Lately, i’ve come to realise that every season i am in need of change. Mostly when it comes to my routine and the things that work for me in my daily life. If you’ve been here for a while, you’ll remember my previous posts and updates on the different ways i’ve kept myself happy and sane ever since i started freelancing. I’m not going to say that what we do is the most difficult job in the world – in fact, it’s a lot of people’s dream! But, i’m sure you will agree with me when i say that it’s most definitely tricky to keep yourself in balance.

Which is why every now and then, i like to spice up my daily 9-5, in order to keep the creative juices flowing and avoid burning myself. At the beginning of the year, i focused on changes that would a. make me feeling fresher and b. make me more creative. Here are a few of the major things i changed.

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MY personal Creative day

Boy do i love this one! It wasn’t easy to incorporate an addition to the weekend day off from client project, but i just went with it. There were so many personal project that i just didn’t have to the time to work on. The Courses, my sticker apps, the shop, all were postponed from day to day, until i had to be completely honest with myself. There wouldn’t be any free time handed to me, unless i made room for it.

 

At first, i thought this would create a complete chaos, but surprisingly things haven’t changed at all. I still got plenty of time for client projects and something to look for in the week. A whole day, to work on anything i want and most importantly, investing on my business and creativity.

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Redefining personal style

Not quite sure if that’s because i’m such an ocd freak, and maybe not a lot of creatives are doing this. But whenever i find myself in a dark place or feel like like the wind is blowing and i need to change, i go back to my drawing board and start defining what i love. What has been difficult for me over the years is to create one thing, or perhaps, have just one distinctive style. Because i simply freakin love all kinds of design and styles. So what i usually ask myself is: “What kind of design / visuals / make my heart skip?” For that, i will use Pinterest. Scrolling down my pins, i will set aside the pins that literally blow my mind and i feel connected with.

Once i’ve had enough, i’ll start writing key words and what makes each visual so special to me. Is it the colours, the style, the meaning? After spending on this a whole day last week, i’ve come to realise that i connect quite a lot with the concept “witch”. The key words i’ve written down (yes on my notebook) where: mystical, natural, dark, geometry, etherial, crystals, natural, folk, cats, 1920’s. And honestly, i don’t know why i hadn’t realised this before, but these are all the things that fuel my inspiration. So, i naturally created a new board and named it “The Season of the Witch” in order to store somewhere all the things i find inspiring, from photography, to colours, mood and illustrations.

A journal or two

I gave up writing on a calendar or keeping a notebook about two years now. It was time for me to embrace the age of technology and i’ve been using all things digital ever since. Quite frankly, i don’t miss it at all. I have everything i need in my phone at all times whether i’m carrying my bag or not.

What iPhone notes do can’t help me with however, is storing all the creative ideas in my mind somewhere. For about a year i kept notes and descriptions of concepts in my Notes, but never found it inspiring to look back at them and actually bring these concepts to life.

First of January, i grabbed my moroccan notebook (lucky me!) and turned it into a sketching journal. What i happily discovered, was that i ended up having even more ideas, and roughly sketching them makes me even more motivated to bring them to life. So yup kids, no matter how many digital notebooks you can download, nothing is like the real thing. Sketching on a journal makes you more inspired and more creative.

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It’s never too late to learn

You might have noticed my new obsession with illustration, right? Well, i intend to build a little more on that! My first projects include a few artwork illustrations for Jason’s nursery and hopefully will evolve them into something interesting for my shop. The thing about creating new skills is that you find more mediums to express your imagination, and that my friends is wonderful! I haven’t picked up a specific course, just going with what my gut says and lots of practise and patience. There are a few tricks however on how work with illustration even if you have no idea how to draw. I’m thinking of turning this into a mini tutorial / course once i take my maternity break.

There will be loads of time then for me to focus on all the wonderful things i have to share with you!

Aside from illustrating, i’m planning to subscribe to a few podcasts, and take a few online courses myself. One that i’ve been very interested in was Melyssa’s Pinterest course. It’s so refreshing to see things from a different perspective and hear a different option. Makes you eager for a change, as well as learn a thing or two about what you thought you thought you already new.

