This time last year I wrote a blog post about my first year as a freelance graphic designer (and full-time single mum!) and the motivations and reasons for choosing this career path (you can read this post here). Now I have completed my second year I am beginning to get a real sense of myself as a designer and my business and the exciting (and daunting) challenges ahead.

Each month of my second year has seen an increase in client projects and revenue on the last, culminating in my busiest and most profitable month in December 2014. I was ready for a break in the New Year! and so I have spent a little time reflecting on my business and analysing my growing clientele and revenue streams from different project types. I was surprised to see the figures and realised that my most profitable revenue streams for both client type and project type were quite different from what I had imagined. Here is how the figures have broken down for the past two years (this is revenue per client group, not time spent which is a whole different kettle of fish!).

  • PUBLISHERS 44%
  • LARGE BUSINESSES 19%
  • UNIVERSITIES AND ACADEMICS 15%
  • CHARITIES 12%
  • SMALL BUSINESSES 10%

I can honestly say that I have thoroughly enjoyed each and every project that I have taken on this past year. Some have been very straightforward and others more challenging, but all have left me feeling elated at the end of the project, content that I have fulfilled the brief to the very best of my ability and excited to hand over the artwork/website to a happy client. A lot of my work involves preparing clients for the launch of their new business. The most exciting part of this for me is that I often get to design not only the logo and branding, but also the website, promotional materials, social networking set up and often I will advise on the content copy as well. It is a huge responsibility, but also a joy to watch each business take off and I am always eager to help spread the word through my networks on social media and through friends and family. It’s a daunting task to start a new business, there is so much to get your head around, you have to have a website, know your audience, tackle social media and be an accountant too! (unless you are lucky enough to have your own – PLUG ALERT – I use Dartnell Lynn Ltd, Judith is a previous client of mine, a wonderful friend and a bloody good accountant!). A little handholding through each stage of the process can be helpful and comforting, especially when some or all of these areas are new to the client. I will make sure that if a client asks for social media integration into a website, they get all the help they need to learn how to use it as an effective marketing tool for their business (and be warned, I will be checking!).

Managing my time whilst looking after my daughter Gertie (who will be 3 in May) has always been the biggest challenge to me. I am a single mum and having good routines and clever scheduling of client meetings are essential in allowing me to create a happy balance between work and time with my daughter. I work in the evenings when she sleeps and on the two days each week that she is at nursery. I thought that this might prove difficult for clients but I am pleased and relieved to say that it has never been a problem. I am at my desk at home (or often working in cafes in Cambridge – today I am in Neros!) on nursery days and schedule all my meetings in person on these days. Skype meetings, emails and calls are sometimes done in the evenings and work well for me and my clients too. A balance of work and play is not easy and I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I have picked up a few good tips along the way. You can read my 10 Tips for Freelance Single Mothers (and dads too!) here.

My confidence in my business has grown steadily these past two years. I no longer get nervous going into meetings with clients, or pitching for new work and sending out quotes. I no longer feel like I have to prove myself either. It is hard when you start out, you put all your best work up on your website and often make your initial prices far too low in order to get your first clients through the door and get the ball rolling. One of the things that I have learnt (and am still learning) is how to effectively price my work. If you quote too high you may lose a pitch, but if you quote too low, chances are you will still lose that pitch as the client is likely to imagine that you do not have much experience or confidence in the work that you produce (this happened to me occasionally, particularly in my first year of trading). It takes confidence to set an appropriate pricing structure for the work that you do, but it is so important for both you and your client that the quote feels like a fair and respectful price for the service you are providing. A project is a mutual investment in time and energy and it is exciting to have clients whose creativity and insights into their work help spark new avenues of creativity and inspiration in my approach to the brief.

This year I have worked on a wide range of projects, including websites, posters, promotional materials, marketing campaigns, illustrations for magazines, book covers, book layout and production and some copy writing and editing.

I find it very important to always have a personal project on the go, something which is just for me and which I can take in any direction I choose. This year I have been building my Art of Protest website, started at the beginning of 2014. It is an inspiring and searchable archive of current and historical protests through a variety of art forms. Go take a look, I’d love to know what you think. Maybe you’ll inspired by the struggles of others. We can all help fight back against inequality in our society.

Last night I went to the launch of New Influences at Waterstones in Cambridge. A beautiful book, produced by the Cambridge Art Salon for the second Women Of Influence project, Female Voices.

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It features a foreward by Mayor of Cambridge Gerri Bird, plus interviews with a range of inspirational women in the community – including bloggers, artists (I produced two feminist posters for the project), poets, engineers and entrepreneurs – led by the Women Of Influence girls group from Romsey Mill.

I can’t think of a more fitting way to end my second year of business than to be surrounded by a group of such inspiring and creative women!