Brighten Made is two!
Two years (and a day) ago, I decided to launch Brighten Made. Unsure of what would come of it and a little nervous of what others would think, I did it anyways. And I’m so glad I did.
Looking back on this past year, SO much has changed with my process and just overall direction of my business from year one to year two. And while I learned a lot this past year, I’m sharing a break down of 3 of my biggest learning experiences. My hopes are that you find comfort in knowing that each year brings new challenges and learning experiences. I’m not perfect, but I believe these could help all the aspiring freelancers/small business owners out there.
So this was a big one that I had to learn the hard way - always have a contract. No matter the project.
When I first started out freelancing my contract was a little bit laughable. It was a bullet list of things the client should follow, which they had to then sign by paper and mail or scan back to me. So much work on their end andddd a little embarrassing #amiright?
Once I got over the fact that designing invoices and contracts in InDesign is a waste of my time, I became okay with ugly invoices + contracts and started doing them through my CRM, Dubsado. I invested in an actual contract and started using them for all my branding clients, which made up about 90% of my clientele last year. However that other 10% was made up of bigger clients that I worked with on a retainer or more regular basis. That’s a story for another day, but I didn’t send a new contract for each project they sent my way because it seemed unnecessary (and a waste of time) for the smaller projects and I had built a relationship with them and trusted them.
You know how this ends, right? I spent time (a lot of time) on one particular project and never ended up getting paid for it. Cue the tears. To be honest, it really upset me at first. I had nightmares about it actually. But then I remembered that the sun would still rise the next day and I would never not work on a project without a contract in place. ever. again. I actually learned SO much from that one experience that in a way I’m sort of thankful I went through it.
Time is my currency, not money.
So this is actually something I’ve heard Jenna Kutcher say for quite some time, but the moment she said it I was like YES. I totally resonate with this.
My first year of full-time business ownership (which consisted of part of last year), I said I would take on as much work that came my way. I wanted to be fully confident that I had plenty of work to pay my bills and prove to the world that I could do this. And while that stayed true for most of the year, I learned that my time is SO much more valuable than any dollar sign.
I realized that in order to protect my health, my relationships, and just the quality of work I put out, that I have to be able to balance my time. This is something I still struggle with and probably will continue to struggle with because it’s REALLY hard for me to say no. But I’m getting better at it and remembering that life is far too short to spend all my time working in my business.
It’s the reason why I sometimes have to say no to a potential inquiry, or no to a family or friend asking for a quick favor. As much as I want to say yes to all of these things, I just can’t. I have to protect myself and how I spend my time.
It’s okay that I like pink.
Okay so this title makes me laugh a little, but YES this is something that I realized.
At one point last year I found myself frustrated that I wasn’t attracting really cool businesses, like a restaurant or some edgy skincare line, or a bar owned by a dude. Did they find my overall brand too girly? Too feminine? IS THERE TOO MUCH PINK ON MY WEBSITE?
And then I fell into the comparison trap. Designer x, y, and z have the COOLEST clients and their styles are all black and white, so should mine be black and white too? Wrong.
While every client I work with doesn’t love pink the way I love pink (and that’s 100% okay), I’ve found that staying true to myself and my style is what will continue my success. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of styles and colors and all the design things, but I’m also not going to pretend to be something I’m not.
And you shouldn’t either.