Today, was such an exiting morning! If you’re following on Twitter or we’re friends on Facebook, you’ll know the incredible package i received from my dearest Mianra. You remember the brand identity + packaging i worked with her right? Well, I really felt the love today, never before so cared for and loved. Honestly, i cried a little, as she not only sent me every little thing she has in her marvellous shop, but created with love special products just for me, as i have a special condition. Even printed custom labels, with cute instructions, named as “Corina’s 100% Pure Argan Oil”. How can you not feel special?

I’ve talked about creating beautiful relationships with your clients in the past, and how this is my very favourite part. Creating bonds, working with talented people, that in the end turn out to be lifelong friends. The kind of relationships, that you can chat about personal stuff, and be friends long after you stop working. I feel that, when you do what you love, you love the people you do it with, it’s unavoidable. Later today i chatted with Linda from Kinlake, on how precious this is, however not every client you will work with will feel the same. Sadly, i’ve had my share of bad experiences, and people i just can’t seem to have a good communication or click with. I’m big girl, i can work professionally, i don’t have to be best friends with everyone right? But in reality, these are the kind of projects that make me inspired, both when designing and in my daily life!

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But is there really a way, that you can filter the people inquiring to work with you, and see if you’re going to be a good match? Well..here are a few thoughts. 

 

01. Test their humour levels

There was this design studio’s blog post i read a few years ago. Won’t name them, as i’m not 100% sure it was actually them, don’t want to falsely point out fingers. They did something rather brilliant. In their contact form, they included silly questions or complete the sentence like fields. Something like, “If i was a fruit, i would be…” or “If i find a coin i will…”

To me, this is an incredible way to analyse the person you’re talking to. Whether, they have imagination, sense of humour, if they’re stiff or tense. You will see who has the most difficult time expressing themselves, who is more analytical. Mind that it translates to how easily they will be able to express their feelings about your work as well as give you exact feedback.

What i’ve done so far, is to include a fan part in my questionnaire with questions like, “If i were an animal i would be..” etc. Gathered them carefully from character quizzes. That way, i’m able to see inside them, make them relax, get to know a few more personal things about them. It sparks everyone’s imagination.

 

o2. DO THEY TRUST YOU?

One question i’ve never thought asking my clients, is have you seen my portfolio? Most of the times, people who already know my work, have been following me on social media, read my blog or seen my work on Pinterest, are the kind of people who get in touch. However, some inquiry emails are a little less “personal”. They might have been referred to me by someone who knows me, or may simply bumped into my blog or something like that. My advice to you, is always ask them to take a look at your previous work, and inlcude your clients of note in your welcome kit.

They might just want a designer who will create what they have in mind, leaving you zero creativity, having zero trust in your skills – because they don’t know who you are and what you’re capable of. And of course, in the end they might not even like your style.

What you want, is to work with people, who know you, admire and respect your work, and have complete faith in you. That’s the kind of environment a designer does hers/his best work.

 

03. Are you Made for each other?

Aesthetics! Style! These are the kind of things you need to know beforehand, to see if they’re the perfect fit for you. Mind you, it could be the other way around, but you’re in the privilege position to choose your projects, and create the best of work that represents you. The work that is 100% you, will go in your portfolio and will attract a dozens more. So choose your projects wisely.

To that, all you can do is either create a small questionnaire for them to fill in once they send the enquiry, seen your rates and process and are interested in working with you. It could contain quick questions, as in adding 3-4 images and brands they find inspiring, favourite trends, and as well as the funny little questions i talked about on No.1.

Your clients will seek fast work, and most of the times have tight deadlines. If they’re not willing to spend 10 minutes to connect with you, and give you what you need, trust me, you’re better off without them. They won’t have time for the project in the future either, will delay feedbacks, won’t have time for proper feedbacks, and we all know what that means. A messy outcome.

 

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So don’t be afraid to ask the right questions beforehand. You’ll save yourself tons of time, not to mention work on projects you really love, with amazing people that will end up giving you the best collaborations of your life.

The season before leaving for vacation, must have been one of the most stressful in my whole working life. I have no idea what do i always think booking so many projects especially right before vacation. Well, you know. I’m one of those who can’t say no to a great project no matter the cost and prefer to burn myself instead of disappointing a client.

Besides creating pretty things, that’s equally one of my favourite things. Making people happy, safe, comfortable, able to communicate and know they’re in good hands relying on me and leaving their business’s future to me. Having a bad communication, outcome or a relationship that doesn’t end to a good collaboration is my worst nightmare. I can work around pretty much anything. Tight deadlines, someone not liking my work, i can reassure and work harder until i please them all. But you know, it’s not always about us (the designers). I’ve been in situations before, where no matter how good you are and how great you do your job, the person on the other side will be just that. Difficult.

