An inside look at Studio Apelila
Waking up this morning I felt excited. There’s been a lot of growth for my business over the past few months and I’ve steadily built up my dream client list (!!!) and create some beautiful brands. It wasn’t always this good though, and there were days when I wanted to quit, start a full-time job at some office and never design anything ever again. In this post I wanted to share a few things that worked for me and hopefully you can take these lessons away and apply them into your own business.
3 things I wish I knew before I started freelancing
RECOGNISE YOUR WORTH
My dream clients came my way after I sat myself down and asked myself why I was attracting clients that didn’t make me feel passionate about my job. The answer was? I didn’t have a brand that truly reflected who I was, and my skills and experience. I wasn’t showing potential clients what I was really worth. It’s so easy to fall into the mindset that you aren’t as experienced as other designers and your brand and business really suffers from it. How to show your worth? There are a couple things you can do to show potential clients who you are and why you would be a good fit for them.
NO.1 - Don’t say yes to every single client. If your portfolio only has certain types of clients and you want to attract a different type then they won’t come by your way magically. In the beginning I dreamt up three brands I would LOVE to work with and then I made a faux-brand that resonated with my dream clients. Inquiries with some absolutely incredible businesses started trickling in and all of a sudden I finally had the ability to say no to clients that didn’t make me feel passionate.
NO.2 - Price yourself accordingly. If you are charging pennies for work you know is worth absolute gold then you aren’t doing anyone a favour - to the clients you are undercharging and potential clients that are turned off by the fact that you seem cheap. Pick a rate that you feel reflects your skills, creativity and experience and if you’re still getting clients then you know that that is the best rate for you. If you aren’t, maybe take the rate down a notch until a little bit later where you can pick it back up or add a couple extra services into your package.
NO.3 - Make quality content. This will probably be obvious to most people but I think it should still be said. Pour your heart into every single project you work on and refine, refine, refine.
STAY IN YOUR OWN LANE
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of looking at other creatives and businesses who seem to be flourishing and suddenly being insecure in your own work. The result of comparing can be disastrous and you aren’t staying true to who you are and what makes you special and unique in the first place. While it’s important to have inspiration and motivation from other people, don’t compare yourself to the point where you don’t even see yourself.
If creativity and an idea isn’t coming to you - don’t stress! Looking at Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration is a really good habit but when you suddenly find little details in your work that you absolutely love but someone points out isn’t entirely original - that can spell disaster.
Sources of creativity can come from anywhere. When I’m in a rut I tend to take a walk, make a tea and just sit and think on the porch, start working on something else, do some exercise or just watch some Netflix (hey, it’s technically getting creative!). So, moral of the story is that staying in your own lane can produce your best results - just stay creative, active and healthy and don’t stress about what that Instagrammer you’re obsessed with is doing.
BALANCE OVER HUSTLE
Balance is the single most important thing in my life. Every aspect of your life has balance, and it’s essential that you work to live and not vice versa (quote from a comment on my Instagram post that SO resonated with me). Giving yourself time to work, rest and play will ensure that creativity flows and your productivity grows.
When I don’t make time for myself burn out rears its ugly head and forces me to either stop being productive and rest or keep working and produce some low-quality work. Survival mode kicks in and you’re left wondering why you ever started a creative business in the first place. The most important thing to do when you are experiencing burn out is to forgive yourself. Give yourself time to rest without feeling guilty.
Another important thing to do is to stay hydrated, and active. A healthy mind is a productive one! (Is that a saying?)
Phew, thanks for sticking with me through that wall of text. I have never been more aligned with my business and it’s so exciting! The fact that I get to wake up and do what I love has never felt better. I hope this letter has inspired you!
As always, if you have any questions or simply want to chat just click ‘reply’ to this email and I will get back to each and every one of you! I’m so thankful for this community and I look forward to the next time!
Best regards, April