case.


When I first started freelancing I'll be completely honest, I had no clue what I was doing and winged it for a long time.


Winging it was actually a good tactic, because I took messy action and just started (which I know a lot of people fail to do).


However, this 'wing it' attitude would only get me so far and I knew if I wanted to grow my business I had to start being more strategic.


After five years in business, here are some honest tales from my journey that I hope you can learn from.


 

Mistake #1


Past me: I didn’t have a website, which meant enquiries came through Instagram DMs and emails.


Problem: This led to an unorganised, chaotic mess, checking messages daily, forgetting to reply, and potential clients losing track of me amidst their busy schedules.


Present me: Prospects now inquire via my website’s enquiry form, allowing for better filtering of unserious enquiries. I respond with a pre-made email template, inviting prospects to a discovery call.


 

Mistake #2


Past me: I didn’t have client calls. For some projects, I had no idea what the client looked like.


Problem: It was harder to build trust and a real relationship, explain my points, get deeper with them, and extract more information.


Present me: Calls are now an important part of my process and help build a solid relationship. I have around four calls during a brand design project (discovery, strategy, design feedback, and an offboarding call). This allows me to touch base with my clients throughout the project, check in with them, gather their current thoughts, and ensure the project runs smoothly. Note: The price of my projects always factor in the time of client calls.


 

Mistake #3


Past me: I ran all projects via email.


Problem: Documents got lost, email threads were long, it was hard to manage multiple projects at a time, it took me forever to find old emails, and the process was clunky.


Present me: I onboard clients into their very own client portal in Notion, acting as a central hub for each client project. This space holds invoices, contracts, client tasks, project trackers, feedback, and more. It ensures seamless communication and consolidates information. Running multiple projects at once is also so much easier. You can grab my done-for-you client portal here.


 

Mistake #4 Past me: I took orders from clients.

Problem: Clients shared their vision and ideas, and I would design exactly as they wanted. This meant the visual identity created lacked strategy and research, and wouldn’t stand the test of time, resulting in clients rebranding in a couple of months. I struggled to give clients advice and thought I had to just do what they wanted. But it turns out they were hiring me for a reason and wanted my expertise.

Present me: I now include a strategy and creative direction stage within my process, which consists of a strategy call with the client, time for research and analysis, and the development of a strategy and creative direction presentation to provide clarity and a design direction backed with strategy going forward. This allows me to ask deeper and more meaningful questions about their business and positions me as the expert and problem solver, rather than just a pixel pusher. I then propose a new strategy and creative direction that sets them apart. Not sure how to present this document? You can grab my strategy presentation template here.


 

If your process currently looks like mine did in the past, don't worry, I've been there. With a process that felt cluttered and chaotic, I often found myself overwhelmed and never truly enjoying projects.


That’s why I’ve created something that I once craved at that very stage of my journey.


If you’re looking to refine your client process but are uncertain about the initial steps, I’ve made a course specifically with you in mind. Check it out here.

Chat next week,


Abi 😊

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