I don’t think i have ever lost my temper to anyone or not have gone a step further to please them. And that is what i think it’s all about. Great collaborations with your clients is about being personal, being honest, working a little more, making them happy and most of all be patient. No matter how difficult the case is, who’s right or who’s wrong, you above all, are a professional. And trust me, the feeling of have gone a few steps further and having kept your cool is much more rewarding than putting someone in their place. At least, that’s what makes me a happy freelancer inside and out.

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This is probably the latest i’ve ever posted! Almost 11:30pm over here and this cover right here my friends, is the night time nonsense. I call it “i’ve got leaves under my long sleeves”. Definitely not a night owl here, but i loved experimenting freely on this piece – there’s something about it (the weirdness? how absurd it is?) that i like. It’s a crazy week (crazier than you can imagine) and a night time creative outlet was perfect for the occasion.

There’s this contract thing that keeps popping in front of me the past few weeks, that i really wanted to share with you. All freelancers who haven’t been paid for a project, or have had a miscommunication / bad experience with a client, raise your hands. I bet i can count quite a few.

For me, a contract is a base for a perfect collaboration, which is why i keep updating mine every time i spot a flaw or have a collaboration that doesn’t turn right as i want it.

Below, i’m sharing a small part from my Courses “Branding Process”, where i have a whole section analysing what makes a good contract. There’s a midsummer sale going on as well, in case you want to learn a bit more about branding process from start to finish.

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All designers work in different ways, therefore they tailor their contracts depending on their way of process. Some, have the impression that the contract is created in order to cover the client and the designer. Which is true, but in more detail, the contract, is tailored based on the designers’ way of working, their process, their needs and their rules are displayed in a contract to clear out the whole branding process from start to finish and let your client know all about it. Contracts should cover pretty much everything you can imagine.  This is a very crucial part so think of every little detail.

Breaking down a contract;

Rights & Ownership

In rights and ownership, let your client know and commit that all the design work you are creating is exclusively for them, will not be replicated, and they will have all the rights to use their brand identity design as they wish. This is a commitment for you, that is protecting not only the client, but your work as well. In case of replication of your work by any other brand or designer, this contract proves that your work is original and belongs to your clients.

 

Communication

..One of my favourite parts right here, is setting up the base for the communication between you and your client. Think through all the parameters. Hours you can be reached, when you can be reached, delays, when your client should be getting back to you, skype calls, and preferable ways of communication. The more you analyse this part, the better you two will be on track of your project.

The communication way that works best for me, is via email. Skype dates can be scheduled, but there is only such little time in a day, and skype calls can get long. Very long! What i like even more, is that everything is written down for you to keep track of the conversation and be able to go back again and again. In addition, while writing down thoughts and feedback, your client gets to really think about what they truly want to see. Make them put some time and work on their feedback, you’ll see it will be the most accurate…

 

Payment

One of the biggest sections in your contract, that you should put a lot thought to. In this section, you will need to refer from methods of payment, to the waiting list, downpayment, when each payment needs to be made etc.

What i’ve figured out works best and protects my work, is having a downpayment of 50% in order to reserve a spot in my waiting list, and then the final 50% payment happens at the beginning of the process. Some designers prefer having the final 50% at the very end before handing the final files and, that was something i tried for a while, until a few bad cases of clients disappearing on me… 

 

Refund

…Think about the ways your clients could get a refund. What if they change their mind, what if they don’t like your work etc. All the worst case scenarios. If you are on a waiting list, consider also the fact that they are taking the spot of a project that you might could be working on…

 

Files & History

Lastly, i’ve included a section stating for how long you will be able to store your files, how long the dropbox link will be active (for the final files). Between you and me i’ve been keeping all my works for the past years. You never know what happens, and so it did. My hard rive broke in January, and i lost pretty much everything i had ever created. Some i had to redesign (can you even imagine that?) but for what it’s worth, i’m glad my contract states storing a year!

 

The final things that i include in the contract are the dates, project and price descriptions, names and signatures. It is super easy to sign your contracts with Adobe Acrobat and have a signature installed in, so prompt your clients to use it in order to avoid scanning or taking pictures.

