Ready, Set, Freelance

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Ready, Set, Freelance

On May 24, 2012, Justin and I gave a talk at the Creative Careers Conference at Massachusetts College of Art & Design. The C3 Conference is a two-day event helping to advance professional development for artists and designers. Our talk was titled Ready, Set, Freelance and below we’ve outlined a bunch of the points we talked about and included many links we hope you will find helpful.

Keynote Speaker Dan Hunter sketched on an iPad using the 53 Paper App (

The Keynote was given by writer/humorist Dan Hunter who spoke on How to Navigate the Creative Economy.

Helena Fruschio, the Massachusetts Creative Economy Industry Director, gave a very lively and informative talk about the Massachusetts creative economy and how to tap into it to boost or supplement your business.

Our event description:

Ready, Set, Freelance
Get ready for a crash introduction into the wild and woolly world of freelancing. Creative Relay co-founders and long-time freelancers, Ed Shems and Justin Perricone, will provide guidance on how to navigate the potential pitfalls and rewards of working as a freelance creative professional. They’ll cover everything from the first conversations with clients to completing successful projects that keep them happy and can lead to more work. You’ll learn tips and suggestions on conducting first meetings with clients, developing contracts, handling project revisions, invoicing, and how to deal with difficult clients. You’ll begin to treat your freelance work like a business and become more confident in your ability to work with clients, while enjoying more success.

Admittedly, a crash-course in freelancing should take more than an hour to present but that’s all the time allotted so Justin and I hit the ground running with the following sections:

  1. Starting Your Business
  2. Finding Work
  3. The Meeting
  4. The Proposal
  5. Time to Work
  6. Approval & Delivery

We started simple: What’s your (business) name? Who is your audience? How will clients find you? We covered the topic of thinking like a consumer when it comes time for customer service, and then we talked about how important it is to have a contract (so you both know what to expect) and a sign-off (so anything that goes to print ultimately is the client’s responsibility).

Some other items that came up:

  1. We love Twitter
  2.’s thank you (for your order) cards are really nice
  3. Contracts and Terms in The Graphic Artists Guild’s Pricing and Ethical Guidelines Handbook
  4. Get an Employee Identification Number (EIN)
  5. Print portfolios: Blurb and iPhoto (among others) offer cheap leave-behind books
  6. Behance Portfolios
  7. Learn how to sell yourself (we did a recent blog post about this called Rock the Interview)
  8. Swingers, the movie
  9. Freelance Switch’s Hourly Rate Calculator
  10. Good ideas need to simmer
  11. Track your time and work smart
  12. Have good communication with your client
  13. Good service matters
  14. Specialize. Get to know people who do things you don’t so you can offer more to your client without getting in over your head

And somehow we finished with 4 minutes to spare.

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