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The time I nearly Quit Freelancing...

A few years ago, I was on the verge of giving up my design business…

For reasons I didn't yet understand, I kept attracting cheap clients from industries that didn't excite me, and this frustrated me.

One of the main reasons I decided to go freelance was to work on projects that excited me and be paid what I deserved. (after experiencing the opposite in my last 9-5 job).

Fortunately, I managed to turn my situation around by identifying the root of my problem. However, I still see many designers struggling with this issue and losing interest in design.(I know I would if I had to design corporate logos all day). So, in this email, we will go over the changes I made and why.

And the first step in doing so, is to recognise the situation I found myself in and pinpoint what I was doing wrong.

So, let’s go back in time…

In 2020, I had just started establishing myself as a brand designer on social media but was finding that I was attracting the most random clients. I was working with everyone, from car dealerships to tanning product companies.

And when it came to the brands I did want to work with, I was often hit with "We’re not sure you’re the right fit". I never understood why I received this response. I was confident in my abilities and knew I could create something great for those brands. Then, one day, I started experiencing pain in my lower back (bear with me on this 😅). “Probably too much time sitting at my desk” I thought.

But after a few weeks, the pain persisted. So, I decided to seek out a physiotherapist to have it looked at.

During my search for someone who could help me, I came across many "generalists." They claimed they could help with back, foot, shoulder, and hip pain. You name it, they could help.

However, I found myself skipping over them without knowing exactly why. Then, I discovered a physiotherapist who specialised in back pain. I knew they were the right person for the job!

It was only after seeing the physiotherapist and receiving treatment for my back pain that I reflected on the entire situation. This led me to a major realisation...

You see, I had a specific need (rehabilitation for my back), so I subconsciously sought out a specialist in that area, not a generalist.

And that, right there, is exactly what brands were doing and why I couldn't secure the projects I wanted.

My work was too general. I was a "Jack of all trades" but a master of none.

So, when these big brands were looking for a designer, they would skip right past my proposal.

Figuring this out was actually a big relief but it didn't solve my problem… Fortunately I had a plan!

💡 The Plan: Showcase my work to the businesses I wanted to work with prior to them actually needing my services. This way, when the time came, they would already know that I was the perfect fit for the job. However, for this plan to succeed, I needed to make some changes to my portfolio. As mentioned earlier, I was accepting any client I could find, and my portfolio reflected that. So first, I needed to get creative and put pen to paper (or hand to mouse, in my case 😂).

Over the next couple of weeks, I focused on creating concept brands and putting together detailed case studies that showcased my design decisions and more. I strategically developed brands with design styles similar to the businesses I wanted to work with.

With the first stage of the plan completed, it was time to market my work! As a young and naive designer, I decided to send my website to some of my favourite brands, hoping they would take a look and want to work with me.

“It was only a matter of time” I thought.

Day 1…

Day 2…

Day 3...

I didn't understand, I had created a bunch of work specifically targeting an industry but no businesses seemed to be interested.

But then, just like finding the missing piece of a puzzle underneath the sofa, I found the answer.

And it's exactly how Apple has been able to cultivate loyal fans and become a billion-dollar company.

Let me explain…

Imagine you need a new phone, but you're on a budget, so instead of going to the Apple store, you choose the cheaper option down the road, let's call it 'Pear'.

As you open the rundown squeaky door, you're greeted by a dusty old smell and a sea of cables. The checkout area seems deserted, and you find yourself wondering if anyone actually works there.

You quickly decide to leave before a staff member spots you.

It looks like you'll be heading to the Apple store after all.

So, with your credit card fearing for its life, you cross the road and head into the Apple Store.

As you push open the light glass door, a smiling staff member instantly greets you.

From the minimalist tablets to the clean store layout, you're quickly immersed in a fantastic customer experience.

Long story short, 10 minutes later, you leave the store not only with a new phone but also with some AirPods and a laptop. It looks like the house might need to be remortgaged 👀

See, what Apple excels at and what I need to do to attract my dream clients is to create a customer experience that is like no other. This experience should foster trust, instill confidence, and exude professionalism.

But my website and social media weren't achieving that! So here are the four changes I implemented that made a significant difference:

  1. Simplified the design of my website by removing unnecessary clutter, resulting in a clean and user-friendly interface.

  2. Added multiple contact forms to make it easier for visitors to reach out and connect with me.

  3. Revamped all of my copy to position myself as a more professional, strategic, and creative designer.

  4. Completely restructured the way I presented my work, which was a game changer. If you want to start professionally showcasing your work to convert more prospects, check out my Brand Presentation Template

Hope you found this week's newsletter helpful. It's a topic I've never really covered before, but I hope you found value in it!

See you next week,

Abi 😊


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