They say the more years of experience you have the easier it gets. But it’s oh so easy to loose yourself while freelancing and more specifically really mess up your routine / schedule or have none at all. You might have read about my daily routine throughout the past years and how well organised and structured i am. It was something i was really proud about myself. Well, i was until this year! I don’t know if it’s me getting older and slower, or if it’s just that i put too much love and attention to each project i work on, but my normal working routine has long gone off the window.

At first it started with two more hours on my 8-5pm schedule, then skipping a few posts, working on less personal projects and then working 13 hours a day. I don’t know what i expected, but i know for sure no human being can live a normal life working so many hours a day and stressing on the weekends. Sadly, i wasn’t able to do much about it so i went on like this since last summer. Boy it’s been a year now! No wonder i look 10 years older.

After realising how poorly and unhappy i was (last week yay) i thought it’d step in and change a few things. My routine now looks completely different from the last update that obviously wasn’t quite successful. Instead of listing a 9-5, i’ll share with you the changes i made.

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01. A DIFFERENT PHILOSOPHY

The only things i will keep from my older schedule is the audiobooks. I love multitasking and when i don’t multitask, i always feel like i’m not doing enough. Plus audiobooks create a beautiful and calming background for when you work. Obviously they don’t go on and on even when i’m replying emails, but mainly for the design process.

Here is though, the biggest change i needed. All things happen for a reason right? Well, last week i had this hole in my chest as if something was missing from my life. Maybe it was just me being sick of zombie / post apocalyptic novels haha. But seriously now, that’s how i started browsing books about Buddhism. Like, why waste time listening to stories, when you can actually learn something new?

I was overwhelmed by having it all and wanting more, never being happy and never settling. I could almost start crying by thinking how completing these two books (Buddhism: A Beginner’s Guide & Buddhism for Busy People) has changed pretty much the way i see everything. Even if you’re not into Buddhism, just a freelancer looking to improve your daily life and be happy, the Buddhism for Busy People will open a new world to you.

 

02. MORNING ROUTINE

Even though, oh how i love sleep, i’m making baby steps to waking up at 6am. Hey, who said happiness doesn’t need work? In order to prepare myself for a busy day, that needs tons of creativity and inspiration, i need couple of hours to pumper myself and make me happy. First and foremost, meditation and 3 sun salutations.

Going to yoga classes last year was awesome, but now that we moved to a village, it’s just stressful for me to do a whole 20 minute drive to it. We also started going to the gym every evening, and that worked only for 2 months. My whole body is sore from sitting all day, and don’t get me started on my back. I figured that 3 sun salutations, is the least i can do to stretch and feel a wee more energetic before i start the day.

I have meditated in total three times now and although it had never worked before, it is now, when i need it the most. And as a miracle it’s so much easier to clear my mind for those 15 minutes. My brain is like a kid in a candy store. Running around wanting this and that. Focusing on my breath makes me so relaxed and clear afterwards.

So i wake up, wash my little face, wear something warm and cozy (as the sun hasn’t come out at 6-7am), grab my yoga mat and earplugs and head to the yard, where there’s no one but me and the cool breeze. Even thinking about it makes me happy.

 

03. HAPPY SCHEDULE HAPPY YOU

I had this silly rule of putting a timer for every project i worked, to make sure i was on schedule. Jeez!! Is there anything more stressful than that? Well when your to do list has 10 things, you definitely need it. And my to do lists had 20. Seeing that this wasn’t working out well, i decided to make more feasible to do lists, so i don’t feel like a failure at the end of everyday.

Work on maximum three projects a day, with the big ones alone on a separate days, replying to emails, and work on a blog post. Timer is gone and i don’t have to stay until 12am working. Sure, projects spread into more days, but nothing good comes from burning yourself to get everything done at once. Projects can wait, and you need to take care of yourself.

 

04. THOSE BAD DAYS

Let’s face it. Not all days are productive and we don’t feel creative on every single one of them. A bad feedback, or something that’s just not working out, may bring you down down down. What i would normally do is stick with my schedule in terror of deadlines, not increasing my to-do list the next day etc etc. Put your imagination here of how someone who feels crappy ends up working.

