It feels like forever since I've been here and written. In actual fact, not really - it was only about a week and a half ago.
So the last week of work was interesting. Not bad in any way, but just surreal. I kept trying to follow things up, and kept wondering why I felt like I had so much 'free time' on my hands. It was strange, as I finished a job, there wasn't one ready and waiting for me. They were basically starting to send through all work to the remaining designer.
That's right - I left with no replacement. You'd find the humour in that when you realise that there were TWO full time graphic designers, each with a very FULL workload. And now there is one, with two very full workloads to figure out. And she only started working there about 3 months ago.
But, it's all done and dusted. One thing that did get me though, was the fact that in the past, whenever anyone had left there was always this big song and dance about it. Everyone would know weeks in advance. There was this big 'wrap up'. Now that I think about it, it was usually people leaving other departments. Our department was a strange one - or my manager I should say. Seemed to take great offence to anyone leaving. Even the two girls before me who'd gone to have babies seemed to have had a bit of rough treatment because of it. Literally, 2 minutes before I walked out of the building, my manager walks up and hands me a card, asks me if I've handed over anything important to designer number two and wished me good luck. Very different considering past farewells.
We're not a big place; less than 20 office staff. So it's not like any of the working relationships were not in some way personal. But, I guess that's what you get when you weren't chummy with the manager. I wasn't too impressed with the silent treatment I had received over the past 4 weeks, so when the 'design girls' went to lunch (aka. Designer 1, 2 and myself) I didn't bother extending an invitation to the person who, quite frankly, made each encounter with them, a headache.
But, a week into it and the place is almost forgotten. I have to remember to email the girls and see how they're going. I could imagine they're under the pump quite a bit. Anyways.
I haven't been doing too badly. Putting positive vibes out into the universe has landed me with some serious freelance work. Hopefully it continues. I have been having a hard time however setting my hourly/job rates though, which I expected - but it's hard.
You have to really 'know' what you're worth to make a living from it. If you keep under pricing your work then, a) people will see you and your work as cheap/no value and, b) you won't be able to raise the price in the future. I have always had a problem selling myself because I know I'm not the best designer out there. Some people just blow me out of the water with what they can do. I'm not bad, but I wouldn't go around claiming I'm a freakin' expert at everything either.
I had someone contact me through LinkedIn, asking if I wanted some typesetting work. Hell yes, thank you. Hourly rate? Uh, no idea. Typesetting? I can do it, don't mind it, a bit tedious if you're doing a 100+ page document. Especially if they haven't got the newest InDesign with all it's wonderful new additions. It took me ages to set a rate. And when I sent off the email, I was just waiting for the, "Sorry, my client was looking to spend much less." But they seem to have not flinched. I even set a weekend rate (time and a half, thank you very much) and offered to work on very short notice for another rate.
I've also been doing something a little bit naughty too, which I would never really admit unless asked directly. I feel like that I need a bit more work in my portfolio and I need real briefs to show off, rather than make something up. So I went to the crowdsourcing websites and signed up as a designer.
Crowdsourcing is when you write up a request for a logo and offer a 'prize' for the best one. Prizes are pitiful, and sometimes only equal to a couple of hours work (NB: A proper logo or 'brand' design where the designer actually gets to know your business, your customer base, your target audience, etc - can take a week and more and cost anywhere from $1,000 and up). So what designers do is they basically do the work for free. They do the best they can and send it to the person paying the prize. They then 'pick' the best one and the rest go unpaid and discarded.
The BAD thing about this is that it floods the market with cheap design work, which brings the quality of professional work down significantly. It also perpetuates that there is no value in design, and that you shouldn't have to pay for it (or, not much) and it makes it very hard for any professional to work if their client argues the fact they can pay on the cheap and get work done (our response is usually, "Go ahead, you wouldn't have valued my work even if you were paying for it.") It basically also lets people think that design is not hard, and that anyone can do it (without training or experience).
The only good thing I can give you is this: it's given me a chance to work on real briefs that I can show to potential clients, who are actually looking to pay me for my expertise. I can pick out a hard brief, or something I wouldn't normally work on and use it as a challenge. It's not a forever thing (seriously, anyone who calls them self a professional designer would HANG me) but just to get a bit of variety. I have heard other designers using it to break up their work (say you've been typesetting an annual report for a week and want to be a bit creative, you may have a go).
But otherwise, life as a freelancer at the moment is okay. It could be different in a week or so, but we'll see :)