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.

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.

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!

 

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?

 

This has been a very interesting topic in my life the past weeks, and by talking about it, i realised how little everyone knows when it comes to protecting your work. I’ve had my share with a few crazy cases. And i’m all fine, when i stumble upon designs inspired by mine. We all have been… Read more »

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This has been a very interesting topic in my life the past weeks, and by talking about it, i realised how little everyone knows when it comes to protecting your work. I’ve had my share with a few crazy cases. And i’m all fine, when i stumble upon designs inspired by mine. We all have been there, i have been there – it’s easy to get too inspired by someone and end up designing what they’ve designed. No hard feelings there, in fact i find it flattering.
And i’ve also, been quite tolerant with my designs being stolen in the past, but honestly, it’s getting ridiculous these days. Copyrighting your work, and knowing ways to protect it can give you quite the headache. Thankfully, in our little company, Theo is the one in charge of all non creative matters so not to burst my bubble of creativity. There’s a few basic things that i know though, that are easy to apply.
Copyrights. Did you know, that from the moment you share something with the world, it is automatically copyrighted to you? As long as it’s live and you can prove it, there’s a publishing date – you are the rightful owner and can file injection or sue. Things you cannot copyright, are names, quotes, colours and a few other things no person would want to copyright.
There are quite a few ways to prove that your work belongs to you. Besides the publishing dates, i like to keep all the process files, and yes on all my blog posts as well. The scans, psd files, sketches, everything. Since a site can be hacked or all hell breaks loose and you loose everything, you might consider downloading your website in a pdf or structured once a month. There are loads of websites that can do that for you like, Darcy Ripper.
To avoid all the above, you can simply copyright a specific artwork in copyright.gov. As you may require quite the budget for that, all the above sound like a delightful option to me! I’ve selected a few works though that have been popular when it comes to stealing that are copyrighted.
Lastly, ways to prevent someone from stealing your work. Include your name on the footer, as well as the year the website and its content has belonged to you. Have a specific section for disclaimers and policies, stating what work has been created by you and what kind of permissions you’re giving to your readers. Your words matter, so make sure you are the first one to take the correct steps towards protecting your work. Finally, there’s the putting your name / logo / username / website on your graphics. And that last one, is the one i hate the most. Honestly, it’s really helpful in so many ways. Like making your work recognisable and easier found, as well as making it difficult for someone to remove it from the artwork. But it’s such a turn off to my sensitive eyes! I love observing an artwork without the distraction of a logo. But of course, there are ways to do this delicately, like having a signature or incorporating your website to the overall design.
Hoping you find this post helpful and eyeopening. It’s become so easy to have your work distributed, so the more you know, the better it will be to stand up for yourself and claim your rights.

Even thinking about it, sounds crazy. I’ve been freelancing for 3 years now. Well, unofficially it rounds up to four, but on that first year i may have worked on 3 projects tops. So, i’ve been participating to quite a few interviews lately, and i always get the same question at the end – if… Read more »

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Even thinking about it, sounds crazy. I’ve been freelancing for 3 years now. Well, unofficially it rounds up to four, but on that first year i may have worked on 3 projects tops. So, i’ve been participating to quite a few interviews lately, and i always get the same question at the end – if i have any advice to give to the ones starting now. And boy, do i have! There have been a lot of TFL’s here, 56 in fact, so this seemed like a great opportunity to wrap up a few things.

 

BE POLITE

Having to talk with so many different people, you will yourself dealing with all kinds of different characters. Rule number one, be kind and polite, no matter what. If there were more kind people, the world would be a happier place. So as a professional and as a great human being, make the difference and be polite. It’s more likely that you will gain inner peace and won’t get easily affected by others tempers.

 

NEVER REST

Never feel safe with what you know, and never rest. Learn one new thing per week, expand your skills and style and always keep evolving. The world is moving on and so should you. Travel more, go out more, experience more. By doing more, you will have more inspiration and creative ideas.

WORK WITH LOVE

This one, is rule number two and most important. Whatever you do, do it with love. Don’t follow trends – although be aware of them – and always create with what makes your heart happy. Whether that seems silly, or crazy, go with your what your gut says and have passion.

 

KNOW YOUR WORTH

Work with respect to yourself, your mind and body and don’t let anyone put you down. Know what you worth and pat yourself in the back. You’re doing a great job and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

 

WHEN YOU FALL, LEARN HOW TO GET UP

Designer’s blues must be a real thing, and i know i get them all the time. All my insecurities kick in, filling how i’m not good enough, or skilled enough and that i don’t do enough. You can’t avoid these downs, they’ll happen often and that’s ok. The great thing is knowing how to pull yourself together and move on. Two things work for me, focusing on the things that i want to achieve and pampering myself. The first is the most difficult, but always works. Once i face my goals, i say to myself; today is tough, but we’ve got tomorrow, i allow myself a day to feel crappy and get all those emotions out, but i get back stronger the next day. If that doesn’t work, go to a spa or take a bath and clean yourself up. Change those pyjamas too.