On those bad days, from now on i’ll just drop everything as i it is and call it a day. Rearrange my week’s to do list so none of the days gets overwhelming, and focus on making myself feel better. That could be from taking a walk, going to the beach, eating an ice cream because hell, i feel like shit. I realised that if i go on with deing frustrated, 1. i’m no longer productive, 2. feel crappier the next day. So just call it a day and start clean the next one.

 

Everything these days is going so much faster than it used to and we all need to have some extra time to relax and unwind, in order to say on top of things. I bet you have a few secrets of your own, would love to hear what works best for you to stay creative and happy!

You may have noticed that the past month i’m not as strict on my posting schedule as i was a few months ago. To be quite honest, this is something that i feel heavy on my heart. Spending those 2-3 hours a day to connect with you, work on a small, fun, personal project and share my thoughts is everything i  live for. My love for the blogging world is indescribable.

From the beginning of this year though, something with my schedule hasn’t just been right for me. Too many projects working at the same time, so little time for fun. At a point i felt like i lost myself somewhere in there. Being so tired 24/7 has been a rude awakening that things need to change. You remember, i kept saying if you burn yourself there’s no way you can stay creative. But at the same time, if  you create daily, you keep fueling your creativity. The silver line is so thin, you can loose it just like that.

Anyways, aside me pouring my heart here, i’ve been noticing a lot how everyone lays low on the Monday – Friday posting. Did a quick poll on Twitter not long ago and surprisingly the majority posts 2-3 times nowadays. Our lives have quicker paces more and more and there’s less time to read and write.

Still, blogs are such a big part of our lives for pretty much everything; inspiration, food, style. I still want to maintain at least 4 days a week, but i wanted to hear your thoughts so much on this topic!

 

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Turning 27 has not been as bad as i thought it would be. These days, i feel like i have it all figured out, and although i would normally laugh at something like that, being 27 gives you the right have things figured out. Most of all, freelancing has in a way made me mature… Read more »

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Turning 27 has not been as bad as i thought it would be. These days, i feel like i have it all figured out, and although i would normally laugh at something like that, being 27 gives you the right have things figured out. Most of all, freelancing has in a way made me mature quicker, become more responsible and well.. grow a pair! Basically, i’ve become the person i’ve always wanted to be. Be at the place where i always wanted to be, and that’s just makes my heart happy.
For reasons unknown, this is a somewhat difficult post to write. Mostly because i’m admiring out loud things i have been thinking a while. And when you do, it’s like, do you spoil the magic? Either way, i’ve been writing a list the past couple of weeks, asking myself the question, what makes you happy? You should see me coming up with the answer while showering – running to grab my phone in bubbles. I have such a short memory, i can forget something from one second to the other. So thank you Notes for making my life happier.
Be honest
There’s still a small struggle with this one, but i’m 99% there. I’m not talking about honesty as in, not lying, but honesty as in always saying what comes to your mind. For a lot of long reasons, i haven’t always done that. Keeping words, thoughts and opinions to myself for a long time, i’ve felt like i was building up and putting all this pressure to my shoulders. This blog has helped me so much to deal with my -sort of- introversion, and now i just feel free, and more.. me.
Don’t suppress emotions.
No problem with this one though! I’m such an easy crier but the most difficult part has been in my freelance life though. Dealing with stress, emotions, putting myself down, feeling unworthy – artists get a lot of these emotions you know. The key to get over every single one of them, is to allow yourself the time to feel and embrace them. Don’t suppress your anger or sadness – but give it a moment, don’t rush it, don’t force yourself to feel better just because you have to. So when i’m feeling sad i just embrace the fact that i feel sad. I’ll cry, be angry but once i let it all out, the next day i’m back on my track.
Take care of yourself.
Our body is our template, and the older you grow the more you feel the need to take care of yourself. The past month i started turning all my beauty products to natural and organic ones, eating more vegetables and going to the gym. The change i see every morning in the mirror is remarkable. No longer the tired, bitten face, but bright and happy – even if she wants to sleep a little longer.
Do something for others.
Last but not least, doing something for others is our primary nature – it’s what makes us happy and complete. I recently watched this episode with Obama and Bear Grylls and the man said this one thing that stuck with me: Be kind and be useful. How can you be useful to others? Try doing at least one good thing in your day that is for someone else.

 

There might be quite a few things that i’m missing – i bet. Like, surrounding yourself with positive people and people you love. I’ll keep this list in my notes and keep it growing. Probably make a post with all the things that make us happy. How about you?? What makes you happy?