 

COMPARISSON

This is something i avoid like hell. If you’re not strong enough to sit, admire and observe, stop those nasty thoughts “she’s / he’s better than me and i’ll never become successful” right away, and start thinking about that chocolate in the cabinet. We all know the don’t compare yourself with people, because we’re all different, we have different experiences and circumstances, but some it’s not easy to avoid. You wish you were more, but by comparing yourself won’t get you there.

 

OBSERVE

Seriously love this one. Although i’m not an observant person when it comes to life itself, i’ve became observant when it comes to design. Once you start observing more details and putting thought into this and that, you’ll be able to learn yourself more things and evolve your skills.

KNOW WHEN TO SAY NO

This one is a toughie. Wether you’re a push over or simply polite, you need to toughen up. Sometimes clients may take advantage of you, or simply projects are just not for you. By respectfully declining or politely saying no, you will avoid situations you would wish you wouldn’t have been. Simple as that.

ORGANISE

Organise the hell out of everything. Your schedule, your clients, your email, your calendar, your projects and your files. Freelance life is not as easy as it sounds. It can be a whole great mess if you’re not organised enough and know your way around of things in your life.

 

STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF

Last and favourite one. Whatever you do and however you do it, just stay true to who you are. Don’t create something because it’s popular or because it’s trendy. Create something because you feel connected to it. Remember your roots and passions, and that’s what’s gonna make you successful.

 

It has to be the third time that i’m updating the TFL with a weekly schedule! I kinda do have a week spot for spicing up my routine every now and then to be honest with you. A little before the new year, i changed an 180º direction to how i work throughout the week and it definitely suits the whole feeling fresh and relaxed mood of 2016. I’m feeling less tight and “going by the book”. You can see an older post right here and although the process has stayed at some points the same, a few things that make a whole lot difference have changed.

WEEKDAYS
07:30 – 08:00
This one turns out to be definitely the most difficult part of the day. I used to wake up a lot earlier, some times even at 6am, but the more time passes the more grumpy i am waking up early. Although i’m missing valuable time for things like taking a walk, or getting ready with a slow pace, i get to snooze and feel much happier for doing so. One thing i also dropped, is showering in the morning. That’s an evening thing now, as i love going to be feeling fresh and clean.
So basically, if you’re one to get tired a lot during the day, you might want to give yourself the rest and sleep your body needs. This is the exact reason i’m changing my routine every few months. The needs are changing and so should your schedule. In a few words, i’m gaining more time to sleep, wake up happy, have a quick breakfast, wash my face and go to my office.

09:00 – 10:00 am
My goal, is to be sitting in my desk around 9 and getting things started. My favourite thing to do early in the morning, is having a cup of tea, now that mornings are cold, and replying emails. Sometimes it takes a lot more than an hour, but i do my best to write short and sweet emails, without spending more than two minutes for each. The more focused you are, the quicker you’re getting them all done.

I start with my main inbox, moving forward to new inquires which is in a different folder, then general inquires and interviews. Finally, i’ve got the Courses inbox, which is the last ones i reply before starting to work on projects.

10:00 am – 01:30 pm
And here’s where the sweetest change has taken its place. I used to work with a timer, and scheduling projects to work on everyday with a specific amount of time. For example, on Monday, i would have scheduled 7 projects to work on, with 30 minutes each. That lead me to deal with stress to finish them before launch, that drove me completely crazy.

With my new system, i work with projects alone, without setting a specific time and using a timer. Getting rid of the timer, occurs to sometimes loosing track of time and perhaps has me less focused. But i do my best to keep my mind on the project and think of nothing else. Audiobooks help a lot at this point. So now, Monday looks more like; 3 projects that i simply need to wrap up before noon. Depending on the project, i will place it on the according day.

Knowing what i need to work on each project, i’m able to calculate the amount of time it should take me. A small revision, could be paired with a larger one and working on a brand plan or starting a brand identity presentation. This system basically eases my mind: less projects on a day, less stress on the amount of time to spend on them. Simple and easy.

01:30pm – 05:00pm
We still do a break at 01:30pm for lunch for around 30 minutes. After the break, i will work until 5pm for ultimately my personal projects and blog posts. That doesn’t turn out always successful, as sometimes i need to finish the projects from before lunch. Which is why, scheduling your week is so important. It is much better to add more days to your turnarounds, than burn yourself. The more tired you are the less efficient your work will be.

After 5pm these days, i’ll spend some time with the hubby, walk our cat and dog and go to the gym. Yes, that was one of my resolutions, so Theo and i are spending quite some time in the gym together. I’ll be resuming my yoga next week and we both stared practising with our bokens today. Such a badass couple don’t you think? And that, pretty much wraps up my weekdays. A lot of cups of tea, warm snuggly pjs and my audiobooks.